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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 fulfilled, 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?
There is then a being, infinite in power and knowledge. In other words there is a God.
The Bible presents us moreover with proofs of the wisdom and goodness of God, no less irrefragable than those, which it supplies, of his existence.
The infinity of his power and knowledge has (I trust) been already admitted: for the prophecies, recorded in scripture, are unquestionable evidence of the latter of those attributes; and the miracles, there related, are equally so of the former.
These prophecies and miracles moreover establish something far more than power or knowledge in their author: for they are evidently concurrent to the accomplishment of one common end; and that end is mercy to man, an end, which is not less decisive of the goodness of God than the means adopted are of his wisdom. To have devised a scheme, which required human cooperation without interfering with human freedom, which was to be carried on through a long succession of ages by beings, who were not aware either
of the interest, which they had in it, or of the aid, which they lent to it, to have foreseen under such circumstances the precise manner of its accomplishment, to have foretold it to others so plainly as to render the scheme intelligible, and yet not plainly enough to enable them to defeat it, is such a display of wisdom as can only be equalled by its goodness; and both appear to be infinite. Above all, when we recollect, that his own son was to be the price of this offered mercy, while yet it was known to the eternal father, not only, that all the beings, for whose benefit it was intended, were unworthy of it, but that many of them would reject it, the idea, which it raises, of persevering and unwearied goodness in the author of it, is such as even the word, infinite, appears too little to express.
The face of nature, therefore, and the page of revelation, bear a concurrent testimony both to the existence, the power, the wisdom, and the goodness of the deity and thus each, by reflecting light upon the other, confirms us in the conclusion, which we derive from both.