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ruler of this kingdom, according to the august prophecy of [[ ] Daniel, who atier he had seen in a vision under different symbols the succession and ruin of all the great empires of the world, sees at last the Son of Man drawing near to the Ancient of Days, usque ad Antiquum Dierum, a noble and sublime expression to denote the Eternal; and immediately adds, that God gave him dominion, and glory, and a kingdom, that all nations and languages should serve him; his dominion is an everlasting dominion, which shall not pass auny, and his kingdom that which shall not be destroyed.
This kingdom is the church, which is begun and formed here upon earth, and shall one day be carried up into heaven, the place of its original and eternal habitation.  And then cometh the end, that is, of this visible world, which subsists only for the other, when Jesus Christ, after having put down all rule, and all authority, and power, shall have delivered up the kingdom, that is to say, the blessed and holy company of the elect, to God, even the Father.
It is this blessed society of the just, and he who has been pleased to be their head, sanctifier, father, and spouse, who are the grand object and the last end of all the designs of God. From the beginning of the world, and even before sin had perverted the order of it, he had them both in view. [h] St. Paul declares in express terms, that the first Adam was the figure of the second, qui est forma futuri ; and [i] he insinuates to us, that Eve, who was taken from Adam's side during his inysterious sleep, was a natural image of the church, proceeding from the side of Christ, who slept upon the cross to make us the children of it.
We see God, who is always watchful over the work of his own hands, from the earliest times preparing at a distance the formation of the Christian church, and laying the foundations of it, by revealing to inan such mysteries as it was always necessary to his salva(SDan. vii. 1-14.
(6) Rom. v. 14. :(8) 1 Cor. xv. 24.
[i] Eph. V..25, &c.
tion for man to know, by frequently renewing to him the promise of a Redeemer
, by pointing out to him the necessity of believing in a Mediator for the obtaining of true righteousness; by teaching him the essence of religion and the spirit of true worship; by transmitting from age to age, without alteration, these capital doctrines by the long life of the first patriarchs, who were full of faith and holiness ; by taking care, through the means of the ark, to preserve these essential truths from perishing in the deluge; and lastly, by forming from the beginning a society of just men, more or less numerous and visible, and preserving them by an uninterrupted succession.
But when the earth began to be again overspread with an inundation of errors and crimes, of a more pernicious consequence than the deluge of waters they had lately escaped from; God, to secure the salutary truths, which began to grow obscure and extinct in all nations, committed them in trust to a family entirely devoted to religion. Of them he forms a peculiar people, 'inclosed within the precincts of a particular country which he had long before prepared for them, separated from all other nations by distinct laws and customs, directed and governed in a manner entirely singular, exposed as a spectacle to the rest of the world by the innumerable wonders he wrought amongst them, either with a view to fix them in the promised land, to keep them in possession of it, or bring them back to it when driven out. He was not content to guide them like other people, by a gene
a ral and common providence, but himself became their head, legislator, and king. And it was his will, that this people should be the type and figure of what was afterwards to happen to the church, by their departure out of Egypt, their wandering in the desert, their entrance into the land of promise, their wars and conquests, their long captivity in Babylon, their return into their own country; in a word, by all the different states and changes which befel them; and that the expectation of the Messialı, promised to
the patriarch, figured by the ceremonies and sacrifices of the law, foretold by the prophets, should be the proper and especial character of this people to distinguish them from all the other nations of the earth.
This is what the scripture teaches us, and alone could discover to us, as it alone is the depositary of the divine revelations, and of the manifestation of God's decrees, which lay concealed in his bosom from all eternity, till the moment he was pleased to divulge them. And can any object be greater, of nearer concern, and more worthy the attention of mankind, than an history, wherein God has thought fit of himself to draw with his own hand the plan of our eternal destiny ?
To fix the certainty of revelation, and establish religion upon a firm foundation, it has pleased God to give it two sorts of proof, which were at the same time suited to the capacities of the most simple, and superior to all the subtleties of the incredulous, which visibly bore the character of omnipotence; and which neither all the endeavours of man, or cunning of devils were able to imitate.
These two sorts of proof consists in miracles and prophecies.
The miracles are plain, public, notorious, exposed to the eyes of all the world, infinitely multiplied and diversified, long foretold and expected, and continuing for a long series of days and sometimes of years. They are evident facts, memorable events, of which the dullest understanding could not but be sensible, whereof the whole people were not only spectators and witnesses, but themselves the matter and object; they reap the advantages of them, and perceive the effects, and have their own happiness or misery depending on them. The family of Noah could not forget the destruction of the whole world by the deluge, after the continued menaces of an age; nor the miraculous manner in which they alone were preserved in the ark. The fire which came down from heaven upon the un
righteous cities; the whole kingdom of Egypt punished at different times by ten terrible plagues; the sea opening a passage to the Israelites, and closing to overwhelm Pharaoh and his army; the people of Israel fed with manna for forty years, and drinking of the brooks which flowed out of the stony rocks, covered with a cloud from the heat of the day, and enlightened by night with a pillar of fire; their clothes and their shoes not worn out in the course of so long a journey; the streams of Jordan forgetting to flow, and the sun standing still to secure the victory; an army of hornets marching before the people of God to drive the Canaanites from their possessions; the clouds at several times converted into a shower of hail-stones to overthrow the enemy; the nations in league against Israel dispersed by a vain terror, or exterminated by a mutual slaughter in turning their arms against one another; an hundred fourscore and five thousand struck dead with thunder in one night under the walls of Jerusalem : all these prodigies, and a thousand others of a like nature, whereof several were attested by solemn feasts, established on purpose to perpetuate their memory, and by sacred songs which were in the mouths of all the Israelites, could not be unknown to the most stupid, nor called in question by the most incredulous.
And the same may be said of the prophecies. We are struck with astonishment, and consider as the utmost effort of human understanding, that a famous [k] historian should have been able by the force of his genius, a superior capacity, and his profound knowledge of the characters of men and nations, to pry so far into the darkness of futurity, as to discern a considerable alteration which was to happen in the Roman commonwealth. And certainly such a foresight very much deserves our admiration; and there is nobody that has ever so little taste and curiosity, who is not well pleased to exainine, whether the historian has really conjectured so exactly as is reported.
The Sacred History presents us with far greater wonders. We there see a multitude of inspired men, who do not speak doubtfully, with hesitation, or by conjecture, but with an affirmative voice loudly and publicly declare that suchand such events should certainly happen in the time and place, and with all the circumstances that these prophets express. But what events ? the most particular, the most personal, and such as most nearly concerned the interest of the nation, and at the same time were the most remote from all outward appearance. Under the flourishing reigns of Uzziah and Jotham, when the state enjoyed peace and plenty, and luxury in eating, building and furniture was carried to excess, what likelihood was there of the terrible famine and shameful captivity [?] Isaiah then threatened the ladies of the greatest distinction with, or what probability of the extreme misery which actually befel them in the following reign?
When, some time after, Jerusalem, blocked up by the numerous arıny of Sennacherib, was reduced to the last extremity, without troops, without provisions, or any hopes of human assistance, especially after
, the army of the Egyptians had been cut to pieces, was the prediction of Isaiah credible, that the city should not be taken, that it should not be besieged in form, that the enemy should not cast an arrow against it, and that this formidable army should be exterminated at once, without any human concurrence, and its king put to flight ?
The entire destruction of the kingdom of the ten tribes, the carrying Judah away captive to Babylon after the conquest and overthrow of Jerusalem, the express term of seventy years set for the duration of their captivity, their glorious return into their own country, their deliverer specified and called by his proper name above two hundred years before he was born, the surprising and till then unheard-of manner in which this famous conqueror was to take Babylon; could all this be the effect of human foresight, or was [?] Isa. iii. 16, 26, &c.