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Artaxerxis Persarum regis inspiravit Hesdræ sacerdoti tribus Levi præteritorum prophetarum omnes rememorare sermones et restitueré populo eam legem quæ data est per Moysen.
Against the Story in Esdras, II. Maccab. 2. Josephus, Antiquities, II. 1.-Cyrus took occasion from the prophecy of Isaiah to release the people. The Jews held property in peace under Cyrus in Babylon, therefore they might well have the Law.
Josephus, in the whole history of Esdras, says not a single word of this restoration.-II. Kings, xvii. 37.
Scripture has provided passages of consolation and warning for every condition of life.
Nature seems to have done the same thing by her two infinities, natural and moral, for we shall always have those who are higher and lower, who are more and less able, who are noble and in low estate, in order to abate our pride, and raise our lowliness.
Order, against the objection that the Scripture has no order. The heart has its own order; the mind too has its own, which is by premisses and demonstrations, that of the heart is wholly different. It were absurd to prove that we are worthy of love by putting forth in order the causes of love.
Jesus Christ and Saint Paul use the order of charity, not of the intellect, for they wish to warm, not to teach; the same with Saint Augustine. This order consists mainly in digressions on each point which may illustrate the main end, and keep it ever in view.
God and the Apostles foreseeing that the seed of pride would cause heresies to spring up, and not wishing to give them occasion to arise by defining them, have placed in the Scripture and the prayers of the Church contrary words and sentences to produce their fruit in time.
So in morals he gives charity to produce fruits contrary to lust.
He who knows the will of his master will be beaten with
more stripes, because of the power he has by his knowledge. Qui justus est justificetur adhuc, because of the power which he has by justice. From him who has received most will the greatest account be demanded, because the aid received has given him greater power.
There is an universal and essential difference between the actions of the will and all other actions.
The will is one of the chief organs of belief, not that it forms belief, but that things are true or false according to the side on which we view them. The will which chooses one side rather than the other turns away the mind from considering the qualities of all that it does not like to see, thus the mind, moving in accord with the will, stays to look at the side it chooses, and so judges by what it sees.
All things work together for good to the elect, even the obscurities of Scripture, which they honour because of what is divinely clear. And all things work together for evil to the reprobate, even what is clear, which they blaspheme because of the obscurities they do not understand.
How many stars have telescopes discovered for us which did not exist for the philosophers of old. Men have roundly taken holy Scripture to task in regard to the great multitude of stars, saying: "We know that there are only a thousand and twenty-two."
The meaning changes according to the words which express it. The meaning receives its dignity from words instead of giving it. We must seek examples of this.
Words differently arranged have different meanings, and meanings differently arranged produce different effects.
THE prophecies are the strongest proofs of Jesus Christ. For these therefore God has made the most provision; since the event which has fulfilled them is a miracle existing from the birth of the Church to the end. Therefore God raised up prophets during sixteen hundred years, and during four hundred years afterwards he dispersed all these prophecies with all the Jews, who bore them into all regions of the world. Such was the preparation for the birth of Jesus Christ, whose Gospel exacting belief from every man made it necessary not only that there should be prophecies to inspire this belief, but that these prophecies should be spread throughout the whole world, so that the whole world should embrace it.
Prophecies. If one man alone had made a book of predictions concerning Jesus Christ, both as to the time. and the manner of his coming, and if Jesus Christ had come in agreement with these prophecies, the fact would have had infinite force.
But in this case there is much more. Here is a succession of men for the space of four thousand years, who without interruption or variation, follow one another in foretelling the same event. Here is a whole people announcing it, existing for four thousand years, to testify in a body their certainty, from which they cannot be diverted by all the threatenings and persecutions brought to bear against them; this is in a far greater degree important.
But it was not enough that the prophecies existed, they needed also distribution through all places, and preservation through all time. And in order that this agreement
might not be taken as an effect of chance, it was necessary it should be foretold.
It is much more glorious for the Messiah that they should be spectators and even instruments of his glory, beyond the fact that God had preserved him.
Proof.-Prophecy with accomplishment.
That which preceded, and that which followed Jesus Christ.
The prophecies concerning the Messiah are mingled with some concerning other matters, so that neither the prophecies of the Messiah should be without proof, nor the special prophecies without fruit.
Non habemus regem nisi Cæsarem. Therefore Jesus Christ was the Messiah, because they had no longer any king but a stranger, and because they would have no other.
The eternal kingdom of the race of David, II. Chron., by all the prophecies, and with an oath. And it was not temporally accomplished. Jer. xxxiii. 20.
Zeph. iii. 9.-"I will give my words to the Gentiles, that all may serve me with one consent."
Ezekiel xxxvii. 25.-" My servant David shall be their prince for ever."
Exodus iv. 22.-" Israel is my first born."
We might easily think that when the prophets foretold that the sceptre would not depart from Judah until the advent of the eternal king, they spoke to flatter the people, and that their prophecy was proved false by Herod. But to show that this was not their meaning, and that on the contrary they well knew that the temporal kingdom should cease, they said they would be without a king, and without a prince, and for a long time. Hosea iii. 4.
Prophecies. That Jesus Christ will sit on the right hand till God has put his enemies under his feet.
Therefore he will not subject them himself.
The time of the first advent was foretold, the time of the second is not so, because the first was to be secret, the second must be glorious, and so manifest that even his enemies will recognise it. But as his first coming was to be obscure, and to be known only of those who searched the Scriptures
The prophecies must be unintelligible to the wicked, Daniel xii. 10, Hosea xiv. 9, but intelligible to those who are well instructed.
The prophecies which represent him poor, represent him master of the nations.-Is. lii. 16, etc. liii. Zech. ix. 9.
The prophecies which foretell the time foretell him only as master of the Gentiles and suffering, and not as in the clouds nor as judge. And those which represent him thus as judge and in glory do not specify the time.
Do you think that the prophecies cited in the Gospel were reported to make you believe? No, but to prevent your believing.
Prophecies. The time was foretold by the state of the Jewish people, by the state of the heathen world, by the state of the temple, by the number of years.
It is daring to predict the same affair in so many ways. It was necessary that the four idolatrous or pagan monarchies, the end of the kingdom of Judah, and the seventy weeks should coincide, and all this before the second temple was destroyed.
Prophecies. The seventy weeks of Daniel are equivocal in the term of commencement, because of the terms of the prophecy, and in the term of conclusion because of the differences in the chronologists. But all this difference
extends only to two hundred years.
We understand the prophecies only when we see the events occur, thus the proofs of retreat, discretion, silence, etc., are evidence only to those who know and believe them. Joseph so interior in a law so exterior.