But when the fullness of the time was come, God sent forth his Son, made of a woman, made under the law,…
The question has often been asked, Why did not Christ come sooner? Why were patriarchs, kings, and prophets, left to experience the sickness of heart arising from hope long deferred? It was necessary that the world should be left to itself, in order that its own strivings being proved insufficient to the finding out God, there might be a standing demonstration of the need of a revelation. And this experiment demanded long ages for its development. Men must be tried under varieties of circumstance: whilst the traditions of a righteous ancestry were fresh in their keeping — when those traditions had been lost or corrupted, and natural religion had a clear stage to itself — when they had sunk into barbarism, and when through strenuous exertions they had wrought themselves up to a high pitch of civilization. It is, in a measure, a mistake which has been assumed as a truth in our foregoing reasoning — that mankind, with the exception of the Jews,. were abandoned by God, during those dark ages which preceded Christ's coming On the contrary, if you rest not satisfied with a superficial glance, you will perceive that God was working upon the world with a distinct reference to preparing it for the gospel. Besides, if you examine the period of our Lord's appearance on earth, you will not think it too much to say, that the season was made on purpose (so to speak) for the circumstances. The period was a most remarkable one — such as could only have been brought round by the revolutions and convulsions of many centuries. The Roman power had spread itself over all the nations of the then known world; and thus all those petty states, whose jostling and opposing interests might have withstood the propagation of Christianity, were swallowed up in one great empire. At the same time, the seat of that empire lay so distant from Judea, the cradle of our faith, that no opposition could thence suddenly arise to the infant religion. Christianity was sure to obtain a good footing before jealousy could be entertained, and, therefore, persecution appointed, by those who occupied the remote throne of the Caesars. Add to this, that in conformity with His character of the Prince of Peace, no breath of war ruffled the vast surface of the Roman empire, when the Saviour condescended to be born of a woman. The turbid waves of factious or ambitious policy had for a while settled into quiet, and the temple of Janus closed its doors that the Church of Jesus might throw open its gates. So that there was nothing to oppose the progress of the messengers of the gospel; the world stood free for their labours; they might pass from land to land; they might cross seas, and rivers, and mountains. It was, moreover, "the fulness of time," because many prophecies met in it, and received their accomplishment. The great marvel of the prophecies which bear upon the work and person of Jesus is, that they were delivered by a succession of men, rising up with long intervals between, and each becoming more minute in his predictions, as he stood more nearly on the threshold of the Advent. The day of Christ's birth lying a long way off from that of man's apostasy, might be made a kind of focus, into which should be gathered the prophetic rays of successive generations. You must readily perceive, that this collecting into one point the pencils of light emanating from successive ages, would mark out the birth-time of Messiah with a vividness and an accuracy which could not have been produced by a lesser combination.
(H. Melvill, B. D.)
Parallel VersesKJV: But when the fulness of the time was come, God sent forth his Son, made of a woman, made under the law,