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Mr. S. Freeman on the Prophecies of Isaiuh, ch. vii. 505 ing to the notions generally received, mitted, why should we not give credit (which points I mean not now to dis. to, and acknowledge the authority of, cuss,) and he quotes this prophecy as ancient heathen oracles, which, in some applied to Christ, and by the virgin ambiguous, similar manner, could and supposes that the Virgin Mary, the actnally did foretell future events ? mother of our Lord, is intended. Still Than thus to expose our holy religion there is not any sufficient evidence ad. to contempt, and weaken one of the duced to set aside the interpretation very strong proofs of its divinity and given. Matthew, even if inspired, and truth in the fulfilment of prophecy, it this part genuine, might quote it not would be better even to suppose a as a direct prophecy of the birth of sacred historian mistaken in his appliChrist; but allusively, as a saying cation of prophecies ; for inspiration which might be applied to him with to guard him from the misapplication propriety, though the prophecy did of these is by no means necessary to not at all refer to him. He was the enable him to write authentic history. first child of his mother, and he was This, however, is not supposed in the Immanuel, for in him it was mani. interpretation we have just now given. fested, or he was a sign, that God
III. The fulfilment of the prophecy was with us mankind, and would by in the event, is what was next propo. him deliver us. Agreeably to this the sed to be considered and pointed out. Greek of St. Matthew might be ren- 1. The accomplishment of the fordered, “All this was done; in which mer part of the prophecy, delivered as was accomplished what the Lord had a sign unto Ahaz, has been already spoken by the mouth of the prophet,” shewn in the birth of Maher-shalal&c.; that is, these are events similar hash-baz. Of the other part, the land to those spoken of from the Lord, by of Syria and Ephraim being left desothe mouth of the prophet, &c. The late of both her kings before this child Greek particle, 'Iych, when taken ad- knew to refuse the evil and choose the verbially, signifies ubi, where, in which, good, a more particular consideration by which. In a similar way we might is required. translate and interpret several
It is necessary to refer to notes of such passages, in this Evangelist par- time given in the history of these ticularly Thus, ch. ii. ver. 15, is transactions. Before Abaz came to quoted from Hosea xi. 1; where the the throne, even in the time of Jothain words of the prophet evidently refer his father, Pekah and Rezin were to the calling of the children of Israel making preparations for war against out of Egypt, in the time and by the Judah and Jerusalem. Ahaz came to hand of Moses. And again, ch. ii. the throne at twenty years of age. vers. 17, 18, is quoted from Jeremiah Two or three verses after mentioning xxxi. 15; where the words evidently this, without giving any intermediate refer to the desolation of Judah at the note of time, in 2 Kings xvi. 5, it is time of the captivity to Babylon. said, “ Then Rezin and Pekah came
But it may be asked, Would it not up to war against Jerusalem.” It be more consistent with the words of may hence be justly inferred, that this the Evangelist, and the general scope was very soon after Ahaz was seated of prophecy, to understand these pre- on the throne; most probably in the dictions as referring to more than one first year of his reign. In Isa. vii. 2, distinct, definite event, as pointing we are informed, when Ahaz heard of out two similar events happening at the confederacy of Syria and Ephraim, different and distant times? By no his heart was moved. Upon this the means. It would introduce such con- prophet is commanded to go to him, fusion and uncertainty into the pro- as related in the following verses. phecies, as very nearly resembles the Probably, then, Isaiah might speak to double-meaning answers of the ancient Ahaz, before Rezin and Pekah were heathen oracles. This opens a wide actually come up against him, even door to the cavils and objections of while they were on the march, if not infidelity, against which allirue Chris- even previously to their setting out on tians should particularly guard them- it. If this be supposed then can there selves and their sacred writings. If be no appearance of wishing to favour this confusion and uncertainty be ad- the prophecy, as the event must, in
that case, immediately succeed. Hence events; the success of the Syrians it is concluded, that Isaiah delivered against the Jews, and the embassy to Ahaz the prophecies contained in from Abaz to Tiglath-pileser, might this chapter soon, very soon, after he take up one year ; his descent upon had succeeded his father as king of Damascus, the capture of that city Judah, even in the first year of his and people, with the slaughter of Rereign. And this first year of Ahaz, zin, might be accomplished in another. according to 2 Kings xvi. 1, was the If so, this would be rather before the seventeenth of Pekah's reign over destruction of Pekah. Here again, Israel.
then, it may be concluded that Ahaz In 2 Kings xv. 30, it is said that had not reigned three years when this Pekah was slain by Hoshea, in the event took place. That is, it was twentieth year of Jotham, son of Uz. about two years after the prophet had ziah ; that is, in the twentieth year spoken unto the king, as recorded in from Jotham being inade king, for Isaiah, ch. vii. Jotham himself reigned only sixteen Now, as it is most probable that years ; see ver. 33. Now Pekah began Isaiah went in unto the prophetess, to reign in the fifty-second year, that and that she conceived shortly after is, in the last year of Uzziah's reign; the predictions had been delivered to and he reigned twenty years. Com- Ahaz, and as nine months must be pare ver. 2 with ver. 27. Jotham be- allowed for the time of gestation, the gan to reign in the second year of birth of the child Maher-shalal-hashPekah, verse 32; and by comparing baz, must have been some time in this with the last-quoted verse, it is the second year of Ahaz. Thence plain that his reign would commence reckoning forward till the time of the just after Pekah entered his second death of Rezin and Pekah, in the third year. As Jotham reigned sixteen year of Abaz, as has just now been years, and Ahaz succeeded his father shewn, the age of the child could not in the seventeenth of Pekah, it is have been two years ; very likely not hence inferred, that Ahaz began to inuch more than one. At that age, it reign just about, rather after than is by no means probable that he should before, the time that Pekah completed be able to cry my father and my mohis seventeenth year. Consequently ther. Consequently, according to Isa. the twentieth of Jothain will be some viii. 4, the riches of Damascus, and where in the third year of Ahaz, but the spoil of Samaria, were taken away before that year was completed. For before that time. In like manner it add to rather more than one, (Pekah may be added, that at that age the having just entered his second year,) child could not know to refuse the the sixteen years of Jotham's reign, evil and choose the good. And, therethis will give rather more than the fore, before that period, agreeably to seventeenth of Pekah. As then there Isa. vii. 16, the land which Ahaz abwould not be three years wanting to horred was left desolate of both her complete the twentieth of Jotham, kings. Thus the prediction and acthat would fall about the second, or complishment of the sign have been at farthest before the third of Ahaz verified. was completed. Ahaz then had not 2. It is also said, that “within reigned three full years when Pekah threescore and five years” from the was slain by Hoshea, and the land of time of the prophecy being delivered, Ephraim left desolate of her king. “ Ephraimn shall be broken that it be
Of Rezin there is not so particular not a people.” This also we shall an account given, nor have we such verify by shewing its accomplishment. notes of time as will enable us so ex- In doing which the notes of time inust actly to determine the time of his be collected from the account of the death. But from the narration given reigns of the kings of Judah and Isof it in 2 Kings xvi. 6-10, it may be rael, and from a comparison of the inferred, that his death must have hap- two together. That there may not pened nearly about the same time. appear to be any favouring of the proÎn the space of two years there seems phecy, it will be proper to compute a sufficient length of time for the ac- rather above than under what may be complishment of all the intermediate exactly indicated.
Dr. Fletcher's “ Thoughts on Church and State.”
507 From the time of the Prophecy being time of its exhibition, and the very delivered by Isaiah,
nature of it, could not possibly anAhaz reigned sixteen years, 2 Kings said they, not without some show of
swer any such purpose. For how, xvi. 2. Hezekiah reigned twenty-nine years, of a future event, which he was dis
reason, could a person be persuaded 2 Kings xviii. 2.
But Samaria was taken, and Ephraim posed to question, merely from being broken, that it was not a people in the told, at the same time, and upon the sixth year of Hezekiah, ch. xviii. vers. 9 same authority only, that a second -1.' These six years then being added event, not less improbable than the to the sixteen of Ahaz's reigo, this event first, should succeed it in after ages? happened about twenty-two years after The answer has been already given, the prediction, that is, it was much with and the sign shewn to result from a in the limited time of sixty-five years, precurrence of facts, well attested by that Ephraim was broken, that it was not a people.
credible witnesses, and, therefore, im
possible to be overlooked or mistaken; From the time of the Prophecy being not posterior to, but preceding, what delivered by Isaiah,
was meant to be established by them." Pekah reigned three years, 2 Kings xv.
See Blayney's Sermon, pp. 14, 15., 27, apd xvi. 1. He was cut off in the third of Ahaz, by Hoshea, who began to
Exeter, reign in the twelfth year of Ahaz's reign. SIR,
August 17, 1823. Consequently there was an interreign of nine years.-- Hoshea reigned nine years,
IN your monthly list of New Pub
have omitted to noch. xvii. ver. 1 ; Pekah reigned three, tice a very extraordinary work by Dr. making together twenty one or twenty- Fletcher, 'a Catholic Priest, entitled, two years, agreeably to the result of the reigos of the kings of Judah. Thus; rogatives of Church and State.”
' Thoughts on the Rights and Prethen, is this prediction of the prophet fully verified.
I caught a glimpse of the book as
it passed through Exeter, and in that 3. It is again added, that if Ahaz cursory view of it met with assertions did not believe, surely he should not which astonished me and will surbe established. The Lord would bring prise those readers of the Repository upon him, his people and his father's who have not met with the publihouse, the king of Assyria and the cation. Egyptians. By them the country At page 86, he says,
“ It is not would be laid desolate, the people led true that the constitution of this away captive, and every thing de- country is Protestant. It is on the stroyed. For the accomplishment of contrary much rather Catholic. When this, see 2 Chron. xxviii. 20; xxxii. it is said that the constitution is Pro1,9; xxxiii. Il ; xxxv. 20—24; and testant, is the meaning of the asserxxxvi. throughout. These passages, tion this, that therefore the king and with the corresponding ones in 2 bis ministers, the members of the Kings, and their parallels in several of legislature and of the government are the prophets, abundantly verify this or ought to be, the believers of the third prediction delivered in the name thirty-nine articles, or the professors of the Lord, by Isaiah to Ahaz him- of the doctrines of the Church of self.
England ? Is such the import of the “I am now come to a conclusion term? No, it is not, because we of what I had to offer on this very may remark the state for ever admits plain prophecy; which appears, me- into its councils and its cabinet, into thinks, with so much consistency, its parliament and various offices, men clearness and unity, from the begin- of very different and even opposite ning throughout, that I fatter myself religions, Calvinists, Presbyterians, we cannot be far from seeing it in its Methodists, &c., Day even sometimes, true and proper light. I am not con- men of no religion, for we have seen scious of the least force put upon the even this,) Socinians, Unitarians, Denatural construction or meaning of ists and unbelievers. Therefore the the words. Unbelievers can no longer consequence is, that the constitution deride us for admitting a fact for a is not Protestant in this sense, that sign, whicb, both on account of the men are bound in order to enjoy the
privileges of the state to profess the bers of the Established Church, the religion of the state.”
Unitarian Dissenters, knowing what There is so much confusion in the it is to be excluded from the common style of this writer, that it is not al- rights of citizens, advocated their ways easy to find out his meaning. cause. But to plead with such a perIn the above passage he discovers a on principles of liberality and total ignorance of Protestantism, and gratitude, is to address him in a lanthe principles on which it is founded. guage he does not or will not underI had always understood that a Pro- stand. From Dr. Fletcher we can testant was one who rejected the appeal with pleasure to other Cathocorruptions of the church of Rome, lics of more enlarged and liberal and who appealed to the Scriptures as minds. To use the words of another the sole rule of faith and practice. Catholic clergyman, “ I have conThis I found asserted in innumerable versed, indeed, only with men of writers, and the truth of it is evident liberal minds, and as long as I am from the whole history of the re- permitted to choose my own comformation. In these principles, “ Cal- pany, I will associate with no others. vinists, Presbyterians, Methodists, When they cease to be found, it will Socinians and Únitarians,” are united be time to retire to the woods." I with the Church of England, without have the pleasure of being well aca single exception.
quainted with another clergyman of This writer is not the first who has that communion in this city, who is associated the Unitarians with Deists. one of its brightest ornaments, and And if to distinguish Christianity from would be an honour to any comits corruptions, to preach and live munion, who is animated with the under the warrant of Scripture, and same liberal spirit and has expressed to inculcate sound morals on the his unqualified disapprobation of this prospect of that immortality which publication. was brought to light by the gospel,
JAMES MANNING. be a sign of Deism, Unitarians will P. S. While the author represents have no objection to the name of the different sects of Protestants as Deists. The frequent use of these being of different and even opposite invidious aspersions, by intolerant religions, is he aware that Protestants bigots, will take out their sting. The miglit, on the same grounds, assert world is not so ready as it has been, that the Augustines, Benedictines, to follow the cry of designing men. Carmelites, Dominicans, Franciscans, To affirun the globe we inhabit to be and a variety of other sects, such as round, was deemed heresy a few the Jesuists, the Jansenists, and Noages back, and for asserting its mo- linists, are of different religions ? tion the immortal Galileo was confined in the dungeons of the Inquisition. But the term heretic has, in
July 24, 1823. these more enlightened times lost its dreadful sound. The worst heresies I GMINNOT discern any degree of to be spiritual pride, priestly ambi- eternity and the supposed mystery tion, the love of dominion, and the in the Athanasian Creed; for so I spirit of persecution.
choose to designate the popular docBut to place is on a footing with trine, rather than by the term Tri“ Deists and Unbelievers," does not nity, which being an equivocal word, satisfy this Dr. Fletcher. He will may be, and often is adopted by pernot allow us to have any religion.
sons of different sentiments, in their He has falsely, malevolently, and that this term should be discarded.
It is therefore high time without the smallest provocation, in- Controversialists make sad work of sulted those who merited far other it, by not using explicit terins, treatment from a Catholic. In whatever light I view his conduct, it ap, no conclusion.” But-to the point.
Hence, “everlasting discussion, and pears to me weak, indiscreet and ungrateful. While the claims of the I think that your correspondent (p. Catholics to an enlargement of their toleration was opposed by the mem
* Rev. Joseph Berington,
On the Charge of " Mystery" against Dr. Priestley, 8c. 509 339) has not sufficiently attended to might seem to imply a defect in his the important distinction between a benevolence; and on the other hand, inystery or difficulty, i. e. something to consider creation as an eternal beyond the reach of our present fa- effect of an eternal cause, must ever culties, and a manifest absurdity or appear to us almost to involve a contradiction. The Scriptures allude contradiction; we can only conclude to three sorts of mysteries ; first, that these things are among the Dithose of the kind first mentioned ; vine incomprehensibles, and cry out secondly, something formerly doubtful with the great apostle upon another or concealed, but now made mani- occasion, “O the depth.” It is of fest; and lastly, the mysteries of An- great importance to know where to tichrist, or of “Babylon the great, stop, as well as when to proceed. the mother of harlots, and of the “ The meek will he guide in judgabominations of the earth.” In this ment, and the meek will he teach his latter sense, it has been well said, way.” that "there are no inysteries in the As to the other supposed mystegospel."
rious doctrine of Dr. Southwood Smith In the quotation from Dr. Priestley, and other Necessarians, the subject the writer views the sublime subject being, by common con ent as it were, only in the same light in which it proscribed your pages, I shall only has been represented by the greatest skim the surface. We are under divines and philosophers. “ In our great obligations to the Doctor for his idea,” says the Doctor, we consider book on “ the Divine Government.” an “eternity past,” and an eter- If he has embraced any sentiments nity to come," the former as dimi- which are contradictory as well as nishing, and the latter as increasing; mysterious, and which in the opinion time being the isthmus or stage be- of many thinking persons, are distween them : but this is only “ in honourable to the Divine character our idea,” for eternity in the abstract, and government, no doubt they have or strict philosopbical sense, bath not so appeared to him. If any one neither beginning nor ending ; it is could explain a knotty point in die invariable, or infinite duration; as vinity or philosophy, to the level of time is successive, or limited du- plain understandings, it would be ration. This appears to me to be Dr. Hartley, but many have thought the sense of the passage, and by re- his arguments upon this point weak peating the phrase “in our idea,” and inconclusive. To say that the The Doctor evidently intended to point Almighty cannot carry on his plans out the modes of the Divine existence here below, without the arm of the as utterly incomprehensible by us; assassin, the depredations of the robbut this statement is so far froin in- ber, the blasphemies of the impious, volving a contradiction, that on the and the machinations of wicked statescontrary it is a self-evident proposi- men and politicians, which render tion, since nothing can be plainer the earth a scene of carnage and of than the axiom of Dr. Clarke, ex- blood ; in a word, to represent the pressed in his peculiar, concise and divine regiment or economy, with energetic language, than that, " as regard to his creature man, as something now is, it is evident that vided against itself,” is to adopt a something always was ;" and this scheme of moral philosophy, which
something that always was," must should certainly not be hastily taken be mind, and not matter - which is up, and which many otherwise) orthe grand argument against Atheism. thodox writers and divines have
Your correspondent intimates that thought it necessary to discard. the Doctor has supposed must have exerted his creative power
“ Plac'd for his trial, on this bustling
stage, from all eternity;" but he has not
From thoughtless youth to ruminating quoted the passage. This however,
age; appears to be a topic far beyond the Free in his will, to choose or to rereach of our present faculties. If to
fuse, suppose the Almighty passing an
Man may improre the crisis or abuse. eternity (so to speak) solely in the Else, on the Fatalist's unrighteous plan, contemplation of his own perfections, Say to what bar amenable were min ?
“ the Deity