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I now offer my little volume to the public; should it prove acceptable, and if it shall please the Almighty to spare me, it is my intention to add another volume on the character of Jesus, and on the powerful support that is given to the truth of our religion from the strength of its internal evidence.
CHRISTIANITY is manifestly built upon the scriptures of the Old Testament, and its foundation stone is chiefly laid upon the prophecies therein contained; because, as the person declaring himself to be the promised Messiah has appeared in the world, and both he and his Apostles have appealed to these prophecies for the truth of his mission, his pretensions could not have been supported if the particular prophecies which foretold the advent of the Messiah had not found their completion in his birth, life, death, and resurrection. Ancient heathen writers asserted that there prevailed a constant opinion throughout the East that a person from Judea should obtain dominion. It is clear, also, from similar testimony, that the Jews were so deeply imbued with this notion,
that it excited them to rebel against the Roman government, to which, at the time of Jesus Christ's ministry on earth, they were subjected.
In the New Testament are to be found many instances of the minds of the disciples of Christ having been filled with the same expectation. When the two disciples, in the way to Emmaus, spoke of their disappointment at the death of their master, and said, We trusted that it had been he which should have redeemed Israel,* it cannot be supposed that they meant a spiritual kingdom, but that they referred to the general persuasion which prevailed throughout the nation, that their promised Messiah, the son of David, would deliver them from the foreign yoke under which they groaned.
The like may be said of the question of the Apostles to their Master, when they were assembled together previous to his ascension, Lord, wilt thou at this time restore again the kingdom to Israel?+ It is obvious their meaning was, to ask whether the time was come when the temporal kingdom of the Jews should be again restored to Israel in all its splendour; and, perhaps, they expected more than this—that
Judea should have an extended dominion and rule over other nations. There are, in the
writings of the Evangelists, many other allusions to the prevailing opinion, that the kingdom would be again restored to Israel in a temporal point of view.
It cannot be doubted that the Jews claimed Abraham as their father, and relied upon the promises made to them through him. It is no less certain that they expected some one to arise from David's house, in whom the throne of his kingdom would be established for ever; this is plain from their having universally called Jesus the son of David, and from the people having réceived him with acclamation, crying out, "Hosanna to the Son of David, blessed is he that cometh in the name of the Lord. Hosanna in the highest."
In the following work it will be my endeavour to prove that the ancient prophecies which caused the Jews to expect their Messiah were fulfilled in Jesus of Nazareth, whom Christians acknowledge as the Saviour of mankind.
The evidences will be drawn from the application of these prophecies, and especially from the prophecies of Jesus himself, numbers of
which have been fulfilled, and many are still fulfilling by the progressive extension of Christianity into all nations, where increasing multitudes, in various languages, profess their faith in him, and worship him.
Before I proceed to consider the prophecies, it may be proper to observe, that about the middle of the last century some theologians in Germany, and there were some, also, of the same class in England, undertook to free the scriptures from what they conceived to be a burden improperly laid upon them by pious and well meaning men, who supposed that all the ancient scriptures quoted or appealed to by our Saviour himself, his Apostles, or the Evangelists, were types or prophecies of the events to which they were applied. These learned divines whom I have mentioned, set themselves to the work with zeal, and with the best intentions, the ground of their undertaking being, that nothing has made the New Testament the subject of ridicule to Jews and Infidels so much as the absurd inferences which Christians have usually drawn from passages which visibly contain not one tittle of what is pretended.'
But most Christians, I presume, will be of