Page images

out what S, wheretween the

the lame in th. derated

der, that wonderful Correspondence there is between the four Evangelists, among themselves, where there is no Difference to be found, but what among Writers, which had not confederated together, should be; and observe the same in the Books of Kings and Chronicles. See how the same great Design is visible throughout the Mofaical Writings, the Prophets, and the Gospel. How exactly does the Lapse of Mankind, by Adam, agree with the Reparation made by Jesus Christ? How does the old Levitical Law plainly appear, to be but the Sciography, or rough Draught of the Gospel, and the Characters and Lines of one exactly visible in the other? For my Part, I think it impossible for so many, tho' judicious and wise Mon, without Assistance from God, to carry any one Design with that Exactness that the Penmen of the Holy Scripture have : But I am sure it is the greatest of Ab, surdities to assert, that such a noble and uniform Design should be carried on, through so many Ages, by a Parcel of wild Enthusiasts. So that let the Writers of the Bible be what you please to style them, either inspired Men, or Impostors, I shall not dispute that now, they must needs be Men well in their Wits; and what is more, Men of good Sense.

2. It is very evident from Scripture, That Prophecy Prophets proceeded from another Cause, viz. the Influence of had the In God's holy Spirit. The innumerable Instances in Script

spiration of ture of the Prophets and Apostles being in the Spirit, of Ghoft, the Spirit's coming upon them, of their speaking Things by Command, and of the Lord, of their being caught up into Heaven, &c, are undeniable Proofs of the Cause of their Revelation, viz. the Holy Ghost, or the Spirit of God. Indeed it is not easy, to give a philosophical and notional Account of this supernatural Influence, or by what Means it was conveyed, or by what Criterion, or Marks, they could distinguish it from a Delusion; be, cause we who are not honoured with these supernatural Gifts, can have no Idea of these Things, as having never been the Objects of our Understandings': But it is not to be doubted, but these holy Men had as 'absolute

. Certainty


[ocr errors]

Certainty of the Truth of them, as we have of Things that do immediately strike our Senses, and did as perfectly know them to be the Word of God, as that those Things are, which we see to be, and that they could as little question their Inspiration, as we do our Senses. For as the Senses are only the ordinary Way of God's conveying Ideas to us, and these are so clear to us, by their Familiarity and repeated Trials of their Faithfulness, that we cannot but rely upon them, and cannot but give afsent to them; fo the Inspiration of God to the Prophets, by their clear Evidence continually, and by their wonted Experience of it, left no more Doubt in them of the Truth of it, than the Appearance of the Sun does leave in us ; that it is Day, or that what we see is really seen by us, and is not the Delusion of a Dream. To say we ordinary Persons can have no Notion of this extraordinary Influx of God, and therefore it cannot be, is only to expose our own Ignorance; and a blind Man might with as much Modesty pretend to demonstrate against the Existence of Colours, or a Clown laugh at mathematical, Theorems, as we pretend to dispute against the Certainty of this fupernatural Influence, which God Almighty has been pleased to give us no Notices of. Might not God Almighty as well have given us ten Senses as five? And if he has been pleased to make an extraordinary Impression upon some Men's Minds, which he does not on all, must we therefore affert this as impossible ; because we, who do not experience it, do not perceive it? Must all Men be Blind, because we are so? Or must every Man be Mad and Enthusiastical that hath better Eyes than we? I am sure this is a very mad Way of Arguing; and yet there is no more Reason for Men to question the Truth of the Revelation of the Prophets, than blind Men have to question our Sight. Nay, the miraculous Power which did usually attend Prophecy, was more undeniable Evi, dence to the Beholders of their divine Influence, than the joint Assertion of the Generality of Mankind can be, that there is such a Thing as Sight or Colours to a blind Man; because Senfation is a greater Degree of Evidence,


than Testimony ; and because a Man will sooner believe his Senses than a thousand Witnesses. A blind Man cannot believe there are Colours but only by being told so; but when I see a Prophet, doing Miracles, I am sure he is influenced by God, because I see he does Works above the Power of Nature.

3. You are very much mistaken, when you assert that Prophecy Prophecy is inconsistent with Wisdom, and that Men of not inconfigood Sense, such as Solomon, Kalcol, Heman, &c. were no

O Wifulam, Prophets, but only poor Shepherds, Women, and other Persons of mean Parts were endowed with that Gift. One would wonder how Men could lay down an Allertion, which is so easy to be confuted as this is. Pray what must be thought of Moses, of whom 'tis faid, there arose not since in Israel a Prophet like him? (Deut. xxxiv.10.3 Does his noble Genius, his invincible Courage, his fagaci. ous Prudence, his vast Depth in Philosophy, argue him a Man of mean Parts? Methinks the Heathen Longinus's Character of him, that he was evsię s tugav, No mean Männ, should be enough to free him, at least, from his Share in this Calumny. What do you think of Nathan, Ifaiah, and Daniel, who were bred up Courtiers, and made a great Figure in the Ages, when they lived, and the Writings of two of them shew them to be Men of fine Parts? But, I think, you have a little outshot your self, in the Instance of Solomon, in denying him to be a Prophet. For it is recorded in Scripture, that God revealed himself twice unto Solomon, First at his Entrance upon his Kingdom, when he asked Wisdom of God, 2 Chron. i. 8. Secondly, upon his finishing the Temple, 2 Chron. vii, 12. Nay, what do you think of David, who was a Propher as well as a King? And as for your Instances of Kalkol, and Heman, those great Masters of Musick, as if they were Men of too good Sense to be Prophets; if you please to turn to i Chron. xxv. 5. you shall there find, that one of them, viz. Haman, is there expressly called the Kings Seer, or Prophet.

to be med, and ind made

emples 2 Chros a Prophetas, and

ing? And as David, who was. Vll, 12. Nav:

Prophecies 4. You lay down also another very false Suppofition, not variable That the Prophecies varied always according to the difAccording ferent Passions and Dispositions of the Prophets, and thereto the Prophet's Paf fore would hence conclude, that their Prophecy was only fions.

Imagination. But this is very False, and very Illogical. First, it is False : For Moses, who is characterised to be the meekest of all Men, did prophesie as dreadful Judgments against the Israelites, as any of the Prophets, Vid. Lev. xxvi. 14. isaiah's Prophecy is in the several Places very different ; sometimes he prophesies joyful, at other times very dismal Things. And even Jeremiah, the most mournful Prophet of all, does foretel the Jews joyful Deliverance from their Captivity, as well as the Captivity it self. And Dariel at that very Time, when he was mourning and fasting in Sackcloth and Ashes, had revealed to him by the Angel Gabriel the joyful Coming of the Messias, with all the Benefits which should follow from him. Secondly, there is no Consequence in the Argument, if the Supposition were true. For if God did so far comply with second Causes, as some Times to Co-operate with them, it does not follow that those Causes could produce a supernatural Effect of themselves. Tho'God should pick out merry Men to foretel joyful Things, and melancholy one's to foretel fad one's ; it does not follow that either merry or melancholy Men could foretel any Thing without the Asistance of God: Because Prediction is the Effect of divine and infinite Knowledge, and not of bodily Temperament: It would be still the Gift of God, thoʻ such Qualifications were necessary

for the receiving it. Palions s. As for your Instances of some Men's being under not the fome Passions, at the Time of their Revelation, and thereCause of

fore they must be the Cause of it. This is an Argument Prophecy.

with a Witness. What tho' Elisha called for a Minstrel, must therefore Mirth be the Cause of Prophecy? I suppose the Reason why he called for it, was to compose his Spirits, which were ruffled at the Presence of a wicked King; and it was therefore proper to render his Mind Sedate, before he presumed to offer up his Petitions to


Il, but theyorld would beo pais too ivy. Judgment of the

God, for the prophetick Influence of his Spirit. What tho? Moses did predict the Slaughter of the Ægyptian First-born, when he was angry with Pharaoh, must Anger be the Cause of Prophecy? Indeed angry Men may wish Ill, but they seldom, I think, prophesie it ; for if they did, the World would be in a sad Condition. But, I think, Mofes brought it to pass too ; so that it appears there was something more in this heavy Judgment than a little Scolding Threarning, which you Theists make of the rest of the Prophecies. Cain was wroth when God spake to him ; but in those ancient Times, God was wont to reveal himself to Mankind in other Tempers. And when Ezekiel is said to be in the hot Anger of his Spirit, before his Prophecy, this must not be understood of natural Anger, but only the violent Exagitation of the Spirit in him. So the Spirit lifted me up, and took me away, and I went in Bitterness, and in the Heat or Anger of my Spirit ; but the Hand of the Lord was strong upon me. Which is a most lively Description of the Operation of the prophetick Spirit in the Body of the Prophets, with all his Struggles and Reluctancies under it. 'Tis a Metaphor taken from a hot fiery Horse, that struggles and contends, and is impatient under the Bridle of his Rider. It is a Delcription not unlike that of Sibylla in Virg. Æn. 6.

At Phæbi nondum patiens immanis in antro .
Bacchatur Vates, magnum fi pectore pollit
Excußiffe Deum, tanto magis ille fatigat
Os rabidum, fera corda domans, fingitque premendo.

Neither is there any force in what you say, as to the . . Distinction which you would have Josiah make between

Jeremiah and the Prophetess Hulda; for there is no Doubt to be made ; but if Feremiah had been consulted upon the same Point, he would have given the same Answer.

6. But in the next Place, you advance a strange Para- Vain Opidox, when you assert that Prophecy varied according to nions not

har mixed with : the idle Opinions of the Prophets, as if King Nebuchad

Prophecy. nezzar's Diviners, and all the Persian Magi, were true


« PreviousContinue »