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to see into the order and frame of that Revelation, of the truth of which they are already satisfied. And what is Prophecy, but a main integral branch of Revelation, as well as an evidence of it?-to be examined therefore in both of these lights. In tracing, however, the tenour of the prophetic volume, I have adduced by the way some proofs tending to enforce its authority and inspiration, when, in the survey of its structure, materials for that kind of argument occurred. The assumption, which I have mentioned, of course is relinquished, when Prophecy comes to be examined by its proper test, which is done in the Six last of these Sermons.
It has fallen within my purpose to take notice of the congruity and adaptation of Prophecy in its parts, either in relation to each other, or to the seasons of its progressive development. I hope the reflections brought forward on this head, are made in the spirit of a sober reason, justified in their ground of evidence, and material in their use. If they fail of being so, I wish them retracted. For what is merely ingenious or subtle in the exposition of Prophecy has little chance of being useful or true. Some parts of it demand a sound erudition, and a sounder intellect, to fix their sense; some an accurate historical knowledge, to elucidate their fulfilment; and who can doubt but that the plan of it, if from God, is ordered with such a
perfect wisdom, as to exercise, and commend itself to, our highest reason? But nothing which in the last result wears the appearance of intricate or minute speculation, can have much to do with the principles, or the use, of the Scripture Oracles, which, if they are any thing, are the wisdom of God given for the faith and moral instruction of man. Within these ideas I have wished to confine the observations which I had to offer on the scheme and adaptation of Prophecy in its several parts.
These Discourses, such as they are, are sent forth before I have had the leisure I could wish to prepare them for publication; but they are published at the earliest season when I could withdraw myself from the pressure and exigency of other duties, to give them some enlargement and revision. In plan and substance, and in the general draught of their composition, they are such as they were when preached, with the extension of particular topics which belonged to my argument, but which I wanted the skill to bring within the compass of single Sermons, when they had to be orally delivered. One important division of the Inquiry is still wholly wanting; that is, a View of the Prophecies of the New Testament. My appointed Course of Lectures was completed before I could embrace this branch of my subject, and the defect remains unredeemed in the present publication.
ON THE CONNEXION OF PROPHECY WITH THE OTHER
II. PETER I. 21.
For Prophecy came not in old time by the Will of Man; but Holy Men of God spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost.
THE Christian Religion appeals to Prophecy as one of its evidences. If we would do justice to the appeal, we must examine the volume of Prophecy in this light, to ascertain how far it does, in fact, establish or confirm the truth and divine origin of the Religion which professes to ground itself upon it.
But Prophecy is pledged to attest the Jewish, as well as the Christian Revelation; being offered as an evidence common to both. The whole scope of it must therefore be taken to extend to the proof and vindication of the one and the other. But since the Jewish Revelation is not only connected with the Christian, but introductory and subservient to it; for such is the import which
the Christian takes upon itself to assign to the other; it will be seen that whatever evidence establishes the truth and authority of the prior Revelation, goes, by just inference, to a verification of the Christian. In this view, though Prophecy may confine itself, as it does in many of its subjects and immediate uses, to the support of the elder Religion; yet the apparent economy of God, embracing the two dispensations, will constrain us to extend the truth and authority of the one to the defence of the other; the connexion of their evidence being a consequence of the connexion of their design. And by such a kind of estimate, applied to the prophetic records, not only "all the Prophets,” but all their Prophecies, will be found, according to the conviction they may afford of their inspired and authentic character, to uphold, and recommend to our assent and reasonable acceptance, that which is offered to us as the last and best of God's dispensations, the Religion of Christ.
To this end, in evidence of the truth and divine origin of the two Revelations, but in particular of the Christian, which is our present concern in the world, and which, if true, demands something more than an inert belief, I wish to direct the substance of my inquiry in the following discourses, in which I shall endeavour to open and enforce some of the illustrations and proofs of the inspired authority of Scripture Prophecy.
What I shall attempt to do, in pursuit of this end,