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SERMON there is sometimes difficulty in making out the
completion -- all of them, it is said, very suspicious circumstances; and which rather indicate a scheme of human contrivance, than of divine inspiration.
To these objections it is replied, that, from the very idea which the scriptures themselves give of prophecy, these circumstances must needs be found in it; and further still, that these circumstances, when fairly considered, do honour to that idea : for that the obscurity, complained of, reşults, from the immensity of the scheme - the double senses, from the intimate connection of its parts—the partial and confined delivery, from the wisdom and necessity of selecting a peculiar people to be the vehicle and repository of the sacred oraclesAnd lastly, the incomplete evidence, from the nature of the subject, and from the moral genius of that dispensation, to which the scheme of prophecy itself belongs.
In conclusion, it is now seen to what purpose these preliminary discourses serve, and in what method they have been conducted.
The First, shewed the vanity and folly of reasoning on the subject of scriptural prophecy
from our preconceived fancies and, arbitrary SERMON assumptions. The SECOND, shewed the only true way of reasoning upon it to be from scriptural principles, and then opened and explained one such principle, In this LAST, I have shewn that, by prosecuting this way of reasoning from the principle assigned, some of the more specious objections to the scriptural prophecies are easily obviated.
Taken together, these three discourses serve to illustrate the general idea of prophecy, considered as one great scheme of testimony to the religion of Jesus ; and consequently open a way for the fair and equitable consideration of particular prophecies, the more immediate subject of this Lecture,
JOHN xiii. 19.
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
through all time, and to call those things, SERMON which be not, as though they were*.
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.
I. 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 my being the person, I assume to be, the Messias foretold."
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.
SERMON them, if they had not, previously, been ad
monished of it. But the reason of the thing
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, confesse edly, beyond the reach of human foresight.
Under these conditions, the argument is clear and easy, and will lie thus.—“A great
• Ταύτα ο Θεός προεμήνυσε δια το προφητικά πνευματG» μέλλειν γίνεσθαι, ον, όταν γένηται, μή άπις ηθη, αλλ' εκ τε προειρησθαι ສາບ9າ.
J. MARTYR, Apol. I. c. 74.