« AnteriorContinuar »
* The two kings did succeed, Ahaz was defeated
and destroyed. Thus much for this lying pro'phet, and his book of falsehoods.?! But we ask, Did the two kings succeed in dethroning Ahaz, destroying the family of David, and advancing the son of Tabeal to the throne ? Ahaz indeed “ was “not established,” because he did not believe : he was defeated, but he was not destroyed ; for he survived both the confederate princes many years, and died a natural death. Pekah, king of Israel, induced by the humane remonstrances of a prophet, sent back the prisoners, refreshed and clothed from the spoil; and he was slain by Hoshea in the fourth year of Ahaz; as Rezin king of Syria was by Tiglath-Pilezer about the same time. Within the prescribed years, the Assyrians finally destroyed the kingdom of Israel, and the family of David was preserved till the birth of Emmanuel. Isaiah's predictions were therefore most circumstantially fulfilled during the course of above seven hundred years : and his accuser was either grossly ignorant of his subject, or desirous of misleading his readers. - There is certainly,” says Bishop Watson, some ' novelty, at least, in your manner: for you go be'yond all others in boldness of assertion, and in ' profaneness of argumentation : Bolinbroke and * Voltaire must yield the palm of scurrility to Thomas Paine.'
Jeremiah had prophesied about forty years when Jerusalem was taken : and, as he had been the faithful friend of his country, and of successive princes, for so long a time, it requires something more than Mr, P.'s assertion to convince an impartial person that he became a traitor at last; especially as he refused the favours offered him by Nebuchadnezzar, after the city was desolated according to his predictions.
The Lord declares by the prophet that his promises and threatenings to nations contain an implied condition; so that national repentance would avert threatened judgments, and national wickedness forfeit promised mercies. This Mr. P. calls • an absurd subterfuge of the prophet.' But surely it was a salutary warning and an encouraging instruction, both to Israel and to other nations. Had the people repented, and yet judgments had come on them; or had they escaped judgments without repentance; the prophet would have had no subterfuge: and, if he had denounced vengeance without
intimation of mercy, the unrelenting spirit of prophets would have furnished a subject for declamation.
The disorder, charged on this book, might arise from the conduct of those who after Jeremiah's death put his detached messages together, without much regard to the order in which they were de
· P. ii. p. 47–54.
? Jer. xviii. 7, 8.
livered. His predictions however are generally dated, though his sermons are not.
Mr. P. accuses Jeremiah of contradicting himself, because two different accounts are given of his imprisonment by Zedekiah : but nothing can be more evident than that he was twice imprisoned; once in the house of Jonathan the scribe, whence he was liberated to the court of the prison by Zedekiah ; the second time in the dungeon of Malchijah the son of Hammeleck, whence he was freed by Ebedmeleck.
Mr. P. undertakes to prove by the example of Jeremiah that 'a man of God could tell a lie;' and, if he had succeeded, it would not much have served his cause, unless he could also have proved that he vindicated it: for believers do not consider the sacred writers as impeccable, though they wrote under an infallible guidance. His attempt, how ever, is completely unsuccessful. Zedekiah directed the prophet to say to the princes, “presented my supplication before the king that “ he would not cause me to return to Jonathan's
house, to die there ;” and “ he told them accord“ing to all the words that the king had com“ manded."? Now,' says Mr. P., ' Jeremiah did ' not go to Zedekiah to make his supplication :' true; neither did he say that he went for that purpose: but he adds, 'neither did he make it.' Here some will believe Jeremiah, who said “he “ did make his supplication to the king;” and some will credit Mr. P. when he says, ' he did not ' make it. For my part I believe the prophet,
Jer. xxxvii. xxxviii.
? Jer. xxxviii. 24-28.
considering him as the best informed of the two, and perceiving no reason to suspect his veracity. And even ' a man of God' is not bound to tell an impertinent or malignant inquirer all he knows.Such charges too much resemble those of “ the accuser of the brethren."
Mr. P. next accuses Jeremiah of delivering false predictions. The prophet had told Zedekiah, that “ his eyes should behold the eyes of the king of
Babylon, and that he should speak to him mouth “ to mouth ; that he should go to Babylon; that “ he should not die by the sword but in peace ; “ and that they should burn odours for him and “ lament him."1 Mr. P. contrasts this prophecy with the history of the event, and adds, “What
can we say of these prophets, but that they are 'impostors and liars :'3 Yet the prediction was fulfilled most exactly: for Zedekiah must have “ seen the eyes of the king of Babylon,” when the latter “ slew his sons before his eyes :" his eyes were then put out, and he was carried in chains to Babylon, which he did not see: and there he died, not by the sword, but in peace: and there can be no reasonable doubt that he received funeral honours from the captive Jews, by the permission of the king of Babylon.
Ezekiel also foretold that “ Zedekiah should not
see Babylon, though he should die there :"4 On which I some years ago wrote thus: ‘Perhaps • Zedekiah fancied the two prophets contradicted * each other, and so disregarded both ; but both
i Jer. xxxiv.
P. ii. p. 53.
· Jer. lii. 10, 11. 4 Ezek. xii, 13.
predictions were exactly accomplished when he 'was brought to Nebuchadnezzar at Riblah, had ' his eyes put out, and was carried to Babylon.' I have since that time entertained some doubts whether I had not ascribed to Zedekiah a degree of inattention beyond all probability. Mr. P., however, has actually far exceeded it.
He next asserts that ' Jeremiah joined himself 'to Nebuchadnezzar, and went about prophesying ' for him among the Egyptians. This representation of Jeremiah's conduct contradicts in express terms the only narrative we have of those events. He refused the friendly offer of Nebuzaraddan ; and, with a patriotism which would have been admired in any man except a prophet or a priest, he chose to cast his lot among the remnant of his distressed countrymen. countrymen. He did all in his
He did all in his power to prevent their migration into Egypt, and was at length carried along with them by force. There indeed he prophesied against the Egyptians and other nations, and especially against the Babylonians, without the least advantage' or attention from Nebuchadnezzar: and these prophecies, with their remote but exact accomplishment, will stand to the end of time as demonstrations that Jeremiah spake by the inspiration of the Holy Spirit.
EZEKIEL AND DANIEL.2
Mr. P. is of opinion that the books of Ezekiel and Daniel are genuine. This concession may perhaps surprise such persons as are not aware of
· P. ii. p. 57-60.