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When the apostles were preaching the doctrine of the cross among various nations, they knew that, in so doing, they were obeying the injunctions and fulfilling the predictions of Him who sent them ; but no possible objection can hence be raised against the
prophecies on that important article.
Had they not been assured of the truth of those facts, which they every where with so much boldness asserted ; and had they not been inspired with courage, as well as commissioned from above to teach them; they never would have embarked in the perilous enterprise; nor when they had undertaken it, could they ever have succeeded without the special aid and influence of Heaven. Those that planted therefore, and those that watered, were nothing in this respect, but God that gave the increase. He who vouchsafed to impart the prophecy, in his own good time and by his own mighty power wrought its completion.
In most other instances, perhaps in every one where human ability might seem competent to produce the effect, the immediate agents, totally ignorant or totally regardless of the voice of prophecy, were influenced by far & i Cor. iii. 7.
other John xi. 48.
other motives, than those of evincing its authority by fulfilling its declarations. The desolation of Judah was neither in whole nor in part occafioned by Christians. The Jews themselves brought on their calamities; the Romans were the instruments of vengeance ; and both, as well as Christians, have recorded the final issue of the war ; which was such as no human fagacity could foresee, no conjuncture of affairs, no traits of character in either party, could lead to conjecture. Though the Jews were afraid, or to serve a purpose pretended to be afraid, left the Romans should take away their place and nation"; yet after the time when they expressed these fears as well as before, they experienced, at the hands of their generous lords, particular immunities and distinguished favours, both in Judea and in other countries i.
To extirpate a people, or demolish a city, was contrary to the practice and lenity of the Romans in war. Their whole history affords but one or two instances of exceptions in the case. The compliment of the poet, “ parcere subjectis,” was the more valuable, because it was just : nor had their former hu
i See A. J. L. XIX. c. v.
manity in this age forsaken them. During the siege of Jerusalem, the compaffionate Titus was scarcely more solicitous to subdue the rebels, than to rescue the sufferers and save the city. The temple to the last he was i esolved to preserve. But in opposition to heaven the endeavours of mortals are ineffectual, and their wishes vain. The city and the temple were burnt with fire, and rased to their foundations; and those who survived the calamities of their country were scattered and dispersed over the face of the earth; and by a subsequent decree, while every other land saw their obstinacy and observed their affliction, in Judea alone they were not permitted to set their feet. The blood of the holy One, according to the dread imprecation of their fathers", pursues to this day the wretched posterity. Their blindness is still unremoved, their heart is still obdurate; therefore they are wanderers and vagabonds in the earth, living monuments of the just but tremendous wrath of heaven, and involuntary witnesses to the truth of the scriptures and scripture prophecies.
Had these prophecies been forged, had they been produced yesterday and accommo
k Matt, xxvii. 25.
dated to the circumstances of all past ages'; the face of things to day might bely the predictions and expose the impostor. Let this singular people be no longer different from other people ; let them adopt the religions and become members of the states of the various countries, whether Christian, Mahometan, orpagan, wherein they reside; melt them down in the mass of mankind, and let them not be distinguishable from other men;
you choose, separate them from the midst of other nations, transplant them into some unoccupied region, colonise with them some uninhabited island, and let them there observe their religion and their laws. On either supposition (and either is possible, if the holy scriptures are not true) you demonstrate those predictions to be forgeries, which declare that their infidelity and dispersion shall be of equal duration ; that they shall continue distinct, not till they swerve to idolatry, or sink into Mahometism, but till they look upon Him whom they pierced. Days and years roll on, and sweep away in their course the operations of men and the dreams of error ; but truth is a pillar of adamant, immoveable as the poles of heaven. Seventeen centuries have passed over the sons of dispersion, and seen them the objects of con
ftant wretchedness; nor would seventeen thoufand see them extinct or their situation altered, should they not in the mean time embrace the gospel.
The truth then of the scriptures of the New Testament, the prophecies whereof have been fulfilled and are daily fulfilling, being as certain as that God is true ; there are two inferences from the whole of the argument, which claim our attention.
The first is, That it is the duty of every one, who sincerely believes the gospel, to extend its influence and power in the world ; and, as God shall enable him, to set forward the salvation of all men. The heavenly treasure was committed to our trust, not that we should bury it in the earth, or lay it up in a napkin, but that we should employ it to the glory of God and the good of our brethren. There is, we trust, a day approaching, when « all the ends of the world shall remember and turn unto the LORD; and all the kindreds of the nations shall worship before him!.” This blessed æra we should not only pray for, but endeavour to hasten, by supporting the weak, confirming the wavering,