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ever attempted to set aside any part of the evidence, and never suc: ceeded in such an attempt; which is of itself a strong argument in fa. your of the Scriptures, since this is plainly the most natural and easy way of disproving a thing that is false. It ought also to be observed here, that the accomplishment of prophecy, by implying a miracle, does in like manner overbear the reluctance to receive miracles. So that if any considerable events, which have already happened in the world, can be proved to have been foretold in Scripture in a manner exceeding chance and human foresight, the objection to miracles, considered in this propofition, falls to the ground at once.
Sixthly, if any one should affirm or think, as some persons seem to do, that a miracle is impossible, let him consider, that this is denying God's omnipotence, and even maintaining that man is the supreme agent in the universe.
PROP. XIV. THE HISTORICAL EVIDENCES FOR THE GENUINENESS, TRUTH,
AND DIVINE AUTHORITY OF THE SCRIPTURES, DO NOT GROW LESS FROM AGE TO AGE; BUT, ON THE CONTRARY, IT MAY RATHER BE PRESUMED THAT THEY INCREASE.
IT is sometimes alledged as an indirect objection to the Christian Religion, that the evidence for facts done in former times, and at remote places, decreases with the distance of time and place; and confequently that a time may come hereafter, when the evidence for the Chriftian Religion will be so inconsiderable as not to claim our assent, even allowing that it does so now. To this I answer,
First, That printing has so far secured all considerable monuments of antiquity, as that no ordinary calamities of wars, dissolutions of governments, &c. can destroy any material evidence now in being, or render it less probable, in any discernible degree, to those who shall live five hundred or a thousand years hence.
Secondly, That so many new evidences and coincidences have been discovered in favour of the Jewish and Christian histories, since the three great concurring events of printing, the reformation of religion in these western parts, and the reformation of letters, as in fome measure to make up for the evidences lost in the preceding times; and, since this improvement of the historical evidences is likely to continue, there is great reason to hope that they will grow every day more and more irresistible to all candid, serious inquirers.
One might also alledge, if it were needful, that our proper business is to weigh carefully the evidence which appears at present, leaving the care of future ages to Providence; that the prophetical evidences are manifestly of an increasing nature, and so may compensate for a decrease in the historical ones; and that though, in a gross way of speaking, the evidences for facts distant in time and place are weakened by this distance, yet they are not weakened in an exact pro
portion portion in any case, nor in any proportion in all cases. No one can think a fact relating to the Turkish empire less probable at London than at Paris, or at fifty years distance than at forty.
... PROP. XV. THE , PROPHecies. DELIVERED IN THE SCRIPTURES PROVE THE ., DIVINE AUTHORITY OF THE SCRIPTURES, EVEN PREVIOUSLY · TO THB CONSIDERATION OF THE GENUINENESS OF THESE PRO
PHECIES; AUT MUCH MORE, IF THAT BE ALLOWED. .
IN order to 'evince this proposition, I will diftinguish the prophecies into four kinds, and shew in what manner it holds in respect of each kind. in .. aici
There are then contained in the Scriptures, ..
First, Prophecies that relate to the state of the nations which bordered upon the land of Canaan,
Secondly, Those that relate to the political state of the Israelites and Jews in all ages. .. .
Thirdly, The'types and prophecies that relate to the office, time of appearance, birth, life, death, resurrection, and ascension of the promiled Mefliah, or Christ.
Fourthly, The prophecies that relate to the state of the Christian church, especially in the latter times, and to the second coming of Christ.
I begin with the prophecies of the first kind, or those which relate to the Itatę of Amelck, Edom, Moab, Ammon, Tyre, Syria, Egypt, Nineveh, Babylon, and the four great successive empires of the Babylonians, Persians, Greeks, and Romans. Now, here I observe, first, that if we admit both the genuineness of these prophecies and the truth of the common history of the Scriptures, the very remarkable coincidence of the facts with the prophecies, will pụt their divine authority out of all doubt; as I fuppole every reader will acknowledge, upon recollecting the many particular prophecies of this kind, with their accomplishments, which occur in the Old Testament. Secondly, if we allow only the genuineness of these prophecies, lo great a part of them may be verified by the remains of ancient Pagan history, as to eitablish the divine authority of that part. Thus, if Daniel's prophecies of the image, and four beasts, were written by him in the time of the babylonian empire, if the prophecies concerning the fall of Nineveh, Babylon, Tyre, &c. be genuine, &c. even profane history will shew, that more than human forelight was concerned in the delivery of them. Thirdly, that such of these prophetic events as remain to this day, or were evidently posterior to the delivery of the prophecies, prove their divine authority even antecedently to the confideration of their genuineness, as is affirmed in the former part of the proposition. Of this kind are the perpepetual slavery of Egypt; the perpetual desolation of Tyre and Babylon; the wild unconquered state of the Ishmaelites; the great power and strength of the Roman empire beyond those of the three fore
going empires; its dismission into ten kingdoms; its not being subdued by any other, as the three foregoing were; the rise of the Mahometan religion, and Saracenic empire; the limited continuance of this empire ; and the rise and progress of the empire of the Turks. To these we may add the transactions that paffed between the cons temporary kingdoms of Syria and Egypt, prophesied of in the eleventh chapter of Daniel. For, since these prophecies reach down to the times of Antiochus Epiphanes, and the beginning subjection of these kingdoms to the Roman power, they cannot but have been delivered prior to the events, as may appear both from the confideration of the Septuagint translation of the book of Daniel, and the extinction of the biblical Hebrew as a living language before that time, even though the book of Daniel should not be considered as a genuine book; for which suspicion there is, however, no foundation. Lastly, we may remark, that there, and indeed all the other prophecies, have the same marks of genuineneís as the rest of the Scriptures, or as any other books; that they cannot be separated from the context without the utmost violence; so that, if this be allowed to be genuine, those must also; that history and chronology were in so uncertain a state in ancient times, that the prophecies concerning foreign countries could not have been adapted to the facts, even after they had happened, with so much exactness as modern inquirers have shewn the Scripture prophecies to be, by a learned nation, and much less by the Jews, who were remarkably ignorant of what passed in foreign countries; and. that those prophecies, 'which are delivered in the manner of dream and vision, have a very strong internal evidence for their genuineness, 'taken from the nature of dreams, as this is explained in the foregoing part of this work.
I proceed, in the second place, to shew how the prophecies that relate to the political state of the Jews, prove the divine authority of the Scriptures. And here, passing by many prophecies of inferior note and of a subordinate nature, we may confine ourselves to the promise, or prophecy, of the land of Canaan, given to Abraham, Isaac; and Jacob; to the prophecies concerning the captivity of the ten tribes, and the Babylonish captivity of the two tribes, with their return after seventy years; and to those concerning the much greater captivity and desolation predicted to fall upon those chosen people in the xxviiith chapter of Deuteronomy, in various places of the prophecies, and by Christ and his apoftles in the New Testament. There was no natural probability, at the time when these prophecies were delivered, that any of these events should happen in the manner in which they were predicted, and have accordingly happened ; but, in some, the utmost improbability : so that it must appear to every candid intelligent inquirer, that nothing less than supernatural knowledge could have enabled those who delivered these predictions, to make them. The divine authority, therefore, of the books which contain these predictions is unquestionable, provided we allow them to be genuine.
Now, besides the forementioned evidences of this, these prophęcies have some peculiar ones attending them. Thus the mere depar-, Vol. V.
ture of the Ifraelites out of Egypt, in order to go to the land of Ca. naan, and carrying Joseph's bones with them, plainly imply that the promise of this land had been given to their ancestors. Thus also the prophecies relating to the captivities of Israel and Judah, and to their restorations, make fo large a part of the old prophets, that, if they be not genuine, the whole books must be forged ; and the genuineness of those in the New Testament cannot but be allowed by all.
I come now, in the third place, to speak of the types and prophecies that relate to Christ, the time of his appearance, his offices, birth, life, death, resurrection, and ascension. Many of these are applied to him by himself, and by the authors of the books of the New Teftament; but there are also many others, whose discovery and application are left to the fagacity and industry of Christians in all ages. This seems to be a field of great extent, and the evidence arifing from it of an increasing nature. It is probable that the Christians of the first ages were acquainted with so many more circumItances relating to the life, death, &c. of Christ, as on this account to be able to apply a larger number of types and prophecies to him than we can. But then this may perhaps be compensated to us by the daily opening of the Scriptures, and our growing knowledge in the typical and prophetical nature of them. What is already difcovered of this kind seems no ways poffible to be accounted for, but from the supposition that God, by his power and foreknowledge, so ordered the actions, history, ceremonies, &c. of the Patriarchs and Jews, and the language of the prophets, as to make them correspond with Christ, his offices, actions, and sufferings. If any doubt of this, let him attempt to apply the types and prophecies to any other person. I will just mention four classes, into which these types and prophecies may be distinguished, and under each of them a few remarkable inItances. There are then,
First, prophecies which evidently relate to Christ, and either to him alone, or to others in an inferior degree only. Such are that of Jacob, concerning Shiloh ; of Moses, concerning a great prophet and lawgiver that should come after him ; of Haiah, in his fifty-second and fifty-third chapters; of Daniel, concerning the Messiah ; many, in almost all the prophets concerning a great prince, a prince of the hquse of David, &c. who should make a new covenant with his people, &c. &c.
Secondly, typical circumstances in the lives of eminent persons, as of Isaac, Jofeph, Joshua, David, Solomon, Jonah; and in the common history of the Jewish people, as its being called out of
Thirdly, typical ceremonies in the Jewish worship, as their sacrifices in general, those of the passover and day of expiation in particular, &c. To this head we may also refer the typical nature of the high-priesthood, and of the offices of king, priest, and prophet, amongst the Jews, &c.
Fourthly, the apparently incidental mention of many circumAances in these things, which yet agree so exactly, and in a way lo
much above chance, with Christ, as to make it evident that they were originally intended to be applied to him. The not breaking a bone of the paschal lamb; the mention of renting the garment, and casting lots upon the vesture, by David; of offering gall and vinegar ; of looking on him whom they had pierced ; of the third day upon numerous occafions, &c. are circumstances of this kind.
Now, these types and prophecies afford nearly the same evidence, whether we consider the books of the Old Testament as genuine, or no; for no one calls in question their being extant as we now have them, small immaterial variations excepted, before the time of Christ's appearance. Many of them do indeed require the common history of the New Testament to be allowed as true. But there are some, those, for instance, which relate to the humiliation and death of Christ, and the spirituality of his office, the proofs of whose accomplishment are sufficiently evident to the whole world, even independently of this.
The fourth branch of the prophetical evidences are those which relate to the Christian church. Here the three following particulars deserve attentive consideration..
First, the predictions concerning a new and pure religion, which was to be set up by the coming of the promised Messiah.
Secondly, a great and general corruption of this religion, which was to follow in after-times.
Thirdly, the recovery of the Christian church from this corruption, by great tribulations; and the final establishment of true and pure religion, called “ the kingdom of righteousness, of the saints, the new “ Jerusalem," &c.
The predictions of the first and third kinds abound every where in the old Prophets, in the discourses of Christ, and in the writings of the Apostles. Those of the second kind are chiefly remarkable in Daniel, the Revelation, and the Epistles of St. Paul, St. Peter, St. John, and St. Jude. In how surprising a manner the events of the first and second kind have answered to the predictions, cannot be unknown to any inquisitive serious person, in any Christian country. At the same time it is evident, that the predictions of these things could have no foundation in probable conjectures when they were given. The events of the third class have not yet received their accomplishment; but there have been for some centuries past, and are Atill, perpetual advances and preparations made for them; and it now seems unreasonable to doubt of the natural probability of their accomplishment, unless we doubt at the same time of the truth of the religion itself. If it be true, it must, upon more diligent and impartial examination, both purify itself, and overcome all oppo. fition.
And it is remarkably agreeable to the tenor of Providence in other things, that that accomplishment of prophecy, which will hereafter, evidence the truth of the Christian religion in the most illustrious manner, should be effected by present evidences of a less illustrious nature. E 2