Page images

which we are contending, are anxious to restrict their meaning to the result: but that they mark the manner of bringing about the result, seems capable of being satisfactorily established. The reference to the Jewish ceremony of the scape-goat, which was understood to bear upon him all the iniquities' of the children of Israel 'unto a land not inhabited,'1o is supposed to be strongly in favour of the former view; but, if another circumstance connected with this rite is duly considered, it will be seen to be not less strongly corroborative of the latter, for the high priest was to confess over the animal all the iniquities of the children of Israel, 'PUTTING THEM UPON THE Head of the GOAT,' and this as a preparatory step to his being 'sent away by the hand of a fit man into the wilderness.'"

It is also worthy of notice, that these original terms, when they occur in connexion with sins or iniquities, never signify to bear away, but to bear a burden; to sustain a load; to bear the punishment of sin, the suffering due to iniquity. Hence the doctrine of this prediction is, that the load of guilt, the burden of punishment, was borne by the Messiah, that is, that his sufferings were punitive."2



2. 'The chastisement of peace was upon him.' v. 5. 7. Lowth, Rosenmueller, and P. Smith, agree with the common version. Michaelis, Seiler, and Gesenius employ the word punishment. Each of these

[blocks in formation]

12 For a very full, elaborate, and learned criticism on the words in question, see Magee, v. i. pp. 408 463.


supposes sin or guilt, and consequently determines the view of Messiah's sufferings we are now attempting to set forth.

3. He was wounded for transgressions-bruised for iniquities.' .v. 5. The critics employ different words here, but always such as convey the idea of crime or moral turpitude.

4. He bare sin.' v. 12. The same remark applies to this expression.

[ocr errors]

5. Thou shalt make his soul a sin-offering.' v. 10. D. A propitiatory sacrifice. (Lowth.)—A sacrifice for sin. (Smith.)—A trespass-offering. (Mich., Seil., Gesen.)-An atoning sacrifice. (Rosen.) This requires no comment.

Thus ample is the evidence of the punitive character of Messiah's sufferings. These sufferings were not mere calamities, then, or afflictions which came upon the person without any reference to guilt, but partook directly of the nature of a punishment or penalty, judicially inflicted, somehow or other, on account of moral transgression.

IV. It remains to examine whether the guilt, for which Messiah suffered a legal punishment, was his own; and, on this point, the evidence is no less full, which this prediction supplies, of the SUBSTITUTIONARY character of the punishment the Messiah endured.

1. He had done no violence, neither was any deceit in his mouth.' v. 9. No wrong, neither any guile. (Lowth.)-No injustice, no guile. (Smith.)-No unrighteousness, no deceit. (Mich.)-No wrong, neither

any deceit. (Seil.)—No injustice, and no deceit. (Gesen.) -Nor violence, nor deceit. (Rosen.) Language strongly affirmative of the personal innocence of the sufferer.

2. He hath borne our griefs, and carried OUR sorrows.' 'He was wounded for our transgressions; bruised for OUR iniquities; the chastisement of OUR peace was upon him.' v. 4, 5. Language as strongly implying that the guilt for which he suffered was that of others.

3. The Lord hath laid on him the iniquity of us all.' v.. 6. He shall bear their iniquities.'. v. 11. He bare the sin of many.' v. 12. Language in which the substitution of one for another is not merely supposed, but most distinctly expressed.

Some of these phrases have an undoubted reference to the ancient ceremony of the scape-goat. Let us, by an effort of imagination, suppose ourselves witnessing this expressive rite. The animals are selected. The sins of the people of Israel are typically transferred. The priest pronounces the imprecation of vengeance due to these sins. The whole congregation stand round in silent awe. As the one goat is immolated and laid on the altar, a prophet of the Lord, wrapt in holy visions, pronounces these words, 'He was wounded for our transgressions.' And, as the other animal bounds from the view into the land of oblivion, the same sacred person exclaims under the same divine influence, 'Surely he hath borne our griefs and carried our sorrows.' Would there, be one, we ask, in all the solemnized assembly, who could fail to perceive that the person to whom the

prediction referred was pointed out as a real vicarious sacrifice ?

Such is the testimony of this remarkable passage of holy writ to the doctrine of Christ's atonement. The more it is examined, the more decided will the evidence it affords appear. The doctrine is interwoven with its very texture, so as not to be separated from it but by a process which must effect the destruction of the fabric itself. While the prophecy holds a place in the volume of inspiration, it will not be possible to rob the church of this precious truth. 'If the scriptures,' to adopt the words of Dr Smith, 'are of any use to mankind: if they convey any definite sentiments, if we can at all rely on the meaning of the words, if the strength and variety of phrase here employed by the wisdom of inspiration can avail to inform and impress our minds,—WE MUST believe that the Messiah would devote himself as a voluntary SACRIFICE, a real and effectual EXPIATION, suffering the heaviest woes, and all the bitterness of DEATH, in concurrence with the gracious intentions of Jehovah, and for the salvation of rebellious men.' 13

The other prophecy to which we refer is
DANIEL ix. 24-27.

The reference of this splendid prediction to the Messiah is admitted on all hands. Indeed the express mention made in it of 'Messiah the Prince' precludes all doubt on this point. And its fulfilment in Jesus of Nazareth is not less plainly established,

13 Disc. on Sac., pp. 31, 32.

[ocr errors]

by the agreement of the description with his general character and history, and by the seventy weeks, when dated from the seventh year of Artaxerxes Longimanus, terminating in the year of his crucifixion.

The death of the Messiah is obviously meant by his being 'cut off;' phraseology which implies a painful, violent, and untimely death at the hands of others.

The character under which he should die, namely, as a substitutionary sacrifice for the sins of others, is here distinctly marked by a variety of impressive language. The sacrificial nature of his death is, first of all, clearly implied in the circumstance that immediately on its taking place the sacrifice and oblation should cease: thus pointing him out as the great antitypical sacrifice, the offering of which necessarily put an end to every other. To this circumstance there is supposed by some to be a reference in the clause, 'to make an end of sins,' v. 24, or 'sin-offerings,' as the word may signify.-There is, next, the very remarkable clause, 'but not for himself,' in which his death is most explicitly taken off the ground of personal demerit.—While the expiatory and propitiatory nature of his sacrifice is directly affirmed, in its object being declared to be 'to finish transgression, to make reconciliation for iniquity, and to bring in everlasting righteousness.' v. 24.

It is unnecessary to go more at length into this part of scripture; or even to dwell longer on this department of proof. These passages of Isaiah and Daniel are sufficient to show, that evidence in support of our doctrine is not wanting in the writings of

« PreviousContinue »