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can justly admit such a figurative interpretation of the Old Testament expressions—that Jerusalem may mean the Christian Church, and the Lord's appearance in glory imply nothing more than his presence in the heart or the interpositions of his providence—then we admit that the claims of Israel will be more easily got rid of-the word of prophecy reduced to a small compass, and the prospects of a waiting Church will be vastly abbreviated; but if it should appear that such a mode of interpretation is vicious in its very nature and calculated to undermine all solid views of the Bible (if consistently followed out), then shall we bring forward our citations with
confidence, and we shall find that the
sure word of prophecy is a light shining in a dark place, to which we shall do well to give heed.”*
The subject of Israel's standing as a nation —the unchangeable nature of their electionthe future prospects of woe and restoration which are before that remarkable people, have all been so fully connected with literal interpretation by the brethren who have preceded me, that I feel that it would be mere tautology to repeat these arguments; I have only to press upon your attentive recollection the fundamental
* 2 Peter i. 19.
principles of exposition which they have laid down and successfully applied; and in dealing with another branch of the subject, intimately, indeed, connected with Israel's prospects, but bearing also on the best interests of the Church of God and the final triumph of the Redeemer, I have only to follow out their solid positions.
In my text we meet with this clear announcement: “ When the Lord shall build up Zion, he shall appear in his glory.” The first question that presents itself is, What manifestation is here spoken of? The second, What events synchronize with that appearance? And the third, What main practical lessons arise from the subject?
I. To enter on the first inquiry without partiality, and to discuss candidly the question, whether “the appearance in glory” in my text and similar passages hold out the prospect of the Lord's personal coming, we should, I think, try to transpose ourselves into the position of a spiritual Israelite to whom these promises were first made. Such a faithful son of Abraham would perceive that every prophet directed the Church to the true Shiloh, in whom all the families of the earth were to be blessed; he would discover that the prophetic word was more minute and distinct as time advanced. And in the writings of such prophets as David and
Isaiah, he would perceive the twofold strain of woe and triumph—the intimations of Messiah's sufferings as well as the glowing theme of Messiah's victory and kingdom. He would, for example, dwell on the sign which Jehovah gave to the house of David: “Behold, a virgin shall conceive, and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel.” * And whatever difficulties might present themselves to his mind, he would rest in the faithfulness of God, and not doubt that an actual person bearing this significant name would yet be given as the Redeemer of Israel. He turns to another prophet and hears from Jeremiah of a future glorious kingdom, where Israel and Judah shall have an exalted position. “Behold, the days come, saith the Lord, that I will raise unto David a righteous Branch, and a King shall reign and prosper, and shall execute judgment and justice in the earth. In his days Judah shall be saved, and Israel shall dwell safely: and this is his name whereby he shall be called, The Lord our Righteousness.”+ Would not the Israelite be justified in taking this promise in the same literal, straightforward manner which marked his reception of the prophecy of the incarnate Immanuel ? Is more difficult than the other? Is he to believe that the Virgin and * Is. vii. 14.
+ Jer. xxiii. 5, 6.
her remarkable offspring were to be manifested in due time--but that the king of whom Jeremiah spoke might not appear in his glory, but remain in secret, and that Judah and Israel did not mean the tribes or nation usually so called, but professors of Christ's name in different generations?
I might cite many similar texts predictive of the sufferings and future kingdom of Messiah, and place them in juxtaposition, and by thus transplanting ourselves in imagination to the days of Old Testament revelation, we might detect the inconsistency of that mode of exposition that requires us to take the picture of Messiah's sorrows in all their living colours, but to dismiss the prospect of the kingdom, with its 'manifested king, its obedient subjects, and universal sway, with that summary
of interpretation, 56 All these things are spiritual or mystical; Judah is the Christian Church, and David's throne is the believer's heart !”
Let us present the question to you in another shape. Great efforts are now made to bring before the Jewish people, the Divine credentials of Christianity; and for this feature of our day we should feel devoutly thankful. In our efforts to prove to them, that Jesus of Nazareth is the true Messiah, of whom Moses and the prophets
did write, we naturally turn to the graphic description of his sufferings contained in the fiftythird chapter of Isaiah. And though the Jew will endeavour to show that these expressions are figurative,—that the whole nation is spoken of under the character of one man, and that the sorrows described, though they appear to be propitiatory, are, in fact, penal,—the wages of national sins,—we are able to refute such a torturing of the prophet's words, by showing, that the language is plainly descriptive of a person and not a nation. So much so that the person spoken of is distinguished from the rest of the people. He was to be “despised and rejected of men, a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief;" but of the nation it is said, “ We hid as it were our faces from him—he was despised, and we esteemed him not.”
Above all, we would press on the Jew, that the sufferings here described were not personally penal, but vicarious—endured for the sake of others— to make reparation to Divine Justice for our sins. “ He was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities; the chastisement of our peace was upon him, and with his stripes we are healed.” “ He shall see of the travail of his soul and shall be satisfied; by his knowledge shall my righteous servant