Page images
PDF
EPUB

own account of the desolation of the temple, and with it the desolation of Jerusalem, and the rejection of the people, contained in the xxiiid chapter of Matthew: where, after setting forth in order the sins of the scribes and Pharisees and doctors of the law, who ruled the spirit of society, although the Romans held the strongholds and gathered the tribute, and denouncing upon them direful burdens from the Lord, he promiseth to send among them “prophets and wise men and scribes,” whom they would maltreat and make an end of, as they were doing to himself: and for this their perseverance in smiting with the rod of oppression both Him, the Prince of life, and these his faithful disciples, he thus pronounceth the doom of Jerusalem, and her beautiful house : " O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, thou that killest the prophets, and stonest them which are sent unto thee, how often would I have gathered thy children together, even as a hen gathereth her chickens under her wings, and ye would not ! Behold, your house is left unto you desolate” (vers. 37, 38). And, the more strongly to shew them wherefore all this wrath was come upon them, by shewing them how it was to cease in their acknowledging bim with blessings on his head, he addeth these words :.“ For I say unto you, Ye shall not see me henceforth, till ye shall say, Blessed is he that cometh in the name of the Lord” (ver. 39). This passage of Matthew, taken as a whole, casts a steady light upon the passage of Micah now under consideration; presenting us, first, with Christ in his character of a Judge, whose office it is to gather the poor and the needy, and those who have no help, from under the hand of their oppressors.

This he saith he would oft have done for the children of Jerusalem, oppressed with the yoke of the scribes and Pharisees. Even as Zecharias predicted by the Holy Ghost, that Jesus was raised up a horn of salvation for us in the house of David....that we should be saved from our enemies, and from the hand of all that hate us;" and as his name Jesus signified, "for he shall save his people from their sins ;” so, doubtless, it would have proved to all the house of Israel, if they would have received him, seeing that to them who received him “ he gave power to become the sons of God.” He would have redeemed them from the bondage of the law, that they might receive the adoption of sons; he would have given them the regeneration of the Spirit, without which no one can see the kingdom of heaven. And when he was removed from them into the heavens, he was still “ exalted a Prince and a Saviour to give repentance and remission of sins;” and unto them God sent him first to bless them, in turning every one of them from his iniquities (Acts iii. 26, v.31.) It is true that our Lord refused to take upon hiin any office of rule or government, or even of authoritative judgment, during the days of his flesh, and on one

[ocr errors]

occasion positively refused to arbitrate in a matter of property which was submitted to him; yet not the less did he claim even then to possess all judgment, in virtue of his being the Son of man (John v); and to have executed judgment also upon the prince of darkness, and the spiritual wickednesses in the heavenly places : “ Now is the prince of this world judged, now is the prince of this world cast out.” And inasmuch as he went about all Israel, doing judgment upon the demons which wrought in and lorded it over men, and upon all the works of Satan,

and was offering that holy obedience and perfect sacrifice, without which the victim could never have been delivered from its bondage under the power of Satan and the world, he is fairly entitled to the name “ Judge of Israel,” though as yet he had not taken upon him any act of power and government. Him, thus labouring for their behalf in that spiritual region which must first be won, before any thing in the visible could be essayed, they did ignominiously entreat, together with all who came in his name to publish abroad the work of righteousness which he had perfected: and for this blind and infatuated rejection of their Redeemer, God gives them up for a season, and shews them what they are when separated from the hope and the glory of Israel. There are other reasons for which at his former coming he should be called “the Judge of Israel :” whereof one is, that, being made under the law, he kept the law; and, in keeping it, did prove that there was in it nothing incompatible with the condition and powers of a mortal man; and so he convicted all transgression of being verily and truly guilt, and not misfortune or necessity of nature. As Noah judged all the old world, and condemned them, by his faith; so Christ, by his perfect holiness in our nature, did condemn all men whatsoever who had offended God in the same nature : and so he was in spirit, though not in outward semblance, the universal Judge and condemner of men, in order to his becoming their universal Redeemer and Saviour; and hereafter, as their rejected Saviour, he will judge all those that do reject him.

But while these reasons go to the depth of the matter, gathered from the latter books, we would seek the form of the language, “ Judge of Israel,” from the earlier book's, and particularly from that promise made. by Jacob unto Judah, “ The sceptre shall not depart from Judah, nor a lawgiver from between his feet, till Shiloh come; and to him shall the gathering of the people be ” (Exod. xlix. 10). This refers to the former coming of Christ, and presents him as then entering into the office of the lawgiver and sceptre-bearer of Judah, and afterwards into the office of the gatherer of the peoples. And so also the prophecy made to Moses presents him in the same character of a lawgiver, whose word the people should not on any account refuse to hear; and herein he was the prophet like unto Moses : “ The law came by Moses, but grace and truth came by Jesus Christ :” he gave the law of the Spirit, the royal law of liberty. "I will raise them up a Prophet from among their brethren like unto thee, and will put my words in his mouth, and he shall speak unto them all that I shall command him. And it shall come to pass, that whosoever will not hearken unto my words which he shall speak in my name, I will require it of him” (Deut. xviii. 18, 19). From the Apostle's argument in the third chapter of the Hebrews, it is manifest that he regarded this parallel between Christ and Moses to stand in the bringing in of a dispensation of the word of God unto which Moses acted the part of a prophetic testimony and a faithful witness. On these accounts it is, as I think, that Jesus is called in the day of his humiliation “the Judge of Israel,” when he was stricken with a rod upon the cheek, because he prophesied, or spake in God's name; for the wretch who did it said, “ Prophesy, who is it that smote thee ?” In this respect also he answereth to Joseph, who, when he was first known to his brethren, was, for his unlikely prophesyings, cast out, and given over for lost, and dead out of mind; but lived to meet his brethren the second time, and to be blessed as their saviour, and acknowledged as their ruler, to whom the birthright was yielded up. So Christ was smitten by his brethren, and for this cruelty they are given up for a season; but afterwards he “ the Excellent One (not “the remnant") of his brethren” returneth to the children of Israel, and works for them wonderful things.

- These things we have thought it necessary to add here upon the words "they shall smite the Judge of Israel with a rod upon the cheek,” in addition to what we observed upon it in our former interpretation, which containeth only a narrow view of the text, though true so far as it goes. We were then studying it more with reference to the preceding than the following part of the context, and we beg that some expressions there occurring may be corrected by these fuller views of it. But while our Lord, in the passage of Matthew referred to for illustration of that before us, doth assign this, the rejection of him and his prophets, as the cause of their dispersion, and the downfall of their city and temple, he doth intimate a time of his returning to them again, when they should be found in another and a better mood, “ blessing him who cometh in the name of the Lord;”—an expression which, being quoted from the cxviiith Psalm, doth teach us to refer to that portion of Scripture, which doing, we find it to be descriptive of Messiah's return to his people. With this information I will now return to our proper labour, after quoting one passage from the writings of St. Paul, confirmatory of the conclusion which we are now seeking to establish-namely, that the giving up of his people and city and temple for a season, is due to their having « smitten the

Ti

Judge of Israel with a rod upon the cheek," or their having treated him with all indignity and cruelty in the days of his flesh, and cut short his work of salvation to their nation by an unjust and violent death. "Who both killed the Lord Jesus and their own prophets, and have persecuted us; and they please not God, and are contrary to all men; forbidding us to speak to the Gentiles that they might be saved, to fill up their sins alway. For [not for, but and, or however] the wrath is come upon them to the uttermost" (1 Thess. ii. 15, 16).

Having thus ascertained the cause of their being given up, the next thing which presents itself is the duration thereof; which is given in this form, "until the time which she that travaileth hath brought forth." Brought forth what? The man child who is to rule all nations with a rod of iron (Rev. xii. 5); him whose exploits are recorded in the following verses. But is he not brought forth already? and hath not his birth-place, Bethlehem-Ephratah, been mentioned? and his base and ignominious humiliation? And how, then, should Jerusalem be set forth as travailing with him still, and to travail with him until the days of her up-giving be ended, and the days of her redemption be come? The answer of this and the like difficulties is only to be derived from the New Testament, and especially from that book of it which, because it is the key-book, is called Apocalypse, or " Revelation;" whereto referring, we find that the Christ of the Second Psalm, into whose hands the inheritance of the earth is given and the subjugation of the Gentiles, is not the Son of Man merely, but all those who are united to him by regeneration of the Holy Ghost, "born of God, sons of God" (Rev. ii. 27; xii. 5). And therefore we with him are called Christ (1 Cor. xii. 12); and the great mystery of which Paul maketh such great account is, "Christ in us" (Col. i. 27): and if the new truth, contained in the Scriptures which were | written after the day of Pentecost, were to be expressed in our word, it would be this, That the mystery of God in the Christ is not completed in one person, Jesus of Nazareth, but in many persons,-Jesus and the elect; the head and the members; the second Adam, and his seed elected in him before the beginning of the world, and now gathering up into him from all the ends 1 of the earth, through all generations, until the fixed and determinate portion shall have been completed.' As the seed stood alone in Isaac, but in Jacob was multiplied into twelve heads, who builded up the house of Israel into that polity whereof Jerusalem was the capital; so it stood alone in Jesus, and after his ascension was committed by the Spirit unto the twelve Apostles; upon whom, as foundation stones, we are all builded up into the new Jerusalem, of which Christ is the light and the life, the temple and the glory. This is the true idea of the

6

Christ by whom God is hereafter to subvert all evil dominion and govern the world for ever; and with this key the Old-Testament prophecies which speak of Christ must be interpreted, or else they will not speak plainly; and especially those prophecies which speak of the pregnant woman : to all which an explicit key is given to us in the with chapter of the Revelation ; where, though the child is spoken of as one (ver. 5), it is also described as many (ver. 11), who overcame the accuser ; and when that number is accomplished, there are still a remnant of her seed, whom the dragon doth persecute and seek to destroy (ver. 17). This two-fold company-the one gathered before, the other after the travailing woman is cast out into the wilderness, which I take to be the same with the field of our Prophet (iv. 10)—do together constitute the new Jerusalem, the bride of the Lamb, which cometh down from heaven. They began by being one in the womb of the pregnant woman (elect in Chrisi in the mystery hidden from ages); they come forth in succession from the womb of the lowly and painful church (for no mother hath her family all at once); they are afterwards re-united into one, and come down from heaven the glorious bride of the Lamb perfect and complete. And seeing we have this key to the symbol of the travailing woman given us by God in his book of keys, we ought by means of it to interpret that symbol wherever it occurs; and doing so, we have a clear meaning of the passage before us, which represents Jerusalem as travailing until the very time of her redemption and glory, until her King return to her, and she receive him with Hosannahs, saying, “ Blessed is he that cometh in the name of the Lord.” The travailing woman is still Jerusalem-not indeed she who is in bondage with her children, the Hagarene, the Mount Sinai, which gendereth to bondage; but the Jerusalem above, the spiritual and the heavenly, which is the mother of us all. Our citizenship is above, where our spiritual Father, even Christ, is; and we are waiting to be clothed upon with our house which is from heaven. (Gal. iii.; 2 Cor. v.; Phil. iii.) Of all the mystery so variously set forth in the Epistles and the Apocalypse, this prophecy of Micah, wherein Jerusalem is contemplated as a mother, is the germ and figure; and by these, therefore, the knot of it should be unloosed. Forasmuch, then, as the church shall be in the sad and suffering, the weak and lowly estate of a travailing woman, until the number of the elect be completed, and Christ with all his saints be ready to be revealed; forasmuch as the indignation of God will not descend upon the destroyer of the earth until the time that all who are to be saved shall have been gathered into the ark; forasmuch as the new Jerusalem cannot appear in its perfection and glory until every stone be builded into its walls and palaces, and it be complete, according to the idea and

« PreviousContinue »