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JOHN HENRY PARKER:
B. FELLOWES, LUDGATE STREET, LONDON:
THE great difficulty of the subject of Scripture Prophecy may be shortly stated. We find throughout the New Testament references made to various passages in the Old Testament, which are alleged as prophetic of Christ, or of some particulars of the Christian dispensation. Now if we turn to the context lerende of these passages, and so endeavour to discover their meaning, according to the only sound principles of interpretation, it will often appear that they do not relate to the Messiah or to Christian times, but are either the expression of religious affections generally, such as submission, hope, love, &c. or else refer to some particular circumstances in the life and condition of the writer, or of the Jewish nation, and do not at all show that any thing more remote, or any events of a more universal and spiritual character, were designed to be prophesied.
For instance, in the account of our Lord's temptation, he is represented as allowing the application of Psalm xci. 11, 12. to himself, as a prophecy of God's miraculous care of the Messiah. Whereas, on referring to the whole Psalm, it appears to be a devout expression of the Psalmist's sense of the happiness of those who serve and love God; a sense which is expressed very strongly after the oriental manner in descriptions at once figurative and hyperbolical, although when divested of this colouring their meaning is perfectly discernible.
Again, the fifty-third chapter of Isaiah is well known as the passage which Philip interpreted to the Ethiopian eunuch as a Christian prophecy, and which led to the eunuch's conversion. Yet, when taken along with the context, the passage, although undoubtedly difficult, seems to refer to events more closely connected with the return of the Jews from the Captivity, as that with its accompanying blessings appears to be the subject of the writer's prophecy.
Now, first, if we take these and many other similar passages to be Christian prophecies, solely on the authority of the writers of the
New Testament; it is manifest not only that we cannot urge them to those who deny that authority, but that our own use and application of the prophecies must be limited to those citations which we find already applied for us in the New Testament. For unless we understand the principle on which they are applied, we can understand no more of the Old Testament than is explained in the Christian Scriptures, and if we attempt at random to explain other passages in the same way, that way appearing to be at variance with the ordinary rules of interpretation, and having been accepted by us in certain particular cases solely on the authority of those who have adopted it, a door will be instantly opened to the wildest fanaticism, and no man will have any right to reproach the comments of the Jewish Rabbies with any peculiar degree of extravagance.
Prophet. Je. 46.
Or secondly, if we at once cut the knot, and [2. say that these passages have not really the meaning which the writers of the New Testament attach to them, that they are either referred to as affording some remarkable coincidence with the circumstances of the Christian times, or when quoted as expressly