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those who groaned under the heavy hand of their oppressors; neither were they the former, but the latter, that is, the poorer sort; that came back into Judea ; and even of these, the whole number of all that came, either with Zerobabel, Ezra, or Nehemiah, scarcely amounted io 70,000, among whom a multitude of strangers were likewise intermixed, either by marriages, or otherwise ; most of them so indigent, that they were forced to be supported in their journey, by the charitable contributions of those that staid behind. They were indeed to be governed by their own laws, but as they still continued in subjection to other nations, to the Persians, Greeks, and Romans, that privilege, as well as the exercise of their religion, very much depended on the arbitrary will of their conquerors. Even whilst they were under the Persians, the lives and estates of the whole nation were on the brink of being sacrificed to the ambition of a favourite."* Now, from this description, it plainly appears that none of the prophecies did receive their accomplishment at the said return, nor at any time after ; so that the promises therein made are still unfulfilled.
I think proper, now we are on this subject, to observe the exact description which Moses makes of the present dispersion of the Jews, which, according to the circumstances he foretells, cannot be applied to any other. “And the Lord shall scatter thee among all people, from one end of the earth even unto the other: and there thou shalt serve other gods, which neither thee nor thy fathers have known, even wood and stone; and among these nations shalt thou find no ease, neither shall the sole of thy feet have rest : but the Lord shall give thee there a trembling heart, and fạiling of eyes, and sorrow of mind, and thy life shall hang in doubt before thee, and thou shalt fear day and night, and shall have none assurance of thy life.”+
It is impossible that any historian could describe the state of the Jews in their present dispersion more exact; for what more could he say concerning their miserable state, than that they are scattered from one end of the earth to the other : that they are obliged to worship strange gods, unknown to their ancestors, made of wood and stone; that they neither have ease nor rest; continual fear and trembling, both day and night, with never-ceasing sorrow
* Universal History--vol. 6. chap. 10.
+ Deut. xxviji. 64.
and doubts : persecuted, imprisoned, and delivered to the flames This has been the miserable state of the Jews in many places, and is still their case in Spain and Portugal. There is not in this prophecy the least resemblance of what the Jews suffered in any other captivity. In the time of the Judges, they were often overome, and made tributary, but never dispersed. At the first destruction of Jerusalem, they were made captives, and carried to Babylon, but so far were they there from worshipping other gods, that it entirely cured them from idolatry; so that from that epoch, the Jews are never accused of that heinous criine; and their being obliged to worship gods unknown to them and their ancestors, plainly points out a new system of idolatry, invented and introduced long after that time; and as all the circumstances do wonderfully agree to their present dispersion and oppressions, so their return (described in the following passage) “That then the Lord thy God will turn thy captivity, and have compassion upon thee; and will return and gather thee from among all the nations whither the Lord thy God hath scattered thee,
of them be driven out unto the utmost part of heaven, from thence will the Lord thy God gather them, and from thence will he fetch them; and the Lord thy God will bring thee unto the land which thy fathers possessed, and thou shalt possess it; and he will do thee good, and multiply thee above thy fathers, "* can only be from their present captivity, as the circumstances which were promised them were never accomplished or made good in any of their former deliverances.
Now if the promises made to the Jews by all the prophets, have not been fulSlled at the return from Babylon, or at any other time, either before or since, it follows that their hopes of a Messiah, or a person whom God is to appoint, to make good his promise to the nation, in their deliverance and restoration, is just and well grounded ; and it must be vain and presumptuous to pretend that the prophecies have been sulfilled, whilst they find themselves in a situation so very opposite to that which the prophets foretell and describe ; a contradiction so glaring, that I wonder any one should pretend to affirm it.
The difficulties which arise, from the prophecies concerning the delivery and return of the Jews not being completed, are obviated by pretending that none of those prophesies ought to be taken in their plain, literal sense and obvious meaning; in other words, they will not allow the prophecies to have any meaning at all, in order to impose, on all such prophecies, and likewise, on many historical passages of scripture, what they call a spiritual, or figurative and typical sense, and meaning of their own, such as best suits with their purposes: by these means, accommodating prophecies, and history, to events, to which neither the one or other, has the least connexion; contrary to the express sense of the prophets, and passages, and therefore, cannot expect any credit should be given them : of this, the most learned are sensible, and consess, that they “can give no tolerable reason, why, the prophecies, concerning his (Jesus's) humiliation and sufferings, should be understood in a literal, and those of his exaltation, and glorious reign, in a spiritual sense*" the case then stands thus, the Jews must be convinced from the prophecies, that Jesus was the glorious person therein promised for their messiah; not, according to the sense and meaning of the words of the prophets, for they are intirely repugnant to such pretensions; but according to the sense and meaning which ......ians shall be pleased arbitrarily to impose on all the prophets, (without assigning any tolerable reasons as is confessed by them,) though that sense be, the most contradictory to the prophet's description; for otherwise, they can prove nothing. It is a very just and judicious observation, “ that the Jews, possessed of the oracles of God, and firmly persuaded of the truth of them, the very first thing therefore, that they had to do, upon the appearance of the Messiah, was to examine his title, by the character given of bim in the prophets ; they could not, consisteutly with the belief in God, and faith in the ancient prophecies, attend to other arguments, till fully satisfied and convinced in this. All the prophecies of the Old Testament, relating to the office and character of the Messiah, were immovable bars to all pretentions, till fulfilled and accomplished in the person.”+ This is so fair a state of the case, that none of the parties can reasonably have any objection against it: and there only wants proofs, that Jesus did fulfill and accomplish the character given of the Mesiah in the prophets ; now if this be done, according to the plain sense and meaning of the prophecies, the character which they give us, is so contradictory and repugnant, to that of Jesus, that his pre* Universal History, vol. 3. page 39. + Sherlock on prophecy 6 discourse page 157,
* Deut. xxx. 3 - 5
tensions can have no manner of foundation on that description; for the plain sense of the prophecies are and ever will be immovable bars to his claim.
But if we are to judge of his title from the sense which ......ians impose on the Prophets, then the character given by the prophecies, can be of no manner of signification, and therefore, it would be in vain, to examine his title, by the character given of him in the prophets, since, let the character be ever so ample, and plain, yet such a meaning would be imposed on the words of the prophets, as might make them answer very different purposes, and this is aetually the case, for if we are to have no regard to the plain sense and meaning of the Prophets, and take a liberty to depart from their literal and obvious meanings, how can we distinguish the true Messiah from the vain pretender, who may by types and allegories, impose such a sense of his own, on the prophecies, as may easily be made to answer his pretentions, and by such means apply them to himself, and bis purposes, construing them according to his fancy, and under a pretence of a refined spiritual sense, be able to prove thereby, all the passages of his life, both from prophecy and scripture history; for as no regard is to be had to the prophet's literal meaning, no bounds can be put to any persons imaginations ; for all will be spiritualized. But must not the Jews be in the most deplorable condition, if they admitted allegory for proof? would they not be liable to the grossest abuse and deception ? and could they any otherwise oppose such pretenders, but from the plain and literal sense of the prophecies? believe that the prophets had but that one plain sense and meaning, and to argue accordingly from it; for to suppose that “an author has but one meaning at a time, to a proposition (which is to be found out by a critical examination of his words) and to cite that proposition from him, and argue from it in that one meaning, is to proceed by the common rules of gramınar and logick, which being human rules, are not very difficult to be set forth and explained; but to suppose passages cited, explained, and argued from, in any other method, seems very extraordinary,”* and such a method can only serve to open a door to fraud and imposition, for when once we depart from the plain and obvious meaning of an author, and put a
* Grounds and Reasons, page 51,
different sense on bis words, we then commit such an act of violence as nothing can justify; but it is still worse, when we do the like to inspired writings; for we, in such case, deprive the prophet of his meaning which is infallible, and in its place, substitute our own weak, fallible sense, and that, for no other reason, but because it best serves our purposes; and it must give one a very bad opinion of the cause which depends on such a support, for “ Allegory is a figure in discourse which we are then said to use, when we make the terms which are peculiar to one thing to signify another,"* This being the case, can allegory or types prove any thing, much less a Messiah ; whose character and office is plainly revealed in the scripture ? and pray what is there, which may not be proved, when terms and words, peculiar to one thing, are made to signify another ? what confusion must ensue on such a scheme? How invalid must the proof of the Messiah be, if founded on types and allegory? for “allegorical explanations may edify indeed (says a learned person) but they are good for nothing else; they cannot be regularly produced as proofs of any thing."* St. Paul founded tianity on allegory, and though he says that he uses great
plainness of speech”+ yet is all scripture, by him turned into type; this he does even to the historical passages, and that, when the literal sense is most clear. To this end, he declares himself and others to be “ministers of the New Testament, not of the letter, but of the spirit, for (says he) the letter killeth, but the spirit giveth life.”I It is by this invention, that he pretends to prove every thing, for he applies his allegories and types, without the least resemblance, or without the least likeness of the types, to the antitype : this is plain and evident from every chapter of the writings which go under his name; thus for example he makes the patriarch's two sons, Isaac and Ishmael, to typify two covenants.
Again-Abraham's concubine, is with him, a type of Mount Sinai, in Arabia ;ll this same Mount Sinai in Arabia, stands with him for a type of Jerusalem in bondage with her children; he carries this type still farther; for this same Jerusalem typifies that above, which he calls the mother of all;T after the same manner he makes Malchizedec a type of Jesus, whom he declares to have
* Calmet's dictionary, on the word Allegory. + 2 Corinthians, ch. 3, v 12. $ ibid.
v. 16. Corinthians. iii 6. || Galatians, iv 22. 1 Galatians. iv. 26.