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in Jacob, and scatter them in Israel. And when Jacob blessed the two sons of yoseph, and gave the preference to the
younger brother, as in chap. 48. Joseph thought his father had mistaken, and therefore attempted to rectify the supposed error, by endeavouring to remove his father's right hand from the head of the younger, to the head of the elder son, and gave him to understand that that was his first-born. Upon which Jacob answered, at ver. 19. I know it my son, I know it ; bé also shall become a people, and be also shall be great ; but truly bis younger brother shall be greater than be, and his feed Mall become a multitude of nations. In like manner, when Jacob had obtained the blesfing from his father Isaac, tho' it was by lying and falsehood, and Esau came in from his hunting, and waited on his father to receive that blessing ; Isaac trembled very exceedingly, and said, who, where is he that hath taken venison, and brought it me, and I have eaten of all before thou camest, and have blessed him ? yea and be shall be blessed, chap. xxvii. 33. And when Esau importuned his father to bless him also, Isaac answered and said unto him, as at verse 37. Bebold I bave made him thy Lord, and all his bre
Farewel: 145 i bren have I given to him for servants, and with corn and wine bave I fustained bim, and what fall I do now unto thee my son? That parents should have it thus in their power to determine the state and condition of their posterity, either for prosperity or adversity, for many generations to coine, which seems to have been the case here, is to me exceeding strange. And I think, that nothing but the strongest prejudice, in favour of the history in which these things are related, could dispose men of understanding to give Credit to such relations, or lead them to think there could be any just foundation for such pretensions as these.
Thus stands the case with respect to the argument drawn from prophecy; which, by reason of it's darkness and perplexity, is out of the reach of my understanding. I shall not take upon me to examine all the prophecies, or reputed prophecies, that relate to this subject, because that would be more tedious than useful ; and therefore, shall only observe, it seems to appear, that the prophecies contained in the Old Testament, when taken in the whole of each prophecy, without disjointing them, and taking only a part, and when understood in their YOL. II.
literal, plain, and most obvious fenfe (which, surely, is doing justice to the subject) have not had their completion in what has been applied to them in the new. And admitting what some men have averred, viz, that there are contained in the writings of the fewish prophets, plain predictions of the taking of Babylon, of the fall of the Assyrian Monarchy, of the restoration of the Jews by Cyrus, and the like ; (tho', perhaps, that plainness may not be clearly perceived by every reader) and that these were certainly delivered long before the events took place, which predictions exactly correspond with those events; yet nothing can be concluded from thence in favour of Jesus Christ's being the Jews Meffiah; because these were things to which the person and ministry of Jesus Christ did no way stand related; and all, I think, can fairly be concluded from the accomplishment of such predictions is only this, viz. that those prophets were under a divine direction in the instances referred to. This, I say, is all that can be concluded in those cases; tho' even that is not without it's difficulties, as it appears very strange that the Deity should interpose, by a particular and special application of his power and provi
dence, for the making known future events, when it does not appear that either those who were interested in those events, or those to whom they were foretold, could reap any advantage from it, or that any good purpose was served thereby, which seems to have been the case of the forementioned prophecies. And likewise admitting that Sir Isaac Newton, through his greatly superior skill in history, chronology, &c. has discovered a series of events, which, in his view of the case, tally with the numbers, times and seafons mentioned in the book of Daniel, and elsewhere ; yet, I think, nothing can rationally be concluded from it, in favour of Jesus Christ being the forementioned Mesiah. For, as it is very strange, or rather greatly improbable, that God, by the ministry of Daniel, or any other person, should deliver a prophecy to Jews or Christians, in which mankind at large are greatly interested, and should deliver it so darkly, and under such figures and similitudes, as that one man only, (and he a kind of prodigy in nature) amidst the many millions of millions of men who have taken place fince such prophecy was delivered, should be able to discover the true sense and
meaning of it; and now it is discovered, it serves rather to entertain men of letters and reading, who only are capable of examining and understanding it, than to work the conviation of unbelievers ; nor, indeed, does it seem suited to answer that purpose, as it : is greatly out of the way, and much above the common capacities of mankind ; so, from hence it seems to follow that nothing can rationally be concluded from it. For tho', where capricious humour is the foundation of action, there all transactions are equally eligible or consistent, one thing being as agreeable to sovereign pleasure as another ; yet, where wisdom and goodness are the springs of action (which, surely, is always the case with respect to the Deity) there, as some valuable end is always proposed, so the best and most effettual means are always used to obtain it. If, therefore, God should at any time give a revelation, in which our species at large are greatly interested, and thould make prophecy the evidence of it's divins cha racter, and the means of conviction to mankind; then, as the nature and the importance of the case do most obvioufly require, fo, surely, the wisdom and goodness of God would mot effectually dispose him to de