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Here is a general rule for discerning the mission of prophets, or such as should come in that character, as from God. It is a rule that would be of use in all ages; and is here delivered for that purpose. “ If the thing follow not nor come to pass.

Those words do not intend any prediction of some distant good or evil, to come some while hereafter ; but they intend a prodigy, or some work above the ordinary course of nature; which he who takes upon him the character of a prophet proposeth, as a sign, or token, or proof of his mission. If the sign proposed by any man, as a token and proof of his mission, be performed, he ought to be hearkened to; if it is not performed, there is no reason to apprehend any harm from despising and rejecting him; he has no message from God; “ he has spoken presumptuously; thou shalt not be afraid of him.”

This may appear farther from what is said ch. xiii. 1, 2, 3: “ If there arise among you a prophet, or a dreamer of dreams, and he giveth a sign, or a wonder ;” that is, proposeth some great work as a proof of his mission, “and the sign or the wonder come to pass, whereof he spake unto thee, saying, Let us go after other gods (which thou hast not known) and serve them; thou shalt not hearken to the words of that prophet, or dreamer of dreams. For the Lord your God proveth you, to know whether you love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul.”...ver. 4. “ And that prophet, or that dreamer of dreams, shall be put to death....So shalt thou put the evil away from the midst of thee.”

Here is a case put which never could happen ; never would any man be able to perform a miracle in order to induce the people of Israel to worship other gods ; but supposing it, he was nevertheless to be disregarded.

In all other cases, the rule here laid down for judging of prophets would hold, and was to be observed by all. If a man proposed some extraordinary work as a proof of his mission, which was not performed, he was not to be regarded. So all the false prophets, spoken of by Josephus, who appeared in the times of Felix, Festus, and other governors of Judea, some while before the destruction of Jerusalem, in order to induce people to follow them, in hopes of deliverance from subjection to the Romans, engaged that they should see the walls of Jerusalem fall down before them,” to give them easy entrance into the city; or that they “should see the waters of Jordan divided,” that they might go over upon dry ground; or “that God would shew them signs in the wilderness,” and the like. But nothing of that kind came

But if a prophet gave, or proposed a sign or wonder in proof of his mission, and it came to pass, or was performed, it would be decisive in his favour. So, when there were murmurings and disputings among the people of Israel in the wilderness, which tribe should have the priesthood, it was proposed that twelve rods, each having the name of the prince of the tribe upon it, and another rod, with Aaron's name upon it, for Levi, should be laid up in the tabernacle, before the testimony ;” and his rod which blossomed should be known to be the man whom God had chosen. “ Moses then laid up the rods before the Lord, in the tabernacle of witness. And it came to pass, that on the morrow Moses went into the tabernacle of witness: and behold, the rod of Aaron, for the house of Levi, budded, and brought forth blossoms, and yielded almonds. And Moses brought out all the rods from before the Lord unto all the chil. dren of Israel; and they looked, and took every man his rod:” Numb. xvii.

» Numb. xvii. So that point was determined, and the “ murmurings of the children of Israel ceased.” And so it must be in all other like cases. If a “ sign,” or “wonder,” has been “ given” or proposed, and it is performed, or “ comes to pass, it is decisive.

Here then is the rule. "If a man come, and speak in the name of God, and prove his commission by signs and wonders, he is to be regarded and received as a prophet. And God declares “ who ever will not hearken unto my words, which he shall speak in my name, I will require it of him.Deut. xviii

. 19. It cannot be otherwise. The consequence of disobedience to the word of the Lord, so manifested and confirmed, must be dreadful.

Let us now apply this. Jesus spoke in the name of God, faithfully delivered the words which he had received from God, and performed many miracles in proof of his commission. John xii. 49, 50, " For I have not spoken of myself: but the Father, which hath sent me, he gave me commandment what I should say, and what I should speak. And I know that his commandment is life everlasting. Whatsoever I speak therefore, even as the Father said unto me, so I speak.” Ch. viü. 42, “ I proceeded forth and came from God: neither came I of myself, but he sent me.”

to pass.

1

And in proof of his mission he appealed to his works, which were great and numerous, and openly performed in the view of all men. John v. 31, 32, 33, “ If I bear witness of myself, my witness is not true. There is another that beareth witness of me, and I know that the witness which he witnesseth of me is true. Ye sent unto John, and he bare witness unto the truth. 36. But I have greater witness than that of John; for the works which the Father hath given me to finish, they bear witness of me that the Father hath sent me." And ch. xv. 24: “ If I had not done among them the works which no other man did, they had not had sin: but now they have both seen and hated both me and my Father.”

If Moses and the ancient prophets wrought miracles, there is as good reason to believe Jesus likewise did so, and inore than any of them, or than all of them together. For the testimony of the writers of the New Testament is as credible as that of the writers of the Old Testament. And if it be said that Elijah was taken up to heaven, it is as credible that Jesus was raised from the dead, and afterwards ascended up to heaven.

Our Lord asserted his prophetical character, ånd his peculiar character of the Messiah ; and often reminded the Jews of the terrible consequences of rejecting him who spake in the name of God, or, in the words of Moses, that it “would be required of them.” John viii. 24, “ If ye believe not that I am he, ye shall die in your sins.”

sins.” Ver. 25, 66 They said unto him, Who art thou? Jesus said unto them, Even the same that I said unto you from the beginning." John the Baptist often said the same—that “ he was not the Christ, but was sent before him.” John iii. 28; and see ch. i. 19–37.

But, not to multiply texts, I shall quote Matt. xxi. 33—14, “ Hear another parable. There was a certain householder, who planted a vineyard, and hedged it round about, and digged a wine-press in it, and built a tower, and let it out to husbandmen, and went into a far country. And when the time of the fruit drew near, he sent his servants to the husbandmen that they might receive the fruits of it. And the husbandmen took his servants, and beat one, and killed another, and stoned another. Again he sent other servants unto them, more than the first; and they did unto them likewise. Last of all he sent unto them his Son [the Messiah] saying: They will reverence my son. But when the husbandmen saw the Son, they said among themselves : This is the heir ; come, let us kill him, and let us seize on his inheritance. And they caught him and cast him out of the vineyard, and slew him. When therefore the Lord of the vineyard cometh, what will he do unto those husbandmen? They say unto him: He will miserably destroy those wicked men, and will let out his vineyard unto other husbandmen, which shall render him the fruits in their season. Jesus saith unto them: Did you never read in the scriptures, The stone which the builders rejected, the same is become the head of the corner? This is the Lord's doing, and it is marvellous in our eyes :” Psalm cxviii. 22, 23. “ Therefore I say unto you: The kingdom of God shall be taken from you, and shall be given to a nation bringing forth the fruits thereof. And whosoever shall fall on this stone shall be broken: but on whomsoever it shall fall, it will grind him to powder. And when the chief-priests and Pharisees had heard his parables, they perceived that he spake of them.” This should be compared with Luke xx. 9–18.

Here our Lord speaks of the ancient prophets, and then of himself, and shews the dreadful consequences of rejecting him, and his message. There is another thing that should be observed, which is what our Lord added concerning the treatment to be given to his apostles and evangelists, the prophets of the New Testament also sent to the Jewish people. Matt. xxiii. 29–39, “ Woe unto you, Scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites, because ye build the tombs of the prophets, and garnish the sepulchres of the righteous, and say, If we had been in the days of our fathers • we would not have been partakers with them in the blood of the prophets. Therefore ye are witnesses to yourselves that ye are the children of them who slew the prophets. Fill the measure of your fathers. Ye serpents, ye generation of vipers, how can ye escape the

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* Si quis Paganus ab ipsis Judæis quxrat, cur credant mira- proditum ad posteros transmiserunt. Grot. de V. R. C. I. v. cula a Mose facta, nihil dicant aliud, quam inter suos adeo perpetuam constantemque ejus rei fuisse famam, ut non potu- b De Eliæ vero in cælum raptu, unius Elisæi, tamquam erit, nisi ex testimonio eorum qui vidissent, proficisci. Siç viri omni exceptione majoris, testimonio fidem habent. At ab Elisæo [2 Reg. cap. iv.] auctum apud viduam oleum; nos de Christi adscensu in cælum duodecim proferimuu testes purgatum (cap. v.] subito a malâ scabie Syrum, hospitæ [ib. vitæ inculpatæ; de Christo post mortem in terris viso multo iv.] filium ad vivum revocatum, et siinilia alia credunt Judæi, plures. Quæ si vera sunt, verum sit necesse est Christi dognon aliam sane ob causam, quam quod testes bonæ fidei id ma : planeque nihil a Judais pro se adferri potest, quod non

et nobis pari aut potiori jure possit aptari. Grot. ib.

ye up then

sect. ii.

damnation of hell? Wherefore, behold I send -unto you prophets and wise men, and scribes. And some of them ye will kill and crucify, and some of them ye will scourge in your synagogues, and persecute them from city to city: that upon you may come all the righteous blood shed upon the earth, from the blood of righteous Abel to the blood of Zacharias son of Barachias, [rather son of Jehoiada, 2 Chron. xxiv. 17–22,"] whom ye slew between the temple and the altar. Verily I say unto you, all these things shall come upon this generation. O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, thou that killest the prophets, and stonest them that are sent unto thee! How often would I have gathered thy children together, even as a hen gathereth her chickens under her wings, but ye would not. Behold your house is left unto you desolate. Ye shall not see me henceforth till ye shall say, Blessed is he that cometh in the name of the Lord.”

All this is properly said by our Lord in his prophetic denunciations. Not only the rejection of Jesus himself would be “required of them,” but likewise their refusal to hearken to his apostles. For they likewise were prophets and spake by divine inspiration. They spake in the name of God, and delivered his mind and word, and proved their mission by miraculous works. If therefore, after having crucified the Lord Jesus, the Jewish people should proceed to treat in like manner his disciples, who were sent to them; if they should “scourge them in their synagogues,” and put some of them to death, “ and persecute them from city to city,” (as he foresaw they would ;) they would then bring upon themselves, in the end, a terrible condemnation: and such miseries would befall them, that it would seem as if all the righteous blood shed from the foundation of the world had been r'equired of them.

And that they did so treat the apostles and other disciples of Jesus, appears from the books of the New Testament. These things may have been already taken notice of by us: nevertheless they must be here briefly recollected. How the apostles of Jesus were apprehended, imprisoned, beaten, and farther threatened, may be seen in the book of the Acts, ch. iv. and v. Somewhile afterwards, ch. vi. and vii. Stephen was stoned, “and there was a great persecution against the church, which was at Jerusalem, and they were all scattered abroad throughout the regions of Judea and Samaria, except the apostles.” Some time after this, when Herod Agrippa had been advanced to the kingdom of Judea by the Romans, we are informed, ch. xii. 1-4, that « he stretched forth his hands to vex certain of the church. And he killed James the brother of John with the sword. And because he saw it pleased the Jews, he proceeded far ther to take Peter also.” But after he had been imprisoned he was miraculously delivered “out of the hands of Herod, and from the expectation of all the people of the Jews.” St. Paul, writing to the Hebrews, ch. x. 33, 34, bids them “ call to remembrance the former days, in which, after they had been illuminated, they had endured a great fight of afflictions: partły, says he, “ whilst ye were made a gazing-stock, both by reproaches and affictions, and partly whilst ye were coinpanions of those who were so used. For ye had compassion upon those who were in bonds, and bore joyfully the spoiling of your goods : knowing that ye have in heaven a better and a more enduring substance.” And we have good reason to believe that James, called the Lord's brother, the apostle, who generally resided at Jerusalem, was put to death by the Jews there in a tumultuous manner, about the year of Christ 62.

How Paul acted in the early days of the gospel, and whilst he was under the direction of the chief-priests and Pharisees, we know partly from the Acts of the apostles, and partly from his own epistles. It is said, Acts viii. 1, that he “ was consenting

was consenting to the death of Stephen. And ch. vii. 58, “ When he was stoned, the witnesses laid down their clothes at a young man's feet whose narre was Saul.” And afterwards, chap. ix. 1, 2, “ But Saul, yet breathing out threatenings and slaughter against the disciples of the Lord, went unto the high-priest and desired of him letters to Damascus, to the synagogues, that if he found any of this way, whether they were men or women, he might bring them bound to Jerusalem.” And in his speech before king Agrippa, and the governor Festus, Acts xxvi. 9—12, he says himself: “ I verily thought with myself that I ought to do many things contrary to the name of Jesus of Nazareth. Which thing I also did in Jerusalem: and many of the saints did I shut up in prison, having received authority from the chief priests; and when they were put to death I gave my voice against them. And I punished them oft in every synagogue, and compelled them to blaspheme; and, being exceedingly mad against them, I persecuted them even unto strange cities. Whereupon he set out for Damascus, with authority and commission from the chief:priests.” But in his way

a See Vol. i. p. 217, &c.

thither he met with a check, received new light, to which he submitted, and became a true penitent and sincere convert; and then preached the faith, which for some while he had endeavoured to destroy. Compare Gal. i. 13—24 ; 1 Cor. xv. 8, 9; Eph. iii. 8; 1 Tim. i. 12-14.

How he was treated by the Jews, after his conversion, we know from the history in the Acts, and from his own epistles. For when he began to preach the gospel at Damascus," the Jews laid wait for him, and they watched the gates day and night to kill him. But the disciples took him by night, and let him down by the wall in a basket.” Acts ix. 24, 25. Of which great danger, and his wonderful escape, he speaks himself in an affecting manner: 2 Cor. xi. 31–33. When he came to Jerusalem from Damascus, “ and disputed with the Grecians," or Jewish proselytes, “ they went about to slay him,” Acts ix. 29. For which cause the disciples found it prudent to bring him down to Cæsarea, that he might go to Tarsus.

The Jews out of Judea acted in the like manner. At Antioch in Pisidia, Paul having preached there with some success, both among Jews and Gentiles, “ the Jews, moved with envy, stirred up the devout and honourable women, and the chief men of the city, and raised persecution against Paul and Barnabas, and expelled them out of their coasts :” Acts xiii. 50, and see ver. 45. They therefore went to Iconium, where also they had some converts among Jews and Gentiles. « But the unbelieving Jews stirred up the Gentiles, and made their minds evil affected towards the brethren...But the multitude of the city was divided... And when there was an assault made both of the Gentiles and of the Jews, with their rulers, to use them despitefully, and to stone them, they were aware of it, and fled to Lystra and Derbe, cities of Lycaonia, and unto the region that lieth round about. And there they preached the gospel:” ch. xiv. 1-7. At Lystra a great miracle was wrought by Paul, upon a . lame man, who had been a cripple from his mother's womb, and never had walked.” And the people of the place were disposed to give divine honours to Paul and Barnabas, which they refused to accept. « But there. came thither certain Jews from Antioch and Iconium, who persuaded the people. And, having stoned Paul, they drew him out of the city, supposing he had been dead. Howbeit, as the disciples stood round about him, he rose up and came into the city. And the next day he departed with Barnabas to Derbe:” chap. xiv. 1—20. And having passed through several places they returned to Antioch in Syria, from which place they had been sent out with special recommendations to the grace of God: ver. 21–28. All which things therefore happened in what is sometimes called the first peregrination of Paul and Barnabas.

How the Jews acted at Thessalonica, may be seen Acts xvii. 1-9; at Berea, may be seen ver. 10–15. How they behaved at Corinth, may be seen ch. xviii. ver. 5—20. And when Paul came to Jerusalem, afterwards, in the year of Christ 58, as we compute, he was very hard pressed by the Jews there, where was their great council, and where the whole nation was gathered together at the feast of Pentecost, as is related Acts xxi. and xxii. Nor was there any visible means of his escaping out of their hands with his life, but by appealing to the emperor himself, notwithstanding the favourable dispositions of the Roman governors, Felix and Festus, to shew him equity : by which appeal he obtained leave to go to Rome, where he lived two whole years in a kind of free custody, “ receiving all that came in unto him, and preaching the kingdom of God, and those things which concern the Lord Jesus, with all confidence, no man forbidding him :” chap. xxviii. 30, 31. And then he was set at liberty, and went abroad again.

Thus the Jews resisted the council of God, and went on accumulating guilt, and laying up a. store of vengeance to fall upon them, when God saw fit, and when the measure of their iniquity was full. As St. Paul says to the Thessalonians, 1 ep. ii. 14, “ For ye, brethren, became followers of the churches of God, which in Judea are in Christ Jesus. 'For ye also have suffered the like things of your countrymen, even as they have of the Jews; who have killed the Lord Jesus, and their own prophets, and have persecuted us, and are contrary to all men : forbidding us to speak to the Gentiles, that they may be saved, to fill up their sins always. For the wrath is come upon them to the uttermost.”

For certain, such things cannot be overlooked by the Sovereign Lord and Governor of all nations, and of the Jewish nation especially. For he has said, and it is agreeable to reason, and to all the rules of right government, that “ if he raiseth up a prophet, and putteth bis words in his mouth, and he speaks all that he has commanded him, it shall come to pass that whosoever will not hearken unto my words, which he shall speak in my name, I will require it of liim:" Deut. xviii. 18, 19. This rule was laid down and promulgated by Moses himself, the great lawgiver of the Jews; and, as before observed, it was to be a standing rule. If faithful messengers, who deliver truly the message they have received from God, are rejected, and not only not hearkened to, but 'abused, the God of the prophets will resent it, and shew his displeasure. Accordingly, soon after the events before related, wrath did come upon the Jewish people to a very remarkable degree. And the numbers of those who perished at Jerusalem and in Judea, by the famine and by the sword, and by intestine feuds and divisions, or otherwise, was very extraordinary, and even unparalleled, as we know from Josephus, a contemporary writer of their own nation, and from Josippon, a Jew likewise, and from others.

Josephus, who was a witness of that awful scene, often acknowledgeth the hand of God in it. Cestius Gallus, president of Syria, made a successful attempt upon Jerusalem, and then withdrew: whereupon he says, “If Cestius had continued the siege a little longer, he would have • taken the city; but God, as I think, for the wickedness of the people, abhorring his own • solemnities, suffered not the war to come to an end at that time.' When John of Gischala escaped from out of the hands of Vespasian, and got to Jerusalem, he says, . It was the work

of God who saved John for the destruction of Jerusalem. In another place ' he says that • God had blinded their minds for the transgressions which they had been guilty of.' And • Never « did any city endure so great calamities: nor was there ever from the beginning of the • world any time more fruitful of wickedness.' Again, · Indeed it was God who had con. • demned the whole nation, and defeated every method taken for their preservation. When the temple was burning, he says, “Certainly * the divine sentence had long ago condemned it to • the fire.' He also observes that “they s did not attend to the prodigies which evidently fore• told their desolation; but like men infatuated, who have neither eyes to see, nor minds to con6 sider, they disregarded the divine denunciations. He also observes that the whole nation * was then shut up as in a prison; and the Romans encompassed the city when it was crowded

with inhabitants. Accordingly, the multitude of them who perished therein exceeded all the • destructions that ever men or God brought upon the world. And i the whole circumference of the city was so thoroughly laid even with the ground, by them who dug it up to the foundation, that there was nothing left to make those who came thither believe it had ever been • inhabited.' So writes Josephus, in the Greek language, in the face of the whole world, not many years after the Jewish war was ended. And says Eleazar, in his speech at Massada, recorded by the same historian, • Thek metropolis of the whole nation, the city, which we be• lieved to have God inhabiting it, has been rooted up to the foundation, and the holy temple • has been profanely dug up to the foundation.'

Such was the end of the siege of Jerusalem in the second year of Vespasian, and the year of Christ 70. And thus were accomplished the predictions of Jesus concerning the city of Jerusalem, and the temple, and the Jewish people, if they did not repent.

Here I might conclude: but if any should be desirous to see this argument in all its force, and in its full light, it will be requisite to look farther back, and ascend up to the origin of this people; and then trace their history through the several periods of it: for they are a people separated from all other nations, chosen of God, for very great ends and purposes, to uphold the belief of the Divine Unity, the doctrine of a Divine Providence concerning itself in the affairs of mankind, upon the belief of which all religious worship depends, and to preserve the expectation of the coming of a great person to redeem the human race from error and vice, and the bad consequences of their deviation from truth and virtue: Gen, iii. 15.

For these ends God chose Abraham, and brought him out of ' “ Ur of the Chaldees. When he called him out of his country, and from his kindred, and from his father's house, he said: I will make thee a great nation, and I will bless thee, and make thy name great, and thou shalt be a blessing-And in thee shall all the families of the earth be blessed:” Gen. xii. 1-3. The fulfilment of which magnificent promise was limited to Isaac, or his seed by Sarah: Gen. xvii. and afterwards to Jacob: Gen. xxvii. xxviii. And when his posterity was greatly increased, after their sojourning a while in Egypt, where tliey had been treated in a servile manner, God brought

a Sce before in this volume, p. 506. 6 P. 519.

h P. 525.

6 P. 510.

i P. 525.

c P. 514.

* P. 526.

d P. 515. • P. 516.

f P. 518.. I Gen, xv. 7. Neh. ix. 7.

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