ページの画像
PDF
ePub

I AM sensible it may be urged, it is not unnatural to suppose that those who are endowed with the gift of prophecy, are or may be endowed with the gift, or a superiority of knowledge also ; which I grant ; but then, as this is no more than a bare fuppofition, so more ought not to be laid upon it than it has strength to bear. And therefore, if it should be inferred from a man's having the gift of prophecy, that he has the gift of knowledge; and if the former should be made an evidence of the latter, in such a case the conclusion would be much too strong for the premises ; because it is drawn from a meer supposition, the contrary to which

may

be the truth of the case. St. Paul has observed i Cor. xii. 8, 9, 10. That to one was given the word or gift of wisdom, to another knowledge, to another faith, to another the gift of healing, to another the working of miracles, to another prophecy, to another diverse kinds of tongues, to another the interpretation of tongues ; so that, according to the account given of this matter by St. Paul, the forementioned gifts have no connection with, dependance upon, nor do they generally, much less always, accompany one and other.

And therefore,
Į

tho"

thoʻa man is endowed with the gift of propbecy, which enables him to know more of futurity than others can ; yet it does not follow from thence that he knows more than others in other respects; because, `notwithstanding his prophetick gift, his knowledge, in all other respects, may be as much limitted and confined as the knowledge of other men. Suppose a man should now foretel that some great events will take place two bundred years hence, and should be very particular as to the circumstances which would attend those events; and suppose this man fhould deliver, as divine truths, doctrines to the people, that they could not attain to the knowledge of by the exercise of their naral

powers, viz. that we all know, and be known to each other in futurity, as we now know, and are known; and that the relations and friendships men contract in this world, shall be revived, and continued in the world to come. If, when the forementioned fixed time is fully expired, the predicted events should not have taken place ; then, I presume, it will be allowed that not any thing is proved by those predictions, either with regard to the predictions themselves or any doctrine that had been taught

by

way by which he

by the predicter. If, when the time is expired as aforesaid, the events predicted should have taken place, under all the circumstances foretold; then the question will be, what do those predicted events prove ? And the answer is most obvious, viz. that the prediæter may, at least, have been endowed with the gift of propeçy, and thereby knew (as far as that gift extended) more of futurity than other men.

And this conclufion would be just and natural, as we cannot discover any other way might attain to such foreknowledge. If it should be asked, whether the events an, fwering the predictions do not also

prove

the above mentioned doctrines, (viz. țhat we shall know, and be known to each other in futurity, &c.) to be certain truths ? the answer is alike obvious, viz. they do not : For as the predicted events are altogether iprelative to the aforesaid doctrines; therefore, they cannot possibly prove any thing concerning them. If it should be argued, chat as the man had the gift of prophecy, so he must have had the gift of knowledge alfo ; that as he foreknew certain events that took place in this world, therefore he must certainly have foreknown what will take place

ز

;

in the world to come. Here the conclufi. ons are much too strong for the premises ; because, according to St. Paul, the gifts of knowledge and prophecy do not usually, much less always, take place in the same person ; to one is given the word of knowledge, to another prophecy. And tho' proper evidence may be produced, that proves a man knew or foreknew one thing, or two things, or ten things; yet that evidence does not prove that he knew or foreknew all things. Events answering predictions prove that those events were foreknown, and, perhaps, that the foreknowing person was endowed with the gift of prophecy; and that is all the natural and proper evidence that arises from them. The straining of evidences beyond their natural sirength, and extending them to what they properly have no relation, is, surely, bad practice; and were it to be admitted in our courts of justice, it would be of bad consequence ; because if it can be clearly shewn that a man has looked over a bedge, that may be admitted as good evidence against him, that he has stole a borse. And tho’ this would be looked upon as very bad practice in a court of justice ; yet it is too common in argument, an instance of

[ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors][merged small][merged small][merged small][ocr errors]

which we have in the case before us. To apply this, let it be admitted that the book of Revelations is a prophetick history, and that the several visions and epistolary discourses therein contained were intended to predi&t those very events which Sir Isaac Newton has annexed to them ; the question is, what do those predicted events prove more than this, viz. that those visions and discourses were real prophecies; and that be to whom they were imparted was endowed with the gift of prophecy, and was a true prophet? I say, what do they prove more than this ? Not, surely, that whatever this prophet said and taught beside these was a divine oracle-; much less do they prove that what is contained in other books, or was taught and promulged by other men, is fo; I say, they do not in the least prove these, because they are altogether irrelative to them. The foreknowing the rise and fall of states and empires, the increase or decrease of religious parties, and the like, which events may be the subje&ts of prophecy; such foreknowledge does no more suppose or imply the knowledge of the rea furrection of the body, or any other supernatural doctrine, than the looking over a

bedge

[ocr errors][ocr errors]
« 前へ次へ »