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occurred, and been known to those, who were to observe it. If false, it would have been equally impossible to procure the first celebration of it afterwards, since for that purpose nothing less would have been necessary than to persuade a whole people, that they had been annually in the habit of keeping a festival, which they had never kept before, of obeying a law, which had never been promulgated, and of commemorating a fact, which they did not believe : and consequently the festival must either have been instituted and observed from the very period of the great deliverance it records, or it could never have been observed at all.
The same thing may be said concerning the resurrection of Jesus. Two sacraments were instituted at the very date of its occurrence for the purpose of preserving it in continual remembrance: and we have abundant evidence from an unbroken succession of writers, that these sacraments have been yearly, monthly, weekly, or even daily observed from that day to the present ;
nor indeed could this practice ever have prevailed, had it not begun with the era of the fact itself. No one could be persuaded a year or two later than that era to keep a sacrament, which pretends to have been contemporary with the fact it commemorates, if the sacrament had never been observed, or the fact never heard of before. In short, these festivals, the passover and the christian sacraments, are, as it were, recurring proofs of the facts, to which they refer, and give an evidence to the two miracles, the deliverance of the Israelites from Egypt, and the resurrection of Jesus from the dead, such as no other fact ever received; and by so doing they establish, independently of the arguments before adduced, the existence of a power, superior to the power of nature.
But, when we have once ascertained the truth of the evangelical history, proofs multiply upon us, and we are in the situation of the astronomer, to whom the same view, which discovers one star, of which he was in search, renders a thousand others visible.
Our lord, Jesus, predicted his own death and resurrection. But he declared also, that he was himself predicted of by others, and indeed by a succession of prophets from the beginning of the world : and herein consists, if his declaration can be supported, an eminent proof of the existence of a being, whose attributes are truly divine ; for it ascribes to him, if admitted, beyond the possibility of denial, not only a knowledge of distant futurity, but also an application of that knowledge to the government of the world.
Let us see then, to what this declaration amounts ! Jesus said, if the testimony of the evangelists be true- All things must be ful
filled, which were written in the law of Moses, ' and in the prophets, and in the psalms con'cerning me.' It appears then, that he referred to some writings, then extant under the name of the law, the prophets, and the psalms, as containing in them various particulars concerning himself, and those too particulars, which were to be fulfilled in him. Now we have abundant evidence, and indeed it is confessed on all hands, that by the expression of the law, the prophets, and the psalms, the Jews understood exactly the very volume, of which our old testament is a translation; which
volume was in general use among them, being read in their synagogues every sabbath-day, and containing not only the substance of their religion, but the laws of their civil government and polity. There was therefore no chance of any dispute about a book, which had been closed for ages, and which was necessarily referred to for one purpose or another in the synagogue, in the court of justice, or in the private house every day. Now, if we consider, how impossible it would be to forge a book of statutes, and impose it upon the world, as the common law of this country, we shall have some idea, how impossible an assumption it is to believe the old testament a forgery : which if it be not, a very slight inspection of its contents, as they bear on the present question, will make it appear, that Moses and the prophets indeed wrote of Jesus.
Let us advert only to a single prophecy, and select the twenty-second psalm! Our Saviour by using the first words of this psalm upon
the cross— My God, my God, why hast thou for
saken me?'-has in a manner owned the representation, which it gives, of him: and indeed whoever will compare the seventh, eighth, fourteenth, and four following verses of that psalm with the account of our lord's crucifixion, written by the evangelists, must allow, that either the testimony of the evangelists was unfaithful, or all the circumstances of that event were most accurately predicted. These too were circumstances, in which there could be no collusion. No influence for example was used with the priests, to make them utter the words of the psalm, or with the soldiers, to make them rend the other garments, but cast lots for the coat: nor indeed were they likely either, as Romans, to know, or, as heathens, to favor the prophecy. They acted according to their own caprice. But their decision had been foreseen and foretold, centuries before they made it: and who will pretend, that these minute, unessential, circumstantial particulars could have been determined ages, nay, centuries beforehand by human foresight? or how, allowing the agency of a superior being for this purpose, can we possibly ascribe to him inferior qualities to those, which belong to the moral governor of the universe ?