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same time inyolved in so much doubt about their meaning, that the question was a relief to his labouring bosom, inasmuch as it gave him the opportunity of making an appropriate inquiry. He desired Philip to seat himself by him in the chariot, and then asked whom the prophet meant in the part he was reading, himself, or another? As this Scripture afforded Philip the opportunity to preach Christ, so it demands particular notice. The passage quoted from Isaiah, chap. liji. 7 and 8 verses, is according to the Greek translation, called Septuagint, then in use, as follows: He was led as a sheep to the slaughter, and like a lamb dumb before his shearer; so he opened not his mouth. In his humiliation his judgment was taken away: and who shall declare his generation ? for his life is taken from the earth. This passage, Philip declared, applied to Christ".
u As this is denied by the mass of modern Jews, it may be well to state, that some of them, not only do own that their ancient Rabbins did, with one mouth, confess, that those words were spoken of Messiah the King; but also speak thus of him, as Dr. Whitby has quoted in his Paraphrase : “ The holy blessed God began to covenant with the Messiah when he created him, and said to him, The sins of those who are laid up in secret with thee, will make
From it he preached Jesus to the noble Ethiopian. He dwelt on his sufferings, and the temper with which he endured them.
thee to come under an iron yoke, and make thee like to this young heifer, whose eyes are dim, and fill thy spirit with anguish : and because of their iniquities thy tongue shall cleave to the roof of thy mouth. Wilt thou, then, undergo this condition for them? The Messiah said, I undertake it with the joy and exultation of my heart, on this condition, that not one of Israel may perish, and that not only they may be saved who live in my days, but also they who are dead from the days of the first man, to this very day. And again, when God created the world, he held forth his hand under the throne of glory, and created the soul of the Messiah, and his company, and said to him, Wilt thou heal and redeem my sons after 6000 years ? He answered him, Yes. God said to him, If so, wilt thou bear chastisements to expiate their iniquities, according to what is written, Is. liii. 4. Surely he bore our griefs? He answered, I will endure them with joy.” In these quotations, given fully, we perceive, as the learned writer mentioned observes, three things acknowledged by the Jews,
1. That God has inade a covenant with Messiah.
2. That Messiah was to make atonement for the sins of Israel.
3. That he was to be the salvation, not only of those who were to be alive then, or to live after him, but of all men from the beginning.
Let this suffice to show the application which the Jews themselves make of this passage. The Evangelist, under the guidance of the Holy Spirit, has removed every doubt about its just application.
He showed the greatness of the former, and the meekness, inoffensiveness, and resignation of the latter. He placed before his auditor, the Priests and the Pharisees thirsting for blood; and Pilate, irresolute, fearful, convinced of Christ's innocence, but apprehensive of losing his place, by denying to the people the crucifixion of this Man of Sorrows. Now he unfolded the scene of agony in the garden ; then he spake of the piercing, the terrible cry of dereliction on the cross. His humiliation was so great; he appeared so mean and abased a person, that his enemies unrighteously judged him fit to be sacrificed to their rage. He seemed a person of so little importance, that though Pilate was convinced of his innocence, he did not think it worth while to hazard any thing on his account. Enlarging on his sufferings, the evangelist described in glowing colours the obstinate infidelity and barbarous injustice of that generation of men among whom he appeared, and from whom he suffered such things. Finally he came to the dying scene on Calvary, and told of the disappointed expectations of the disciples. They thought he would have redeemed Israel : but now he is no more; the grave encloses his body.
But did Philip stop here ? No. He began with this Scripture and preached Christ. He explained the reason why Christ ought to suffer and die. He exhibited the evil of sin, and the misery of the sinner. He proved that it became him for whom are all things, and by whom are all things, in bringing many sons unto glory, to make the captain of their salvation perfect, through sufferings. He passed on thence to the dignity of Christ, the brightness of the Father's glory, and the express image of his person. From his dignity he established the perfectness of the work of atonement. He spake of his resurrection, ascension, and session at the right hand of God. Having explained the doctrines of salvation through Christ, he exhorted and commanded his auditor to repent and believe in Christ, and be baptized in the name of Christ. He illustrated the nature of baptism; dwelt upon its value as a sign, and enforced its importance for the confirmation of faith.
Thus it was that he preached Christ ; for all these topics you will find in the 53d of
Isaiah and the connexion. Nor did he preach in vain ; for the sacred historian informs us, v. 36--38, that as they went on their way they came unto a certain water : and the eunuch said, see, here is water; what doth hinder me to be baptized ? And Philip said, If thou believest with all thine heart, thou mayest. And he answered, and said, I believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God. And he commanded the chariot to stand still : and they went down both into the water, both Philip and the eunuch, and he baptized him.
Behold here, the power of truth upon the heart of man, when blessed by the Holy Spirit. This Ethiopian, it is highly probable, nay, almost morally certain, must have heard of Christ in Jerusalem; but no doubt his Jewish friends, especially the priests, those enemies of Christ, had endeavoured to discolour facts, and to prepossess him against Christ. If, however, this was not the case, and as has already been mentioned, no particular effect appears to have been produced on his mind, he was unquestionably ignorant of Christ, as the Messiah; and, from his questions to Philip about