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SECT. XIX. And to that which is objected of the low condition and death of Jesus.
MANY are offended at the mean condition of Jesus, but without any reason; for God says every where in the sacred writings, that he exalteth the humble, and casteth 215down the proud.679679 1 Sam. ii. 8. Psalm xxxiv. 18. Prov. xi. 2. Isaiah lvii. l5. lxvi. 2. Jacob went over Jordan,680680 Gen. xxxii. and following. carrying nothing with him but his staff, and returned thither again enriched with great plenty of cattle. Moses was banished, and poor, and a feeder of cattle, when God appeared to him in the bush, and made him leader of his people;681681 Exod. iii. David also, when he was feeding his flock, was called to be king;682682 1 Sam. xvi. 7, 11. and the sacred history is full of other such like examples. And of the Messiah, we read that he was to be a joyful messenger to the poor;683683 Isaiah lxi. 1. Matt. xi. 5. and Zech. ix. 9. that he should not lift up his voice in the street, nor make use of contention, but should act mildly, so as to spare a shaking reed, and to cherish the heat which remained in the smoking flax.684684 Isaiah xlii. 2, 3, 4. Matt. xii. 19, 20. Neither ought his other hardships, and death itself, to render him more odious to any one. For God often permits pious men not only to be vexed by the wicked, as Lot was by the men of Sodom;685685 Gen. xix. but also to be killed, as is manifest in the example of Abel, slain by his brother;686686 Gen. iv. of Isaiah, who was cut in pieces;687687 So says the tradition of the Jews, of which the author of the Hebrews has respect xii. 37. and Josephus x. 4. Chalcidius on Timæus, “As the prophets by wicked men, one cut in pieces, another overwhelmed with stones.” of the Maccabees brethren, tormented to death with their mother.688688 2 Maccab. vii. Josephus in his book, “Of the government of reason.” The Jews themselves sing the lxxixth Psalm: in which are these words: They have given the dead bodies of thy servants to the fowls of the air, and the remains of them, whom thou lovest, to 216the beasts: they have poured out their blood within the walls of Jerusalem, and there was none to bury them; and so on. And that the Messiah himself was to arrive at his kingdom, and to the power of bestowing on his disciples the greatest good things, through troubles and death, nobody can deny, who reads those words of Isaiah with an attentive mind, chap. liii.689689 Which place is interpreted of the Messiah, by the Chaldee paraphrast, and the Babylonish Gemara, entitled concerning the council.Who hath believed our report, and who hath acknowledged the power of God? And that for this reason, because he hath arisen in the sight of God as a tender plant, as grass out of the sandy ground: there is no beauty or comeliness in his countenance, neither if you look upon hint is there any thing delightful: he was exposed to contempt, and was as the most despised amongst men: he endured many sorrows, many griefs: all men turned away themselves from him: he was so much despised as to be thought of no value; but, indeed, he hath endured our diseases, he kink borne our calamities.690690 Abarbanel upon this place tells us, that by diseases, are to be understood any evils.We esteemed him as struck from heaven, as smitten and afflicted of God: but he was wounded for our sins, he was bruised for our crimes; the punishment which should procure safety for us, was laid on him;691691 Rabboth, and Solomom Jarchi, on the Gemara, entitled concerning the council, explain these words concerning the Messiah.his stripes were a remedy for us, for assuredly we have all wandered to and fro like sheep: God hath inflicted on him the punishment due to our crimes. And yet, when he was afflicted and grievously tormented, he did not lift up his voice, but was silent as a lamb going to be slain, and a sheep to be shorn. After bonds, after judgment, he was taken from amongst men; but now who can worthily declare the continuance of his life? He was taken out of this place wherein we live; but this evil befel him for the sins of my people. He was delivered into the hands of powerful and wicked men, even unto death and burial, when he had done no injury to any one nor was deceit ever found in his speech. But although God permitted him to be thus far bruised and afflicted with pains, 217yet because he has made himself a sacrifice for sin,692692 Alseck says, that evils borne with a willing mind are here spoken of. he shall see his posterity, he shall live a long life;693693 Alseck here says, that by the word seed in the Hebrew, is meant disciples. Thus the seed of the serpent is by the Hebrews interpreted the Canaanites; and so some understand it to mean their children. Isaiah viii. 18. as the Jerusalem Talmud observes, under the title concerning the council. and those things which are acceptable to God, shall happily succeed through him. Seeing himself freed from evil, says God, he shall be satisfied with pleasure,694694 Abarbanel refers these words to a future age. and that principally for this reason, because by his doctrine my righteous servant shall acquit many, bearing himself their sins. I will give him a large portion when the spoil shall be divided amongst the warriors;695695 The Babylonish Gemara, entitled סובה, tells us, that these words are to be understood in a spiritual sense. Alseck upon this place, says, that by spoils are to be understood the honours and re. wards of wise men.because he submitted himself to death, and was reckoned amongst the wicked; and when he bore the punishment of other men’s crimes, he made himself a petitioner for the guilty. Which of the kings or prophets can be named, to whom these things will agree? Certainly none of them. And as to what the modern Jews conceit, that the Hebrew people themselves are here spoken of, who being dispersed into all nations, should by their example and discourse make proselytes; this sense, in the first place, is inconsistant with many testimonies of the sacred writings, which declare, that no misfortunes should befal the Jews,696696 This appears from those places of the prophets cited above, and from Daniel ix. and Nehemiah ix. To which we may add, that he of whom Isaiah speaks, was to pray to God for the heathens, which the Jews do not do. which, and much greater than which, they have not deserved by their actions. Further, the order itself of the prophetic discourse, will not bear such all interpretation. For the prophet, or, which seems more 218agreeable to that place, God, says, This evil hath happened to him for the sins of my people. Now Isaiah’s people, or God’s people, are the Hebrew people; wherefore, he who is said by Isaiah to have endured such grievous things, cannot be the same people. The ancient Hebrew teachers more rightly confessed, that these things were spoken of the Messiah; which when some of the latter saw, they imagined two Messiahs;697697 See the Talmud, entitled, Succha, r. Solomon, and r. David Kimchi. one of which they call the son of Joseph, who endured many evils, and a cruel death; the other the son of David, to whom all things succeeded prosperously; though it is much easier, and more agreeable to the writings of the prophets,698698 Which Abarbanel follows, not in one place only, on this chapter of Isaiah. to acknowledge one, who arrived at his kingdom through adversity and death, which we believe concerning Jesus, and which the thing itself shews us to be true.
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