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complishment of it: and that it was delivered by Valens, at least five hundred years before the event; when there was not the least appearance, that this catastrophe would befall, what was called, the ETERNAL CITY, within that period. i.
: This is an instance of divination from au-
And again, addressing himself to the same city,' sa
Jam propè fata tui bissenas vulturis alas · Complebant (scis namque tuos, scis, Roma, labores.)
. Ib. ver. 358. And, before him, Claudian, to the same purpose –
Tunc reputant annos, interceptoque volatu
B. G. ver. 262. 1 Medea, ver. 374.
Detegat orbs; nec sit terris
Thix prediction was made in the reign of Xero; and, for more than fourteen hundred years, might only prane for one of those hallie of imaginatim, in which patry so much der light. But, when, at length, in the close of the fifteenth century, the discoveries of Co lumbus band realized thix vision: when that enterprizing navigator had forced the trarriers of the vant Atlantic ocean; had loosened, what the pret calls, the chain of things; and in them loter agem, as was expressly signified, had set at liberty an impiense continent, shut up before in surrounding was from the commerre and acquaintance of our world; when this event, I say, so important and so unexpected, came to prima, it inight almost surprize one into the bulif, that the prediction was something more than a poetical fancy, and that I leaven hadd, inderd, revealed to one favoured Spaniard, what it had decreed, in ese time, to accomplish under the auspices of another,
Tue*! two instances of casual conjecture, converted by time and accident into prophe
in Anu's seria,
cies, I shall take for granted, are as remark- SERMON
IV. able, as any other that can be alledged. Cicero, in his first book of Divination, where he laboured to assert the reality of such a power in the pagan world, was able to produce nothing equal, or comparable to them. We have the fullest evidence, that these two predictions were delivered by the persons, to whom they are ascribed ; and in the time, in which they are said to have been delivered, that is, many hundred years before the event. They, both of them, respect events of the greatest dignity and importance: one of them, the downfal of the mightiest empire, that hath hitherto subsisted on the face of the earth ; and the other, the discovery of a new world. Both, express the time, when these extraordinary events were to happen: the latter, by : a general description, indeed, yet not more general, than is frequent in the scriptural prophets ; but the former, in the most precise and limited terms. In a word, both these predictions are authentic, important, circumstantial: they foretell events, which no human sagacity could have foreseen ; and they have been strictly and properly fulfilled.
Now, if such coincidencies, as these, do not infer divine inspiration ; if, notwithstanding
all appearances to the contrary, it must still be allowed (as it will, on all sides) that they were simply fortuitous, or what we call the effects of hazard and pure chance, by what characters shall we distinguish genuine, from pretended, prophecies ; or in what way shall it be disco vered, that the scriptural prophets spake by the spirit of God, when these pagan diviners could thus prophecy, by their own spirit?
To this objection, put with all the force which I am able to give to it, I reply directly, That the distinction, so importunately demanded, may very easily and clearly be assigned.
If one or two such prophecies, only, had occurred in our scriptures; if even several such had occurred in the whole extent of those writings, and in the large compass of time they take up, without descending to a greater detail than is expressed in these pagan oracles; nay, if a greater number still of supposed predictions, thus generally delivered in the sacred writings, had been applicable only to single independent events, dispersed indifferently through the several ages of the world : In all these cases, I should freely admit, that the argument from prophecy was very precarious
and unsatisfactory: I could even suppose, with SERMON the deriders of this argument, that so many, and such prophecies, so directed, might not improbably be accounted for, from some odd conjuncture of circumstances; and that the ac- . complishment of them did by no means infer a certainty of inspiration.
But, if now, on the other hand, it be indisputable, That a vast variety of predictions are to be found in the scriptures of the Old and New Testament; That a great part of these predictions are delivered with the utmost degree of minuteness and particularity; and, lastly, That all of them, whether general or particular, respect one common subject, and profess to have, or to expect, their completion in one connected scheme of things, and, upon the matter, in one single person: On this látter supposition, I must still think, that there is great reason to admit the divine inspiration of such prophecies, when seen to be fulfilled,
To convert this supposition into a proof, is not within the scope and purpose of this Lecture. The work hath been undertaken and discharged by many others : or, it may be sufficient, in so clear a point, to refer you directly to the Seriptures themselves; which no man