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Segmon ing in different times, every preceding pro
phecy becomes surety, as it were, for those that follow; and the failure of any one must bring disgrace and ruin on all the rest.
Then, again, consider that the prophetic spirit, which kept operating so uniformly and perpetually in what is called the former age, ceased at that very time, when the great object, it had in view, was disclosed; when that future oeconomy, which it first and last predicted, was introduced: a time, too, which was precisely determined by the old prophets themselves. Could they answer for what design or chance might be able to bring about? Is it credible, that this perennial fount of prophecy, which ran so copiously from Adam to Christ, and watered all the ages of the Jewish church, should stop, at once, in so critical a season; and should never flow again in any future age; if fortune, or fraud, or fanaticism, had dispensed its streams, if any thing indeed, but the hand of God, had opened its source, and directed its current?
Nor let it be objected that a succession of
prophets was interrupted for some ages before the coming of Christ. It was so : but not, till preceding prophets had marked out the precise time of his comings; not, till Malachi, with whom the word of prophecy ceased for a time, had foretold that this interrupted series should be resumed and finally closed by Elijah, the last Jewish prophet and precursor of the Messiah"; and not, till it had been expressly declared, that this eclipsed light of prophecy should break forth again with redoubled lustre, in the days of the Messiahi. Who would not conclude, then, from this very intermission, that prophecy was given, or withheld, as the wisdom of God ordained, and not as the caprice or policy of man directed?
It may not be pretended, that the age, in which prophecy finally ceased among the Jews, will account for the suppression of this faculty, “ for that it was an age of the greatest turbulency and disorder, and that their ruin and dispersion soon after followed.” This pretence, I say, is altogether frivolous. For it was precisely in those circumstances, that their ancient prophets were most numerous, and their inspirations most abundant. It was during the calamitous season of their captivities, that the
g Isaiah vii. 16. Daniel ix. 24. h Mal. iv. 5. Luke xvi. 16. # Joel ii. 28, 29.
so prophetic power had been most signally exercised among the Jews. And now, when they were carried captive into all lands, not a single prophet arose, or hath arisen to this day, either for their reproof, or consolation*, If it be said, “ that the pagan oracles ceased, too, about the same time; and that the same cause, namely, the diffused light and knowledge of the Augustan age, was fatal to both;" besides, that this diffusion of light, for obvious reasons, was not likely to affect the Jewish prophecies, and did not, as we certainly know, in any degree diminish the credit of them, with that people, the fact itself, assumed in the objection, is plainly false. For the pagan oracles continued for several ages after that of Augustus; they became less frequent, only, as Christianity gained ground; and were not silenced, but among the last struggles of ex
k is not their case exactly delineated by the prophet Ezekiel—Mischief shall come upon mischief, and rumour shall be upon rumour; then shall they seek A vision of THE PRoPHET; i. e. they shall seek what they shall not find, for the Law shall perish from the priest, and couscil. from the ancients; i. e. their ecclesiastical and civil polity, to which prophecy was annexed, shall be utterly abolished. See Ezekiel vii. 26. and compare Isaiah iii. 1, 2.
piring paganism'. So that if the Jewish pro- so
phecies, like those of the Gentile world, had been the issue of fraud, or fanaticism (principles, that operate at all times, and, with redoubled force and activity, in the dark days of persecution) one does not see, why they might not have continued to this day among the bigoted professors of that religion.
Now, put all these things together, that is, The long duration of the prophetic system— the mutual dependance and close connexion of its several parts—the consistency and uniformity of its views, all terminating in one point —and the final suppression of it (as was likewise foretold) at the very time, when those views were accomplished; consider, I say, all this, and see, if there be not something more
than a blind credility in the advocates for the
divinity of such a system. See, if there be any instance upon record—of so numerous prophecies—so long continued—so intimately related to each other and to one common end —so apparently verified—and so signally coneluded. If there be, I shall not wonder at the suspense and hesitation of wise men, on this -- ". . . . . . ! ... ',
* See A VAN DAle, de Oraculorum ethnicorum dura.
tione atue intéritu. . . - -
so subject: but if, on the other hand, no such
thing was ever seen, or heard of, out of the
the construction and application of particular
prophecies. But let any serious man take the Bible into his hands; let him consider, not all the prophecies in that book, but such as are more obvious and intelligible; and let him compare, such prophecies, as he must acknowledge, and may, in part at least, understand, with the facts, in which he sees their completion, or so far, as he may think it probable that they have been completed ; and I dare be confident that such an inquirer will be much struck with the amount of the evidence from
prophecy, in support of divine revelation. If, indeed, on this general survey, he find nothing
to affect him, I shall not desire him to push