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ancient and modern times, and the farther , you search into the truth of history, the more you' will be satisfied of the truth of prophecy. They are only pretenders to learning and knowlege, who are patrons of infidelity. You have heard, in these discourses, of the two greatest men, whom this country or perhaps the whole world hath produced, the Lord Bacon and Sir Isaac Newton, the one wishing for a history of the several prophecies of scripture compared with the events, the other writing Observations upon the prophecies of Daniel and the Apocalyps of St. John: and the testimony of two such (not to mention others)- is enough to weigh down ^he authority of all the infidels who ever lived.
You fee what standing monuments the Jews are every where of divine vengeance for their infidelity; and beware therefore of the like crime, lest the like punishment should follow; for (Rom. XI. 21.) if God spared not the natural tranche^ take heed lejl he also spare not thee. Our infidelity would be worse even than that of the Jews, for they receive and own the prophecies, but do not fee and acknowlege their completion in Jesus, whereas our modern infidels reject both the prophecy and the completion together. But what strange disingenuity must it be, when there is all the evidence that history
cap can afford for the prophecy, and in many cases even ocular demonstration for the completion, to be still obstinate and unbelieving? May we not very properly bestow upon such persons that just reproach of our Saviour, (Luke XXIV. 25.) O fools, and flow of heart to believe all that the prophets have spoken t But I have good hope and confidence in God, that (Hebr. X. 39.) we are not of them who draw back unto perdition, but of them who believe to the saving of the foul.
Indeed if it was once or twice only that the thing had succeeded and the event had fallen out agreeably to the prediction, we should not so much wonder, we should not lay such a stress upon it; it might be ascribed to a lucky contingency, or owing to rational conjecture: but that so many things, so very unlikely ever to happen, should be so particularly foretold, and so many ages afterwards so punctually fulfilled, transcends without doubt all the skill and power of man, and must be resolved into the omniscience and omnipotence of God. Nothing certainly can be a stronger proof of a person's acting by divine commission, and speaking by divine inspiration; and it is assigned in scripture as the test and criterion between a true and a false prophet; (Deut. XVIII. 22.) When a prophet jpeaketh in the name of the Lord, if the thing follow not nor come to pass, that U the thing which the Lord hath not spoken, but th$ prophet hath spoken it presumptuously; and in another place, (Jer. XXVIII. 9.) The prophet who prophesieth of peace, when the word of the prophet shall come to pass, then shall the prophet be known that the Lord hath truly sent him.. It is ib much the peculiar prerogative of God, or of those who are commissioned by him, certainly to foretel future events, that it is made a challenge to all the false gods, (If. XLI. 21, 28.) Produce your cause, faith the Lord; bring forth your slrong reasons, faith the king of Jacob; Show the things that are to come hereafter, that we may know that ye are gods. Lying oracles have been in the world; but all the wit and malice of men and devils cannot produce any such prophecies as are recorded in scripture: and what stronger attestations can you require to the truth and divinity of the doctrin? No man can bring with him more authentic credentials of his coming from God: and the more you shall consider and understand them, the more you will be convinced, that (Rev. XIX. 10.) the testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy.
, If to the prophecies you add the miracles, so falutary and beneficial, so publicly wrought and so credibly attested, above any other matters of
fact whatever, by those who were eye-witnesses of them, and sealed the truth of their testimony with their blood; if to these external confirmations you add likewise the internal excellence of Christianity, the goodness of the doctrin itself, so moral, so perfect, so divine, and the purity and perfection of its motives and sanctions, above any other system of morality or religion in the world; if you seriously consider and compare all these things together, it is almost impossible not to feel conviction and to cry out, as Thomas did after handling our Saviour, (John XX. 28.) My Lord and my God! This is only one argument out of many, that there must be a divine revelation, if there is any truth in prophecy] and there.must be truth in prophecy, as we have shown in several instances and might show in several more, if there is any dependence upon the testimony of others or upon our own fenses, upon what we read in books or upon what we fee in the world.
Men are sometimes apt to think, that if they could but fee a miracle wrought in favor of religion, they would readily resign all their scruples, believe without doubt, and obey without reserve. The very thing that you desire, you have. You have the greatest and most striking of miracles in the series of scripture-prophecies accomplished i plished; accomplished, as we see, in the present state of almost all nations, the Africans, the Egyptians, the Arabians, the Turks, the Jews, the Papists, the Protestants, Niniveh, Babylon, Tyre, the seven- churches of Asia, Jerusalem, and Rome. And this is not a transient miracle, ceasing almost as soon as performed; but is permanent, and protracted thro' the course of many generations. It is not a miracle delivered only upon the report of others, but is subject to your own inspection and examination. It is not a miracle exhibited only before a certain number of witnesses, but is open to the observation and contemplation of all mankind; and after so many ages is still growing, still improving to future ages. What stronger miracle therefore can you require for your conviction? or what will avail, if this be found ineffectual? Alas, if you reject the evidence of prophecy, neither would you be persuaded though one should rise from the dead. What can be plainer? You see or may see with your own eyes the scripture-prophecies accomplished: and if the scripture-prophecies are accomplished, the scripture must be the word of God; and if the scripture is the word of God, the Christian religion must be true.