« IndietroContinua »
musick, or make poety.' But whatever were the original idea of & prophet or prophesying, who but Mr. P. would have confidently asserted the meaning at present annexed to those words to be a modern invention? What! did not the ancient Jews expect a Messiah according to the prophets?—Yet he allows that 'the 'profession of a Seer: the art of seeing, a visionary * insight into things concealed, became incorporated 'into the word prophet, at the time when Saul banished the wizards!'* Who can help noting with admiration this writer's consistency!
The words poet and prophet are in pagan writers in some respects synonymous: because the pagans ascribed poetick raptures to inspiration. Thus the poet was exalted into a prophet, not the prophet degraded into a versifier and musician: And I am confident the sober student of the Bible will find very few passages, in which the idea of a divine impulse, in one'way or other, is not evidently connected with the words prophet or prophesying; except where false prophets are evidently intended.
The moral character of the man was not essential to the prophetical office. Balaam was a vile wretch; yet his predictions have been wonderfully accomplished: and many such prophets will be detected at the day of judgment. The evil spirit from God did not come on Saul, when he joined the prophets; but " the Spirit "of God came upon him and he prophesied."f But when the spirit of the Lord departed from him, an evil
spirit from the Lord troubled him:* and then indeed he acted very ill; for perhaps mimicking the agitations of the prophets when under divine impulses, he was instigated by Satan to attempt the murder of David. A prophet, in Scripture, does not always denote one that predicts future events: but it means in most places a man supernaturally instructed or directed by the Lord; except when false prophets, the counterfeits of the true, are spoken of The argument concerning predictions does not however depend on the meaning of a word: it must be decided by facts. Did not the ancient prophets foretel a variety of circumstances concerning the promised Messiah, which were exactly ful. filled in Jesus of Nazareth? Did they not mark out the line whence he would spring, the place of his birth, the miracles which he would perform, the usage which he would experience, the sufferings which he would cndure, his conduct under them, with that of the Jews and soldiers; his death, burial, and resurrection, and the subsequent prevalence of his cause? If this be undeniable; how absurd is it to pretend, that moderns have falsely dignified Jewish poets and musicians with the title of prophets! Were not the predictions of the Old Testament exact. ly descriptive of the events, which have since taken place, respecting Egypt, Tyre, Nineveh, Babylon, Jerusalem, and the Jewish nation? Does not the New Testament contain predictions of “Jerusalem trodden “under foot of the Gentiles;” “the Jews scattered “through all nations;” and the superstitions, idolatries,
* I Sam. xvi. 14, 15. xviii. 10.
usurpations, and persecutions of that church, which hath forbidden to marry, and commanded to abstain from meat, hath enjoined the worship of angels, and been drunken with the blood of christians? Were these predictions unmeaning words, or random conjectures? —Even the Romans, from a slight acquaintance with the Jewish Scriptures, had concluded that some wonderful person was about to arise in the world, when Christ was born, as Virgil's eclogue called Pollio, and the famed sybilline books undeniably prove.
'Nothing seems more suited to convince a sensible 1 but hesitating enquirer concerning the truth of reve'lation, than a careful comparison of' the twenty-eighth chapter of Deuteronomy ' with the actual history of
* the Jewish nation to the present day. This appears 'capable of effecting every thing that any external evi
* dence imaginable can effect: and the demonstration 'thence deduced, which may be continually re-exa'mined, at leisure and with deliberation, seems more 'convincing than any miracles, which are transient
* acts, and can only be reviewed in the testimony by
* which they are authenticated.'*
I have not entered particularly on the subject of types; because I would not rest the argument of the divine inspiration of Scripture on that ground, but onthings more obvious: otherwise, to a considerate mind a very wonderful confirmation of the truth may be derived from them, as well as an illustration of it.-—But I would here further observe; that there is not a single instance throughout the Scripture, in which any inti
• Family Bible.
mation is given, that “it repented the Lord,” when a remote prophecy was spoken of, for this expression always relates to threatening messages, when averted by reformation, or in answer to the prayers of the prophet. So that “the Bible makes no fool” of any man; but tells him plainly what to expect in all possible cases. If revelation were impossible, or could not be communicated; prophecy would indeed be useless. But if it ever pleased God to reveal himself to mankind: as miracles were more suited to impress that generation to whom the prophets were sent; so predictions, evidently accomplishing from age to age, while new predictions were still given, must be the most conclusive proof to remote generations. And did the limits of this work admit of it, the predictions, interwoven with all the separate divisions of the Scripture, might be shewn to demonstrate them severally, as well as collectively, to be the word of God. But I shall only add, that, if Mr. P. and his disciples desire to know further the use of prophecy, let this answer suffice: it enables us to shew, that the scoffs and reproaches of infidels were predicted by the sacred writers: that the very abuses of christianity, which they deem unanswerable objections to its divine original, are in every instance a fulfilment of the Scriptures; “thus it was written, and thus it must be:” and that in this respect prophecy enables us to cut off Goliath's head with his own sword.
.HE CANON OF ScRIPTURE VOTED FOB.
P. says, ' They decided by vote, which of the
ks—should be the word of God, and which
aid not.' 'Those books which had the majority
otes, were voted to be the word of God. Had
y voted otherwise, all the people, since calling
mselves christians, had believed otherwise.'' Who
: people were that did all this, we know nothing
: they called themselves—the church: and this is
I we know of the matter.'* But surely a man ought
know much more of the time, place, and manner,
which such an important transaction occurred, than
•s ambiguous statement contains, before he is au
orized to infer any thing from it! And some proof
requisite to convince thinking men, that all chris
ans have hitherto in every succeeding age taken their
lith upon trust, according to this representation.
Pious persons indeed have, privately and collectively,
bestowed great pains, during a succession of ages, to
distinguish such books, as have internal and external
evidence of authenticity and divine inspiration, from