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POPULAR LECTURES

ON THE

PROPHECIES

RELATIVE TO

THE JEWISH NATION.

BY

THE REV. HUGH M'NEILE, M. A.

MINISTER OF ST. JUDE'S CHURCH, LIVERPOOL.

"Ye are my witnesses." -ISAIAH xliii. 10.

"To expound these predictions of the ancient prophets, of any thing but the
restoration of the natural Israel, is to introduce ambiguity and equivocation into
the plaines oracles of God."-BISHOP HORSLEY.

THIRD EDITION.

LONDON:

J. HATCHARD AND SON, PICCADILLY.

1840.

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J. DAVENPORT, PRINTER, LAWTON-STREET, LIVERPOOL.

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PREFACE.

THE following Lectures were originally delivered in
London. My leading object in their composition was
to make intelligible to large mixed congregations, a
subject which I considered of great importance, and
which I believed to be very rarely made the theme
of popular discourse from the pulpit.

That subject is the purpose of God concerning the
Jewish nation, as it is revealed in the Holy Scriptures.
In examining this, my chief auxiliary has been the
decision which history has already pronounced upon
the right interpretation of prophetic language; and in
my anticipations of the future, all I assume is, that
the species of interpretation which events have ren-
dered imperative, as it respects fulfilled prophecies,
ought to be adhered to, with consistency and candour,
in the examination of those prophecies which are as
yet unfulfilled.

The language of the prophets is often, almost always, figurative in some degree: but the events predicted are not the less on that account literal events.

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When the Holy Ghost spake by the mouth of
Zechariah, saying, Smite the shepherd, and the sheep
shall be scattered, the language was figurative, our
Lord not being literally a shepherd, neither his disci-

ples sheep. But the event predicted in that figurative
language was a literal event; and to the matter of
fact, as it occurred in Gethsemane, the prophecy is
applied by St. Matthew xxvi. 31. It is, therefore,
no objection to the literal interpretation which I ad-
vocate, to say that the prophetic language is figura-
tive. I admit that it is so-sometimes highly so.
The question is, What do the figures mean? Do
they mean other figures, or do they mean facts?
My opinion is, that facts are the legitimate themes
of prophecy. I appeal to history, comparing it with
the prophetic volume, for the establishment of a prin-
ciple by precedents; and I endeavour to convince by
candid argumentation. I dogmatize not at all. I am
open to conviction, when a more excellent way of
interpreting the language of the prophets shall be
pointed out. But I must be permitted to say to
some of my esteemed Brethren, who have opposed
the interpretation here offered, without themselves
offering any other; that a simple denial without rea-
sons assigned, or the true interpretation given to
supersede the false, cannot in fairness be expected to
have any weight of conviction. I have heard such
denials frequently, but in vain. I have heard them
accompanied with much persuasive eloquence, with

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many tender and affectionate appeals, sometimes with ill-dissembled personal mortification, but all in vain. I do not mean to imply that the system of interpretation which I advocate, is divested of all difficulty. Far otherwise but I protest against such a criterion of truth being set up. Nothing that deserves the name of interpretation is, or can be, free from difficulty. Our decision must be made between measures and degrees of embarrassment. It is comparatively easy to urge objections against any system, when it is tangibly propounded.

The nature of the difficulties incurred ought, however, in sound reason, to be taken into chief consideration. Now, it appears to me, that our chief embarrassments arise, not from finding any passages of Holy Scripture, in the obvious meaning of the language, contradicted by our scheme; but from a lack of more revelation, to explain to us how these things can be, and thereby to supply us with answers to curious (sometimes captious) questions: whereas, the spiritualizing scheme has to encounter the direct grammatical contradiction of revelation given.

It is one thing to anticipate the facts predicted, according to the literal meaning of the same words, when used in other books, or in other places of the same books, acknowledging our ignorance as to the mode of accomplishment, because that mode is not revealed and it is quite another thing, to put a different meaning on the same words, in different places

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