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A few more doubts remain, touching the prophecies, and some passages in the New Testament.
Page 39. " The great evangelical prophet could “ foretel the downfall of Babylon by Cyrus, but " could not tell the name of the Messiah."
Who enabled him to foretel the downfall of Ba. bylon by Cyrus?" He might take the advantage " of writing that prophecy after the events took
place,” say the infidels, page 40. But how so? Isaiah spake of Cyrus at least one hundred years before his birth. Had a history of Cyrus been among the books of Scripture, under the name of Isaialı, they would have placed the author, for longevity, in the same class with their friend Jasher.
“ Isaiah could not tell the name of the Messiah." He could have told it, had it been communicated to him, as that of Cyrus was. He has described Mes. siah in a manner not to be mistaken. There might be very good reasons why the name was not declared beforehand. And as God did not see proper to do it, there certainly were such reasons.
But “ if Christ were intended by the name Im“ manuel, the prophet was mistaken, for he was "never called by that name.
The first commentator one opens will inform one that, in Scripture language, to be called is the same as to be. Thus, of Messiah it is said, chap. ix. 6. “ His name shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor," &c. though he was never called by any of the names there enumerated; of the same person, Jer. xxiii. 6. “This is his name whereby he shall be called, The “ Lord our Righteousness ;” of Jerusalem, Isa. i. 26. “ Thou shalt be called, The city of righteousness. No man should presume to criticise a book, if he will not be at the pains to study the phraseology peculiar to it.
Page 40. " If the prophecies are evident and
clear, how happened it, that the whole Jewish na“tion, together with the angel Gabriel, should mis"take, and suppose the kingdom of Messiah to be “temporal ?"
The angel Gabriel was certainly under no mistake upon this point, because of Christ he says expressly Luke i. 33. “He shall reign for ever, and of his
kingdom there shall be no end.” And as to the case of the Jews, it is treated of at large in a discourse under that title, by the author before-mentioned, at page 173, to which these gentlemen are referred.
Page 40. “Could not those inspired writers, who " prophesied concerning things of no consequence, , " as the thirty pieces of silver, and the casting lots “for Christ's garments, have predicted with equal
certainty the more important circumstance of his " death and resurrection ?"
The death and resurrection of Christ are predicted in the strongest terms, Psal. xxii. cx. Isa. liii. And
what can add more weight to this kind of evidence, than the prediction of particulars so minute and circumstantial as those of the thirty pieces, and the division of the garments by lot? One would think, at the contemplation of them, all infidelity would stop its mouth, instead of opening it.
Page 41. “In short, they beg to be shown a single prophecy, concerning which divines are agreed.”
What Tully said of philosophers may be true perhaps of divines, considering the multitude of them that have lived from the days of the apostles to the present times; namely, that there never was an opinion, however absurd, which has not been maintained by some one or other. And therefore, to reject the evidence of prophecy, till all divines shall agree exactly about it, argues a conduct as wise in the infidels, as if they should decline sitting down to a good dinner, till all the clocks in London and Westminster struck four together.
Page 41. “They desire to know, why the Reve. “ lation of St. John should be more obscure and
enigmatical than any which was written during the " typical and shadowy dispensation of Moses?"
Much valuable instruction in the doctrines and duties of religion may be gathered from the Revelation, in the most clear and perspicuous manner; witness the Moral Reflections on that book, by Pere Quesnelle. Of the predictions in the former part of it, many have been explained to general satisfaction; and others may be so explained hereafter, as by the studies and labours of different persons, the symbolical language of Scripture becomes better understood, and the events predicted are brought forward in their order. If sufficient reasons may be assigned why prophecy should be in some degree obscure for a time, they will hold with regard to those of the New, as well as those of the Old Testament. Let gentlemen bestow due attention on the evidences of Christianity so often set before them.
When they shall thereby be happily induced to believe, it will be time enough to argue with them on such points as the obscurity of St. John's Revelation, and the doctrine of the Trinity, which is scoffed at in a very unbecoming manner, page 32.
Thus much for prophecy. We proceed to some objections against particular passages in the New Testament.
Of these, the first respects the difference between the genealogy of our Lord Christ as given by St. Matthew, and that given by St. Luke. On this subject let it be observed,
1st. That genealogies in general, and those of the Jews in particular, with their method of deriving them, and the confusion often arising from the circumstance of the saine person being. called by different names, or different persons by the same name, are in their nature, and must be to us, at this distance of time, matters of very complicated consideration, and it is no wonder they should be attended with difficulties and perplexities.
2dly. The evangelists, in an affair of so much importance, and so open then to detection, had there been any thing wrong to be detected, would most as
suredly be careful to give Christ's pedigree as it was found in the authentic tables, which, according to the custom of the nation, were preserved in the family, as is evident from Josephus, who says, “I
give you this succession of our family, as I find it “ written in the public tables."
3dly. As it was well known the Messiah must descend from David, the genealogical tables of that family would be kept with more than ordinary diligence and precision.
4thly. Whatever cavils the modern Jews and others make now against the genealogies recorded by the evangelists, the Jews their contemporaries never offered to find fault with, or to invalidate the accounts given in the Gospels. As they wanted neither opportunity, materials, skill, nor malice, to have done it, and it would have offered them so great an advantage against the Christians, this circumstance alone, as Dr, South well remarks, were we not now able to clear the point, ought with every sober and judicious person to have the force of a moral demonstration.
Thus much premised, let us hear the objection.
Page 33. “Matthew reckons twenty-seven gene“ rations from David to Christ; Luke reckons forty
two, and the names totally disagree. Matthew
traces the descent from Solomon, and Luke from “ Nathan, both sons of David. According to our “ feeble notions, twenty-seven cannot be equal to
forty-two, neither can Nathan be imagined to be 66 Solomon.”
But were the objectors never informed that, in the