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Earth, confeffed him to be the Son of God, and after his Death, by their Oracles acknowledged him to have been an holy Perfon, whofe Soul was tranflated into Heaven.
And this Perfon, thus innocent and holy both in his Life and Doctrine, was prophefied of many Ages before his Birth, and all the Prophecies concerning the Meffias were exactly and in a wonderful manner fulfilled in him. Thefe Prophecies concern either his Birth, or his Life, or his Death, or his Refurre&tion and Afcenfion.
I. The Prophecies concerning the Birth of the Meffias were fulfilled in our Saviour. For his Birth was prophefied of in all the circumstances of the Time, and the Place of it, and the Perfon of whom he was born.
(1.) As for the Time; by Jacob's Prophecy (Gen. xlix. 10.) the Meffias was to come about the time of the Diffolution of the Jewish Government. The Sceptre was not to depart from Judah, that is, the Power and Authority of the Jewish Government was not to ceafe, until Shilo came, which the ancient Jewish Interpreters expounded of the coming of their Meffias, To which purpose it is held by the Jews, that the great Sanedrin fat in the Tribe of Judah, though but part of the Court in which they fat belonged to that Tribe, and the reft was in the Tribe of Benjamin. And the Jews among all their Objections, never objected against the time in which our Saviour came into the world; but many of them have confeffed that the Meffias was born at that time; but fay, that because of their Sins he has concealed himself ever
b Porphyr. apud Eufeb. Demonftr. Evang. lib. 3. c. 6. & Aug. de Confenfu Evangel. lib. 1. c. 15.
See Bishop Pearfon on the Creed.
d Lightfoot's Profpect of the Temple, c. 21.
fince. And the latter Jews have, by a great many Stories, endeavoured to make it believed, that there is a Kingdom still of their Nation, in fome unknown part of the world; tho', if this were true, it could prove nothing to their purpose, the Prophecy being concerning their Power and Authority in the promifed Land, the Borders whereof are there mentioned by Jacob, ver. 13.
It is certain, that foon after our Saviour's coming, Jerufalem was destroyed, and the Jews dispersed, and upon fevere Penalties forbidden to come to their defolate and ruined City, or fo much as to look upon f Zion, the City of their Solemnities, unless it were once every year to lament their calamity; and they have ever fince been a wandring and defpicable People. And several times, when they have attempted to rebuild their Temple, they have not been fuffered to do it; particularly, when they had the favour and encouragement of Julian the Apoftate; who, out of malice to the Chriftian Name and Doctrine, was forward to promote the Work, they were hindred by an Earthquake, and a miraculous eruption of Fire burfting out near the Foundation, which burnt down what they had erected, and deftroyed those that were employed in it; and this we have attefted not only from Christian Writers, who lived near that time, but by an eminent Heathen Hiftorian of the fame Age. Now it
f Heron. in Sophon, c. 1. Greg. Nazian. Orat. xii. p. 202. Juft, Apol. 1. Tertull. Apol. c. 21. Eufeb. Hift. 1. 4. c. 4. & in Efai. vi. II. Διὸ εἰς ἔτι καὶ σήμερον ἀμφὶ μὲ τὰς ὅρες καὶ κύκλῳ πριόντες πόῤῥωθεν ὅσαν, μηδ' ἐξ Σπίτιν τὸ πάλαι νενομισμένον αὐτοῖς ἱερὸν ἔδαφος θεάσαας καταξιώμενοι· ἔξωθεν ἢ κυκλοῦντες πίσιν ἐπάYUT! THAT XECAs your very. Eufeb. in Pfal. lviii. 7. p. 267. Rurfus in eand. rem ad Pfal. lxix. 26. p. 382.
Ambitiofum quondam apud Hierofolymam Templum, quod poft multa & interneciva certamina, obfidente Vefpafiano pofteaque Tito, agrè eft expugnatum, inftaurare fumptibus cogitabat (Julianus) immodicis, negotiumque maturandum Alypio dederat Antiochenfi,
it was foretold by the Prophets Haggai and Malachy, that Chrift fhould come before the deftruction of the Second Temple, and the destruction of this Temple was foretold by Daniel, with the precife time of our Saviour's coming; and to manifeft to the World that Chrift is come, and that therefore the Jewish Worship and Government is utterly at an end, as the Prophets had foretold, God has been pleafed in fo miraculous and terrible a manner to fhew, that he will not fuffer their Temple to be rebuilt; and whereas the Meffias was to come to the Second Temple, now for fo many hundreds of Years, they have had no Temple at all for him to come to.
(2.) As the time of Chrift's Birth was foretold by the Prophets, fo was the place likewise, and that was Bethlehem, a finall City, and therefore the more unlikely in all humane account to have that honour beftowed upon it, to become the Birth-place of him, who, the Jews expected, fhould be a Temporal Prince: yet this was fo well understood by the Jews of that time, notwithstanding their mistaken notion of a Temporal Meffias, that when Herod gathered all the Chief Priefts and Scribes of the People together, and demanded of them, where Chrift should be born, they answered him with one confent, in Bethlehem of Judea, and quoted the Prophecy of Micah for the proof of it, Matt. ii. And many believed that Jefus was the Meffias, or the Chrift, of whom they were then in expectation; others made this objection, that he could not be the Christ, because he came out of Galilee: but hath not the Scripture faid, that Chrift cometh of the feed of David, and
qui olim Britanias curaverat pro Prefectis. Cum itaque rei idem fortiter inftaret Alypius, juvaretque Provincia Rector, metuendi globi flammarum prope fundamenta crebris affultibus erumpentes, fecere locum exuftis aliquoties operantibus inacceffum, hocque modo Elemento deftinatiùs repellente, ceffavit inceptum. Ammian. Marcellin. 1. 23. C. I.
out of the Town of Bethlehem, where David was? This was the great objection against our Saviour, that he could not be the Chrift, because he did not come out of Bethlehem, but out of Galilee: for they thought he had been born at Nazareth in Galilee, not at Bethle hem in the Tribe of Judah, whereas he was indeed born at Bethlehem, and that by fo ftrange and particu→ lar a Providence, as doth evidently prove him to be the Chrift.
For it came to pass in these days, that there went out a decree from Cafar Auguftus, that all the world should be taxed, and regiftred according to their Families; and all went to be taxed, every one into his own City, into the City, which belonged to his Lineage and Family. And Jofeph alfo went up from Galilee out of the City of Nazareth into Judæa unto the City of David, which is called Bethlehem (because he was of the Houfe and Lineage of David) to be taxed with Mary his efpoufed Wife, being great with Child; and fo it was, that while they were there, the days were accomplished, that she should be delivered, Luke ii. 1, &c. Here we fee, that their going from Nazareth to Bethlehem was not in the leaft defigned by the Virgin Mary and Jofeph, but they were obliged to go thither by a new and ftrange Decree of the Emperor, and accordingly they went in obedience to this Decree. If the Bleffed Virgin had dwelt at Beth leh m, though the Prophecy had been fulfilled, yet there had been nothing in the circumftances extraordinary; if she had gone thither of her own accord, or if fome private bufinefs had called her thither, this might have been looked upon as a contrivance, and a defign to be thought the Mother of the Meffias; if God himself had by an immediate Revelation fent her thither, yet this ftill had been liable to Cavils, and might have been fufpected of impofture. But when at the Command of an Heathen Prince, and fuch a Command as had never been given out at any time before, the Virgin Mary was forced upon a long and tedious
Journey, at an unfeasonable time of the Year, being then great with Child, and therefore very unfit for fuch a Journey, and not in a condition to have the least inclination or thought of undertaking it, when fhe was obliged by fo unexpected and unwelcome a Command to repair to Bethlehem, and was at that very time delivered of her Son; all these circumftances fo wonderfully concurring, have fomething more convincing in them, that can well be exprefs'd.
And it has been obferv'd by learned and judicious Men, that this Tax or Register was defigned and begun in fome parts of the Empire xxxviii Years before, but was hindred by difturbances which happened; upon which account it is fuppofed, that anciently the Spaniards begun their Æra xxxviii Years before the computation of other Chriftians, fuppofing that the Taxing had been in Judea at the fame time, that it was begun amongst them so many Years fooner; but the Divine Providence fo order'd things, that it fhould not be carry'd on then, but fhould be deferr'd 'till that very time when Christ was to be born, that by this means Bethlehem might be the Place of his Birth.
And by the fame fpecial Providence it came to pass, not only that this Prophecy was fulfill'd concerning his being born at Bethlehem, but that it should be register'd in the Publick Records of the Empire; to which *Juftin Martyr and † Tertullian appeal for the Proof of it; and St. Chryfoftom mentions them, as extant at
* Κώμη καὶ τὶς ἐεὶν - & ᾗ ἐγυέθη Ἰησοὺς Χρισὸς, ὡς καὶ μαθεῖν ἐν διώασθε ἐκ τ Σπιγραφῶν γυομλύων ἐπὶ Κυρίωίε τῷ ὑμετέρε ἐν izdala węŃrs Hoops izlý8. Justin. Mart. in Apolog. ad An
De cenfu Augufti, quem teftem fideliffimum Dominica Nativitatis Romana Archiva cuftodiunt. Tertull. adv. Marcion. 1. 4. c. 7.. † Καὶ τοῖς ἀρχαίοις τοῖς δημοσίᾳ κειμδύοις Κώδιξιν ἐπὶ τὶ Ῥώμη; ἔξεσιν ἀντυχόντα, καὶ “ καιρὸν τὸ Σπήγραφῆς μαθόντα ἀκριβῶς εἰδέναι Behoor. Chryfoft. in Chrifti Natal. Tom. 5. Edit. Sav.