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ple to be very angry with those who stand that prophecy and its applicamaintained the contrary supposition. tion ? But the truth is, that the fact is nei- Theophilus. The application to the ther affirmed nor denied in Scripture, Messiah, as made by the Evangeand that we have no means of correct list, is strikingly evident and easy; information concerning it. When it but when I read the whole passage is said that Jesus was Mary's first in Isaiah, I cannot exactly underborn son, that expression implies no stand how the prophecy of Christ more than that she had no child be- was a sign to Ahaz, or how the two fore his birth.
verses following the one quoted by Let me now direct your attention St. Matthew can apply to Christ at to the remarkable and important pro
all. phecy quoted in the twenty-third Reuder. It is clear from the exverse. In what part of the Old pression, “all this was done that it Testament do we find it?
might be fulfilled which was spoken Theophilus. In the seventh chap- by the Lord,” that St. Matthew is ter of Isaiah.– We there learn that | indeed explaining and applying a Ahaz, king of Judah, was troubled prophecy,--not merely accommodatwith fear of Rezin, king of Syria, ing to his purpose a passage of Scripand Pekah, king of Israel, who had ture otherwise unconnected with the advanced, with their combined forces, subject. But, this being allowed, against Jerusalem. Isaiah was com- you ask, how could the declaration missioned to declare, in the name of of Isaiah be a particular sign of the God, that their attempt should fail. deliverance of Jerusalem in the time Ahaz was encouraged to ask a sign of Ahaz, as well as a prophecy of in confirmation of this prophecy; the still greater, but more reinote, and when he had refused to do so, event, the birth of the Messiah ? the prophet said, “ Hear ye now, 0 Interpreters give more than one anhouse of David; Is it a small thing swer to this inquiry, for you to weary men, but will ye The prophecy, say some, had a weary my God also ? Therefore the twofold signification ; referring, in Lord himself shall give you a sign ; the first instance, to an event about Behold, a virgin shall conceive, and to take place in the time of Ahaz; bear a son, and shall call his name and also, in a higher sense, to the Immanuel. Butter and honey shall more distant and more important he eat, that he may know how to re- event, the birth of Messiah. They fuse the evil, and to choose the good think it probable that Isaiah referred For before the child shall know to to some virgin then about to be refuse the evil, and to choose the married, perhaps to himself, and degood, the land that thou abhorrest clared that after her marriage she shall be forsaken of both her would give birth to a son, who kings."
would be no more than a mere inReader. Do you clearly under- fant when Syria and Samaria should be overthrown ; and who should be | few who still remained, and to whom named Immanuel, in token of the the prophet now chiefly directed his presence of God among his people, discourse. His words may thus be pleading their cause, and defeating paraphrased :- Since the king has their enemies. This was the sign to refused the sign offered to him, JeAhaz and the men of his day. But hovah himself shall give you a sign, it was also a type or pattern of a not which you shall behold with your still greater event, even the future eyes, or hear with your ears, but birth of the Messiah from a virgin, in which, to those among you who have an unprecedented and miraculous any real faith in his word, and any manner, who should be, in the full confidence in me, his prophet, will be sense of the expression, God with us, more satisfactory than any other. God united to our own nature, and In token, then, that the house of dwelling in the world.
David shall not now be utterly deOther commentators, however, re- stroyed, but that God will fulfil the ject this interpretation, as being un- promise he once made to Judah, that necessarily complex, and at the same the sceptre should not depart from time low and unworthy of the sub- his posterity till the coming of Mesject. They think that the prophecy siah, and to David, that his throne related primarily and entirely to
should be established for ever, BeChrist, without any other allusion hold, at some future period, a virgin whatever. And, say they, the pro
of David's house shall conceive, and mise of a future Messiah became a bring forth a son, whom she will call sign to Ahaz, inasmuch as it implied by a name significative of his divine the continual preservation of his fa- and human nature,' Now, to those mily, from which, according to pro- who believed, this would be a suffimise, the Messiah was to spring. cient assurance that the attempt of Perhaps this view of the prophecy Rezin and Pekah to dethrone Ahaz, is most approved, and most commonly and set up one of another nation in adopted. And, in order that you may his stead, would be fruitless. For completely understand it, I will read how could this sign be accomplished to you a passage from a commentator if the family of David were deon Isaiah, by whom it is strenuously
stroyed ?" defended. " What reference," says In this case, the following words he," had the birth of Christ to the of the prophet, Butter and honey present circumstances of the king shall he eat, &c., denote that the Mesand people of Judea ? Or what had siah, although God with us, should this sign to do with their deliverance yet, at the same time, be truly man, from the kings of Israel and Syria ? and, as such, should pass through I answer, that this sign was given not the various stages of childhood, to Ahaz, or to any of the rebellious "growing in wisdom and stature." unbelieving Jews, for they could not And the child mentioned in the sixappreciate it; but to the faithful teenth verse is not Immanuel, but
Shear-Jashub, the prophet's own What a happy step is hereby taken son, whom, according to divine com- toward the settling of a peace bemand, he had taken with him into tween God and man, that the two the presence of Ahaz.
natures are thus brought together in When it is said they shall call the person of the Mediator! Behis name Immanuel, what is implied hold in this the deepest mystery, and and meant ?
the richest mercy, that ever was. Theophilus. That he should really By the light of nature, we see God be what the name denotes; namely, as a God above us; by the light of God with us.
the law, we see him as a God against Reader. True; it was common us; but by the light of the Gospel, we among the Jews, especially in pro- see him as Immanuel, God with us, phetical writings, to say that a thing in our nature, and (which is more) should be called so or so, meaning that in our interest." (M. H.) it should really be of such or such a When the angel announced to Jocharacter or quality. I will not weary seph the approaching birth of this you with references to prove this divine Redeemer, he said, “thou point; but I must request you to shalt call his name Jesus, for he compare Matt. xxi. 13, with Luke shall save his people from their sins." xix. 46.
What is the precise meaning of that Theophilus. Matt. xxi. 13, “ It is
name which has now become so sawritten, My house shall be called the cred? house of prayer.”—Luke xix. 46, Theophilus. You have sometimes "It is written, My house is a house told me that it is the same as Joshua, of prayer."
and means a Saviour or Deliverer; Reader. Let our thoughts dwell, or rather, Jehovah the Saviour, since for a few moments, upon the mean- the name was formed by prefixing to ing and power of this name, Imma- Hosea the first syllable of the name nuel, most holy and reverend, and full | Jehovah.
Jehovah. Numb. xiii. 16. of consolation to ourselves.-God Reader. True. Can you tell me with us ;—that is, says Baxter, “God what remarkable persons, bearing taking our nature, appearing to us, that name, are mentioned in the Old and reconciling and bringing us to Testament? himself.”—“A mysterious name, but Theophilus. Joshua, the successor very precious. God incarnate among of Moses, the captain of the Israelus, and so God reconcilable to us; at ites at their first settlement in Capeace with us, and taking us into co- naan; and another, who was their venant and communion with himself. high priest on their return from the The people of the Jews had God with Babylonian Captivity.
Zech. vi. them, in type and shadow, dwelling 11, 12. between the cherubim ; but never so Reader. Let us thankfully regard as when the Word was made flesh,' Christ as the true Joshua ;-being at --that was the blessed Shechinah. once the Captain of our salvation,
and the High Priest of our pro
Weak is the effort of my heart,
And cold my warmest thought ; fession, and in both ways our Saviour.
But when I see Thee as Thou art, He shall save his people from their I'll praise Thee as I ought. sins. Here we perceive the glory and
Till then I would thy love proclaim perfection of the Gospel. The great With every fleeting breath ; Deliverer whom it reveals is one who And may the memory of thy name both atones for sin and destroys it ;-
Refresh my soul in death.
Newton. one who saves his people from its
(See Phil. ii. 9-11.) guilt, its pollution, and its power. “ Those whom Christ saves he saves from their sins; from the guilt of
§ IV. sin by the merit of his death, from the dominion of sin by the Spirit of
CHAP. II. 1-3. his grace. In saving them from sin,
The wise men of the East are directed he saves them from wrath and the
to Christ by a star. curse, and all misery both here and hereafter. Christ came to save his Now when a Jesus was born in people, not in their sins, but from Bethlehem of Judea in the days their sins; to purchase for them, not of Herod the king, behold there a liberty to sin, but a liberty from
came wise men from the east to sin, to redeem them from all ini
Jerusalem, quity' (Tit. ii. 14); and so to redeem them from among men'(Rom.
2 Saying, "Where is he that xiv. 4) to himself
, who is ' separate is born King of the Jews ? for we from sinners.' So that those who leave have seen "his star in the east, their sins, and give up themselves to and are come to worship him. Christ as his people, are interested 3 When Herod the king had in the Saviour, and in the great sal- heard these things, he was trouvation which he has wrought out.'”
bled, and all Jerusalem with -Let us practically remember this
him, great and consolatory truth.
a Luke ii. 4, 6, 7. 6 Gen. x. 30, & xxv. 6. 1 Kings, HYMN. How sweet the name of Jesus sounds
Reader. Our attention is here callIn a believer's ear! It soothes his sorrows, heals his wounds,
ed to the time of our Saviour's naAnd drives away his fear.
tivity—and the remarkable journey It makes the wounded spirit whole,
of certain wise men from the east And calms the troubled breast;
in search of the infant Redeemer. 'Tis manna to the hungry soul,
Jesus was born, we are told, in the And to the weary rest.
days of Herod the king. There were Jesus, my Saviour, Shepherd, Friend,
many Herods; and on some future My Prophet, Priest, and King ; O Lord, my life, my way, my end,
occasion I shall probably show you a Accept the praise I bring.
table which may assist you in re
iv. 30.-c Luke ii. 11. d Numb. xxiv. 17. Is, Ix. 3.
membering their relation to each which Scripture gives that God's other, and the order of their succes- | kingdom ruleth over all, and that he sion. At present, it will be sufficient sees the course of human events if Theophilus will tell us which He- from the beginning to the end ! rod is mentioned in the passage be- The narrative of the visit of the fore us.
wise men will furnish matter for Theophilus. It is Herod, com- many profitable reflections. But let monly called the Great; who was at me ask, in the first place, are there first governor of Judea, and was af
any particulars concerning these perterwards made king of that country sons, or their journey to Jerusalem, by the Romans.
which you wish to ascertain ? Reader. True; and his days were Mary. I have been requested to now drawing near to their end; for the ask
you where they came from? birth of Christ took place in the last Reader. Probably from Arabia, or (i.e. the thirty-fifth or thirty-seventh) rather, as some suppose, from Persia. year of his reign. His son reigned But on this point we know no more only nine years; and after that Judea than what the Bible tells us; namely, was placed under governors or pro
that they came from some country to curators, and made completely tri- the east of Judea. butary to Rome. Besides this, Ar- Theophilus. They are called wise chelaus, Herod's son, was not ac- men ;
suppose they were what we knowledged as king by the Roman should call philosophers. emperor. Of what country was
Reader. St. Matthew tells us that Herod?
they were Magi, for that is the Theophilus. He was the son of Greek word which our translators Antipater, an Idumean.
have rendered wise men. Now it is Reader. And, as you said, he was commonly supposed that by this term made king of Judea by the Romans. we are to understand oriental philo-Are these facts of any importance sophers, or rather astrologers, who with reference to the fulfilment of may also have sustained the characprophecy?
ter of priests in connection with some Theophilus. Yes; they remind us of the religious systems then prevathat Judea was under the domi- lent in the East. Perhaps they were nion of foreigners; and that it had followers of Zoroaster. But this is lost the privilege of being governed not a matter of much importance. by independent rulers; and hence it It may be observed that the Magi appears that the time of the Messiah mentioned in other parts of the New had fully come, according to that | Testament were impostors who pracancient prophecy in Gen. xlix. 10, tised
tised upon the superstition and cre“ The sceptre shall not depart from dulity of the heathen. Judah, nor a lawgiver from between Theophilus. I do not remember that his feet, until Shiloh come.”
there is any other mention of Magi Reader. How many are the proofs in the New Testament.