Page:An Exposition of the Old and New Testament (1828) vol 4.djvu/1163

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God's prophets were his witnesses to liis cliurch, cacli in his day, for several ages; witnesses for him ana liis autlioritf , witnesses against sin and sinners, attesting tlie true intents of God's providences in his dealings with his people then, and the kind intentions of his grace concerning his church in the days of the Messiah, to whom all the prophets bare witness; for they all agreed in their testimony; and now we have only one ivitness more to call, and ive have done with our evidence; and though he be the last, and in him propliecy ceased, yet the Spirit of prophecy shines as clear, as strong, as bright, in him, as in any that went before; and his testimony challenges an equal regard. The Jews say, Prophecy con- tinued forty years under the second temple, and this prophet they call the seal of firophecy, because in him the series or succession of prophets bi'oke oiF, and came to a period. God wisely ordered it so, that divine inspiration should cease for some ages before the coming of the Messiah, that that great Prophet might appear the more consjiicuous and distinguishable, and be the more welcome. Let us consider, I. The person of the prophet; we have only his name, Malachi, and no account of his country or parent- age. Malachi signifies, my angel; which has given occasion for a conjecture that this prophet was in- deed an angel from heaven, and not a man; as that. Judges ii. 1. But there is no just ground for the conjecture. Prophets were messengers, God's messengers; this prophet was so; his name is the very same with that which we find in the original, ch. iii. 1. for my messenger; and perhaps from that word he might (though, probably, he had another name) be called Malachi. The Chaldee Paraphrase, and some of the Jews, suggest that Malachi was the same witli Ezra; but that also is groundless. Ezra was a scribe, but we never read that he was a pi-ophet. Others, yet further from probability, make him tc be Mordecai. But we have reason to conclude he was a person whose proper name was that by which he is licre called; the tradition of some of the ancients is, that he was of the tribe of Zebulon, and that he died young. II. The scope of the prophecy. Haggai and Zechariah were sent to reprove the people for delaying to build the temple; Malaclii was sent to reprove them for the neglect of it, when it was built, and for their profanation of the temple-service ; for from idolatry and superstition they ran into the other ex- treme of impiety .and ix-religion; and the sins he witnesses against are the same that we find complained of in Nehemiah's time, with whom, it is probable, he was contemporary. And now that prophecy was to cease, he speaks more clearly of tlie Messiah as nigh at hand, than any other of the prophet- had done; and concludes with a direction to the people of God to keep in remembrance the law of Moses, while they were in expectation of the gospe' cf Christ. .1