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SERMon
IV.

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Now I tell you before it come, that when it is
come to pass, ye may believe, that I am He.

IT hath been concluded (not on the slight
grounds of hypothesis, but on the express
authority of scripture,) that prophecy was
given To ATTEST THE Mission of JESUS: to
afford a reasonable evidence, that the scheme
of redemption, of which he was the great in-
strument and minister, was, in truth, of di-
vine appointment; and was carried on under
the immediate cognizance and direction of the
Supreme Being, whose prerogative it is to see

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through all time, and to call those things, so

which be not, as though they were".

Our next inquiry will be, how the prophetic scriptures serve to that end, and what that evidence is (I mean, taking for granted, not the truth of the prophetic scheme itself, but the truth of the representation, given of it in scripture) which is thus administered to us by the light of prophecy.

I. The text refers to a particular prophecy of our Lord, concerning the treachery of Judas; of which, says he to his disciples, I now tell wou before it come, that, when it is come to pass, ye may believe that I am He : that is, “I add this, to the other predictions concerning myself; that, when ye see it fulfilled, as it soon will be, ye may be the more convinced

of my being the person, I assume to be, the Messias foretold.”

The information, here given, was perhaps intended by our Lord to serve a particular purpose, To prevent, we will say, the offence, which the disciples might have taken at the circumstance of his being betrayed by one of

a Rom. iv. 17.

so them, if they had not, previously, been ad

monished of it. But the reason of the thing shews, that the use, which the disciples are directed to make of this prophecy, was the general use of the prophecies concerning Jesus. The completion was to verify the prediction, in all cases; and to convince the world, That HE was the Messiah, in whom such things should be seen to be accomplished, as had been expressly foretold".

Indeed prophecies, unaccomplished, may have their use; that is, they may serve to raise a general expectation of a predicted event in the minds of those, who, for other reasons, regard the person predicting it, in the light of a true prophet. And such might be one, a subordinate, use of the prophecies concerning Jesus: but they could not be applied to the proof of his pretensions, till they were seen to be fulfilled. Nor can they be so applied even then, unless the things predicted be, confessedly, beyond the reach of human foresight. Under these conditions, the argument is clear and easy, and will lie thus.--" A great - b ra- ed: weotuńyvat 3% wooling ww.zie. ow wovirozi, o, oray yola, Ho &tion.9%, 3AW is wrotoz82:

wirw8. J. MARTYR, Apol. I. c. 74.

variety of distant, or, at least, future events, so

inscrutable to human sagacity, and respecting one person (whom we will call, Messiah) have been by different men, and at different times, predicted. These events have accordingly come to pass, in the history and fortunes of one person; in such sort, that each is seen to be, in a proper sense, fulfilled in him, and all together in no other person whatsoever: Therefore the prediction of these events was divinely inspired : or (which comes to the same thing) therefore the person, claiming under these predictions to be the Messiah, or person foretold, hath his claims confirmed and justified by the highest authority, that of God himself.”

Such is the argument from prophecy": and

e Yet hear in how decisive a tone a certain writer, of no small account with the infidel party, reprobates this. argument:-" Je dis de plus, qu'aucune prophétie ne “sauroit faire autorité pour moi.” [Rousseau, OEuvres T. III. p. 156. La Haye, 1762.] “I say,” says Mr. Rous. seau, “that the argument from prophecy can have no “weight with me.” If you ask his reason, it follows. “Because, to give it any authority, three conditions are “ required, the concurrence of which is impossible. First, “I must have been, myself, a witness of the prophecy, “when delivered. Secondly, I must have been, myself, ‘a “witness of the event: And lastly, I must have it demon

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so on this foundation, Jesus assumes to be the

MESSIAH; and his religion, to be DIVINE.

“strated to me that the agreement between the prophecy
“ and the event could not have been fortuitous. For
“ though the prophecy were clearer, and more precise,
“ than a geometrical axiom, yet as the clearness of a pre-
“diction, made at hazard, does not render the accom-
“plishment of it impossible, this accomplishment, allow-
“ing it to take place, proves nothing, strictly speaking,
“in favour of the person who foretold it.”
First, he says, He must himself have been a witness of the
prophecy. But why so 2 Is there no way of being reason-
ably assured that a prophecy has been delivered, unless
one has been actually present at the delivery of it 2 Does
any one doubt, whether Socrates told his friend that he
should die within three days' time, because he did not hear
these words from the mouth of the philosopher ? But,
there is less reason still to doubt whether Jesus uttered the
prophecies, ascribed to him in the Gospel.
Next, He must have been, himself, a witness of the event.
With just as good reason, as of the prophecy. However,
it so happens that we are, or may be, if we please, wit-
messes of the events, foretold in many prophecies. What

does he think of the dispersion of the Jews, for instance 2

Is he not a witness of this event 2
But lastly, He must have it demonstrated to him that the

agreement between the prophecy and the event could not have

been fortuitous. What, will nothing less than demonstra

tion satisfy him? Will not a high degree of probability

serve him to form a conclusion upon, nay, and to regulate his conduct And will he stand out against the strongest degree of evidence, short of mathematical, or a proof a la

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