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the first predictions of the Messiah and the fulfilment of them, to establish the Jewish economy, an institution singular in its nature, and limited in its extent. This intermediate institution being for many ages a theocracy, there arose a succession of prophets by whom the intercourse between the Almighty Sovereign and his people was maintained; and the whole administration of the affairs of the Jews was long conducted by the prophets. It was natural for this succession of prophecy to give some notice of the better covenant which was to be made; and accordingly we can trace predictions of the Messiah from the books of Moses, till the cessation of the prophetical spirit of Malachi. The Holy Ghost, by whom the prophet spoke, could have rendered these notices of the spiritual and universal nature of the future dispensation clear and intelligible to every one who heard them. But, in this case, the intermediate preparatory dispensation would have been despised. The Jews comparing their burdensome ritual with the simplicity of Gospel worship,-their imperfect sacrifices with the efficacy of the great atonement,-their temporal rewards with the crown of glory laid up in heaven, would have thrown off the yoke which they were called to bear; and those rudiments by which the law was given to train their minds for the perfect instruction of the Gospel, would have been cast away as beggarly elements." If the law served any purpose, it was necessary that it should be respected and observed so long as it was to subsist; and therefore it would have been inconsistent with the wisdom of Him from whom it proceeded, that it should impart such a degree of light as might have destroyed itself. Enough was to be declared to raise and cherish an expectation of that which was to come, but not enough to disparage the things that then were. This end is most perfectly attained by the types, and the prophecies of a double sense which are contained in the Old Testament. Both were so agreeable to the manners of the times, and both received such a degree of explication from the direct prophecies concerning the Messiah, that there was an universal apprehension of their further meaning. Yet their immediate importance preserved the respect which was due to the law; and when, in the end of the age of prophecy, predictions of the Messiah were given by different
prophets which could not apply to any other person,— these direct predictions were clothed in a figurative language, all the figures of which were borrowed from the law. The law, in this way, was still magnified; and as the child is kept under tutors and governors till the time appointed of the father, so says the apostle to the Galatians, the Jews were kept under the law, the guardians of the oracles of God,-the depositaries of the hopes of mankind, until the time came that the faith should be revealed.* When it was revealed, then the allegory received its interpretation; the significancy of the types, the reddition of the parables, the hidden meaning of the ancient prophecies, and the propriety of the figures in which the latter were clothed, all now stand forth to the admiration and conviction of the Christian world. What was a hyperbole, in its application to Jewish affairs, becomes, says Dr. Warburton, plain speech, or an obvious metaphor, when transferred to the Gospel; and the Old Testament appears to have been, what St. Austin calls it, a continued prophecy of the New.
BEFORE I proceed to state the amount of the argument from prophecy, there is one other objection to that argument which requires to be mentioned. The objection arises from a kind of verbal criticism, but does not deserve upon that account to be dismissed as unimportant.
It was long ago observed, that many of the passages, quoted from the Old Testament in the New, do not exactly agree with the text of our copies of the Old Testament. The apology commonly made for this difference was, that our Lord and his apostles did not quote from the Hebrew, but from the Septuagint translation, which was known and respected in Judea. But, upon accurate investigation, it was found that the quotations do not always correspond with the Septuagint; and that there are many which agree
neither with the Septuagint nor with the Hebrew. It was insinuated, therefore, by the adversaries of Christianity, that our Lord and his apostles had not been scrupulous in their method of quoting the Old Testament; but wishing to ground Christianity upon Judaism, and finding it difficult to lay this foundation with the materials that existed, had accommodated the words of the Old Testament to their argument, and made the prophets say what it was necessary for the conclusiveness of that argument they should seem to say. It appears at first sight very unlikely that our Lord and his apostles, who began the preaching of the Gospel from Judea, would, in the hearing of the Jews, use such liberty with the Scriptures which were publicly read in those very synagogues where they were thus misquoted. The detection of the fraud was easy, or rather unavoidable, and must have been ruinous to the cause of Christianity. But however improbable it may seem that our Lord and his apostles should be guilty of such a fraud, the fact is undeniable, that the quotations in the New Testament do not always agree with the books from which they are taken; and it remains with the friends of Christianity to account for this fact. Many zealous Christians have thought it essential to the honour of that revelation granted to the Jews, to maintain the integrity of the original Hebrew text; and even during the course of the last century, some men versant in Jewish learning argued most strenuously, that the Providence of God employed the vigilance of the Jewish nation, and certain precautions of the Jewish Rabbis, to preserve the Hebrew text through all ages from every degree of adulteration. Were this opinion sound, it does not appear to me that any satisfying account could be given of the difference between the Old Testament and the New, in those passages where the latter professes to quote the former. But as suspicions had been long entertained that there were variations in the Hebrew text, so the opinion of those who maintain its integrity was in the last century completely refuted by the labours of Dr. Kennicott, who, from a collation of six hundred manuscripts of the Hebrew Bible, has demonstrated that there have been numberless small alterations, and some of considerable importance. We found formerly that the various readings of the Greek text of the New Testament arose
from the ignorance or carelessness of transcribers, and that their being permitted could easily be reconciled with the wisdom of God, and the divine original of Christianity. We need not be surprised to find the same causes producing similar effects with regard to the Hebrew text. It has been said, that particular circumstances may naturally lead us to look for a greater number of such varieties in the Hebrew text than in the Greek; and there is much reason to suspect that both the Hebrew text and the Septuagint translation were wilfully corrupted by the Jews after the days of our Saviour, in order to elude the argument which the Christians deduced from the clear application of Jewish prophecies to him. We know that, in the second century, another Greek translation of the Old Testament, by Aquila, more inaccurate, and designedly throwing a veil over many prophecies of the Messiah, was substituted by the Jews in place of the Septuagint. Taking then the learned men who have devoted themselves to this study as our guides, and resting in the conclusions which they have established by a laborious induction of particulars, we say, that the copies both of the Hebrew text and of the Septuagint, which were in use in the days of our Saviour, were more correct than those which we now have ; that by the help of many manuscripts, and of the Samaritan Pentateuch, which was much less corrupted than the books of Moses in Hebrew, the true reading of the Hebrew has been discovered in many places where it had been vitiated; and that the honour of our Lord and his apostles has been fully vindicated; for it appears that they quoted from the Septuagint when the sense of the author was there clearly expressed; that, at other times, they translated the original for themselves, or used some translation more perfect than the Septuagint, and that there are many places in which their quotations, although different from the Hebrew that is now read, agree exactly with the Hebrew text, as by sound criticism it may be restored.
Such is the important service which sound criticism has rendered to religion. The unbeliever triumphed for a season in an objection which was plausible, because the answer to it was misapprehended or unknown. But the gress of investigation has unfolded the truth, and has placed, in the most conspicuous light, the fidelity and accu
racy of the quotations made by those who grounded Christianity upon Judaism.
HAVING thus cleared the way, by settling every preliminary point, and removing the objections which appear to me the strongest, I come to state concisely the argument from prophecy, or the nature of that support which the truth of Christianity derives from the coincidence between the appearance of Jesus, and the predictions of the Old Testament.
In stating this argument, we allow that there are passages quoted by our Lord and his apostles from the Old Testament, in which there is merely an accommodation of words, that had been spoken in one sense, to another sense, in which they are equally true. When it is said, in the second chapter of Matthew," Joseph took the young child and his mother by night, and departed into Egypt, and was there until the death of Herod: that it might be fulfilled which was spoken of the Lord by the prophet, saying, out of Egypt have I called my Son," nothing more is meant by the expression, "that it might be fulfilled," and the idiom of ancient languages does not require any thing more to be understood, than that the words which in Hosea are applied to Israel, whom God calls his Son, received another meaning when he, who is truly the Son of God, was brought out of the same place from which Israel came. We allow that it does not follow, from the possibility of this accommodation, that Hosea meant to foretell the future transference of his words, any more than that he who first enunciated a proverbial saying, foresaw all the particular occasions upon which it might be fitly applied. We admit, further, that the secondary sense of those prophecies in which we say the Messiah was included, and the typical nature of those ceremonies or actions which prefigured him, are not always obvious upon the consideration of particular prophecies or types. Nay, we admit that there is a degree of obscurity or doubt with re