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"Say ye to the daughter of Sion, &c." * and Zechariah addresses himself directly to this '• Daughter of Sion," + by which is meant the city of Jerusalem, or the people^ os the Jews, from the Mount Sion which was therein; it being usual in the language and images of the East to represent a city or people by a female personage; and God seems with great propriety, here and elsewhere, to call the Jewish people the " Daughter of Zion," because as a Father he had nourished and brought up that nation. The subject may therefore be reasonably supposed to be of great importance, when an wholo people is thus solemnly addressed.—Again, Jerusalem is exhorted in the prophecy of Zechariah "to rejoice greatly;" and even "to shout for joy;" so that we may reasonably conclude it a matter of very great consequence which could justify such an exhortation. Still further; in both prophets the Jewish people are calledonto " behold;" that is, to attend, to examine, to use the evidence of their senses, as means of the highest conviction. And to confirm the reasonableness of this exhortation, the Jewish people are told by Zechariah, "thy King cometh ;" and that "he is just," and "hath salvation;" or, as Isaiah expresses himself, lxii. 2. "thy salvation cometh," and "his reward is with him:" by which different expressions the fame person appears to be described.
But lastly, the most remarkable, nay, surprizing circumstance in either of these prophecies is, that this deliverer, this conqueror, this king of Jerusalem, or Sion, is described by Zechariah with characteristics different from, nay, opposite to those os almost any other king, deliverer, or conqueror, viz. that he is lowly, as Zechariah expresses himself, or meek, as our Evangelist phrases it in the text. As a proof of this extraordinary characteristic meekness, or lowliness, he cometh not in a triumphal chariot drawn by noble and warlike animals, such as elephants, or other stately beasts of the East, where this solemnity was to be performed, but on the contrary, on the back ot an Ass, a meek and lowly animal, used for the most common and domestic purposes. And in order to convince thee, O my people, that there is somewhat very extraordinary in all this, the animal on which thy King shall thus ride, is of the weakest, meanest, and lowest of his species; most unlikely to be chosen by any person intending a triumphal entry into the royal city, even "acolt the foal of an ass," —■ _____________—-—— 1—
• Isaiah, lxii. 2. f Zechariah, ix. 9.
Z z so
y»l, XIII. Churchm. Mag.for November 1807.
so weak that he is not considered as fit for any domestic purpose whatever.—"Tis certainly very remarkable, that although neither our Evangelist St. Matthew,* nor St. John,+ who relate this signal transaction, cite the prophets exactly in other respects, yet are both very particular in recording the circumstance of the King coming to Jerusalem on an ass, and even on the colt of Tin ass; a circumstance which we cannot suppose would have been thus singularly attended to, had it not been essential to the fulfilling the prophecy, and had it not distinguished our blessed Lord from every other Jewish prophet and king before or aster him.—All these circumstances appear more than sufficient to shew that some transaction very extraordinary, and not an ordinary entry of a king, was here designed to be impressed on the imagination of God's peculiar people, and to be foretold to them. •
The second point we proposed to investigate was, that the Messias was here intended to be painted in some remarkable transaction of his ministry; which indeed seems to be a necessary consequence of the former point. For though it it past controversy, that this prophecy was to be fulfilled in the person of some Jewish king; consequently either in that of some of their ordinary human kings in the well-known suecession, or of the Messiah, who was the King of the sews in a nobler fense and manner. Now it will not be pretended that xhis description of a triumphal entry into Jerusalem of a Jewish king, suited any king of that nation, before the time of Zechariah, and before his prophecy, or of any ordinary king after the prophecy. Jt must then be descriptive of some transa6tion.of the Messiah, who was indeed to be the King of the Jews, hut in a very extraordinary manner; and in whose person many prophecies might be, and actually were fulfilled, which could not be true in any fense of any other king of Israel. 7 7 8
Thirdly, it appears most highly probable, that the Jewish people, particularly in the times when our blessed Lord appeared, expected that this prophecy would be fulfilled in the person of the Messiah. It is a well-known fact, that according to the calculation of the time fixed by the prophet Daniel, for the coming of the Messias, the fulness of it was then come; and from this very circumstance, added to some others, the Jewish nation had a stedfast and earnest /expectation
'Matt. xxi. 4, 5. t John xii. 15.
ation of his coming. In consequence of this expectation the people paid uncommon attention to the prophets, and studied all the circumstances which could reasonably be supposed to contribute to point out this great visitant. This fact is sufficiently evident from the several passages which occur in the Gospels, and which go upon this supposition. It would therefore be very improbable that the Jewish people, studious to gather every thing in the prophets which could contribute to finish the portrait, should omit fixing upon, and studying so remarkable a transaction as that which is recorded by the prophet Zechariah in the text, and which could not with any
£robability be apprehended to relate to any person but the. lessiah, or to have been fulfilled, even in a less perfect fense, by any other person besides him. Indeed the circumstance of the king's being styled Salvation, or having Salvation, and having his reward with him, so plainly described the Messiah, that one would think it impossible that these, prophecies should not be ascribed to him, and him, alone, who in an emphatic^l manner brought, and alone brought Salvation to his people, and to all mankind. The characteristic also of his being jitft, deserved not tp be slightly passed over, but pointed out him who by his death established the only righteousness, or justification, on which sinning man can rationally depend, viz. that which divine mercy vouchsafes, in consequence of man's humble depehdance on a voluntarily crucified Saviour, and obedience to his commands. And yet from a passage of St. John, xii» 16. it seems as though the multitudes, by the immediate operation of God's Spirit, were actuated to fulfil the exhortation of the prophet Zechariah ; for that Evangelist assures us, " that these things were not understood, even by his disciples, at the first, but when Jesus was glorified then remembered they that these things were written of him, and that they had done these things unto him." But whether the multitude paid our blessed Lord the honours which the Evangelist records, in consequence of a design to apply the prophecies to him, or in consequence of the over-ruling operation of the Spirit of God, in either case they fulfilled by this action a great and glorious prophecy concerning him.
Again; besides these general reasons which tend to prove that the Jewish people had an expectation that this prophecy of Zechariah would be fulfilled in the person of the Messiah; we may justly insist on the fact of their adapting it to the person of Jesus.—As soon as the people saw our blessed Saviour.' flilfil this prophecy, a very great multitude of them applied" to him the character of tfie Messiah, and thus shewed that they
Z z 9 understood understood this prophecy to relate to that expected deliverer. They not only "spread their garments in the way," and "cut down branches from the trees and strewed them in the way;" but "the multitudes which went before and sol-lowed after, cried, faying, Hosanna to the Son of David: blessed is he that cometh in the name of the Lord ; Hosanna in the highest!" Matt. xxi. 8, 9. The Messiah is here described, through the Son and Heir of David, as he who was to reign in his right. He was called, " He that cometh—" especially at that very time when it was generally and justly understood that either the Messiah must nozu come, or that the prophecies could not be fulfilled: and Jesus was considered as he who came "in the name of the Lord ;" not only as every prophet came in the name of Gods but as one who came more expressly in that name, as fulfilling the prophetic promises of him which God had made; and as being indeed intitled to the name of Lord, as being the very Lord to whom the supreme God had said, "Thou shalt sit at my right hand until I make thine enemies thy footstool!" So that it appears past a doubt, that when this multitude of the Jews saw our Lord perform this prophecy of Zechariah, they acknowledged him in the character of the Messiah whom they expected to come and fulfil it.
We must in the next place, consider with what amazing txaSneJs our blessed Lord fulfilled this prophecy.
We have remarked above how unfit naturally the foal of an ass was to be applied to any domestic use, both on account of his weakness and tender age: and this was more particularly true when applied to the carrying of a person of mature age into a great citv. Yet notwithstanding these natural objections, our blessed Lord most literally, and with amazing exactness, fulfilled this extraordinary prediction, and entered Jerusalem, in a triumphant manner, on an ass, on the colt or foal of an ass. It is not by any means surprizing that such an appearance lhould awaken the attention of the multitude to a fact naturally impracticable, and that it should convince them, that He was indeed the MeiTias—the Son of David—who came in the name of the Lord—and who had a just right to assume his name.
We now proceed to shew, that if our blessed Saviour had not been in reality the long expected Messias, his attempt to make this triumphant entry into Jerusalem would have been attended with consequences quite opposite to those which ensued upon it.
It might here be insisted on, wi:h much force, that no roan, who knew himse'f not to be the Meffias here prophesied of, would attempt this scheme of a triumphal entry, which be might be morally certain would redound to his disgrace and infamy, and not to his praise and honour. But omitting this consideration, we will only insist, that if we could suppose a man who (hewed sense and wisdom on other occasions to fall .into such a snare of vanity, we may be sure that the event would have convinced him how very ill he judged in making the experiment.—An attempt to ride triumphant into the great and royal city of David, Jerusalem, on an unbacked foal of an ass, as the Son of David, as ikt King of Israel, could not fail to expose him to the utmost contempt and ridicule, had he not possessed those miraculous powers which he really and efficaciously enjoyed; and had he not really been able to maintain the august character which he assumed. But our blessed Redeemer well knew that he was the Son of God as well as the Son os Man; that he had committed unto him aU power from on high; that he' could sway the unruly wills and ajseSions of fin)ul man; and therefore he courageously and prudently assumed the character of the Son of David; of the King of Israel; of him who came in the name of the supreme Lord, God the Father, to deliver Israel; not the carnal but the spiritual Israelites; and accordingly he bent before him the minds of the naturally obstinate and incredulous multitude, and was received, as he well deserved to be, with Hofannahs in the Highest!! In a word, the very extraordinary fulfilment of this remarkable prophecy, in all its minute circumstances, as recorded by the prophet Zechariah, producing such singular effects on the attending multitude al the means made use of were, in a natural way, by no meani calculated to produce; sullv proves, that Jesus was' the real and true Messiah who had so long been expecled by the Jewish nation: and consequently that the religion which he deli" vered was true It!
Several striking and very important reflections arise naturally from the view we have here taken of this remarkable prophecy in the Old Testament, and the exact fulfilment of it which is recorded in the New Testament.
In ihafr/l place, it is apparent to a very slight degree of reflection, that the dispensation of Christianity hath always been highly protected, and peculiarly favoured by the Providence of Almighty -God, from the earliest period of time. At certain times and seasons, as seemed good to the wisdom of God,