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so much to the purpose. This circumstance of itself should teach us to examine the prophecies in question with caution ; and also with candour, since many worthy, and religious men have thought them sufficient to prove, that Jesus was indeed the Messiah. These prophecies I shall reserve last for consideration, and shall now begin with the others usually adduced, taking them up pretty much in the order in which they stand in the Old Testament.
The first passage is taken from Deut. xviii. 15, “The Lord thy God will raise up unto thee a Prophet from the midst of thee, like unto me, upto him ye shall hearken. According to all that thou desiredst of the Lord thy God in Horeb, in the day of the Assembly, saying, Let me not hear again the voice of the Lord my God, neither let me see this great Fire any more, that I die not. And the Lord said unto me, they have well spoken that which they have spoken. I will raise them up a Prophet from among their Brethren, like unto thee, and I will put my words into his mouth, and he shall speak unto them all that I command him. And it shall come to pass, that whosoever will not hearken unto my words which he shall speak in my name, I will require it of him.”
This passage is pertinaciously, and solely applied to Jesus, by many Christian Writers, because it is so applied by Peter in the 2 ch. of Acts, in his sermon to the Jews, just after he had received tbe full inspiration of the Holy Spirit, and of course must be considered as infallible. Nevertheless, these words of Moses are supposed by many learned men, both Jews, and Christians, to be spoken of Joshua, whom Moses himself afterwards at the command, and appointment of God, declared to be his Successor, and who was endowed with the spirit which was upon Moses : See Deut. xxxi, 33, xxxiv. 17, and to whom the Jews then promised to hearken, and pay obedience to, as they had done before to Moses. But others understand them to be a promise of a Suc. cession of Prophets, to whom the Jews might upon all occasions have recourse. And one, or the other of these seems to be the certain meaning of the place ; from this consideration, that from the context it appears Moses was giving the Jews directions of immediate use; and therefore, in promising a Prophet to them to whom they should hearken, he seems to intend an immediate Prophet who might be of use to the Jews, and answer their common exigencies, and not a Prophet two thousand years to come.
But I take the words to promise a succession of Prophets, and for that sense wherein Grotius, and Le Clerc, and most of the Jews take them. I shall give my reasons for this, and show that they do not necessarily refer to Jesus Christ.
Moses in the verses preceding this prophecy in the same chapter, Deut. xviii 9-14, tells the Israelites from God, that 6 when they came into Canaan, they should not learn to do after the abominations of the People thereof; and particularly, that there should not be found among them any one that useth Divination, or an observer of times, &c. or a consulter with familiar spirits, &c. For all, says he, that do these things are an abomination to the Lord ; and because of these abominations the Lord thy God doth drive these people out from before thee. For these nations which thou shalt possess hearkened unto observers of times, and unto diviners. But as for thee, the Lord thy God hath not suffered thee to do so." Then follow the words about the Prophet, “ The Lord thy God will raise up unto thee a Prophet from the midst of thee of thy Brethren like unto me, unto him ye shall hearken." All which is as much as to say “ When you come into Canaạn, do not hearken to a Diviner, &e. as the Ca. naanites do, for the Lord will give you a Prophet of your own Brethren inspired like ine, to guide, and instruct you, to whom ye shall hearken.” Or rather, 66 Do not bearken to Diviners, &c. but to Prophets who shall be raised up among you.”
Now that the words cited must relate to a succession of Prophets, to begin upon the Israelites taking possession of the land of Canaan, is manifest, because the raising up of a Prophet to whom they were to hearken is the reason given why they should not hearken to a Diviner, &c. when they came into that land; Which reason could have no force unless they were to have,1st. an immediate Prophet in Canaan. (For what sense is there or would there be in saying, “ Don't hearken te such Diviners as are in Canaan, when you come there ; for you shall have a Prophet of your own to whom ye shall hearken two thousand years after you come there ?12)
2dly. As the context shows that the Prophet to be raised up, was an immediate Prophet, so it also shows, that the singular number here stands for the plural, according to the frequent custom of the Hebrew Language, as is shown by Le Clerc, and Stillingfieet, in loco. For one single Prophet to be raised up immediately, who might soon die, could not be a reason why Jews of suc.ceeding generations should not hearken to Diviners, in Canaan.
Finally, the words of God by Moses, which follow the promise of a Prophet, evidently shew that by that promise Prophets were intended, in laying down a rule for the test, or trial of the Prophets before mentioned, in such a manner as implies, that that rule was to be applied to all Prophets pretending to come from him. See the words in Deut. xviii, 19–22.
I shall conclude this explication, by adducing in confirmation of it, the Paraphrase of the words given in the Targum of Jonathan." The nations you are about to possess (says "the Jewish Paraphrast) hearken to Jugglers, and Diviners : But you shall •not be like them ; for your Priests shall enquire by Urim and Thummim, and the Lord your God shall give you a true Prophet.” And this explication is the one adopted by Origen, [Contra Celsum, p. 28.]
As to the difficulty that is raised against this explication from the words at the end of Deuteronomy “ that there arose not a Prophet since in Israel like un. to Moses, whom the Lord knew face to face ; In all the signs and wonders which the Lord sent him to do," &c. it is nothing at all. For every one perceives, that the word “like” may be, and frequently is used in Scripture, and in common Language, to signify similarity in some, though not in every particular; and every Prophet, who speaks by God's direction, is a Prophet “ like unto Moses," who did the same ; though he be not like,
or equal to him “ in doing signs and wonders ;" whick is all that is affirmed in the last chapter of Deuteronomy.
And finally, there is nothing to limit this prophecy to Jesus of Nazareth, if we allowed, (what we reject) the Christian interpretation ; since God might to morrow, if such were his will, raise up a Prophet like unto Moses in every respect, which Jesus certainly was not ; therefore, it cannot be applied, and restrained to the purpose for which it is quoted by Peter. * There is in the same Sermon in the 2 ch. of Acts another passage quoted by Peter from the Psalms, and applied by him to prove the resurrection of Jesus, and on which he lays very great stress, which after all seems to be nothing to the purpose. Peter says, “ him, (i. e. Jesus) God hath raised up, having loosed the pains (or bands of death, because it was not possible that he should be holden of it.” And why? - For, (because] David speaketh concerning him, • I foresaw the Lord always before my face, for he is on my right hand, that I should not be moved. Therefore did my Heart rejoice, and my tongue was glad; moreover also my flesh shall rest in hope. Because thou wilt not leave my soul in Hades, [the place of departed Spirits,] nor suffer thy Holy one to see corruption, thou hast made known to me the ways of life, thou shalt make me full of joy with thy countenance. Men and Brethren, let me freely speak unto you of the Patriarch David, that he is both dead, and buried, and his sepul. chre is with us unto this day. Therefore being a Prophet, and knowing that God had sworn with an oath to him, that of the fruit of his loins according to the flesh, he would raise up Christ to sit upon his Throne. Hé seeing this before, spake of the resurrection of Christ, that his soul was not left in Hades, neither did his flesh see corruption.
How imposing is this argument ! How plausible it. appears! And yet it is irrelevant, as Dr. Priestly frankly confesses, who tries to save the credit of the Apostle by the convenient principle of accommodation! The whole force of Peter's reasoning depends upon the word $6 corruption."-David did see corruption, therefore bo
could not mean himself, but 6 being a Prophet, &c.” he meant Jesus Christ. Now the whole of Peter's argument is grounded upon two mistakes, for 1st the He. brew word translated“ corruption," here signifies “ destruction, perdition,” and in the next place, instead of being “i thy Holy one,” in the singular, it is in the Hebrew “ thy Saints,” in general. The passage is quoted from the 16 Psalm : and I will give a literal translation of it from the Original, which will make the propriety, or impropriety of Peter's quotation perfectly obvious. The contents. and import of the Psalm, according to the English Version, are as follow. “David, in distrust of his merits, and hatred of Idolatry, fleeth to God for preservation. He showeth the hope of his calling, of the resurrection, and of life everlasting."
And the passage in question, according to the original, reads thus. I have set the Lord always before me : Because he is on my right hand, I shall not be moved : Therefore my heari is glad, and my glory [i. e. tongue] rejoiceth: My flesh also shall rest in hope., For thou wilt not leave my soul in Hades, neither wilt thou suffer thy Saints to see destruction. Thou wilt show me the path of Life ; In thy presence is fulness of joy, and at thy right hand are pleasures forevermore.” That is— Because I have ever trusted in thee, and experienced thy constant protection, therefore I will not fear death; because thou wilt net for
ever leave my soul in the place of departed spirits, nor · suffer thy saints to perish from existence. Thou wilt raise me from the dead, and make me happy forever in thy presence.”
in the 4 ch. of the Acts, the Apostles are represented as praying to God, and referring in their Prayer to the 2d Psalm “ why did the Heathen rage, &c.” as being a prophecy of the opposition of the Jews to Jesus ; with how much justice may be seen from these circumstances.
1. That “ the Nations," as it is in the original, did not assemble together to crucify Jesus, as this was done by a few soldiers. 2. The “kings of the Earth" had no hand in it, for they knew nothing about it. And 3dly, Those who were concerned did by no means “form vain designs," since they effected their cruel purpose.