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tenth verse of the 49th chapter of Genesis. Others have translated it thus, “ the authority shall for ever be in Judah, when the Messiah shall have come.' Others read, “ the authority shall be in Judah, till the messenger receive in Shiloh the sovereign power.” Others again render the passage in this manner, “the people of Judah shall be in affliction, till the messenger of the Lord comes to put an end to it;" and according to others, “ till the city of Shiloh be destroyed."
This diversity in the translation of the same passage ought unquestionably to render the prophecy very suspicious. First, we see that it is impossible to de. termine the signification of the word Shiloh, or to ascertain, whether it be the name of a man or a city. Se. condly, it is proved, by the sacred books, received equally by Jews and Christians, that the sovereign power is gone from Judah ; was wholly annihilated during the Babylonish captivity, and has not been reestablished since.
If it is pretended, that Jesus came to restore the power of Judah, we assert, on the contrary, that, in the time of Christ, Judah was without authority, for Judah had submitted to the Romans. But our ductors have again recourse to allegory :-according to them, the power of Judah was the spiritual power of Jesus over Christians, designed by Judah.
They, in like manner, see Christ announced by Balaam, who by the bye was only a false prophet. He thus expresses himself in the 24th chapter of Nunihers (16,
17) He hath said, who heard the words of God, and knew the knowledge of the Most High, wiio saw the vision of the Almighty, falling into a trance, but having his eyes open : I shall see him but not now; I shall behold him but not nigh; there shall coine a star out of Jacob, and a sceptre shall rise out of Israel," &c. In this unin. telligible jargon, they pretend to shew Christians a clear prediction of the founder of their religion. It is he who is the star, because his luminous doctrine enlightens all minds. This sceptre, which shall rise out of Israel, is the cross of Christ, by the aid of wbich he has triumphed over the Devil, who, in spite of this victory, ceases not to reign still on earth, and to render useless the triumph of Jesus.*
But of all the prophecies contained in the Old Testament, there is not one to which the Christian doctors have attached more importance than that found in Isaiah, chap. vii. 14. A virgin, or a young womang (for the Hebrew word signifies both) shall conceive, and bear, a son, and shall call his name Immanuel. To find out Jesus Christ in this prediction, it is first of all necessary to be convinced, that this virgin or woman is Mary ; next, it is necessary, not to entertain a doubt, whether Immanuel be the same with Jesus. It has been ohjected, and will always be objected, agaiust this pro,
• Devils are considered as the enemies and seducers of the human race, and perpetually busied in drawing them into sin, A power is altributed to them of performing miracles, similar to those wrought by the Most High ; and, above all, a power that counteracts the Almighty, and renders all his projects abortive. Though the Christian religion did not formerly allow the same power to the Devil as to God, it supposed that that malevolent Being prevented mankind from entering into the enjoyment of the felicity destined them by the goodness of God, and led most of them into eternal perdition. Christians, however, now virtually attribute to the Devil an empire much more extensive than that of the Supreme Being. The latter with difficulty saves a few elect ; while the former carries off, in spite' of him, the greater part of mankind, who listen to his destructive temptations rather than the absolute commands of God.
phecy, that it is sufficient to read the chapter of Isaiah from whence the passage is taken, to be satisfied that the prophet has in view Abaz king of Judah. In fact, this prince is there represented as in consternation, on account of the arrival of Rezin and Pekah, kings of Syria and Israel, who, with their united armies, threatened his dominions. Isaiah encourages him, by representing that he still has forces sufficient; he promises him the assistance of the Lord, whom every prophet made always to be of his own party. To guarantee the truth of his promises, Isaiah tells his sovereign, that he has only to ask of him a sign. The dispirited prince replies, that he does not wish to tempt the Lord. The Prophet, however, wishing to convince him, announces a sign_66 A young woman (says he) shall conceive, and bring forth a son, who shall be called Immanuel.” Now the following chapter informs us who this young woman was : she was the wife of Isaiah himself.—“ I took unto me (says he) faithful witnesses ; and I went unto the prophetess, and she conceived and bare a son.” The simple inspection of this text, seems to carry the cause in favour of the incredulous, who maintain that this prophecy is in no respect applicable to Jesus. But theologists have the privilege of interpreting it in the manner most favourable to their own purposes, without reckoning on the suffrage of St. Matthew, who was divinely inspired, as the fathers of the Council of Nice have decided without appeal.
Proceeding forward in the perusal of Isaiah (chap. ix. 6), we find the following passage:-“ Unto us a child is born (says the Prophet), and the government shall be upon his shoulders.” If the child foretold by Isaiah was born in his time, it can no longer be said,
that the Prophet meant to speak of Christ, who was born several centuries after him; for the birth of Jesus, being so distant, could not be a sign of deliverance to Ahaz, as his enemies pressed so closely upon him. Such are the objections of unbelievers. It is true, it is answered, that the prophets spoke of future events as if they were past or present. This answer requires only to be established by proof. It is likewise added, that the birth of Isaiah's son was only a type of that of Christ ; for to him, it is aflirmed, is applicable “ the government on the shoulder,” which is here spoken of; and in which our doctors perceive very distinctly pointed out the cross that Jesus carried on his shoulders when going to Calvary. Thus our interpreters have the happiness of seeing the sign of dominion, or empire, in what would appear, to eyes less enlightened, the sign of punishment, weakness, and slavery.
It is proper also to enquire how it comes to be said, that, in the Christian system, it is not at all necessary a prophecy bave relation, in all its parts, to the subject or fact to which it is applied. The sacred writers do not mean to cite a whole prophecy, but only a passage, a detached phrase, or indeed often a single word, apposite to the subject they treat of, without troubling themselves whether whạt precedes or what follows their quotation, has connexion or not with what they are speaking of. In the example under discussion, St, Matthew, wishing to quote Isaiah, and apply a prophecy to Christ, takes of this prophecy these detached words only, A virgin, or a young woman, shall conceite, &c.-he stood in need of no more of it. According to that Evangelist, the Virgin Mary had conceived :Isaiah had said, that a girl, or woman, should conceive. He therefore immediately concluded, that the conception of Jesus was foretold by Isaiah. This vague connection is sufficient for St. Matthew, and all Christians, who, like him, believe they see their founder pointed out in this prophecy.
Following this strange method, they have also advanced the authority of Isaiah to prove that Jesus was the Messiah promised to the Jews. In the 50th chapter this Prophet describes, in a very pathetic manner, the misfortunes and sufferings of his brother Jeremiah. They have long laboured to apply that prophecy to Christ; they have distinctly seen him pointed out in the “ man of sorrows," of whom Isaiab here speaks ;so that it is regarded rather as a faithful and circumstantial narrative of the passion of Jesus, than as a prediction. But, in fact, sound criticism must acknowledge, that this history relates only to Jeremiah. Not to deprive themselves, however, of the resources so useful a passage might furnish, they have decided, that in the case of prophecies the indirect relation should have place. By this means, in admitting that the narrative of Isaiah had Jeremiah for its object, they have laid it down as a principle, that Jeremiah was a figure or type of Jesus. It is not that their lives have been strictly consentaneous; but, in the Christian religion, conformity followed by aflinities, is not absolutely requisite to the justice of the comparison,
This manner of reasoning, peculiar to the Christian religion, has been very convenient for it. St. Paul especially, like most of the first preachers of Christianity, and after them the fathers and doctors of the church, have successfully einployed this curious method of
proving their system. According to them, all under the ancient law was the image of the new, and the most cele