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And lastly, from that time to the present ; God has not set Jesus as his King upon the holy hill of Sion,” (as the Psalm 'imports, nor given him“ the Nations for his inheritance, nor the uttermost parts of the Earth for a possession."
The next prophecy usually adduced to prove that Jesus is the Messiah is the passage quoted from Micah v. 2, in the second chapter of Mat. " But thou Bethlehem Ephratah though thou be little among the chiefs of Judah, yet out of thee shall he come forth unto me, that is to be ruler in Israel, whose goings forth have been from of old, from the days of hidden ages." This passage probably refers to the Messiah, but by no means signifies that this Messiah was to be born in Bethlehem, as asserted by Matthew ; but only, that he was to be derived froin Bethlehem, the city of Jesse, . the father of David of famous memory, whose family was venerable for its antiquity, “ being of the days of hidden ages.” And this interpretation is known, and acknowledged by Hebrew scholars. But in order to eut short the dispute, we will permit the passage to be interpreted as signifying that Bethlehem was to be the birth place of the Messiah. What then I will a man's being born in Bethlehem be sufficient to make him to be the Messiah foretold by the Hebrew Prophets ? Surely it has been inade plain in the beginning of this work, that many more characteristick marks than this must meet in one person in order to constitute him the Messiah described by them !
In Zechariah ix. 9, it is written “ Rejoice greatly, o Daughter of Sion. Shout 0 Daughter of Jerusalem ! Behold thy king cometh unto thee, the righteous one, and saved, or preserved [ac. to the Heb.] lowly, and riding upon an ass, and upon a colt the foal of an ass." This has been applied by the Evangelists to Jesus, who rode upon an ass into Jerusalem. · But in the first place, it is to be observed, that there seems to have been a blunder in this transaction : for according to the Hebrew Idiom of the passage quoted above, the personage there spoken of was to ride upon 66 an ass' colt ;" whereas the Apostles, in order to be sure of fulfilling the prophecy, represent Jesus as rid
ing upon an ass, and the colt too ! « They spread their : garments upon them, and set him upon them.” See the Evangelists in loc.-In the next place a man may ride into Jerusalem upon an ass, without being thus necessarily demonstrated to be the Messiah. And unless, as said before, every tittle of the marks given by the Prophets to designate Their Messiah, be found in Jesus,and in any other claiming to be that Messiah, his being born in Bethlehem, and riding upon an ass into Jerusalem, will by no means prove him to be so. Besides, those who will take the trouble to look at the context in Zechariah, will find, that the event spoken of in the quotation is spoken of as contemporaneous with the restoration of Israel, and the establishment of peace, and happiness ; which seems to cut up by the roots the interpretation of Evangelists. Aud to conclude the argument, Jesus being born in Bethlehem, and riding into Jerusalem, allowing it to be true, would not we think frustrate these Prophecies of a future fulfilment: For no one can disprove, that if so be the will of God, such a person as the Messiah is described to be might be born in Bethlehem tomorrow, and ride in triumph into Jerusalem twenty years afterwards.
The next passage which has been offered, as a Prophecy of Jesus, is to be found in the 12 ch, of Zech. v. 10, and part of it has been misquoted by John. “And I will pour upon the house of David, and upon the inhabitants of Jerusalem, the spirit of Grace, and supplications, and they shall look on me whom they have pierced.” So it stands in the English Version, but before I state what it ought to be, I would observe, that before the Evangelist, (who in his account of the crucifixion applies this passage as referring to Jesus' being pierced with a spear,) could make this passage fit his purpose, he had to substitute the word “him” for 6 me, as it is in the Hebrew, confirmed by I believe all the versions, ancient and modern, without exception. Yet with this change it will by no means answer his purpose; for the Hebrew word here translated 6 pierced," in this place signifies 56 blasphemed," or 6á insulted," as it is understood by Grotius, who confirms this rendering from the Hebrew of Levit. xxiv, 11, where in this passage, “ the
Israelitish woman's son blasphemed the name of the Lord.” The Hebrew word translated “blasphemed” is from the same root with the Hebrew word translated 6 pierced” in the passage in Zechariah quoted above. So that the passage ought to be translated thus. “I will pour upon the house of David, and upon the Inhabitants of Jerusalem, the spirit of Grace, and suppli. cations, and they shall look towards me whom they have blasphemed.” [To “ look towards God” is a phrase frequently met with, and well understood.] Now to enable us to understand more perfectly this passage, let us consider the context, where we shall find, that it states, that there was to be a war in Judea, and a siege of Jerusalem, and then a deliverance of the Jews, by the destruction of all the Nations, that should come up at that time, against Jerusalem. Immediately after which matters, follows the prophecy under consideration, “I will pour upon the house of David, &c.” Now from these things thus laid together, I crave leave to argue in the words of Dr. Sykes, [Essay, &c. p. 268. T « Did any one circumstance of all this happen to the Jews about the time of the death of Jesus : Or rather, was not every thing the reverse of what Zechariah says; and instead of all nations being destroyed that came about Jerusalem. Jerusalem itself was destroyed : instead of a spirit of Grace and supplications, the Jews have had their hearts hardened against the Christ, instead of mourning for him whom they have pierced, they curse him, and his followers even until this day."
But it is tiresome thus to waste time in proving that orts, and ends of verses, disjointed from their connexion, and even the words quoted, some of them changed and some transposed, (though even done according to the rules given by the venerable Surenhusius,) prove nothing. We must therefore devote the remainder of this long chapter to the consideration of the three famous prophecies, on which Christians have not hesitated with triumphing confidence to rest the issue of their cause. These are the prophecy of Shiloh, Gen. 49. The 534 ch. of Isaiah : and Daniel's prophecy of the • seventy weeks.” I will consider them in order, and thus wind up the Chapter.
I have somewhere read in a Catechism the following Question, and answer :-Q. “ How can you confound the Jews, and prove from Prophecy that the Messiah is already come p" A. " From these two Prophecies, 66 The Sceptre shall not depart from Judah,” &c. Gen. xlix, and this,—“Seventy weeks are determined upon. thy people," &e. Dan. ix. 24.
But notwithstanding these overwhelming proofs, the stubborn Jews refuse to be confounded! on the contrary, they in fact laugh at Christians, for being so easily imposed upon.
The Prophecy concerning Shiloh, the Jews acknowledge refers to their Messiah. But they do not allow that it defines, or limits the time of his coming. And that it in fact does not, will be perfectly evident to all who will look at the place in the Hebrew Bible, which they will find pointed to read not The Sceptre shall not depart from Judah, and a Lawgiver from between his feet until Shiloh come,” &c. but thus,—“ The Sceptre shall not depart from Judah, nor a Lawgiver from between his feet forever ; for Shiloh shall come, and to him shall the gathering of the people be." So that the Prophecy does not intimate that the Messiah. should come before the Sceptre be departed from Judah; but that it should not depart forever, but shall be restored when Shiloh comes. This is the plain and obvi.. ous sense of the Prophecy; and moreover, is the only one that is consistent with Historical fact. For in truth the Sceptre had departed from Judah several hun. dred years before Jesus of Nazareth was born. For from the time of the Babylonish captivity . Judah' has never been free, but in subjection to the Persians, the Syrians, the Romans, and all the World.
If my readers desire further satisfaction with regard to this Interpretation of this famous Prophecy, I refer them to the dispute upon this subject between the celebrated Rittangelius, and a learned Jew, (preserved in Wagenseils: 66 Tela Ignea.") Where he will find Rittangelius first amicably inviting the Hebrew to discuss the point, who does so most ably, and respect-. fully toward his Christian Antagonist; and unanswer.. ably establishes the interpretation above stated, by the
Laws of the Hebrew Language, by the ancient interpretation of the Targum, by venerable Tradition, and by appealing to History. Rittangelius begins his defence by shuflling, and ends by getting in a passion, and calling names; which his opponent who is cool, because confident of being able to establish his argument, answers, by notifying to Rittangelius bis compassion, and contempt.
The next Prophecy proposed to be considered is the celebrated Prophecy of Isaiah consisting of part of the 52 and the whole of the 53 ch. It is the only propheey which Paley thinks worth bringing forward, in his elaborate Defence. And it must be confessed, that if this propheey relates to the Messiah, it is by far the most plausible of any that are brought forward, in fayour of Jesus Christ. It merits therefore a thorough discussion, and I shall endeavour that it shall be a candid one. This prophecy is quoted by Jesus himself in Luke xxii. 39, and by Philip, when he converted the Eunuch, (Acts 8,) for 6 beginning at this prophecy, he preached unto him Jesus."
It will not be necessary to cite the passage at length, it being one perfectly familiar to every Christian. I will then, before I consider it, first premise, that since it has been heretofore abundantly made evident, that the Messiah of the Old Testament was not to suffer, and die, but to live and reign, it is aecording to the Rules of sound Criticism, and I think sound Theology too, to interpret this solitary passage, so that it may not contradict very many others of a directly contrary import. Now if this passage can relate only to the Messiah, it will throw into utter confusion the whole scheme of the prophetical Scriptures. But if it can be made to appear, that it does not necessarily relate to him ; if it can consistently with the context, be otherwise applied, the whole difficulty vanishes. Now the Authors of the New Testament have applied this prophecy to the Messiah, and to Jesus as the Messiah ; and for doing so, they have been accused of misapplication of it from the earliest times ; since we know from Origen, that the Jews of his time derided the Christians for relying upon this prophecy; alleging that it re