Our Great Prophet
by JOSEPH IRONS
Delivered in Grove Chapel, Camberwell, Lord's day Morning, Sept. 24th, 1848
During the two preceding weeks we have been dwelling upon the kingly office of Christ, and upon the priestly office of Christ; in the former of which we advocated the absolute sovereignty of Zion's King, and the spirituality of His kingdom, which is destined to rule over all; last week we proclaimed and maintained the priestly office of Christ, showing it to be after the order of Melchisedec, and not after the order of Aaron, consequently excluding all other priests from office in the gospel dispensation.
It is our design this morning to open, as the Lord shall enable, the prophetic office of Christ as contained in the words of our text, thus we shall have a view of the official character of our beloved Lord, as Prophet, Priest, and King; and though we shall have reversed the order of the words to King, Priest, and Prophet, I trust we shall have a scriptural view of the offices, and feel a holy confidence in them; so as to escape the common delusion of the day in which we live, of thinking and speaking of Him as if He were merely a Saviour who had done all He could to save all mankind, but after all, had left it quite uncertain whether any will be eventually saved; whereas, His official character, and consequent covenant engagements, render the salvation of all His Church a matter of infallible certainty.
These three offices belong to Christ alone, and are essential to His being the Christ of God. As King He reigns, and must reign until He has put all enemies under His feet, and with absolute sovereignty He governs all worlds and all things; for it is written, as uttered by Himself in the days of His humiliation, "Thou hast given Him power over all flesh, that He should give eternal life to as many as Thou hast given Him," (John 17:2) and again, "All power is given to me in heaven and earth." (Matt. 28:18) As Priest, He has made reconciliation for the sins of His people, (Heb. 2:17) "put away their sins by the sacrifice of Himself," and holds exclusively the prerogative of giving them absolution, as we showed last Lord's day. As a Prophet, He only can make His people wise unto salvation by the teachings of His Holy Spirit; all which offices He undertook in covenant under eternal responsibility; so that His kingdom must be an everlasting kingdom, his atonement must be full, satisfactory, and perpetual, to the entire exclusion of all other sacrifices, for "there remaineth no more [no other] sacrifice for sin" and His teaching shall infallibly make all His elect "wise unto salvation." All this Antichrist mimics, and thereby proves himself to be Antichrist, by assuming the prerogative of Christ. The proud pontiff asserts his right to universal dominion over the persons, privileges, and property of mankind, and is striving now to regain the power for his despotic sway. He has blasphemously invented other sacrifices for sin, and empowered his Infidel priesthood to give absolution, whereby he deceives millions. And he usurps the exclusive right to teach the people, calling his menials the only authorized teachers. Now, that man must be blind, indeed, who does not see that such a monster must be Antichrist; whose assumptions are Atheistical arrogance, whose agents are apostate adventurers, whose actions are abominable atrocities. Now, having exposed the wickedness of usurping Christ's sovereignty, and of attempting to supplant Christ's priesthood in our former discourses, we shall endeavour in this to prove Antichrist (Popery) to be the false prophet, and Christ to be the very Prophet, like unto Moses, whom the Lord our God hath raised up.
The words of our text have been thought by some to refer to Samuel or to contain a promise of a succession of prophets among the people of Israel, but they appear to me to be the most illustrious promise and description of the prophetic office of Christ to be found in the Old Testament, and as such, I wish to suggest four leading features for our meditation. First, the prophetic office itself. Secondly, the union and affinity unfolded in it. Thirdly, the raising Him up supernaturally. And, fourthly, His essential right to obedience, "unto Him shall ye hearken." May the Holy Ghost glorify Him while we attempt to speak of Him thus.
I. First, let us consider the prophetic office of Christ in His Church, for which He was pre-eminently qualified; and the first feature of His qualifications for that office which we shall mention, is His Divine prescience. The prophets in olden time were called seers, because they were Divinely inspired to see into futurity. Seers, or seeing men, are also called men of God, and in a subordinate sense, this appellation may be applied to all the men whom God employs as His ministers, for they are men who see into the things of God for themselves, or else they would not be capable of setting them forth to others. Our Lord called the carnal priesthood of His day, "blind glides" leading the blind until both fall into the ditch; (Matt. 15:14) and, in contrast with such, the apostle John was instructed of the Holy Ghost to say, "That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we have looked upon, and our hands have handled of the word of life, declare we unto you;" (1 John 1:1,3) and none but such seers are fit to be ministers of the gospel. Oh, that God would remove the blind guides of the present day, who never saw their own state, nor the beauty and preciousness of Jesus, but who are leading souls as blind as themselves to perdition by millions!
Our glorious Prophet, or Seer, is omniscient, He sees the end from the beginning, He is self-existent Deity, and, "known unto God are all His works, from the beginning of the world," (Acts 15:18) so that all He has prophesied by His prophets of old, and with His own lips, must come to pass; yea, every event in the revolutions of time, all that takes place in the entire history of His Church, with every minute circumstance in the personal experience of His people, was foreknown and predestinated by Him; ordered, arranged, and dated by His infinite wisdom and absolute sovereignty; so that friends and foes, men and devils, can only do what He appoints and permits, as it is written, "Herod and Pontius Pilate, with the Gentiles and the people of Israel, were gathered together to do whatsoever Thy hand and Thy counsel determined before to be done." (Acts 4:27,28) Oh, my brethren, if we were living under a believing apprehension of this grand fundamental truth, how calm and peaceful would our lives be amidst the vicissitudes of this changing, unfriendly world, singing with the Psalmist, "Fire and hail, snow and vapours, stormy wind, fulfilling His word." (Ps. 148:8) Nothing is hid from His prescience, nothing beyond His control. This is our Prophet.
Moreover, orthodox teaching pertains to the prophet's office, and here also, our blessed Lord hath the pre-eminence, for He taught (and still teaches) as one having authority, and not as the scribes. The sum of His teaching when on earth, as well as by His Spirit to this day, is life in Himself alone. His own words are, "I am the way, the truth, and the life," (John 14:6) and again, "I am the resurrection and the life." (John 11:25) Hence the Holy Ghost taught the apostle John to open his gospel with the proclamation, "In Him was life, and the life was the light of men." (John 1:4) He is the procurer and the giver of legislative life, taking away the sentence of death, and imparting justification to life. He is the Author of spiritual life, hence it is written, "The dead shall hear the voice of the Son of God, and they that hear shall live." (John 5:25) And He is the sum and substance of eternal life; for "he that hath the Son, hath life," (1 John 5:12) and Paul was inspired thus to write, "I live, yet not I, but Christ liveth in me." (Gal. 2:20) Yea, Jesus Himself hath sworn to His disciples, "Because I live, ye shall live also." (John 14:19) Now, whether we view the life of justification, or the life of godliness in the soul, or the life of glory everlasting, all are in Him, quite irrespective of creature doings or deservings, without contingencies or uncertainties. This is the orthodoxy which our great Prophet taught.
There is one prominent doctrine in His ministry which we must not overlook, I mean the doctrine of Divine sovereignty, which has always been the most offensive to carnal-minded professors; and when He taught it in the most gentle and mild manner in the synagogue of the Jews, "they were filled with wrath, and rose up and thrust Him out of the city, and led Him unto the brow of the hill, whereon their city was built, that they might cast Him down headlong." And for what? Merely because He had referred them to two instances of the sovereign discriminating grace of God, recorded in their own scriptures saying, "Many widows were in Israel in the days of Elias, but unto none of them was Elias sent, save unto Sarepta, a city of Sidon, unto a woman that was a widow. And many lepers were in Israel in the time of Eliseus the prophet, and none of them were cleansed saving Naaman the Syrian." (Luke 4:25-27) Here were two simple facts read from the very book (the Old Testament) which they believed, and which they themselves had delivered to Him to read, and yet, because those facts set forth the sovereignty of God, they were so enraged, they were all ready to murder Him. And is it not so to the present day? That when His sent servants set forth the same doctrine that their Master made prominent, the very worst passions of human nature are stirred up, and the preacher of free and sovereign grace becomes the victim of carnal enmity.
It has pleased God to give us two criterions, whereby the true prophet may be distinguished from the false, the fulfilling of their predictions, and their tendency to promote the worship of the covenant God of Israel. The first of these you read in the 22nd verse of this chapter, "When a prophet speaketh in the name of the Lord, if the thing follow not, nor come to pass, that is the thing which the Lord hath not spoken, the prophet hath spoken it presumptuously." The other criterion is in the opening of the 13th chapter, "If there arise among you a prophet, or a dreamer of dreams, and giveth thee a sign or a wonder, and the sign or wonder come to pass whereof he spoke unto you, saying, Let us go after other gods, and let us serve them, thou shalt not hearken unto the words of that prophet."
Now, is not this the very warning, which the Holy Ghost hath given us, by Paul in his second Epistle to the Thessalonians, against the man of sin (Popery) whose coming, he says, is with signs and lying wonders to seduce the people to idolatry, saying, "Let us go after other gods?" A woman god, and wooden god, and a wafer god. The Virgin, the crucifix, and the paste. Oh, that the people of England and their rulers, might hear the voice of Jehovah saying, "Thou shall not hearken to them." Alas! alas! infatuation seems to have blinded the eyes and hardened the hearts of the mock Protestants of the present day, so that they are hearkening to false prophets, and throwing themselves into the lap of the mother of harlots, to be made drunk with her fornications, that she may be drunk with their blood.
But our glorious Prophet has been tested by both these criterions; His predictions were literally fulfilled, being accompanied with signs and wonders, all which promoted the pure worship of the living God, to the overthrow of every species of idolatry, as practiced by the Scribes, Pharisees, and hypocrites of His day. We will just glance at three of His predictions, among many which were literally fulfilled; the death and resurrection He had to experience, the destruction of the temple, and the persecutions which His disciples would meet with for His sake. The first of these great events, upon which the salvation of His Church depended, is prophesied of by Him in these words, as recorded by Matthew, "Behold, we go up to Jerusalem; and the Son of Man shall be betrayed unto the chief priests, and unto the Scribes, and they shall condemn Him to death; and shall deliver Him to the Gentiles to mock, and to scourge, and to crucify Him, and the third day He shall rise again." (Matt. 20:18,19) Now, all this you know was literally fulfilled, though Peter said that it should not be so, though Pilate strove with the people to prevent it, though stone, and seal, and guards, were employed to frustrate it; yea, though the unbelief of His disciples despaired of it. "If we believe not, He abideth faithful, He cannot deny Himself." (2 Tim. 2:13) All He predicted of the rage of earth and hell was perpetrated upon Him, and all the triumphs He foretold, He realized; all which tended to the destruction of idolatry, and to the glorifying of Jehovah. Again, the destruction of the temple is thus predicted by Him, as He wept over Jerusalem, "The days shall come upon thee, that thine enemies shall cast a trench about thee, and compass thee round, and keep thee in on every side, and shall lay thee even with the ground, and thy children within thee; and they shall not leave in thee one stone upon another which shall not be cast down;" (Luke 19:43,44) this prediction was three times repeated by Him, and was fulfilled literally by Titus and his army; and though he commanded his soldiers to spare the temple, even the orders of their general could not restrain their rage, until there was not one stone left upon another, and Zion was literally "ploughed as a field," as was foretold by the prophet Micah. This also ministered to the purity of the worship of God, for the splendour of the temple, its altars, and its furniture, which were intended as types, had become objects of superstitious veneration, amounting to idolatry; just as the gorgeous buildings, erected by the Papists and Puseylites in our day, seduce the people to worship material things, such as the crucifix, the candles, and the carved work, to the subverting of the worship of the living God. But when the prediction of our great Prophet was fulfilled, in the destruction of the temple, the idolatry of material worship gave place to the simplicity of the gospel, accomplishing another of the Saviour's prophecies, in His conversation with the woman of Samaria, who contended that their mountain was the only proper place for worship, while the Jews insisted that Jerusalem was the only proper place; just as our modern idolaters tell us that the church is the only proper place to worship God, being totally ignorant of what the Church of God is, having never learned the lesson which Paul put before the Athenians, "The Lord of heaven and earth dwelleth not in temples made with hands, neither is worshipped with men's hands." (Acts 17:24,25) Now, our great Prophet has settled all this dispute about materialism and locality, in His reply to the woman, "Woman, believe me, the hour cometh when ye shall neither in this mountain, nor yet at Jerusalem, worship the Father." "But the hour cometh, and now is, when the true worshippers shall worship the Father in spirit and in truth." (John 4:21,23) When temples, and mass-houses, and mosques, shall be no longer objects of adoration,
and all the worship acceptable to God, shall consist in the exercise of the graces of the Holy Spirit, engaging all the powers of the soul with God.
There is yet one more prediction of our great Prophet, which we must not overlook, because its fulfilment concerns His Church to this day, yea, to the end of time, the persecution of His disciples for His name's sake, which is recorded by Matthew in these words, "But beware of men; for they will deliver you up to the councils, and they will scourge you in their synagogues, and ye shall be brought before governors and kings for my sake, for a testimony against them, and ye shall be hated of all men for my name's sake." (Matt. 10:17,18,22) This prophesy has been repeatedly fulfilled by Pagan brutality, and by Popish butchery in rivers of blood, and in dungeons of torture by the savage hands of cold-blooded monsters; nor is this solemn prophecy fully accomplished yet, for the carnal mind is as much enmity against God now as ever it was, and it does not require the spirit of prophecy to perceive, that every preparation is now making to repeat the barbarities of Popish persecution. Yea, even while existing laws restrain such diabolical outrages, the enmity of the world against the true disciples of Christ, vents itself, as far as it can, in petty spite, in haughty contempt, in unjust reproach, in clandestine injuries, and in nothing more bitterly than in clerical intolerance, which is keenly felt by the poor of Christ's flock, especially in rural districts.
Well, my brethren, if it were otherwise, Christ would be a false prophet, but now that saying of His appears indisputable, "Now I have told you before it come to pass, that when it is come to pass, ye might believe." (John 14:29) But it will be asked, can this promote the worship of the living God? Undoubtedly it can and does, by drawing the line of distinction more strongly and clearly between the Church of God and the world, and weaning the hearts of real Christians from the things of time. The sword of persecution cuts the ties which bind heaven-born souls to earth, and though the flesh may shrink with horror at its brandishings, yet the advancement of spirituality has often been the result of furious assaults of earth and hell. Thus is our great Prophet tested and proved by the fulfilling of His predictions, and their tendency to glorify the God of Israel.
Beloved, if your Christianity does not subject you to tribulation, temptation, or persecution, it goes far to prove, either Christ must be a false prophet, or that you have no interest in Him, or in His prophecies; for He has said, "In the world ye shall have tribulation," graciously adding, "In me ye shall have peace." (John 16:33) Again, our great Prophet has said, "The servant is not greater than his lord, If they have persecuted me they will also persecute you. (John 15:20) and who would be without this mark of Christ's disciples? especially when it is accompanied with His gracious assurances of kind support and final deliverance. Come, let us take up the cross, endure the temptation, and glory in the tribulation, that the power of Christ may rest upon us, the peace He bestows may be enjoyed by us, and His predictions be fulfilled in us. Fleshly ease says no to this, and modern divinity has marked out a smoother path for proud free-will to walk in, but faith chooses the old beaten road, and derives strength from Christ, to persevere "through evil report and through good report," with eternal rest in view.
II. We will now proceed to the second head of discourse, which we said should be the union and affinity described; "like unto Moses and of their brethren."
This sets forth Moses evidently and eminently a type of Christ, and we will name a few particulars in which the type and anti-type are alike, though the latter infinitely surpasses the former. Moses was a man of fame, he was proclaimed "king in Jeshurun, when the heads of the people and the tribes of Israel were gathered together." (Deut. 33:5) Jesus was proclaimed King of Zion by God the Father, saying, "I have set my King upon my holy hill of Zion," (Ps. 2:6) and there He still reigns, and must reign, until He has put all enemies under His feet; but here the anti-type infinitely exceeds the type, for Moses could only reign over the people, but Jesus reigns both over and in their hearts. Moses was famed as a warrior, and Amalek and Moab felt his prowess, Sihon and Og fell before him; but Jesus, as the Captain of our salvation, (Heb. 2:10) has "spoiled principalities and powers, and made a show of them openly, triumphing over them," (Col. 2:15) yea, He has vanquished death, hell, and the grave, and is still going forth upon His white horse (gospel truth) from conquering to conquer. Moses was famed for meekness, as it is written, "Now the man Moses was very meek, above all the men that were upon the face of the earth;" (Num. 12:3) but his meekness gave way when he cried out in anger, "Hear now, ye rebels, must we fetch you water out of this rock?" (Num. 20:10) Jesus, our Prophet, was like unto Moses, meek and lowly, and having salvation, and His meekness never failed, even when He endured the contradiction of sinners against Himself, for He was led as a lamb to the slaughter, and as a sheep dumb before his shearers, so He opened not His mouth. (Isa. 53:7)
The faithfulness of Moses is also recorded by the apostle to his honour, "Moses, verily, was faithful in all his house as a servant." (Heb. 3:5) He was faithful to God for his people, and he was faithful to the people of God. So our glorious Prophet was like him, and far surpassed him, as a Son over his own house: (Heb. 3:6) His very name is "Faithful and True," (Rev. 19:11) as the Holy Ghost tells us in the Apocalypse; and by His servant Isaiah, He says, "faithfulness is the girdle of His reins." (Isa. 11:5) He is so like Moses, that He is faithful to God the Father, with regard to His covenant engagements for His people, which was manifest in the extremity of His sufferings, for when, through the weakness of the flesh, He cried out, "If it be possible, let this cup pass from me," His faithfulness prompted Him immediately to add, "Nevertheless, not as I will, but as thou wilt." (Matt. 26:39) Nor could His faithfulness to His covenant engagements fail, when the law of God pressed its utmost demands, and inflexible Justice required the fullest satisfaction; His obedience met the one, and His blood paid the other, and thus, "His faithfulness was established in the very heavens." (Ps. 89:2)
Moreover, Jesus, like Moses, was faithful to the people of God, in revealing
the mind of God to them, in employing His life for them, and dwelling among
them. As Moses made known the mind of God to His people in the law, Jesus
made known the will of God to His people in the gospel, though the one was
the ministration of condemnation, and the other the ministration of righteousness;
(2 Cor. 3:9) the one made known what God had a right to demand, the other
made known what God had determined to bestow; both were faithful to the
commission received, though "it was the law that was given by Moses,
but grace and truth came by Jesus Christ." (John 1:17) The faithfulness
Our great Prophet was, also, like unto Moses in the holy familiarity He kept up with the Father. In the close of Moses' history it is written, "There arose not a prophet since in Israel like unto Moses, whom the Lord knew face to face," (Deut. 34:10) like the old patriarch at Peniel, of whom we have recently spoken; Moses made good use of this holy familiarity, for Israel's welfare; hence when their provocations called down the threatening of destruction, Moses besought the Lord his God on their behalf, and his intercession prevailed. The Psalmist celebrates this memorable event in the 106th Psalm, thus, "The Lord said that He would destroy them, had not Moses, His chosen, stood before Him in the breach to turn away His wrath, lest He should destroy them." Surely we cannot fail to see the likeness here between the type and the anti-type; it was Jesus our Prophet that stood in the breach which sin had made between us and God, He not only turned away the wrath from us, but endured it Himself for us, as our Daysman, Substitute, and Surety; yea, His familiarity with the Father is perpetually used on behalf of His Church, for He ever lives to make intercession for His people; and this accounts for their preservation amidst daily provocations; hence the apostle John was taught to write of Him thus: "If any man sin, we have an Advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous; and He is the propitiation for our sins." (1 John 2:1,2) How strikingly did He set forth His familiarity with the Father at the grave of Lazarus, saying, "Father, I thank Thee that Thou hast heard me, and I knew that Thou hearest me always." (John 11:41,42)
Moreover, He has taught and encouraged His people to use holy familiarity with the Father in His name, saying, "And Whatsoever ye shall ask in my name, that will I do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son." (John 14:13) So that while Jesus, our Prophet, is before the throne, as our Representative, we may come boldly in His name without any other mediator or helper. Virgins, saints, and priests, are only in our way, they cannot help us, but they will hinder us; we therefore utterly reject them, since through Jesus alone "we have access, by one Spirit unto the Father," (Eph. 2:18) where we may tell all our wants, spread all our cares, plead all His promises, and obtain supplies of grace for every exigency. Surely, beloved, we are not sufficiently alive to this vast privilege; if we were, our burdens would be lighter, and our countenances would be brighter, for, as the countenance of Moses shone when he had been communing with God on the mount, and as the countenance of Jesus shone on the mount of transfiguration, so will the countenance of the Christian shine, when favoured with close fellowship with the Father and with His Son Jesus Christ. Oh, for more of the spirit of prayer, with the spirit of faith, to "draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith," availing ourselves of our great Prophet's name and authority, and coming even to the seat of the Most High.
Our text also recognizes a brotherhood, for this great Prophet is raised up from the midst of Israel and of their brethren. How beautifully is this set forth by the Psalmist, "I have laid help upon one that is mighty; I have exalted one chosen out of the people;" (Ps. 89:19) and Jesus Himself, when on earth, was not ashamed to call His people brethren; nor will He be ashamed of this relationship at the day of judgment, for then shall He say, "Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me." (Matt. 25:40) Oh, matchless condescension! The Lord of glory, the co-equal, co-eternal Son of God, in affinity with worms of earth. From everlasting His delights were with the sons of men, and in the fullness of time "He took on Him the seed of Abraham, wherefore in all things it behoved Him to be made like unto His brethren, that He might be a merciful and faithful High Priest in things pertaining to God, to make reconciliation for the sins of the people; for in that He Himself hath suffered, being tempted, He is able to succour them that are tempted." (Heb. 2:16-18) Therefore He is touched with the feeling of our infirmities having been tempted in all points like as we are, yet without sin. (Heb. 4:15) Oh! ye tried and tempted souls, exposed to the fiery darts of the wicked one, consider what a Brother you have "a Brother born for adversity" (Prov. 17:17)born to experience adversity Himself, and to succour all His brethren in their adversity; go to Him in every difficulty, tell Him all your sorrows, rely upon Him, and be sure you never dishonour His great name.
This brotherhood is of ancient date, and of eternal perpetuity; the family of God were all chosen in their elder brother, their Prophet, and registered with Him in the book of life, which is emphatically called, "The Lamb's Book of Life." (Rev. 21:27) He therefore says to them, "Rather rejoice that your names are written in heaven." (Luke 10:20) They are a separate, distinct family "Not of the world, even as He is not of the world." In union with Him from one eternity to another. Nor could the fall of their earthly progenitor dissolve that union, though it destroyed all communion with Him until regeneration restores them to the enjoyment of it. Jesus was set up from everlasting as their covenant head, and all His brethren were seen in Him by the Father, loved with the same love, and made joint-heirs with Him; so that no after occurrence can possibly destroy the affinity, unless something should occur which Jehovah could not foresee! The SUBLAPSARIAN notion: (God first waited for man to lapse in his own free will. Even though God foreknew man would lapse, He did not force it to happen. So, after man's lapse into sin, God then decided the outcome for people for all ages.) this saps the foundation of gospel truth; but the eternal union of Christ and his Church obviates all objections, gives harmony to all the principles of the Bible, and glorifies all the persons and perfections of Deity in the infallible salvation of all the election of grace.
III. Let us, in the third place, notice His being raised up supernaturally "The Lord thy God" raised Him up. In fact, everything pertaining to Christianity must of necessity be supernatural; and all that religion which originates with fallen nature, and which fallen can comprehend, must be spurious; no matter whether you call it Paganism, Popery, or Pharisaism, it is not Christianity. The question which our Lord put to the Jews respecting the ministry of John fixes the standard of real religion "Is it from heaven, or of men?" "Every good gift, and every perfect gift, is from above," (James 1:17) and, consequently, is supernatural, every breath of prayer is supernatural, every act of faith, as well as the gift of it, is supernatural; yea, the very life of godliness in the soul is supernatural life; and it ought not to be overlooked, that the most eminent of God's servants, of whom He has made the most use in His kingdom of grace, have been raised up by Him from spheres, and in a manner that nature and fallen reason would never have dictated. Moses was raised from the bulrushes, an outcast, Gideon from the threshing-floor, Elisha from the plough, David from the sheepfold, Amos from the herdmen of Tekoa, apostles from fishermen and tent-makers, and our Lord Himself from the carpenter's shop, that the pride of human glory might be stained, the Lord alone be exalted, and His cause proved to be supernatural.
But the raising up of Christ supernaturally refers, in the first place, to His incarnation; "The Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us;" (John 1:14) and "when He cometh into the world, He saith, sacrifice and offering thou wouldest not, but a body hast thou prepared me." (Heb. 10:5) So that the human nature of Christ was prepared supernaturally by the Father through the overshadowing and miraculous operation of the Holy Ghost. As it is written in the angel's address to Mary, "The Holy Ghost shall come upon thee, and the power of the Highest shall overshadow thee; therefore, also, that holy thing which shall be born of thee shall be called the Son of God." (Luke 1:35) Incarnate Deity, truly and properly God, and truly and properly man "The Christ of God." In the next place, He was raised up by the Father supernaturally at His resurrection, of which the apostle thus speaks, in the second chapter of the Acts, "He would raise up Christ to sit upon His throne." This also was supernatural; no human power was employed in it; but earth and hell conspire to oppose it. He is also supernaturally raised up in the congregations of His saints; for while His sent servants proclaim His glories, the Holy Ghost raises Him up to the view of faith, so that the convinced sinner "beholds the Lamb of God who taketh away the sin of the world," (John 1:29) and learns to trust His blood and righteousness; while advanced Christians view Him with so much delight, that they exclaim, He is "the chief among ten thousand, and altogether lovely." (Songs 5:10,16) His illustrious person is adored, His official character is trusted, His perfect work is appropriated, and His unveiled glory is anticipated, until the apostle's rapturous strains are adopted and repeated "Now, thanks be unto God which always causeth us to triumph in Christ." (2 Cor. 2:14)
Moreover, the name and authority of the Father is thus attached to all that our great Prophet did and said; we have His own authority for this, "I am come in my Father's name, and ye receive me not; if another come in his own name, him ye will receive;" (John 5:43) and again, "The works that I do in my Father's name they bear witness of me;" (John 10:25) and again, "My doctrine is not mine, but His that sent me." (John 7:16) These statements of His proclaim the doctrine upon which we are always insisting, of the ancient covenant of peace between the persons of Deity, in which all that pertains to salvation was arranged, decreed, and settled before time began. The Father appointing and sending the Son as an act of love, the Son voluntarily engaging to come and to do the work which the Father gave Him to do under solemn responsibility, saying, "Lo! I come." The Holy Ghost recorded the covenant transactions, pledging Himself to make them known to all the elect family; so that "the secret of the Lord is with them that fear Him, and He will shew them His covenant. (Ps. 25:14) Well might our great Prophet say, "He that receiveth me receiveth Him that sent me;" and, again, "He that hath seen me hath seen the Father also" "I and my Father are one." So that the authority of the self-existent God-head is in Christ, and gives authority validity to all He did, said, and suffered. Here, then, is certainty and security!
IV. This brings us to the fourth division of our subject, to show that our great Prophet is entitled to obedience, yea, that it is demanded, "Unto Him ye shall hearken." Without this we cannot be reckoned among His sheep, for He says, "My sheep hear my voice;" (John 10:27) and, if you belong to His flock, you know His voice when He speaks in His word, by His ministers, or in the secret whispers of His love, that "still small voice," which none but circumcised ears and hearts can listen to; they hearken to Him in these communications, whether they be for instruction, for reproof, or for comfort. As a Prophet, He hath graciously said, "I will instruct thee, and teach thee in the way which thou shalt go." It is, therefore, our privilege, and must be our wisdom, to sit at His feet, as Mary did, and hearken to His words.
By hearkening to Him I understand the embracing of His embassy, as the sent of God the Father on the great errand of salvation; and this will include the receiving of every doctrine He preached, every privilege He bestows, and every precept His enjoins; all which requires great grace from Him, for His doctrines are offensive to the pride of man, which cannot brook the receiving of the kingdom of God as a little child, and disdains to accept of salvation upon the same terms as Manasseh, Magdalene, and Barabbas; the privileges also of the gospel are above the reach of the natural man, who counts the enjoyment of sonship, heirship, and joint-heirship to be the climax of presumption; and as to the precepts which He enjoined, they are treated as the man's son treated his father's command: "Son, go work in my vineyard today;" he answered, "I go, Sir," but went not. So formal professors of the Arminian school make a great fuss about good works, promising much, and doing nothing. But where grace is bestowed and in exercise, the doctrines taught by our great Prophet are believed and embraced as just suited to the condition of man; the privilege are aspired after and progressively realized, and the precepts meet the apostle's exclamation, "I delight in the law of God after the inner man." Now, how many of you, my hearers, may be said to hearken to this Prophet in each of these senses? Are the doctrines covenant love, imputed righteousness, and regenerating grace the fundamentals of your creed? Are the privileges of justification, adoption, and fellowship with God, the element in which you live? And is it your ardent desire to walk in all the commandments and ordinances of the Lord blameless? Then you may be said to be hearkening to that Prophet, who "spake as never man spake." I cannot consent to have these things separated, and though I may be dubbed an Antinomian for my doctrines, an enthusiast for my experience, and a legalist for insisting upon practical godliness, I will wear the reproach as "an ornament of grace," while I see them all in the teaching, the experience, and the bright example of MY BELOVED PROPHET.
Again, in embracing His embassy, and so hearkening to this Prophet, there will be a settled reliance upon His person and work as the great subject of Old Testament prophecy; for the testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy, so that whoever reads the prophecies without an eye to Jesus, will find them but a dead letter without spirit or life, which may amuse dry speculators, and afford materials for whimsical theories, but impart no profit to the soul; while those who look for and discover Jesus in every page of prophetic writings, obtain the spirit of them, and read them with spiritual delight and advantage. The whole Book of God, read with an eye to Jesus, affords, as the Psalmist says, enough to meditate in day and night; it affords a full-length portrait of the glories of Immanuel, a complete history of His life and death, a grand display of His mighty achievements, a faithful testimony of His perfect work, an interesting description of His official character and responsibility, a clear definition of His mystic body, (the Church) and a royal proclamation of His exaltation in eternal triumph. Thus to read the Old Testament is to get the spirit of prophecy. This, therefore, shall be my object, leaving the cold speculators to calculate numbers, fix dates, and to give carnal interpretations, and so make to themselves a feast of dry bones, while I sit down to a feast of marrow and fatness, spread before me in the spirit of prophecy, as an earnest and antepast of the marriage supper of the Lamb.
Further, to hearken to this great Prophet, is to surrender body, soul, and spirit to His authority unreservedly, so as to be guided by His teaching, decided in His principles, and employed in His service, making it the very business of life to glorify His name. The apostle describes this as bringing into captivity (subjection) every thought to the obedience of Christ; (2 Cor. 10:5) and I would that Christians felt more of the importance of this surrender; then we should witness among those who profess to love this Prophet, and to hearken to Him, a little more self-denial with regard to fleshly gratifications, and a little more zealous activity in promoting Zion's interests, a little less love of filthy lucre, and a little more liberality for the support and extension of the truth of God. Where is the Christian who lives and acts in character? Where is the Christian in whom spiritual life has the ascendancy over fleshly inclinations? Alas! alas! that the love of this present world should steal the time, the energies, and the hearts of those who profess to hearken to our glorious Prophet, and yet habitually disregard that sacred injunction of His, "Seek ye first the kingdom of God and His righteousness." Go, ye worldly professors, and tell this great Prophet that you are hearkening to him, if you dare! And if you dare not, cannot, then read the 19th verse of this chapter: "It shall come to pass that whosoever will not hearken to my words, which he shall speak in my name, I will require it of him." Solemn warning! So, then, it is not a matter of choice, but of Divine injunction; free-will is not consulted, but Divine prerogative is exercised. Oh, my hearers! if God requires it of you, how will you meet Him? You may reject my message at your option, unless the Holy Ghost fastens it upon your heart; but to reject Christ, refusing to hearken to Him, will be inevitable ruin, and this is the sentence He will pronounce against you: "Those mine enemies, which would not that I should reign over them, bring them hither, and slay them before me." (Luke 19:27) One word, before I close, to you who hearken to this great Prophet, who know and obey His voice, who receive His doctrines, enjoy the privileges of His Word, and surrender heart and life to His service. This prophecy of His remains yet to be fulfilled to you, "If I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you to myself, that where I am there ye may be also." (John 15:3) Will not this suffice? Then see to it, that heart and life, time and talent, are devoted to His glory, and wait in joyous anticipation until He welcomes you home in those gracious words, "Come, ye blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world." (Matt. 25:34) May He send down His Spirit to apply these truths, that He may be glorified.