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our religion, and become ian. GOD has said," Ye shall not
commit this abomination, above all your wickedness."
But my dear fellow citizens—my sisters and brothers of the human family—can you think God will leave unpunished so daring an opposition to his acknowledged determination; For your own sakes—for the well being of your immortal souls—let me be permitted to exhort you to reconsider your doings. Even according to your own comfession, you are working against the express will of God !—that God whom you would be thought to serve.— Again I say consider, if you would saye your souls alive, consider what spirit ye are of—" Repent and turn to God for the legthening of your tranquillity." O, my friends, despise not the call now made on you, lest the text read as it is translated, "Wo," wo to the land! Would you be the cause of sorrow to our beloved country? You cannot wish to give it a single pang—it is your Zion, and should be that of your children. Will you then, with your eyes open to the enormity and evil consequence of your crime, continue to oppose the determination of God? You appear ta know his will, yet seem determined to do all in your power to oppose it! Weak, pusillanimous mortals, ye oppose the EVERLASTING ROCK !—you array yourselves in opposition to what you acknowledge is not only the will, but the determination of the God of all Spirits, "in whose hand is the soul of all the living, and the spirits which animate the flesh of all men!" What superlative folly !—what obstinate temerity !—what mad infatuation !—what judicial blindness! Men of reason! what have you done? what crime have you committed, that ye are given up to so perverse a dispositson?
My beloved fellow creatures, withhold your hands—at least be ye still before the God of all worlds—he works his will, and ye cannot let it. "The GOD OF HEAVEN will raise up a Kingdom." The stone was seen "cut out of the mountain without hands." That is contrary and in opposition to the will of any power that would pretend to help raise it up. Those who wish to help him raise the Stone, act in opposition to his determination. GOD has not only determined to do it himself, but he has also determined to do it without hands—without the agency of others. Your doings then, will only bring on you the wo! the ouusshment those must receive who choose to oppose his will, and do what in them lies to counteract his known, his acknowledged determination.
(To be continued.)
(Continued from page 316.)
The best method, and indeed the only sure guide we have to come to the truth, is to examine the prophecies which are cited in the New, from the Old Testament, and applied as fulfilled by Jesus, and accomplished in him. It is by such an examination only, that a true judgment can be formed of their validity, of their application and accomplishment; the prophecies being the only criterion by which the Messiah is to be known. It is from them alone that his character must be proved; and we may be most certain that such evidence must be, net only superior, but the most sure, (as St. Peter expresses it.*) For what in nature can be superior to plain and clear prophecies delivered to different persons, and at different times, all unanimously and uniformly foretelling so long before, that which should happen or come to pass; being transactions so very extraordinary that when duly attended to, the prophecies compared to the events, evidently, obviously, and literally fulfilled and accomplished, must be the highest testimony any thing can possibly be capable of. This task is therefore absolutely necessary, and I with pleasure undertake the examination.
1. The first prophecy taken from the Old Testament, and applied in the New, is that which concerns the conception of Mary, and the birth of Jesus from a Virgin; which St. Matthew proves by applying a passage out of Isaiah, f "Now all this was done, (says he,) that it might be fulfilled which was spoken of the Lord by the prophet, saying, Behold a virgin shall be with child, and shall bring forth a son, and they shall call his name Emanuel." J Now it happens that the passage cited from Isaiah, according to its natural, plain, and obvious meaning, concerns neither the birth of Jesus from a virgin, nor the birth of the Messiah at all: this being no prophecy, the evangelist citing it, as fulfilled, can prove nothing. This will plainly and evidently appear from a due consideration of the prophet's design and intention in the sign, and also from the nature of the sign, by him given to Ahaz, which was on the following occasion, viz—In the days of Ahaz, king of Judah, Rezin, king of Syria, and Pekah, king of Israel, laid siege to Jerusalem, but could not prevail. The two kings being disappointed, concluded a new alliance, and with a greater force, agree to return again to the siege. This confederacy struck great panic and terror in the house of David and inhabitants of Jerusalem. On this occasion Isaiah was sent by God, to comfort Ahaz, and to assure him in his name, that the confederate kings should not prevail in their design; and in order to convince Ahaz of its certainty, the prophet, in God's name, tells him to ask a sign of him; the incredulous king excuses himself, (under pretence of not tempting God.) The prophet, after complaining of the king's behaviour, tells him that the Lord himself shall give him a sign, (no doubt an indisputable, immediate sign, and such an one, as should effectually answer the intention and purpose for which it was given,) viz: That a young woman, (for so the word Almah signified) should be delivered of a son, whose name should be called (Ei#anuel; that before this child should know how to refuse the "Afi\, or choose the good, (that is within a very short time,) "The land which he abhorred should be forsaken of both her kings.* Now it is plain as words can make it, that it was to convince Ahaz of the truth of the prophet's prediction, that this sign was given him from the Lord; and the nature of the sign given was most certainly calculated and adopted to answer the purpose for which it was given, viz: that it might be a proof of and testimony to the prophet's prediction—and so it effectually was; and it must have been the greatest absurdity, and contrary to the very intention of the sign, to have understood the prophet as St. Matthew does, describing here the conception of Mary, and the birth of her son Jesus; an event which was not to happen till seven or eight hundred years after. For how could a sign, of so remote or secret a nature, have confirmed Ahaz in the hope and expectation which the prophet gave him from the Lord, of the destruction of his two grand enemies, within a very short time? but the certain foretelling of a birth of a male child, and the declaring that before it should have any knowledge, both the kings, his enemies, should be destroyed, appears a proper and well adapted sign : because it must have shortly verified the prophet's prediction. But a sign which was not to come to pass till upwards of seven or eight hundred years after, could never answer the purpose ; for how could it be a sign to the incredulous king, to prove that, which was immediately to happen? For the incredulity of Ahaz was the occasion of God's giving him a sign. But how could that sign contribute to convince him, unless he saw the accomplishment? And if he disbelieved the promise from God in what was soon to to happen, what credit could be expected he should give to an event so very remote? would it not be the greatest absurdity for a person to foretell a thing as immediately, or soon coming to pass, and to give a sign, which should not come to pass for seven or eight hundred years after? when the thing foretold was fulfilled, could a sign at that distance be any proof or confirmation of the truth of the thing foretold? No, certainly, it must appear useless to every person, and rather a banter than a sign, and could Ay serve to add to the incredulity of those concerned. • A
* 1 Peter, chap. 1. v. 19. t haiah, chap. 7. v. 14
± Mat. chap. 1. v. 98.
On the other hand, nothing can be clearer than that the whol* transaction was plainly fulfilled in the days of Ahaz, within the time limited by the prophet, before the child which was born could distinguish good from evil, or in about two years, as is evident from sacred history; for within that time the king of Syria was slain, after the taking of Damascus ;* and the king of Israel was smitten by Hosea, who rebelled against him.f By which means the land which Ahaz abhorred was bereft of both her kings, which event fulfilled the prophet's prediction; for which the prophet's own ehild, (and not Jesus, as it is pretended,) was given as the sign.
That it was so, the prophet himself declares, by saying, "Behold, I and the children whom the Lord hath given me are for signs and for wonders in Israel from the Lord of Hosts."* Thus was the sign given to convince Ahaz fulfilled, and the whole prophecy accomplished at that very time, and consequently it excludes all their pretentions. The word Almah, rendered Virgin in the English Bible, signifies no more than a young woman, whether maid, married, or widow. When a virgin is intended, it is always expressed by the word Jiethulah, which is a proper term for a virgin; this is evident from the word Bethulah being used for virgin throughout all Scripture.f
* 2 Kings, chap. xvi. v. 9. t Ibid, chap. XT. v. 30.
I cannot here forbear observing, how cautiously Father Calmet treats, and explains the word Almah. He trifles and imposes on his readers, and endeavours to hide from them, as much as lays in his power, its true meaning, by declaring, that, " The Hebrews had no term that more properly signifies a virgin than Almah;" for though he at last, (and as it were, contrary to his inclination,) is forced to confess the contrary. He does it in such a manner, as discovers his glaring chicanery: for he says, "It must be confessed, without lessening however the certainty of Isaiah's prophecy, that sometimes, by mistake, any young woman whatsoever, whether a virgin or not, is called Almah." Now observe: First he assures you, that, "The Hebrews have no term that more properly signifies a virgin, than Almah," which is evidently false.—Second, when he brings himself to the confession, "that any young woman whatsoever" is called by this name, he will have it to be by mistake, which is also false —And lastly, for fear of prejudicing or lessening the authority of the application of Isaiah's prophecy by St Matthew, he inserts a salvo by which he excepts the word in that place, not to mean any young woman whatsoever; but that it means a virgin. How vain, nay, how ridiculous are such shifts and evasions.f Let us return:
There are many ian commentators, both ancient and modern, who do justice to this passage of Isaiah, and acknowledge that the whole must be literally understood of his own son, who was made the sign to Ahaz, and was consequently accomplished in his days; and contenting themselves, either with making
* Isaiah, chap. viii. v. 18.
t Vide. Gen. chap. xxiv. v. 16—Levit. xxi. 3, 13—Deut. xxii. 23, 28, fee.
t See Calmet Diet, on the word Almah.