Imatges de pÓgina
[ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors]

the Birth of Jesus Christ from a Virgin. And now I Thall give you my Sense of the Meaning of the Prophefy, and how I think it had its Completion, at the Birth of our Saviour Christ. I will not trouble you here with any Bustle about first or literal, and secondary Senses of Scripture, a Fancy very much in Vogue ever since Socie nus's Time, who was for running all Prophesy into this Notion. I Mall only shew what Part of this Prophefy had its Completion in Ahaz's Time, and what at the Birth of Christ.

The Occasion of the Delivery of this Prophesy, was this. About the beginning of Ahaz's Reign, who was King of Judah, and Father of Hezekiab, Rezin the King of Syria, and Pekah the Son of Remaliah King of Israel, with joint Forces, made a Descent upon Juden, and be lieged Ferufalem ; in which, though they succeeded not, yet considerable Ravage was made over all the Country, especially by the King of Frael's Army, as is particularly recorded in the second Book of Chronicles. When Ahaz and his Court were first alarmed by this dreadful Newsthey were ftruck, as must be imagined upon such an Occasion, by a very great Fear ; or as the Prophet elegantly expresses it, His Heart was moved, and the Heart of his people, as the Trees of the Wood, are moved with the Wind. In the midst of this great Confternation, Ifaiak the Prophet is fent as a Comforter to him ; bidding him not be afraid of the two Tails of these smoaking Firebrands, to which he compares the two hoftile Kings; and alsuring him, that they fhould not profper in their cruel Enterprise. Ahaz could not, it seems, frame himself to a Belief of so comfortable a Message : And therefore God was pleased, so far to comply with him, as to promise him, that the Prophet, for his Sake should do a Sign or Miracle to convince him of the Truth of what he delivered ; nay, he left it to the King's Choice to demand, what Sign or Miracle he pleased. Ask thee Sign of the Lord thy God; ask it either in the Depth, or in che Height above. Ahaz remains incredulous fill, and feems to have no Regard to what the Prophet said to him ; only he returns him this furly Answer: I will not ask, neither will I tempt the Lord. At which Answer, the holy Prophet seems somewhat concern'd, and therefore rebukes him for his Incredulity; but still gives him hopes of his Deliverance : Hear ye now, O House of David!' is át a small Thing for you to weary Men, but will you wear

God also ? Therefore the Lord himself Jall give you Sign, behold a Virgin shall conceive and bear a Son, and ball call his Name Immanuel

. Butter and Honey fall be ext, that he may know to refuse the Evil and chase the Good. For before the Child shall know to refuse the Evil and chuse the Good, the Land which thon abhorrest shall be forsaken of both her Kings. Now all perhaps that Abaz, at that Time, could be supposed to have understood by these Words, is this : That there should be a certain young Woman, then a Virgin, who should have a Son upon her first bringing forth; and before this Child should know Good from Evil, that is, be able to know the Benefits of Peace from the Miseries of War, that Invasion should be at an End; and the Child should eat Butter and Honey, that is, enjoy all the pleasures and Satisfactions of a settled Peace. And the Prophesy in this Sense was compleated soon after. For * in the next Chapter Ifaiah says, He went unto the Prophetess, and she conceived and bare a Son; then said the Lord, Eall his Name Maher-shalal-hash-baz. For before the Child Shall have knowledge to cry my Father and my Mother, the Riches of Damascus, and the Spoil of Samaria sball be taken savay before the King of Assyria. This is a plain historical Relation, of a great deal of the Event portended by this Prophesy, and therefore it cannot be denied, but that it was in great Measure understood of the Conception of this young Prophetess, which was espoused to isaiah. And they have very little Reason on their Side, who affert, That this Conception of Isaiah's Wife in the 8th Chapter, has no Relation to the Prophesy in the 7th. Whereas it is plain that almost every Thing in the latter is said to fall out as it was predicted in the former. He is married to a Virgin Prophetess ; and the conceived and bare a Son, which is related in the very Words of the Prophesy; and,


[ocr errors]

before this Child should arrive to a rational Knowledge, Judea was to be delivered from its Invaders. Only that Passage is related a little indifferently, what is in the Prophesy of the 7th Chapter, called, The Child's knowing to refuse the Evil

, and chuse the Good, is in the 8th exprel sed, by having knowledge to cry my Father and my Mother; and what in the 7th, is expressed by the Land shall be forfaken of both her Kings, is in the 8th worded, The Riches of Damascus, and the Spoil of Samaria, shall be taken awary before the King of Assyria

. That is, the great King of Alyria shall kill Rezin King of Syria, one of the invading Princes, and destroy Damascus's Capital City; and as for the King of Ifrael, his City shall be plundered, and the King himself murdered by his Successor; which came to pass within a Year or two, as the Prophesy foretold, Vid. 2 King, chap. xv. and xvi. which is tantamount to what is said in the 7th Chapter of Isaiah, v. 16. The Land which thou abhorrejt shall be for saken of both her Kings.

I think it is plain, by what has been faid, against all Manner of Exception ; that this Passage had a great deal of its Completion, in the Time of Abaz. But then I farther contend, that these Words must of Necessity, not only have another mystical Meaning, as fome will have it, but must imply a great deal more in their literal Sense; or else there will be to many Impropriecies in the Expressions, that we cannot suppose lo elegant, and so exact a Writer, as I saiah, could be guilty of. If we consider only the usual Purport of the word Virgin, any one would be apt to think, that something more was meant, than Isaiah's marrying a Virgin, who should afterwards have a Son. There is something very emphatical and surprising in the Words, a Virgin Mall conceive ; and it would certainly have been expresled thus, Isaiah, or his Wife, Mall have a Child, if no more was meant by it, than that ordinary Birth, which was before mentioned. It is ushered in with an Admiration, Behold! which would be a strange Impropriety of Specch, if no more was to be understood, than that a Male Child should be conceived, after the usual Way. Besides, here is the Name of the

[ocr errors][ocr errors]

Child altogether as remarkable : And shall call his Name Immanuel, or God with us. Such & Name as this, imposed by God himself, is very wonderful, and muft needs import the Person it referred to, to be of a greater Charader, than that obscure Son of isaiah. Nay; what Pero son in all facred History can be found, to whom this Name can, with any tolerable Propriety, agree, besides our bielsed Saviour ; who was truly God with us, a Perfon of the Trinity, assuming human Nartire ? You cannot say, that this was the Name of Isaiah's Son, for he is said to be called, upon his Birth, Maher-Shalal-hafls-baz, Isa. viii.3. Therefore the Name Immannet must refer to some other Person, who I say must be our Lord Jesus ; because no Other Person can be assigned besides; whom this Name cân, with any Congruity, be ascribed to: And farther, in this Paslage it is faid, The Lord shall give you a Sign or a Miracle. And what a mighty Miracle is it, that a young married Woman should have a Child ? It was in deed å remarkable Prediction, That the first Child should be a Male, and that Juded should be in an unexpected Way delivered, by that Time this Child should be a Year, of two, old. But then, I say, it does not at all seem

proper, that this Predi&tion should be brought in, after such an unwonted Manner, with a Behold! as if such a Thing never happened before, whereas the Frivs had many Deliverances as great, and some more remarkable than this Prescrvation from that Invasion. The Miracle, or Sign, is said to be of God's own giving, The Lord shall give you a Sign; and therefore it must be expected, that something more is couched under the Word, than the bare Prediction of this temporary Deliverance. These Considerations weighed so much with the ancient Jews and Chriftians, that they looked upon this passage, as a

Prediction of the Messias ; because the Words could not The Feni? be altogether applicd to Isaiah's Son. I am very well afposition of sured, that such a way of Interpretation looks very odd Scripture a to you, Philologus, who are only used to prophane AuConfirma- thors; among whom nothing, like this, is to be seen. But ftianity. Miomafrohorie if you were conversant in Jewith Books, you would see it in them a great deal of such Exposition, especially coner cerning the Messias ; whom, they fay, the Prophets are

wont to reveal upon all Occasions, and to give many glancing Predictions of Him, oftentimes, when their Subject engages them upon other Matter. And therefore,

when the Apostles draw Arguments from these Sort of ä Predictions, which are occasionally brought in, amidst the

Prosecution of other Matters; it Thews them, to be so far from Insincerity, or that their Writings are fuppofiti

tious, that it is a very clear Argument, that their Works ile are genuine, and their Consequences true. For what bet

ter Explication of any Text, to confirm an Opinion, could be expected, than the Expofition which had obtain'd for some Ages, in a National Church? This would have alf the Power imaginable to convince, nor would it be liable to the usual Obje&tions, of New-fanglednefs or Innovation. But, if the Apostles had criticised upon the Passages of the Old Testament, like our modern Expositors, you perhaps would have liked it better upon first Thoughts ; though, upon more serious Consideration, their Writings would, for this Reason, have been ten Times more liable to Exceprions, than now they are. Suppose the Apostles should have explained Scripture, by shewing the sense of the Words, as they are used in other Places of the Bible; by. quoting of Lexicons

, and citing fome parallel Arguments, out of prophane Authors; who would ever have believed, that such a Composition was made by one that, seventeen hundred Years ago, was bred up amongst the Nation of the Fews, amongst whom such Sort of Learning was never in Fashion If they had laid out their Labours after this Manner, I am confident, Philologus, you would have been the first Man, that for this Reason would have arraigned them for Impostors. But when such Men, as the Apostles were, of no Literature and Education, that never spent their Time in the Schools of the Rabbiesz fhould explain the Predictions of the Messias just in their Way; should be such eminent Masters in their Learn ing; should confirm the Truth of their Lord's Mision, by their Adversaries own Arguments; and fhculd be so ex


« AnteriorContinua »