Sivut kuvina



Letter I.


Dear Brother Benjamin,

§ 1. Never have I taken up my pen with greater pleasure than on the present occasion. O how my soul has longed to communicate to you the subject of this letter! It is inexpressibly delightful to be the bearer of good news. But what good news can be compared to the joyful sound of the Gospel? Yes, my beloved brother, glad tidings! glad tidings of great joy! "Glory to God in the highest, and on earth good will towards men." "The Lord has made a covenant with his chosen." In my last letter I have endeavored to point out the truly deplorable and helpless condition of man; yet, blessed be the Lord, it is not a hopeless condition. "What is impossible with man, is possible with God."

2. Agreeably to my promise, I will now give you a scriptural account of the Divine Appointment of a Mediator. I say scriptural, for, as it has been observed respecting the covenant between the great God and the father of the human race, that it was a matter of pure revelation, so it is with respect to the covenant or economy of redemption now under consideration; an economy incomparably more glorious and more ancient-a covenant between the Eternal Father and his Eternal Son, for the redemption of man

kind. This subject, you know, my dear Benjamin, is very little known amongst our people, and, alas! very few Christians have correct ideas respecting it.

§ 3. I will therefore show, 1. The reality of such a covenant. In the illustration and confirmation of this subject, which relates to things which should come to pass, I shall confine myself wholly to the Old Testament. To point out all that is written in the law, in the prophets, and in the book of Psalms, would by far exceed the limits of this letter. I have therefore selected only a few passages, which I will first prove to relate to the Messiah, and then show that they establish the reality and illustrate the nature of the co


4. No. 1. We begin with the second Psalm.

The characters of this Psalm are such as leave us no rational ground of applying it to David, or Solomon, or any of their successors; or to any other person than to that future Sovereign, the predicted descendant in whom David trusted and rejoiced, and tuned the harps of Zion to celebrate his holy dominion. Apostolic authority, also, permits us not to hesitate in regarding it as a direct and most important prophecy of the Messiah. Nor are we at a loss for testimonies from our most ancient rabbins. The Chaldee Targum refers it to the Messiah. So do the Bereshith Rab., the book Yalkut, and the other Talinudical writings almost without exception. Memorable are the words of R. Sol. Yarchi, "Our masters," says he, "have expounded (this Psalm) of the king Messiah; but, according to the letter, and for furnishing answers to the Minim, (i. e. heretics, or Christians,) it is better to interpret it of David himself." Pocok, in Porta Mosis, Not. 307. Venum, in Psalm, tom. 1. p. 49. David Kimchi has a passage precisely to the same effect. The ancient book Zohar has the following passage: Of thee, Messiah, it is said, kiss the Son; thou art my Son, and he is the Prince of Israel, the Lord of the lower world, the Lord of the ministering angels, the Son of


the Most High, and the indwelling of grace." Apud Kuinoel in libros. N. T. Histor. vol. 3. p. 84. See also Aben Ezra and Med. Tehillim in loco. Zohar, Numb. fol. 82, 2. Tal. Succath, fol. 52, 1. Maim. Sanhed. c. 10.

No. 2. We notice next, Psalm 89.

Whatever differences of opinion there are respecting the penman, it is generally agreed that the Messiah is the subject. The twentieth verse is applied to him by the apostle, Act. 13: 22, 23, and several parts of the Psalm are applied to him by our Rabbins. See Aben Ezra, Kimchi, and Yarchi, on verse 51. Sanhed. fol. 97, 1. Yalkut Sim. part 2. fol. 56, 3. Shemoth Rab. fol, 104, 4. Zohar, Gen. fol. 30. 1.

The promise made to David is recited, and its provisions are detailed and dwelt upon, with all the affectionate lingerings of struggling hope and discouraging fear. The per-, son in whom the promise remained to be fulfilled, is represented as a new David, a Son of God, a King, exalted by God his father to a dominion such as David and his poste-. rity never knew; an empire of universal extent, conferring the greatest blessings upon its subjects, gloriously displaying the majesty of the divine perfections, and destined to continue to the end of time. “All human affairs," says a foreign divine, "are subjected to the changes of fortune." Nothing is permanent; at least, reigning families are not. Not one of those who now occupy any of the thrones of Europe, (and the European thrones have been, for the most part, more regular and stable than any other,) is a thousand years old. It is plainly, therefore, contrary to the course of all human affairs, that to the family of David an everlasting throne should be promised. In fact, it was not to be brought to pass in the ordinary course of things, but was to be accomplished in that everlasting King, who is celebrated in the 72d Psalm and the 110th.-Michaelis Anmerk, üb. 2 Sam. 7: 19.

No. 3. The hundred and tenth Psalm is also repeatedly applied to the Messiah, by almost all our rabbins, as well as

frequently quoted in the New Testament, as will be shown hereafter.

No. 4. Passing by, at present, Isaiah, 7: 14, which must be fully considered hereafter, we mention Isaiah, 9:6, which is applied to the Messiah by the Targum; in Devarin Rab. fol. 196, 3. By R. Jose Galilæcus præfat. in Echa Rab. and Maimon. in Maji Synops, Theolog. Ind. Loc. 8. de Messiah, p. 21. See also Reuchlinum de arte Cabalæ, lib. 1. p. 745. The Chaldee paraphrase is very observable: "The prophet speaketh of the house of David, because a child is born to us, a son is given to us, and he taketh the Jaw upon himself to observe it; therefore his name is called from of old, Wonderful in council, God the mighty, He who abideth for ever, the Messiah, whose peace shall be abundant upon us in his days." We shall have occasion to consider this prediction more fully hereafter.

No. 5. In Isaiah, 42: 1-4, the Messiah is described as distinguished above all the other servants and prophets of God; the object of the most perfect divine complacency; qualified, by the richest participation of heavenly gifts, for communicating the true religion to the world; modest, lowly, and unassuming; supporting and soothing the weak and afflicted; indefatigably persevering in his arduous work of evangelizing the earth, and finally successful in it; a conqueror and a sovereign, but one who subdues and reigns by love. In the New Testament this prediction is applied to Jesus, Math. 12: 18-21; and our Rabbins have applied it to the Messiah.

The Targum on the first verse saith, "Behold, my servant the Messiah." Kimchi, on the same place, saith, "This is the king Messiah." Abarbinel interprets it of the Messiah, Mash. yeshua. fol. 9: 1, 2; 10: 1, 2; 21: 2; and on Isaiah, fol. 64: 3, 4. The fourth verse is applied to the Messiah by Maimon. See also R. Isaac in chiz. Emunah. fol. 299.

No. 6. The 49th of Isaiah is also applied to the Messiah in Zohar on Gen. fol. 127: 2, and in Pesickta Rab. in Yal kut in loco.

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No. 7. The next passage in course is the fifty-third chapter of Isaiah, which more properly ought to begin at the 13th verse of the preceding chapter. Hence the Haphtorah for Parshah Shophtim closes at the 13th verse; and the Haphtorah for Parshah Noah and Ki-Setzai begins with the 54th chapter. Why the three last verses of the 52d chapter and the whole of the 53d chapter have been skipt over in the selection of the Haphtorath, I leave for our Rabbins to answer. For myself I am satisfied that the motive of withholding light from the people is to keep them in darkness. This portion of sacred Scripture is too plain for any reader not to see the fulfillment of it in Jesus of Nazareth. That the whole of this prophecy was applied by our fathers to the Messiah, is acknowledged by R. Moshe Alshech, in his commentary on the place. His words are as follows: Now it is said that, for certain, our doctors, of blessed memory, have, with one voice, affirmed and handed down, that it is spoken of the king Messiah; and I shall follow their authority, since it is well known that David and the Messiah are one and the same person." Aben Ezra, although he trieth to apply the prophecy to any other but the Messiah, yet confesseth "that many expound it of the Messiah because of the assertion of our fathers, of blessed memory, that on the day on which the sanctuary was destroyed, the Messiah was born, and is now detained in prison." Com. on Isa. 49: 13. See the Targums on Isaiah, 52: 13, and 53: 10. Sanhed. fol. 98, col. 2. Zohar in Ex. f. 85, 2. Beresh. Rab. Gen. 24: 67. Pesikta in Kettoreth hassammim in Targ. Jer. Numb. 24: 7. Tanchuma, Isa. 52:13. Med. Ruth. f. 34: 3. Besides, the description given throughout this prophecy of one single individual, never hath, and never can agree with any one besides the Messiah, Jesus of Nazareth, as shall be shown in a future letter.

§ 4. From some of the above passages it is evident that Jehovah has made a covenant with the Messiah. In the 89th Psalm, David, in celebrating the mercy and faithful

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