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independent heathen writers; and enough is preserved for the purpose of the inquiry; whether there existed in the age of the prophet Isaiah the most remote preparations discernible by human foresight for the conclusion of this order of things, which is so described by him. In particular, whether the Medo-Persian victories by Cyrus, or by any person either of Median or Persian race, as the means of releasing Judah from Babylon, could have been foreseen, when the Median power, as we know, much more the Persian*, had no existence: when there was neither Captivity in Babylon, nor victories of Babylon to produce it: when, in fact, the elder Assyrian power was yet in vigour, the subversion of which was only the opening to the possibility of the several distant changes and events foretold. One prediction of this prophet penetrates through another; and each stage of the anticipated course of things leads to more remote positions of prophecy. There is a depth and a combination of prescience in the prolonged succession of his predictions, which oblige us to ask, whence it came, whence it could come, if not from the revelation of Him "who calleth the things that are not as though they were?"
*The latest age of Isaiah may possibly reach the first rudiments of the Median kingdom, when Deioces was beginning to reduce it into order. Prior to which, the Medes and Babylonians were subjects of the Assyrian empire.-Isaiah's prophesying continued into Hezekiah's reign. Hezekiah died 698 B. C. Deioces began to reign 700 B. C.
In order to evade this conclusion, nothing is left but to deny that Isaiah, or any person of his age, wrote the book ascribed to him; which is to affirm that the Jewish people knew nothing of the Book which they placed at the head of their Prophetic Canon; and, to say nothing of what they might think of its inspired authority, did not even know the age when it was written, or its author. An assertion without evidence, and against it. "Ye are my witnesses," saith God by this prophet, when he delivers to them these his comprehensive predictions. Let them be witnesses only of the date of the prophecies. The prophecies themselves will bear witness to their own inspiration, when compared with their counterpart in the volume of history. "Thus saith the Lord, the king of Israel, Who, as I, shall call, and shall declare it, and set it "in order for me, since I appointed the ancient "people? and the things that are coming and shall "come? Let them shew unto them. Have not I told "thee from that time, and have declared it? Ye are
my witnesses. Is there a God besides me? Yea, "there is no God, I know not any*." An appeal fitly made by the medium of the Prophet who has supplied materials for the fullest confirmation of that appeal.
*Isaiah xliv. 7, 8.
END OF PART I. DISC. VI.
STATE OF PROPHECY FROM THE REIGN OF SOLOMON TO THE RESTORATION FROM THE BABYLONIAN CAPTIVITY.
On the Christian Prophecy within that Period.
WHILST Prophecy enlarged its communications to the kingdoms of Israel and Judah, upon the affairs of their own church and country, it extended also its discoveries concerning the new kingdom and dispensation of God, to be founded by the advent of the Messiah. The Temporal and the Christian predictions had their greatest increase together. But there is this difference in the order of the two, that for some time after the large revelations made in the reigns of David and Solomon upon the Christian subject, there is a pause of that kind of prophecy; whilst the other, directed to the state of the two kingdoms, their corruptions and their fortunes, continues without intermission; and in particular
the missions of the two great Prophets, Elijah and Elisha, ministers of the Temporal Prophecy, are past, before the Gospel subject appears again in view; unless some few of the Psalms of an unknown date, and of a prophetic spirit, may be ascribed to this intermediate time.
There is no important object which I am aware of in fixing the precise time when the predictions of an Evangelical character commenced again; though perhaps there is a real satisfaction in watching the dawn and the progress of this light which God was pleased to dispense by Prophecy, before He gave it in the fulness of his Illumination. But this satisfaction is to be sought rather in the discoveries and doctrine of the prophet, than in the exact chronology of his predictions: and the chronology is of moment, on this head of Christian prophecy, only as it leads to the more just observation of the general successive order of the prophetic oracles.
Separating what is reasonably certain from what is doubtful in this point, we shall have the following data*. 1. The book of Jonah is the most ancient in the Prophetic Canon. 2. Hosea, Amos, Micah, of the Minor Prophets, and Isaiah, of the Greater, will come in the following age. In this series I shall trace the revival of Christian Prophecy.
"Jonah, the son of Amittai." B. C. circ. 825-800. See 2 Kings xiv. 25.-Hosea, in the days of Uzziah, Jotham, Ahaz, and Hezekiah, kings of Judah.-Amos, Isaiah, and Micah, come within the same reigns, B. C. circ. 790—700.