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THE DIFFICULTIES ATTENDANT UPON DEISTICAL INFIDELITY IN REGARD TO ACTUALLY ACCOMPLISHED PROPHECY.
THE same, or (if possible) still greater, difficulties attend upon deistical Infidelity in regard to actually accomplished prophecy.
Political sagacity may sometimes anticipate events, on the mere principle of cause and effect but this sagacity can penetrate to no very great distance of time; it is uncertain in its operation, even when causes are accurately known; and, if the causes of future events be altogether unknown, its operation wholly ceases.
Prophetic sagacity, on the other hand, is so totally different from political sagacity, that, on no rational grounds, can the two be ever confounded together. Various instances may be easily produced, in which matters most remotely distant in point of time have been accurately foretold, in which such unerring certainty is exhibited that not a failure can be detected even in the most minute circumstance, and in which the prophet must clearly have been ignorant of all
those political causes which in the course of God's providence were destined to bring about the predicted effects.
Such being the case, we have an undoubted fact, to explain. A mere man, like ourselves, authoritatively and confidently declares, that a particular tissue of events will assuredly come to pass. His word is accurately accomplished: and yet, so far as his own natural powers were concerned, he possessed no greater facility of developing futurity than any other man. This is the fact to be accounted for: and, as the fact itself is indisputable, we certainly have a right to expect, either that the infidel on his own principles should give a satisfactory solution of it, or that he should renounce his principles as clogged with too many difficulties to be rationally tenable.
To run through the whole volume of prophecy would far exceed my present limits: I must therefore, us in the recent case of the historical fact of the deluge, select some one special prediction, which may serve as a specimen of the mode of reasoning from accomplished prophecy in general.
The prediction, selected for this purpose, shall be that of Moses respecting the future condition of a people, who, at the time of its delivery, were on the eve of victoriously taking possession of the land of Palestine: and I the rather select this prediction, both on account of its remote antiquity, for it was uttered fifteen centuries before
it began to be accomplished; and on account of the demonstration, which, by a necessary consequence, it affords to the divine authority of the Levitical Dispensation.
I. In a somewhat abbreviated form, the prophecy in question, runs as follows.
It shall come to pass, if thou wilt not hearken unto the voice of the Lord thy God, to observe to do all his commandments and his statutes which I command thee this day; that all these curses shall come upon thee, and overtake thee-And they shall be upon thee for a sign and for a wonder, and upon thy seed for ever.
The Lord shall bring a nation against thee from far, from the end of the earth, as the eagle flieth; a nation, whose tongue thou shalt not understand; a nation of fierce countenance, which shall not regard the person of the old, nor shew favour to the young. And he shall eat the fruit of thy cattle and the fruit of thy land, until thou be destroyed: which also shall not leave thee either corn, wine, or oil, or the increase of thy kine, or flocks of thy sheep, until he have destroyed thee. And he shall besiege thee in all thy gates, until thy high and fenced walls come down, wherein thou trustedst, throughout all thy land: and he shall besiege thee in all thy gates throughout all thy land, which the Lord thy God hath given thee.
And thou shalt eat the fruit of thine own body, the flesh of thy sons and of thy daughters which the Lord thy God hath given thee, in the siege and in the straitness wherewith thine enemies shall distress thee-The tender and delicate woman among you, which would
not adventure to set the sole of her foot upon the ground for delicateness and tenderness, her eye shall be evil toward the husband of her bosom, and toward her son, and toward her daughter, and toward her young one that cometh out from between her feet, and toward her children which she shall bear: for she shall eat them for want of all things secretly in the siege and straitness, wherewith thine enemy shall distress thee in thy gates—
Then the Lord will make thy plagues wonderful, and the plagues of thy seed, even great plagues and of long continuance, and sore sicknesses and of long continuance
And it shall come to pass, that, as the Lord rejoiced over you to do you good and to multiply you; so the Lord will rejoice over you to destroy you and to bring you to nought: and ye shall be plucked from the land, whither thou goest to possess it.
And the Lord shall scatter thee among all people, from the one end of the earth even to the other
And among these nations shalt thou find no ease, neither shall the sole of thy foot have rest: but the Lord shall give thee there a trembling heart, and failing of eyes, and sorrow of mind: and thy life shall hang in doubt before thee: and thou shalt fear day and night, and shalt have none assurance of thy life. In the morning thou shalt say, Would God it were even! and at even thou shalt say,
Would God it were
morning! for the fear of thine heart wherewith thou shalt fear, and for the sight of thine eyes which thou shalt see.
And the Lord shall bring thee into Egypt again with ships, by the way whereof I spake unto thee, Thou shalt see it no more again: and there ye shall be sold unto your enemies for bond-men and bond-women, and no man shall buy you
And thou shalt become an astonishment, a proverb, and a by-word, among all nations, whither the Lord shall lead thee
So that the generation to come of your children that skall rise up after you, and the stranger that shall come from a far land, shall say ;- What meaneth the heat of this great anger? Then men shall say; Because they have forsaken the covenant of the Lord God of their fathers, which he made with them when he brought them forth out of the land of Egypt :the Lord rooted them out of their land in anger and in wrath and in great indignation, and cast them into another land, as it is this day*.
II. Thus runs the prophecy: a prophecy, which cannot be said to be dark and obscure and ambiguous and unintelligible; but which is delivered in terms, plain, simple, and perspicuous to the meanest intellect.
1. Its minute accomplishment in every particular, however that accomplishment is to be accounted for, is not a matter of doubt or dispute or speculation on the contrary, it is a naked matter of fact, which is recorded by history, and which even at the present day we be
* Deut. xxviii. xxix,