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hazard a conjecture respecting the course of, their completion, I have separated this Class from the former, that the great argument to be derived from the clear and exact accomplishment of Prophecy may rest entirely upon the acknowledged truth of historical facts.
That these Prophecies were delivered at the time, and by the persons, to whom they are commonly assigned; —that they were delivered before the events they predict ; and that they professed to be prophetic at the time of their delivery, and were so understood to be, by the greatest and most learned persons, at and after their delivery, are points, that have been long esteemed established, beyond the power of controversy. But none are fecure from contradiction; and the infatuating folly of the present day makes men perpetually mistake assertion for argument. It will not be expected in a work, which professedly aims at conciseness, that what may be called a preliminary subject should be treated very · fully. For the detail of proofs, I must refer the reader to those learned authors, who have . collected the various evidence, and from thence have moft clearly deduced incontestable con clusions in support of the authenticity of the
Scriptures; and who consequently give ample confirmation to the truth of these points: But I cannot pass them over intirely. And I wish to give the reader, if yet unacquainted. with their history, fome information relative to those Prophets, whose writings will be the subjects of discussion = premising a few obfervations respecting the scene of Prophecy, and saying a few words concerning the Prophets in general, before I enter upon the short account of the history and explanation of the nature and use of Prophecy itself, with which I shall conclude this preparatory Chapter,
The principal fcene of Prophecy, after the death of Mofes, was the country of Judea :a country of little eminence when compared with the mighty empires of the earth; but not so very inconsiderable as it is usually represented, when compared more justly with kingdoms which existed nearer to its ancient date. The truth is, that we annex certain
: : ideas
a Porphyry, who lived in the third century, and was an acute and learned writer against Christianity, confessed that Moses flourished near a 1000 years before any of the Greek Philofophers ; and it is well known that Herodotus, the earliest Grecian Historian, was contemB4'
ideas of dignity and greatness to the kingdoms of Troy, of Argos, of Crete, of Lydia, and the different states of Greece, because the poets and historians magnify their importance in our youthful minds, and because we never lose sight of them while we pursue our studies. - Whereas the Israelites, feparated from the rest of the world for the express purpose of preserving the Oracles of God, quietly settled in the promised land, which they had conquered in far more remote antiquity, or suffering in captivity the predicted punishment of disobedience to their law, are feldom presented to our notice by those authors in whom we are accustomed to confide for our knowledge of ancient history. With the kingdom of Israel we are little acquainted, except as it forms a part of early religious instruction; and the reverence with which we may be disposed to remember it, is often abated when we discover the low estimation in which it is generally held with respect to the dazzling points of splendor, power, and fame. It may however be asked, which of the great monarchies of the ancient world exceeded in magnificence the Court of Solomon, and the Temple of Jerusalem? The astonishment, admiration, and awe, expretled by Alexander and by Titus, when they beheld the Temple, preclude the idea of exaggerated description, and appear to establish its claim to superior grandeur and riches, while the simple patriarchal manners of the people (manners which still prevail in Arabia and in a part of India) must increase the wonder. With respect to power, and its attendant, fame, the Israelites were forbidden to extend their conquests beyond certain limits; for it is evident, that their reputation in the world as a people made no part of the intended object, for which they were distinguished by the Almighty -- perhaps was inconsistent with it:- but nothing human could resist the power with which they were endued, whenever they were allowed to exert it. It is allowed, however, that the frequent punishments, to which they were subjected by their frequent disobedience to the commands of God, confined the nation much within the bounds prescribed, till the age when Solomon " reigned over all the kings, from the river Euphrates, even unto the land
porary with Malachi, the last of the Prophets. - Hence, Josephus speaks with great contempt of the late origin of Grecian literaturę.
of the Philistines, and to the borders of Egypt'," and "exceeded all the kings of the earth. for riches and for wisdom," and, it may be added, for “honour" or famed; a fact to which eastern tradition still gives testimony. It is allowed too, that this extended greatness of the kingdom was of short duration, and that it seemed to sink into insignificance just as the kingdoms of the Heathen world rose into importance: but it is maintained, that all these circumstances confirm the credibility of the Jewish history, because they are all in strict conformity with the conditional promises and the prophetic word of God, and with the great design for which the Jews were to continue a peculiar people. The ignorance and the obscurity imputed to the . Jewish people will, indeed, furnish no inconfiderable argument to prove the divine origin of their prophecies. — If their knowledge and their experience were limited to the narrow confines of their own country -- if their means of information were small, and their connexions with other nations precarious and accidental, they had the less ground to foretell, with any probability of being right, the
.6 2 Chron. ix. 26.-......
1 Kings iv. 34. - iï. 13. 2 Chron. i. 12.