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deemer. After the Deluge, it established the peace of the Natural world. In Abraham, it founded the double covenant of Canaan and the Gospel. In the age of the Law, it spoke of the Second Prophet, and foreshadowed, in Types, the Christian doctrine, but foretold most largely the future fate of the selected People, who were placed under that preparatory dispensation. In the time of David, it revealed the Gospel Kingdom, with the promise of the Temporal. In the days of the later Prophets, it presignified the changes of the Mosaic Covenant, embraced the history of the chief Pagan kingdoms, and completed the annunciation of the Messiah and his work of Redemption. After the Captivity, it gave a last and more urgent information of the approaching Advent of the Gospel.
Thus ancient Prophecy ended as it had begun. The first discovery of it in Paradise, and the conclusion of it in the book of Malachi, are directed to one point. In its course it had multiplied its disclosures, and furnished various succours to religion, and created an authentic record of God's Providence and Moral Government to be committed to the world. But its earliest, and its latest use, was in the preparatory revelation of Christianity. It remains, as the general inference to be deduced from the whole, that the Holy Jesus, and his religion, are the one principal object of Prophecy, the beginning and end of the elder revelation of God.
St Paul has intimated the varied form, and different degrees of light, under which Prophecy was successively dispensed, when he says of it, that "God in sundry partitions of his Truth, and in divers manners, spake in time past unto the Fathers by "the Prophets." And if the inquiry, which has been so far pursued through these Discourses, might pass for a Comment upon this text of the Apostle, by elucidating, in any degree, "the mani"fold wisdom" of the divine design which is embodied in the Volume of Prophecy, perhaps they may be thought to have their sufficient use.
* Πολυμερῶς καὶ πολυτρόπως. Heb. i. 1.
END OF DISCOURSE VI.
OF THE DIVINE FOREKNOWLEDGE, AND ITS UNION WITH THE LIBERTY OF HUMAN ACTION.
ISAIAH XLVI. 10.
Declaring the end from the beginning, and from ancient times the things that are not done, saying, My counsel shall stand, and I will fulfil all my pleasure.
In the first ages of Christianity, when its apologists and teachers applied the argument from Prophecy to demonstrate its truth, a discussion was soon introduced as to the reconcileableness of the Divine Foreknowledge with the Liberty of human Action. For some of the things foretold in Prophecy, being, in their obvious and formal character, of the nature of sins, and others, the effect and consequence of them, it came in the way to examine whether the agents could be left free, when their actions were thus ascertained and foreknown. The question was not wholly a new one. It had been discussed, though with some difference in its form, in the schools of Philosophy, where the debate commonly
had been, whether the foreknowledge of future events, if such foreknowledge any where existed, did not infer a fatal necessity of things. From this previous entertainment of the question, it passed into the Church, and the defences of religion; and there it has been pursued into a more subtle and elaborate investigation than it had undergone before. For it has been the fortune of Revealed Religion to attract all the objections which the stock of controversial philosophy could supply, to render the reception of its truth jealous and reluctant; and even the very force and importunate authority of its evidence seems to have provoked the suspicion and scepticism of Natural Reason, and to have operated in many instances to a more pertinacious discussion of difficult points, which had any connexion with it; whilst men, whether with a good, or an ill faith, have scrupulously measured every sacrifice of doubt, and disputed every concession of belief, which the system of Religion, and its evidence, have demanded of them.
The ancient Fathers of the Church met this question, concerning the union of the Divine Prescience with human Freedom, wisely, and most reasonably. They stood upon the proofs of God's. Prescience, which authentic and unambiguous prophecies supplied; they maintained the Liberty of human action, without which they saw there could be no religion; and, whatever solutions, or qualifi