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In the first chapter he distinctly represents the character and function of the Prophets, whose predictions concerning the future state of God's people, the Jews, he obferves are alone sufficient to establish the divine authority of the Holy Writings; as the promises made to them are literally fulfilled, and the vengeance denounced against them is literally inflicted. The antient Jewish Prophet was a sacred monitor to the Kings of Israel and Judah, whom he admonished, in the name of God, to adhere to his laws as delivered by Moses. The invariable sense of the word prophecy, in the Old and New Scriptures, is either immediately, or by means of another, to relate what the Lord hath spoken. The Lord is said to put his words into the mouth of his Prophet * ; but when these words are recited by another, he also may be said to prophecy. As in Nehemiah it is faid, Thou hast appointed Prophets to preach. + Every one, who instructed others in the word of God, was a Prophet at Jerusalem ; and a Preacher, who recited from the Scriptures spiritual affairs, to the edification and comfort of others, was a Prophet in the sense of St. Paul. I They who gave thanks and praised the Lord with a harp, are said to prophecy. When the company of Prophets met Saul, they had a psaltery, a tabret, a pipe and harp before thein, and they prophecied, and he prophecied among them. $ The Prophets in Naioth, near Ramah, prophecicd with their musical instruments, under the conduct of Samuel, their chief, when Saul's messengers joined them as himself had done. || It hath been suggested by the adversaries of re:elation, that the schools of Prophets were places in which Prophecy, as an immediate communication from God was taught ; but this our Author rejects as an impious and absurd fuppofition. The real truth is, in these schools the fons or disciples of the Prophets were trained up for the service of the temple, and were taught to play on musical infruments, and to accompany the voice with them; and because they fung the hymns of inspired men, and fo delivered unto others the coinmands and words of God, they are also said to prophecy.
Having remarked that the communication between God and Man is by prayer, by the word of God, and by his works, the Doctor proceeds to give his sentiments concerning the communication of the Divine Will by the breast-plate
* Jerem. i.9. tit.7.
I 1 Cor. xiv. 14. si Sam. X. 10–12. of judgment, called urim and thummim. He allows that it is not easy to discover in what manner the answer was delivered, when the priest enquired of the Lord; but thinks it probable that the frequent enquiries or consultations of the Lord by David, were by the priest with his ephod, and that the answer was given in words by a voice; that the Lord made use of the voice of his priest, who appeared before him, cloathed with his proper habit, and enquired with the breastplate of judgment.
Having mentioned Elisha as one of the Prophets, he enters into a thorough discussion and refutation of the charge of cruelty against him, on account of his conduct towards the little children, that is, young men, of Bethel. His character as good, merciful, and compassionate, appears from a connečted series of undoubted facts: the citizens of Bethel, he observes, were obstinate idolaters. One of Jeroboam's go!den calves was erected at Bethel, as symbols of the Gods which brought Ifrael out of the land of Egypt; and the pricīts which served that idol were made of the lowest of the people. The men of Bethel looked upon the Prophet as their special Adversary, and persued him with hatred and persecution ; and their obstinacy was incurable by the miracles which Elisha had wrought : and it is likely that those young men who came out of Bethel to insult the Prophet and his God, would have added violence to their mocking, if the extraordinary interposition of Divine Providence had not prevented them. But the Prophet of Jehovah was preserved ; idolatry, a crime utterly subversive of all true religion, feverely and justly punished ; and the honour of God's service properly asserted by the destruciion of his idolatrous eneinies, who may have been the sons of the priests of the high places, or perhaps fome of the priests themselves, as Jeroboam made no distinction of persons.
In taking a view of the Jewish Prophets whose Writings are still extant, he endeavours to place them in due chronological order. Jonah, he considers, as the first in order of time; and observes, that the sending a Jewish Prophet to Nineveh, the capital of Assyria, was a remarkable instance of the goodness of God, as it prepared them for a more kind. reception of Israel, when removed into that country from Samaria, by Shalmaneser, the King of Assyria. Amos, though the Jews have placed him after Hosea, our Author says, comesin the second place; then Horea, Isaiah, Micah, Nahum, Habbakuk, Zephaniah, Joel, Jeremian, Daniel, Ezekiel,
Obadiah, Obadiah, Haggai, Zechariah, and Malachi: and observes, that a good critical commentary upon the book of Zechariah would be the best key to the opening all the reft; and speaks with approbation of the proposal made by Samuel Torshill *, of dispoling the Bible into a method and harmony, by transposing the order of books and chapters in sections. An additional authority, he justly hints, vas reflected on the Prophesies ; as by the law of Mofes, received from God, the Prophet who pretended to Divine inspiration, without being inspired, was to be put to death : for under such a sentence it is not easy to imagine, that any man in his senses would obtrude himself upon his sovereign, as a sacred monitor commillioned by the God of Israel, io foretel events, the success of which he must answer for with his life. And the liberty they took in reproving princes, and opposing false Prophets, who fattered them, and approved of measures dirapproved by God, ought to be received as another mark of the true Prophet, and of the credit and authority due to him and his oracles.
As to the great end and design of all Prophecy, this, he obferves, is to make all men happy in the union of Jew and Gentile, and in the restoration and eternal happiness of mankind by the coming of Christ, This great event, he attempts to fhew, hath been foretold by the Prophets, in such manner and at such periods, as to afford incontestable evidence that Jesus is the Christ ; for the Argument from Prophecy he juftly recommends as an evidence not inferior to demonstration.
In the second Chapter the Doctor treats of the Messiah. As under the law, the prophet, the priest and the king, and confecrated persons and things, were anointed to give them a lustre, and denote and publish the separation of them from common men and common use; it follows that the expected King of the Jews, their greatest Prince, Prophet, Legislator, Priest, each of which offices alone would have entitled him to the name of Messiah, or Anointed, fhould most eminently be called by the Jews, the Mesliah, that is, the Christ. Some of his auguft characteristic titles, 'which distinguish him from all other beings, the Doctor delineates with great judgment
• He had been a preceptor in the Royal Family; and this piece of his (which is to be found in a collection of tracts called the Phønix) is addressed to the Lords and Commons assembled in Par. Wament
and and propriety, and takes notice that as we often find the Prophets inspired by the Lord, often reprefenting, often speaking in the character of the Lord hence it also is that the Lord, (when he became manifest in the flesh) and his disciples, apply many things, as faid by the Jews in their days, which he had before said to them, the same circumstances occurring, by the declarations of the Prophets ; for the spirit of Christ was in them. They often represent him as the Captain, the Prince, the Leader of God's people. Though Zerubbabel brought back the Jews from their captivity in Babylon, though he was the visible coinmander, it was the WORD who influenced and directed. The same must be said of Judas Maccabeus, and other conquerors. Grotius, indeed, every where affects to represent the prophetical predictions, as accomplished in their primary sense when applied to Zerubbabel, Judas Maccabeus, or any other Prince, or leader of the people of Israel ; and to be applicable to the Messiah only, when interpreted in a secondary and subordinate sense : whereas, on the contrary, it is most evident that the Messiah, as the Captain of the Lord's Horts, the Angel of his Presence, the Prince and invisible Leader of his people, is the person to whom, in a primary and most eminent sense, those predictions certainly relate ; for the great actions, apparently done by the visible human leader, were directed by the counfel, and invigorated by the energy, of the invisible Divine Commander. He was the Prince of God's People in every age ; the Redeemer, the Saviour of the World, and is appointed to be the Judge of it.
The third Chapter treats of the latter, or last times; which the Jews in general refer to the times of the Messiah. But the expression in fome passages of the Old Scriptures evidently denotes other periods. Some; the Doctor intimates; have interpreted the end of days and the last times, both in the Old and New Scriptures, of the end of the world ; but the Doctor hath clearly shewn that these phrases signify the end of the Jewish state, the times of the Messiah, the fulness of time, or the end of the dispensations by revelation from heaven': or rather, the whole Christian period passeth' under the denomination of the latter, or last times; which sentiment he confirms and illustrates by various passages of Scripture.
In the fourth Chapter we have some judicious criticisms on the proper signification of Shilo, and also remarks serving to point out the period of time when the Messiah was expected. In illustrating the blessings predicted by the aged
and a laware tes banner, ore Deliverer for the gatheriolution of
patriarch, Jacob, as designed for his descendents in succeeding times, according to which Prophecy the tribe of Judah was to be great, to bear the rod of justice, to have a sceptre, and a law-giver, and a prince and ruler was not to fail in that tribe, under its banner, or from the loins of Judah, till SHILO, the peace-maker, or the Deliverer from death and destruction, should come, to whom should be the gathering of the nations, and their hoinage paid. The entire diffolution of Judah, as a tribe, did not happen till Jesus came, and the Gentiles were called,
The fifth Chapter is employed in considering the place where the Messiah was to be born; and after some proper observations on the Concessions of the Rabbins, the Doctor makes several pertinent and judicious remarks upon the pasfage in Micah's Prophecy, which determines the place of Christ's birth; (viz. Chap. v. 2.) and in shewing who the Ruler, Prince, or King is, who should come out of Bethlehem? He takes notice that this is deterinined by this defcription of his appropriate character, that his “ goings forth have been from of old, from cverlasting.” It is he who so often went forth in the name of the Lord, who conversed with Abraham and Mores, who was before the foundation of the carth was laid, and who at last was made manifest in the Aesh, and came forth from Bethlehem, the King of the Jews. Of no person whatever can it be said, that he appeared or came forth from the beginning, from days of eternity, as it is well rendered by the Seventy; he who was afterwards, in fome period of time subsequent to this oracle by Micah, to come forth out of Bethlehem as a Prince or a Governor in Ifrael, UNTO ME, or before God. These proceedings or goings forth as of old, he was not to give up or surrender, but to give or continue, or to accomplish, until he should be born of the Virgin, or until she which travaileth hath brought forth; for ther, as it follows, he shall STAND and feed in the strength of the Lord; he who, according to Isaiah *, is said to bear and carry them, (the people of Israel) all the days of old. The critical observations which Dr. Sharpe hath made upon the fifth and fixth verses of the chapter already referred to, are worthy of the closest attention; as the Prophecy, if his interpretation be admitted, is so unanswerable an argument in favour of Christianity. The seven Shepherds, the Doctor apprehends, are the féven Maccabees, namely, Mattathias and his five sons, with Hyrcanus, son of Simon, and the eight