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reach, of attaining to a correct understanding of the prophecies; and by a literal reading of the theocratic imagery, they drew their carnal notions of the Messiah and his kingdom from the prophecies themselves.

That this partial obscurity of the prophecies was not unknown to the prophets themselves, is obvious from many of their own statements. Isaiah (chap. vi. 9, 10, and xxix. 10-12), and Jeremiah (chap. xxiii. 20, and xxx. 24), both expressly state, that the prophecies are unintelligible to the carnally minded portion of the nation, and will not be understood by them till they issue in their hurt. Zechariah says, on several occasions, that he cannot understand the visions which he has received; and it is not till afterwards that their meaning is explained to him.' From this it follows, that in the case of visions, such as Ezek. xl.-xlviii., which are not followed by any explanation, there must have been some obscurity about the meaning, even to the prophet himself. Daniel was told, that his prophecy would be shut up and sealed for the present, and even for a long time to come, and that the Church of the future alone would be able to make a proper use of it (chap. xii. 4, 9, viii. 26; see Dissertation on Daniel, and the commentary on Rev. x. 14). And in Rev. xxii. 10, it is also stated that, so far as the prophecies relate to anything absolutely future, they are as it were shut up and sealed.

The rationalistic writers refused to compare the prophecy with the fulfilment, and thus, going back to the stand-point of those who lived before the fulfilment had taken place, deduced from the obscurity of the prophecies, which they were perpetuating through their own fault, an argument against their divinity. Thus Ammon, for example (Christologie, p. 12) says, simple sentences as the following: Israel has not to expect a king, but a teacher; this teacher will be born at Bethlehem during the reign of Herod; he will lay down his life under Tiberius in attestation of the truth of his religion; through the destruction of


1 Zech. iv. 4, 5, "So I answered and spake to the angel that talked with me, saying, what are these, my Lord? Then the angel that talketh with me answered and said unto me, knowest thou not what these be? And I said, No, my Lord." A similar confession of ignorance is to be found in ver. 12, 13. (Compare i. 9, and ii, 2).

Jerusalem and the complete extinction of the Jewish state he will spread his doctrine in every quarter of the world-a few sentences like these, expressed in plain historical prose, would not only bear the character of true predictions, but, when once their genuineness was proved, they would be of incomparably greater worth to us than all the oracles of the Old Testament taken together." Our first remark in reply to this is, that the Christ of rationalism is here substituted for the historical Christ, the mere "teacher" for the prophet, high priest, and king. If this be done, the distinction between the Christ of the Old Testament and the Christ of the New is no longer simply one of form, but the greater part of the prophecies are changed into mere chaff. If, however, the Tрŵτоν yeûdos of the rationalists, from which every Christian mind shrinks back with abhorrence, be removed out of the way, it will not be difficult to defend the form, in which the Old Testament revelations of the future were made.—(1). It is opposed to the nature of God, to force men to believe. He hides himself in history, as well as in nature, that he may be found of them that seek him. And thus in the prophecies also, there was sufficient clearness, for those whose hearts were prepared to be able to discover whatever was essential and important to themselves, and everything that related to the salvation of their souls, and on the other hand so much obscurity, that those who did not desire the truth, might not be forcibly constrained to see it. It would be just as reasonable to demand that God should work miracles every day, for the purpose of convincing those that despise his name of the folly of their conduct, as to require that there should be greater clearness in the prophecies. That there was sufficient light to lead the elect to Christ, is evident from the living examples of Zechariah, Simeon, John the Baptist, Mary, Anna, and others.—(2). If the prophecies had possessed the clearness of history, their fulfilment would have been rendered impossible. If the light of Christ, his rejection by the Jews, and the mournful consequence, viz., the destruction of Jerusalem, had been described in the prophecies as clearly, as literally, as connectedly, as circumstantially, and even for the carnally-minded as intelligibly, as in the New Testament, the decree of redemption, which required the death of Christ, would never have been carried into

effect.-(3). Even upon believers themselves, the obscurity which rests upon certain portions of prophecy, must have exerted a more beneficial influence, than greater clearness would have done. If, for example, the Old Testament believers, who lived before the coming of Christ, had known that his appearance would be so long delayed, how greatly would this have tended to cool their love and cripple their hopes! How could the Messianic expectations, in this case, have become the centre of their whole religious life? If the Christians of the first centuries had foreseen, that the second coming of Christ would not take place for 1800 years, how much weaker an impression would this doctrine have made upon them, than when they were expecting him every hour, and were told to watch, because he would come like a thief in the night, at an hour when they looked not for him? (4.) A considerable portion of the Messianic predictions were intended to produce an immediate effect upon the whole of the people, and to preserve at least its outward fidelity towards the Lord. But if prophecy had had all the clearness of history, this end would never have been realised. It was attained, on the other hand, by such an arrangement of the prophecies, as made even a wilful misunderstanding salutary in its results. The people laid hold of the shell and thought that they necessarily possessed the substance also. And this contributed to the maintenance of such outward conditions, as were adapted to give life to the actual substance of the prophecies. (5). If the question be asked, what end was answered by such of the prophecies, as were obscure in themselves, and not merely in consequence of the carnal minds of the readers, it is a sufficient reply that the prophets did not utter the predictions for their contemporaries alone, but for posterity also, and the Church of every age. Those portions which were clear, were amply sufficient for contemporaries.

V. A further consequence of the state, in which the prophets were at the time of their prophesying, was the dramatic character which so frequently distinguishes the prophecies. Events and persons are all presented to their inward sight: this is as it were the stage, on which the latter come forward, to act or to speak. Very frequently this takes place without any previous notice or introduction; as for example, in Is. xlix., where the

Messiah suddenly comes forward and speaks. The discourse also is often suddenly directed to those, whom the prophet beholds by his inward sight for example, to Christ in Is. lii. 14, "as many were astonished at thee." The changes made without any further notice in the persons speaking or addressed, have frequently given rise to differences of interpretation, as, for example, in Nahum i. 9, " what think ye of the Lord," where many suppose Assyria to be addressed, though, according to the correct view, Judah is intended (ver. 11).

VI. From the state of the prophets we may prove the correctness of the assumption, that the symbolical actions, which they describe, took place for the most part inwardly, and not outwardly, an assumption which, as Maimonides says (chap. 46), is imperatively demanded by the nature of the actions themselves. For as the sphere of the prophets, as long as they were in an ecstatic state, was not the outward world, but the inward, every action performed by them in this state of ecstasy must have been an inward action also. The few instances, in which it can be proved that the symbolical actions were performed outwardly, are to be regarded as exceptional cases, in which the prophets passed away from their proper element.1

1 Prophetica scena, intra quam omnes peragebantur apparitiones, fuit ipsius prophetae phantasia, omniaque, quae deus ei revelata volebat dramatice in phantasia gerebantur, ita ut plures interdum inducerentur in scenam personae, inter quas propheta partes etiam suas agebat. Itaque prout dramaticus ille apparatus postulabat, oportuit eum, ut caeteros actores partes suas agere, aliquando verbis et narratione rerum gestarum, aut propositione quaestionum, aliquando eas partes ferentem, quas jussus erat per alios agere, adeoque eum non tantum sermone, sed etiam gestibus et actionibus locum suum inter alios obtinere.

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