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tility” which was to rage between the “mystic woman and HER seed,” and “the serpent and his seed: ” the same contest, as to its termination at least, which Enoch saw finally concluded by “the Lord,” who came “with his holy myriads” to judge an “ungodly” race; that final conflict with the apostate idolaters described in “the song of remembrance,” taught to Israel by Moses; and, we may add, that in which the destroyers from Chittim, in Balaam's prophecies, perish for ever, by the hand that had before brought Ashur and Heber low.” But what is most remarkable in this prophecy of Hannah, and which breaks upon us as a new fact revealed to the church by the Holy Spirit, or if not altogether new, now more plainly revealed,—is, the great humiliation and deep depression of the Saviour of men, at some period of his career, before the final victory is vouchsafed. It is not only represented, that the objects of his deliverance are a weak, oppressed, and afflicted people; but that he who appears at their head, the future king who sits in the midst of his princes, after that they are exalted from their low estate, and are avenged upon their injurious enemies, – that even he, “ the seed,” spoken of as one, “He to whom the promises are made,” He himself is described as “a poor, exhausted” person, “raised from the dust; ” one “most destitute” or “ wretched,” raised from the mourner's ashes, – that the King, the Messiah, to be exalted in the last day, “the woman's seed,” that should “bruise the serpent's head,” should be one, who, in some respects, “ out of weakness was made strong!” This might certainly have been understood as throwing some light
upon the symbol of “the bruising” of “his heel,” in the primeval promise, and, perhaps, of the victim slain in sacrifice. But, although in the subsequent prophecies it appears a theme very frequently blended with the predictions of a conquering and almighty Deliverer; yet, as we know from the New Testament, this was ever a stumbling-block, a “stone of offence,” to Israel. Not only did it seem contrary to their ideas of national honour and worldly greatness, who expected only a temporal, carnal Saviour; but the disciples of our Lord, when they had seen him in the character of a suffering man, could not endure the thought that he must suffer the extremes of human misery and wretchedness. So slow of heart were they to believe all that the prophets had spoken, that the Christ ought to suffer these things, and “ then’ “to enter into his glory.” But after their understandings are opened to understand the Scripture, we may almost say, they refer to the passage before us, as one of the testimonies to a suffering Saviour that they should have understood before : “Yea, and all the prophets from Samuel, and those that follow after, as many as have spoken, have likewise foretold of these days.” One question more may well arise from what we read in this song: Are “the holy myriads” that “come with the Lord,” at the last day, not angelic beings merely, but those princes of the King Messiah, that are, like him, exalted from a low and afflicted state among mankind, suffering with him, and afterwards reigning with him when his glory is revealed? Of this I am confidently persuaded : they are the “Abraham and his seed,” to whom the promise is made, that “He shall be the heir of the world.” But let it be reserved for subsequent passages, which we are to examine, to confirm us in this hope, and to make us “love” more and more “the appearing of Jesus Christ.”
* Acts, iii. 24.
Ertracts from the Psalms.
WE now enter upon the book of Psalms, where the oracles delivered from God at this period are, for the most part, contained. I have already, in a work I have ventured to lay before the public, endeavoured to show that Christ, and the events of his first or of his second advent, are the perpetual theme, from one end to the other, of this sacred book. But I must remember, my subject now confines me to the oracles relating to the second advent. I have not now to vindicate, as belonging to the blessed Jesus, the griefs and sorrows, the mental conflict, and the boast of conscious virtue, so erroneously interpreted of David; but to show, that one greater than David is invested, in these Psalms, with the crown and the sceptré, and proclaimed as God’s “first-born, higher than the kings of the earth,” before whose victorious sword the apostate nations fall, till the wicked are extirpated from the earth. This glorious theme, perhaps, oftener enters into these songs of public praise, than our present object will demand its repetition. It will be sufficient if we copy the most remarkable, and what may serve to throw increased light upon the object of our inquiry. I shall hope to be excused, too, if I refer to my former publication for the notes that attempt to establish any thing new in the translation.
I would point out, in the first place, as clearly belonging to the second advent, the former part of the second psalm; or, as it should be numbered, the first: the first and second forming originally but one psalm;* an additional proof that the example of righteousness in the first psalm, according to our division, is not so directly intended to stimulate the endeavours of renewed man, as to afford, as it were, a mirror that might reflect the image of Him, whose righteousness and perfect holiness propitiates for his people, and invests them with a character and glory to which, in themselves, they can have no title or claim.
We read of this blessed man, “blessed above others, and the cause of blessing,” who is described in the psalm, (though rejected of men at his first advent,) sitting as anointed King at God's right hand, till his foes are made his footstool : —
8. And I will give thee the nations for thine inheritance, And the utmost parts of the earth for thy possession.
This verse, taken by itself, might indeed be referred to the further extension of that Gospel reign that now pervades a small part of the nations, and not to a second advent; but what follows clearly shows another sort of conquest than that of the peaceful persuasion of the Gospel message : —
Thou shalt break them with a sceptre of iron;
Obey Jehovah with fear,
Adore the Son, lest he be angry,
For yet a little while and his anger will blaze forth;
A new title, we observe, is in this oracle given to the Saviour. He who in former prophecies has been announced as the woman's seed, “the Lord from heaven,” the “kinsman God,”—“ the redeeming angel,”—“the seed of Abraham,”—“Israel's anointed king,” is now entitled “The SoN,” and in this character he is often spoken of in subsequent Scriptures. The foundation of this character, I doubt not, is to be found in his everlasting personal relation to the Father. Origination from the Father we should not say, unless we negative some
* “The sole application of this illustrious prophecy to the Messiah or Christ, was the unquestionable doctrine of the primitive Jewish church. The Midrash Tillim understands the Gentiles, verse 1, of Gog and Magog, alluding to Balaam's prophecy, Numb. xxiv. 7.”
See Dr. Hales, vol. ii. 371, who remarks, “The appropriation of these two kindred prophecies to Jesus Christ, as the FIRST Born, Psalm lxxxix. 27, or The oNLY genuine Son of God, John, iii. 18, in the sublime introduction of the Epistle to the Hebrews, i. 5, 6, precludes their primary or literal application to David or Solomon, and their secondary, or spiritual, only to Christ; a fiction introduced by the later Jewish Rabbies, “to answer the heretics, or Christians,’ as Solomon Jarchi confesses.”