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St. JOHN V. 39, 40.

Search the Scriptures; for in them ye think ye have eternal life; and they are they which testify of me. And ye will not come to me, that ye might have life.

WE observed, in our fourth Lecture, that our Lord either left the attestations to his divine mission and character to convince by their own native force and palpable evidence, or proposed them in the most simple manner, until fuller statements and more detailed arguments were called forth by the doubts and difficulties, the prejudices and opposition of his contemporaries. But when such occasions arose, he unfolded to them as much as the imperfect accomplishment of the purposes of his mission, and therefore the incomplete exhibition of its evidences, would permit. Often, however, his statements are applicable to, and anticipate the fuller developement of the evidences; of which, indeed, the discourse in which our text

occurs is a remarkable instance. Those of his reasonings in this discourse, which we have already considered, are sufficient to establish the justice of this remark. When he noticed to them the presumption in his favour from his not seeking his own will, when he appealed to the witness of John, to the witness of his own miracles, and to the witness of the Father, he had laboured so long and so publicly among them, that enough was already before them, if not finally to convince, yet at least to arrest the attention. Enough had been already seen and heard to claim for him an impartial hearing; enough to induce them, if not even then to believe in him, yet to pause ere they rejected his claims. And in order to come to

just and satisfactory decision, it was requisite that they should observe, in a candid frame of mind, his future conduct; and should also deliberately consider the more enlarged reasonings, upon which he would be ready to enter, whenever their difficulties called for appropriate statements, and whenever fresh facts either illustrated his former arguments, or supplied the materials for others.

The same remark is also applicable, and, in some respects, more fully, to the appeal made in the text to the written testimony, which the Scriptures of the Old Testament afforded to Jesus.The events, in which any prophecy is accom

plished, alone can finally decide, either its true interpretation, or the particular object to which it referred. It follows from hence, that the events in question must have come to pass, and their particulars must be fully known, before that interpretation can be definitely settled, and the attestation of prophecy can be rightly ascertained. Now the prophecies of the Old Testament, which relate to the Messiah, are very numerous, and refer to a great variety of particulars. Of course, therefore, when the Messiah came, before he could be completely identified, all the characteristics by which the prophets had described him must have been exhibited; and therefore all the events, in consequence of which they were to be developed, must have taken place. We believe that, at the very time specified by the prophets, their predictions were fulfilled in Jesus of Nazareth. If in him they were not accomplished, there is certainly no other in whom they were; no other, respecting whom the assertion can be advanced. But the great argument, deducible from a collective view of all the prophecies, could not be complete, until after those transactions which closed his ministry and life; by which so large a proportion of the prophecies were rapidly, but minutely, fulfilled. Yet even at the time when our Lord spoke the words of our text, much had already become sufficiently obvious. And since an apprehension

of the entire prophetic argument could not be attained, except by discerning the correspondence of a great number of particular events to at least as many particular predictions, it would have been well if those, whom our Lord addressed, had even then commenced the inquiry. For having thus seen the fulfilment of prophecy already evinced to a certain extent, they might have been prepared to watch the progress of his ministry, and would have recognized thereby, more and more clearly, him, of whom Moses in the law, and the prophets, did write."


Rightly to apprehend the evidence which arises from the word of prophecy, we must have recourse to that repository, in which it has been handed down to us. We must comply with the exhortation, which our Lord in the text addressed to the Jews. We must "search the Scriptures." We must investigate and study the particular predictions therein contained, and observe their order and connexion; and, by comparing them with those events which correspond to them, as recorded either in the same Scriptures, or in other writers, we must trace their accomplishment. Such an undertaking would evidently be too extensive to be brought within the compass of our present design. There is, however, a more limited range, which falls within the path we at first marked out. For we proposed to contemplate the


subject of evidence, either as it is actually contained in our Lord's discourses, or immediately suggested by them. Now our Lord has himself actually cited many important prophecies, to many he obviously alludes, and others afford at least a valuable elucidation of his statements. Even this more confined review exhibits, in a very satisfactory manner, the testimony of prophecy to Jesus; and also, which is even still more important, it supplies us with such directions and suggestions as are sufficient to lead us to a proper and conclusive view of the whole argument. It will be the object of our next Lecture, to take a cursory view of these actual citations and illustrations of prophecy by our Lord himself. In the remainder of this we shall consider the subject more generally, but still in immediate connexion with our text.

We have just cited the first clause of it, as containing an exhortation to "search the Scriptures." But many have preferred a translation of the verb in the indicative mood. According to this view, we must understand our Lord as granting to the Jews, that they did search the Scriptures; a concession, which all that we know of that nation, and especially of its leading men, shews to be made according to fact. To understand the words in this manner is, perhaps, more consistent with the style and method of argu

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