« ПредыдущаяПродолжить »
forbidding the enemies of the Jews to interrupt the building of the temple, and further commanded that materials requisite for the work, and the animals, oil, and wine for the sacrifices, should be supplied at his (the king's) cost. The third decree was granted to Ezra, the scribe, four hundred and sixty-seven years before Christ, by Artaxerxes Longimanus, in the seventh year of his reign, by which he bestowed great favours upon the Jews,* appointing Ezra Governor of Judea. He permitted all the Jews to return to Jerusalem, and commanded his treasurers beyond the river, to supply Ezra with such things as he needed for the house of his God, even to an hundred talents of silver, an hundred measures of wheat, an hundred baths of wine, and an hundred baths of oil. The king and his princes presented much silver and gold, and many vessels, and ordered that what else might be required for the house of God, should be supplied from the king's treasury. This is not the same Artaxerxes who listened to the slanderous reports of the enemies of the Jews, and stopped the building of their temple ; but Artaxerxes, surnamed Longimanus, supposed to be the person styled Ahasuerus, in the book of Esther, whose attachment to his Israelitish consort may account for the distinguished favours he conferred on the people of her nation. We find the queen was present when Nehemiah presented his petition, which was the second decree granted by this monarch, and was the fourth and last decree, being granted in the twentieth year of his reign, and four hundred and fiftyfour years before Christ.* This was the most efficient decree, for by it Jerusalem and its walls were built. The high resolves of the court of Heaven were revealed ; Daniel was made “ to know and understand that from the going forth of the commandment to restore and build Jerusalem, unto the Messiah, the prince, shall be seven weeks, and three score and two weeks, being sixty nine weeks, or four hundred and eightythree years. From the last, or fourth, decree to the birth of Christ, (vide Rollin, volume 8, page 265,) is four hundred and fifty-four years, to which we add twenty-nine years (the age at about which Christ entered on his public ministry);t these united, make the exact period of sixty-nine weeks, or four hundred and eighty-three years. Daniel also declares that “ seventy weeks (or four hundred and ninety
* Ezra vii. 11-23.
years) are determined upon thy people and upon thy holy city, to finish the transgression, and to make an end of sins, and to make reconciliation for iniquity, and to bring in everlasting righteousness, and to seal up the vision and prophecy, and to anoint the most Holy.” We find between the seventy weeks, or four hundred and ninety years, and the sixty-nine weeks, or four hundred and eighty-three years, a difference of one week, or seven years, which is the week evidently alluded to in the twenty-seventh verse of this chapter, in which he shall confirm the covenant with many for one week, &c.” From the period of Christ's first entry into the ministry, and the calling of his apostles, until his crucifixion, were three and a half years, and, for three and a half years after that event, his apostles continued to minister amongst the Jews. This makes a period of seven years, (or one prophetic week,) in the midst of which the Messiah was cut off, and “ the sacrifice and oblation” virtually ceased. The correspondence is exact; Jesus, the Messiah, not only entered on his public ministry at the very period pointed out ages before, but was actually cut off in the midst of the week, as was expressly foretold. These predictions of the Prince Messiah are peculiarly striking. The time for his appearance is marked, and
the particular objects he should effect on his coming, are described with such minuteness, as scarcely to admit of the possibility of mistaking his person. The grand features of his mission were so strongly exhibited, that it was morally impossible the Messiah should appear and not be recognised. Prejudice must have blinded the eye of that mind which does not, on comparing the whole of the New Testament with this prophecy, acknowledge Jesus of Nazareth to be the Messiah. It bears the stamp of divine prescience : none but the omniscient God could have given his features with such clearness so many ages before. This portrait of the Messiah, which bears so exact a resemblance to Jesus, was in the possession of the Jews, at least five hundred years before that glorious person was exhibited to the world, a God incarnate.
Jesus declares himself to be the long promised Messiah-his claim rests on no slight or doubtful evidence—he came at the very precise time it was foretold the Messiah should appear to the people and the holy city. Christ's ministry was among the people of the Jews—Judea was the land of his nativitythe scene of his labours—the witness of his miracles -he was born at Bethlehem, near Jerusalem, and crucified just " without the gate" of the holy city. On Calvary“ he finished the transgressions, and made an end of sin, and make reconciliation for iniquity.” There the God-man, Christ Jesus, offered up his life a ransom for the guilty—there the surety of the Church paid the full price for her redemption, and made peace by the blood of his cross—there “ he suffered the just for the unjust to bring sinners unto God.” He took away“ the hand-writing of ordinances that was against us, taking them out of the way by nailing them to the cross”—there he removed the iniquity of the land in one day, and so completely “ finished the transgression,” by suffering the punishment due for his people's sins, that when they are “sought for they shall not be found”—there he paid the full price of their redemption, he cancelled the bond, and made peace and reconciliation with offended justice. He “ brought in an everlasting righteousness, and not only suffered the penalty due for their transgressions of God's law, which is holy, just, and good, but, as the head of the Church, he obeyed all the precepts of the moral law; which he exalted and made honourable. Perfect was the obedience wrought out--complete was the righteousness brought in by the incarnate Deity, the Lord our righteousness, which is from everlasting to everlasting “ unto all and upon all that