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from typical prefiguration,
66 that Jesus was Christ.”
This prophecy is so important in establishing the claim of Jesus to the character of the Messiah, that the adversaries of Christianity have laboured with more than usual earnestness to prove, that it received its fulfilment in some of the inspired persons recorded in the Old Testament. Before we can enter, then, upon the alleged correspondence between Moses and Christ, it will be necessary to shew, from a consideration of the circumstances under which the prediction was made, that it did not allude solely, or principally, to any succession of prophets, nor to any single prophet, raised up among the people of Israel before the coming of Christ.
Moses delivered this prophecy to the Israelites, when he was renewing, in the plains of Moab, the enactments of their law; and reminding them of the circumstances under which they had been made. But he had himself received this prophetic intimation at a much earlier period of his life.
The promise of a Prophet like unto himself,
& Acts xviii. 28.
• See Munster and Fagius on Deut. xviii. 18. Limborch, Amica Collatio cum erudito Judæo. Secund. Script. Judæi,
was evidently' first made to Moses at the solemn delivery of the law upon Mount Sinai; although the prediction was not published to the people of Israel until forty years afterwards.
The people, terrified at the display of God's glory, desired that they might not hear again the voice of the Lord their God, nor see that great fire any more lest they should die. It pleased the Almighty to acquiesce in the desire of his people; and to promise Moses, in their name, even more than they desired. mitted him to act as the mediator between God and man, at the same time making a solemn promise to Moses, of a future great Prophet like unto him: “ they have well spoken that which they have spoken: I will raise them up a Prophet from among their brethren like unto thee.”d Forty years elapsed after this declaration to Moses, during which period that prophet, conscious that he bore a typical character, promulgated his laws, performed many of his miracles, and gave evident testimony of his communion with heaven.
At the end of that time the same promise was made to the people at large. Moses knew that they were about to be tempted to idolatry, by the nations among whom they should
Compare Exod. xx. 19. Deut. v. 27. xviii. 16,
be placed. He therefore warned them, that they should not learn to do after their abominations; but that they should be perfect before the Lord their God. That they might be encouraged to preserve their fidelity to the God of their fathers, Moses declared to them, what the Lord had before revealed to him, that a Prophet should be raised up like unto himself, unto whom they should hearken.
Now the Almighty frequently vouchsafed to deliver to his servants some splendid prediction of the future glories of the Messiah, as an encouragement under sorrow, and a support under imminent temptation.
The promise, that in him all the families of the earth should be blessed, was first made to Abram when he was called to leave his country, and his kindred, and his father's house. The limitation of the kingdom to the tribe of Judah, and the prophecy that Shiloh should come, was also delivered at the time when the dying patriarch Jacob left his descendants in a strange land, in which they were afterwards enslaved. And the clearer predictions of the later prophets were promulgated at a time of captivity.
It was therefore perfectly in accordance with the usual mode of God's dealings, that his Holy Spirit should direct Moses studiously to select this occasion for delivering to the Israelites some direct prophecy of the Messiah, who is predicted in no other part of the book of Deuteronomy. Such a prophecy do we conceive to have been delivered in the words before us; “ The Lord thy God will raise up unto thee a Prophet from the midst of thee, of thy brethren, like unto me; unto him ye shall hearken.”
e Gen. xii, 1.
f Gen. xlix. 10.
In discussing, then, this prophecy, it is necessary to distinguish two distinct periods of time.
It was first given to Moses, when the people desired to be defended from the terrors which accompanied the publication of the law, and desired a mediator to stand before them.
It was afterwards given by Moses to the people, when he wished to warn them against the temptation to idolatry, and the forbidden arts of divination.
That the prophecy, as first revealed, applied solely to the Messiah, there can be no doubt; and the immediate connection, which it thus displays, between the law and the Gospel, is most striking. But the opposers of Christianity have altogether avoided the consideration of the first delivery of this prophecy, and have argued, from the circumstances which accom
panied its second delivery, that it points to some more early completion in the immediate successors of Moses, who were to possess a portion of the prophetic spirit, and make all those without excuse, who should forsake the true God, to hearken unto observers of times and diviners.
Now even allowing the truth of this assertion, it would by no means follow that the prediction had no further intent. The voice of inspiration speaketh not as man speaketh. Since one person or one event is often designedly prefigurative of another person or event, it sometimes happens, that the prophetic language of Holy Scripture includes, in its comprehensive meaning, the imperfect figure as well as the “very image." And if the correspondence between the predicted facts, and the action of any Prophet who is selected as its supposed object, be manifestly imperfect, we must still look to some more favoured individual as the ultimate scope of the prophetic declaration
Now the very terms of the prediction delivered to the Israelites, which direct their attention not to prophets, but to a single Prophet, appear to preclude the supposition, that a succession of prophets, of nearly equal dig.
6 Heb. x. 1.