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America.* Bishop Berkeley foresaw the greatness of the United States. We recognize in these the great thought, the happy coincidence; but in the Hebrew prophets we recognize the especial divine communication.
Was that communication made to all the prophets, or to a few, or to one only among them? A scholar, eminent alike as theologian, historian, statesman, and friend of freedom, restricts the divine message in the Old Testament times to its earlier portion, believing that the idea of the Messiah was given to the world chiefly in those words of Moses (Deut. xviii. 15), “The Lord thy God will raise up unto thee a Prophet from the midst of thee, of thy brethren, like unto me : unto him shalt thou hearken." | The later Messianic predictions he conceives to have been echoes of this. But the announcement in Deuteronomy appears too indefinite to be thus singled out; nor do we know any other that can claim such exclusive honor. It may be, that some of the long line of prophets — for instance, the author of the first part of the book of Daniel — received the great thought from those who went before them; but, until some mode of distinguishing between direct and secondary prophecies is suggested, we can but consider all as dictated by the same inspiration.
But that inspiration did not make the prophets acquainted with all truth. As Dr. Noyes justly reasons, they were not infallible. If one of them had been, the world would have needed no future guide. If Isaiah had foreseen in its fulness
* “ Venient annis
† “ Westward the star of empire takes its way;
The four first acts already past,
Time's noblest offspring is the last.”
| Palfrey's “Lectures on the Jewish Scriptures and Antiquities," Lectures XIX. and XXXIV.; and his “Relation between Judaism and Christianity."
the spiritual teaching of Jesus, Isaiah might have revealed it, and the coming of Jesus have been forestalled. The prophets saw but in part; God alone is omniscient.
What did they see? We will use that metaphor of sight; for it is the one which the prophets themselves use, to express the method in which the Divine purposes were made known to them. We are told of " The vision of Isaiah the son of Amos, which he saw concerning Judah and Jerusalem.” We may find the metaphor of sight a better guide than that of breath, implied in the word “inspiration.”
In our common, natural vision, the beholder has before him an object, of which he sees some parts more clearly than others. The different parts are not always seen in their right proportions. If it be a prospect, prominent points appear distinctly, while intervening spaces are less subject to observation. Nor can distances be accurately determined. Objects which lie in the same line of vision may naturally be supposed much nearer to each other than they really are. Especially if the remotest object seen be of great dimensions, as a mountain, arresting the attention and shutting out all beyond, its proportions may be mistaken, and it may be supposed both nearer and smaller than it actually is.
Thus it was with the “vision" granted to the prophets. From time to time, their eyes were opened to discern the future. They saw there objects relating to the present interests of their own country and of others; and, beyond, they saw the waving fields, the towering cities, the majestic temples, of a period of civilization, peace, and happiness, far surpassing any thing that they had known. « The mountain of the Lord's house, established on the top of the mountains," closed the view; and there, it seemed, they might discern, far off, a majestic figure, of colossal proportions, that seemed to preside over all below, while the Divine glory hovered above his head. God's wisdom and goodness displayed to them the scene; their own minds were to interpret it. What name should they give to that happy country but that of their own Israel? What should that holy city be but their own Jerusalem ? And that glorious personage whom
they owned as God's Anointed, God's Messiah, — who should he be but the king, the heir of the old royal line, who should, at that predestined time, be on the throne? What wonder if, while the eye failed to measure distances with correctness, each prophet thought that the Messiah before him was either the prince he served, or the heir that had just been born ; if the writer of the seventy-second Psalm identified him with Solomon, and Isaiah (chap. vii.) with the infant Hezekiah ?
We believe, then, that the vision of the prophets was not only subjective, but objective, in the general foresight of a great and Heaven-sent Deliverer. That they called him king, when they might have called him prophet or sage, detracts but little from this foresight; for who but a king, could they suppose, would exercise such power and confer such blessings? We may question, too, whether either of these titles would have fitted the actual position of Jesus Christ as well as that which was employed. “Prophet” would have designated him as a member of the old order, not the founder and presiding spirit of a new; and “sage” would bave been the title of a self-constituted teacher, not of one sent by God. That the demand of Jesus for the reverence and obedience of mankind was, in many respects, a personal claim, has been so well illustrated in the recent suggestive volume, “ Ecce Homo,” and is a fact so familiar to every believer's heart, that we need linger no more on the task of excusing the prophets for the assertion of his kingly dignity.
And there were some to whom a nearer vision was granted. We will not presumptuously measure swords with Dr. Noyes in relation to the famous passage, Isa. lii., liii.; but one thing is clear, that, whether from this passage or from others, some of the Jews had derived the idea of a suffering Messiah. And this idea in them is the more remarkable, as it was contrary to their general train of thought, their expectations and hopes, and as they resorted to a far-sought supposition to explain it. Thus says Strauss (“Life of Jesus," part III. chap. I., $ 112):
“ Jewish writings are by no means destitute of passages in which it is distinctly asserted, that a Messiah would perish in a violent manner ; but these passages relate, not to the proper Messiah, the offspring of David, but to another, from among the posterity of Joseph and Ephraim, who was appointed to hold a subordinate position in relation to the former.”
It is from such a general view of Hebrew prophecy as we have now taken, that we can best derive a proof of the truth of Christianity. It may be hard to fix on any single prophecy of which it can be pronounced, beyond all doubt, that it was intended for Jesus of Nazareth, and received its fulfilment in him. But it admits of no doubt, that the Jewish nation did for ages look forward to an exalted and divinelycommissioned Leader, who should establish a universal and everlasting dominion. It admits of no doubt, that a young man, in humble circumstances, came forward and applied these prophecies to himself, in a loftier sense than they had been understood, even by those wbo uttered them. What was the result? The world threatened the natural reward of insane fanaticism, -utter and contemptible failure; and the world did what it could to accomplish its threat, for it crucified him. But, notwithstanding this, the prophecy of the old Jewish Church has been fulfilled. That crucified Messiah has established a dominion which has lasted eighteen hundred years, has conquered half the world, and is on its course of conquest still. Thus do the prophecy and its fulfilment match into and prove each other. Separate them, and each part appears as a delusion. If Jesus did not fulfil the Mes. sianic prophecies, those prophecies were idle dreams. If the prophecies did not relate to Jesus, his whole ministry was founded on mistaken presumption. But if a sway extending through the world is wider than one over Palestine, and if a reign over the hearts and lives of men for centuries is as worthy the name of kingdom as the pomp of an earthly prince, then that which Jesus founded was a true sovereignty, and he is the Messiah, the Heaven-anointed King.
MIGNET AS AN HISTORIAN.
1. Histoire de la Révolution Française depuis 1789 jusqu'en 1814.
Par M. MIGNET, Membre de l'Académie Française, Secrétaire
12mo, pp. 391, 348. 2. Antonio Perez et Philippe II. Par M. MIGNET. Troisième
edition. Paris : Charpentier. 1854. 12mo, pp. viii. and 419. 3. Histoire de Marie Stuart. Par M. MIGNET. Troisième édition.
Paris : Charpentier. 1854. 2 vols., 12mo, pp. vi. and 446, 447. 4. Charles- Quint: Son Abdication, son Séjour, et sa Mort au Monas
tère de Yuste. Par M. MIGNET. Sixième édition. Paris :
Didier et Cie. 1863. 12mo, pp. xxiii. and 468. 5. Mémoires Historiques. Par M. MIGNET. Troisième édition.
Paris : Charpentier. 1854. 12mo, pp. 535. 6. Notices et Portraits Historiques et Littéraires. Par M. MIGNET.
Troisième édition. Paris : Charpentier. 1854. 2 vols., 12mo,
pp. iv. and 423, 488. 7. Eloges Historiques. Par M. MIGNET. Paris : Didier et Cie.
1864. 12mo, pp. iv. aud 365.
HISTORY, it was remarked by M. Villemain, naturally attracts the men of our time in preference to every other study; and certainly there is no other department of literature which has been so assiduously or so successfully cultivated by his fellow-countrymen during the last half-century. If we recall to mind the Frenchmen whose literary achievements have given them a European celebrity, and whose works are on the shelves of educated men at home and abroad, not more than half a dozen will be found who have not at one time or another, in one form or another, given themselves to the discussion of historical questions, or to the narration of historical events. The cause of this special cultivation of historical literature in France is sufficiently obvious; for, apart from the interest which always attaches to the lives and characters of the individuals who have largely influenced the