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dom, his foreknowledge, his supreme providence and grace.
But I must hasten towards THE CONCLUSION of this branch of our subject. What mind of any candour and sincerity can hesitate on yielding to the prodigious force of this argument from prophecy. The arguments deduced from the necessities of mankind, from the authenticity and credibility of the books, and from the miracles, were in different ways most satisfactory. They were just what might be expected in the case of a revelation from the Almighty God. The argument from miracles, especially, was most conclusive. We saw and acknowledge ed the finger of God. But I ask any unprejudiced person, whether the prophetical argument be not still more convincing, from the accumulated riches of the divine glory apparent in it. I ask whether, if you contemplate the character and scheme of it, in its extent, the union of all its parts in the divine person and glory of our Lord, the infinite wisdom and contrivance of those parts, the characters of the prophets themselves, and the high and important moral ends to which it was and is subservient, it do not bear the impress of the prescience and power of God? I ask again, whether the divine faithfulness and truth, apparent in its accom
plishment—the events of nations and empires bowing to its designs—the annals of six thousand years proclaiming the hand of Providence engaged in its inspiration and its fulfilmentI ask any unprejudiced person, whether such an exhibition of infinite foresight and omnipotent power, which is now going on and accumulating its effects in every age, do not prove the truth of that religion of which it is a prominent part? I ask, whether the correspondence which has been shown between the scheme of prophecy detailed in the last lecture, and the fulfilment of its several parts, as we have been considering it now, do not put a seal, as it were, to the divine origin of both.
And when the evidence from this whole prophetical inspiration is added to that from palpable miraculous powers—when we consider that the same persons perform the mighty works who predict the improbable and often remote events—that the same lips of Moses and the prophets, of Christ and his apostles, which uttered the several prophetical declarations, and ventured their cause on the accomplishment of them in distant ages, were those which proclaimed the doctrines of religion, and then performed the supernatural deeds wbicb were the instant and undeniable credentials of heir mission - When all this is considered,
LECT. IX.] PROPHETICAL ARGUMENT.
I know not what excuse men can offer if they continue in doubt and hesitation on the truth of Christianity. The same divine glory which, in the wonders of creation, spreads before the eyes of men the proofs of his eternal power and Godhead, is apparent in exhibiting to them more convincing and direct evidences of his will, with like profusion and variety and magnificence, in the book of revelation, and the accomplishment of prophecy in the events of the world. The demonstration is as complete in its kind to prove the mercy of God in the incarnation of a Saviour, as is that by which his existence and wisdom and power are proved by the order and arrangement of the material world. It is as little needful that Jesus should now repeat his miracles, or deliver again his prophecies, as that the world should be a second time created.16 The proof continues in each case : and, as to Christianity, increases. The miracles of the first ages of the Jewish and Christian dispensation are, in fact, propagated in the fulfilment of prophecy in every succeeding one. Men sometimes are disposed to think that if they could see a miracle wrought in their own sight, they would believe the gospel without delay, and obey it unreservedly."7 They know not their own hearts. If they 16 Franks.
17 Bishop Newton.
believe not Moses and the prophets, neither would they be persuaded, though one rose from the dead. But in the whole range of prophecy now fulfilling before their eyes, they have, in fact, a series of divine interpositions, not precisely of the nature of miracles, in the sense of brief and instant and visible suspensions of the laws of nature; but evidently so, in the sense of supernatural interference in the rise and fall of cities and nations and empires, in the arrangement of times and circumstances, in that wonderful display of infinite foreknowledge and infinite power apparent in the control of the wills of unnumbered free and accountable agents to a certain result. I ask, for example, whether the present state of the Jews be not, in the sense I have stated, a miracle, nay, the most striking of miracles, to the considerate mind—a miracle, not transient, and ceasing with the life of the individuals who are its subjects, but permanent, and protracted already through the course of above fifty generations-a miracle not delivered only on the report of others, and recorded in authentic historical documents— satisfactory as this would be--but extant before their own eyes, and subject to their own inspection and examination—a miracle not wrought in one nation of the earth, and confined to a certain number of witnesses, but
open to the observation, and presented to the deliberate and repeated scrutiny of all mankind.
In truth, prophecy forms the grand and abiding moral demonstration to a reasonable and accountable world, of the divine original of the scriptures. On this evidence it is that the Almighty himself is pleased to rest the weight of the argument. The prophets under the Old Testament, and our Lord and his apostles under the New, in their addresses to the Jews, who admitted the sacred writings, appeal to the accomplishment of the ancient predictions. The prophets especially challenge the false priests and deities to the foretelling of distant events. They place the truth of their mission on the accomplishment of prophecy. The Almighty, in our text, demands of the idolatrous people, as the evidence of the existence of the gods they worshipped, the declaration of futurity. He bids them expound former things or predict future. He challenges them to order events of good or evil according to their denunciations. He exhorts them to infuse, if they can, dismay into his own servants, by establishing their pretensions. And he concludes, by condemning their gods as vanities and things of nought-Produce your cause, saith the Lord; bring forth your strong reasons, saith the King of