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Judah deemed it false, he would probably have contradicted it. The extraordinary prophecy, however, connected with it, which Josiah above three hundred years after exactly accomplished in the view of the whole nation, sufficiently authenticates the narrative in the judgment of all sober men. The actions of Elijah and Elisha also belonged to the history of Israel: for neither of them resided or prophesied in Judah. The writer of Chronicles, however, would not have declined recording the translation of Elijah, or the miracles of Elisha, had they fallen within his plan, from fear lest he should be accused of lying and romancing : for he relates facts equally marvellous ; such as the slaughter of Sennacherib's army by an angel, and the retrograde motion of the shadow on the dial of Ahaz, at Hezekiah's request.
Mr. P. represents the prophets as 'party-men,' and adduces as an instance the prophet from Judah, just referred to, who prophesied against Jeroboam. No doubt he took part with the worshippers of Jehovah against those of the golden calves : but the old prophet at Bethel did not side with Jeroboam, though he had not honesty and courage to protest against his idolatry. Mr. P. also asserts that the prophet of Judah was found dead by the 'contrivance of the prophet of Israel, who no doubt 'called him a lying prophet.' Let the reader consider the chapter, and judge of the insinuation, and of him that made it!
Some difficulty occurs in reconciling the dates, given in different places, of the time when Jeho
ram the son of Jehoshaphat began to reign : but similar difficulties occur in many other ancient histories. Perhaps Jehoram was admitted to a share in the regal authority before he succeeded to the kingdom at his father's death; as Solomon had been before him: or perhaps some trivial error in a numeral letter may have taken place, by the inadvertency of a transcriber.
The conduct of Elisha, in cursing the children in the name of the Lord, has been objected to by more candid and serious men than Mr. P.; and therefore requires some consideration. These children, or young persons, immediately after Elijah's translation, reproached Elisha with his baldness, and bade him “ Go up,” or ascend; as if they had said, “A good riddance of all prophets.' They had evidently been taught by their idolatrous parents to revile the prophets of Jehovah: their enmity was become desperate ; and, if true religion be important, it was proper to apply some effectual remedy to the inveterate evil. If the prophet had cursed them in his own spirit, would Jehovah have concurred in his malignity? Were the she-bears at his command? Would any consequences have followed i Had the prophet slain the children himself, or employed any of his party in putting them to death, there would have been some pretence for these bitter accusations : but, as the case stands, the justice of God is directly arraigned; for he was the only agent in the business. If the children had died of a fever, the affair would not have been noticed: yet the solemnity of the sentence and ex
2 Kings ii. 23, 24.
ecution, while it was no severer punishment to them, was far more calculated to make an useful impression on their survivors.
Mr. P. next attacks Elisha as 'a Judahmite prophet,' though (as has been observed,) he spent his life in Israel, and never at all prophesied in Judah. Jehoram, the son of Ahab, was a very wicked man, and a most incorrigible idolater. Jehoshaphat, king of Judah, though faulty in forming connexions with him and his family, was a most pious and equitable prince. When therefore these two kings, with the king of Edom, applied to Elisha in extreme distress, with their armies, for want of water, Elisha shewed respect to pious Jehoshaphat, but would shew none to Jehoram. In another man Mr. P. would have admired his noble spirit and conduct: but in this case he calls it 'the venom and vulgarity of a party prophet.'
Elisha on this occasion “called for a minstrel,” probably to calm his disturbed mind, and prepare it for the expected prophetic impulse. Mr. P. strangely mistakes the minstrel, or the player on the instrument, for the instrument itself! and adds, • Elisha said (singing most probably to the tune he was playing,) “Thus saith the Lord, make the valley full of ditches :" that is, without farce or
fiddle, the way to get water is to dig for it. Does this jumble of buffoonery and absurdity need an answer? None of the kings or military commanders expected to find water by digging in that desert: whole armies have perished from thirst in similar situations : the water that filled the ditches
12 Kings iii.
did not spring up in them, but “came by the way “ of Edom : the Moabites were deceived by the appearance: the kings and their armies were preserved and made victorious by Elisha's means, and according to his predictions: yetmust he be branded as ' venomous and virulent,' for protesting against Jehoram's crimes, in language far milder than Mr. P. and his friends have used against the kings of France and England !
The historians could not properly speak of the several prophets, who lived in the times of which they wrote, further than they had some concern in public affairs. But in general, they mention the prophets with peculiar respect; and uniformly ascribe the calamities of Judah and Israel to the conduct of the rulers and people in despising and persecuting them, and in hearkening to the false prophets who contradicted them.-Mr. P. says, 'The name of Jonah is mentioned on account of
the restoration of a track of land by Jeroboam.'? The passage referred to is this : “ Jeroboam the son “ of Joash, restored the coast of Israel,- according “ to the word of the Lord God of Israel, which he “ spake by the hand of his servant Jonah, the son “ of Amittai, the prophet which was of Gath“hepher.”2 This is surely a very honourable mention of Jonah as a servant of the Lord, and a prophet whose predictions had been signally accomplished : whereas an inattentive reader would have supposed, from Mr. P.'s account, that Jonah had only been named as concurring in some civil transaction.
· Note P. ii. p. 31.
2 Kings. xiv. 25. .
Upon the whole, as far as the historians and the prophets are capable of honouring each other, they certainly do it. And, did not brevity forbid, it would be easy to prove, from the prophecies contained in these books, and evidently accomplished, and from the New Testament, that they not only contain authentic history, taken from the records of Judah and Israel ; but that they were written under the superintending inspiration of the Holy Spirit: for they certainly were comprised in those scriptures which our Lord declared “must be “ fulfilled," "and could not be broken ;" and of which Paul declares that they “ were all given by “ inspiration of God."
EZRA AND NEHEMIAH.
Probably Ezra himself compiled the books of Chronicles, or the greater part of them, from the public records of the nation, and other books to which he appeals as his authority : and, if he chose to begin the history of the Jews, subsequently to the captivity, with the same words as closed his preceding narrative, it might most reasonably be ascribed to a scrupulous regard to accuracy.
Mr. P. speaks of Ezra and Nehemiah as if they returned together with the first Jews from Babylon; and he says, “The book of Ezra was written immediately after, or about five hundred and
thirty-six years before Christ, and Nehemiah was 'another of the returned persons, who wrote an account of the same affair.' But in fact Ezra did
1 2 Tim, iii. 16.