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by his mode of expression, that it was not to be perpetual : and his apostle Paul, to whom Jesus, after his ascension, revealed the whole counsel of God, delights to dwell upon this thought—" I would not, brethren," he says to the Romans, "that ye should be ignorant of this mystery, that blindness in part has happened to Israel, till the fulness of the Gentiles be come in; and so all Israel shall be saved."* What a glorious view is here presented of the universal kingdom of the Messiah, which is at length to comprehend even the children of those who slew him! What a consistency and grandeur in the conduct of divine Providence with regard to the Jews, that people whom God formed for himself to show forth his praise! Raised up at first as a light in a dark place—retaining the knowledge and worship of the true God amidst the idolatry of the nations -keeping in their oracles the hope of the Saviour of mankind-carrying by their dispersions these oracles, this knowledge and hope, through the whole earth, and thus rendering the Messiah the desire of all nations-exhibiting in their singular misfortunes the holiness and the power their God-a monument to the world in their present state, that Jesus is able to take vengeance of his enemies—and yet preserved, even in the midst of that punishment which they endure for obstinacy and infidelity, to receive Christ as a nation, and thus to be the future instruments of the conversion of the whole world! When this people, by the out-stretched arm of the Almighty, shall be brought back in his time from the lands where they now sojourn, to that land which, in the beginning, he chose for them, and Jerusalem, which is now trodden down of the Gentiles, shall be delivered to the Jews; when every prophecy in their books shall be found to conspire most exactly with the words spoken by Christ and his apostles, and all shall receive a striking accomplishment in events most interesting to the whole universe-what eye will be so sealed as to exclude this light, what mind so hardened as not to yield to a conviction which the infinite knowledge and power of God will then appear to have united in producing! Every charge of partiality in the Lord of nature, which the superficial infidel is hasty to bring forward,

*Rom. xi. 25.

shall then be swallowed up in the full exposition of that great scheme which is now carrying forward for the final salvation of all the children of God, and every tongue will join in that expression of exalted devotion with which the Apostle Paul shuts up this subject-"O the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God, how unsearchable are his judgments, and his ways past finding out! For who hath known the mind of the Lord, or who hath been his counsellor ?"*


8. I mentioned, as the last subject of our Lord's phecies, the final discrimination of the righteous and the wicked at the day of judgment. This great event is foretold under similitudes, in plain words, without hesitation, with solemnity, with minuteness. The veil is in some measure removed, and we, whose views are generally confined to the events of the little spot which we inhabit, are enabled by the great Prophet to look forward to the end of the world. He has, indeed, hidden the time from our eyes, but he has minutely described every other circumstance. The clearness of his predictions upon such a subject distinguishes him from every other teacher who had appeared before his time, and affords a presumption of his divine character. But this is not the place for enlarging upon these predictions, and I mention them at present, only to state the connexion between them and the prophecy which we have been considering. The darkening of the sun, and moon, and stars-the Son of man coming in the clouds of heaven-his sending forth his angels with a trumpet, and gathering his elect from the four winds; all these circumstances bring to our minds a day more awful and important than the destruction of Jerusalem, or any of its immediate consequences. And although it is possible, and agreeable to the analogy of Scripture language, to find a meaning for the various expressions here used, in the dissolution of the Jewish state, in the general publication of the gospel after that event, and the great accession of converts which it contributed to bring to Christianity-yet we know that these are the very expressions by which our Lord and his apostles have described that day, when all who have lived upon the face of the

*Rom. xi. 33, 34.

earth shall stand before the judgment-seat of Christ. Several commentators have been of opinion that there is here, in addition to the prophecy of the destruction of Jerusalem, a direct prophecy of the day of judgment. But the limitation of the time of the fulfilment to the existence of the generation then alive, is an unanswerable objection to this opinion; and, therefore, I consider the latter part of this prediction as a specimen given by our Lord of a prophecy with a double sense. We found that, in the Old Testament, the language of the prophet is often so contrived as to apply at once to two events, the one near and local, the other remote and universal. Thus David, in describing his own sufferings, introduces expressions which are a literal description of the sufferings of the Messiah, and are applied as such by the Evangelists; and the words in which he paints the peaceful reign of Solomon, received a literal accomplishment in the kingdom of the Prince of Peace. So here the Messiah, who often, in other respects, copies the manner, and refers to the words of ancient prophets, while he is immediately foretelling the destruction of Jerusalem, looks forward to the day of judgment, and expresses himself in a language which, although, by the established practice of the prophets, it is applicable in a figurative sense to the fall of a city and the dissolution of a state, yet in its true, literal, precise meaning, applies to that day in which all cities and states are equally interested. While the fulfilment then of the direct sense of this prophecy is a standing proof of the divine knowledge of Jesus, it is also a pledge, that the secondary sense shall in due time be accomplished; and thus the exhortation with which our Lord concludes this prophecy, and which is manifestly expressed in such a manner, as shows that it was intended for his disciples in every age, is enforced upon us as well as upon those that heard him. The Christians were delivered from the destruction in which their countrymen were involved, by following the directions of Jews; and upon our watchfulness and obedience to him depend our comfort, our improvement, and the salvation of our souls in the great day of the Lord.

Josephus, Hurd, and Commentaries on the 24th chapter of Matthew, in the works of Tillotson, Jortin, Newton, Newcome, &c.




MANY of the principal facts in the Christian religion may be introduced as instances of the fulfilment of the prophecies of Jesus, and as thus serving to illustrate the abundant measure in which the spirit of prophecy was given to that Great Prophet, who had been announced from the beginning of the world. But two of these facts deserve a more particular consideration in a view of the evidences of Christianity, because, independently of their having been foretold, they bring a very strong confirmation to the high claim advanced in the Scriptures. The two facts which I mean are, the resurrection of Jesus, and the propagation of Christianity.

The first of these facts is the resurrection of Jesus. Had he never returned from the grave, his enemies would have considered his death as the completion of their triumph: and those who had admired his character, and had been convinced by his works that he was a teacher sent from God, must have considered his blood as only adding to the sum of all the righteous blood that had been shed upon the earth. His friends might have made a feeble attempt to transmit, with distinguished honour to posterity, the name of Jesus of Nazareth as a prophet mighty in word and in deed. Yet even they would have been stumbled when they recollected his pretensions and his prophecies. He had claimed a character and an authority very inconsistent with the notion of his being a victim to the malice of men; and he had foretold that after being three days, that is, according to the Jewish phraseology, a part of three days in the grave, he would rise from the dead on the third day; resting the truth of his claim upon this fact as the sign that was to be given. The resurrection of Jesus, then, is not merely an important, it is an essential

fact in the history of Christianity. If the Author of this religion did not return from the grave, he is, according to his own confession, an impostor: if he did, all who are satisfied with the evidence of this singular fact, must acknowledge, from the nature of the case, that he was the Son of God with power, by his resurrection from the dead.

It behoves you to examine with particular care the kind of evidence upon which the wisdom of God has chosen to rest a fact so essential. To the apostles, who were with Jesus when he was apprehended, who knew certainly that he was crucified, one of whom saw him on the cross, and all of whom were permitted to converse with him after he was risen, his resurrection was as much an object of sense, at least it was an inference as clearly deducible from what they did see, as if they had been present when the angel rolled the stone from the door of the sepulchre, and when Jesus came forth in the same manner as Lazarus had done a little before at his command. But this evidence of sense could not extend beyond the forty days during which Jesus remained upon earth. And the first thing that meets you, in an inquiry into the truth of the resurrection, is the number of persons to whom this evidence of sense was vouchsafed. The time is limited. But there is no necessary limitation of the number that might have seen Jesus during that time, and, as the faith of future ages must in a great measure rest upon their testimony, it is natural to consider whether there be any thing in the particular number to which this evidence of sense was confined, that serves to render the fact incredible.

The number is much greater than will appear at first sight to a careless reader of the Gospels. The soldiers, the women, and the disciples only are mentioned there. But you will find it said, that Jesus went before his disciples into Galilee, where he had appointed them to meet him; and one of the appearances narrated by John is said to have been at the sea of Tiberias, which lay in Galilee. Now Galilee was the country where our Lord had spent the greatest part of his life, where his person was perfectly well known, where his mother's relations and the families of the apostles resided. His going to Galilee therefore, after his resurrection, was giving to a number of persons

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