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and clearness, are the support and the materials of our faith. To them, prophecy was a light, but “ a light shining in a dark place,” shedding a faint and glimmering radiance on the scenes immediately around it, but leaving the wide region beyond it, wrapped in gloom. To us, by the fulfilment of prophecy, the truth is as the light of the morning when the sun ariseth—" the daystar shining upon us!”
The most important predictions by which the faith and hope of ancient believers were supported, have been actually accomplished ; and we feel the vantage ground, on which, in this respect, we stand. What is said by the Apostle Paul of the Law as compared with the Gospel, will in some measure apply to prophecies unfulfilled, compared with prophecies accomplished. The one is “ the shadow of good things to come,” the dark and rude profile ; the other is “ the image of the things," the clear, well defined and distinct reflection. Still, as important uses were accomplished by the preparatory and imperfect representations of the Law, so unfulfilled prophecies have a direct connexion with the duties and interests of the Christian Church. Many prophecies are confessedly unaccomplished; of some it is doubtful, whether they are, or are not accomplished ; and this very uncertainty may well support the opinion that the true key to the cipher has not yet been found. There are how
ever, undoubtedly, predictions yet unaccomplished, which, as shadowy representations of the future, convey a general impression of the coming event. Some light is already reflected by the splendour of past fulfilments of prophecy; but there is still requisite, the development of time, to secure the full and clear delineation.
Attention to fulfilled prediction, in connexion with the great doctrines of Revelation, will convince us that from the beginning of the world, amidst all the revolutions of time, and all the external changes to which the church of God has been subjected, it has been the grand object of Providence to prepare the way for the establishment and reign of the Messiah. His coming, his kingdom, and his glory, are the prominent topics of prophecy. Predictions, describing his incarnation, sufferings, and death, have received their minute accomplishment. The statements of prophecy, possess on some of these points, a minuteness of almost graphic representation, which renders them to us as intelligible as the records of Evangelists. But the prophets describe the glory of a reigning, as well as the humiliation of a suffering Messiah. This union of characteristics was the source of all those misconceptions, and prejudices, that made “ Christ crucified a stumbling block to the Jews." They could have borne for a while a suffering Messiah, if there had immediately followed this humiliation, the secular glory of a conquering Messiah. The lapse of eighteen centuries, has not extirpated the prejudice. The fiction of two Messiahs has risen out of it; and some, astounded by the accordance of one class of predictions respecting the Messiah, with the history of the despised Nazarene, have been almost willing to believe that he might be the suffering Messiah, if but the Conqueror were to make his appearance. The Jewish preconception has had its influence on the Christian world; and it has passed from the Synagogue to the Church. It has discovered itself in the attempts to make Christianity the religion of the empire, to put the New Testament in the same relation to the nations called Christian, which the Mosaic code sustained to the land of Judea! It has led men to think, that “ a kingdom, not of this world,” was too simple and unattractive an apparatus, for the full elucidation of all the import of prophetic descriptions respecting the Church. This prejudice has been the source of innumerable misconceptions in every age; and analogical reasonings from the Mosaic economy, and the Jewish theocracy, and the secular governments of the earth in general, have laid the foundation of all the practical errors of former days, and all the surprising announcements of modern theories ! We also believe in the kingdom and glory of the Messiah ; in his coming, by the breath of his mouth to slay the wicked one; a coming that shall be realized in all that prophets and apostles have taught us to anticipate of the universal reign of righteousness, peace, and joy in the Holy Ghost; a coming, which if personal, and visible, and secular, would not accomplish, in the present state of our earth, more really glorious results, by the most prodigious and inconceivable phenomena that some speculations hold forth, than it would be fully capable of effecting by the more copious effusion of the Holy Spirit, and the more extended influence of the Gospel; a coming, not needed for any of those moral or spiritual purposes, which we are taught to regard as essential to the true glory of the Redeemer's kingdom. But the character of the present dispensation, and its continuance till the consummation of our hopes in the final and eternal glorification of the Church, will form the subject of the next discourse;* and I refer to it merely for the sake of shewing that a just and enlightened attention to the future state of the Church on earth, must be regulated by the careful and diligent study of the great principles disclosed in the New Testament; in not one of which, as laid down by our Lord and his Apostles,
do we find, as I conceive, a jot or tittle to support the splendid theories of Judaizing teachers, whether of the first or the nineteenth century!
Still, my brethren, if we cannot decipher the apparatus of a secular kingdom, and a visible theocracy in the unfulfilled predictions of the Sacred Volume; though we are contented with believing that the conversion of the Jews to the spiritual religion of the gospel will be in due time effected; though we rejoice in the anticipated termination of the reign of Antichrist in every form, whether we find it in Mohammedan, Papal, or Protestant communities, (and never is it more antichristian than when it deals in great swelling words of vanity, or assumptions of power and dominion under a Protestant form); though we expect only the universal dissemination of truth, and the universal prevalence of holiness, and are firmly persuaded that the power of the Gospel, “ with the Holy Ghost sent down from heaven” will accomplish all our hopes, in reference to the millennial reign of the Redeemer; though we believe that he will come “ the second time” only, when he shall appear “ without sin to the salvation"-we have still enough in these anticipations to gladden our hearts, to animate our hopes, to stimulate our activity, and to lead us to be “ steadfast, unmoveable, and always abounding in the work of the Lord !"