Imatges de pÓgina

reasonably be meant, by bruising its Head; it was only the false Glofies of fanciful Commentators, that would understand the Meffias's triumphing over the Devil by his Cross, from this Passage. That mighty Prophecy. of Balaam, concerning the Star's coming ont of Jacob, and the Scepter's rising ont of Israel, Numb. xxiv. 17. relates not at all to Chrift, but to the People of the Jews , whom the Seer, for some Reasons best known to himself, had a Well-wishing to, and said that, notwithstanding Balak's Opposition, they were like to be a very flourishing People. And as for the Scepter's not departing from Judah till Shilo come, 'tis hard to make that a Prediction of Christ, till we are able to understand what is understood by that obscure Word ; and besides, 'tis plain that there never was a Scepter in the Tribe of Fudah since Zedekiah; fo that, if this be a Prophefy of Christ, you must make him to have come at the Time of the Jewish Captivity, which is a little too soon for your Purpose.

But as for the Prophesies quoted in the New Testament, they are ten Times less to the Purpose than the other; for they all relate to such different Matters from what they are brought to speak for, that it shocks the strongest Christian Faith to consider; and shews, thar the Allegers of those Passages are so far from being inspired Authors, that they do not seem to understand the common Sense of Words. St. Matthew, who seems to have the most unlucky

Hand at these Quotations, has two or three of these Passages all together at the beginning of his Gospel. He quotes the 14th of Isaiah, for a Prophesy of Christ's being born of a Virgin t, and yet there is nothing of the Matter to be found there. For the word Gnalamah, in that Place, signifies only a young Woman ; and so it is used in other places, as Proverbs xxx. 18, 19. where the wife Man reckons, among the Things not to be discovered, or which leave no Footsteps behind, The

+ Celsus in Orig. Lib. i.

* Jul. in Cyrill. Ed. Span. 262. Julian in Cyr. Lib. 8.


Way of an Eagle in the Air, &c. and the Way of a Man with a Maid. Now such a Kind of Maid as this is, does not make much for your Purpose. Besides, if there be any Truth in this Prophesy, it must relate to fome young Woman of that Time, probably the Prophet's Wife, who shortly was to have a Child, before which Child should be of Years of Discretion, the Jews should be delivered from their Opprefsors. And then there is some Şense in this Sign. But to make Ahaz have a Sign given him to be accomplished at the Birth of. Christ, so many hundred Years after his Death, is a Jest, and which a Man must not only have a great deal of Faith, but a good Stock of Fancy, to make out. And so just after, when he quotes that Text of Jeremy, Jer. xxxi. 15. Mart. ii. 17. where Rachel, the Mother of the Benjamites, who dwelt in Ramah, is described weeping for her Children the Inhabitants, which were destroyed by God's Judgments; he applies it, without any Dife cretion, to Herod's Murther of the young children. So the Words of Hosea, Out of Ægypt have I called my Son, he makes a Prophesy of Christ's Stay in Ægypt, during Herod's Persecution, Mart. ii. 15. when 'tis plain to any one, that they are to be understood of the Fews Deliverance out of their Bondage there; if yoų read but the whole Verse whence this is taken. When Ifrael was a Child, then I loved him, and called my Son omt of Ægypt, Hof. xi. 1. And so Passages out of the 2d, 720 and 22d Psalm, are brought to as little Purpose. For the two first of these are composed upon Solomon, and the Title of the 720 does expressly say so.. And as for the 22d, that is only a pathetical Description of David's Sufferings. And as for most other places which are alleged on this Behalf, I think with Celfus, they are ägoasa, ráporsele xj neyta ädhaa, &c. Unintelligible, enthusiastical

, and perfectly obscure Sayings, which no wise Man can understand a Tittle of, but only afford Occasion to Fools and Jugglers to apply to their Purposes. What do you lay to all this, Credentius?

Fred, Cred. Say to you ! you have crowded together so much Blasphemy and Infidelity, I can hardly tell where to begin with you. But to bring you to a better Opinion of the Predictions of our Saviour, I would have you consider with your felf,

1. Whether or no several of these Passages which you Texts quorefer to, and others in the New Testament, that are ted by Way quoted out of the Old, be not brought in by Way of of Accom

. Allusion or Accommodation, rather than · Prophesy? Now unless you were sure that all those Places of the New Testament, which you are wont irreligiously to expose, cannot possibly be understood this way, you do a very great A& of Injustice to these Writers. For why should not St. Matthew, or St. Paul, quote a Palfage of Isaiah, or the Psalms, and apply it to another Sense, as well as you or I make the like Use of a Verse of Virgil or Ovid? Suppose I should bespeak the Apostles, those first famous: Propagators of our Christian Faith, in the Words of Virgil's Invocation of the Sun and Moon, Virg. i Georg.

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You would not look upon this to be any great Solecism.
Now why has not St. Paul the Liberty to do the like,
when he quotes a Passage of the 19th Psalm, which is
understood of the Sun and the Moon, and applies it to
the Preaching of the Apostles ? But I say, have they not
heard? Tes, verily, their Sound went into all the Earth,
and their Words unto the Ends of the World, Rom. xv.
18. So our Saviour makes Use of Isaiah's Words, which
he spake of the Jews of old, to describe the Fews of his
Time; This people honoureth me with their Lips, but their
Heart is far from me, Matt. xv. Ifa. xxix. 14. There
is hardly any Body will deny, but that these Texts may
fairly be accounted for, by Way of Accommodation.
And I see no good Reason, but several of the Texts,
you have mentioned, may be explained the same


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Way. Suppose, I say, when St. Matthew quotes that Text of Hosea, in his Relation of Christ's coming back from Ægypt, he had only a Mind to use the Prophet's Words, Out of Agypt have I called my Son, rather than in plain Words to say, And thus God's Son came back out of Ægypt : You will not be able to make good the contrary against me. Nay, in what fitter Words could the tragical Effects, of Herod's barbarous Murther of the Infants, be expressed in, than in those of the Prophet which St. Matthew chose? In Ramah there was a Voice heard, Lamentation and Weeping, and great Mourning, Rachel weeping for her Children, and would not be comforted, beCause they are not. Yes, you will says thefe Passages cannot be quoted by Way of Allufion, because they are brought in with this Clause, That the Scripture might be fulfilled, which shews they are meant for Prophefies. But I cannot think, that the Jews always, when they used this Phrase in quoting a Text of Scriptures thought that Text was a Prophesy of what it was applied to." I only take it to be an Instance of the religious Way of speaking, which the Jews above all Nations used. For, as they were wont to attribute the common Actions of Life to God's doing, and to entitle Things great and remarkable to God, reflecting thereby an Honour upon God himself; so, I suppose, they designed a Respect to the Scripture, by seeming to attribute a Propheticalness, to every Part of it which they quoted. Not that they thought every Passage, so alleged, to be truly prophetical of what they accommodated it to; but only they made Use of this honourable Expression, to shew their great Regard to God's Word. I doubt not but this Phrase, That the Scripture might be fulfilled, and the like, were used first in quoting real Prophesies; but that this (as all other honourable Expressions) by long Use funk in its Value, and was more vulgarly applied ; so that, at last, it was given to Scripture only accommodated. . There are an hundred Instances of this Nature to be given, in all Languages; I shall instance but in one, out of the Bible, which is very nigh of kin to this we are


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speaking of; and That is the Signification of the Word
Prophet. In its first and ordinary. Signification, we all
know, that it signified an inspired Messenger of God;
and yet in Process of Time it came to denote Poets; Tit.
i. 12. and Singers of Psalms, i Sam. t. 16. 1 Cor. xiv. I.
Now if Prophecy could at last come to signify only Sing-
ings why might not the Phrafe Fulfilling of Scripture, or
Prophecy; signify only Quotation

2. It is to be observed, That many of these Places I a seconquoted out of the Old Testament in the New, are to be dary; or my.

Aicah Sense. fupposed to be understood in a mystical or allegorical Sense; and therefore it is not fair to say they are falfly alleged; or not to the Purpose; because the litera] Sente of the Original doth not import so much. Nothing was more common, among the Fews, than to explain Scripture in such a Sense; and therefore the Writers of the New Testament, who conversed chiefly among the Jews, are not to be blamed, if they made ufe of their own Way of Interpretation, in their Disputes with them; which sust be, at least; good Argumentation ad Hominiemi, and be more convincing to ther than Proofs, which we might account more lolid. For most Meri are very fond of their own Way of Reasoning; and this the Apostles una derstood very well, and therefore, when they speak to the Greeks, they address themselves to them in their own Way, and sometimes quotë their Authors, as St. Paul does Aratus, and Epimenides: But when they {peak to the Fews, as for Instance, in the Epistle to the Hebrews, they argue, in the Jewish Way, from the Types and Prefigurations of the Law and Prophets. It cannot be denied, but that it was the Opinion of the ancient Fews, that the inspired Writings of the Old Testandent, had a great deal more hidden Senfe couch'd in them, than what did at first sight appear; and this Doctrine I take to be as old as the Psalmift's Time. I have seen an End of all Perfection, but oby Commandment is exceeding broad, Psal. cxix. 96. That is, the Scripture is so full of Sense, has so much of Prophesy, typical Prefiguration, and the like, (besides the literal Meaning, which is obvious to every one) that there is


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