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wonderful scene of Providence, as it stood in the ancient prophecies ; and with them the authority of the prophecies stood mainly upon the exact completion which was before their eyes. From the authority of prophecy so established, they understood the past workings of Providence, and the state of the world ; and came to see, that Christ was not only the judge, but the redeemer of mankind. To the Jew, prophecy was the first proof; to the Gentile, it was the last : the Jew believed in Christ, because foretold by the prophets; the Gentiles believed the prophets, because they had so exactly foretold Jesus Christ. Both became firm believers; having, each in his way, a full view of all the dispensations of Providence towards mankind. - If this account be true, as it appears to me to be, it will enable us to clear this argument from prophecy of the many misrepresentations under which it has been industriously clouded : it will Thew us, that there is no occasion for a Gentile to become a Jew, in order to his becoming a Christian upon the authority of the ancient prophets : it will shew us, that the proof from prophecy is not argumentum ad hominem in the Jew's case, nor in the Gentile's ; nor yet an argument of the same kind in both cases, though in both cases proceeding upon real and solid principles of reason. But I must leave these applications to you, and proceed to observe another use of prophecy with regard to the Jews, and for which the Gentile world seems not to have had the fame occafion.
The Jews lived under a divine law, established in figns, and wonders, and mighty works; founded in
very great promises on one side, in threatenings of mighty terror on the other, as far as the blessings and terrors of this world can extend: they are warned over and over not to forsake their law, or to suffer any strange customs and ceremonies to grow up among them. These cautions, intended to preserve them from the corruptions of the heathen nations around them, might easily, as in the event they have done, grow into prejudices against any future revelation, though made upon the authority of God himfelf. To guard against such prejudices, and to render them without excuse, it was but reasonable to give them early and frequent notice of the change intended ; that they might not, under the colour of adhering steadfastly and faithfully to God's firft covenant, reject his second, when the time of publication came. There are of this sort many prophecies in the Old Testament; of this kind are the many declarations on God's part, that he had no pleasure in sacrifices and oblations, in new moons and in fabbaths: strange declarations, considering that all these were his own appointments ! But not strange, con sidering the many and frequent prophecies of a new and a better covenant to be established with his people. The prophet Isaiah is frequently styled the Evangelical Prophet, because of the many and express prophecies to be found in him relating to : Christ and his church. Now this prophet, in the very entrance upon his work, thews the little value of mere legal institutions ; To what purpose, says he, speaking in God's name, is the multitude of your facrifices unto me? ---I am full of the burnt-offerings of rams, and the fat of fed beasts ; and I delight not
in the blood of bullocks, or of lambs, or of he-goats. Your new moons and your appointed feasts my soul hateth : they are a trouble unto me; I am weary to bear them. Isaiah i. 11, 14.
But the most remarkable passage of this kind, and which deserves our particular attention, is the prophecy of Moses himself, recorded in the eighteenth of Deuteronomy; The Lord thy God will raise up unto thee a Prophet from the midf of thee, of thy brethren, like unto me; unto him ye shall hearken, ver, 15. The same is repeated again, ver. 18. with this addition ; And it shall come to pass, (they are the words of God,) that whosoever will not hearken. unto my words which he (that Prophet) shall speak in my name, I will require it of him; ver. 19. Here now is a plain declaration on God's part, at the very time the law was established, of another Prophet, like unto Moses, to be raised in time as a new Lawgiver, to whom all were to yield obedience. I know full well, that great authorities are produced for interpreting these words of a succession of prophets in the Jewish church: but be the authorities never so great, the appeal lies to the law and to the testimony, and thither we must go.
. In the first place then, the text speaks of one Prophet only, in the fingular number, and not of many. In this case therefore the letter of the text is with us; an argument which ought to be of great weight with those, who make such heavy complaints whenever we pretend to go beyond the literal sense of the Old Teftament. But, .
Secondly, To expound this passage of a succession of prophets, and to say that they all were to be like
Moses, contradicts God's own declaration concerning the manner in which he intended to deal with other prophets.
In the twelfth of Numbers we read, that Miriam and Aaron began to mutiny against the influence and authority of Moses Hath the Lord Spoken only to Mofes ? say they; hath he not Spoken also by us? This controversy was like to be attended with such ill consequences, that God thought proper to interpose himself. Hear then his determination ; If there be a prophet among you, I the Lord will make myself known unto him in a vision, and will speak unto him in a dream. My fervant Mofes is not so, who is faithful in all mine house : with him will I Speak mouth to mouth, even apparently, and not in dark Speeches ; and the fimilitude of the Lord fall he behold: wherefore then were ye not afraid to speak againf my servant Mofes ?
Here now is a plain declaration of the great differ. ence between Moses and all other prophets, and as plain an account wherein that difference did lie: as to all other prophets, God declares he would speak to them in visions and in dreams; but with Moses he would converse mouth to mouth, or, as it is elsewhere expressed, face to face. Herein then consisted one chief dignity and eminence of Moses ; and in this respect the prophets of Israel were not to be like him.
Thirdly, That the likeness to Moses, spoken of in the passage under consideration, had a special regard to this singular privilege of seeing God face to face, is evident, partly from the text itself, and partly from the close of the book of Deuteronomy, compared with the text. In the text. itself a promise is given of a prophet like Mofes, which likeness in the 18th verse is expounded by God's saying, I will put my words in his mouth; which imports something more than speaking to him in vihons and in dreams : and that the likeness to Moses was understood to confift in this immediate communication with God, is most evident from the last verses of the book, where it is said ; And there arose not a prophet fince in Israel like unto Mofes, whom the Lord knew face to face: Who added these words to the book of Deuteronomy, it matters not at present to inquire ; for they having been received in the Jewish church, are an authentic testimony, first, how the ancient Jews understood these words, like unto Mofes; and, secondly, that the ancient church had seen no prophet like unto Moses: and yet they had a succession of prophets immediately from the death of Moses, of whom Joshua was the first a; and these laft verses of Deuteronomy, added after, at least in the time of Joshua, exclude him from all pretensions of being the Prophet, or one of the prophets like unto Moses : and if this character will not fit Joshua, much less will it fit those who fucceeded him, who were not greater, nor had greater employment under God, than he : an evident proof that the promise of a Prophet like unto Mofes was not understood by the ancient Jewish church to relate to a succession of prophets among them ; since they declare to us, that, in the lucceffion of prophets, there had not been one like unto Mofes....