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der, nor of offence, because in the nature of things it cannot be otherwise.
It were indeed to be wondered, if obscurity should not lie upon some of the prophecies, the latest whereof was written at the distance of above two thousand years ago. • Prophetic writings, besides what is common to them with other writings, to grow dark with age, have something peculiar in their nature to render them less intelligible. Prophecies, remote from the time of their accomplishment, and whose completion depends on the concurrence of free agents, are not wont to be delivered very distinctly at first. The obscurity becomes greater, from the language wherein they are written. The Hebrew, as other Eastern languages, is entirely different from the European. Many things are there left to be supplied by the quickness of the reader's apprehension, which are with us expressed by pros per words and repetitions. Particles disjunctive and adversative, significative marks of connexion and of transia tion from one subject to another are often onnitted here. Dialogues are carried on, objections answered, compariSons made, without notice in the discourse; and through frequent change of persons, tenses, and numbers, we are left to guess who are the persons spoken of, which gave no difficulty to them whose living language it was.
The prophetic style is of all other the most copious this way. It seems to be a sort of language by itself. It ties itself to no order or method, but passes from one subject to another insensibly, and suddenly resumes it again, and often sallies out to the main thing that was intended in the prophet's thoughts. The prophets used to act part of schat they were to foretell : those actions supplying the place of words, and being not expressed in the writing, a sort of chasm is sometimes to be discerned in them; as at other times, different discourses, or addresses, distinguishable in the
speaking, by proper signs and motions, seem nowe to be connected, though they have no relation to each other.
What increases the difficulty, is the little or no order that the collectors have placed the prophecies in, according to the usage of the ancients, who joined together writings upon different occasions, of the same authors, and sometimes of different authors, as if they made but one continued discourse.-
The mistake might have been in some measure prevented, had the books written by the Jews, after their return from the Babylonian captivity, remained to our days—But these helps fail us, and not one book writ in the Hebrew tongue; since prophecy ceased, hath escaped the general calamity that hath befallen the Jeroish writings. Bp. Chandler Introd. to Defense of Christian.
Oratio Jesaice sic est constructa, ut de illius arte, elegantia, frepycía, pondere, nihil tam magnificum cogitari ac dici possit, quin sit infra ejus meritum.-Sed id ipsum est, quod interpretem multis in locis impedit, ejusque, studiosi etiam et bonis subsidiis instructi, diligentiam ac judicium valde exercet. Imo vero censeo, nullius mortalis, licet in Hebræis literis docte versati, tantum esse acumen, peritiam, perspicaciam, ut Prophetæ nostro longe pluribus locis reddere potuerit genuinum suum sensum, nisi Lectio antiqua Synagogica per traditionem in Scholis Hebræorum fuisset conservata, ut eam nunc Masoretharum punctulis expressam habemus. Vitringa, Præfat. ad Jesaiam.
Il y a dans les Prophetes beaucoup de mots trèsobscurs, qui pouvoient être clairs autrefois, que la langue Hebraïque étoit florissante. Il y a encore plus de passages, où la construction et la liaison du discours ne sont pas faciles à déveloper, et où l'on ne voit pas bien ce que les Prophetes ont voulu dire. Les allusions fréquentes à des cho. ses, qui nous sont inconnues, soit à l'égard des Juifs, soit
à l'égard de la plupart des peuples voisins, dont il ne nous reste aucuns monumens, ne servent pas peu à einbarrasser les interpretes. Le Clerc, Bibl. Chois. xxvii. 331.
Nos sane suas elegantias esse Hebrceorum Linguce, quemadmodum ceteris omnibus, non negamus; sed cum cultis et copiosis Linguis conferendam esse non pulumus: Monendus tamen est Lector eam a nobis spectari, non qualis olim dum florebat fortasse fuit, sed qualis superest in Libris Sacris, quibus omnes ejus reliquice continentur. Multo quidem plura vocabula, pluresque phrases in usu fuisse, quam qure in modico volumine leguntur, non agre fatemur. Sed quoad potest ex ejus reliquiis judicium ferri, inopem eam, ambiguam, et parum cultum fuisse existimamus, quod jam ostendere aggrediemur.
Linguarum omnium laudes in tribus potissimum rebus sitce sunt, in copia vocabulorum et phrasium, in perspicuitate orationis, ejusque elegantia, cujus a Rhetoribus Canones describuntur; quibus rebus multo Hebraicá $uperiores sunt multve Linguce, et Grieca quidem præ ceteris; nec quasi pulcherrimam jactari Hebraicam posse; manifestum est, &c.&c. Le Clerc, Proleg. ad V.T. Dis.i.
Such are the difficulties which attend the interpretation of the prophecies, and which I chose to represent in the words of competent judges. And yet that Jesus was the Messias foretold by the prophets appears thus : The prophets speak of a new and second covenant, which God would make with his people : They mention, not once or twice, but very often, the conversion of the Gentiles from superstition and idolatry to the worship of the true God: They speak of four successive empires, the last of which was the Roman empire, and under this last empire they say that a new and everlasting kingdom should be estas blished by one to whom God should give absolute
power and dominion. A great person was to come, who should be Immanuel, or, God with us, the Son of God, and the Son of Man, of the seed of Abraham, of Isaac, and of David; born of a virgin, poor and obscure, and yet one whom David calls his Lord ; the Lord to whom the temple belonged, the mighty God, a great king, an everlasting priest, though not of the tribe of Levi ; born at Bethlehem, a prophet like unto Moses, but greater than Moses ; a prophet who should preach to the poor and meek, and proclaim li. berty to the captives, and comfort the mourners, and heal the broken hearted; who should proclaim his gospel first and principally in the land of Zebulon and Naphthali, in Galilee of the Gentiles'; who should have a forerunner in the spirit of Elias, crying in the wilderness, Prepare ye the way of the Lord; who should instruct in a mild and peaceable manner, with out wrath and contention, before the destruction of the temple, in which temple he should be seen and heard ; who should enter into Jerusalem meek and humble, and riding on an ass; who should work miracles more than Moses and all the prophets, and miracles of the merciful and beneficent kind, open the eyes of the blind, and the ears of the deaf, and make the dumb to praise God, and the lame to leap like an hart ; who, notwithstanding all his power and goodness, should be rejected by the greater part of the nation, to whom he should be a stumbling-block, who should be despised and afflicted, a man of sorrow, and cut off from the land of the living ; who should have enemies numerous, powerful, crafty, and wicked, who should be accused by false witnesses, betrayed by an intimate and particular friend, sold for thirty pieces of silver, and the money given for a potter's field,
when it had been flung away by the traitor who should not live long after his crime, and whose office should be filled up by another; that his enemies should use him contumeliously, buffet him, and spit upon him, whilst he should be led like a lamb to the slaughter, not opening his mouth, and uttering nothing, except intercessions for the transgressors; that his enemies should strip him of his raiment, divide it amongst themselves, and cast lots upon it, surround him, pierce his hands and his feet, mock him, and shake their heads at him, give him gall to eat, and vinegar to drink; that he should be reduced to so weak and languishing a condition that his bones might all be counted, his heart should melt within him, and his tongue eleave to the roof of his mouth; that he should be brought to the dust of death, that he should be pierced, and yet not one of his bones be broken ; that he should be laid in the sepulchre of a rich and honourable man, none of his enemies hindering it ; that he should rise again before he had seen corruption, and subdue his enenries, and ascend into heaven, and sit at God's right hand, and be crowned with honour and glory, and see his seed and prosper, and justify many, and be adored by kings and princes; that then Jerusalem should be made desolate, and the Jews dispersed in all lands, and the Gentiles should be converted and flow into the church. These things were said concerning some person; and they are all applicable to Christ.
God foretold by his prophets in a clear and exact manner many great changes and revolutions, many things relating to the fates and fortunes of the Jews, and of the neighbouring nations with whom they were concerned. The only possible objection which can be made to these predictions, is that perhaps they were