Home > History of Israel > John Davison’s Discourses on Prophecy, VI Part IV

John Davison’s Discourses on Prophecy, VI Part IV

August 9, 2013

John Davison continues his discussion of prophecy in Part IV of Discourse VI, presented below. Part I was presented in this post; Part II is presented here.

John Davison, Discourses on Prophecy: In which are Considered Its Structure, Use, and Inspiration. William Warburton Lectures. J.H. Parker, 1845. pp. 304-350.

DISCOURSE VI.

PART IV.

LAST AGE OF ANCIENT PROPHECY, VIZ., FROM THE END OF THE BABYLONIAN CAPTIVITY TO ITS FINAL CESSATION PRIOR TO THE GOSPEL

After some observations upon that part of Prophecy which was seen in its fulfilment, at the expiration of the Captivity, I shall proceed to consider what was further given, from that time till the mission of the Prophets ceased.

First, of what was fulfilled. When Cyrus became master of Babylon, the prophecies of Isaiah were shewn or communicated to him, wherein were described his victory, and the use he was appointed to make of it in the restoration of the Hebrew people. [1] “In the first year of Cyrus, king of Persia, (that the word of the Lord by the prophet Jeremiah might be fulfilled,) the Lord stirred up the spirit of Cyrus, king of Persia, that he made a proclamation throughout all his kingdom, and also in writing, saying, Thus saith Cyrus king of Persia, The Lord God hath given me all the kingdoms of the earth, and he hath charged me to build him an house at Jerusalem, which is in Judah. Who is there among you of all his people? his God be with him, and let him go up to Jerusalem, &c.” The word by the prophet Jeremiah, here referred to by Ezra, is the term of Seventy years. The charge which Cyrus himself confesses to have received is the prediction of Isaiah. Some prophecies there are, which, under given circumstances, tend to work their own accomplishment. The prediction in question concerning Cyrus may be reckoned partly of this kind, if we look at it from the time when he was master of Babylon, and beginning to apply his policy to the affairs of his kingdom. From that time, the conformity of his action to the prophecy may be thought to have been a natural, or very reasonable compliance with the dictate and impulse of such a prediction, which spoke to the honour of his victory, and dignified his liberation of the Hebrew people, a humane and generous act, in itself not unsuited to his natural character, with the sanction of a divine command. But yet there was a supernatural direction upon him, which prompted his mind and incited his doings; God so furthering the fulfilment of his word, wherein he had said, “He is my shepherd, and shall fulfil all my pleasure.” [2] Accordingly the Restoration was instant. It was one of the immediate acts of Cyrus, and put in force in the first year [3] of his conquest; as though his conquest had been given to him, which indeed was the fact, [4] only that he might fulfil the prophecy, when God “opened before him the two-leaved gates of brass,” and he through those gates let go the captive people, redeemed into freedom; and that “not for price or reward;” unless he had a sense of that which is the greatest of all rewards, in being a willing instrument to execute the good pleasure of God. The solemn proclamation of Cyrus, his Edict, setting forth the prophecy, was a public recognition of it to his empire. As such, it would draw notice to the particular prediction, and might probably spread something of the knowledge and honour of the true God, where it was conveyed. But one certain and important use of this Edict of Cyrus, founded upon the prophecy, was in securing the favour of succeeding kings of Persia [5] to the Hebrew people, for the safety of their affairs, and the complete restitution of their city and temple. It is well known what great reverence and honour was paid to the memory of the Founder of their empire, and to all his acts, by the Persian princes who came after him; in which hereditary reverence to Cyrus, “the appointed Shepherd” of God, that people had for some time their best security and protection, when miracles were withdrawn, and their reviving condition had to struggle its way through much trouble and danger. And thus this part of prophecy may be traced, in the disposition of things under God’s ordinary providence, advancing to its fulfilment: that fulfilment taking its rise from the original act of Cyrus, who left to his successors a reason and an example for promoting the same purpose of the divine command. Hence Prophecy may be truly said to have governed the kings of Persia towards the resettlement of the Hebrew people. [6]

But having stated that the prediction in this one instance might tend to work its own accomplishment, I limit that statement simply to the use which Cyrus made, and was raised up to make, of his victory. It is only in that branch of it that such an influence to the effect could be derived from the prediction. Prophecy in Judaea could not raise up such a person, or such a conqueror; or bring the Medes and Persians before Babylon, or open the gates of that city, or dry up the Euphrates;—prophecy could not raise the Chaldaeans into power, or give them the previous possession of Babylon, or the hand to provide materials for the completion of the last link in this extended chain of events. Herein, therefore, is to be confessed the clear and commanding evidence of the inspiration manifested in these prophecies of Isaiah; the extent and the complexity of them overwhelming the idea that the last issue of such an order of things could be the result of a fortuitous combination of circumstances, or of the will of men following the prediction, and thereby making it complete itself.

Seventy years was the term predicted for the duration of the Captivity. From the first deportation to Babylon to the first return, the period is that term of Seventy Years. [7] Had the career of Cyrus brought him to the capture of Babylon in a later year, or had he not granted the Jews an instant liberation, the prophecy could not have had so exact and precise a completion.

But Chronology has furnished to interpreters a second equal period of Seventy Years, to be computed from the Destruction of the Temple to its complete Rebuilding: the destruction of it having been subsequent to the commencement of the Captivity by eighteen years, and the completion of it having been delayed and obstructed after the Return by the like number of years: viz., from the first year of Cyrus to the sixth of Darius. This equality of time, between the whole duration of the Captivity and the desolation of the Temple, though not coincident the one with the other, is certainly a remarkable fact. But it does not appear that Prophecy any where predicts the second period relating to the Temple. The mention of that time in Zechariah [8] seems to be expressly historic; and Jeremiah’s prediction is simply of the Return: “After seventy years I will visit you, and perform my good word towards you in causing you to return to this place.” Consequently, although the observation of the double period is made much of by Vitringa, and some other commentators, I do not perceive that it can be properly drawn to the illustration of prophecy.

Another coincidence there is in this prophetic subject, less specious, but more exact to the letter of the prophecy. Isaiah’s prediction concerning Cyrus had been, “saying to Jerusalem, Thou shalt be built; and to the Temple, Thy foundation shall be laid:” again, “He shall build my city, and let go my captives.” And such was the literal fact, that during the reign of Cyrus the rebuilding of the City proceeded from the first return; but of the Temple, although Cyrus commanded the restoration of it, only the foundation was laid, the progress of that public work being impeded till the reign of Darius. An exactitude which holds in the event; and yet which I should propose as an evidence of prophecy only with some reserve, in the fear lest, by too minute a measure of its text, we should impair the proper splendour and magnitude of its comprehensive revelation.

But the great Providence of God in the Restoration of the house of Judah for the further purposes of his Economy, both Temporal and Evangelical, must not be overlooked in one conspicuous proof of it now given. It does not appear that Heathen Colonies had been planted in Judaea, to exclude the facility of a Return: no regular occupation of their land by the settlement of strangers filled the void, and interposed a barrier to their immediate resumption of their country, or to their growth and increase after they were restored. In Samaria, that positive exclusion was provided. The territory of Israel, when Israel was made captive, was filled in Canaan, by a heathen race; so much of the promised land was alienated by God from the original use to which he had assigned it; whilst in Judah the promises of prophecy, and the work of his providence, were still in force, and demanded the possession of the remaining part. I leave it to every one to reflect more deliberately upon this visible difference made in the two cases, and compare it with the tenor of foregoing prophecy in every age, from the death of Jacob in Egypt; the whole of that prophecy being full of preparations for this great result of a distinctive fortune to the tribe of Judah.—But some facts we have here above all controversy. One Tribe was spared, when the Ten fell. That same Tribe was restored, and reestablished in its place; whilst the Ten saw their place no more: and heathen nations, as if under a sense of the respective destiny appointed to each, occupied the country of the one, and left room for the return and restoration of the other: a history full of the signs of a singular and discriminating Providence.

And so much having been said on the completion of antecedent prophecy, I go on to consider the further prophecy which was imparted after the Return from the Captivity, and the relation which it bore to the state of their public history and their religion.

II. The last period of the Annals of the Hebrew people, as subjects of their covenant and law, reaches from their return from Babylon to their final rejection and ruin, which coincide with the introduction of the Gospel. This concluding period of their history was not in its progress a time of security and peace; but neither was it marked by any great and lasting change in their public condition. Excepting their one serious, but short calamity, of a few years’ continuance, under Antiochus Epiphanes, and that a calamity which had been formally predicted by Daniel, [9] their religion and their state remained essentially the same as it was on their return, without any fatal disaster interposed by exterminating conquest, devastation, or captivity. They were not the people they had been in the days of Joshua, or David, “riding upon the high places of the earth;” their Restoration to Canaan was not like their first Settlement in it; they were a depressed and dependant people; but their internal polity, as to their Mosaic Law, and the opportunities and exercise of their religion, continued to the Gospel age, what they were when they were replaced in Canaan, for their second and last probation under the moral government of God. And yet within this time Jerusalem was thrice taken by a foreign enemy: by Antiochus Epiphanes, by Pompey, and by Herod. But in all these captures, there was no destruction of the city, no subversion of the state; on the contrary, the conquerors in these instances spared and preserved their city. [10] Their persecution, and the suppression of their religion, under the rage and impiety of Antiochus, who for three years set up heathenism in their temple, form the single epoch of any prominent change or concussion in their history; but this epoch and its sufferings had been already described, as I have said, by Daniel; and thus they had the notice of it committed to prophecy before the commencement of their restoration. On the other hand, it does not appear that there is any formal or distinct prediction given of the capture of Jerusalem by Pompey or by Herod; and since no important effect followed from either of these aggressions of conquest, the silence of prophecy respecting them corresponds with their comparatively quiet and neutral character. And here I may repeat the general summary of the fortunes of the city of Jerusalem, as it is given by Josephus. “Jerusalem,” he says, “was taken six times, but desolated only twice. Its several captures were by Sesac, [11] the Babylonians, Antiochus, Pompey, Herod, Titus. Its desolation, by the Babylonians, and by the Romans under Titus.” [12] Such is the historian’s statement, and prophecy harmonizes with this distinctive history. For I would observe that prophecy is intent only on those two greater judicial visitations of the Hebrew people, in one of which, their Captivity, in the other, their final Rejection, were involved; the superior importance of these two visitations, in the scheme of the Divine Government, sufficiently indicating the reason why they are selected for the subjects of a copious prophetic revelation, the former of them in the Old Testament, the second in the New. Whereas the other instances of capture are either wholly neglected by the prophets, or slightly touched, if indeed touched at all; as in the case of Antiochus: for it is not his mere conquest of Jerusalem, but his profanation of the Sanctuary, his taking away of the daily Sacrifice, and the abomination of his Heathen Worship which that persecutor established, that are put forward, and make the prominent objects, in the predictive visions of Daniel. So just and perfect a correspondence is there in the structure of Prophecy, in all these points, with the essential history of the Hebrew people under the divine Government.

Such being the general state of that people from their Captivity to the Gospel era, nothing of great importance befalling them which had not been already foretold, we find that prophecy soon ceased after their return from Babylon. It did not at once intermit its communications; but from Malachi, the last in the prophetic line, there is an interval and silence of it for four hundred years; Haggai, Zechariah, and Malachi, being the only prophets subsequent to the Captivity, and the mission of the two former falling in the first age, the mission of Malachi in the next age, after that epoch. It remains for me to state what was the nature and object of their prophecy, in that portion of it which closed the long series of God’s ancient revelation.

The predictions of these last prophets are confined almost entirely to two subjects, [13] 1. The reestablishment of the Hebrew people and their Temple; 2. The annunciation of the Gospel.—I shall advert to each of these subjects of their prophecy, and endeavour to shew how the latter is introduced in connexion with the other; and also reply to the objections which have disturbed the Christian character of the prophecy of this period.

1. The first return of the Jewish people from Babylon was not to security and peace. Their establishment was opposed by the jealousy of the Samaritans, and the hatred of other surrounding enemies; the rebuilding of their temple, and their walls, was forcibly interrupted and delayed. The struggle affected their promised restoration as a Church and People; and the exercise of their religion was at stake in it. But prophecy was instructed to supply the encouragement which the conflict of their fortunes required. It did so by assurances of the repression of their enemies, and the complete reestablishment of their city, temple, and public peace. “Thus saith the Lord, I am returned to Jerusalem with mercies; my house shall be built in it, saith the Lord of hosts, and a line shall be stretched forth upon Jerusalem. My cities through prosperity shall yet be spread abroad, and the Lord shall yet comfort Zion, and shall yet choose Jerusalem.” [14] —”For thus saith the Lord of hosts, As I thought to punish you when your fathers provoked me to wrath, saith the Lord of hosts, and I repented not; so again have I thought in these days to do well unto Jerusalem, and to the house of Judah: fear ye not.” [15] And such is the general scope of Haggai and Zechariah’s predictions, as they relate to the affairs of the Jewish people.

II. But these prophets introduce also the Gospel subject; Zechariah especially, in mystic vision and by typical representation, which yet are sufficiently clear, as expressive of the kingdom and priesthood of Christ, the establishment of the Christian Church, and the concourse of nations resorting to that future Temple. For here, in this era, we have a second application of the same systematic form of prophecy which was employed in the establishment of the Temporal kingdom. The nearer subject, in each instance, supplies the prophetic ground, and the prophetic images, for the future Christian subject. In the first instance, the kingdom of Christ is delineated in connexion with, and by analogy to, the actual kingdom which was seen before men’s eyes rising to view; in the second instance, his personal priesthood, and his Church, are delineated in connexion with, and by an equal analogy to, the priesthood and temple of the Hebrew Church, at the time when that priesthood was reinstated in its functions, and that temple was rebuilt. As an example of this symbolical prediction, founded upon the present scene of things, consider the following oracle of Zechariah. The prophet had been commanded to take silver and gold, and make crowns, and set them, or set one of them, upon the head of Joshua, the son of Josedeck, the high priest, and then to deliver this prophecy: “Thus speaketh the Lord of hosts, saying, Behold the man, whose name is the Branch, and he shall grow up out of this place, (or, there shall be a growth out of his place,) and he shall build the Temple of the Lord: Even he shall build the Temple of the Lord, and he shall bear the glory, and shall sit and rule upon his throne,and he shall be a priest upon his throne, and the counsel of peace shall be between them both.” “And the crown shall be for a memorial in the Temple of the Lord. And they that are afar off shall come and build in the Temple of the Lord, and ye shall know that the Lord of hosts hath sent me unto you. And this shall come to pass, if ye will diligently obey the voice of the Lord your God.” [16]

This oracle, I think, will justify and sustain the character I have assigned to it. Its mystic form, its sublime and emphatic spirit, its promise of glory, its union of the priesthood and the throne, its appointed memorial of the crown to be laid up in the Temple of the Lord, its assemblage of builders from afar, absolutely refuse to be confined to the literal idea of the present work of the Jewish restoration. But since the form of the prophecy is assimilated to that primary idea of the Jewish restoration, in their national increase, their priesthood and their temple, the whole principle of the prophecy meets us in the face, first in its ground of analogy, and next in its proper extent, an extent wherein it leaves the inferior subject, from which it springs, far behind. In truth, there is both reason, and sublimity, in prophecy; and we shall scarcely understand it, unless we are prepared to follow it in both. Its sublimity is, that it often soars, as here, far above the scene from which it takes its rise. Its reason is, that it still hovers over the scene of things from which it rose. It takes the visible, or the temporal subject, as its point of departure (if I may borrow the phrase) for its enlarged revelation; and yet by that subject it governs its course. In this method of it, I believe that men of plain unsophisticated reason find it perfectly intelligible; and that it is only the false fastidiousness of an artificial learning which puts the scruple into our perceptions either of its consistency, or its sense. But when we consider that this structure of prophecy, founded on a proximate visible subject, had the advantage, both in the aptitude of the representation, and in the immediate pledge, of the future truth; a sounder learning may dispose us to admit it, and that with confidence, whenever the prophetic text, or mystic vision, is impatient for the larger scope, and the conspicuous characters of the Symbols and the Fact, concur in identifying the relation.

The late learned Translator of the Minor Prophets [17] has therefore failed greatly, as I conceive, in doing justice to this and other prophecies of Zechariah. His version and commentary will scarcely permit the Christian sense of them to be perceived; and in particular he has appropriated to Zerubbabel, or to Zerubbabel jointly with Joshua, the whole of that oracle which I have quoted as a clear and emphatic example of such a sense. With some modifications of the received version, and those modifications doubtful, he assigns the glory, promises, priesthood, and throne, and counsel of peace, described by the prophet, to those two Jewish chiefs. But this application, inadequate as it is to the spirit of the prophecy, to the symbolical form of it, to the large and exuberant phrase of it, is also inconsistent with the actual history of Zerubbabel. He did not “bear the glory;” he did not sit and rule upon any throne; he wore no crown.” Zerubbabel and Joshua were some of the “chiefs of the fathers of Israel,” [18] leaders, with the prophets, in the work of restoration, but holding a delegated power under the kings of Persia. How then could all that significant solemnity of a Typical Crown, and a promised Throne, ever fit Zerubbabel’s person? And again, how unlike was it to the whole principle, and reasonable order, of a symbolical representation, to set a crown upon the head of Joshua, and deliver a prophecy over him, if a second person, a living contemporary, were the object of that representation. So also in Zechariah iii. 8, Joshua, the high priest, is crowned, and the typical promise of the Branch is renewed, which the same Prelate explains of Zerubbabel, as heir of David. Now had Zerubbabel been crowned, the Typical act might have presignified his power. But the imposition of a crown upon Joshua perfectly excludes Zerubbabel. Add to which that the title of “the Branch” had been already consecrated in prophecy to the Messiah. It is so given once by Isaiah, [19] twice by Jeremiah: [20] —and the like designation in this later prophet Zechariah, reviving the memory of those existing prophecies, could only tend with them to one and the same object. In a former Discourse I have shewn that Zerubbabel could not be the heir of David, as heir to his throne, because the temporal kingdom was taken away; and from the time of its abrogation, Christ became the only regal heir of David, as heir of the second and better kingdom. And here I may introduce a prophecy of Ezekiel, which will establish and complete the whole history of this abrogation of the temporal kingdom, since the want of a clear perception of it is one of the reasons which have obscured, or perverted, the interpretation of these important oracles of Zechariah. “And thou wicked profane prince of Israel, whose day is come, when iniquity shall have an end: Thus saith the Lord God, Remove the diadem, and take off the crown; this shall not be the same; exalt him that is low: abase him that is high. I will overturn, overturn, overturn it: and it shall be no more, until he come whose right it is, and I will give it him.” [21] The prophecy of Jeremiah had denounced the end of the kingdom of the house of David in the person of Coniah; but the king of Babylon set up Zedekiah. Ezekiel’s prophecy completes the doom, by this prediction against Zedekiah, (“I will overturn, overturn, overturn,”) and carries us forward through the long interregnum of continued subversion, to that time when “he shall come whose right it is:” and he can be none other than the Messiah: in whom alone it was ever restored.

Zerubbabel excluded, Christ is the object of Zechariah’s prophecy. His is the crown and the throne, and his also the priesthood; for these He had. In Him, therefore, the imposition of the crown upon Joshua, and all the correspondent prophecy, has its intelligible import: for he is both a king and a priest, and Joshua crowned was capable of being a Type and Symbol of him; whereas neither could Joshua be a proper Type of Zerubbabel at all, nor could Zerubbabel answer to that particular representation of a regal Type, had it been exhibited in any other person. In a word, the Symbols, the prediction, the history, all concur in explicating and asserting the Christian sense of this Oracle. And a further observation to be made upon it is, that since the condition and character of Zerubbabel and of Joshua, as seen and known by their people, their brethren and countrymen, in their own day, were wholly incapable of bearing the dignity of the prophecy, it was an information from the time when it was given, directing men to some ulterior object. From the first it was necessarily significant of its more remote scope of application.

I have often considered that one case there is in the later history of the Hebrew people, which might possibly have subjected this very oracle of Zechariah’s to a wrong idea of the person and state of things to which it referred. That case is the reign of the Maccabees. They were priests, and became princes, and might seem to verify the remarkable promise, “He shall be a priest upon his throne;” or, according to another version, “There shall be a priest upon the throne.” To such a misapprehension the prophecy, in this one clause of it, might seem to have been liable. But its characteristic signature of “The Man, whose name is the Branch” had been already set apart to a prince of the house of David, and thereby became a security to its right application. For Jeremiah had not simply foretold of a person to come under this title, but had connected his birth with the house of David; and had surnamed him “the Lord our righteousness,” a second exclusive signature, to which the Maccabees could prefer no claim.

Mark then the connexion of the whole prophecy, and the state of its evidence. Jeremiah speaks thus: “In those days and at that time will I cause “the Branch of righteousness to grow up unto David, and he shall execute judgment and righteousness in the land. In those days shall Judah be saved, and Jerusalem shall dwell safely; and this is the name wherewith he shall be called, The Lord our Righteousness, or, the name where with the Lord shall name him, our Righteousness.” [22] Hence it appears, that Zechariah’s prophecy is a revival of Jeremiah’s; he introduces it as of a person already known: “Behold the man, whose name is the Branch.” The one had been among the last predictions in the commencement of the Captivity, the other is among the earliest after it; and Jeremiah’s was delivered, apparently at the time when he pronounced the sentence of deprivation upon the temporal kingdom, but certainly in connexion with that sentence. [23] Consequently the whole idea of the original and the revived prophecy tended to the house of David, but “in those days,” that other system of things, which had been so often promised, as the intended dispensation of God. And I must add, that the Asmonean family, although they were brave deliverers of their Church and Country, had not much of the praise of “righteousness and judgment,” or of sanctity and peace, in their character; their glory was in their exploits, not in their humanity, moderation, or spirit of justice; and as they were excluded at once, by their race and lineage, from the title to any of the greater prophecies, so their personal qualities ill corresponded to the holy and righteous Branch which was the subject of those reiterated predictions now in question. [24]—And as to Zerubbabel, he is excluded for the reasons already given.

The entire harmony of prophecy, in this period of it, will be further illustrated, by considering the predictions which accompanied the building of the First Temple, and comparing them with those of the Second. In the instance of the First there clearly is not the same combination of the Mystical sense with the Temporal. The prediction joined with the building of Solomon’s Temple is of a simpler kind; perhaps it relates purely and solely to the proper Temple itself. But the Second Temple rises, with a different structure of prophecy upon it. Haggai, Zechariah, and Malachi, have each delivered some symbolical prediction, connected with it, or with its Priesthood and Worship. Why this difference in the two cases? I think the answer is clear; it is a difference obviously related to the nearer connexion which the Second Temple has with the Gospel. When God gave them their First Temple, it was doomed to fall, and rise again, under and during their first economy. The elder prophecy, therefore, was directed to the proper history of the First Temple. But when He gave them their Second Temple, Christianity was then nearer in view; through that second edifice lay the Gospel prospect. Its restoration, therefore, was marked by a kind of prophecy which had its vision towards the Gospel. And a great confirmation is derived to all this view of the structure of prophecy, from the following fact, when it is deliberately weighed and examined. In the days of David and Solomon, when the temporal kingdom was set up, the Christian kingdom was copiously and eminently foretold at the same time; but it cannot be said that the Temple, set up in those same days, had an equal illustration of Christian Prophecy cast upon it. The Temporal Kingdom, which was then beginning its course, was not to be restored, after it should once be taken away. But the Temple was destined to fall, and be restored. Hence it should appear, that the first institution of the Kingdom, and the second building of the Temple, were equally the seasons, wherein the Christian prophecy, connected with each of those ordinances, might be formed with the most clear and significant adaptation. And such is the actual case; such the date of the respective predictions, joined with, and grounded upon, the Jewish kingdom and Temple. Proceeding from these two distant points in the first Economy, prophecy, in each, directs our view to that era which unites together the Temple and the Kingdom, and completes the divine promises and predictions, ingrafted upon both, in the Church and kingdom of Christ.

III. To proceed. The same origin and ground of the Christian prophecy may be discerned in Haggai, as in Zechariah. “For thus saith the Lord of hosts, Yet once, it is a little while, and I will shake the heavens and the earth, and the sea, and the dry land. And I shall shake all nations, and the desire of all nations shall come, and I will fill this house with glory, saith the Lord of hosts. The silver is mine, and the gold is mine, saith the Lord of hosts. The glory of this latter house shall be greater than the glory of the former, and in this house will I give peace, saith the Lord of hosts.” [25] The shaking of the whole system of the world is the apt image of the introduction of a new economy of God: “the desire of all nations” is the Redeemer of the world: the greater glory promised to the Second Temple was exhibited in the advent and personal ministry of Christ, who came to that Temple: and by him God gave peace there, when he sealed by his doctrine, and by his death, a covenant of peace, in the completion of the Temple Sacrifices and Worship. Such is the old, and apparently the just and consistent interpretation, of this prophecy. But this interpretation has been contested; and although I have endeavoured to demonstrate the structure and intent of Prophecy, in its several ages, as much as possible, from confessed and general premises, without passing through controverted questions; yet, in this last era of it, it seems that the interpreter who would not sacrifice its Christian sense, must make some effort to defend it, and for that purpose must carry himself something like the Israelite of this same age, who had to build with one hand, and bear a guarded side on the other. For it is too plain how much the concluding period of the prophetic revelation is degraded and impoverished, if one or two of the latest books of it must be given up without a sign of the Gospel upon them.

The objections made to the Christian reference of Haggai’s prophecy are two. The First is, that the text is incorrectly rendered, “the desire of all nations shall come.” The Second, that Christ did not come to Haggai’s temple; and therefore it could not derive its greater glory from his presence. [26] These objections I shall examine.

1. It is argued, that the text which is rendered “the desire of all nations,” ought to have been translated “the desirable things of all nations:” by which, the prophet would describe simply the contributions made to the rebuilding of the Temple, in gold and silver, and other such costly materials of extrinsic splendour. [27] But if this proposed version were adopted, still it would not render the phrase inapplicable to a single person: for the collective sense of plurals is often only an augmentation of their idea; and there is no doubt that the desiderabilia or desiderata, “of all nations,” might, like the plurals ***, or thesauri, be a proper description of some one distinguished blessing, treasure, or object of desire.—The Septuagint translate the text, καὶ ἥξει τὰ ἐκλεκτὰ πάντων τῶν ἐθνῶν, and this translation is pressed as an authority to exclude the idea of an individual. This version certainly does exclude the idea of an individual, if its sense be “the precious or choice things, taken from all nations;” but not, if the Translators, simply following a plural term in the Hebrew, left room for the more general notion, “the precious or choice things of all nations,” which might be some one eminent treasure, “the desired of the world.” The same Interpreters translate another eminent prophecy concerning Christ in this very plural form: *** where the phrase ***, in grammatical form, and partly also in sense, is equivalent to that of τὰ ἐκλεκτὰ: and yet, without inquiring whether their version be a correct one, it is not supposed that the Translators had any other idea of the prophecy than as being capable of being applied to the Messiah.

So much premised; whilst I should admit that the original text, in this one clause of Haggai’s prophecy, both as to its grammatical form, and the genuine idea of it, requires some deliberation of a sober criticism, yet the version of it which is meant to be destructive of the Christian sense is only precarious, and the contrary interpretation, or such an interpretation as leaves room at least for the Christian sense, is very capable of being defended. Perhaps no just and satisfactory decision will ever be made upon the simple document of the text itself;—but the context, the spirit of the rest of the prophecy, and the analogy of other contemporary prophecy; that is, the collateral and subsidiary arguments; must fill the void which literal criticism and philology leave to disputation. But all these second arguments go to the favour of the more enlarged, the Christian scope of prophecy.

2. But it is contended that Christ did not come to the Second Temple, but to a Third, built by Herod; consequently that the promise of a greater glory, to be manifested in Haggai’s Temple, could not be accomplished by the presence and ministry of Christ, but must be sought in the splendour and wealth of the Second Temple; a sense which some of the later Jews have put upon the prophecy, in their endeavour to refute the evidence implied in it, that the Messiah either has come, or was to come, within the duration of Haggai’s Temple.—It is impossible not to say that there is a great deficiency of theological and reasonable judgment in the misapplication of the historic learning which has supplied this objection. If the Temple were to be considered as a subject of architecture, it might be disputed with some reason whether the substitution of Herod’s fabric did not make the later Temple a Third, rather than leave it the Second. But in the history of the Divine Dispensation, and in the history of the Jewish people, there can be only two temples, the first, Solomon’s, the second, the restored temple, of which Haggai prophesied, and to which Christ came; the moral, and the public relation, which the Temple bore to their religion, their covenant, or their civil state, admitting no further multiplication of its species. For the mere material fabric, though not wholly unimportant, can never pretend to enter into this relation. And it can the less enter into it, inasmuch as Herod’s work, whether of enlargement, or of rebuilding, never broke the continuity of the moral subject, but was so conducted as not to interrupt the course of the Temple worship. In the eye of history, therefore, and in the estimate of religion, there were two Temples and no more.

This point being so clear on the principles of reason, I further add that the historic phrase of Josephus, from whose narrative of Herod’s work the objection of a third temple is derived, is a direct confirmation of the statement which I have made. For after all that he had previously written of the extent and splendour of Herod’s new edifice, how does that writer sum up the history of the Temple, when he comes to its destruction by Titus? “Twice,” he says, “the Temple was burnt, on one and the same day in the revolution of time; and from its first building, its founding by Solomon, to its present destruction, in the second year of Vespasian, there is a period of 1130 years, seven months, fifteen days; but from its later building, which Haggai [28] directed in the second year of Cyrus, to its present capture by Vespasian, a period of 639 years and forty-five days.” So that in his review of the Temple and its fate, he glances over all the enlargement and reconstruction of it from its foundations by Herod, and rests his eye upon a first and a second Temple, as the only objects worthy of an historian’s recollection. Whereas, therefore, it is urged by the Author, [29] who has endeavoured to give the utmost force to the alleged objection, “that if there be any difference between rebuilding or repairing, if Haggai’s temple differed from Solomon’s, and was a second Temple, “then Herod’s was not the same with Haggai’s, but was truly a third;” I reply, first, that & judicial desolation of the Temple, which reduced it to ashes, and extinguished its service for Fifty years, creates a chasm in the line of its history, and a real distinction between Solomon’s building and Haggai’s, which the quiet and peaceful renovation of the later change does not introduce between Haggai’s, and Herod’s:—and, secondly, that the Jewish historian who describes at large, and with some pomp, what Herod did in his new work, still finds it consistent with historical truth to make Haggai’s temple, and that which was destroyed by Titus, one and the same; [30] and, by the same reason, we shall be justified in taking the restored temple of Haggai to be that which had the privilege and glory of the advent of Christ.

In this instance again, the collateral arguments, and the internal reason of the case, support the Christian sense of the prophecy, and no other. First, it is improbable to think that the later Temple, either by the occasional gifts of its proselytes and worshippers, or the successive contributions of heathen princes, or the promiscuous devotion of surrounding countries, or even by the greater efforts of Herod, was ever brought, in any age of it, to the splendour and real magnificence of the original temple of Solomon, in which the public and tributary wealth of the whole monarchy of Israel, in its height of prosperity and power, were appropriated, under the direction of a great and lofty-minded king, to the simultaneous completion of the work.— Next, it is still more unreasonable to think, that prophecy should direct men to any such quality whatever in the second temple, as constituting “its greater glory,” when the visible glory of the divine Presence, the symbol of God’s inhabitation, was withdrawn from its sanctuary; a loss for which nothing of material and earthly splendour could be any compensation: least of all could that compensation be had in Herod’s work, the gift of no piety, but the ostentation of a vainglorious, sanguinary, and irreligious ruler, who reared many other sumptuous fabrics, castles and palaces, in the same spirit as he built the temple at Jerusalem, to be monuments of his pride, or instruments of his ambition; in all which there was nothing that Prophecy could regard, or be thought to hold forth to the Israelite, as his consolation, or as the glory of the temple of God. But Herod’s pomp was not ordained to last; it came in the close of the duration allotted to that seat of worship, and only prepared it to be a more striking pile of ruin, with little of “peace within its walls” if we regard it only in its material fabric.

Where then shall we look for the completion of all that sublime prophecy, which hung over the Temple, when it rose the second time from its foundations, and uttered such promises as these: “According to the word that I covenanted with you when ye came out of Egypt, so my spirit remaineth among you. Yet once, it is a little while—and I will shake all nations, and the desire [or, the treasure] of all nations shall come, and I will “fill this house with glory—and the glory of this latter house shall be greater than of the former—and in this house will I give peace, saith the “Lord of Hosts;” where, I say, shall we look to find this august prophecy satisfied, except in the Saviour of the world, who by his presentation, and by his divine teaching, by his personal ministry, and the mystery of his sacrifice, gave to the second Temple the witness of “God’s spirit remaining with his people” according to the original design of their covenant, and manifested there such a glory, and such a gift of peace, as prophecy might acknowledge for the just and sufficient completion of its promises? Whilst “the new heavens and the new earth,” the renovated moral universe of God, received him as the Being, by whom, and for whom, their change and concussion had been made.

IV. The same prophet Haggai has a second prediction, which directs us equally to the Messiah. It is addressed to Zerubbabel; but, whatever be its import, it seems to be connected with the former by the introductory mention of the like concussion of the heavens and the earth. “Speak to Zerubbabel, governor of Judah, saying, I will shake the heavens and the earth. And I will overthrow the throne of kingdoms, and I will destroy the strength of the kingdoms of the heathen, and I will overthrow the chariots and those that ride in them, and the horses and their riders shall come down, every one by the sword of his brother. In that day, saith the Lord of Hosts, will I take thee, O Zerubbabel my servant, the son of Shealtiel, saith the Lord, and will make thee as a signet: for I have chosen thee, saith the Lord of Hosts.” [31] There is an apparent connexion in the subject of the two prophecies, expressed by the commotion and shaking of the world; and there is a proximity of time in their communication: for the second prophetic word came to Haggai three days after the former. [32] These are presumptions that they had a general agreement in their scope and object, but presumptions only: the proper evidence of that agreement, if it exist, will be in the internal sense, and completion, of the second prophecy, which must be examined.

In that day,” in that season of commotion in the heavens and the earth, and of the kingdoms of the world, God promises to make Zerubbabel “a signet;” for he was chosen to be some instrument of his will. The question is, how is this prediction to be applied? Is it merely a personal promise, to be completed in Zerubbabel himself? or is it a symbolical promise, annexed to his person, but directed to a greater than Zerubbabel?

The second of these two interpretations, I propose to shew to be the only true one; the only one valid in the completion, and consistent with the text of the prophecy. And as I hope this will be the last occasion of any controversial argument, necessary to the elucidation which I wish to give of this concluding period of prophecy, I entreat my readers’ patience, whilst I exercise my own, in canvassing the contrary opinion, which stands in my way, and is supported by Grotius, and by the recent authority of the Translator of the Minor Prophets, archbishop Newcome, as well as others before him, but which I consider to be wholly remote from the design of one of the most emphatic oracles of the last age of the prophetic revelation.

This contrary opinion I shall give in the representation made of it by that Translator. “Some think that Zerubbabel is put for his people and his posterity,” (says that Prelate.) “But it may well be said, that the commotions foretold began in the rebellion of Babylon which Darius besieged and took, and exercised great cruelties upon its inhabitants.” Herod, iii. 20.—”Prideaux places this event in the 5th year of Darius; others, with more probability in his 8th year: compare Zech. ii. 9. Vitringa calls this event secundum gradum interitus Babylonis.” The same author includes, in the shaking of the kingdoms, which is described in the text, “the calamity of Babylon, the Macedonian conquests in Persia, and the wars which the successors of Alexander waged against each other.” Of any reference of the prophecy to the Messiah, or his history, he does not entertain even the mention.

This interpretation, which in the end makes Zerubbabel the object of the prophecy, is untenable for two reasons: it neither holds true in the history, nor will it reach any one article of the prophetic text. First, it is plainly futile to make the insurrection and rebellion of Babylon, and its re-subjugation by Darius, any part of the matter of the prophecy; since in that scene of Babylon there were no “new heavens and new earth, no overthrowing of the throne of kingdoms, no destroying the strength of the kingdoms among the nations.” The throne of the Persian kingdom stood; and none of the thrones of the kingdoms among the nations, with which Zerubbabel or his people had any thing to do, were overthrown, or destroyed. The second stage of the ruin of Babylon will never correspond with that large and general concussion of things, which is the previous ground of the prophecy. Grotius, to find a basis for his interpretation, includes the revolt in Egypt, [33] as a part of the prophetic matter. But that revolt belongs to the last year of the reign of Darius, a time to which it is not certain whether Zerubbabel survived: and if he did survive, the revolt itself was suppressed and subdued, and only reduced a vassal kingdom to a stricter coercion and subjection; and therefore it could never represent the prophetic idea “of the subversion of kingdoms.” Think of that wide field of thrones and powers overturned, and you will see that a provincial rebellion can furnish nothing to occupy it. As to the later commotions of the world, the subversion of the Persian Empire by Alexander, and the wars of his Successors, they are more like to the possible subject of the prophecy: but with these commotions what had Zerubbabel personally to do? They entered not into the world till two hundred years after the prophecy, and almost as long a time after his death. But suppose there had been subversions of the thrones of kingdoms contemporary with Zerubbabel, which there were not: for in his days the Persian empire, and other great kingdoms, as related to Judaea, remained rather in a stationary order; but suppose there had been such events passing, why, in respect of them should Zerubbabel be “a signet,” the chosen of God, when he individually had in them no other part, either of fear or deliverance, than the rest of his people? and since these commotions did not break upon Judaea, the whole people of God would be more the signet, the peculiar care, of the protecting Providence, than any single person living in the heart of that people. I conclude, therefore, that Zerubbabel, as to his own history, is not, and cannot be, the object of the prophecy, which speaks of a far greater system of things than came within the compass of his time and condition.

This inadequate interpretation set aside, the other, which refers the scope of the prophecy to the Messiah and his kingdom, will appear to be the true. The just and regular evolution of the prophetic text will demonstrate its interpretation. First, “the shaking of the heavens and the earth” will be the sign of the introduction of the new dispensation of God. The “overthrow of the thrones and kingdoms of the world” will be the image of that general contrast, which prophecy so often makes, between the fall of those earthly kingdoms, and the stability of that which cannot be shaken; whilst the subversion of some of the greater kingdoms, which actually fell prior to the age of the Gospel, as the Persian, Macedonian, Syrian, and Egyptian, may be more distinctly included, (all of them subjects of other prophecy, particularly in Daniel, and so pointed out to the notice of the Israelite.) Lastly, the suppression of wars, and the destruction of the implements of war, will denote the discomfiture of human power, opposed, whether knowingly or unknowingly, to the purposes of God; and that there was such a pause and suppression of war at the first era of the Gospel, in that region of the world where the Gospel had to run its course, is sufficiently known. The discomfiture specified to be wrought “by a brother’s sword” in all this earthly tumult, may be either the common mutual destruction which the kingdoms of the world generally make of each other: or it may describe more definitely the Civil Wars of the East, among the Successors of Alexander, and the Civil Wars of Rome, which wasted the world, both preceding the Gospel; together with the Intestine Wars among the Jews themselves, at the time of their final destruction, a phenomenon connected with the establishment of Christianity. The general view, however, of these convulsions, and changes of the kingdoms of the earth, is unquestionably clear in the ground of the prophecy, whether we may choose to take up the more definite references of it, which I have mentioned, or not. So far the line of interpretation is certain. But, in all this, why is Zerubbabel so distinguished in the prophecy, when it looks so far beyond him? Why is he characterized as the signet of God? He is so distinguished as being the Representative of Christ; and his fitness to be that Representative is most evident. Of his line and seed was Christ born into the world. When God, therefore, restored his people, and reinstated them in their covenant, and their land again, by this prophecy he designated Zerubbabel, and set his choice upon him, as the signet of his hand and purpose, in whom some work of his providence and mercy should be accomplished; but the time and period of that future work was to be measured by the circle of “the new heavens and the new earth,” and therefore it was to be in the ulterior system of God, after the great change of things in the new, the Christian dispensation.

Consider, then, the whole case. In Zerubbabel the genealogy of the Messiah, after the restoration from Babylon, begins. Zerubbabel is the head of that genealogy: in him it has its double concourse: [34] both the lines of the descent of the Messiah meeting in his person.

This headship of Zerubbabel is the index of the sense and import of the prophecy. For the restoration of the Hebrew people, when they resumed the tenure of their covenant again, was an epoch when any special mark of prediction relating to the Messiah would come in season; and such prediction was the more opportune, when we consider the state of doubt and ambiguity which might now seem to attach to the former promises of God, given to the family of David, when that family had been set aside from the throne, and the whole body of it had been disturbed, in its civil order and hereditary privileges, by the troubles of the Captivity. The short, but emphatic prophecy, delivered to Zerubbabel, clears this disorder or ambiguity, and directs us again into the line of the divine promises.

How had the Captivity begun? It began with the rejection of Coniah and his seed; and Jeremiah’s great prophecy to the particular heir of the throne and house of David had been, “As I live, saith the Lord, though Coniah the son of Jehoiakim king of Judah were the signet upon my right-hand, yet would I pluck thee thence.” [35] The like image of “the signet” upon God’s right-hand, in this prophecy of Jeremiah, could not escape the notice of Grotius. But it is rather surprising that this very image did not lead him into the connexion and joint moral import of the two prophecies of Jeremiah and Haggai. The Captivity begins with that sentence of rejection upon Coniah and his seed; the Restoration equally begins with the contrary promise to Zerubbabel; the parity of the image, the relation of the two seasons, and the doubtful condition of the house of David, all tending to shew the mutual aspect of the two prophecies. To Zerubbabel however no throne is promised, and none was given. Yet he is chosen, and has the divine adoption, or acknowledgment, set upon him. Whence I infer, that that adoption, or acknowledgment of him, in relation to “the sure” and yet remaining “mercies of David,” the promises of the Christian Covenant, is the specific point of the prophecy of Haggai.

It is not to be maintained that all this force and connexion of the prophecy could be understood from the first utterance of it; but they may be understood now; as they might also have been in the first age of the Gospel. It is one of those prophecies which time and the event would set in their proper light. But yet, from the first, it was a direction to the Israelite to expect in Zerubbabel, or in his seed, a work of God connected with the renovation of the heavens and the earth, and the successsion of kingdoms; a work which the Israelite assuredly never could see in Zerubbabel’s line, till he came to the advent of Christ. Meanwhile this long repose and obscurity of Zerubbabel’s family, and of the whole house of David, during so many generations prior to the Gospel, was one of the preparations made whereby to manifest more distinctly the proper glory of it, in the birth of the Messiah.

In this view is presented one instance more of that order and analogy which Prophecy has been seen to hold in the designation which it made of Christ. In the Call of Abraham, in the Partition of the Tribes, in the Foundation of the Temporal Kingdom, in the Restoration from the Captivity, there will be one and the same signature, set upon the persons, family, or tribe, wherein his advent was to be expected; each more memorable season of the first dispensation having inserted in it some distinctive notice, relating personally to him, as well as the general promises of God’s purposed work, which he alone has fulfilled. The analogy confirms the single instance here in question; and that instance, in its turn, tends to support and complete the analogy.

V. Perhaps I may now shake off the dust of a controversial discussion which I have not been able to avoid with respect to the prophecies of Haggai and Zechariah, and close my survey of later Prophecy with the Predictions of Malachi, which have had their interpretation less disputed.

The last of the Prophets lived, and gave his oracles, after the Temple was rebuilt. [36] His moral admonitions shew that the service of the Altar and the Temple, with its offerings and sacrifices, was established, and in use; for it is a profane and insincere spirit in that service, a religion without purity, which he labours to reform; and both the people and the priesthood, have their share in the imputed contamination of their restored worship.

The Christian predictions of Malachi are singularly framed, in many points of them, upon this existing state of religion. “I have no pleasure in you, saith the Lord of hosts, neither will I accept an offering at your hands.” Such is the reproof: but what the prophecy joined with it? “From the rising of the sun even unto the going down of the same, my name shall be great among the Gentiles,and in every place incense shall be offered unto my name, and a pure offering; for my name shall be great among the heathen, saith the Lord of hosts.” [37] The concourse of worshippers to the restored Temple leads the prophet to predict the greater assembly of the Gentile world, when the knowledge and worship of God should have the circuit of the sun, and every place, as much as Jerusalem, should be fit to be a temple or an altar to his service: whilst the formality and hypocrisy of the Jewish worshipper prompt the prediction of the purer worship, and holier offering, of the Christian Church.

Again: “And now, O ye priests, this commandment is for you.” After the prophet has delivered at large his reproof of them in their public, sacerdotal duties; “Ye are departed out of the way; ye have caused many to stumble at the law; ye have corrupted the covenant of Levi, saith the Lord of hosts:” the prediction follows: “Behold, I will send my messenger, and he shall prepare the way before me: and the Lord, whom ye seek, shall suddenly come to his Temple, even the messenger of the covenant, whom ye delight in: behold, he shall come, saith the Lord of hosts. But who may abide the day of his coming? and who shall stand when he appeareth? for he is like a refiner’s fire, and like fullers’ soap: and he shall sit as a refiner and purifier of silver: and he shall purify the sons of Levi as gold and silver, that they may offer unto the Lord an offering in righteousness. Then shall the offering of Judah and Jerusalem be pleasant unto the Lord, as in the days of old, and as in former years.” The Covenant, the Temple, the Levitic Priesthood, the Offering, are all combined in this prediction; but the force of the prophetic representation does not consist in the mere analogy of the Jewish images, but in the action and import of the existing scene, which gave life to that form of representation. The Temple was again in use: the prophecy is, the Lord whom they seek shall suddenly come to that Temple.” A prevaricating priesthood “was corrupting the covenant, and making men stumble at the law:” it is foretold, that the Lord will send his messenger to prepare his way before him.” That priesthood had debased religion by ignorance and personal corruption: the prophecy is, that the messenger of the new covenant “will sit in judgment as a refiner,” and discerner of spirits, and purify his priesthood, and hallow the offering by the graces and sanctity of his apostles and evangelists. So that this great predictive revelation of the Gospel is at once a prophecy, and a moral parable, putting to shame the priesthood of those clays of Malachi, in the reversed exhibition of the holiness and spiritual illumination of the new Covenant and its purified ministers.

It is one predominant and general characteristic, therefore, of this last age of Prophecy, that its predictions of the Gospel are modelled upon the history of the Temple, the Priesthood, and Public Worship. In the auspicious reestablishment of the Temple and Priesthood; in the profaneness and irreligion which soon entered with this renovated state of public Order; prophecy equally set forth the Gospel promises. What was fair and glorious, in this scene of Jewish history, was made a pledge of the glory to come. What was base and degenerate, had its opposed counterpart exhibited in the sanctities of the new Covenant. In a word, the Second Temple is covered with Christianity.

And now, when Prophecy was about to be withdrawn from the ancient Church of God, its last light was mingled with the rising beams of “the Sun of Righteousness.” In one view it combined a retrospect to the Law with the clearest specific signs of the Gospel advent. “Remember ye the law of Moses my servant, which I commanded him in Horeb, for all Israel, with the statutes and judgments. Behold, I will send you Elijah the prophet, before the great and dreadful day of the Lord.” [38] Prophecy had been the oracle of Judaism, and of Christianity, to uphold the authority of the one, and reveal the promise of the other. And now its latest admonitions were like those of a faithful departing minister, embracing and summing up his duties. Resigning its charge to the personal Precursor of Christ, it expired with the Gospel upon its tongue. I have now traced the outline of Ancient Prophecy in its several ages: and a brief statement may suffice, to recapitulate what has been said in the survey which has been taken of the Structure and Use.

I. It has been shewn that the character of Prophecy is not simple and uniform, nor its light equable. It was dispensed in various degrees of revelation; and that revelation adapted, by the wisdom of God, to purposes which we must explore, by studying its records, and considering its capacity of application.

II. The principal age of Prophecy is from Samuel to Malachi. From the Fall to the Flood, and thence to the Call of Abraham, its communications are few. In the Patriarchal Age, they are enlarged. During the Bondage in Egypt, they are discontinued, but renewed with the Law. A pause of them, during four hundred years, follows the Law; and a pause of the like duration precedes the Gospel.

III. The subjects of Prophecy varied. Whilst it was all directed to one general design, in the evidence and support of religion, there was a diversity in the administration of the Spirit, in respect of that design. In Paradise, it gave the first hope of a Redeemer. After the Deluge, it established the peace of the Natural world. In Abraham, it founded the double covenant of Canaan and the Gospel. In the age of the Law, it spoke of the Second Prophet, and foreshadowed, in Types, the Christian doctrine, but foretold most largely the future fate of the selected People, who were placed under that preparatory dispensation. In the time of David, it revealed the Gospel Kingdom, with the promise of the Temporal. In the days of the later Prophets, it presignified the changes of the Mosaic Covenant, embraced the history of the chief Pagan kingdoms, and completed the annunciation of the Messiah and his work of Redemption. After the Captivity, it gave a last and more urgent information of the approaching Advent of the Gospel.

Thus ancient Prophecy ended as it had begun. The first discovery of it in Paradise, and the conclusion of it in the book of Malachi, are directed to one point. In its course it had multiplied its disclosures, and furnished various succours to religion, and created an authentic record of God’s Providence and Moral Government to be committed to the world. But its earliest, and its latest use, was in the preparatory revelation of Christianity. It remains, as the general inference to be deduced from the whole, that the Holy Jesus, and his religion, are the one principal object of Prophecy, the beginning and end of the elder revelation of God.

St. Paul has intimated the varied form, and different degrees of light, under which prophecy was successively dispensed, when he says of it, that “God in sundry partitions of his Truth, and in divers manners, spake in time past unto the Fathers by the Prophets.” [39] And if the inquiry, which has been so far pursued through these Discourses, might pass for a Comment upon this text of the Apostle, by elucidating, in any degree, “the manifold wisdom” [40] of the divine design which is embodied in the Volume of Prophecy, perhaps they may be thought to have their sufficient use.

Author’s Notes and References

1. Ezra i. 1, 2.

2. Isaiah xliv. 27.

3. “In the first year of Cyrus,” Ezra i. 1. viz., reckoning from the Initia Cyri Babylonica, the commencement of his enlarged Empire.

4. “Thus saith the Lord to his anointed, to Cyrus, whose right hand I have holden, to subdue nations before him; I will loose the loins of kings, to open before him the two leaved gates.—For Jacob my servant’s sake, and Israel mine elect, I have even called thee by thy name: I have surnamed thee, though thou hast not known me. I am the Lord, and there is none else.—I girded thee, though thou hast not known me.” Isaiah xlv. I—5.

5. See Ezra v. 13, 17. vi. 1,2, 14. ix. 9.

6. It is significantly said by Ezra, “The Elders of the Jews builded, and they prospered through the prophesying of Haggai the prophet, and Zechariah the son of Iddo: and they builded, and finished it, according to the Commandment of the God of Israel, and according to the decree of Cyrus and Darius, and Artaxerxes king of Persia.” Chap. vi. 14.

7. Viz. from the 4th year of Jehoiakim, which coincides with the 1 st of Nebuchadnezzar.

8. Zech. i. 12. The observation is derived from Petavius (de Doctrina Temporum, lib. xii. cap. 25.), and is called Pulcherrimum observatum, by Vitringa, Prolegom. in Zachar. p. 17.

Est enim pulcherrimum Petavii aliorumque observatum, Periodum lxx. annorum, decretorum punitioni Judaeae gentis, ad perfectum implementum prophetiae bis representatum esse.

A primo anno Nabuchodonosoris (quem Scriptura copulat cum quarto Jehojachimi) ad xxii. exeuntem Cyri, quo captivitas est soluta, anni sunt lxx. Adde Cyri viii. Cambysis et Magi viii. Darii ii. fiunt lxxxviii. Deductis annis xviii. restant lxx. ab excidio. Urbis usque ad annum ii. Darii, quo vaticinatus est Zacharias.

9. Dan. xi. 28—30. And also Dan. viii. 11 — 13.

10. Josephus says of them all, ***, de Bello Jud. vi. 10. The remark is true upon the whole; but some qualification of it must be admitted with respect to Antiochus Epiphanes, who in his ravages burnt and destroyed certain parts of the city.

11. I Kings xiv. 25.

12. De Bello Jud. vi. 10.

13. I exclude here the concluding chapters of the book of Zechariah, viz., from the 9th chapter to the end, which cannot well be ascribed to Zechariah or his age, as Mede and others have, I think, convincingly shewn.

14. Zech. i. 16, 17.

15. Zech. viii. 14, 15.

16. Zech. vi. 10—1.5.

17. Archbishop Newcome.

18. Ezra iv. 3.

19. Isaiah iv. 2. In xi. 1, a different, though equivalent word, is employed.

20. Jerem. xxiii. 5. xxxiii. 15.

21. Ezek. xxv. 27.

22. Jer. xxiii. 5.

23. See Jer. xxii. xxiii.

24. The Maccabees seem to have been well aware, that they were only inferior ministers of Providence, notwithstanding their princely and sacerdotal office combined, as we may judge from the following eulogy of their Annals, respecting one of their Chiefs. καὶ ὅτι εὐδόκησαν οἱ ᾿Ιουδαῖοι καὶ οἱ ἱερεῖς τοῦ εἶναι Σίμωνα ἡγούμενον καὶ ἀρχιερέα εἰς τὸν αἰῶνα ἕως τοῦ ἀναστῆναι προφήτην πιστὸν 1 Macc. xiv. 15. “That Simon should be commander and priest for ever, till a Faithful Prophet arose.”

25. Haggai ii. 6.

26. These objections, brought forward again, and urged with much zeal, by Dr. Heberden, are published at large by archbishop Newcome, with his version of Haggai. The Prelate does not agree with Dr. Heberden in his critical and historical interpretation, yet he has given to it his praise, and something of a sanction, by speaking of it as “a valuable communication, which will give the reader great assistance in determining the sense of the prophecy now under discussion.”

27. The Hebrew text joins a plural verb (shall come) with a singular noun, expressing what is desirable or what is desired. Hence it is alleged, that the verb shews that the text ought to be amended, by giving to the noun a plural form; and the ancient versions favour this emendation. But the criticism is equivocal: for there is the equal right on the other side to make the emendation by changing the number of the verb, to meet the singular form of the noun.

28. ***. De Bello Jud. vi. iv. 4.

29. Dr. Heberden.

30. I do not enter into the question of Herod’s renovation of the temple, what it was, whether it embraced a reconstruction of the whole, or only an enlargement of it. Josephus must be considered a competent witness in the case. And he clearly describes a complete rebuilding from the foundation, of the Temple properly so called. But most of his Commentators still argue that it was the Second Edifice perpetuated in a gradual renovation.—See Antiq. Jud. xv. xi. 3. and Interpp. in loc.

31. Haggai ii. 21, 23.

32. See chap. ii. I, and 20.

33. Herodot. lib. vii. I.

34. See Matt. i. 12; Luke iii. 27.

35. Jeremiah xxii. 24.

36. Chap. i. 10. iii. 10.

37. Chap. i. 11.

38. Malachi iv. 2.

39. ***. Heb. i. 1.

40. ***. Ephes. iii. 10.

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