Page images

was concerned in causing those events to take place. And this is one very important reason, why God has foretold so many future events in his word.

2. God's foretelling and bringing to pass some events, demonstrates the truth of his bringing all other events to pass, which he has not predicted. For the events which he has predicted stand inseparably connected with all the other events which he has not predicted. God's predicting the death and crucifixion of Christ, four thousand years before Christ came, suffered, and died, and bringing them to pass stood connected with all other events, which took place in every part of the world, during that period. If God had not governed all events from Adam to Christ, he could not have brought about the death of Christ. He must have brought into being all the men that existed from Adam to Christ, and governed all their thoughts, words, and actions, in order to prepare the way for the existence of Judas, Pontius Pilate, and of all others who were concerned in his crucifixion. And since God has foretold a multitude of events, which reach from the crucifixion of Christ to the end of the world, he has set his hand and seal to all those events, which will demonstrate that he was concerned in bringing them to pass, after they have actually taken place. And since all other events from the crucifixion of Christ to the end of the world, stand inseparably connected with the events foretold; the final accomplishment of all divine predictions must necessarily demonstrate, that God had always governed all events, without a single exception, from the beginning to the end of the world. The glory of God and the good of the universe depend upon its being universally known, that his heart and hand are concerned in every event that takes place. It appears, therefore, that God could not have proposed a nobler, or more important end, in foretelling future events, than to make all his intelligent creatures believe, that he exerts his power and influence in governing all things. This design of prophecy coincides with God's ultimate end in creation, and directly serves to promote it. It de

monstrates, that of him, and through him, and to him, are all things that he is the Alpha and Omega, or the great centre to which all things past, present, and to come ultimately tend.


1. It appears from the design of prophecy, that the predictions, which God has already recorded in his word, are the last he will ever give. He continued to foretel future events from Adam to Moses, from Moses to Christ, from Christ to the Apostle John. Then he directed him to close the cannon of scripture, and denounce a curse upon a man, who should presume to add any thing to, or take any thing from his written word. This looks like putting a final period to prophecy from that time to the end of the world. And we have reason to think so, because the series of predictions in the book of Revelations respects the most important events from the days of John to the final consummation of all things; by which God has infallibly marked all future events, as the production of his own hand. When the events which he has predicted, are actually brought to pass, it will necessarily appear that he has constantly governed the world. There never has been, and there never will be any occasion for new prophecies since the death of John. All who have pretended to prophecy since that time, have been impostors, who were deceived themselves or meant to deceive others. There have been not a few such persons, and may be again; but they are to be disbelieved and treated according to the directions of the more sure word of prophecy.

2. It appears from the design of prophecies, that they may answer their end, though they are not understood before they are fulfilled. Many, if not most of the divine predictions in the bible, are delivered in such dark, figurative language, as is not very easy to understand. This is the case in respect to common people, and even in respect to the most ingenious, stu

dious, and learned divines. Expositors have found more difficulty, and made more mistakes, in their comments on the prophetical parts of scripture, than on any other parts of it. This has led some to think lightly of prophecies in general, and to despise all attempts to explain them. Voltaire says, Sir Isaac Newton wrote upon prophecies to console mankind for his superiority over them in other respects. But though the general obscurity of prophecies renders them difficult to explain and understand, either before they are fulfilled, or while they are fulfilling, or for some time after; yet they may answer the important purpose, which God designed to answer by them. Though the vision be for an appointed time, yet at the end it will speak, and answer the purpose for which it is given. Whether a prediction be understood before it is fulfilled, or while it is fulfilling, or even a long time after, it will finally mark the event with a divine signature, and demonstrate that God was concerned in bringing it to pass. There is reason to think, that there are many predictions in the bible which have been punctually fulfilled long ago, and which have never been fully understood or properly explained. But they will be understood some time or other, and then answer the purpose for which they were given. Great pains have been taken to understand, and explain the predictions concerning the return of the Jews to their native land, the overthrow of the Mahomedan imposture, the nature, commencement, and duration of the millenium. But it is a question whether any body has understood and properly explained these important predictions respecting these important future events. These predictions, however, will be fulfilled, and understood at the very time God intended, and consequently will fully answer his original purpose.

3. It appears from the design of prophecies, that their being disbelieved, does not in the least destroy their evidence or importance. They are designed to make it appear that God is concerned in bringing about all predicted and unpredicted events. Their being

[ocr errors]

believed by some, or by many, before they are fulfilled, or while they are fulfilling, or long after they are fulfilled, does not prevent their being fulfilled, and being understood, just as God designed they should be, and consequently does not destroy or diminish their usefulness. Though thousands now disbelieve the predictions concerning the overthrow of popery, paganism, and all false religions, their disbelief may promote, rather than retard the accomplishment of these predictions. We may ask them the same pertinent question which Paul asked the Jews. "What if some did not believe, shall their unbelief make the faith of God of none effect?" What if the Jews disbelieve the predictions concerning them, or what if the Mahomedans disbelieve the predictions concerning them, or what if the Papists disbelieve the predictions concerning them, their disbelief will not expunge these predictions from the bible, nor hinder God from fulfilling them. So that the unbelief of Jews, Mahomedans, and Papists, ought not to destroy or weaken our faith in the divine predictions concerning them. The disbelief of divine predictions has not prevented their fulfilment in time past; and it will not prevent the fulfilment of those The predictions which remain hitherto unfulfilled. Jews' disbelief of Christ's first coming, did not prevent his coming at the appointed time; and their present disbelief of his second coming will not prevent his seGod is concond appearance to judge the world. stantly preparing the way as fast as possible, by one event after another for the great day of consummation, when all preceding predictions will be fully accomplished and fully known. How many events must take place, and how many years roll away before the Jews shall be brought in, all false religions destroyed, the millenium commence and terminate, and the final judgment sit and continue, we know not. These are circumstances not predicted; but the events predicted shall certainly come to pass.

4. It appears from the design of prophecy, that the fulfilment of every divine prediction is an infallible

and increasing evidence of the truth and divinity of the bible, which contains the prophecies, which have been fulfilled. God is the only being in the universe, who is able to foresee and foretel future events. He expressly claims this prerogative. He says, "I am God, and there is none else: I am God, and there is none like me, declaring the end from the beginning, and from ancient times the things that are not yet done, saying, my counsel shall stand, and I will do all my pleasure." God has been pleased to foretel many future events, and recorded his predictions in his word, and it is only to open the bible and read his predictions; and then compare them with the relation which sacred and profane historians have given of events, in order to determine whether any of those predictions have been fulfilled; and if we find they have been fulfilled, we discover an infallible evidence of the divine inspiration of the scriptures. None who have read the bible carefully and intelligently can deny, that some of the most important predictions in it have been fulfilled. Did God foretel the coming, life, and death of Christ? These events have taken place. Did God foretel the infidelity and dispersion of the Jews? These events have come to pass. Did God foretel the spread of the gospel, the destruction of the seven churches of Asia, the rise of Popish and Mahomedan impostures and delusions, and the savage state and character of the descendants of Ham and Ishmael. These events have actually and visibly taken place. These events have been brought about in succession, and one has been evidently instrumental of another, and the accomplishment of one prediction has been a corroborating evidence of the truth of another. And this chain of evidence in favour of divine Revelation, is continually lengthening, and becoming more and more forcible and irresistible. There is but one kind of evidence more infallible and conclusive in support of the inspiration of the scriptures, and that is, the evidence of miracles, which were wrought as credentials to the inspired writers. Miracles are a direct testimony of God

« PreviousContinue »