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speak a word in season to him that is weary;" "that he should blind the eyes of the learned and proud,t and preach good tidings to the poor and despised; that under his ministry the lame should be made to walk, the deaf to hear, the blind to see, the dumb to speak, the captive to be loosed, and the dead raised up; that he should teach the perfect way, and be the instructor of the Gentiles; that he should be a sacrifice for sin, be rejected of the Jews, who themselves should be rejected of God; "that the kings of the earth and all people should worship him;" but that the people who rejected him should continue a distinct people, and yet be scattered over all nations, and wander about without princes, without sacrifices, without an altar, without prophets, looking for deliverance and not finding it, till a very distant period.
The correspondence between the several particulars related of the death of Christ, and the predictions scattered through the Bible, is extremely striking. The evangelists in this respect are but echoes of the prophets. I can give but a rapid sketch. These predictions include the treachery and awful end of Judas, the precise sum of money for which he betrayed his Master, and the use to which it was put.# They specify not only the sufferings of Christ, but of what they should consist. That his back should be given to the smiters, his face to shame and spitting;" that
* Isa. 50:4.
+ Isa. 5:15.
Isa. 35:5, 6; 9:2.
Isa. ch. 53; 8:14, 15.
Isa. 60:10-12, etc.; 53:12. ** Jer. 31:36; Hos. 3:4, 5. †† Psa. 41:9; 55:12–15. Zech. 11:12, 13.
§§ Isa. 50: 6.
he should be put to death by a mode which would cause his hands and his feet to be pierced; that he should be wounded, bruised, and scourged; that in his death he should be numbered with transgressors, and in his sufferings have gall and vinegar given him to drink; that his persecutors should laugh him to scorn, and shake their heads, reviling him, and saying, "He trusted in the Lord that he would deliver him; let him deliver him." Although it was the custom to break the bones of those who were crucified, and although the bones of the thieves crucified with him were broken, yet it was predicted that "not a bone of him should be broken;" and moreover, that his garments should be divided, and lots cast for his vesture; that while he should "make his grave with the wicked," as he did in being buried like the wicked companions of his death, under the general leave for taking down their bodies from the cross, he should at the same time make his grave "with the rich," as was done when they buried him in the sepulchre of Joseph of Arimathea.** I might enumerate many more details of prophecy centering upon the life and death of Christ. What have been mentioned are abundantly sufficient for our present argument. I have only recited a concise list of the predictions. I
* Zech. 12:10; Psa. 22:16.
† Isa. 53: 4, 5, 8, 12.
Psa. 22:7, 8.
** Isaiah 53:9.
Num. 9:12; Exod. 12:46;
¶ Psa. 22:18.
The translation of this verse in Lowth's
Isaiah is much more to the point than that of the common text: "And his grave was appointed with the wicked; but with the rich man was his tomb."
cannot suppose any of you so unacquainted with the history of Christ, as not to be able familiarly to refer to all those passages in his life and death by which they were minutely and wonderfully fulfilled. Now, consider that no question is raised by any one, whether these predictions were made and published several centuries before the birth of Christ. The enemies of Christ, his crucifiers, have been the librarians of these writings. The Jews preserved them for us, with sacred care, for many hundreds of years. They were translated from Hebrew into Greek at least two hundred years before Christ. The Jews then understood them to refer to the Messiah, as we do now; and it was on account of some of them that a general expectation of the speedy coming of Messiah prevailed so widely in Judea at the time of the public appearance of Christ.
That all these particulars were most remarkably combined in the person, character, works, sufferings, and burial of the Lord Jesus, I need not say. If the predictions did not originally refer to him, and only happened to be accomplished in him, it would be reasonable to suppose that out of the innumerable millions of men that have lived since they were pub
* Augustine, in the fourth century, spoke very often of the great advantage which Christians had in their arguments for the truth of the gospel, from the subsistence and dispersion of the Jewish people, who everywhere bear testimony to the antiquity and genuineness of the books of the Old Testament; so that none could say they were afterwards forged by Christians. He therefore calls the Jews the librarians of the Christians; he compares them to servants that carry books for the use of children of noble families, or that carry a chest or bag of evidence for a disputant. Lardner, ch. 2, p. 598.
lished, some other individual, if not hundreds, would have appeared exhibiting the same correspondence. Where is the record of such an event? Can the person be mentioned in whom there was even an approximation to the fulfilment exhibited in the history of Jesus? I need not say, that no one ever pretended to be able to find such a person. These prophecies describe a combination of gentleness with power, merit with ignominy, benevolence with contempt— they bring together details of ancestry, of family, of birth, of time, of works, of sufferings, of death, which it were ridiculous to pretend have been united in any individual whose name is in the annals of man, except the Son of man, Christ Jesus.
But it may be said, that among these predictions there are some which human design might have brought to pass. It may be suggested that a band of men undertaking to promote an imposture, and having these predictions before them, might have selected for their leader one who had been born at Bethlehem, of the lineage of David, and might have ordered his appearance at the precise time of the prophecy. Let this be supposed, and let us overlook the fact that no possible motive can be assigned that could induce a band of impostors to desire the setting up of such a cause as that of Christ; still, how would imposture contrive to unite in its leader the fulfilment of prophecies which on one hand foretold him as eminent for wisdom and benevolence, and on the other for shame and suffering? How, on this supposition, could all those predictions have been accom
plished which relate to the agonies of the cross? Would a deceiver seek crucifixion for the sake of fulfilling prophecy? How was it managed that one should betray him, and afterwards, out of remorse, hang himself? How was it contrived that the enemies of Christ should measure the price of his blood at the exact sum predicted; and then, that the mercenary traitor should return it to them again, and they should use it in purchase of the predicted potter's field? How did imposture so artfully combine in its cause all the persecutors of Christ, that without any design to advance its interests they should have chosen precisely that mode of execution, those expressions of contempt, those instruments of torture, those companions of his sufferings, that mixture for his drink, that severity to his body while he was alive, and that forbearance to it after he was dead, which, if they had been anxious to prove him the true Messiah foretold in the Scriptures, would have composed the most effectual means they could possibly employ? Most evidently, the bitter adversaries of Christianity, not its friends, brought out the demonstration that Jesus was he to whom gave all the prophets witness.
And now, is there any possible escape from the absolute necessity of acknowledging that the Spirit of God was in the writers of the Bible, and that his Spirit has testified of Jesus? Will any one pretend that in the idea of chance there is any explanation of the coincidences which have been mentioned? It will not be useless to spend a moment on this matter