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said to have been always in a state of pilgrimage, travelling onward through successive periods of revelation, and finding no rest, till they had crossed the barrier flood, which divided the law and the gospel, the first dispensation and the second.
The accomplishment, then, of the First of the promises made to Abraham, when God brought in his people by signs and wonders, "to the land which "he had sworn to their fathers to give them," laid the foundation of the Jewish polity, under their separate law, and with the privileges of their distinctive character: whereas the Second of those promises remained yet to be accomplished. But if it was deferred, the fulfilment of the first was made to be one conspicuous proof of its equal certainty, and also the fulfilment of the first, we see, was in order to its completion.
2. Next, the whole order of Prophecy bears a visible reference to this twofold design of the divine economy communicated to Abraham. Take the Prophecies in their several periods, it will be found they all grew out of the one design, or the other. They have their connexion either with the Gospel, or the Jewish people. Their subjects coincide with the promulgation, or progress, of the first, or with the history of the last; at least, the exceptions to this determinate reference of Prophecy are inconsiderable. But the prophecies directed to the history of that people, since they existed as a people principally for the sake of the Gospel, will bear
their share in giving evidence to the Gospel itself. Every prophecy which served to uphold the faith of that people; every prediction which passed through their hands, whether relating to themselves, or to the nations with whom their fortunes connected them, as it consolidated the authority of the dispensation under which they lived, was instrumental by a plain and necessary consequence, first, to the introduction of the Gospel, and secondly, to the proof of it for ever.
I have been the more anxious to state precisely the twofold character of prophecy in respect of its subjects, and to fix the sense in which we ought to understand the proper subserviency of the whole of it to the attestation of the Christian Faith, on several accounts. First, By this partition of the subjects of prophecy, we shall simplify our view of its structure, and be carried to a truer idea of the use and intent of its several chapters of prediction, as they may hereafter come to be examined. Secondly, we shall exclude a mistaken principle which has infinitely warped the interpretation of it, in the hands of persons of an excellent piety, but an ill-instructed judgment; the principle of endeavouring to expound almost every prophecy, either immediately, or typically, in a Christian sense. This mode of explication, after all arts and temperaments have been applied to it, fails; and the credit of divine prophecy loses by the detected unskilfulness of the interpreter. The error is one of an early origin in
the Christian Church; and the reproof of it followed; for it was soon observed to do disservice to the cause of truth; the adulterated interpretation of the Old Testament prophecies, which did not express any thing of Christ, or his religion, throwing doubt and suspicion upon the genuine sense of those which did*. The prophecies which unquestionably relate to the Gospel are numerous, full, and explicit; and they require no support from equivocal or forced expositions to be put upon others. There are also mixt or typical prophecies, which combine the Christian with some other analogous subject. But, besides both of these, there are portions of prophecy which must be granted to stop short in their proper Jewish, or other limited subject, without any sense or application beyond it. Thirdly, we shall perceive at the same time, how unnecessary it is to the honour of the Gospel, to have recourse to that mistaken principle; since after all, it is most true, that the Holy Jesus is the Lord of the Prophets: for they spoke by his Spirit, and all that they spoke was but in subserviency to him. For when they ministered to the First dis
* Οἱ πᾶσαν τὴν παλαιὰν διαθήκην εἰς τὸν Χρισὸν μεταφέρειν πειρώμενοι, οὐκ ἔξω αἰτιάσεως εἰσὶν, ἔπειπες καὶ Ἕλλησι, καὶ τοῖς μὴ ἐΓκρίνουσιν αὐτὴν αἱρετικοῖς, ἰσχύειν ἐν τῇ καθ ̓ ἡμῶν διδόασι μάχη-τὰ γὰρ μὴ εἰς αὐτὸν εἰρημένα ἐκβιαζόμενοι, καὶ τὰ ἀβιάςως εἰρημένα ὑποπτεύεσθαι παρασκευάζουσι. Isidorus Pelusiot. lib. ii. epist. 195.
pensation, which had its appendant services of prophecy, yet that dispensation and all its evidences are subordinate to his, and thereby Moses and Elias are witnesses and servants to his proper glory.
3. Lastly, I observe that the twofold design of the divine economy was never divided, but there is an unity in it throughout. It was not the divergent course of two unconnected and independent dispensations; but there was a temporary disposition of things made in the one to prepare the way for the second and greater; that which comprehends in it the constant design of the counsels of God towards man; that which had been the first disclosed, and was often confirmed; and which having been variously prefigured in the veil of types, or expressed in the clearer delineations of prediction, was finally brought to light by Him "who is the Author and Finisher of our faith," and of the faith of all who have known him by the several communications of prophecy from the beginning.
Antecedently to the time of Abraham, our chief epoch of Prophecy, the predictions properly evangelical are few being one or two at the most, so far as they are preserved. Whether there may have been others of the like nature, the record of which has been withdrawn, it is impossible to say; but from an allusion made in the Epistle of St. Jude to the "prophecy of Enoch," which has not been preserved in its place in the old Scripture, it is clear
that some predictions were originally given beyond those which we possess; and it is also probable that, of those others, some might be of a nature to keep alive the expectation of the future deliverance of mankind. This idea is favoured by the tenour of that prophecy of Enoch's, of which we owe the notice we have of it to St. Jude. "Enoch also, the "seventh from Adam, prophesied of these, saying, "Behold the Lord cometh with ten thousands of his "saints, to execute judgment upon all*." Since Enoch foretold of the Judicial Advent of Christ, it is not unreasonable to think that he might speak also of his Advent of Redemption. And it is to be observed, that his is a signal history in the antediluvian age. We see he was a Prophet; we know also that he was an eminent Saint, and God gave a sign to the world in the miracle of his translation. "Enoch walked with God, and he was not, for God "took him." I argue, that this sign and exhi bition of his singular end, besides being a reward to the Saint, had its use in commanding the faith of others to his prophecy, whatever that might be: and whilst his removal to blessedness was itself some presage of the general hope of a future immortal state, such a specific miracle causing" that he should not see death," would plainly be a fit counterpart, or confirmation, to any prophecy of his, if such there were, of Christ's coming "to dissolve the Power of death" over the human race.
* Jude 14, 15.
† Genesis v. 24.