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opinion that these deep theologians have carried their system too far, when they are informed that they laid down as a principle, that the Old Testament contained no types of any of the events related by the Evangelists, excepting a few which are specifically set forth as types; accordingly the rest of the Israelites in the land of Canaan was, in their opinion, no type of the Christians' rest in heaven; nor was the lifting up of the serpent in the wilderness, although applied by our Lord himself to his hanging on the tree, in their conception, in any sense typical of his crucifixion.
In like manner, a great number of the prophecies quoted by the Evangelists and the Apostles are supposed to have been employed in what they call the way of accommodation, and not to have been used as predictions of particular events. Another maxim of these divines was, that no prophecy could be applicable to circumstances occurring at the time it was uttered, and also foretel a future event. The following is an instance of a passage which has been esteemed by Christians in general as a prophecy, and which appears to have been acknowledged as such by Christ himself. It is
written in the gospel of St. Luke, c. iv., 18-21. Jesus, in the synagogue at Nazareth, read this passage of Isaiah-" The spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he hath anointed me to preach the Gospel to the poor; He hath sent me to heal the broken-hearted, to preach deliverance to the captives, and recovery of sight to the blind; to set at liberty them that are bruised, to preach the acceptable year of the Lord." When he had read this passage, he closed the book, and began to say unto them, "This day is the Scripture fulfilled in your ears!" The divines, to whom I have before alluded, although they allow that Jesus did preach the acceptable year of the Lord in one sense, as Isaiah had done before him in another sense, deny that our Saviour meant any double completion of prophecy; but say that he only applied or accommodated the words of the Prophet to the present occasion.
The generality of Christians, I believe, will not coincide in this view of the passage in question; but will rather agree in opinion with the learned Grotius, who observes, As the deliverance of the Jews from their captivity in Babylon, was both an image and pledge of the
deliverance of souls which was to be effected by the Messias; in like manner, those things which Esaias spoke of himself, are so directed by God, as to apply in a more excellent manner to the Lord Jesus.'
It is well known that ardent and zealous Christians, in several ages of the church, have fancied that latent meanings were to be discovered in almost every line of the scriptures, by which much injury was done to the pure spirit of Christianity. But to assert that none of the important things transacted under the law looked forward to, or were types of, more momentous truths under the gospel-or to deny that any saying of a prophet, applicable to the times in which he lived, can be also prophetic of future events recorded in the Gospel-is not, perhaps, the best mode of putting down these fancies, or of repairing the injuries done by them. A middle course would better suit the feelings of sober and rational men; who cannot but believe that the sacrifices under the law were typical of the great sacrifice of the Saviour for the sins of the world, and that Christ, in claiming the passage just now quoted, did apply it as a direct prophecy of himself.
I have adverted to the opinion of these learned divines, for the purpose of obviating an objection, which might possibly be made, to the proof of Jesus being the Messiah drawn from the Jewish prophecies; namely, that I had produced passages from the mouths of the Prophets, which related merely to their own times, and which were never intended as prophecies of the Messiah, or of any future event; but were only quoted by the Evangelists as suiting their present purpose, and were used by the Apostles simply in the way of accommodation.
I hope I shall not lay myself open to this objection but should I bring forward any
passage of scripture that has been objected to by any body of Christians, if I am cognizant of it, I will state the difficulty.
ANCIENT PROPHECIES RELATING TO THE
PREVIOUS to entering on the Prophecies of the Old Testament relating to the Messiah, it may be proper to advert briefly to the character of John the Baptist, there being so close a connexion between Christ and his forerunner, that any doubt thrown upon the existence or the character of the Baptist, could not fail to be injurious to the pretensions of Jesus himself.
Exclusive of the account of John the Baptist given by the Evangelists, there can be no doubt of his having lived in Judea at the time spoken of in the New Testament, nor of his having been a Baptist and a preacher of righteousness, since the Jewish historian Josephus, an author of high reputation, in his Jewish Antiquities,