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pected to have been written after the event; though this fufpicion be contradicted by the unanimous voice of all antiquity, affuring us, that the gospels of Matthew, Mark, and Luke, were published while Jerusalem was standing; and that only the gofpel of John, in which, it is remarkable, that the prediction is not inferted, was written after its fall. I fhall pafs over, likewife, the prophecies of Chrift concerning his own death and refurrection, the rejection of the Jews, and the calling of the Gentiles; and shall direct the attention of the reader to thofe which refpect the antichriftian church, and its blafphemous head.

In the writings of Paul and John it is foretold, that a certain power fhould arife, which would affume the characters and attributes of divinity, change the laws and ordinances of heaven, work figns and lying wonders to confirm its ufurped authority and impious tenets, and perfecute, with unrelenting fury, thofe who fhould refufe to fubmit to its dominion. What is ftill more remarkable, it is foretold that this power would profefs the Christian religion, for the man of fin is fented as fitting, not in a temple of idols, but in the temple of God; fome of the doctrines and practices,

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practices which he would impofe upon mankind are specified; and the very place where he would erect his throne is pointed out, the imperial city of Rome*. Let any person seriously confider this account, with all its particulars, and he will be convinced, that nothing was more improbable than the appearance of fuch a power, at the time when its rife was predicted. Who could have imagined, that any perfon, calling himself by the name of Christ, would dare to ufurp his place, and ftyle himself the head of his church; would carry his impiety and arrogance fo far as to claim the titles of Lord and God, and the attributes of holiness and infallibility; would have the audacity to interpofe his mandates in cafes already decided by the fupreme authority of heaven; to prohibit what God had permitted and commanded, and to enjoin what he had forbidden? Who could have fuppofed, that Chriftians, in the days of the apoftles fo enlightened, and so jealous of their fpiritual liberties, would ever become fo ftupid and indifferent, as to allow fuch a power to raise itself on the ruins of their religion and their reafon; and to exercife an imperious fway

over

* 2 Theff. ii. 1,---12. 1 Tim. iv. 1,---3: Rev. xvii. &c.

over their bodies and their confciences? Could fancy, in its wildest workings, have conceived, that Rome, the miftrefs of the world, the city where the Cefars reigned, and idolatry triumphed in the plenitude of power and splendour; that Rome, where Christianity was little known, and was known only to be hated and profcribed, would at fome future period acknowledge as its fovereign a Chriftian prieft? Nothing could have been more remote from the apprehenfions of men; and if fuch an event, or combination of events, had by fome chance been fuggefted, it would have been deemed equally abfurd as the most extravagant dream of a madman. Yet these improbable predictions have been most punctually fulfilled in all their circumstances, as Proteftant writers have unanfwerably proved.

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There is one book of the New Teftament, which almost wholly confifts of predictions, and ought to be confidered as fuftaining a very peculiar character. It is a history, written before hand, of the church, and of the grand political events connected with her fate, from the age of the writer to the end of the world. To confider the scheme of prophecy laid down in the Revela

tion, would lead to a difcuffion too tedious for this place. It may fuffice to obferve, that of its predictions many have been already fulfilled, as we have feen with respect to fome of those which relate to the antichriftian church, others are at prefent fulfilling; and hence we are authorised to expect, that the reft will be fulfilled in their order and feason.

From this flight furvey of the prophetical parts of the New Teftament, the infpiration of the writers may be fairly deduced. If there be a decifive proof that a man fpoke, not by his own fpirit, but by the Spirit of God, it is this, that he declared things, which it was not poffible for any creature placed in the fame circumftances to have known by natural means. His knowledge in fuch a cafe is manifeftly fupernatural. He who foretold with the utmost precision events which did not take place for fome hundred years after his death, muft have had intercourfe with that Being, from whofe eye nothing is hidden, and whofe infinite mind comprehends the whole chain of causes and effects.

: Some obfervations. on the argument from prophecy will be introduced in the next chapter,

when:

when we confider the infpiration of the Old Teftament.

The preceding illuftration, 1 truft, will make the reader fenfible of the ftrength of this third argument for the divine authority of the Chriftian Scriptures. Conjoined with the two former arguments, it completes the proof which I proposed to bring; and I am perfuaded, that in the mind of every perfon, who understands and feriously ponders it, the evidence now produced will give rife to a full conviction, that the books of the New Teftament are not the compofitions of men who meant to impofe upon the world, but a genuine revelation from heaven, in recording which the writers were infallibly guided by the Spirit of truth.

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