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and Anna, --with the wise men from the East,-with the faithful company that “ waited for the “ consolation of Israel,” and that “ looked for redemption in Jerusalem,”—we have, again and again, blessed God," that our eyes have seen His salvation. Blessed” indeed, then, may we say, are our “ eyes; for they see.” But the Church, acting in the spirit of the gospel, is not content to let us look at the things of Christ, as objects fully realized to us, as matters simply of historical truth and certainty. The Church would have us rather know and remember and feel that “we walk by faith, and not by sight.” It would inculcate on us, that, though we know, of a surety, that unto us a Saviour has been given,—that the word of prophecy, once a light shining in a dark place, as it spoke of the Redeemer to come, has brightened into clear day by its actual accomplishment in the Word made flesh,—yet we are not to rest on the past ;—we are not to think, that the labours, and anxieties, and patient waitings of faith, are over ;that they were the burden of God's servants of old only, and not ours too. The Church, accordingly, by the course of its services, commenced from this day, and carried through the season of Advent, leads us back to the faith of God's saints under the old dispensation, and bids us learn of them, how the Christian should bow his heart before the Lord his Saviour.
Awful indeed is the thought, Christian brethren, that, in point of spiritual privileges, the “ least in “the kingdom of God," the humblest member of the Church of Christ, is a greater” than the greatest of the saints of the old dispensation, enjoys an illumination of divine knowledge and grace, from which holy patriarchs and prophets were excluded, -sees, as it were, near at hand, what the ancient Fathers saw only far off! Awful I say is the thought! And how should it stimulate our feeling of responsibility! How should it kindle in us a fervent aspiration after the like patience of hope and faith to that with which they held on in their calling! Earnestly therefore let us listen to the voice of evangelical exhortation, which is this day sounded in our ears.
Let us sit at the feet of the Prophet of the Lord, whose words the Church reads and interprets to us this day, and learn of that Spirit, who consigned them to the perpetual instruction of the heirs of the promises given to the Fathers, what manner of persons we should be, as the sons of their faith, as the successors and followers of men who believed God, and whose faith was counted to them for righteousness.
“ Behold, the days come, saith the Lord, that I “ will raise unto David a righteous Branch, and a
king shall reign and prosper, and shall execute justice and judgment in the earth. In his days “ Judah shall be saved, and Israel shall dwell
safely. And this is his name whereby he shall “ be called, The Lord our Righteousness.”
We only follow the general consent of interpreters, when we understand this passage in the sense in which it is evidently received by our Church, from its introduction in the Epistle of this day, as speaking of the Shepherd of shepherds, the King of kings, and Lord of lords, the blessed and only Potentate, the Lord Jesus Christ. It characterises the future restorer of Israel, in terms which refuse any other interpretation short of that which applies them to the person and office of the Redeemer. For who else could be the righteous Branch of the house of David, but he who was at once the Son of David, and David's Lord,—“ the
Holy One and the Just” alone of that chosen line? And who else could be the king who should reign and
prosper, and should execute justice and judgment in the earth, but He to whom all power is given in heaven and in earth,—who triumphed over principalities and powers, — a king, as he owned himself, and as the glad hosannas of his people hailed him on his triumphant entry into Jerusalem, though his kingdom was not of this world ? In whose days, again, could Judah be said to be saved, and Israel to dwell safely, but in his, who “assembled the outcasts of Israel, and gathered " together the dispersed of Judah from the four
corners of the earth,”—by whom the wall of partition between Jew and Gentile was broken down, and all the families of the earth were called to dwell together in peace, as the true Israel of God, the
children of Abraham's faith, without respect of persons ? And lastly, who could be the Lord our Righteousness, but the Word made flesh, and dwelling among us, the only-begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth,—He who knew no sin made sin for us, that we might be made the righteousness of God in Him.
And yet, manifest as the bearing of the passage is on the person and office of the Saviour, there has been an endeavour, as you will know, to pervert it to another sense. It has been represented as nothing more than a prediction of the restoration of Israel; and in support of this construction of the passage, it is urged, that the designation of “ The Lord our Righteousness” must be taken as merely descriptive of the blessedness of that time; in like manner as in other passages of Scripture, significant names, including the name of the Lord, or Jehovah, are given to places and persons, to commemorate some special providence or mercy of God connected with them.
The context, however, whether in this passage, or in the parallel one of the 33d chapter, in which the words recur with some variation, clearly shews that this explanation of the phrase, “The Lord our Righteousness,” will not apply here. The
prophet is contrasting the good Shepherd of Israel with the profane and unfaithful pastors, who were destroying and scattering the sheep of the Lord's pasture. These he describes, as claiming to have
been sent when the Lord had not sent them, -as prophesying of their own heart, “causing the “people to err by their lies and by their light“ness ;”-against these he denounces the anger of the Lord: but he declares, at the same time, the promise of mercy to the sinful people. The Lord will “set up other shepherds over them, which " shall feed them.” Nor is this all : he will further give them one who shall guide them in peace,—a righteous Branch of the house of David,—one in whom they may trust,—who will not fail to lead them in safety. And what is the ground of this confidence ? He is one truly sent by God, in a sense in which no other person ever was.
He to whom they are to look is “God, and not man:" He is the Lord our Righteousness. Naturally, therefore, are we led, by the tenour of the passage, to contrast person with person,-personal character and office with personal character and office,—and thus to understand the words of the text as simply and strictly denoting the one good Shepherd of the sheep, the Blessed One who came in the name of the Lord, even the Lord Jesus Christ.
Were there, however, any doubt, from the context, of the right interpretation of the passage,
this doubt would be removed by a reference to the language of the New Testament. Read over the chapter of Jeremiah now before us; and compare with it our Lord's express application to himself of the office of “the good Shepherd.” “I am the