페이지 이미지
PDF
ePub
[merged small][merged small][merged small][ocr errors]

IV.

Now I tell you before it come, that when it is

come to pass, ye may believe, that I am He. SERMON IT hath been concluded (not on the slight

grounds of hypothesis, but on the express
authority of scripture,) that prophecy was
given TO ATTEST THE MISSION OF JESUS: to
afford a reasonable evidence, that the scheme
of redemption, of which he was the great in-
strument and minister, was, in truth, of di-
vine appointment; and was carried on under
the immediate cognizance and direction of the
Supreme Being, whose prerogative it is to see

through all time, and to call those things, SERMON which be not, as though they were*.

IV.

Our next inquiry will be, how the prophetic scriptures serve to that end, and what that evidence is (I mean, taking for granted, not the truth of the prophetic scheme itself, but the truth of the representation, given of it in scripture) which is thus administered to us by the light of prophecy.

1. The text refers to a particular prophecy of our Lord, concerning the treachery of Judas; of which, says he to his disciples, I now tell you before it come, that, when it is come to pass, ye may believe that I am He: that is, “I add this, to the other predictions concerning myself; that, when ye see it fulfilled, as it soon will be, ye may be the more convinced of

person,

I assume to be, the Messias foretold."

my being the

The information, here given, was perhaps intended by our Lord to serve a particular purpose, To prevent, we will say, the offence, which the disciples might have taken at the circumstance of his being betrayed by one of

a Rom. iv. 17.

[ocr errors]

SERMON them, if they had not, previously, been ad

monished of it. But the reason of the thing shews, that the use, which the disciples are directed to make of this prophecy, was the general use of the prophecies concerning Jesus. The completion was to verify the prediction, in all cases; and to convince the world, That He was the Messiah, in whom such things should be seen to be accomplished, as had been expressly foretold b.

Indeed prophecies, unaccomplished, may have their use; that is, they may serve to raise a general expectation of a predicted event in the minds of those, who, for other reasons, regard the person predicting it, in the light of a true prophet. And such might be one, a subordinate, use of the prophecies concerning Jesus: but they could not be applied to the proof of his pretensions, till they were seen to be fulfilled. Nor can they be so applied even then, unless the things predicted be, confessedly, beyond the reach of human foresight.

Under these conditions, the argument is clear and easy, and will lie thus.--"A great

6 Ταύτα ο Θεός προεμήνυσε διά τά προφητικά πνευ μαι μέλλειν γίνεσθαι, ίν', όταν γένηται, μή άπιςηθή, αλλ' εκ τε προειρησθαι மாலா.

J. MARTYR, Apol. I. c. 74.

IV.

variety of distant, or, at least, future events, SERMON inscrutable to human sagacity, and respecting one person (whom we will call, Messiah) have been by different men, and at different times, predicted. These events have accordingly come to pass, in the history and fortunes of one person ; in such sort, that each is seen to be, in a proper sense, fulfilled in him, and all together in no other

person

whatsoever : There fore the prediction of these events was divinely inspired : or (which comes to the same thing) therefore the person, claiming under these predictions to be the Messiah, or person foretold, hath his claims confirmed and justified by the highest authority, that of God himself.”

Such is the argument from prophecyo: and

e Yet hear in how decisive a tone a certain writer, of no small account with the infidel party, reprobates this, argument:~" Je dis de plus, qu'aucune prophétie ne “sauroit faire autorité pour moi." [Rousseau, (Euvres T. III. p. 156. La Haye, 1762.] " I say," says Mr. Rousseau, “ that the argument from prophecy can have no

weight with me.” If you ask his reason, it follows. “Because, to give it any authority, three conditions are

required, the concurrence of which is impossible. First, “I must have been, myself, a witness of the prophecy, “when delivered. Secondly, I must have been, myself,"a “ witness of the event: And lastly, I must have it demon

[ocr errors]

SERMON

IV.

on this foundation, Jesus assumes to be the Messiah; and his religion, to be DIVINE.

“strated to me that the agreement between the prophecy “and the event could not have been fortuitous. For “though the prophecy were clearer, and more precise, " than a geometrical axiom, yet as the clearness of a pre« diction, made at hazard, does not render the accom“plishment of it impossible, this accomplishment, allow“ing it to take place, proves nothing, strictly speaking, “ in favour of the person who foretold it."

First, he says, He must himself have been a witness of the prophecy. But why so? Is there no way of being reasonably assured that a prophecy has been delivered, unless one has been actually present at the delivery of it? Does any one doubt, whether Socrates told his friend that he should die within three days' time, because he did not hear these words from the mouth of the philosopher ? But, there is less reason still to doubt whether Jesus uttered the prophecies, ascribed to him in the Gospel.

Next, Ile must have been, himself, a witness of the event. With just as good reason, as of the prophecy. However, it so happens that we are, or may be, if we please, witnesses of the events, foretold in many prophecies. What does he think of the dispersion of the Jews, for instance? Is he not a witness of this event?

But lastly, He must have it demonstrated to him that the agreement between the prophecy and the event could not have been fortuitous.. What, will nothing less than demonstration satisfy him? Will not a high degree of probability serve him to form a conclusion upon, nay, and to regulate his conduct? And will he stand out against the strongest degree of evidence, short of mathematical, or a proof è la

« 이전계속 »