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There is a remarkable, though somewhat obscure prophecy in Jeremiah, which is illustrated by the passage just cited. It is this, “the Lord hath created, or will create, a new thing in the earth, a woman shall compass a man," or rather “a male child.” (ch. xxxi. 22). But there could be nothing extraordinary in this, nor could such a pregnancy be truly called a "new thing ;" wherefore, to make the text intelligible, it must be understood only in the same sense with the wonderful sign mentioned by Isaiah, and which was fulfilled in the miraculous conception.
The place of the Messiah's birth is declared in the prophecy of Micah, “ But thou Bethlehem Ephratah, though thou be little among the thousands 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 old, from the days of eternity.”
The Jews never denied that this prediction referred to the Messiah, and when Herod consulted 'the priests concerning the birthplace of Christ, they delivered it as their persuasion, founded on this prophecy, that it must be at Bethlehem. The word Ephratah,
young woman," but in fact, the translation is so strictly correct, that no other word could have been adopted without paraphrasing and weakening the original, which denotes such a maid as in the Eastern countries is carefully secluded from men till the ceremony of marriage : and therefore the Septuagint reads the passage exactly as we do.
by which the prophet more clearly designates the place, is the name of David's family, and therefore it marks at once, that the person there to be born was no other than the hope of Israel.
But though his lineal descent was so plainly marked, and the place of his birth denoted, yet it was also foretold that the Messiah should be born in obscurity, and in a low condition. This indeed is sufficiently intimated in the passage last cited, which describes Bethlehem as “ little and contemptible,” thereby expressing that the person by whose birth she was to be honoured would be in a humble state. The same thing is intimated by Isaiah when he calls the Messiah a.“rod or, a shoot of the stem of Jesse," who, though he was the father of David, was only a man of ordinary rank. But in that most exact description of the humiliation of Christ contained in the fifty-third chapter of Isaiah, it is declared that “ he shall be as a root out of a dry ground, without having any form or comeliness," or any such circumstances as might comport with an object of desire, or of worldly admiration. The preparation and the circumstances of the Messiah's coming are sufficiently described in various prophecies, to fix the application only to him whose history is recorded by the Evangelists. Thus, that his approach should be ushered in by an extraordinary messenger from heaven, after
a long interval of prophetic silence, is de. clared by Isaiah and Malachi; by the former in the language of metaphor, which, however, was literally verified in the person and con. dition of the Baptist; “the voice of him that u crieth in the wilderness, prepare ye the way " of the Lord, make straight in the desert a
highway for our God. , Every valley shall " be exalted, and every mountain and hill " shall be made low; and the crooked shall “ be made straight, and the rough places
plain. And the glory of the Lord shall be “ revealed, and all flesh shall see it together; « for the mouth of the Lord hath spoken it" (ch. xl. 3, 5). The last of the prophets is still more particular with respect to the Messiah and his forerunner'; “Behold, I will send my messenger, and he shall prepare the way before me: and the Lord whom ye seek, shall suddenly come to his temple, even the messenger of the covenant whom ye delight in: behold, he shall come with the Lord of Hosts” (Mal. vii. 1). Much might be forcibly urged on the subject of the time when the Messiah was to make his appearance, but the simple prophecy of Jacob before considered is most expressive and determinate. It is there said that Judah should not be without “a sceptre or a dominion” till the coming of Shiloh, and this was exactly the case, for the birth of Christ was distinguished by the striking circumstance of registering
the people for the purpose of a general taxation by command of the Roman Emperor.
The appearance of the star in the east, and the visit of the wise-men to Judea in quest of the new-born king, are represented with wonderful accuracy in this passage of the evangelical prophet; “Arise, shine, for thy light is come, and the glory of the Lord is risen
upon thee. For behold, the darkness shall cover the earth, and gross darkness the people : but the Lord shall arise upon thee, and his glory shall be seen upon thee. And the Gentiles shall come to thy light, and kings to the brightness of thy rising.” (Is. 1x. 1. 3).
The office of Christ, his preaching, and miracles, are graphically described in numerous places, but in none so minutely as in these passages; “Behold, my servant, whom I uphold, mine eleet, in whom my soul delighteth, I have put my spirit upon him: he shall bring forth judgment to the Gentiles. He shall not cry nor lift up, nor cause his voice to be heard in the street. A bruised reed shall he not break, and the smoaking flax shall he pot quench: he shall bring forth judgment unto truth.” “ The spirit of the Lord God is upon me; because the Lord hath anointed me to preach good tidings unto the meek: he hath sent me to bind up the broken hearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison to them that are bound; to 'proclaim the
acceptable year of the Lord.” Then the eyes of the blind shall be opened, and the ears of the deaf shall be unstopped ; then shall the lame man leap as an hart, and the tongue of the dumb sing.” (Is. xlii. 1, 3. lxi. 1, 2. xxxv. 5, 6). See also ch, xi. 2, 3, 4, compared with Luke iv. 18.
If these prophecies had a literal as well as a spiritual accomplishment in the person and works of Jesus Christ, it is impossible for any to deny the divinity of his character, without impeaching all the rules of evidence, and the certainty of moral demonstration.
But there are particular predictions which relate to some precise facts in the history of the Messiah, and the concurrence of which could never have been the result of design. Thus when Zechariah predicted that the king. of Zion should come to Jerusalem lowly, and riding upon an ass, even the foal of an ass, (ix. 9), the circumstance is contrary to the spirit of ambition and the nature of a triumphant entry. The prophetical declaration therefore could be no encouragement to an impostor aspiring to royalty, because such a parade was inconsistent with his pretensions. Yet our Lord actually rode to Jerusalem in this manner, and the fame of his miracles procured him a number of followers who proclaimed him aloud as the king of Israel.” (Lu. xix. 38. John xii. 13).
The passion of our Lord, and the circum