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Earth, confessed him to be the Son of God, and after his Death, b by their Oracles acknowledged him to have been an holy Person, whose Soul was translated into Heaven.
And this Person, thus innocent and holy both in his Life and Doctrine, was prophesied of many Ages before his Birth, and all the Prophecies concerning the Messias were exa&ly and in a wonderful manner fulfilled in him. These Prophecies concern either his Birth, or his Life, or his Death, or his Resurre&tion and Ascension.
I. The Prophecies concerning the Birth of the Messias were fulfilled in our Saviour. For his Birth was prophesied of in all the circumstances of the Time, and the Place of it, and the Person of whom he was born.
(1.) As for the Time; by Jacob's Prophecy (Gen. xlix. 1o.) the Meffias was to come about the time of the Dissolution 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 cease, until Shilo came, which the ancient Jewish Interpreters expounded of the coining of their Messias, To & which purpose it is held by the Jews, that the great Sanedrin sat in the Tribe of Judah, though but part of the Court in which they sat belonged to that Tribe, and the rest was in the Tribe of Benjamin. And the Jews among all their Obje&ions, never objected against the time in which our Saviour came into the world; but many of them have confessed that the Messias was born at that time; but say, that because of their Sins he has e concealed himself ever
b Porphyr. apud Euseb. Demonstr. Evang. lib. 3. c. 6.& Aug, de Confensu Evangel. lib. I. C. 15.
C See Bishop Pearson on the Creed.
since. 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 some 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 inentioned by Jacob, ver. 13:
It is certain, that foon after our Saviour's coming, Jerusalem was
destroyed, and the Jews dispersed, and upon severe Penalties forbidden to come to their desolate and ruined City, or so 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 since been a wandring and despicable People. And several times, when they have attempted to rebuild their Temple, they have not been suffered to do it; particularly, when they had the favour and encouragement of Julian the Apostate ; who, out of malice to the Christian Name and Doctrine, was forward to promote the Work, they were hindred by an Earthquake, and a miraculous eruption of Fire bursting out near the Foundation, which barnt down what they had erected, and destroyed those that were em ployed in it; and this we have attested not only from Christian Writers, who lived near that time, but by an eminent Heathen Historian of the same Age. Now
f Heron. in Sophon. c. 1. Greg. Nazian. Orat. xii. p. 202. Just. Apol. 1. Tertull. ol. c. 21. Euseb. Hist. 1. 4. C. 4. & in Efai. vi. II. Διό ας έτι και σήμερον αμφί ο τες ώρες και κύκλω αριόνιες πόρρωθεν ίσαν 3, μηδ' εξ δίπλα το πάλαι νενομισμένον αυτοίς ιερον έδαφος θεάσαι καταξιέμενοι έξωθεν και κυκλούντες πίσιν επά7875 TD Xãeges aeyoúca regoñ. Euseb. in Pfal. lviii. 7. p. 267. Rursus in eand. rem ad Pfal. Ixix. 26. p. 382.
$ Ambitiosum quondam apud Hierofolymam Templum, quod poft multa e interneciva certamina, obfidente Vespasiano posteaque Tito, agrè eft expugnatum, instaurare fumptibus cogitabat (Fulianus) immodicis, negotiumque maturandum Alypio dederát Antiochenfi,
it was foretold by the Prophets Haggai and Malachy, that Christ should come before the destruction of the Second Temple, "and the destruction of this Temple was foretold by Daniel, with the precise time of our Saviour's coming; and to manifest to the World that Christ is come, and that therefore the Jewish Worship and Government is utterly at an end, as the Prophets had foretold, God has been pleased in so miraculous and terrible a manner to fhew, that he will not suffer their Temple to be rebuilt; and whereas the Messias was to come to the Second Temple, now for so many hundreds of Years, they have had no Temple at all for him to come to.
(2.) As the time of Christ's Birth was foretold by the Prophets, so was the place likewise, and that was Bethlehem, a small 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, should be a Temporal Prince: yet this was so well understood by the Jews of that time, notwithstanding their mistaken notion of a Temporal Messias, that when Herod gathered all the Chief Priests and Scribes of the People together, and demanded of them, where Christ should be born, they answered him with one consent, in Bethlehem of Judea, and quoted the Prophecy of Micah for the proof of it, Matt. ii. And many believed that Jesus was the Messias, or the Christ, of whom they were then in expe&ation; others made this objection, that he could not be the Christ, because he came out of Galilee : but hath not the Scripture said, that Christ cometh of the seed of David, and
qui olim Britanias curaverat pro Prefe&tis. Cum itaque rei idem fortiter inftaret Alypires, juvaretque Provincie Rettor, metuendi globi flammarum prope fundamenta crebris afilibus erumpentes, fecere locum exuftis aliquoties operantibus inacceflum, hocque modo Elemento destinatiùs repellenie, ceffavit inceptum, Ammian. Marcellin. 1. 23. C. I.
out of the Town of Bethlehem, where David was?? This was the great obje&tion against our Saviour, that he could not be the Christ, because he did not come out of Bethlebem, 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 so strange and particular a Providence, as doth evidently prove him to be the Christ.
For it came to pass in these days, that there went out a decree from Cafar Auguftus, that all the world fhould be taxed, and registred 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 Joseph also went up from Galilee out of the City of Nazareth into Judaa unto the City of David, which is called Bethlehem (because he was of the House and Lineage of David) to be taxed with Mary his espoused Wife, being great with Child ; and so 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 least de signed by the Virgin Mary and Joseph, but they were obliged to go thither by a new and strange Decree ofthe Emperor, and accordingly they went in obedience to this Decree. If the Blesed Virgin had dwelt at Bethleh m, though the Prophecy had been fulfilled, yer there had been nothing in the circumstances extraordinary; if he had gone thither of her own accord, or if some private business had called her thither, this might have been looked upon as a contrivance, and a design to be thought the Mother of the Messias; if God himself had by an immediate Revelation sent her thither, yet this still had been liable to Cavils, and might have been suspected of imposture. But when at the Command of an Heathen Prince, and such a Command as had never been given out at any time before, the Virgin Mary. was forced upon a long and tedious
Journey, Journey, at an unfeasonable time of the Year, being then great with Child, and therefore very unfit for such a Journey, and not in a condition to have the least inclination or thought of undertaking it, when she was obliged by so unexpe&ed and unwelcome a Command to repair to Bethlehem, and was at that very time delivered of her Son; all these circumstances so wonderfully concurring, have something more convincing in them, that can well be express'd.
And it has been observd by learned and judicious Men, that this Tax or Register was designed and begun in some parts of the Empire xxxviii Years before, but was hindred by disturbances which happened ; upon which account it is supposed, that anciently the Spaniards begun their Æra xxxviii Years before the computation of other Christians , fuppofing that the Taxing had been in Judea at the same time, that it was begun amongst them so many Years sooner; but the Divine Providence so order'd things, that it should not be carry'd on then, but should 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 same special Providence it came to pass, not only that this Prophecy was fulfilld concerning his being born at Bethlehem, but that it should be register's in the Publick Records of the Empire ; to which
Justin Martyr and † Tertullian appeal for the Proof of it; and + St. Chryfoftom mentions them, as extant at
* Κώμη και τις εσίν ώ και έξιέθη "Ιησούς Χριστός, ως και μαθείν δυνασθε κ ή λιγραφών ή νομιμων επί Κυρωίε τε υμετέρα ω ir dahoe weátr gfuopelo 717eýms. justin. Mart. in Apolog. ad Antonin. Pium.
† De censu Augufti, quem teftem fidelissimum Dominica Nativitatis Romana Archiva custodiunt. Tertull
. adv. Marcion. 1. 4. c. 7. + Και τους αρχαίοις τοις δημοσία και μόνοις Κώδιξιν επί τ Ρώμης έξεσιν ντυχόνια, και το καιρον η λιπιγραφής μαθόντα ακριβώς αδέναι η Bonépsfor. Chryfoft . in Chrifti Natal. Tom. 5. Edit. Say.