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THE PROPHECIES OF JESUS CHARACTERISTIC.
In accordance with the foregoing views I remark, that the prophetic declarations of Jesus were among his most simple, natural, characteristic utterances.
They are not announced with any formal peculiarity of tone or manner. They illustrate him. “ Why can I not follow thee now?" said Peter, “I will lay down my life for thy sake.” “Wilt thou lay down thy life for my sake?" replied Jesus, “ verily I say unto thee, the cock shall not crow till thou hast disowned me thrice.” How, save by the inspiration of God, he foresaw Peter's denial of him, I am utterly ignorant. And yet, though there were an immediate influx of supernatural light into his mind, I see no reason to decide that the laws of his spiritual being were interrupted. The divine inspiration, so far from overlaying, concurred with his native energies, and elevated them. All that I can see and know of the Man of Nazareth creates the presumption that he was fitted for extraordinary communications from Heaven. Being such as we all believe him to have been, with his piercing spiritual eye, his thorough knowledge of Peter's character, his frequent experience of Peter's weakness, how is it possible that he could have been without some foresight of the conduct of Peter in the approaching crisis? And his unsurpassed moral elevation prepared him to be the recipient of I know not what higher lights and aids; and this without the least violation of the laws of mind.
Again. When I consider the great end to which he felt himself-his whole being-irrevocably bound, and the numerous and overpowering manifestations of an opposing spirit, which he encountered at
ry step, it seems to me utterly impossible that the result could have been wholly hidden from his eyes. He knew his own unalterable purpose.
He knew the
temper of the times. The very excitement he produced revealed the coarse worldly bent of the people; that inveterate Jewish hope, which he saw he must disappoint at the cost of his life.
“Many," says John, “ believed in his name, when they saw the miracles which he did. But Jesus did not commit himself unto them, because he knew all men, and needed not that any should testify of man: for he knew what was in man.”
Once more. The effect of his ministry—how must it have laid bare to him the inmost depths of the Jewish character, the Jewish national existence! He saw that the public heart was bound up in the hope of a grand outward political revolution. The transcendent power he was putting forth, though destined ultimately to triumph, in its immediate action had no influence but to excite the worst passions. He must have seen that the nation was rushing madly on into a collision with that mighty Roman domination, by the bare idea of which it was already so much chafed, a collision that would grind it to atoms. He saw that his country was animated by no principle that could control its destiny. If it had been, how was it that his mighty voice was powerless! A short time before his death, he approached Jerusalem, attended by a vast multitude. They rent the air with triumphant shouts, but he was not deceived. He saw that the popular feeling was excited by the belief that he would prove the great national Deliverer. And in this false expectation, he read the fate of the nation so clearly, that when he came in sight of the city, he wept, exclaiming, “O that thou hadst known, at least in this
JESUS WAS A PROPHET.
thy day, the things which belong unto thy peace ! But now they are hid from thine
For the days will come upon thee, when thine enemies will cast a trench about thee, and compass thee round, and enclose thee and thy children within thee on every side, and will level thee with the ground, and not leave in thee one stone upon another; because thou knewest not this season of thy visitation.”
I wish to be distinctly understood. I do not believe that any
other man could have foreseen what Jesus foresaw. I doubt not that he looked into futurity by the inspiration of God. But then I cannot help thinking that we entirely forget the high spiritual eminence at which he stood, and his profound moral wisdom, when we deem it necessary to suppose that the laws of his spiritual being were suspended in order that he might receive these extraordinary communications of foreknowledge. The prophetic spirit in him shows itself in harmony with his whole nature. And herein, as I said, we have evidence that it was divine.
That a knowledge of future events was given to Jesus Christ somewhat in the way I have described, appears to be intimated by his expostulation with the Pharisees. “What!' he does in effect exclaim, 'ye can understand the face of the sky and predict the changes of the weather. Pretenders! Can ye not discern the signs of the times?'
It is not, however, my chief purpose now to ascertain the mode in which the Founder of Christianity became possessed of a knowledge of events then hidden behind the veil of futurity. My present topic
THAT JESUS WAS A PROPHET, is the fact that he did know the future—that he was a prophet, a great prophet, however we may conceive of a prophet. I wish to show how naturally and incidentally it appears in the records of his life that he was possessed of a clear and wonderful knowledge of what was to happen. This is our present point, the fact, and not any theory of the fact. And I say I know not which is more remarkable, the prophetical gift of Jesus, or the all-unconscious way in which his possession of such a gift is made known in the Gospels.
If an individual, wholly unacquainted with the New Testament, were simply told that Jesus Christ is described therein as possessing a singular knowledge of future events, he might naturally enough think and say that he was so described by his biographers, merely to magnify him. But this suspicion, natural as it may be in the first instance, must be felt to be wholly out of place, when we examine the records, and see how decisively the absence of any such intention is shown.
Shortly after the public appearance of Jesus, a Roman officer sent to him to come and heal one of his household, suffering severely with palsy, and he had turned his steps towards the centurion's house, when the centurion himself met him, and declared that he was not worthy of so great an honour as a visit from Jesus ; that it was not necessary he should trouble himself to go to the house. For if he, the centurion, being himself under authority, could yet say to one servant, go, and to another, do this, and be instantly obeyed, surely Jesus had only to say the word, and