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the Person here primarily intended, is Zerubbabel
, being back'd with the Authority of St. Clorysostom. Bur * Theodoret has fufficiently confuted this Fancy, and proved that Zerubbabel was born at Babylon. To this Grotius replies, (with an Answer borrowed from Kimchi) thac Zerubbabel was descended from David, who was born at Beth-lebem. But then what Reason can be given, why Zerubbabel should be said to come from Beth-lehem, rather than from any other Town, where any of his Predecessors were born? Why might not he be said, as well, to come out of Ægypt, where Aminadab and Naaffon were born; or out of Ferusalem, where so inany of the preceeding Kings had their Nativity; out of Haran of Mesopotami, where Juda, or out of Ur of the Chaldeesa where Abraham was born? So that upon this Account, Zerubbabel must have had as many places of Nativity, as he had Progenitors ; and why Beth-lehern only should be mentioned, is very unaccountable, upon Grotius's own Supposition. But to pass over this; To whom, but the Meffias can be attributed this Character, Whofa Going forth have been from old, from Everlafting; which does plainly express the eternal Generation of the Sox by the Father? Nor is this a fanciful Exposition of Christians, who have been accustomed to the Doctrine of the Trinity; but an ancient Author in the Talmud of Hierufa lem, explains this of the Generation of the Messias, which he says is, As a Dew from the Lord, and as Drops upon the Herb, which does not expect a Man.
Now to take all these Prophesies together, and feria bufly to confider the obvious Sense of the Words, and the Interpretation which the Jews constantly put uponi them in ancient Times, before they were prejudiced by their Hatred to the Christian Religion, to Ay from their old Explications, which they saw did fo plainly favour us; we cannot but think, that our Saviour was manifestly pointed forth by these Predi&ions; so that nothing but Men's corrupt Affections, or their Prejudices, can hin
* Theod, in Mic. V, 2.
der Of the Lives and A&tions of Christ and the
der them from owning him to be the true Messias, which
Place and Manner of his Birth fo historically, almost, ser down; that we cannot but adore the Almighty Goodness of God, that he is pleased to make our Faith so easy to us, which he has promised so liberally to reward us for.
Phil. Pray, Sir, don't talk so much of the Easiness of Faith in this Matter; for make the best of these Things, they are all dark mysterious Riddles. If God Almighty had a Mind to have given Mankind a previous Knowledge of the Coming of Jesus Christ, he would have dealt very plainly with them, and not have wrapt it
up in obscure enigmatical Veils, like the Heathen Oracles, and have left Men only blindly to guess at them ; he would have set them down in Words at Length, and not in mystical Figures; he would downright have told us, That, in such a Year of Augustus's or Herod's Reign, Christ would be born; that such a perfidious Wretch, as Judas, by Name, would in such a Year have betray'd him; That the Sanedrim of the Jews would have plotted his Death; and That God would, after so many years, be revenged upon that People for their barbarous Usage of him, by the final Destruction of their City. This would have been more agreeable to the Simplicity and Veracity of God, than to have made use of such dark Oracles, which, like waxen Noses, may
. Way a Man pleases.
be turned any
Reafon why Cred. Not too fast, good Philologus. God Almighty Prophesies designed Faith to be a Virtue; to depend in great Meathing ob- fure upon the Determination of a rightly disposed Will, fcure. and not to be the necessary Result of our Intellects. The
Divine Wisdom does not think fit to make us Believers,
But this is not all. It is highly agreeable to the Wifdom of God in governing the World, That these Prophefies should have such a Degree of Obscurity in them, that they should not, before-hand, be understood in all their Particulars: Because that would be an Obstruction, to many of the other great Designs of God's Providence, and would
him upon unusual Methods to bring them about, either by suspending the Freedom of Man's Will, or violently over-turning the Power of Nature to effed them. Suppose, that God had particularly predicted, That, upon the 25th Day of December, in such a Year of Augustus his Empire, at the Town of Beth-lebens, Chrift should be born; and then see, what would naturally happen upon it. The Jews would have come all in Crowds, to have welcomed this heavenly Infant into
the World; every one would have been officious to pay their Respects, and to offer Presents to him; they would have carried him about, continually, in triumphant Chariots; and would have hofama'd him, from his coming into the World, to his going out.
But then there would be one great Thing omitted, which our Saviour came into the World to teach, thàt is, Humility; which he could not have effectually recommended to Mankind; but only by his living under such a State of Poverty. Or fupposing Judas's Name had stood in capital Letters, in several Places of the Old Testament; and all his traitorous Dila simulation had been so perfe&ly described, that Judas himself might have feen his own black Picture, there ; and what now would have been the Event of this? Why, Judas would have been fo shy of the
Temptation, that it would not have been in the Power of the Jews, or of the Devil either,to have made him embrace it; and thirty Pieces of Silver would have been so far, from inticing him to that Infidelity, that as many Talents of Gold would not have done it." So chat God Almighty must have been forced, to have over-powered his Will; or to have altered the Method of his own Designs, to have fulfilled such an exact Predidion. Therefore I conclude, That it shews the great Wisdom of God, in composing these Prophesies just as they are ; to Thew before-hand, plain enough, the general Designs of his Providence, and to leave the Particulars of them to be manifest only, after the Event ; by this prudently contriving, That, till the Coming of Christ, God's People might have a sufficient Hope and comfortable Expectation of Him, and that the Rules of Nature, and the divine Justice, might ngt be unhinged, by his coming.
Apofiles, as they are Recorded in Scripture. : Phil. You must excuse me, Credentius, if, what I am now about to urge, be ungrateful to you, I deligning in my Objcctions to take to Pieces the Lives and Actions of those Perfons, whom you liave the greatest Veneration for; and to shew them to have been Men of that Complexion, as very little to deserve that high Efteem, you are wont to pay to their Charcters. I will promise you, for Civility fake, not to make such Sport with these Perfons before you!, as we of our Persuasion, do among our selves; but I have some Things to urge upon this Head, which, spoken ever so tenderly, may give Offence to Persons of your Persualion. 10" - To begin with Jesus Christ, the Author of your Sea. 'Tis á Part of your Religion to believe that he was the Son of God, and born of a Virgin ; and yet at the same Time, you don't believe a Tittle of the Stories of Æneas's. being born.of Anchises and Venus, or of Romulus's being born of Mars and Rhea Sylvia; but look upon these only as specious. Tales; to cover over shameful Amours *. But where is the Difference in these Cases? The Scripture it self owns, that Josephs' himfelf was a little suspicious of some foul Play in this :Matter, when he determined to put his espoused Wife away privately, Matji. 19. But a Man of Sense t, who has examined these Matters long agos has fifted out the very Name of a Soldier, called Panthers, and tells å very broad Story of him and you know who.
Cred. Good God!. That ever our blessed Saviour The Birth of Chrift should bestow such an inestimable Benefit upon Manvindicated. kind, as to be Born, and to Die for their Sins, and that
there should be any found among them, which should make such ungrateful Returns, as to load him with the * Julian apud Cyrill. lib. 8. + Cellus in Originc lib. 1.