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Fourthly, I cannot but much wonder, that this author fhould think it molt probable, that many of the places, wherein the Meffias is exprefsly named in the Chaldee Paraphrafes, are interpolations;" especially, when he thinks that thofe writings are much more modern, and of a later date than the Jews would have them to be; for the later the date of them is, the lefs reafon is there to fuppofe them to be interpolated in thofe paffages which refpect the Meffiah; for furely it can never be thought, that they would take fuch a method with their own Targums on those prophecies, when they must be fuppofed to know what use the Chriftians made of them, both against them, and in vindication of Christianity; nor is there any thing with which the Jews are more puzzled and confounded, than when they are urged with those paraphrases; and there is a great deal of reafon to fuppofe, that thofe places, wherein the Meffiah is exprefsly named, are so far from being interpolations, that were not those writings fo facred with them, as that they dare not corrupt them, they would have expunged them long ago. As to this author's reafon for thefe thoughts, that "Jofephus fays, thofe Jews who were in the vulgar error, or "the belief of a Messias to arife out of their nation, built their expectation but "on one ambiguous oracle or prophecy, found in their facred books." I would only reply, that Jofephus indeed, speaks of an oracle or prophecy found in their facred books; that about that time one of them, from their country, should rule over the world; which oracle he calls an ambiguous one, and says was what chiefly excited the Jews to the war, but then he no where fays, that the Jews expectation of a Meffiah was built upon one fingle, doubtful prophecy, but that their expectation of his arifing out of their country, and at that time was fo; the ambiguity of which oracle lay in his arifing out of their nation, which some understood of his being born there, as the generality of the Jews did and others, of his entering upon his government there, as Jofephus did, and therefore applied it to Vefpafian: From whence it appears that this instance gives no reason to conclude, that the paffages refpecting the Meffiah, in the Chaldee paraphrafes, are interpolations; for the Jews might have many plain prophecies, on which they built their expectation of a Meffiah, fome of which these paraphrafes have pointed out to us; and yet Jofephus speak but of one ambiguous or doubtful prophecy respecting the time of his coming, and the country from whence he was to arife, which excited the Jews to the war, and animated them obftinately to perfift therein; in which he supposes them to
Scheme of Literal Prophecy, &c. p. 16. Vid. Elia Levitæ præfat. ad Methurgeman. Galatin, de arcanis, C. V. lib. 1. c. 3. and Allix's Judgment of the Jewish Church, &c. p. 85, 86, &c. • De Bello Jud. lib 7. c. 31:
be mistaken, though, alas! the ground of their mistake, and which therefore was fatal to them, was, that the Meffiah, the perfon prophefied of, was already come.
I conclude with defiring the reader to observe, that I do not produce the prophecies of the Old Teftament, refpecting the Meffiah's fecond coming, as literally fulfilled in Jefus, but as to be fo fulfilled in him, and the reason of my taking notice of them, is to make the scheme of prophecy more compleat; and seeing all the reft of the prophecies, refpecting the Meffiah, have had a literal completion in Jefus, there is a great deal of reafon to believe that these will alfo; efpecially, feeing it is fuch a completion of them, that Jefus and his apostles have given us reafon to expect. I have not, indeed,. enquired into the authenticnels of the book of Daniel, and of the two first chapters of St Matthew's gospel, which the author of The Scheme of Literal Prophecy has called in queftion, but have taken them for genuine parts of the facred writings; the reafon why I have not attempted an enquiry of this nature, when I have had occafion to confider fome paffages in those parts of fcripture, is, because I was not willing to interrupt the reader, by breaking the thread of prophecy. I must confefs, that what this author has advanced on this head deferves confideration; and I hope, that fome of the learned writers in this controverfy, will think it worth their notice and regard. I fhall only add, that whereas my defign in writing the following sheets, is an honeft, and impartial enquiry after truth, and an attempt to establish and promote it; in doing of which, as I have treated the argument with candor and temper; fo, I hope, if I fhould appear to be mistaken in any thing I have advanced, I shall be as candidly treated, as I fhall be heartily thankful for fuch a difcovery.
Te In reduction; with a particular confideration of that firft prophecy, refpecting the MESSIAH, recorded in Gen. iii. 15.
HOUGH the prophecies of the Old Teftament, concerning the Meffiah, which have had their exact completion in Jefus, are not the only proofs of the truth of the Chriftian Religion; there being many others, namely, the nature, importance, and tendency of the doctrines of the golpel, the verity and reality of facts recorded in the New Teftament, fuch as the miracles of Chrift, his refurrection from the dead, &c. yet are they real and unquestionable ones, and fuch as deferve our particular confideration; especially feeing Chrift, and his apoftles, fo frequently appealed to them, to confirm the truth of what they delivered. Salvation by Jefus Chrift, is the great doctrine of the gospel, and the fum and fubftance of the Chriftian Religion, of which falvation, fays the apostle Peter, the prophets have enquired, and fearched diligently, who prophefied of the grace that should come unto you: fearching what, or what manner of time the Spirit of Chrift, which was in them, did fignify, when it teftified, before-hand, the fufferings of Christ, and the glory that should follow. One main and principle branch of this falvation, is the forgivenels of fin through the blood of Chrift; now to him give all the prophets witness, that through his name whosoever believeth in him, shall receive remiffion of fins'; and indeed Jefus and his apostles faid, none other things than those which the prophets and Mofes did say should come: that Chrift should suffer, and that he should be the first that should rife from the dead, and should fhew light unto the people and to the Gentiles. It was the common and ufual practice of Chrift to direct his hearers to fearch the Scriptures of the Old Teftament, they are they, fays he", which testify of me; yea he exprefsly fays that Mofes wrote of him; he always fpoke of his fufferings, and of feveral circumftances of them, as predicted by the prophets; and therefore after his refurrection, in order to lead his difciples into a thorough acquaintance with these things, beginning at Mofes, and all the prophets, be expounded unto them in all the fcriptures, the things concerning himself, and declared that all things must be fulfilled, which were written in the law of Mofes, and in the prophets, and in the Pfalms concerning him. The marks and characters of the Meffiah, as fixed by the prophets, in the Old Testament, are very plain and visible in Jefus, which have been no small
confirmation of the faith, hope, and joy, of those who have believed in him. Hence, fays Philip to Nathanael, thefe two being fome of the first that believed in him, and whofe hearts were filled with joy at the first notice of him, We have found him, of whom Mofes in the law, and the prophets did write, Jefus of Nazareth, the fon of Jofeph. Now though this kind of proof is not the only foundation of the Chriftian Religion, yet it must be esteemed a very confiderable part of it, for we who believe in Jefus, are built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jefus Chrift himself being the chief corner ftone, which foundation a late author has endeavoured to undermine, in several tracts on this subject of prophecy. Wherefore it highly becomes thofe who have any value for Jefus, the Redeemer, to attempt the refcuing of it, against fuch bold attacks, and daring infults, upon the best and most excellent religion in the world. I am fenfible that feveral prophecies have been already, in this prefent controverfy, very learnedly and judiciously difcuffed, and fufficiently cleared from thofe exceptions which have been made against them, as also am confcious of my own weakness and inability to engage in fuch a work; yet, having the Redeemer's glory at heart, and being fully affured of the goodnetsof the cause, as well as willing to contribute what I can towards the securing the honour of Jefus, the confirmation of believers, and conviction of infidels,. I have undertaken the confideration of the prophecies of the Old Testament, respecting the Meffiah, which are either cited as fuch in the New, or are generally, by Chriftian interpreters, referred to him; and shall attempt to prove,. that they truly and properly belonged to the Meffiah, and have been actually. and exactly fulfilled in Jefus, which must be no inconfiderable evidence of the truth of the Chriftian Religion.
I fhall begin with Gen. iii. 15. which is the first prophecy refpecting the Meffiah, of whom in the volume of the book, in the first roll thereof, i paxidi BC, in the head or beginning of the book of God, it was written, that he fhould do the will of God; which was no other than to destroy Satan the old ferpent, with his works, and rescue finful and miserable man out of his hands, pursuant to this original prophecy, which was given quickly after man's apoftacy from God, and stands at the head and front of the Bible, from the giving forth of which, the Meffiah has been spoken of by the mouth of all God's boly prophets, which have been fince the world began".
Now this, and the preceding verfe, contain the judiciary fentence pronounced by God upon the serpent, for his concern in the apoftacy of man from his Creator,
f Jahn i. 45. A Difcourfe of the Grounds and Reafons of the Chriftian Religion, c. The Scheme of Literal Prophecy confidered, &c. Letter to Dr Rogers, &c. Luke i. 70.
Creator, of the real caufes of which, and what artful methods were used to effect it, together with the dreadful confequences thereof, a particular account is given in this chapter. But for the better and more full explanation of those words, it will be proper to confider thefe two things.
I. Who, or what is meant by the ferpent, on whom this fentence is pronounced.
II. The feveral parts and branches of that sentence,
First, It will be proper to confider who, or what is meant by the ferpent. That a true and real ferpent, and not the meer appearance or image of one, is here intended, is manifeft, from its being reckoned among the beasts of the field, ver. 1. from that cunning and fubtlety which are there afcribed to it, and which are remarkably eminent in this creature, as alfo from the nature of the curfe denounced against it, which was to go upon its belly and eat duft all the days of its life. Thefe words cannot be understood folely, and alone, of a real ferpent, but of Satan in it, and with it, and of that only, as ufed and actuated by him, he being the principal, this only the instrument, as will appear from the following confiderations.
1. Speech is afcribed to it, which is peculiar to rational creatures; for the opinion of Philo, Jofephus, Aben Ezra, and others, that beasts, in their original, and primæval state, were endued with a faculty of fpeaking, must be rejected as intirely fabulous: but this may well be understood of Satan fspeaking in the serpent, whofe common practice has been to utter voices in perfons poffeffed by him; nay, to give forth oracles from the Gentile idols, things inanimate, and may as well be fuppofed to form articulate words in the mouth of the ferpent, as the angel of the Lord did in the mouth of Balaam's afs.
2. This ferpent appears to be endued with reafon and understanding; here is a defign formed by him against the glory of God and the happiness of man, managed with all the fubtlety and contrivance imaginable, as well as malice and envy, which are very visible throughout his whole conduct, and can never be applicable to an irrational creature.
3. It is not reasonable to fuppofe, that human nature, as erdued with reafon, knowledge, and wisdom, even in its full strength and glory, could be outwitted, feduced and overcome, by a creature fo mean and inferior to it.