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Let me add here, that many of the Psalms are peculiarly applicable to the restoration and conversion of the Jews, and to the final prevalence of the establishment of the Christian church; ;. c. to the events of the third class.
PROP. XVI. .
CIES OF THE SCRIPTURES, IS NOT SO GREAT AS TO INVALI-
First, That there are a sufficient number of prophecies, whose interpretation is certain, clear, and precife, to Thew that their agreement with the events predicted is far above the powers of chance, or human foresight. But for the proof of this point, which takes in a great com pass of literature, I must refer to the authors who have treated it in detail. And, as those who have examined this point with accu. racy and impartiality, do, as I presume, universally agree to the pofition here laid down; so those who have not done so, can have no pretence for asserting the contrary; this being an historical matter which is to be determined as others of a like kind, viz. by the hiltorical evidences. The reader may, however, form fome judgment in the gross, even from the few instances which are alledged under the last proposition.
Secondly, That ever in the types and prophecies where interpreters differ from each other, the differences are often so inconfiderable, and the agreements fo general, or else the prophecy so suited to the several events to which it is applied by different interpreters, as to exclude both chance and human foresight, i. e. to infer a divine communication. This point requires alio a careful and candid examination, and then, I think, cannot but be determined in the affirmative;, especially when the very great number of types and prophecies is taken into consideration. Fitness in numerous instances is always an evidence of design ; this is a method of reasoning allowed, explicitly or implicitly, by all. And though the fitness may not be perfectly evident or precise in all, yet, if it be general, and the instances very numerous, the evidence of design arising from it, may amount to any degree, and fall short of certainty by an imperceptible difference only. And indeed it is upon these principles alone, that we prove the divine power, knowledge, and goodness, from the harmonies and mutual fitneffes of visible things, and from final causes, inasmuch as these harmonies and fitnesses are precisely made out only in a few instances, if compared to those in which we see no more than general harmonies, with particular subordinate difficulties, and apparent incongruities.
That the reader may see, in a stronger light, how fully the fitnesses, considered in the two foregoing paragraphs, exclude chance,
and and infer design, let him try to apply the types and prophecies of the four classes before mentioned to other persons and events besides those to which Christian interpreters have applied them; and especially let him consider the types and prophecies relating to Christ. If defign be excluded, these ought to be equally, or nearly so, applicable to other persons and events; which yet, I think, no serious confiderate person can affirm. Now, if chance be once excluded, and the neceflity of having recourse to design admitted, we shall be instantly compelled to acknowledge a contrivance greater than human, from the long distances of time intervening between the prophecy and the event, with other such-like reasons.
Thirdly, I observe that those types and prophecies whose interpretation is so obscure, that interpreters have not been able to discover any probable application, cannot any ways invalidate the evidence arising from the rest. They are analogous to those parts of the works of nature, whose uses, and subserviency to the rest, are not yet understood. And as no one calls in question the evidences of design, which appear in many parts of the human body, because the uses of others are not yet known; so the interpretations of prophecy, which are clearly or probably made out, remain the same evidence of design, notwithstanding that unsurmountable difficulties may hitherto attend many other parts of the prophetic writings.
Fourthly, It is predicted in the prophecies, that in the latter times great muliitudes will be converted to the Christian faith ; whereas those who preach or prophesy, during the greatest apoftafy, shall be able to do this only in an obscure, imperfect manner, and convert but few. Now the past and present obfcurity of prophecy agrees remarkably with this prediction; and the opening which is already made, since the revival of letters, in applying the prophecies to the events, seems to presage, that the latter times are now approaching; and that, by the more full discovery of the true meaning of the prophetic writings, and of their aptness to signify the events predicted, there will be such an acceffion of evidence to the divine authority of the Scriptures, as none but the wilfully ignorant, the profligate, and the obdurate, can withstand. It is therefore a confirmation of the prophetic writings, that, by the obscurity of one part of them, a way Thould be prepared for affecting that glorious conversion of all nations, which is predicted in others, in the time and manner in which it is predicted
IT IS NO OBJECTION TO THE FOREGOING EVIDENCES TAKEN FROM
THE TYPES AND PROPHECIES, THAT THEY HAVE DOUBLE, OR EVEN MANIFOLD, USES AND APPLICATIONS; BUT RATHER A CONFIRMATION OF THEM.
FOR the foregoing evidences all rest upon this foundation, viz. that there is an aptness in the types and prophecies to prefigure the events,
greater than can be supposed to result from chance, or human forelight. When this is evidently made out from the great number of the types and prophecies, and the degree of clearness and preciseness of each; the fhewing afterwards, that these have other uses and applications, will rather prove the divine interposition, than exclude it. All the works of God, the parts of a human body, systems of minerals, plants, and animals, elementary bodies, planets, fixed stars, &c. have various uses and subserviencies, in respect of each other; and, if the Scriptures be the word of God, analogy would lead one to expect something corresponding'hereto in them. When men form designs, they are indeed obliged to have one thing principally in view, and to sacrifice subordinate ones to principal ones; but we must not carry this prejudice, taken from the narrow limits of our power and knowledge, to Him who is infinite in them. All His ends centre in the same point, and are carried to their utmost perfection by one and the same means. Those laws, ceremonies, and incidents, which best suited the Jewish state, and the several individuals of it, were also most apt to prefigure the promised Messiah, and the state of the Christian church, according to the perfect plan of these things, which, in our way of speaking, existed in the Divine Mind from all eternity; just as that magnitude, situation, &c. of our earth, which best suits its present inhabitants, is also best suited to all the changes which it mult hereafter undergo, and to all the inhabitants of other planets, if there be any such, to whom its influence extends.
The following instance may perhaps make this matter more clearly understood. Suppose a person to have ten numbers, and as many Jines, presented to his view; and to find by mensuration, that the ten numbers expressed the lengths of the ten lines respectively: this would make it evident that they were intended to do so. Nor would it alter the case, and prove that the agreement between the numbers and lines arose without design, and by chance, as we express it, to alledge that these numbers had some other relations; that, for instance, they proceeded in arithmetical or geometrical progression, were the squares or cubes of other numbers, &c. On the contrary, any such reinarkable property would rather increase than diminish the evidence of design in the agreement between the numbers and lines. However, the chief thing to be inquired into would plainly be, whether the agreement be too great to be accounted for by chance. If it be, design must be admitted.
PROP. XVIII. THE APPLICATION OF THE TYPES AND PROPHECIES OF THE OLD TESTAMENT BY THE WRITERS OF THE NEW DOES NOT WEAKEN THE AUTHORITY OF THESE WRITERS, BUT RATHER CONFIRMS IT.
FOR the objections which have been made to the writers of the New Testament on this head, have been grounded principally upon
& supposition, that when an obvious literal sense of a passage, or a manifest use of a ceremony, suited to the then present times, are discovered, all others are excluded, so as to become misapplications. But this has been shewn in the last proposition to be a prejudice arising from the narrowness of our faculties and abilities. Whence it follows, that if the Scripture types and prophecies be remarkably suited to different things, which is a point that is abundantly proved by learned men, they cannot but, in their original design, have various senses and uses. And it is some confirmation of the divine authority of the writers of the New Testament, that they write agreeably to this original design of God.
It may perhaps afford some fatisfaction to the reader, to make some conjectures concerning the light in which the types and prophecies which have double senses, would appear first to the ancient Jews, and then to those who lived in the time of our Saviour. From hence we may judge in what light it is reasonable they should be taken by us.
Let our instance be the second Psalm, which we are to suppose write ten by David himself, or at least in the time of his reign. It is evident that there are so many things in this Psalm peculiarly applicable to David's ascent to the throne by God's special appointment, to the opposition which he met with both in his own nation and from the neighbouring ones, and to his victories over all his opposers through the favour of God, that the Jews of that time could not but confider this Psalm as relating to David. Nay, one can scarce doubt, but the Psalmix himself, whether he seemed to himself to compose it from his own proper fund, or to have it dictated immediately by the fpirit of God, would have David principally in view. At the same time it is evident, that there are some passages, particularly the last, “Blessed are all they that put their trust in him,"i.e. in the Son, which it would be impious, especially for an Israelite, to apply to David, and which therefore no allowance for the sublinity of the Eastern poetry could make applicable. It may be supposed, therefore, that many, or most, considered such passages as having an obscurity in them, into which they could no ways penetrate; whereas a few perhaps, who were peculiarly enlightened by God, and who meditated day and night upon the pronises made to their ancestors, particularly upon - those to Abraham, would presume, or conjecture, that a future person, of a much higher rank than David, was prefigured thereby. And the case would be the same in regard to many other Psalms: they would appear to the persons of the then present times both to respect the then present occurrences, and also to intimate some future more glorious ones; and would mutually support this latter interpretation in each other.
When the prophets appeared in the declension and captivities of the kingdoms of Israel and Judah, the same interpretation would be strengthened, and the expectations grounded thereon increased, by the plainer and more frequent declarations of the prophets concerning such a future perfon, and the happiness which would attend his coming. The great and various sufferings of those chosen peo
ple, their return and deliverance, their having their Scriptures col. jected into one view by Ezra, and read in their synagogues during the interval from Ezra to Christ, the figurative senses put upon dreams, visions, and parables, in their scriptures, &c. would all concur to the same purpose, till at last it is reasonable to expect, that the Jews in our Saviour's time would consider many of the institutions and cere, monies of their law, of the historical events, of the Psalms appointed for the temple worship, and of the inspired declaration of the prophets, as respecting the future times of the Messiah ; and this, in some cases, to the exclution of the more obvious senies and uses, which had already taken place; being led thereto by the fame narrow-mindedness which makes some in these days reject the typical and more remote sense, as soon as they see the literal and more immediate one. Now, that this was, in fact, the case of the Jews in the time of Christ, and for some time afterwards, appears from the New Testament, from the Christian writers of the first ages, and from the Talmudical ones.
A great part, however, of the Scripture types and prophecies appeared to the Jews to have no relation to their promised Messiah till. they were interpreted by the event. They expected a person that should correspond to David and Solomon, two glorious princes; but they did not see how Isaac, or the paschal lamb, should typify him; or that the circumstance of being called out of Egypt, the appellation of Nazarene, or the parting garments, and casting abots upon a vesture, should contribute to ascertain him. However, it is certain, that to persons who had for some time considered their Scriptures in the typical, prophetical view mentioned in the last paragraph, every remarkable circumstance and coincidence of this kind, verified by the event, would be a new accession of evidence, provided we suppose a good foundation from miracles, or prophecies of undoubted import, to have been laid previously. Nay, such coincidences may be confidered not only as arguments to the sews of Christ's time, but as folid arguments in themselves, and that exclusively of the context. For though each of these coincidences, fingly taken, affords only a low degree of evidence, and some of them scarce any; yet it is a thing not to be accounted for from chance, that separate passages of the Old Testament should be applicable to the circumstances of Christ's life, by an allusion either of words or sense, in ten or an hundred times a greater number, than to any other persons, from mere accident. And this holds in a much higher degree, if the separate passages or circumstances be subordinate parts of a general type. Thus the parting the garments, the offering vinegar and gall, and the not breaking a bone, have much more weight, when it is considered, that David and the paschal lamb are types of the Meffiah. And when the whole evidence of this kind, which the industry of pious Christians has brought to light in the first ages of Christianity, and again fince the revival of letters, is laid together, it appears to me to be both a full proof of the truth of the Christian religion, and a vindication of the method of arguing from typical and double senses.