« PoprzedniaDalej »
ses, which are still more minute and astonishing: Prophecies which stand alone, embracing events, with which nothing that can be found in the histories of other nations, will for a moment compare. As a specimen of these wonderful predictions, I beg leave to call your attention to the chapter before named, viz. Lev. 26-44; where Moses, in the spirit of prophecy, is directed to announce, in the name of the Lord, and does announce, saying,-" And yet for all that, when they be in the land of their enemies, I will not cast them away,neither will I abhor them, to destroy them utterly, and to break my covenant with them: for I am the Lord their God." This prophecy perfectly corresponds with that of Jeremiah, 30. 11. and 46. 28. For 1 am with thee, saith the Lord, to save thee though I make a full end of all the nations whither I have dispersed thee, yet will I not make a full end of theo, but I will correct thee in measure ; and wilt not altogether consume thee."
This prophecy of Moses, which is of the same import with that of Jeremiah, is of such a singular character, that its meaning has never been a subject of dispute, neither among Jews or Gentiles. For it is obvious to all such as are acquainted with the theological writings of both Jews and Christians, that they have all agreed that it was a prophetic assurance of the preservation of the Jews, as a distinct and separate people, even in all their dispersions, through every age and country. Lest any of my hearers should be left in doubt, however, respecting the correctness of this interpretation; I would just remark, that the prophecy of which we are treating, contains a plain and direct reference to the covenant promise of God to Moses, which stands recorded in the 33d chap. 16th and 17th verses: "For wherein shall it be known here that I and thy people have found grace in thy sight? Is it not that thou goest with us? So shall we be separated, I and thy people, from all the people that are upon the face of the earth. And the LORD said unto Moses, I will do this thing also that thou hast spoken."
From these passages, we are plainly instructed that Jehovah entered into solemn covenant to preserve the posterity of Jacob as a separate people, from all others upon the face of the earth. And I here ask, have not these
prophecies been a standing and unanswerable evidence of the divine inspiration of Moses, for more than 3000 years? The fact can never be denied, without condemning and contradicting the faithful voice of sacred and profane history Nay; I had almost said, that no man dare deny its truth But I remember that some modern skeptics have had the effrontery to affirm, that the prophecies were written after the facts had transpired! Such assertions, either prove their profound ignorance of history; or what is worse, their determination to break down every barrier which opposes the progress of infidelity, whether right or wrong! But their weakness, surely must excite the pity of all candid and sincere christians: And though the voice of history is sufficient to silence their weak and deceitful pretensions, still they may have the address to deceive and lead astray the young and uninformed mind. It is therefore expedient to remind the rising generation, that the writings of Moses were acknowledged by some of the most ancient authors of profane history, among the Chaldeans, Persians, Egyptians and Greeks; all which were written long before the dispersion of the Jews by the Romans: And which have been the sources of evidence to which we have appealed in several of the preceding Lectures. The denial, therefore, of the antiquity of the Mosaic records, only proves the weakness of the cause which modern skepticism has espoused.
Whoever will be at the trouble of reading the history of Josephus, will find an ample refutation of this childish pretence: Or whoever will read the modern history of the Jews, or listen to the recital of modern travellers, upon the continents of Europe, Asia and Africa, will be furnished with the clearest evidence, that the prophecies under consideration are even now receiving their fulfilment. So that the objection which we have been called to notice is an abuse of common fact and common honesty.
Before I dismiss this objection, I will simply remark, that the objection itself betrays the cause which it was intended to support: For it is clearly an acknowledgment that the facts set forth are all contained in the prophecy. It therefore devolves on them to prove that the facts occurred before the prophecy v was written. But this, no man
of common sense and historical reading will dare attempt. There is another objection which unbelievers have pressed into their service, and which they frequently urge against the inspiration of Moses. They tell us that it is natural to suppose that the Jews have avoided intermarrying with any other nation, in consequence of their being strictly forbidden to do so, by one of the plainest injunctions of their law. Now this objection, to say the least, acknowledges that the Jews have always believed in the divine authority of the law which was given by Moses, and that they have given substantial evidence of the sincerity of their faith, by resisting one of the strongest temptations which inclination and interest could lay before them: For the most ordinary understanding cannot avoid perceiving, that had they mingled with other nations by intermarriages, they would soon have lost their national indentity, and thus escaped all the persecutions and sufferings through which they have waded, for nearly 1800 years. Of this, the Jews have always been sensible; and yet, notwithstanding their ardent desire to be free from such persecutions, and their unutterable dread of such sufferings as they have experienced, they are, and have been so disposed, by the overruling providence of God, as to maintain their separate character, amidst the most astonishing oppressions and miseries which have ever fallen to the lot of any nation or people upon the face of the globe.
The weakness of the objection which we are considering will be perfectly apparent, if we reflect for a moment, how trifling the offence of intermarrying with other nations would have been, compared with other offences which they committed, times without number. The principal object to be secured by prohibiting their intermarriages with other nations, was to preserve them from one of the most powerful temptations to which they would be exposed, of joining them in the rites of idolatry: And yet how often did they forsake the worship of God, and bow down to the idols of the heathen! How often did the prophets complain and lament that the Jews caused their children to pass through the fire as an offering to Moloch, contrary to the express command of God?
It was impossible for Moses, or any other man, to foresee, by any human calculation, that the Israelites would not break every command which they had received, forsake every ordinance of their law, amalgamate with other nations, and in a short time be swallowed up in the great mass of human population, so as utterly to lose their national identity and character: Human wisdom, supported by general observation, would surely have anticipated such a result, instead of embracing a conclusion that was contrary to all precedent, and which still stands without a parallel in the annals of all nations.
Nothing but the confident assurance, that what he uttered was the voice of God, could ever have induced Moses, or any reasonable man, holding the high and honorable station which he filled, to venture such assertions as these predictions contain. And their accurate and astonishing fulfilment, entirely justifies the confidence with which he announced these great events to the tribes of Jacob.
Had not his predictions been fulfilled, his writings would long since have fallen into disgrace, and his name sunk to oblivion; or been preserved only in story, as an example of daring presumption and mad imposture. But, thank God, his memory lives in the hearts of his wandering and dispersed countrymen, and his name stands enrolled in the records of undying fame, as the prophet and friend of God.
There are other prophecies, which have been recorded by Moses, still more astonishing than any which have yet been brought under consideration; and whose fulfilment is so clearly marked by history, as to settle, for ever, the question of his divine inspiration.
There are also a few popular objections to the writings of this prophet, which experience and candor call us to consider. These, I beg leave to inform the audience, will be the subject of our next Lecture.
And now, my brethren and friends, let no inferior subject divert our minds from the investigation of that divine truth, which is so important to our hopes and our happiness. And may heavenly wisdom direct us in the pathway of understanding, and secure to us "that good part which shall not be taken away."
ST. JOHN V. 46, 47.
"Had ye believed Moses, ye would have believed me for he wrote of me. But if ye believe not his writings, how shall ye believe my words?""
In my last Lecture, some of the prophecies of Moses were brought forward, and carefully compared with the history of their fulfilment. Many of my hearers were doubtless satisfied of the divine inspiration of that prophet, from the evidence then adduced. But since it is obvious that much depends upon the prophetic inspiration of Moses, and that the credibility of those who followed him in the prophetic office, will derive additional strength from the overwhelming evidence of his inspiration, it is not inconsistent with the design of our present labors, to lay other prophecies, which have been recorded by him, before you, and the historical evidence by which their fulfilment is placed beyond a reasonable doubt. The prophecies which have been recorded by Moses, and which now present themselves for consideration, are, in some respects, peculiarly strange and astonishing. That they stand without a precedent, and challenge a parallel in the annals of all ages, has long since been asserted and proved, both by Jewish and Christian writers.
The text which we have chosen as a motto to direct our thoughts, asserts that Moses wrote of Christ. Although many passages of his writings have a direct reference to the Saviour of the world, and might be urged with great propriety, in confirmation of this truth; still we shall forbear to notice any which do not appear to be of the first importance to the great object of our present labors; or, which are not supported by such historical evidence as will commend itself to the reason and understanding of my hearers.