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Behold! I have given him for a witness to the people, a leader and commander to the people.'
Isa. lv. 4.
This word occurs in no other passage; though the whole life of Jesus is a striking illustration of the character here ascribed to him. The signification needs no labored remarks. When we view Jesus as a commander, we find ourselves in a very wide field. For he had full power over the intellectual, moral and physical departments of creation. No mind was beyond his reach, no heart beyond his influence: no sorrow beyond his consolation. Possessing 'the keys of death and the grave,' he unlocked their dark and dreary domains, and bade the insatiable tyrant yield up his victims. Jesus' went into a city called Nain; and many of his disciples went with him, and much people. Now when he came nigh to the gate of the city, behold! there was a dead man carried out, the only son of his mother, and she was a widow, and much people of the city was with her. When the Lord saw her, he had compassion, and said unto her, Weep not! And he came and touched the bier, and they that bare him stood still. And he said, Young man,
I say unto thee, Arise! He that was dead, sat up and began to speak. And he delivered him to his mother.'* What an affecting scene! We behold the
* Luke vii. 11-15.
widowed mother on the one hand; on the other, her only son in the cold embraces of death. The dark and silent tomb was prepared. It was soon to close on the remains of a blooming youth. Such an event excited the divine pity of Jesus. By a single act he gave life to the dead, and inexpressible joy to the living!
Another instance is recorded, though not surpassring the former in benevolence. Jesus had been all the day teaching the multitude and healing the diseased. In the evening he sent them away, and went with his disciples into a ship. There arose a great storm of wind, and the waves beat into the ship, so that it was now full.' The darkness of the night and the warring of the elements created a scene of confusion and distress which may be conceived, but cannot be described. Jesus was in the hinder part of the ship asleep on a pillow. Within his breast no passions raged to disturb his slumbers. The world was at war with him, yet he pursued, with unwavering faithfulness, the will of his father who sent him. The disciples awake him, with the affecting question, Master! carest thou not that we perish ?' With the mildness of an angel, but the voice of Omnipotence, he rebuked the wind, and said unto the sea, Peace, be still! The wind ceased, and there was a great calm.' Here was a grand display of Christ's power over the world. Well might the disciples exclaim, 'What manner of man is this, that even the wind and the sea obey him!'*
He who thus stilled the elements was sent by the Father to subdue all moral evil, and to present the human family spotless before his throne.
* Mark iv. 35–41.
Power may be exercised either in governing ourselves, or in commanding others. In man, power degenerates into tyranny; in Christ, it merged into benevolence. His character is finely summed up in the admirable expression, 'He went about doing good. The blind received their sight; the lame walked; the lepers were cleansed; the deaf heard; the dead were raised up; and the poor had the gospel preached to them.'* While this Commander was thus blessing the world, he pathetically acknowledged that 'the foxes had holes, and the birds of the air had nests, but he had not where to lay his head.' Had he been an impostor, he would have commanded others to enrich him for his labors.
It would seem, from the slightest survey of the character and attributes of this Commander, that he is well qualified to be the Saviour of the whole world. We see him manifesting a power equal to any event or emergency, not a blind power, but beautifully mingled with wisdom and benevolence. For what higher or nobler object could it have been given than to elevate man to virtue and happiness? It is as unwise to give a being too much power as not enough. If Jesus does not save the world, then he seems to have more power than is necessary. But it is the height of absurdity to limit a power where we see no bounds. There appears, therefore, to be a peculiar propriety in trusting in him as the Saviour of the world.
* Matt. xi. 5.
XVII. CONSOLATION OF ISRAEL.
And behold! there was a man in Jerusalem, whose name was
Simeon: and the same man was just and devout, waiting for the consolation of Israel : and the Holy Ghost was upon him.'
Luke ii. 25.
We had intended to omit this title, but farther reflection convinces us that it deserves a place in our work. No particular criticism seems necessary. Cruden, in his old fashioned style, gives us the following views :-'He waited for Christ to comfort them against their troubles, both spiritual and outward. The prophets used to comfort the people of God among the Jews, against all their sad tidings they brought them, with the prophecies of the coming and kingdom of Christ, Isa. lxvi. 12, 13. Herein Simeon showed the truth of his piety and devotion, that he believed, and waited for the coming of Christ.'
The title seems to derive its importance principally from the connection in which it is found. There is, certainly, something remarkable in the whole account. It appears that the Jewish nation entertained a very general expectation of the appearance of the Messiah about the time of our Lord's birth. Dr. Chandler, speaking on this subject, says, “The expectation of this great King could not be rooted out of the minds of the Jewish people to Vespasian's days, whose sudden rise to the empire and conquest of the Jews so
turned the heads of many as to make them imagine he must be the king that had been spoken of.'
Tacitus, Suetonius, and Josephus all agree that there was a general expectation of a new kingdom to appear about that time. *
This consolation of Israel' was so universally expected, that the Jews swore by it. So let me see the consolation of Israel, if such a thing be not so, or so.'t
That the Jews formerly had correct views of the Messiah, seems very evident; but their minds had become imbued with the idea of a great personage who would exalt their nation to a height and glory far surpassing every kingdom on earth. We do not stop to inquire into the origin of such an erroneous view, or to consider the awful consequences which followed in its train. It would seem, however, that there were some who retained correct opinions, and who hailed the approach of Christ as a moral and spiritual deliverer. God has made such
God has made such arrangements in the moral department of creation, that in every age there are a few chosen ones in whose hearts the truth finds a response and a resting place. Such persons preserve society; they are the salt of the earth.' They are as 'a light shining in a dark place;' as stars in the absence of the 'two great lights.' Among these may be placed many whose names stand on the sacred page. Anna, the prophetess, was one. 'She, coming in that instant, [while Simeon held the babe in his arms,] gave thanks likewise unto the Lord, and spake of him to all them that looked for redemption in Jerusalem.'I Joseph, of Arimathea, ,
* See quotations from each under title MESSIAH. † See the forms in Lightfoot. # Luke ii. 37, 38.