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. [“ What the law.could not do, God sent nis own Son to effect”d" the Messiah was to be cut off, but not for himself:"e by him divine Justice was to be satisfied, and the hand-writing that was against us, being nailed to his cross, was to be for ever cancelled:f he was so to “ finish transgression, and make an end of sin” that no further sacrifice for it should ever be nee cessary: by his one offering he was to perfect for ever them that are sanctified-All this has been done: through the blood of his cross reconciliation is made between God and man:h God no more abhors the sinner, seeing that he is cleansed from sin in the Redeemer's blood, and is clothed in that spotless righteousness which Jesus has brought in: nor does the sinner any longer hate God, because he is enabled to behold him as his God and Father in Christ-Thus is the breach completely closed: thus is man restored to the favour and love of God: thus are all typical sacrifices abrogated and annulled:k and thus are men delivered, no less from the love and practices of sin than from the curse and condemnation due to it.Sin is no more remembered on the part of God, nor any more practised on the part of man
A further end of the Messiah's mission was II. To fulfil the scriptures
There were a great variety of types and prophecies which designated the Messiah's work and character
[The first promise, given immediately after the fall, represented him as the seed of the woman who should bruise the serpent's head”—In process of time other prophecies declared the family from which he should spring, the time and place of his birth, the minutest circumstances of his life and death, together with his subsequent exaltation and glory: moreover the whole nature of his undertaking, the various offices he was to sustain, with all the effects of his mission, were exactly deliDeated--Besides these, there were also many figurative representations instituted of God for the purpose of exhibiting to the world, as in a shadow, those things which were afterwards to be realized and substantially effected.Our first parents were clothed by God himself with the skins of beasts, which they had before been directed to offer in sacrifice; that, in that type, they might see the only true way of atoning for their sin, or covering their shame from the eyes of God-The various ordinances that were appointed under the Mosaic dispensation, the paschal lamb, whose sprinkled blood averted
from the Israelites the sword of the destroying angel, while its flesh, eaten with bitter herbs, nourished their bodies: the daily and annual sacrifices, with all the sprinklings and other ceremonies; the habits and services of the priests, the form and furniture of the tabernacle, with many other things, which it would be tedious to enumerate, declared in ten thousand forms the work and offices of the promised Messiah-] All of these Christ was in the exactest manner to fulfil
[Some parts of the inspired volume represented him as God, others as a man, yea, as "a worm and no man;" some as victorious, others as suffering; some as living for ever, others as dying; some as the priest, others as the sacrifice; some as a sanctuary, and others as a stumbling-block: all manner of opposites were to unite in him as lines in their centre, in order that, when he should appear, there should not exist a doubt in any unprejudiced mind, but that he was the person foretold; and that every thing respecting him had been fore-ordained in the divine counsels-Accordingly when he came, he shewed himself to be that very Messiah, who, like a seal, engraven with strokes infinitely diversified, corresponded exactly with the impression which had been given of it to the church two thousand years before–Thus did he “seal up the vision and prophecy," completing it in all its parts, and leaving no further occasion for such methods of instruction ]
There was yet one more thing contained in his commission, namely, III. To pour out the Spirit
“The anointing of the most holy” is generally thought to import that Christ himself should receive the Spirit, but we apprehend that it imports also his communicating of the Spirit to his church
[Christ is certainly " the holy one and the just,” to whom the character of “the most holy” eminently belongs—It is certain also that we was anointed with the Spirit from his very first designation to preach the glad tidings of salvation;m and that he received a further unction when the Spirit descended upon him in a bodily shape like a dove_But these do not appear to be the seasons alluded to in the text: the unction there spoken of seems to follow the other ends of his mission; and consequently to relate to something which took place after his ascension to heaven—The Psalmist speaks of Christ after his ascension, and consequent inauguration, when he says, “ Thou lovest righteousness and hatest wickedness; therefore
God, thy God, hath anointed thee with the oil of gladness above thy fellows.". In another Psalm he declares the same truth in still plainer terms; “ Thou hast ascended on high, thou hast led captivity captive; thou hast received gifts for men, yea, for the rebellious also, that the Lord God might dwell among them.”p By consulting the apostle we shall find that this gift which Jesus then received, was, the holy Spirit; and that he received it in order that he might communicate it to his church; for, quoting this very passage, he alters one word in it, and says, “ he gave gifts unto men;" and then adds, that he gave these “ for the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, and for the edifying of the body of Christ.”q But the testimony of another apostle is absolutely decisive on this point: while St. Peter was preaching on the day of Pene tecost, the Holy Ghost came down upon all the apostles, and abode on each of them in the shape of cloven tongues of fire: the apostle then declared that this was an accomplishment of Joel's prophecy respecting “the pouring out of God's Spirit;" and referred them to Jesus as the author of it, and as having received, at this time, the gift of the Spirit for this very end; 3 therefore, says he, being exalted by the right hand of God, and having received of the Father the promise of the Holy Ghost, Jesus hath shed forth this which ye now see and hearr -Thus was this holy oil poured out upon the head of our great High Priest, that it might flow down to the skirts of his gare ments, and reach to the meanest of his members ] TO IMPROVE this subject we may observe
1. What abundant provision has God made for our salpation!
[What can we conceive either as necessary or desirable beyond what our blessed Redeemer has done for us? What could the most guilty and abandoned sinner upon earth desire more of Christ, than that he should“ finish transgression, make an end of sin, make reconciliation for iniquity, bring in for him an everlasting righteousness, and anoint him” with that same Spirit wherewith he himself is “ anointed without measure?"--Or what evidence of his ability and willingness to do these things would any man have, beyond what the accomplishment of so many types and prophecies affords him?-And shall God do so much for us, and we do nothing for ourselves? Yea, shall God freely offer us this glorious salvation, and we not deign to receive it?- let us open our eyes, and behold our truest interest: let us not perish in the midst of mercy; let
us not be famished when so rich a feast is set before us;u but let us comply with the Saviour's invitation, “Eat, o friends, drink, yea, drink abundantly, 0 beloved”-*7
2. How deeply are we interested in obtaining the knowledge of Christ!
[When the apostles were asked by our Lord, whether they also intended to forsake him, Peter well replied, “Lord, whither shall we go? Thou hast the words of eternal life”—Thus must we say; for assuredly “there is salvation in no other; there is no other name given under heaven whereby we must be saved, but the name of Jesus Christy_In vain will be all our selfrighteous endeavours to reconcile ourselves to God, or to renew our polluted hearts—" If Christ wash us not, we have no part with him:" if he put not away our sins, they must abide upon us for ever: if he do not impart to us that . unction of the Holy One, whereby we know all things,” and “can do all things, we must perish in our impotency, even as newborn infants that are left to themselves—Shall we then be regardless of the Saviour, and “ perish for the lack of knowledge,” when God is thus labouring to instruct us?-Shall we not rather, like Daniel, pray day and night that we may obtain à clearer knowledge of his will?—Let us, 0 let us “ give earnest heed to the things that are spoken;" and treasure up in our minds that truth of God, which alone can sanctify us, which alone can save us ]
CLVI. SIGNS OF THE MESSIAH'S ADVENT.
Joel ii. 28–32. And it shall come to pass afterward, that I will
pour out my Spirit upon all flesh, and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, your old men, shall dream dreams your young men shall see visions: and also upon the servants and upon the handmaids in those days, will I pour out my Spia rit. And I will shew wonders in the heavens, and in the earth, blood and fire, and pillars of smoke. The sun shall be turned into darkness, and the moon into blood, before the great and the terrible day of the Lord come. And it shall come to pass that whosover shall call on the name of the Lord shall be delivered.
IT is much to be regretted that the obscurities which occur in the prophetic writings (especially those of the lesser prophets) deter many from reading so large a portion of the inspired volume. If there are some parts hard to be understood, there are other parts plain and highly instructive: and the very figures, which from their bold. ness and sublimity appear intricate, will be found easy and intelligible, through the light reflected on them in the . New Testament—The passage before us would, on a cursory perusal, be deemed incapable of any sober con. struction, or at least, of any proper application to ourselves: but it plainly declares to us I. The signs of the Messiah's advent
Numberless were the signs by which the world were taught to know the true Messiah: we here notice only two;
1. The effusion of his Spirit for the conversion of his elect
[The Spirit in preceding ages had been given to those of the Jewish nation only, and to but few even of those, and in
at is those, and a scanty measure; but was “afterward,” that is, in the times · of the Messiah, to be “poured out” abundantly, on Gentiles as well as Jews, and without any distinction of age, sex, or quality, the meanest as well as the greatest being chosen to participate this benefit-This was literally fulfilled, as St. Peter affirms, on the day of Pentecost.a We must not however limit the operations of the Spirit to the imparting of miraculous gifts: the terms used by the prophet import, that they who should receive the Spirit should be so instructed in the mind and will of God, as to be led to “ call on” the Messiah, and enjoy “the deliverance” which he was coming to effect—Nor must the prophecy be confined to the apostolic age; for St. Peter also testifies that the promise is to all that are afar off, even as many as the Lord our God shall callb—-]
2. The execution of judgments for the punishment of his enemies
[As an apostle has explained the former part of the text, so has our Lord himself that which now presents itself to our view. The immediate subject, to which these figurative expressions refer, is the destruction of Jerusalem: nor, whether we consider the prodigies that accompanied the sieged or the devastation and bloodshed occasioned by the Roman armies,
a Acts ii. 16–21.
• Comp. Acts ii. 39. with the words immediately following the text.
c Matt. xxiv. 7. 29. and Luke xxi. 11, 25. , d See Duddridge's note on Acts ii. 19.