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Behold, the former things are come to pass,
and new things do I declare: before they spring forth, I tell you of them.
Ir must strike the most careless reader of the prophecies to observe, that the general subject of them all was announced from the earliest time, and was only drawn out more distinctly by succeeding prophets : that, of the two ages, into which the world of God, I mean his religious world, is divided in holy scripture, the former, which abounds most in prophecy, was
plainly made subservient to the latter : that SERMON not only the events of that preceding age are foretold by its own prophets, but that the fortunes of the last, and very remote age, are occasionally revealed by them; and that the same oracles, which attest the first coming of Christ, as if impatient to be confined to so narrow bounds, overflow, as it were, into the future age, and expatiate on the principal facts and cireumstances of his second coming.
By this divine artifice, if I may so speak, the two dispensations, the Jewish and Christian, are closely tied together, or rather compacted into one intire harmonious system ; such, as we might expect, if it were indeed formed, and conducted by him, to whom ara known all his works from the beginning,
So that, in respect of the fortunes, which were to befall the Christian church, even in the latter days, we may still ask, in the triumphant terms of the Jewish prophet - Have ye not known? Have ye not heard ? Hath. it not been told you from the beginning ? Have
not understood from the foundation of the earth bo
à Acts xv, 18.
b Isaiah xl. 21.
But, though this subject was opened by the old prophets, so far as seemed expedient in that age, and clearly enough, to shew the integrity and continuity of the whole system, it was more illustriously, because more distinctly, displayed by the evangelical prophets.
And here, again, the same provision of wisdom and goodness meets us, as before. The Christian prophets, like the Jewish, bespeak our attention to what they reveal of the greater and more distant events in their dispensation, by other less momentous prophecies, which were speedily to be accomplished"; thus, impressing upon us an awful sense of their divine foresight, and procuring an easy credit from us to their subsequent predictions: while the events, which both these prophetic schemes point out, are so distributed through all time, as to furnish, successively, to the several ages of the world, the means of a fresh and still growing convictiona
e We see this design very plamly, in the prophecies of Jesus concerning his own death and resurrection; concern. ing the descent of the holy Ghost on the day of Pentecost ; concerning events, that were to befall his disciples; and in other instances.
d La plus grande des preuves de Jesus Christ, ce sont les propheties. C'est aussi à quoi Dieu a la plus pourva ; car l'evenement, qui les a remplies, est un MIRACLE SUBSISTANT defais la naissance de l'Eglise jusqu'à la fin.
AS. THE ORDER, of these Discourses, now, leads me to exemplify this last observation, I shall do it in THREE remarkable prophecies concerning the Christian church; I mean those, which respect 1. THE DESTRUCTION OF JERUSALEM. 2. THE DISPERSION Jews. And 3. THE CONVERSION OF THE GEN
I refer to these prophecies, as well known. They are in the number of those, which, in part, were delivered by the Jewish prophets ; and afterwards, more distinctly revealed by the Christian.
I. THE DESTRUCTION OF THE JEWISH CITY AND TEMPLE, is an event of the utmost moment in the view of revealed religion. It accomplished a great number of prophecies, and vindicated the honour of Jesus, by a signal vengeance on his murderers. It answered, besides, other important purposes of divine providence; by putting a visible and necessary end to the Jewish economy, which was now to give way to the dispensation of the Messiah;
SERMON and by dispersing the Jews into all lands, for
wise and admirable reasons. Hence, of all the prophecies, delivered by Christ himself (who was a prophet, though indeed much more than a prophet) This alone is displayed by him, at large, and in all its circumstances,
If any man, unacquainted with these matters, should doubt, whether this prophecy of Jesus, as recorded in three of the four Gospels, were not delivered, that is, forged, after the event, I might refer him to the numerous writers on that subject. But I hold it sufficient to say, 1, On the faith of all antiquity, that these Gospels were not only written, but published to the world, before the destruction of Jerusalem - 2, that the early date of their composition is apparent from many internal characters, dispersed through these writings + 3, that no interpolation of this prophecy.could afterwards take place, because the prophecy is interwoven with the general thread of the history - and, 4, lastly, that no unbeliever of the primitive times, whether Jew or Gentile, when pressed, as both frequently were, by this prophecy, appears to have had recourse to the charge, either of forgery, or interpolatione
For these particulars, sce Dr. Jortin's Rem, on Ecclesiastical History, vol. I. p. 20–39.