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the languid nation on their return, and Malachis announced the herald of the Saviour.
As a pause of four hundred years intervened after the death of Moses, so did a like pause hush every whisper of prophecy till Christ our Lord arose-preceded, according to the prophetic declarations, by his precursor; and predicted the destruction of the Jewish city, and the dissolution of their polity. His blessed feet St. Paul followed first, and then St. John,6 taking up the strain of Daniel, expanding the visions which he had recorded, and pronouncing the predictions which have been fulfilling ever since in the events of the world.
Thus extensive in point of time, prophecy was not less so in respect of the dispensations which it subserved, the objects which it embraced, the modes of its being communicated, and the periods of its fulfilment. The nations bordering on Judea, the greatest heathen states, the succession of empires as connected with the church, the punishment of guilty individuals and of kingdoms, events near and remote, were the objects of prophetic vision. The writers of the prophecies were of every different class; some kings or princes, others patriarchs and heads of tribes, others prophets or priests, others legislators, others shepherds or fisher3 B. C. 396.
6 A. D. 96.
men. Their natural abilities, education, habits, and employments were exceedingly dissimilar. They received the divine communications, by various methods-voices from heaven, dreams, visions, angelic messages, direct impressions of the sacred Spirit. They wrote laws, history, odes, devotional exercises, doctrines, and controversy.
Moreover, the various usages and rites, the institutions and persons connected with the worship of God, the princes raised up to rule over the people, the very land in which they reposed as their inheritance, were prophetical symbols of future blessings. Every thing was pregnant with the spirit of prophecy under the former Testament. .
It is quite obvious that this wide range and prodigious extent gives to the argument from prophecy an importance and sublimity, à sort of impress of divine magnificence, which, when verified by the respective fulfilments, surpasses all we could have conceived. We have not one or two oracular declarations, but a whole system of prescient grandeur running through all time, and stretching to the consummation of all things.
III. Then the HARMONY OF ALL ITS PARTS in the person and salvation of our Lord, in
creases the proof of a divine prescience which is derived from it. It was not indeed necessary to the establishment of a divine revelation, that a connexion should subsist between the various and widely spread ramifications of prophecy. The foretelling of any distant and unconnected events would have attested the Christian religion. But it has pleased God to keep one grand end in view, to unite the scattered rays of light in one bright and refulgent object, the person and kingdom of the Messiah. When the apostle sums up in the text the prophetic records, he says, he had made known the power and coming of Christ; and in a similar passage in his first epistle, he describes the prophets as testifying beforehand the sufferings of Christ and the glory that should follow. The testimony of or concerning Jesus, says St. John, in his Apocalypse, is the spirit of prophecy—the scope, end, consummation of it. To him give all the prophets witness, is the language of St. Paul. And our Lord himself said to the Jews, Search the scriptures, for in them ye think ye have eternal life, and they are they that testify of me. And, beginning at Moses and all the prophets, he expounded unto his disciples in all the scriptures, the things concerning himself.
The first coming of Christ is the centre of one great division; the second coming of Christ comprehends the other. Remote as were the times when the prophecies were delivered, and unconnected as the divine messengers frequently were with each other, they are all found to illustrate one design, and that design the most dignified, the most beneficent, the most important to man, the most glorious to God which could be propounded. From the primeval promise in paradise, to the last of the apocalyptic visions, one theme, one mighty subject prevails; not always prominent, but always to be collected by a careful examination of the several particulars, their dependence on each other, and their reference to one common end. The entire riches of the prophetical inspiration are poured at the feet of the Son of God. A spirit of prophecy pervading all time, attaching itself to one person, and proclaiming the progress and accomplishment of one purpose of exuberant grace, gives an attestation to the Christian religion so sublime, so irresistible, as at once to convince the judgment and captivate the heart.?
TV. The INFINITE WISDOM apparent in the contrivance and arrangement of its parts, in
7 See Bishop Hurd, to whom, and Bishops Sherlock and Horsley, I need not say, I am much indebted in this department of the argument. Mr. Davison's incomparable work has also greatly aided me throughout this lecture.
subservience to this one great end, is a further evidence of a divine hand in the prophecies of the scriptures. St. Paul accordingly, on the contemplation of one branch only of the great scheme, assures us that unto the principalities and pouers in the heavenly places is made known by the church the manifold---multiform, variegated-wisdom of God.8 A similar sentiment is expressed by St. Peter, in the passage of his first epistle, to which I have already referred, and which is an appendage, as it were, of my text. After reciting the solicitude of the an. cient prophets to search what and what manner of time the Spirit of Christ which was in them did signify, when it testified beforehand the sufferings of Christ, and the glory that should follow--the apostle adds in terms, brief indeed, but sublime beyond expression, which things the angels desire to look into.
In this respect the argument from prophecy differs widely from that from miracles. Miracles, though permanent in their effects, are in themselves brief suspensions of the general laws of nature, subject at once to the eyes and ears and other scnses of all who witness them, and, therefore, exacting the instant assent of the beholder. The more clear and sudden and surprising miracles are, the better they accom
8 ή ΠΟΛΥΠΟΙΚΙΛΟΣ σοφία του θεού. VOL. 1.