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Mighty and the Nobles of this world are astonished, when they are told there will soon be a Great
Change?',' This celebrated German, it will perhaps be thought, was somewhat premature, when he stated this astonishment to have taken place at the time he wrote20. But as applied to the present æra his statement seems perfectly correct. The materials of a Great Change in the European world are already collected; and rapid is their increase. At length the period is ar. rived, when all the plunderers of mankind, however discriminated by titles or offices, feel alternate emotions of astonishment and terror; and are seriously apprehensive of being buried under the foundation of a Mighty. Revolution.
19 Int, to the Apoc, ut fupra, p. 326.
ON PROPHECY IN GENERAL, AND THE HEBREW
PROPHETS IN PARTICULAR.
ITHERTO I have been principally employed in
citing extracts, or suggesting thoughts, illustrative of the apocalyptic predi&tions. But as a considerable number of those, which occur in the chapters immediately succeeding, and in the subsequent part of the work, are taken either from Daniel, or from Isaiah, or from some other prophetic writer of the Jewilh dispensatìon, I have concluded, that some extracts, relative to the Hebrew prophets, and to prophecy in general, may
be properly introduced, and that this part of the work furnishes a convenient place for their insertion. Had so large an assemblage of general observations been in. troduced in the beginning of the work, and added to those, relative to the apocalypse, which are brought forward in the irid and ivth chapters, I should have been apprehensive, left a considerable proportion of my readers, being principally solicitous to penetrate the import of particular prophecies, would have neglected to betow upon them that degree of attention which they justly claim.
* To know future events," says Dr. Sykes, and to be able to foretell them, is not, cannot be the effect of study, or peculiar temperature of body; it cannot be taught in schools, since it depends upon an infinity of • free contingent actions, which he alone who governs • all things can direct or foresee. If, therefore, events ' have been foreseen and foretold, at such distance of
time, as excludes the knowledge of human minds, and 'the powers of their conjectures, it muft be owing to • divine influence, and to that alone':
There are, it may be observed, several propositions, to prove any one of which, would be to prove the nonexistence of prophecy. But then these propositions are so unreasonable, so unfounded, that to give a simple Atatement of them will be sufficient to convince the honest inquirer, that they are completely incapable of proof. If Collins, in his work against prophecy, ' would • have acted tlie part of a fair and reasonable adversary, he should,' says. Dr. Samuel Chandler, have proved
prophecy an impossible thing; either that there is no • God; or that if there is, he doth not concern himself * about the affairs of nations and kingdoms; or that if
Principles and Connexion of Nat, and Rey, Rel. p. 176.
he doth, he knows nothing before it comes to pass; or that he hath no wise purposes to answer by over-ruling • the affairs of the world, and executing the purposes of * his own good pleasure; or that if he hath, he cannot discover these purposes to men; or that if he could,
there is no wise and kind purpose to be answered by • such a revelation; or that if there is, those to whom he vouchsafes a revelation cannot discover it to others.'
Reserving all the other general observations on prophecy to a subsequent part of the chapter, I shall here introduce those extracts, which respect the authenticity of the Hebrew fcriptures.
By • • the subsistence of the Jewish people at this time,' says Dr. Lardner, ' all are assured of the antiquity and
genuineness of the scriptures of the Old Testament. • These are received by them, and read in their synagogues : and they allow, that therein are contained promises of a great and eminent deliverer. None therefore can pretend, that the scriptures, so often appealed to by Christ and his apostles, are forgeries of Chriftians 3.'
• There can,' says Dr. Priestley, 'be no doubt but that • the canon of the Old Testament was the same in the • time of our Saviour as it is now 4 ; nor could it have
, Vindic. of Dan. 1728, p. 30. 3 Lardner's Works, vol. X.
4 • The Jewish synagogues in all countries were,' says Mr. Gray, 'nu• merous : wherever the apostles preached, they found them; they were • established by the direction of the rabbins in every place, where there
were ten persons of full age and free condition. Accordingly the jealous care, with which the scriptures were preserved in the tabernacle, and in the temple, was not more calculated to secure their integrity, than that • reverence which afterwards displayed itself in the dispersed synagogues,
and in the churches consecrated to the Christian faith.' A Key to the Old Testament by the Rev. Robert Gray, late of St. Mary Hall, Oxf. 2791, P. ,3, 46.
• been corrupted materially after the return of the Jews
from the Babylonish captivitys, on account of the feet of the Samaritans, which took its rise about that time. • For these people professed the fame regard to the sacred books with the Jews themselves, and were always at * variance with them about the interpretation of the * scriptures. The Samaritan copy of the Pentateuch is
now in our hands, and excepting some numbers, in which the different copies and translations of all an'cient writings are peculiarly subject to vary, and a single text, in which mount Gerizim and mount Ebal are interchanged, it is the very fame with the Jewish copy. Not long after this, the books of the Old Testa* ment, beginning with the Pentateuch, were translated ' into Greek, and dispersed, by means of the Jews, into * almost every part of the known world. There is not the least probability, that any change, worth any man's attempting to make, or in the least affecting any prin*cipal point of the Jewish religion, was made during their captivity ; which, however, was not so long, reckoning from the time of the destruction of the city by • Nebuchadnezzar, but that many of those who returned * from it had a perfect remembrance of the temple of
Solomon, which had been burned in the siege by Ne.buchadnezzar; for they wept when they saw how • much the new temple was inferior to it, and can it be supposed, but that some of these people would have taken the alarm, and a schism have been occasioned, if any material change had been attempted to be made in the constitution of the law, or the contents of the fa* cred books.-- If we go farther back into the Jewish . history, we shall be unable to pitch upon any time, in
5 The Jews, according to Prideaux, returned from their captivity at Babylon in the year 535 before the Christian æra.
· which any material change in the sacred books could
licly every seven years, at the feast of Tabernacles, • Deut. xxxi. 9, 13; and the Levites, who were dispersed through all the twelve tribes, were particularly * appointed to study and to explain it to the rest of the nation; and notwithstanding the times of defection and idolatry, they were never entirely without prophets, * and even many thousands of others, who continued • firm in the worship of the true God, and therefore must have retained their regard to the facred books of the • law. Upon the whole, the Jews have, no doubt, acted
the part of most faithful and even fcrupulous guardians • of their facred books, for the use of all the world in the times of Christianity. After the last of the pro* phets, Malachi, they admitted no more books into their
canon, so as to permit them to be read in their fynagogues, though they were written by the most eminent men in their nation; it being a maxim with them, that no book could be entitled to a place in the canon of
their scriptures, unless it was written by a prophet, or a * person who had had communication with God. That the scriptures of the Old Testament have not been
materially corrupted by the Jews since the promulgaition of Christianity,-is evident from the many pro.
phecies still remaining in their scriptures, concerning the humiliation and sufferings of the Messiah, in which * the Christians 'always triumphed when they disputed with the Jews. These passages, therefore, we may assure ourselves, would have been the firft that the