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who hath left houses, or brethren, or sisters, or father, or mother, or wife, or children, or fields for my name's sake, and for the gospel, or the kingdom of God, shall receive many fold, or an hundred fold, in this present time, and in the world to come shall inherit everlasting life.” Christ assures his disciples that their temporal losses, at that time, would be abundantly compensated by peace of mind, joy in the Holy Spirit, exultation and triumph in the discharge of their duty, good offices from the well disposed, and, particularly, by their exemption from the fearful vengeance which impended over the unbelieving Jews.
Of the prophecies enumerated, those which refer to the propagation and perpetuity of the gospel, to its promotion of goodness and suppression of vice, to the captivity of the Jews, and to the wide fame of Mary's respectful and pious act, are at this time accomplishing
There is a difficulty in our Lord's prophecy, uttered after his triumphant entry into Jerusalem, “o Ye shall not see me henceforth, till ye shall say, Blessed is he that cometh in the name of the Lord.” The unbelieving Jews are addressed; to whom our Lord did not appear after his resurrection. But the Jews shall acknowledge and worship him, either at his future appearance when they are restored to their own land, or when he sits on his glorious throne to judge the world.
• Matt. xxjii. 39.
Our Lord thus expressly prophesies of the general resurrection and judgment :“p The hour cometh in which all that are in the graves shall hear his voice; and shall come forth ; they that have done good, unto the resurrection of life; and they that have done evil, unto the resurrection of condemnation. “The Son of Man shall come in the glory of his Father, with his angels: and then he shall reward every man according to his works." Wr Whosoever shall be ashamed of me, and of my words in this adulterous and sinful generation, of him also shall the Son of Man be ashamed, when he cometh in the glory of his Father, with the holy angels.” And again, in that awful and affecting passage which is thus introduced: “ But when the Son of Man shall come in his glory, and all the holy angels with him, then shall he sit on the throne of his glory : and before him shall be gathered all nations.” As the rest of our Lord's predictions have been so exactly accomplished, and are even now accomplishing before our eyes, let us live as becomes those who believe that his prophecies relating to the future judgment will also be accomplished in their season.
I shall make a few short observations on our Lord's prophecies; and on the nature of the evidence for Christianity arising from them.
He left to his apostles the splendid office of foretelling many remote events of his church; and the world soon beheld the completion of his prophecies,
9 Matt. xvi. 27.
Mark viji. 38.
P John v. 29. • Matt. xxy. 31, 32, &c.
either entirely or in part, except that of his coming to judge mankind.
Some of his prophecies are remarkable for precision in minute circumstances, and for proximity of
" The Son of Man shall be mocked and spit on, and the third day he shall rise again. AU ye shall be offended because of me this night. This
night, before the cock crow twice, thou shalt deny me thrice. Ye shall be baptized with the Holy Spirit, not * many days hence. This generation shall not pass away, till all these things be fulfilled.” A false prophet would have spoken in general terms, and of remote events.
Some of his prophecies relate to supernatural facts ; such as his resurrection, his ascension, and the effu. sion of the Spirit. Predictions of this kind must be uttered under a consciousness of the divine co-operation. It is inconceivable that a sober z impostor would foretel miraculous events, the failure of which would blast his character ; and at other times confidently assert that his religion would be extensively received, and would continue always, even to the end of the world.
It may be well argued here as with respect to Moses : who, if he had not received a divine com. mission would have annexed other sanctions to the observance of his laws than fruitful seasons, temporal prosperity, and victory over enemies.
Other facts foretold by our Lord, though within the power of natural causes, were a improbable in themselves: as the total destruction of Jerusalem and the temple during that generation of men ; and the extensive conversion of the Gentiles to a religion which took its rise from a despised and hated people, and contradicted the prejudices and passions of man. kind.
Luke xviii. 32, 3.
w Mark xiv. 30. * Acts i. 5.
, Matt. xxiv. 34. 2 See more on this subject, part ii. c. iv.
• See Jortin on the Christian Religion, p. 102.
Though an impostor would not have prophesied of events just at hand, that he might avoid a speedy detection, before the worldly advantages proposed by him could arise from his imposture; yet there may be wise reasons why a true prophet chose to predict not only approaching but distant facts. Thus the evidence for his religion becomes a growing one : and it appears that the prophecies were inserted in the history before their completion. We have indeed the strongest proof from historical evidence, from in. ternal marks, and from the character of the writers, that all our Lord's prophecies were actually uttered at the very time represented by the evangelists : but when we know that some of them were accomplished after the existence of the four gospels, and when we see them accomplishing at this day, we need no proof that the accomplishment is posterior to the time of the writer who records the prediction.
The clearness of our Lord's prophecies is another point which deserves to be insisted on. They are generally delivered to his disciples in plain historical language. Where figures occur, which happens very b rarely, they are such as the easterns were accustomed to in their discourse and sacred writings.
• Matt. xix. 28. Luke xxii. 30. Matt. xxiv, 29, 30, 31. and p. p.
There is nothing obscure or ambiguous, like the ancient oracles ; except where he purposely concealed his meaning from the Jews under o figure or parable. To his disciples he spake with great plainness and perspicuity.
What our Lord said to his immediate followers may
well be considered as addressed to all mankind. “ Now I have told you before it come to pass, that, when it is come to pass, ye might believe.” A wise man may foresee some events, relating to an individ. ual or a nation, which depend on a formed character and a connected train of circumstances. But reason and experience shew that there are likewise events of so contingent and improbable a nature, that the foresight of them exceeds the greatest human sagacity : and that it is infinitely above the knowledge of man to point out a variety of such facts, and the ecircumstances of them, whether near or distant, with a certainty which has not failed in a single instance. This belongs to God, and to those whom he inspires : and accordingly the great Searcher of hearts and Disposer of events thus challenged the false heathen deities by his prophet Isaiah : “Shew f the things which are to come hereafter, that we may know that ye are gods.
As John ii. 19. ib. vii. 38.
dib. xiv. 29. See also c. xiii. 19. xvi. 4.
• The Mohammedan doctors insist on the following general prophecy as a convincing proof that the Koran came down from heaven. “ Toe Greeks have been overcome by the Persians, in the nearest part of their land ; but, after their defeat, they shall overcome the others in their turn, within a few years. Sale's Koran, c. Ixx, p. 330, 1.
fc. xli. 23.