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with the foundation of that commonwealth, and délivered by its Founder: in which respect it offers a great instance of the wise design manifested in the order and communication of the Prophecies. For how unlike is it to the ordinary course of man's own spirit or wisdom to dwell upon the downfal of his own works, just at the moment when they come fresh from his hands. But how like is it to the wisdom of God to predict to the world, or to the nearer witnesses of his revelation, the fall of things which are appointed to a great change, at the season when appearances are most remote from it, and the march or state of events dictates other feelings and opposite anticipations. The approaching settlement of this chosen people, their first advance to Canaan, is the season when their ruin, and their expulsion from that land, are introduced to view. The prophetic tidings of their distant overthrow are made to sound in our ears as loud as the song of their present victory. A combination of things rarely made, and not conformable to the human feeling left to itself; but which is not without example in other conspicuous parts of Prophecy. For as Moses foretels the desolation of his people at the moment when he reared them into a community, so to Solomon were foreshewn the ruins of his Temple at the like season, when he beheld it completed in its magnificence, and bearing upon it the omens of hope and joy in the blessing of its first Inauguration. There is here, if I am not mistaken,
an evidence of a divine wisdom of design, as well as a wisdom of prescience, manifested in the very order and time of such predictions. And among other proofs of fitness attaching to this Mosaic prophecy, I would remark the limitation which it gave, at the most critical time, to the temporary and partial purpose of the covenant of Canaan. It was made clear that the divine promises to all mankind could not be comprehended in that covenant, when the separated people, who had received the grant of Canaan annexed to it, were not permitted to expect a lasting possession of that inheritance.
II. Secondly, I observe that there is a perfect conformity between the Law, and the Prophecy, of Moses. The Law was founded on explicit temporal sanctions: his prophecy dilates explicitly upon the temporal subject, the scheme of earthly blessings and earthly evils. The prophecy, indeed, is no more than a full and graphic exemplification of the actual sanctions of the Law.
From this unquestionable state of the case, in the entire relation and coincidence between the Law, and the principal branch of prophecy contemporary with the Law, there are important conclusions which follow. First, The authority of the Mosaic Law has been proved to the letter, by the accomplishment of the corresponding predictions. God gave his first revealed law with such and such
promises and threatenings annexed to it; he laid the scene of its sanctions in the present world. In the present world both have been exhibited in their turn, except that the curse has prevailed over the blessing, the excess of disobedience in the people placed under this rule giving the preponderance to the measure of the penal avenging retribution. "I will bring a sword upon you, that shall avenge "the quarrel of my covenant*." But if that sword of God has avenged the quarrel of his covenant, it has manifested its truth. For hereby it is, by means of these particular sanctions and the prophecy joined with them, that the world has been made a spectator and the Jew at this day a witness, of the effectual authority of his Law. Secondly, By the visible fulfilment of the sentence of the first law, every other sanction which God has appointed to any part of his revealed word is established in its truth. He has made our eyes, or a known experience at least, in this point, to serve to the conviction of our faith. We have only to look at the Jew under the signs of his long and remarkable visitation, to judge of the veracity of other articles of revelation less subjected to the test and cognizance of a present experience. Thirdly, Hereby the atheist may learn to suspect that bold objection of his upon which he most relies. He would impute to Revealed Religion the choice of the sanction of
* Levit. xxvi. 25.
a future unseen reward and punishment, for the convenience of the uncertainty and disguise which seem to cover that distant scene. But the first Law meets him on his own terms: it stood upon a present retribution; the execution of its sentence is matter of history, and the argument resulting from it is to be answered, before the question is carried to another world.
III. In the next place, I would suggest to the attentive reader of Prophecy the general adaptation, which may now be perceived, in the tenour of its predictions, at the æra of the Law, to the state of things then in being. In this period, as we saw before, Prophecy affords only a feeble light to the contemplation of the Gospel; and as we now see, it bears a luminous and decisive evidence to the specific genius and authority of the Mosaic Law: a statement this of its comparative use and clearness, which has not been taken from any previous hypothesis, but has been strictly deduced from the consideration of its own records.
Under this leading view of it, in its two branches, we shall be freed from the temptation or desire of straining single texts of prophecy from their proper scope, or assigning to them a higher sense or evidence than they will justly bear. The attempt to enlarge the interpretation of prophecy has kept
pace in some degree with the like attempt made on the interpretation of the Mosaic Law. In a spirit of piety, but not of sound wisdom, men have wished to find the Gospel doctrines and sanctions in that law, as they have wished to find a Gospel sense in every prediction. But under the influence of this expectation it cannot but follow that we read the word of prophecy, and with it the rest of Scripture, with less sincerity of satisfaction than we might do, if we were prepared to receive its sense, rather than impose it. And a consequence is, that we shall ascribe the difficulty and want of satisfaction which will always be felt under this errour, not to the principle by which we interpret, but to the Sacred Volume itself, which is subjected to our wrong impression of it. Whereas the most impartial and patient meditation upon the genuine sense of the inspired volume will give us far juster notions of its nature and use than we can frame for it. Such meditation may discharge a prejudice, but it will requite us with truth perspicuous and consistent.
I shall conclude our view of Prophecy at the institution of the Law, with a few words of remark upon the occupation of Canaan which followed, and closed the economy of that period.
IV. The occupation of Canaan gave to the Israelites a domicile to their law, and an investiture