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P. 90. 1. 19 - When the Messiah shall come, he will have,' &c.—Some events in providence will doubtless occur during the reign of the Messiah, even according to the notion of the Jews; and these events may be predicted a long time before they take place.—But the word prophet does not necessarily mean one who foretels future events : but one who, by immediate revelation, makes known the will of God to man.-In every sense however we consider the Messiah, not only as a prophet, but as, in some respects, the ONLY PROPHET: and all other prophets as speaking to men the revelation which Immanuel hath received from the Father.
P. 90. 1. 25. Prophecies of Jesus.' P. 91. 1. 5. * We shall go backward,' &c.—There is not the slightest shadow of proof that David wrote the hundred and thirty-seventh Psalm : and indeed the supposition is extremely unreasonable. It is far more likely that Ezekiel did. That the first verse of this Psalm, in which no mention is made of the desolations of the temple, should be assumed to be a prediction of the destruction of the first temple by the Chaldeans; and the seventh, concerning the subversion, not of the temple, but of Jerusalem, and the exultations of Edom over it, should be a prediction of the destruction of the second temple ; shews a talent at expounding scripture, which sets criticism at defiance. A plain fact, that Zion was desolated, and that Edom cxulted, and a prediction of Babylon's destruction, form the substance of the Psalm. When this prediction should be fulfilled, the Psalmist called on the Lord to remember Edom.-Whether events yet future were not also thus pröintimated, I do not here determine.
It is not requisite, however, to dwell on these things: no judicious Christian will deny, that our Lord's predictions, in many respects, coincided with those of the ancient prophets. (p. 90,91.) But the claim of Jesus to be a prophet, as predicting future events, and not as merely ‘ quoting predictions previously delivered by the ancient
prophets,' is sufficiently supported, in the judgment of all reasonable and impartial men, by the following considerations. He foretold the total destruction of the temple, so “ that one stone “ should not be left upon another ;” and the desolation of Jerusalem, as certainly to take place within the term of the existing generation ; subjoining a variety of preceding circumstances, no where in the Old Testament connected with those events, or but obscurely hinted. There was not, when he delivered this prediction, the least probability, that such entire desolations should so speedily occur: and not a single Jew, except the disciples of Jesus, could endure the thought of such desolations, without indignation and abhorrence. 1
He also added, They” (the Jews) “ shall be led away.captive into all nations; and “ Jerusalem shall be trodden down of the gentiles, “ until the time of the gentiles be fulfilled.” 2 This has now been accomplishing for above 1700 years. Daniel and Zechariah had indeed foretold the desolations of the temple and of Jerusalem, subsequent to the captivity ; and Moses and the prophets had, in general terms, foretold a longcontinued dispersion of Israel, for their sins,
among the nations of the earth : but the abject subjection of the holy city to the heathen, is not mentioned by the prophets, or even hinted at, except in an obscure and distant manner. Especially, the long series of ages, during which “ Jerusalem should be trodden under foot of the “ gentiles," is no where intimated: and this event was so unprecedented and so unexpected, that the prediction of it was equivalent to a prophecy wholly original. Not a Jew on earth, (without excepting even the disciples,) with the Old Testament in his hand, had the least expectation of such a catastrophe: and there has not been any period, since the dispersion of the nation, in which the Jews have not expected their restoration long before the present era. The predictions of the subversion of the ecclesiastical and political estate of the Jews, with the desolations of the temple and city, and immense slaughter of the people, and entire dispersion of the rest, were predicted, as to be accomplished during that generation ; and the fulfilment was notorious to all the world. The other parts have been fulfilling through every age to this day: and neither Jew nor Christian knows exactly when the termination of the dispersion, and the rescuing of Jerusalem from the gentiles, shall take place.
P. 93. 1. 17. Oral law.'-We here come to the stronghold of Judaism, as opposed to Christianity. It was so in our Lord's time; and it became so more and more in subsequent ages. The specimen, which Jesus gave of the nature and ten
Matt. xv. 3-9. Mark vii. 8-12.
dency of this oral law, or “ the traditions of the “ elders," as requiring a man to break the clearest and most express command of God, written in the law of Moses, rather than fail of compliance with the traditions of the elders, is only one instance out of many, which might be adduced of the same kind. 'A man may be so bound by 'them,' (the traditions,) that he cannot, without great sin, do what God has in his law com
manded to be done. So that if he made a vow, ' which laid him under the obligation to violate
God's law, that he might observe it; his vow 'must stand, and the law be abrogated.' (Jewish Canon in Pocock.) In like manner, the Papists, having established it as a principle, that 'the traditions of the church' are of equal authority with the written word, or even superior to it; are inaccessible (while they adhere to this principle,) to all arguments from the scriptures. * The Jews tell us, that at the same time, when ‘God gave unto Moses the written law in Mount “Sinai, he gave unto him also the interpretation ‘of it; commanding him to commit the former 'to writing, but to deliver the other only by word
of mouth, to be transmitted down from genera'tion to generation by tradition only: from hence the former is called the written, and the other the oral law.'— But all this is mere fiction,
spun out of the fertile invention of the Talmud‘ists, without the least foundation in scripture,
or in any authentic history.'— The truth of the 'matter is this. After the death of Simeon the Just, there arose a sect, called the Tannaim, or the Mishnical doctors, that made it their business
'to study and descant upon those traditions, · which had been received and allowed by Ezra, • and the men of the great synagogue, and to draw inferences and consequences from them; all which they engrafted into the body of these 'ancient traditions, as if they had been as authentic *as the other: which example being followed by those who afterwards succeeded them in this
profession, they continually added their imagi' nations to what they had received from those
that went before them ; whereby these traditions ' becoming, as a snowball, the further they rolled
down, from one generation to another, the more they gathered, and the greater the bulk of them grew.—Thus it went on to the middle of the second century after Christ; by 'which time they found it necessary to put all these traditions
into writing. For they were grown to so great 'a number, and enlarged to so huge a heap, as to * exceed the possibility of being any longer pre'served by the memory of men.—Rabbi Judah, : the son of Simeon, president of the Sanhedrim, ' methodically digested all that had hitherto been delivered to them of their law and religion, by the tradition of their ancestors. This is the book
called the Mishnah.' - This with the comments ‘on it, make up both their Talmuds, that is, the * Jerusalem Talmud and the Babylonish Talmud: *the former is published in one large folio :- the last edition of the latter is in twelve folios.' (Dean Prideaux.)
" What the learned and laborious writer here admits as fact, stands on no scriptural ground; and it grants more than ought to be conceded in the argument.