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first missionaries was greatly facilitated by the appeal which they were able to make to the sacred volume of the Hebrews. The writings of the Old Testament had, at least, prepared the world for some awful and momentous change; and the miracles which the apostles had witnessed, or performed, must have invested them with authority to fix the interpretation of that volume, and to satisfy every reasonable mind that the precise nature of the change was clearly known to them. It may also be easily comprehended that, on many accounts, the appeal to prophecy would be found more valuable than the appeal to miracles, by the earlier of the uninspired christian writers. Neither can it be questioned that the fall of the city of God, when viewed by the light of prophecy, must have operated like a most stupendous miracle in the sight of all the nations of the earth. It must have been as if a mountain had been torn from its base, and hurled into the sea. And the effect of it was seen in that vast and sudden influx of the Gentiles into the church of Christ, which followed the destruction of Jerusalem. And the impression must have been deepened by a survey of the ruins of many a mighty kingdom, whose doom had long been sealed by that same spirit of prophecy which had declared, so many centuries before, the unexampled calamities of the Holy City. Through all this region of inquiry, the Archdeacon travels with a keen eye, and a steady foot. We cordially recommend our readers to follow him. They will return from the adventure with a deeper veneration than ever for the Hebrew Scriptures; and with a firmer conviction that theirs is no secondary place in the records of the Christian revelation.

In the seventh of these Lectures, we find some very just and valuable observations on the manner in which the purposes of God have been wrought out, either by the frequent obscurities of prophecy, or by the failure ofthe people and their teachers to seize on the proper application.

Assuming, for the sake of argument, the divine authority of the Gospel, it will not, I think, be doubted, after what has been said in a former Lecture, that an expectation of it, on the part of mankind, before it was revealed, would greatly have facilitated its reception. It was therefore perfectly consistent with the belief of its having come from God, that prophecies relating to it, should have been designedly spread abroad, and have been generally understood in some sense, not incompatible with its true meaning. This remark will include all predictions relating to the nation of the promised Messenger, to his lineage, his birth-place, the generation of mankind in which he was to appear, and so on. These facts are all of them contingent in their nature; and the general object of such prophecies would not have been so completely answered, by the knowledge of them having been kept back, as by its having been long before communicated. But if we examine the life of Christ, we shall immediately see, that there is another description of marks and incidents, which if made the subject of prophecy, would be in the opposite case; and in which the Divine purpose, for the reason just now stated, would seem, as plainly, to require obscurity and concealment.

For example: had those prophecies, in which the violent death of the Messiah is foreshewn and the exact time when it was to take place, been understood literally by the Jews, they would not have put Jesus Christ to death, in disproof of his pretensions, and as a means of undeceiving the people. When pressed by Pilate " to let Jesus go!” they "denied the Holy One and the Just," and " desired a murderer to be granted unto them ;" “but,” adds St. Peter, “I wot that through ignorance ye did it, as did also your rulers.”

In like manner, had they known before hand, that those passages in the Psalms, where it is said “they gave me gall and vinegar to drink," " they pierced my hands and my feet,” "they parted my garments among them,” were prophecies referring to the manner in which the Messiah would be put to death,—it is clear that they would have been careful not to cause their fulfilment in the person of our Lord, at the very moment when they were punishing him as an impostor.

The same remark will apply to the thirty pieces of silver, which had been given to Judas Iscariot, as the price of his treachery, and with which, when it was returned to the rulers of the people, they bought the potter's field. Had that passage of Zechariah been understood by them, as a prophecy relating to their Messiah, in which he says, “ And the Lord said unto me, Cast it unto the potter: a goodly price that I was prized at by them. And I took the thirty pieces of silver, and cast them to the potter in the house of the Lord,' (Ch. xi. 13.) -it would have been easy for the Jews, humanly speaking, to have defeated its intention. This is not merely a possible supposition. The place of the Messiah's birth was a contingent fact; and St. Matthew tel!s us, that Herod attempted to defeat the prophecy from which it was known, by putting to death all the children of two years old and under, who had been born in the neighbourhood of Bethlehem. The above prophecies relate to events of a collateral kind, and not to matters of fundamental proof; but there are others of the very first importance, which come under the same class. The seventh chapter of Isaiah (v. 14), where the miraculous conception of Christ is believed to have been predicted, may be mentioned as an example; in this also, the supposition of a previous expectation, instead of strengthening the evidence of a divine authority, would have vitiated the proof.—Pp. 112, 115,

The Archdeacon then proceeds to observe, that, although it is plain, from their own writings, as well as from the Gospels, that the Jews did not expect the birth of the Messiah to be in the way of ordinary men, yet is it also certain, that the application of this particular prophecy, (Isaiah, v. 14.) was subsequent to the nativity of our Lord. The question, then, occurs, Why should the knowledge of this event have been kept back, or the expectation of it suppressed? And, to this question the author replies,-irrefragably, as it appears to us, that, had the event been preceded by a distinct expectation, it would have been scarcely possible to establish by proof the fulfilment of the prediction. The other prophetic or traditional intimations respecting the appearance of the Messiah by some process out of the ordinary course of nature, were, all of them, extremely ambiguous and vague. They described no particulars by which the entrance of the Messiah into the world should be distinguished from that of other men. They merely suggested that, in some way or other, his advent would be miraculous. · Who shall declare his generation ?"_" He shall grow up like a tender plant out of a dry ground.” “ From the womb of the morning is the dew of thy youth.” “ When Christ cometh, no man knoweth whence he is." "Is Christ to come from the living or the dead ?" Sayings and predictions like these, pointed to no specific circumstances by which the public anticipations could be guided. Had the Messiah descended from the clouds, or arisen out of the earth, or emerged from the ocean, the manner of his appearance would have been such as might justify the popular application of the dark and oracular sentences to himself: and no attempt could have been made, either to defeat the fulfilment of the predictions, or to throw discredit on their accomplishment. But what, if the general belief had appropriated to

him the words of Isaiah, “Behold, a virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel ?" In that case, the prophecy might have been fatal, if not to its own accomplishment, at least to the belief that it had actually been accomplished. It might then have been alleged by the masters of Israel, that the story of the miraculous con. ception was a manifest fiction, suggested by the current notions of the Jewish people. But, on the supposition that this application of the prophecy had been never before thought of, the reply would have been simple; namely, that the language of Isaiah could not possibly have suggested the invention to the Holy Virgin, or her friends, seeing that this language had always been applied by the Jews, not to the Messiah, but to Hezekiah ; and that, up to that day, neither she, nor they, nor any one else, had ever heard or dreamed any other interpretation. It must always be remembered that, as the Archdeacon observes :

the event was of a kind most difficult to prove, even if true; and almost equally difficult of disproof, if untrue; and, therefore, such, as would not have been entitled to belief, simply on the credit of the Virgin Mary's veracity, unsupported by other evidence. This other evidence consisted of those various miraculous occurrences related by the Evangelists :—the salutation of the angels, the manifestation of a meteoric sign in the heavens; the address of Elizabeth, and all the particulars connected with the birth of John the Baptist. If those transactions were true, they must have been well known to many persons then alive; and if false, the refutation of them was also easy, inasmuch as at the time of our Saviour's death, the events in question were comparatively recent.

This is the ground on which the credibility of Mary's declaration depends. The use made of Isaiah's testimony by the Evangelists, was to identify the child Jesus, with that child of whom the Scriptures had spoken. And if we suppose the application of the prophecy to the Messialı never to have been thought of before, but to have been first suggested to the Apostles, after their knowledge of the extraordinary facts which attended the birth of Christ, its testimony would become most important, as removing from the minds of those who believed those facts to be true, all doubts about the reality of Mary's evidence. The case hardly admitted of any other proof.

It is plain, however, that in the above way of reasoning; every thing depends upon this supposition. If we adopt the hypothesis-which so many writers, in their zeal, endeavour to maintain—that the prophecy of Isaiah was always understood by the Jews in the sense which the Christians have put upon it, and contend that the miraculous conception of the Messiah had, from the beginning, been a part of the popular persuasion, the weight of the argument would seem to be thrown into the opposite scale. Had this been the case, a handle would have been given to those, who rejected the pretensions of Christ, for saying that the invention of the story had been suggested, by the well-known belief of the vulgar. Under such circumstances, the prophecy would have been a hindrance to the evidence of the fact, and not a confirmation of it. Instead of advancing the divine purpose, it would rather have tended to obstruct it. Following up the reasoning, it is plain that the concealment of its meaning from the Jews, who lived before Christ, furnishes no argument against its authority, but on the contrary, when considered in connexion with the general scheme of prophecy, it becomes a presumptive argument in its favour.- Pp. 119, 121

The resurrection of our Lord is another instance alleged by the Archdeacon : but it does not strike us quite so forcibly as it does him. He thinks that "the proof of this part of our Saviour's history would have been damaged by any clear and distinct prediction;" or even by any general expectation of such an event. And, we find, accordingly, that “ the allusions to it in the Old Testament are both few and slight, as well as dark and ambiguous-so few and slight, as scarcely to constitute a prophecy”; and, moreover, that they had made but little impression on the public mind. Now, that a clear and distinct prediction was not needful or expedient, we may confidently presume from the absence of any such prediction. But we do not exactly perceive how the history could have been damaged by it. Such a prediction, it is true, might, from the first, have directed a suspicious eye towards the motives and proceedings of Christ and his apostles. But, even if it had done this, it is difficult to imagine what additional precautions it could have suggested for the purpose of guarding against fraud and collusion. The very rumour of such a prediction from the lips of Christ himself, seems to have awakened the authorities to the necessity for vigilance, almost as forcibly as a whole train of definite prophecy could have done. “ The Chief Priests and Pharisees came together unto Pilate, saying, Sir, we remember that that deceiver said, while he was yet alive, After three days, I will rise again. Command, therefore, that the sepulchre be made sure, until after the third day ; lest his disciples come by night, and steal him away, and say unto the people, he is risen from the dead." And so, the sepulchre was made sure, and the stone sealed, and the watch set. And what more could have been done, if the resurrection of the Messiah had been as categorically written in the prophecies, as the place of the Messiah's birth? The followers of Jesus, it is true, were ignorant, or incredulous, as to the sufferings or the resurrection of Christ, until they were satisfied of both by the testimony of their own senses ; so that nothing could be more utterly groundless than the apprehension of fraudulent contrivance on their part. But their ignorance and incredulity, though well known to us, were not known to the ruling powers at Jerusalem ; or, certainly not believed by them. It was presumed that the disciples would, of course, take measures, in conformity with the prediction ascribed to their Master. And it is not easy to discern how the most positive and express prophecy could have exposed them, or their cause, to greater difficulty or disadvantage, than that which was brought upon them by the suspicions thus actually entertained. But, be this as it may, the doubtful applicability of the author's remarks to a single case, can do but little to impair their general value, as explanatory of “certain theoretical rules connected with the interpretation of prophecy; and as tending to show that the prophecies of the Old Testament have been constructed in accordance with those rules.”

The reflections of the author on the 15th chapter of Gibbon appear to us admirable. “If," he says, we overlook the spirit in which his statements are made, there is not, in any one of them, a single fact, not even a single conjecture, at which the most devout believer need take alarm.” The causes suggested by him are called secondary causes; and they might, very reasonably and innocently, be produced for the purpose of explaining the progress of the Gospel. But, then, these secondary causes, themselves, were so many phenomena, the existence of which was to be accounted for. They must have been the effects of a primary cause. And, this primary cause, the wily historian abstains from meddling with altogether. The zeal of the early Christians—the doctrine of the

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immortality of the soul—the pretension to miraculous gifts——the pure and austere morality of the new religion—the discipline of the Church —all these, doubtless, must have operated most powerfully upon the mind and heart even of a corrupt and idolatrous world. But, the question is—what was the origin of the mighty and stupendous impulse ? What was the source of those majestic rivers which then issued forth to purify and regenerate the human race? Is it within the compass of the human imagination that they should have sprung up, of themselves, out of the dust ? Must not the rock have been smitten by the hand of Omnipotence, before these healing waters can have gushed out for the healing of the nations ? Whether Gibbon ever, seriously and earnestly, asked these questions of himself is a matter which must be reserved for the day which shall disclose the secrets of all hearts. But that he has laboured, with most odious craft, to put these questions away from the minds of all other men, seems undeniable. And, for this it is that he will have to answer; and not for a mere simple enumeration of the outward and visible agencies which effected so astounding a change in the whole current of human thought and action.

As might have been expected, our champion has turned out, most effectively, against another insidious and cold blooded adversary. But, we cannot help thinking that, in the outset of his argument, he has insisted much upon a distinction, which, whatever may be its inherent value, would have been altogether powerless with his antagonist. "A miracle,” says the Archdeacon, " is not simply a deviation from the ordinary course of nature ; but an event which is the effect of an immediate Divine interposition.” A man may recover from a seemingly hopeless disease; and, as such things have not unfrequently occurred, the mere fact of his recovery could scarcely be considered as a preternatural event. But, nevertheless, the event may be miraculous, in the scriptural sense of the term; for it may have been produced by the direct agency of God. Whereas, “ if a stone, upon being thrown from the hand, were to ascend into the clouds, this would be a prodigy; but it would be no miracle, according to the sense put upon the word in the Bible.” Now, when we have to prove the occurrence of a prodigy, we have only to establish that the fact actually happened as related ; whereas, when a miracle is to be proved, " we must demonstrate, either by induction or by direct evidence, that the cause of the effect was the Divine interference." The former is a mere question of fact: the second a question of opinion. Admitting the "fact to have happened; we might as well attempt to prove a proposition in Euclid, by calling witnesses to its truth, as hope to prove, by such means, the truth of a miracle.” The mistake of Hume, therefore, was this, that he predicates of the prodigy what is true only as relates to the Divine interposition.

Now, whether this distinction be just or not, we apprehend that it would have made but little impression on the sceptic. Miracle, or prodigy, we greatly suspect, would have been all one to him! If, in his opinion, no human testimony could establish the credibility of a prodigy, what evidence, either inductive or direct, could be expected to satisfy him of the credibility of a miracle? If no testimony could persuade him that a stone had risen into the clouds, instead of falling to

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