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prefigurative of the Messiah, can never be doubted if we compare their characters together: both were shepherds, prophets, kings and conquerors; both were despised and set at nought by their brethren; oppressed and persecuted by the powerful; ungratefully reviled, mocked at, and betrayed, by rebels and traitors; and both were raised to the throne of Israel (called the throne of David) in opposition to all the power and malice of their enemies. From this similitude of character, all men might infallibly distinguish the true son of David, when he should have fulfilled his course, and attained the kingdom on the holy hill of
Sion. In the prophet Elijah, we have a character prefigurative of the person and office of John the Baptist : whence it is said in the 4th chap. of Malachi, behold I will send you Elijah the prophet before the coming of the great and dreadful day of the Lord, and he shall turn the hearts of the fathers to the children, &c. The scribes and pharisees, who took this passage literally, expected that the prophet Elijah (whom the New Testament calls Elias) would appear in person before the coming of the Messiah, and therefore, at the crucifixion, they observed of Jesus with a sneer, that though he o, had
had not as yet received any testimony from Elias, he might do so, even upon the cross, if they did but give him a little more time—Let be, said they, let us see whether Elias will come to save him*. By those whose minds were enlightened, it had been understood, not that the person of Elijah should come again, but the character ,• that the spirit and power f of that prophet should be revived and fulfilled in the character of the Baptist. Let us therefore compare them together. As to their personal appearance, we read that Elijah the Tishbite was an hairy man\ (probably with a rough garment) and girt with a girdle of leather about his loins. And do we not read of John the Baptist his counterpart, that he also had his raiment of camel's hair, and a leathern girdle about his loins? With respect to their manner of life, Elijah frequented the wilderness, and was fed in solitude: and John the Baptist was in the deserts, and came preaching in the wilderness of Judea, and his meat was locusts and wild honey, proper to a man of a contemplative and holy life. In their office and ministry, which give importance to the other marks of their character, both of them were raised up for the great work of reforming a degenerate : people,
• MaNhewxxvii. 49. fLukei. 17. J 1 Kings xix. 4.
people, and turning to God those who had departed from him. Elijah brought over to Jehovah thousands of the people who had revolted to Baal: and John the Baptist warned a generation of vipers to flee from the wrath to come; and prevailed upon them to receive that baptism of repentance which was preparatory to the baptism of the gospel. Elijah bore his testimony without fear against two kings, Ahab and Ahaziah ; one of whom was urged on by that wicked woman Jezebel, who had determined to put that prophet to death. So did John boldly rebuke Herod, a king under the influence of another wicked woman, who sought his life and succeeded. Thus we understand how far these two were alike in their persons, their manners, and their ministry; and with what propriety it was said of John by the angel, that he should go before the Lord God of Israel in the spirit and power of Elias. There is something very remarkable to our present purpose in the testimony our Saviour gave to John, as being the person in whom the character of Elias was fulfilled: I say unto you that Elias is indeed come, and they have done wn to him whatever they listed as it is written of him *. These last words plainly refer us to
* Mark is 13.
what was written of Elijah; from whose history it might be foreseen, what would become of John the Baptist; namely, that a wicked and powerful woman should thirst after his blood, and that a king should send his officers to take away his life. This was what they listed to do against Elijah: therefore when Herodias persecuted the Baptist, and Herod sent an executioner to behead him, they acted according as it was written. Elijah was miraculously preserved to be carried up alive into heaven: whereto John followed him, in a way more agreeable to the spirit of the Gospel, the way of martyrdom *.
"We find another figurative character in the person of Isaac the son of Abraham, whose sacrifice and deliverance were descriptive of Christ's death and resurrection. Abraham, says the apostle, offered up Isaac, accounting that God was able to raise him up,even from the dead; from whence also he received him in a .figuref. The history of this transaction informs us, that on the third day Abraham lift
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* If the reader should be pleased with what is here said, he will be much more pleased with Considerations on the Life and Death of John the Baptist, by Dr. Hume, the present D of Canterbury.
+ Hebrews xi. 19.
up his eyes, and saw the place where his son was to be offered up. He laid upon Isaac the wood on which he was to suffer, as Christ carried his own cross: and when the knife was lifted up to slay him, the angel of the Lord interposed, and Isaac was received, as it were,, from the dead; having been actually devoted to death in the mind of his father for three days. In his substitute the ram, a real sacrifice wa^ offered, as Abraham had expected, and Isaac was still alive ; so that in the one we have a figure of the death of Christ, in the other of his. resurrection^ And to render this transaction more descriptive, the providence of God directed Abraham on this occasion to the mountains of Moriahr where the temple of Jerusalem was afterwards built; in which the lamb Christ Jesus was daily offered up for many hundred years in the sacrifices of the law; and where Christ himself at length suffered;. accomplishing all the offerings of the law, and fulfilling the sacrifice and figurative resurrection of Isaac. The 11th chapter * of the
* A learned Dignitary of this Church, who is mighty in the scriptures, hath composed a series of discourses, equally excellent and edifying, upon the several characters of the faithful in this chapter; whiph I hope he will not forget to publish in due time.