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that shall rule my people Israel.” This passage is in Micah, chap. v. ver. 2.
I pass over the absurdity of seeing and following a star in the day-time, as a man would a Will with the wisp, or a candle and lanthorn at night; and also that of seeing it in the east, when themselves came from the east; for could such a thing be seen at all to serve them for a guide, it must be in the west to them. I confine myself solely to the passage called a prophecy of Jesus Christ.
The book of licah, in the passage above quoted, chap. V. ver. 2, is speaking of some person, without mentioning his name, from whom some great achievements were expected; but the description he gives of this person at the 5th ver. proves evidently that it is not Jesus Christ, for he says at the 5th verse, “And this man shall be the peace when the Assyrian shall come into our land, and when he shall tread in our palaces, then shall we rise up against him (that is, against the Assyrian) seven shepherds and eight principle men.—v.6. And they shall waste the land of Assyria with the sword, and the land of Nimrod on the entrance thereof; thus shall He (the person spoken of at the head of the second verse) deliver us from the Assyrian when he cometh into our land, and when he treadeth within our borders."
This is so evidently descriptive of a military chief, that it cannot be applied to Christ without outraging the character they pretend to give us of him. Besides which, the circumstances of the times here spoken of, and those of the times in which Christ is said to have lived, are in contradiction to each other. It was the Romans, and not the Assyrians, that had conquered and were in the land of Judea, and trod in their palaces when Christ was born, and when he died, and so far from his driving them out, it was they who signed the warrant for his execution, and he suffered under it.
Having thus shewn that this is no prophecy of Jesus Christ, I pass on to the third passage quoted froin the Old Testament by the New, as a prophecy of him.
This, like the first I have spoken of, is introduced by a dream. Joseph dreameth another dream, and dreameth that he seeth another angel. The account begins at the 13th verse of 2d chapter of Matthew,
" The angel of Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream, saying, Arise and take the young child and his mother and fiee into Egypt, and be thou there until I bring thee word: For Herod will seek the life of the young child to destroy him.- When he arose he took the young child and his mother by night and departed into Egyptand was there un. til the death of Herod, that it might be fulfilled which was spoken of the Lord by the prophet, saying, Out of Egypt have I called my son."
This passage is in the book of Hosea, chap. xi. ver. 1. The words are,
“When Israel was a child then I loved him and called my son out of Egypt-As they called them, so they went from them, they sacrificed unto Baalim and burnt incense to graven images.”
This passage, falsely called a prophecy of Christ, refers to the children of Israel coming out of Egypt in the time of Pharoah, and to the idolatry they committed after. wards. To make it apply to Jesus Christ, he then must be the person who sacriticed unto Baalim and burnt in. cense to graven images, for the person called out of Egypt by the collective name, Israel, and the persons committing this idolatry, are the same persons, or the descendants or thein. This then can be no prophecy of Jesus Christ unless they are willing to make an idolator of him. I
pass on to the fourth passage called a prophecy by the writer of the book of Matthew.
This is introduced by a story, told by nobody but himself, and scarcely believed by any body, of the slaughter of all the children under two years old, by the command of Herod. A thing which it is not probable could be done by llerod, as he only held an othce under the Ronan go. vernınent, to which appeals could always be had as we see in the case of Paul.
Matthew, however, having made or told his story, says, chap. ii. ver. 17.-" Then was fulfilled that which was spoken by Jeremy, the prophet, saying,–In Ramah was there a voice heard, lamentation, and weeping, and great mourning: Rachel weeping for her children, and would not be comforted because they were not."
This passage is in Jeremiali, chap. xxxi. ver 15, and this verse, when separated from the verses before and at: ter it, and which explains its appplication, might with equal propriety be applied to every case of wars, sieges, and other violences, such as the Christians themselves have often done to the Jews, where mothers have lamented the loss of their children. There is nothing in the verse taken singly that designates or points out any particular application of it, otherwise than that it points to some circumstance which, at the time of writing it, had already happened, and not to a thing yet to happen, for the verse is in the preter or past tense.-I go to explain the case, and shew the application of the verse.
Jeremiah lived in the time that Nebuchadnezzar be. sieged, took, plandered, and destroyed Jerusalem, and led the Jews captive to Babylon. He carried his violence against the Jews to every extreme. He slew the sons of
king Zedekiah before his face, he then put out the eyes of Zedekiah, and kept him in prison till the day of his death.
It is of this tiine of sorrow and suffering to the Jews that Jeremiah is speaking. Their temple was destroyed, their land desolated, their nation and government entirely broken up, and themselves, men, women, and children, carried into captivity. They had too inany sorrows of their own, immediately before their eyes, to permit them, or any of their chiefs, to be employing themselves on things that inight, or might not, happen in the world several hundred years afterwards.
It is, as already observed, of this time of sorrow and suffering to the Jews that Jeremiah is speaking in the verse in question. In the two next verses, the 16th and 17th, he endeavours to console 'the sufferers by giving them hopes, and, according to the fashion of speaking in those days, assurances from the Lord, that their sufferings should have an end, and that their children should return again to their own land. But I leave the verses to speak for themselves, and the Old Testament to testify against the New.
Jeremiah, chap. xxxi. ver. 15.—“Thus saith the Lord, a voice was heard in Ramah (it is in the preter tense) lamentation and bitter weeping: Rachel, weeping for her children, refused to be comforted for her children, because the were not."
Verse 16.—“Thus saith the Lord, refrain thy voice from weeping, and thine eyes from tears; for thy work shall be rewarded saith the Lord, and they shall come again from the land of the enemy.
Verse 17.4" And there is hope in thine end, saith the Lord, that thy children shall come again to their own bor. der."
By what strange ignorance or imposition is it, that the children of which Jeremiah speaks (ineaning the people of the Jewish nation, scripturally called children of Israel, and not mere infants under two years old), and who were to return again from the land of the enemy, and come again to their own borders, can mean the children that Matthew makes Herod to slaughter? Could those return again from the land of the eneiny, or how can the land of the enemy be applied to them? Could they come again to their own borders ? Good Heavens! How has the world been imposed upon by Testament-makers, priestcraft, and pretended prophecies. I pass on to the fifth passage called a prophecy of Jesus Christ.
This, like two of the former, is introduced by a dream. Joseph dreameth another dream, and dreameth of another Angel. And Matthew is again the historian of the dream and the dreamer. If it were asked how Matthew could
know what Joseph dreamed, neither the Bishop nor all the Church could answer the question. Perhaps it was Matthew that dreamed and not Joseph; that is, Joseph drearned by proxy, in Matthew's brain, as they tell us Daniel dreamed for Nebuchadnezzar. But be this as it may,
I go on with my subject. The account of this dream is in Matthew, chap. ii. ver. 19. * But when Herod was dead, behold an angel of the Lord appeared in a dream to Joseph in Egypt-Saying, arise and take the young child and its mother and go into the land of Israel, for they are dead which sought the young child's life-and he arose and took the young child and his mother and came into the land of Israel. But when he heard that Archelaus did reign in Judea in the room of his father Herod, he was afraid to go thither, Notwithstanding being warned of God in a dream (here is another dream) he turned aside into the parts of Galilee; and he came and dwelt in a city called Nazareth, that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the prophets.-Ile shall be called a Nazarene."
Here is good circumstantial evidence, that Matthew dreamed, for there is no such passage in all the Old Testament; and I invite the Bishop and all the priests in Christendom, including those of America, to produce it. I
pass on to the sixth passage, called a prophecy of Jesus Christ.
This, as Swift says on another occasion, is lugged in head and shoulders; it needs only to be seen in order to be hooted as a forced and far-fetched piece of imposition.
Matthew, chap. iv. ver. 12.“ Now when Jesus heard that John was cast into prison, le departed into Galilee-and leaving Nazareth, he came and dwelt in Capernaum, which is upon the sea coast, in the borders of Zebulon and Naphthalim-That it might be fulfilled which was spoken by Esaias (Isaiah) the prophet, saying, The land of Zebulon and the land of Naphthalim, by the way of the sea, beyond Jordan, in Galilee of the Gentiles—the people which sat in darkness saw great light, and to them which sat in the region and shadow of death, light is springing upon them.
I wonder Matthew has not inade the cris-cross-row, or the christ-cross-now (I know not how the priests spell it) into a prophecy. He might as well have done this as cut out these unconnected and undescriptive sentences froin the place they stand in, and dubbed them with that title.
The words, however, are in Isaiah, chap. ix. ver. 1, 2, as follows:
“Nevertheless the dimness shall not be such as was in her vexation, when at the first he lightly afflicted the land of Zebulon and the land of Naphthali, and afterwards did more grievously afflict her by the way of the sea, beyond Jordan in Galilee of the nations."
All this relates to two circumstances that had already happened, at the time these words in Isaiah were written. The one, where the land of Zebulon and Naphthali had been lightly afflicted, and afterwards more grievously by the way of the sea.
But observe, reader, how Matthew has falsified the text. He begins his quotation at a part of the verse where there is not so much as a comma, and thereby cuts off every thing that relates to the first affliction. He then leaves out all that relates to the second affliction, and by this means leaves out every thing that makes the verse intelligible, and reduces it to a senseless skeleton of names of towns.
To bring this imposition of Matthew clearly and immediately before the eye of the reader, I will repeat the verse, and put between crotchets [ ] the words he has left out, and put in Italics those he has preserved.
[Nevertheless the dimness shall not be such as was in her vexation when at the first he lightly afflicted] the land of Zebulon and the land of Naphthali, (and did afterwards more grievously afflict her] by the way of the sea beyond Jordan in Galilee of the nations.
What gross imposition is it to gut, as the phrase is, a verse in this manner, render it perfectly senseless, and then puff it off on a credulous world as a prophecy. I proceed to the next verse.
Verse 2. “ The people that walked in darkness have seen a great light; they that dwell in the land of the shadow of death, upon them hath the light shined.” All this is historical, and not in the least prophetical. The whole is in the preter tense: it speaks of things that had been accomplished at the time the words were written, and not of things to be accomplished afterwards.
As then the passage is in no possible sense prophetical, nor intended to be so, and that to attempt to make it so, is not only to falsify the original, but to commit a criininal imposition; it is a matter of no concern to us, otherwise than as curiosity, to know who the people were of which the passage speaks, that sat in darkness, and what the light was that had shined in upon them.
If we look into the preceding chapter, the 8th, of which the 9th is only a continuation, we shall find the writer speaking, at the 19th verse, of “witches and wizards who peep about and mutter,” and of people who made application to them; and he preaches and exhorts them against this darksome practice. It is of this people, and of this darksome practice, or walking in darkness, that he is speaking at the second verse of the 9th chapter; and with