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explanation. * No doubt Moses did explain to them the intent of such a procedure. The author of the book of Wisdom, addressing himself to God, and speaking of the Israelites, has imputed the virtue of this brazen serpent to its true cause: “ He that “ turned himself towards it, was not healed 66 by the thing which he saw, but by thee, “ who art the Saviour of all.” . And accordingly in the foregoing verse he calls it a « sign or symbol of salvation, to put them « in remembrance of the commandment of " the law.” The Jewish Doctors could never account for this transaction, nor imagine how God, who had forbidden all manner of graven images, should command one
* Accordingly we do find, that after the Jews had re. lapsed into idolatry, seven hundred and thirty one years after Moses, they worshipped the brazen serpent. Hezekiah endeavoured to convince them of their `extreme folly, breaking it to pieces, and assuring them, that it was nothing bnt Nehushtan, a trumpery thing of brass.
t Wisdom xvi. 7.
to be used on this occasion. * But had they known Christ, and him crucified, they might have soon perceived, that God intended it for a type of the death of his son, and of the very manner in which he was to die; and that the effects of the brazen Serpent upon the Israelites, who looked upon it, did represent the virtue received by true believers, from the death of their Saviour and Redeemer, aud the cure they experienced of that evil, brought upon them by the malice of Satan, prefigured in the Old Testament under the form of a serpent. Our Saviour says, “and I, if I be lifted “ up from the earth, will draw all men 66 unto me. This he said, signifying what “ death he should die:" + and this prophecy was the more remarkable, because, in two former instances, the Jews had
* Vid. Justin Martyr's Dialogue with Trypho. + John xii. 32.
attempted * Matt. xii. 39.
attempted to stone him to death; and Stephen they actually did stone, for what they esteemed the samé offence.
Another remarkable type of the Messiah, was that of the prophet Jonah : Christ says, “ An evil and adulterous generation seek« eth after a sign; but there shall no sign “ be given to it, but the sign of the prophet 66 Jonas; for as Jonas was three days and “ three nights in the whale's belly, so shall " the Son of Man be three days and three “ nights in the heart of the earth.”* He calls them an adulterous generation, because they had apostatized from the true religion, as an unfaithful wife deserts her legitimate husband, and diverts her attachment to a stranger. The prophecies of the Old Testament are strictly fulfilled in the New; thatis, in the time and circumstances of our Saviour's coming, his birth, course of life,
doctrine, actions, sufferings, death, and resurrection. We may safely rely on the gem nuineness and authenticity of the New Testament, since, if it had been corrupted, the corrupters must have been Jews; and it can hardly be supposed, that the Jews would have left such testimonies against ihemselves; such a record of miracles unbelieved, and unattended to; the very names of persons mentioned, on whom these miracles were performed, as for instance, blind Bartimeus the son of Timæus, Ananias and Sapphira, Elymas the sorcerer, Malchus, and many others.
That some errors may have crept into both the Hebrew and Greek copies of the Bible, is possible; but a learned author* has shewn, that in the quotations of the New Testament from the prophecies of the Old, in nine instances out of ten, the very words. of the ancient scriptures are made use of; and in all the rest, the sense of the prophecy is taken at least, if not the very words. It is not my intention, in the present sermon, to enter fully into the different prophecies respecting our Saviour, because they must necessarily be referred to, in their order, in the subsequent discourses, and under their proper heads; and some difficulty will certainly arise, to keep them distinct and to avoid repetition. Our Saviour advises his followers, to search the Scriptures; for in them, says he, ye are wisely of opinion ye have the precepts of eternal life laid down, “and they « are they which testify of me.”* In like manner the Church to which we belong, exhorts us diligently to read, mark, and learn them; the better we are informed of them, the more firm our faith will be, and it is our own fault, if not the more pure our
* Dr. Owen.