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apart for him, one of the finest palaces of Babylon ; that whenever he should chuse to come to that city, he might find himself, as if he were still in his own dominions.
If these observations are founded in truth and nature; it will follow, that the author of the Book of Daniel has entertained us with incredible stories, which happened under an imaginary monarch. So much error and so much fiction are incompatible with an inspired, or even with a contemporary, writer. But if the prophecies were framed three or four centuries after the Prophet's death, it was much easier for the counterfeit Daniel to foretel great : and recent events, than to compose an accurate history or probable romance of a dark and remote period.
The question is curious in itself, important in its consequences, and in every light worthy the attention of a critical divine, : This consideration justifies the freedom of my address;
, and the hopes I still entertain, that you may be able and willing to dispell the mist, that ? hangs, either over my eyes, or over the subject itself. On my-side, I can only promise, that whatever you shall think pròper to communicate, shall be received with the candor
which I owe to myself, and with the deference, so justly due to your name and abilities,
I am, Sir,
your obedient humble servant,
P.S. You will be pleased, Sir, to address your answer To Daniel Freeman, Esq. at the Cocoa Tree, Pall Mall : but if you have any scruple of engaging with a mask, I am ready, by the same channel, to disclose my
real name and place of abode ; and to pledge myself for the same discretion, which, in my turn, I shall have a right to expect.
I had neither leisure nor inclination to enter into controversy with this stranger (for which there was the less occasion, as he had disputed no principle or opinion advanced by me in the Sermons); but, as I knew, whoever he was, that he would complain, or rather boast, of being wholly unnoticed by me, I sent him this answer.
ANSWER TO THE FOREGOING
Thurcaston, August 29, 1772.?
Your very elegant letter on the antiquity and authenticity of the Book of Daniel (just now received) finds me here, if not without leisure, yet without books, and therefore in no condition to enter far into the depths of this controversy ; which indeed is the less necessary, as every thing, that relates to the subject, will come, of course, to be considered by my learned successors in the new Lecture, For, as the prophecies of Daniel make an important link in that chain, which, as you say, has been let down from heaven to earth (bụt not by the Author of the late Sermons, who brought into view only what he had found, not invented), the grounds, on which their authority rests, will, without doubt, be carefully: examined, and, as I suppose, firmly established.
But, in the mean time, and to make at least some small return for the civility of your address to me, I beg leave to trouble you with
two or three short remarks, such as occur to me, on the sudden, in reading your letter.
Your main difficulties are these two: 1. That the author of the Book of Daniel is too clear for a prophet ; as appears from his prediction of the Persian and Macedonian affairs : And 2. too fabulous for a contemporary historian; as is evident, you suppose, from his mistakes, chiefly, I think, in the vith chapter.
1. The first of these difficulties is an extraordinary one. For why may not prophecy, if the Inspirer think fit, be as clear as history? Scriptural prophecy, whence your idea of its obscurity is taken, is occasionally thus clear, I mean after the event: And Daniel's prophecy of the revolutions in the Grecian empire would have been obscure enough to Porphyry himself, before it.
But your opinion, after all, when you come to explain yourself, really is, as one should expect, that, as a prophet, Daniel is not clear enough: for you enforce the old objection of Porphyry by observing, That, where a pretended prophecy is clear to a certain point of time, and afterwards obscure and shadowy,
there common sense leads one to conclude that the author of it is an impostor.
This reasoning is plausible, but not conclusive, unless it be taken for granted that a prophecy must, in all its parts, be equally clear and precise: whereas, on the supposition of real inspiration, it may be fit, I mean it may suit with the views of the Inspirer, to predict some things with more perspicuity, and in terms more obviously and directly applicable to the events in which they are fulfilled, than others.' But, further, this reasoning, whatever force it may have, has no place here; at least, you evidently beg the question when you urge it; because the persons;' you dispute against, maintain, That the subsequent prophecies of Daniel are equally distinet with the preceding ones concerning the Persian and Macedonian empires, at least so much of them as they take to have been fulfilled, and that, to judge of the rest, we must wait for the completion of them.
However, you admit that the suspicion arising from the clearest prophecy may be removed by direct positive evidence that it was composed before the event.
But then you carry your notions of that evidence 'very far,