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Take the answer from his own lips. 66 And this is the record of John, when the Jews sent Priests and Levites from Jerusalem to ask him, Who art thou? And he confessed and denied not; but confessed, I am not the Christ. And they asked him, What then? Art thou Elias ? And he saith, I am not.” * How then were his Lord's words to be understood ? Let the announcing angel explain it who spake to Zacharias concerning John: “He shall go before him in the spirit and power of Elias.”+ Thus, and thus only it was, that Elias was come already; and when you consider that John the Baptist was then dead, when our Lord asserted, “ Elias truly shall first come and restore all things,” we have no alternative but to believe all that he said, and not to affix the stigma of falsehood to any portion of his word, who spake as never man spoke.
John Baptist had come already, according to the testimony of Gabriel, “ in the spirit and power of Elias;" and truly Elias shall come according to the testimony of the Holy Ghost by the mouth of Malachi confirmed by Christ, to do whatsoever God's hand and his counsel determined before should be done. We may now look back to the prophet, and consider what he asserts respecting the object of his coming. 66 And he shall turn * John i, 19-21.
+ Luke i. 17.
the heart of the fathers to the children, and the heart of the children to their fathers, lest I come and smite the earth with a curse.” That John Baptist, as the type, performed this work to a small extent, we readily acknowledge, (Luke i. 17) and, the amount of the typical act is easily ascertained, when we consider, that 500 brethren appear to be the greatest number of believers ever named before the day of Pentecost. (1 Cor. xv. 6.) But it will here be inquired, What are we to understand by turning the heart of the fathers to the children, and the children to their fathers? The key to this passage is, I think, found in the words of our Lord on one recorded occasion: 66 Think not,” he says,
66 that I am come to send peace on the earth : I came not to send peace, but a sword. For I am come to set a man at variance against his father, and the daughter against her mother, and the daughter-in-law against her mother-inlaw. And a man's foes shall be they of his own household.” * Whither will you turn to see this word fulfilled to the very letter? To the Jews. Where shall you look for the tremendous realizing of this awful sentence, but to them? Let but a Jew be convinced, through the mighty working of the Holy Spirit, that Jesus of Nazareth is the Christ, and have grace to confess him before men,
* Matt. x. 34-36.
· and his foes are literally they of his own household. Let but the convert profess his faith, and the very authors of his being will seek the life which under God they gave. The very wife of his bosom will become his enemy, and the familiar friend whom he trusted, his deadliest foe. But, when the Lord shall send Elijah the Prophet before the dreadful day of which he speaks, his appointed work will be to turn the heart of the fathers to the children; and the children to their fathers: thus, preparing the way of the Lord, before he come to smite the earth with a curse. It may yet be urged that these are strange things, and therefore hard to be received. To this, there is but one reply, Is the Lord's arm shortened? - Thus saith the Lord of hosts; If it be hard (margin) in the eyes of the remnant of this people in these days, should it also be hard in mine eyes ? saith the Lord of hosts."* And let it be remembered that there is a peculiar fitness in the selection of this individual for the work, because he never died, wherefore, he need not be raised from the dead before the appointed season of the resurrection, to perform this office. If, therefore, from what has thus been argued from the Scripture, “ Elijah the Prophet” must come before the day of the Lord, and, by
* Zech. viii. 6.
consequence, about the time of the national restoration, we ask, for a fourth time, the question so often reiterated: Did these things occur at the restoration from Babylon? To this but one reply can be given: They did not.
V. One other feature only shall be brought forward in connexion with our inquiry: That the Egyptian deliverance shall prove to be only a type of the marvellous things which God will do for his people in that day.
Here we must first establish the expectation, that signs and wonders shall attend the latter day deliverance. In the last chapter of the Prophet Micah, we find our warrant for this belief. Having spoken of the restoration of the people of God in the fourteenth verse, he adds, “ According to the days of thy coming out of the land of Egypt will I show unto him marvellous things." Here, the Egyptian deliverance is, in this particular, to be the example. The wonders which God's hand had wrought at that time, show before what he will do at the last, when he will gather his people from the nations whither he has driven them. The prophet then, winds up his testimony with these remarkable words, sealing the expectation with this assurance: “Thou wilt perform the truth to Jacob, and the mercy to Abraham, which thou hast sworn unto our
fathers from the days of old.” Why not truth to Abraham, and mercy to Jacob? The Spirit of Christ speaketh advisedly in the Word; and we may be sure there is a reason for this appropriation, as in all other cases. When Jehovah entered into covenant with Abraham, it was of his most free and undeserved mercy toward that individual. God called him alone, and justified him freely by his grace. He was bound by no promise to do this. It was the working of his own free will directed by his mercy. Not so with Jacob. The word had gone forth to Abraham for himself and his seed after him. When, therefore, the Lord transacted with Jacob, he stood, as it were, in another position. He was pledged to fulfil that mercy which he had revealed to Abraham. Hence, that which was mercy to Abraham, became truth to Jacob; and He, who magnifies his Word above all his name, will fulfil to the letter the mercy and the truth which comprise the future blessedness of Abraham's seed. Our expectation being found from this passage to be Scriptural, that signs and wonders shall mark the deliverance spoken of by the prophets, we must look to Jeremiah for the measure of this mighty working. And here we fall back upon our text: “ Behold, the days come, saith the Lord, that they shall no more say, The