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terion of truth and falfhood, which Paul recommends, viz. •Search the Scriptures, the prophecies of the Old Testament,
whether these things are so. This would be an employment of their precious time, and literary pains, both fatisfactory to themselves and beneficial to the Christian cause. They would then learn to distinguish between the manifest contrariety of the miraculous conception of Mary, and the sole feminine origin of Jesus, related in unauthentic passages of the New Testament, to the tenor of the prophecies, and the perfect agreement with them of genuine Christian Scripture, which represents Christ • as a man of the seed of David, the son of man, and of Joseph, the husband of Mary;' neither depriving him of his conjugal honors, nor describing him as an old dotard, who had married a young woman; for such he is depictured in those pieces, stiled the boly family, and the fight into Egypt, which are the works of the most celebrated artists, of the Italian, Flemish, Dutch, and English schools of painting, without any warrant from Scripture. But surely it is merely time and labor lost to obtrude on the
public nominal harmonies of the four Gorpels, which Gospels, however they may tally in many instances, in this, and perhaps in-others, really clash, and are inconsistent, not merely with each other, but with themselves ; exempli gratia; What can be more incongruous than Matthew i. 18. with Matthew xiii. 55. or than Luke i. 34, 35. with Luke iv. 22?
I give theologists credit for the goodness of their intentions, and verily believe they mean, by such compositions, to effectually refute the Deists. But they have mistaken the means; for, by asserting a consistency between texts, as opposite to each other as light and darkness, they have, in particular, confirmed them in their unbelief, and done great diservice to the cause of Christianity in general. On the other hand, if, moving in their proper sphere, they had 'proved all things,' recorded of the person and birth of Christ, in the present established canon of the New Testament, by the prophecies which went before concerning him,' compared them together, boldly pointed out the difference between them in some instances, and their agreement in others, and atlast had
holden fast that which is good,' or embraced, as true, those particulars only, concerning Christ, in which Gospels and Epistles coincide with the written predictions relating to him, believing and saying none other things than those, which Mofes and the prophets did say should come, they would have merited the thanks of all rational believers, and put infidelity to a non-plus. Infidelity, in that case, deprived of support from her unskilful antagonists, must have recurred to her old stale trick of falsely supposing, with her great champion Porphyry, that the prophecies themselves were a forgery, and written after the events, to which they refer, had taken place.
What concord has Christ with Belial ?' asks the apostle in a moral sense. Even so, in a doctrinal signification, what agreement hath Isaiah with Athanasius, Arius, and Socinus ? The superstition of the idolator is not more at variance with the religion of the Christian, than is the doctrine of Christian Platonists, of various denominations, with the predictions of the prophet. The Athanafiáns, or Pseudo-Athanasians,
represent represent, O horrible! your Mefliah as the incarnate God; the Arians, or Apollinarians, as a pre-existent little God, and a post-exiftent God-man; and the Socinians as a virginborn man, rejecting the nonsensical hypotheses of the two former fects, but yet agreeing with them in the monstrous figment of the miraculous conception of his virgin mother, Mary, and his consequent birth from her womb alone, to the utter exclusion of an human father. But Isaiah, your lawgiver, Moses, and the prophet Jeremiah, describe your Messiah a man,' and speak of him as 'a rod out of the stem of Jeffe, a branch out of his roots, and a root of Jeffe.' Your lawgiver, Moses, thus records the promised blessing to be fulfilled in the Messiah, “In thy,' Abraham's, 'feed Thail all the nations of the earth be blest;' and prophetically declares, “the Lord, your God, will raise up unto thee,' the people of Israel, “a prophet, of thy brethren, like unto 'me. Jeremiah : predicts, 'I,' the Lord, will raise unto David, a righteous Branch. See Isaiah liii. 3. xi. 1; 10. Gen. xxii. 18. Deut. xviii. 15: Jerem. xxiii. 5:
Hence also the Meffiah is emphatically stiled the branch; 'I,' the Lord of hosts, • will bring forth my servant, the branch ; behold, the man whose name is the branch;' Zech. iii. 8. and vi. 12. Laitly, being the branch from David, the prophets Jeremiah, Hosea, and Ezekiel, call him, according to their Oriental license of expreffion, by the very name of his royal progenitor, stiling him David, in the following prediction of events yet unfulfilled ; “They,' the people Israel and Judah, shall ferve David, their king, whom I,' the Lord their God, will raise up unto them,' Jer. xxx. 9. •Afterward shall the children of Ifrael seek David their king,' Hofea iii. 5. • I will set up one shepherd over them, the flock, Israel, “and he shall feed them, even my fervant David, and I the Lord will be their God, and my servant David a prince among them; and David my servant shall be king over them: and my servant David Thall be their prince for ever,' Ezek. xxxiv. 23, 24. and xxxvii. 24, 25.
With this prophetic defcription of the Mefliah in the Old Testament, delivered