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which my father hath given me to finish, the fame Works that I do, bear Witness of me, that I am the Meffias, or, which is all one, that my Father hath sent me. AP.issige St. 'Peter indeed, speaking of our in i Pet. Saviour's Transfiguration on the Mount, *n' l9' and the miraculous Voice from Heaven declaring him to be the Son of God, seems to give the Preference to the Evi• dence of Prophecy, above any other Method of Conviction, y We have also a more sure Word of Prophecy, lays he, whereunto. ye do well that ye take heed, as unto a Light that jhineth in a dark Place, until the Day Dawn, and the Day Star arise in your Hearts. But, whatever the Sense of the Words may be, 'tis obvious * that the Apostle never intended to give the Evidence of Prophecy a Superiority to all the other Proofs, we have for the Truth of the Gospel j because he not only compares it to a Light shining in dark Places, but tells us expressly, that it is so far from being the bejl, that we are to expect a better, being to attend to it no longer, than until the Day Dawnt and the Day Star arise in our Hearts: which is a plain Argument that the Apostle never looked upon the Word of Prophecy as the best support of the Christian. stian "Faith; for then instead of limiting the time for our attending to it, he ■would have recommended it to our constant Study and Meditation, as long as Life and Thought remain'd.
'i Pet. xii. 19. * Vid. The Use and Intent of Prophecy.
To find out the true Sense and Meaning of the Words then, we must observe, that the Design of this second Epistle of St. Peter was to support the Hopes and Expectations, which he had raised in the first. In the first he had given the Christians, to whom he wrote, (then in a State of severe Trial and Persecution,) Assurance of a speedy "Deliverance, a of a Sahation ready to be reveahd, and of that Honour and great Glory, which their Afflictions would yield them b at the appearing of Jesus Christ ; and, to justify this Assurance, he reminds them of that Glory and Power, which Christ, the Author and Finisher of their Faith, had already received, and wherewith he would return, to effect their Rescue and Deliverance. This is the main Point, whereon St. Fefer, in his first Epistle, has placed the Hopes and Expectations of true Believers -, and, to the fame purpose, he tells them in the second, c We have not followed cunningly devised Fables, when we made known unto you the Power and F 4 Coming
• 1 Pet. i. 5. » Ver. 7. c* Ttt. i. 16.
Coming of our Lord Je/us Chris. But, because the coming of Christ was a. future Event, and depended entirely (as to any Knowledge that could be had of it) upon the Authority of Prophesy; he therefore refers them, in d both his Epistles, not only to the antient Prophets, but to the inspired Preachers of the Gospel, in order to justify the Hopes he had raised \ bidding them be mindful of the Words, which were spoken before of the Holy Prophets, and of the Commandments of the Apojiles of the Lord and Saviour, or (as it is in the former Epistle) of them, who have preached the Gospel unto you, with the Holy Ghos sent down from Heaven.
The Power and Coming of Christ then being the only Point in Question, the Apostle, to evince that, produces his own Experience; that he had been an Eye-witness of Jois Majesty, and of that Honour and Glory, which he receiv'd, when there came, a Voice to him from the excellent Glory, this is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased. But, because seeing Christ in Glory and Majefly on the Mount, did not necessarily infer his returning in the fame manner to deliver his Servants, the Apostles, to convince us that he willyo come, and so use his
i Vtd. i Pet. i. 10, n. & 2 Per. iii, i, 2
Power, tells us farther, that we have also a more sure Word of Prophecy', i. e. we have the very Word of God (speaking by his Prophets) to whom all Futurity is known, to assure us of the Certainty of this future Event. So that, if, according to this Interpretation, the Word of Prophecy relates only to the Coming of Christ, e here is no Pretence to fay, that Prophecy is a better Argument for the Truth of the Gospel, than all the Miracles of Christ and his Apostles j because the Truth of the Golpel is not the Point here in Question: And yet, if by this Word of Prophecy we are to understand, not merely the Prophesies of the Old Testament, but those of the New likewise (as it seems highly probable by St. Peter's appealing, not only to the ancient Prophets, but also to the Preachers of the Gospel) this, of all others, is a most unhappy Text, for such as are .minded to set up ancient Prophecy in Opposition to Gospel-Evidence; since the Prophecy, here intended, *is probably it self a Gospel-Evidence, and so far from being superior to all the Miracles of Qhrlfl and his Apostles, that it owes all his Authority to them.
J Vid. The. Use and Intent of Prophecy.
And ano- In the Parable of the rich Man and Luk "ri Lazarus, f the rich Man is represented n, ere. as being in Torments, and desiring of" explain'd Abraham to fend Lazarus, who is said right. t0 be in his Bosom, to his Father's House, to convert his surviving Brethren; whereupon Abraham tells him, They t have Moses and the Prophets, let them hear them: Nay, replied the rich Man, • hut if one went to them from the Deady
they will repent. To which the Patriarch rejoins, If they hear not Moses and the Prophets, neither will they be per- • fuaded, though one zoje from the Dead. But, besides that there is no strict arguing from Parables, where so many Circumstances are ornamental, and thrown in purely to beautify the Narration ', the whole Design of the conclusive Words in this, is, to shew the sufficiency of a standing Revelation, and the* probable Unfuccefsfulnefs of any extraordinary Means to effect the Conversion of those, who have been long habituated to their Sins. But what has this to do with the Evidences of the Gospel, or the pretended Superiority of Prophecy above Miracles, to confirm the Truth of a Divine Revelation? A Man, that is wedded to his Lusts, and intoxicated with Pleasures,
• f Luke xvi. a7, &>c.