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And this is all the variation contended for ; the rest of the prophecy they read as we do. The probability, therefore, of their exposition, is a subject of which we are as capable of judging as themselves. This judgment is open indeed to the good sense of every attentive reader. The application which the Jews contend for,
. appears to me to labour under insuperable difficulties in particular, it may be demanded of them to explain,
, in whose name or person, if the Jewish people be the sufferer, does the prophet speak, when he says, “ He hath borne our griefs, and carried our sorrows, yet we did esteem him stricken, smitten of God, and afflicted ; but he was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities, the chastisement of our peace was upon him, and with his stripes we are healed.” Again, the description in the seventh verse, "he was oppressed and he was afflicted, yet he opened not his mouth; he is brought as a lamb to the slaughter, and as a sheep before her shearers is dumb, so he opened not his mouth,” quadrates with no part of the Jewish history with which we are acquainted. The mention of the “grave" and the “ tomb,” in the ninth verse, is not very applicable to the fortunes of a nation ; and still less so is the conclusion of the prophecy in the twelfth verse, which expressly represents the sufferings as voluntary, and the sufferer as interceding for the offenders; “because he hath poured out his soul unto death, and he was numbered with the transgressors, and he bare the
agreeable to the Hebrew. Wherefore, as Origen had carefully compared the Greek version of the Septuagint with the Hebrew text ; and as he puzzled and confounded the learned Jews, by urging upon them the reading 'to death' in this place ; it seems almost impossible not to conclude, both from Origen's argument, and the silence of his Jewish adversaries, that the Hebrew text at that time actually had the word agreeably to the version of the Seventy.” Lowth's Isaiah, p. 242.
sin of many, and made intercession for the transgressors.'
There are other prophecies of the Old Testament, interpreted by Christians to relate to the Gospel history, which are deserving both of great regard, and of a very attentive consideration : but I content myself with stating the above, as well because I think it the clearest and the strongest of all, as because most of the rest, in order that their value might be represented with any tolerable degree of fidelity, require a discussion unsuitable to the limits and nature of this work. The reader will find them disposed in order, and distinctly explained, in bishop Chandler's treatise on the subject; and he will bear in mind, what has been often, and, I think, truly urged by the advocates of Christianity, that there is no other eminent person, to the history of whose life so many circumstances can be made to apply. They who object, that much has been done by the
power of chance, the ingenuity of accommodation, and the industry of research, ought to try whether the same, or any thing like it, could be done, if Mahomet, or any other person, were proposed as the subject of Jewish prophecy.
II. A second head of argument from prophecy is founded upon our Lord's predictions concerning the destruction of Jerusalem, recorded by three out of the four evangelists.
Luke xxi. 5-25. “And as some spake of the temple, how it was adorned with goodly stones and gifts, he said, As for these things which ye behold, the days will come, in which there shall not be left one stone upon another, that shall not be thrown down. And they asked him, saying, Master, but when shall these things be? and what sign will there be when
these things shall come to pass ? And he said, Take heed that ye be not deceived; for many shall come in my name, saying, I am Christ; and the time draweth near; go ye not therefore after them. But when ye shall hear of wars and commotions, be not terrified : for these things must first come to pass; but the end is not by-and-by. Then said he unto them, Nation shall rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom; and great earthquakes shall be in divers places, and famines and pestilences; and fearful sights, and great signs shall there be from heaven. But before all these, they shall lay their hands on you, and persecute you, delivering you up to the synagogues, and into prisons, being brought before kings and rulers for my name's sake. And it shall turn to you for a testimony. Settle it therefore in your hearts not to meditate before, what ye shall answer; for I will give you a mouth and wisdom, which all your adversaries shall not be able to gainsay nor resist. And ye shall be betrayed both by parents, and brethren, and kinsfolk, and friends; and some of you shall they cause to be put to death. And ye shall be hated of all men for my name's sake. But there shall not an hair of your head perish. In your patience possess ye your souls. And when
ye Jerusalem compassed with armies, then know that the desolation thereof is nigh. Then let them which are in Judea flee to the mountains; and let them which are in the midst of it depart out; and let not them that are in the countries enter thereinto. For these be the days of vengeance, that all things which are written may be fulfilled. But woe unto them that are with child, and to them that give suck, in those days : for there shall be great distress in the land, and wrath upon this people. And they shall fall by the edge of the sword, and shall
be led away captive into all nations: and Jerusalem shall be trodden down of the Gentiles, until the times of the Gentiles be fulfilled."
In terms nearly similar, this discourse is related in the twenty-fourth chapter of Matthew, and the thirteenth of Mark. The prospect of the same evils drew from our Saviour, on another occasion, the following affecting expressions of concern, which are preserved by St. Luke (xix. 41—41): “And when he was come near, he beheld the city, and wept over it, saying, If thou hadst known, even thou, at least in this thy day, the things which belong unto thy peace! but now they are hid from thine eyes. For the days shall come upon thee, that thine enemies shall cast a trench about thee, and compass thee round, and keep thee in on every side, and shall lay thee even with the ground, and thy children within thee; and they shall not leave in thee one stone upon another; because thou knewest not the time of thy visitation.”—These passages are direct and explicit predictions. References to the same event, some plain, some parabolical, or otherwise figurative, are found in divers other discourses of our Lord.*
The general agreement of the description with the event, viz. with the ruin of the Jewish nation, and the capture of Jerusalem under Vespasian, thirty-six years after Christ's death, is most evident; and the accordancy in various articles of detail and circumstances has been shown by many learned writers. It is also an advantage to the inquiry, and to the argument built upon it, that we have received a copious account of the transaction from Josephus, a Jewish and contemporary historian. . This part of the case is perfectly free from doubt. The
* Matt. xxi. 33–46; xxii, 1–7. Mark xii. 1-12. Luke xiji. 1-9; xx. 9–20; xxi. 5-13.
only question which, in my opinion, can be raised upon the subject, is, whether the prophecy was really delivered before the event; I shall apply, therefore, my observations to this point solely.
1. The judgment of antiquity, though varying in the precise year of the publication of the three Gospels, concurs in assigning them a date prior to the destruction of Jerusalem.*
2. This judgment is confirmed by a strong probability arising from the course of human life. The destruction of Jerusalem took place in the seventieth year after the birth of Christ. The three evangelists, one of whom was his immediate companion, and the other two associated with his companions, were, it is probable, not much younger than he was. They must consequently, have been far advanced in life when Jerusalem was taken ; and no reason has been given why they should defer writing their histories so long.
3. † If the evangelists, at the time of writing the Gospels, had known of the destruction of Jerusalem, by which catastrophe the prophecies were plainly fulfilled, it is most probable, that, in recording the predictions, they would have dropped some word or other about the completion ; in like manner as Luke, after relating the
l; denunciation of a dearth by Agabus, adds, “which came to pass in the days of Claudius Cæsar :”I whereas the prophecies are given distinctly in one chapter of each of the first three Gospels, and referred to in several different passages
of each, and, in none of all these places does there appear the smallest intimation that the things spoken of had come to pass. I do admit, that it would
* Lardner, vol. xii. + Le Clerc, Diss. III. de Quat. Evang. num. vii. p. 541. † Acts xi. 28.