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Dess is depicted by the serenity dictions for the amusement and and confidence of peaceful life. entertainment of the world: there This allegorical language being must be some end worthy of the founded in ideas universally pre author.” Now, what end could valent, and adhered to with inva- this be but to keep alive in the riable relation and regular analogy, minds of those to whom it was has furnished great ornament and given a sense of religion, and a elegance to the sacred writings. hope of a future deliverance from Sometimes, however, the inspired the curse of the fall through Jesus penmen drew their allusions from Christ? “ The uses of prophecy," local and temporary sources of me- says Dr. Jortin, “ besides gradutaphor; from the peculiar scenery ally opening and unfolding the of their country; from the idola- things relating to the Messias, and tries of heathen nations; from the blessings which by him should their own history and circumstan- be conferred upon mankind, are ces; from the service of their tem-many, great, and manifest. pie, and the ceremonies of their "1. It served to secure the bereligion; from manners that have lief of a God, and of a Providence. faded, and customs that have elap “ As God is invisible and spised. Hence many appropriate beau- ritual, there was cause to fear, that, ties have vanished. Many descrip- in the first and ruder ages of the tions and many representations, world, when men were busier in that must have had a solemn im- cultivating the earth than in cultiportance among the Jews, are now vating arts and sciences, and in considered, from a change of cir- seeking the necessaries of life than cumstances, in a degraded point of in the study of morality, they view. Hence, likewise, here and might forget their Creator and Gothere a shade of obscurity. In gevernor; and, therefore, God mainneral, however, the language of tained amongst them the great arscripture, though highly sublime ticle of faith in him, by manifestaand beautiful, is easy and intelli- tions of himself; by sending anble to all capacities.
gels to declare his will; by mira2. Of the use and intent of pro- cles, and by prophecies. phecy.
• 2. It was intended to give As prophecy is so striking a men the profoundest veneration proof of a supernatural commu- for that amazing knowledge from nion with the Deity, and is of so which nothing was concealed, not early a date, we may rest assured even the future actions of creait was given for wise and im- tures, and the things which as portant ends. “ It cannot be sup- yet were not. How could a man posed,” says bishop Sherlock, hope to hide any counsel, any ic that God delivered prophecies design, or thought, from such a only to satisfy or employ the cu- Being? riosity of the inquisitive, or that “ 3. It contributed to keep up he gave his Spirit to men merely devotion and true religion, the to enable them to give forth pre-religion of the heart, which con
sists partly in entertaining just" The Divine design, uniformly and honourable notions of God, pursued through a series of sucand of his perfections, and which cessive generations, opens with a is a more rational and a more ac- greater degree of clearness, in proceptable service than rites and ce- portion to the lapse of time and remonies.
the number of events. An in" 4. It excited men to rely crease of age is an addition to its upon God, and to love him, who strength ; and the nearer we apcondescended to hold this mutual proach the point towards which intercourse with his creatures, and the dispensations of God unvaryto permit them to consult him, ingly tend, the more clearly shall as one friend asks the advice of we discern the wonderful reguanother.
larity, consistency, and beauty of “5. It was intended to keep this stupendous plan for univerthe people, to whom God reveal sal good. Of the great use of proed himself, from idolatry; a sin phecies which have been fulfilled, to which the Jews would be in as a direct and strong argument clined, both from the disposition to convert unbelievers to Christo it which they had acquired in tianity, and to establish Chris.. Egypt, and from the contagion oftians in the faith, we have the most bad example.
ample proofs. Our Lord himself “ The people of Israel were made very frequent appeals to strictly forbidden to consult the prophecy, as evidence of his Di. diviners and the gods of other vine mission : he referred the nations, and to use any enchant- Jews to their own scriptures, as ments and wicked arts; and that most fully and clearly bearing they might have no temptation to witness of himself. Upon them it, God permitted them to apply he grounded the necessity of his to him and to his prophets, even sufferings ; upon them he settled upon small occasions; and he the faith of the disciples at Emraised up amongst them a succes- maus, and of the apostles at Jerusion of prophets, to whom they salem. The same source supplied might have resort for advice and the eloquence of St. Peter and St. direction. These prophets were Paul, and the means with which reverenced abroad as well as at Apollos' mightily convinced the home, and consulted by foreignJews.' This was a powerful inprinces; and, in the times of the strument of persuasion in the succaptivity, they were honoured by ceeding ages of the church, when great kings, and advanced to high used by the primitive apologists. stations."
Upon this topic were employed As it respects us, prophecy con- the zeal and diligence not only nected with miracles 'affords a of Justin Martyr, but Tertullian, considerable evidence of the truth Cyprian, and Augustine. It would of revelation, as well as of a super-never have been so frequently emintending Providence. This evi-ployed, if it had not been well dience, too, is a growing evidence. adapted to the desired end; and
that it did most completely answer truths of Divine revelation. Thus this end, by the conversion of un- it appears that the chief design believers, is evident from the ac- of prophecy is to bear constant counts of scripture, and the re- witness to religious truth: but cords of the primitive church. though to convince gainsayers of
“ Prophecy keeps the attention this truth is justly considered as of Christians alive to the truth and its principal use, it has another importance of their holy religion ; very important object, to which it to its truth, because prophecy and well becomes us to pay attention, Christianity had one and the same from motives of gratitude, as well origin, both being derived from as from fear of incurring the blame the same Fountain of Perfection : which scripture invariably imputes it keeps them alive to its import- to those who neglect to take adance, because prophecy shews that vantage of the light afforded them.' the Supreme Being has vouch. It is designed to protect believers safed through a long succession of in the word of God from the danages to prepare mankind, by gra-gers arising from the prevalent dual revelations of his will, for corruptions, errors, and vices of future blessings; and has proved, the age in which they live. The by sending chosen messengers to due consideration of prophecy will usher in this final dispensation, administer consolation amidst prethat the testimony of Jesus is sent distress, and enliven faith the spirit of prophecy.' It con- and elevate hope, whilst passing firms the general belief of a God, through those dark depressing and points out to a careless world scenes, which, without this grathe plain traces of his watchful cious aid, might lead through the Providence. It displays the coun- intricacies of doubt to the gloom sels of inspiration, incessantly di- of despair.” recting the course of events, with Objections, however, have been out violating the order of reason raised against the prophecies from and of human action. Such know-their obscurity. But to this it is ledge is too wonderful for us! answered, that they have often a such power is above our compre-first, or partial, and an ultimate hension! But the fact is placed coinpletion, of which the former before our eyes. W
see, or may| may be generally considered as see, a regular train of prophecies an earnest of the latter. It is printending towards one declared end, cipally this double sense of propheaccurately fulfilled and fulfill. cy which renders it obscure ; for ing amidst all the confusion and though the predictions of the proopposition of this tumultuous phets were sometimes positive and world; and we see that these exactly descriptive, and delivered prophecies are clear, both in pre-with an accurate and definite dediction and accomplishment, in signation of names and times, proproportion to their importance in phecy was not generally designed fixing our belief in the provi- to be clear before its accomplishdence of God, and in the greatment. It is, however, always suf
ficiently exact in its descriptions|| all brought about in the very same to authenticate its pretensions to manner, and with the very same a Divine authority ; to produce, circumstances, as the prophets had when it comes to pass, an acknow-| foretold. “ We see,” says bishop ledgment of its unerring certainty; Newton, “ the descendants of and to demonstrate the wisdom Shem and Japheth ruling and enand power of God. As bishop larged in Asia and Europe, and Newton observes, prophecies are perhaps in America, and the the only species of writing which curse of servitude' still attending is designed more for the instruc-the wretched descendants of Hain tion of future ages than of the times in Africa. We see the posterity of wherein they are written. In this Ismael multiplied exceedingly, respect, as the world groweth old- and become a great nation' in er, it groweth wiser. Time, that the Arabians; yet living like detracts something from the evi-wild men,' and shifting from dence of other writers, is still ad- place to place in the wilderness ; ding something to the credit and their hand against every man, authority of the prophets. Future and every man's hand against ages will comprehend more than them ;' and still dwelling an indethe present, as the present under-pendent and free people, in the stands more than the past; and presence of all their brethren, the perfect accomplishment will and in the presence of all their produce a perfect knowledge of enemies. We see the family of all the prophecies.
Esau totally extinct, and that of 3. Of the julfilment of prophecy. Jacob subsisting at this day; the
Our limits will not permit us to sceptre departed from Judah,' and give a copious account of the va- the people living no where in au
rious prophecies which have been thority, every where in subjection; * remarkably fulfilled ; but who the Jews still dwelling alone among
ever has examined profane history the nations, while the .rememwith any degree of attention, and brance of Amelak’ is utterly put compared it with the predictions out from under heaven.' We see of scripture, must, if he be not the Jews severely punished for blinded by prejudice and harden-' their infidelity and disobedience ed by infidelity, be convinced of to their great prophet like anto the truth of prophecy by its exact Moses ; plucked from off their accomplishment. It is in vain to own land, and removed into all say that these prophecies were de-the kingdoms of the earth; oplivered since the events have taken pressed and spoiled evermore ;' place ; for we see the prophecies, and made “a proverb and a bye the latest whereof were delivered word among all nations. We see about 1700 years ago, and some Ephraim so broken as to be no of them above 3000 years ago, more a people, while the whole fulfilling at this very time; and ci-nation is comprehended under the ties, and countries, and kingdoms, name of Judah; the Jews wonder in the very same condition, and fully preserved as a distinct people,
while their great conquerors are escaping out of their hand. We every where destroyed; their land see the Jews 'led away captive inlying desolate, and themselves cut to all nations, and Jerusalem trodoff from being the people of God, den down of the Gentiles,' and while the Gentiles are advanced likely to continue so until the in their room. We see Nineveh || times of the Gentiles be fulfilled," so completely destroyed, that the as the Jews are by a constant miplace thereof is not and cannot be racle preserved a distinct people known; Babylon made a deso- for the completion of other prolation for ever, a possession for the phecies relating to them. We see bittern, and pools of water;' Tyre one who opposeth and exalteth become like the top of a rock, a himself' above all laws, divine place for fishers to spread their and human,' sitting as God in nets upon;' and Egypt 'a base the church of God, and shewing kingdom, the basest of the king-himself that he is God, whose doms, and still tributary and sub-coming is after the working of ject to strangers. We see, of the Satan, with all power, and signs, four great empires of the world, and lying wonders, and with all the fourth and last, which was deceivableness of uprighteousgreater and more powerful than ness.' We see a great apostacy in any of the former, divided in the the Christian church, which conwestern part thereof into ten less-sists chiefly in the worship of deer kingdoms; and among them a mons, angels, or departed saints, power with a triple crown diverse and is promoted through the hyfrom the first,' with a mouth pocrisy of liars, forbidding to marspeaking very great things, and ry, and commanding to abstain with a look more stout than || from meats.' We see the seven his fellows, speaking great words churches of Asia lying in the same against the Most High, wearing forlorn and desolate condition that out the saints of the Most High, the angel had signified to St. John, and changing times and laws.' We their candlestick removed out of see a power cast down the truth its place,' their churches turned to the ground, and prosper, and into mosques, their worship into practise, and destroy the holy superstition. In short, we see the people, not regarding the God of characters of the beast and the his fathers, nor the desire of wives, false prophet,' and 'the whore of but honouring Mahuzzim,' gods- ||Babylon,' now exemplified in eveprotectors, or saints-protectors, ry particular, and in a city that is
and causing the priests of Ma- seated upon seven mountains ;' huzziin to rule over many, and so that, if the bishop of Rome had to divide the land for gain. We|| sat for his picture, a greater resee the Turks stretching forth semblance and likeness could not their hand over the countries,' have been drawn. and particularly over the land “ For these things we have the of Egypt, the Libyans at their attestation of past and the expesteps, and the Arabians still rience of present times; and we