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which God hath in view to accomplish, shall be proportioned to the greatness of the means ufed by him who worketh ali in all. With this agreeable expectation, we enter with pleasure on the confideration of the prophecies before us, deeply impreffed with a fenfe of their excellence, variety, and usefulness.
As to the fubjects treated of in this infpired book: It contains a rich variety of matter, well deferving our moft attentive confideration. The infpired writer having been employed as a teacher of the people, his discourses are not merely prophetical, they are replete with inftruction, admonition, reproof, and confolation. They abound with animated representations of the infinite majefty, the perfections, providence, and government of Jehovah; to which is added, a historical description of fome interesting events which happened in the days of our prophet. They are enriched with many excellent precepts, which fhow us what the Lord our God requireth of us, and direct us in the paths of righteousness, whilst the oppofite fins are marked and reprehended in fuch a manner as tends to awaken the conscience and affect the heart. They are interfperfed with declarations of the gracious purpofes of God toward his people, with denunciations of awful judgments against tranfgreffors, with affurances of deliverance to the penitent, and many powerful arguments to the duties of obedience. Above all, they treat of the great Meffiah, typified by the rites inftituted under the former difpenfation, prefigured by many righteous men, and whofe way was prepared by
by the whole series of events which preceded his appearance. Chrift, especially Chrift crucified, throws a most agreeable light on the Old Teftament, particularly on the prophecies of this book. Unless the rites and facrifices, appointed under the former difpenfation, are confidered in reference to him, they will seem a confused heap of unmeaning ceremonies. Unless we view the prophecies as ultimately receiving their com→ pletion in him, and the interefts of his kingdom, they will feem wrapt up in impenetrable obfcurity. On the contrary, when we trace their connection with our Saviour, the centre in which all the great lines of revelation unite, what admirable order and defign, what agreeable symmetry and proportion, what beautiful harmony and œconomy, are confpicuous in the different parts which compose the whole, framed to convey the moft ufeful inftructions, and to promote one great end!
These prophecies then concern us, as well as thofe to whom they were firft delivered. They affured them of the certainty of events then future; they inftructed them in the mind of God, and were admirably fitted to inspire them with reverence for that fovereign hand which uniformly directeth all things. The partial accomplishment of these predictions ought to be confidered by us as an agreeable pledge and fecurity, that thofe which remain to be fulfilled fhall certainly have their completion in due time, whilft it affords us ftrong encouragement to intruft all our concerns in the hands of our faithful Creator. It is therefore both our duty and
and interest diligently to ftudy them, knowing that whatsoever things were written aforetime were written for our learning, that we, through patience and comfort of the scriptures, might have hope.
With respect to the infpired writer, and di vine authority of this book: It bears the name of Ifaiah, who is repeatedly mentioned in the New Testament, by our Lord and his apostles, as a true prophet, a holy man of God, who fpake as he was moved by the Holy Ghost. Many paffages are exprefsly quoted from these prophecies by them, for illuftrating or confirming what they did or faid. In reading the New Teftament, I found eighteen citations where the prophet is named, and his words plainly recited; fo that there can be no mistake, either as to the writer, or the place intended. I have alfo reckoned above two hundred and fifty paffages in the New Teftament where this prophecy feems evidently referred to, though the prophet is not mentioned, nor his words always formally quoted; yet, on many occafions, the allufion is obvious and ftriking. This affords every Christian a fatisfying proof of the divine infpiration of this facred book; and in this he will cheerfully acquiefce, knowing he cannot call in queftion its authority, unless he deny the infpiration of the New Teftament. Indeed the excellent and fublime fubjects which are here treated, the harmony, confiftency, and purity, that are confpicuous through the whole, with the exact accomplishment many of the predictions have already received, give full proof of its di
vine original. It is unneceffary to adduce more evidences on this fubject for the conviction of the fceptical, who reject not the word of God for want of evidence, but from love to thofe iniquities which are therein strictly prohibited and threatened.
That there lived fuch a perfon as Ifaiah is univerfally agreed, both by Jews and Christians, and is a fact which cannot be ferioufly difputed. That he was an eminent prophet of the Lord, remarkable for holiness of life, for the excellency of his doctrine, and the illuftrious proofs he gave of his divine miffion, are facts abundantly manifeft from the Books of Kings and Chronicles. That he was the writer of this justly admired and immortal work, in which he delineates the character of the people among whom he lived, describes the divine goodness they experienced, and fortels their future fortunes, cannot be plaufibly denied. Who, before our modern Infidels, ever ventured to question these inconteftable facts? and who ever expreffed a doubt concerning these things among the Ifraelites? What better reafons can be affigned for attributing to Virgil or Homer their admired poems, or to Mahomet his Alcoran, than can be given for afcribing the prophecies before us to Ifaiah, the renowned prophet of the Lord? This, brethren, is not an ordinary book, which, like many others, may be hazarded under a fictitious name'; nor is it a book that, after having lain in obfcurity for ages, hath been artfully impofed on us by defigning men. It is a facred book, which the Jews have read with veneration fince
its first publication, and which they have carefully preferved during feventeen hundred years exile, difperfion, and reproach. It is an inspired book, which Chriftians of every denomination have ftudied, fince the time this honourable character was firft given them at Antioch; and which, by their unanimous fuffrage, hath been admitted into the canon of fcripture, given by infpiration of God, that the man of God may be perfect, thoroughly furnished unto all good works. Bleffed is he that readeth, and they that hear the words of this prophecy, and keep those things which are written therein.
With regard to the ftyle in which thefe prophecies are written, and the manner of our prophet's diction: There is a remarkable pleasing variety in the mode of his expreffion, which, as the fubject requires, is nervous, figurative, elegant, and fublime. Thefe prophecies, so far as I know, have been generally confidered as written in profe. A learned commentator observes *, that the compofition has in it a fort of number or meafure of an oratorial kind, as he afterward explains it. The celebrated Dr. Lowth, bishop of London, in his Preliminary Differtation to his new tranflation of this book, makes the following just and beautiful remarks on this fubject, which I fhall make no apology for tranfcribing: Says the learned Prelate, " But if there "should appear a manifest conformity between "the prophetical style, and that of the books fuppofed to be metrical, a conformity in every
* Vitringa, Prolegom. in Ifaiam, p. 8.