« PreviousContinue »
wbo have undertaken to answer him, have performed this part of the business. I shall only notice that he has not dared to meet the great body of scripture prophecy, or fairly to look it in the face.
To say nothing of the predictions of the destruction of mankind by a food; of that of Sodom and Gomorrha by fire; of the descendants of Abraham being put in possession of Canaan within a limited period; and of various other events, the history as well as the prophecy of which is confined to the scriptures; let us review those predictions, the fulfilment of which has been recorded by historians who knew nothing of them, and, consequently, could have no design in their favour.
It is worthy of notice, that sacred bistory ends where profane history, that part of it at least which is commonly reckoned authentic, begins. Prior to the Babylonish captivity, the scriplural wriiers were in the habit of narrating the leading events of their country, and of incidentally introducing those of the surrounding nations: but shortly after this time the great changes in the world began to be recorded by other hands, as Herodotus, Xenophon and others. From this period they dealt chiefly in prophecy, leaving it to common bistoriads to record its fulfilment.
Mr. Paine says, the scripture prophecies are "a book of falsehoods.” Let us examine this charge. Isaiah, above a hundred years before the captivity, predicted the destruction of the Babylonish empire by the Medes and Persians, and Judah's consequent deliverance. The plunderer is plundered, and the destroyer is destroyed : Go up, 0 Elam; beseige, 0 Media : all the crying thereof have I made to cease.* Ask Herodotus and Xenophon, Was this a falsehood ?
Daniel, fourteen years before the establishment of the MedoPersian dominion by the taking of Babylon, described that dominion with its conquests, and the superiority of the Persian influence to that of the Median, under the symbol of a ram with two horns I lifted up mine eyes and saw, and, behold, there stood by the river
* Lowth's translation of Isaiah xxi. 2. Other prophecies of the same event may be seen in Isa. xiii. xiv. xxi. xliii. 14-17. xliv. 28. alv. 1-4. xlvii. Jer. xxv. 12—26, 1. li. Hab. ii. los III.
a ram which had two horns, and the two horns were high ; but the one was higher than the other, and the higher came up last.
I saw the ram pushing westward, and northward, and southroard; so that no beasts might stand before him, neither was there any that could deliver out of his hand; but he did according to his will, and became great. This is expounded as follows : The ram which thou sawest having two horns are the kings of Media and Persia.* Ask the afore-mentioned historians, Was this a falsehood ?
The same Daniel, at the same time, two hundred and twentythree years before the event, predicted the overthrow of this Medo-Persian dominion, by the arms of Greece, under the command of Alexander ; and described the latter government under the symbol of a he-goat, with a notable born between his eyes. A8 I was considering, behold a he-goat came from the west, on the face of the whole earth, and touched not the ground: and the goat had a notable horn between his eyes. And he came to the ram that had two horns, which I had seen standing before the river, and unto him in the fury of his power. And I saw him come close unte the ram, and he was moved with choler against him, and smote the ram, and brake his two horns; and there was no power in the ram to stand before him, but he cast him down to the ground, and stamp
him : : and there was none that could deliver the ran out of his hand. The exposition of this vision follows: The rough goat is the king of Grecia ; and the great horn that is between his eyes is the first king.t Ask Diodorus Siculus, Plutarch, and other historians of those times, Was this a falsehood ?
The same Daniel, at the same time, two hundred and thirty years betore the event, predicted the death of Alexander, and the division of his empire among four of his principal commanders, each of whom had an extensive dominion. The he-goat waxed very great: and when he was strong, the great horn was broken ; and for it came up four notable ones, towards the four winds of heaven. The interpretation of this was as follows: Now the great horn
* Dan, viii. 3, 4. 20.
See also Chap. vii. 5.
+ Dan. viii. 5-7.21. See also Chap. xi. 2-4.
being broken, whereas four stood up for it, four kingdoms shall stand up out of the nation, but not in his power. * Ask the aforementioned historians of those times, Was this a falsehood ?
The same Daniel, at the same time, three hundred and eighty years before the event, foretold the outrageous reign, and sudden death of Antiocus Epipbanes, king of Syria : particularly that by flattery and treachery he should accomplish his end, and on account of the degeneracy of the Jews, should be permitted for a time to ravish their country, interrupt their ordinary course of worship, profane their temple, and persecute, even to death, those who refused to comply with his heathen abominations : but that, in the midst of his career, hc should be cut off by a sudden visitation from heaven. And out of one of them (the four branches of the Grecian empire) came forth a little horn, which waxed exceeding great, toward the south, and toroard the east, and toward the pleasant land.
And it waxed great, even to the host of heaven; and it cast down some of the host and of the stars to the ground, and stamped upon them. Yea, he magnified himself even to the prince of the host, and by him the daily sacrifice was taken away, and the place of his sanctuary was cast down. And an host was given him against the daily sacrifice, by reason of transgression, and it cast down the truth to the ground; and it practised and prospered. Of this the following is the exposition : In the latter time of their kingdom, when the transgressors are come to the full, a king of fierce countenance, and understanding dark sentences, shall stand up. And his power shall be mighty, but not by his own power : and he shall destroy wonderfully, and shall prosper and practice, and shall destroy the mighty and the holy people. And through his policy also he shall cause craft to prosper in his hand; and he shall magnify himself in his heart, and by peace shall destroy many; he shall also stand up against the prince of princes ; but he shall be broken without hand.f
Daniel also foretels, in the eleventh chapter of his prophecies, the wars between this king of Syria and Ptolemy Pbilometer, king of Egypt; with the interposition of the Romans, whose ambassadors should come over in ships from ('hittim, and compel him to desist: also that, being thus disappointed of his object in Egypt, he should return full of wrath and indignation to his own land, and wreak his vengeance upon the Jews, whose country lay in his way, though they had done nothing to offend him. I will not say, ask Josephus, Diodorus Siculus, and Polybius, if these were falsehoods ; ask Porphyry, a professed enemy to the holy scriptures, both of the Old and New Testament, and who wrote against them about the middle of the third century. He has proved, from the testimony of six or seven historians of those times, that these predictions were all exactly fulfilled; and like Mr. Paine by the Prophecies concerning Cyrus, is driven merely on account of their being true, to fly in the face of historic evidence, and maintain that they could not be the production of Daniel, but must have been written by some Jew after the events took place.*
* Dan. viii, 8. 22. See also Chap. vii. 6.
+ Dap. viii. 9-12. 23---25.
As, in the eighth and eleventh chapters of his prophecies, Daniel has foretold the Persian and Grecian governments, with the subdivision of the latter, and how they should affect the Jewish people; so, in the seventh chapter, he has, in connexion with them, foretold the government of Rome. This singular empire he represents as exceeding all that has gone before it in power and terror ; and as that of Greece, soon after the death of Alexander, should be divided into four kingdoms, signified by the four beads of the third beast, so this, it is foretold, should be at the time of its dissolution, divided into ten kingdoms, which are signified by the ten horns of the fourth beast. Ask universal history, Is this a falsehood ? Those who adopt the cause of porphyry must, in this instance desert bis hypothesis ; they cannot say that this part of the prophecy was written by some Jew after the event took place, seeing Porpbyry himself has acknowledged its existence some hundred of years before it was accomplished.
The predictions of this prophet did not end here : be at the same time foretold that there should arise among the ten kingdoms, into wbich the Roman Empire should be broken, a power diverse from all the rest ; a little horn which should speak great words
See Prideaux’s Connexion, Part I. Book II. VIII. Part II. Book III. where the accomplishment of all the foregoing events is clearly narrated, and the authorities cited.
against the Most High, and wear out the saints of the Most High ; and that this power should continue until a time, and times, and the dividing of time. At the end of this period, he adds, the judgment shall sit, and they shall take away his dominion, to consume and to destroy unto the end. Are these falsehoods ? Let the history of the last twelve hundred years, and the present state of the Papal hierarchy, determine.
Passing over the predictions of the Messiah, whose birth, place of nativity, time of appearance, manner of life, doctrine, miracles, death and resurrection, were each particularly pointed out ;* let us examine a few principles from the New Testament. Our Lord Jesus Christ foretold the destruction of Jerusalem by the Romans, and limited the time of its accomplishment to the then present generation. Ask Josephus, the Jewish historian, Is this a falsehood ?
It was intimated, at the same time, that the Jewish people should not only fall by the edge of the sword, but that great numbers of them should be led away captive into 'all nations; and that Jerusulein should be trodden down of the Gentiles, until the times of the Gentiles should be fulfilled. I Ask the present descendants of that unhappy people, Is this a falsehood ?
The Apostle of the Gentiles foretold that there should be a falling away, or a grand apostacy in the Christian Church ; wherein the man of sin should be revealed, even the son of perdition ; who
and exalt himself above all that is called God, or that is worshipped: and who as God would sit in the temple of God, showing himself to be God.Ş Also in his Epistle to Timothy: Now the spirit speaketh expressly, that in the latter times some shall depart from the faith, giving heed to seducing spirits, and doctrines of devils ; speaking lies in hypocrisy; having their conscience seared with a hot iron ; forbidding to marry, and commanding to abstain from meats which God hath created to be received with Thanksgiving of them which believe and know the truth.ll
* Isa. ix. 6. Psa. xi. 10, 11.
Micah v. 2. Dan. ix. 20—27. Isa. xlii. 2. XXXV.5, 6. liii
† Matt. xxiv. 1-35. Luke xxi. leuke xxi. 24. 2 Thes. ij. 3, 4. 1 2 Tim. iv. 1-3.