Imatges de pÓgina
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much utility for me to speak in detail. What is known concerning the authors and dates of the origin of most of them, even among the highest proficients in the knowledge of antiquity, is next to nothing: and indeed those few data which some deem reliable, are by others called in question. In this connection, I will therefore content myself with barely citing the names of the several writings, in the order of their occurrence in our common English version of the Bible; remarking, as I pass, that nearly all the information which can be found, respecting their origin, their specific objects, and the reality of their claims as prophecies, may be gathered from the books themselves. The following are their names: Hosea; Joel; Amos; Obadiah; Jonah; Micah; Nahum; Habakkuk; Zephaniah; Haggai; Zechariah; Malachi. The last of these (the book of Malachi) is believed, for the most substantial reasons, to be the work of Ezra. It was so regarded by the generality of the ancient Hebrews, and by Jerome, of the fourth century, as well as many others: and it is seriously doubted, by antiquarian linguists, whether the title Malachi was the proper name of an individual, from the fact that its radical import is simply angel, or messenger of the Lord-a term applied, in the general way, to all prophets and spiritual instructors,

PERHAPS there is no single branch of the wide-spreading subject of Theology, in relation to which the ideas of the mass of nominal Christian believers, of the present

day, are more vague and indefinite, than that of prophetic inspiration. And in the wild, mistaken speculations of some, upon this topic, may be found, I apprehend, the prime source of many of those streams of religious error, which glide noiselessly at first, and are comparatively uninjurious, but which at last widen and deepen to an overmastering current of fanaticism and irrational excitement; bearing upon its surface the floating proofs of social and moral devastation, which also remind us sadly of the mental wrecks sunk far beneath the waves! My allusion you can hardly fail to understard; visited, as you have been, in this vicinity, by a current of the great tide-or greeted, as your ears certainly were, only a few years since, by its thundering sound.* I have in mind the somewhat extensive panic which prevailed recently, (which, I believe, rages even now in some places, though in a much less degree) and which was raised and has been perpetuated by the apprehended approach of the fulfilment of some ancient predictions-predictions interpreted literally, and consequently supposed to teach the actual destruction of this material globe. A moment's reflection upon such a lamentable result of a wrong idea of the Biblical prophecies, must convince those hitherto the most indifferent to the subject, or opposed to its investigation from motives of policy or fear, that it is in reality a matter of some consequence; and that a correct view of it is of vital im. portance to the cause of mental and moral progress.

*The Miller Camp-Meeting, at Salem.

What is PROPHECY? Are we to regard it as something purely natural? or must we consider it as either wholly or partially super-natural? Is it, in respect to all its essential elements, exclusively the prerogative of a few individuals of the human race? Or is it, in some degree or modification, common to all? To me, these are questions of deep interest; and the answers to them, which I shall endeavor to present in the spirit of candor and freedom from educational bias, you will derive progressively from the tenor of my remarks as I procced in this lecture.

Different significations are to be attached to the term prophecy, as it is used in the Bible; and its precise import, in each instance, is to be determined by the connection in which it is employed and the subject to which it immediately relates. It is evidently made use of with considerable latitude of meaning, in both the Old and New Testaments. In some cases the title of prophet is applied to a person to designate him as an inspired teacher merely. In his Epistle to Titus, Paul cites a * brief passage from the writings of a heathen poet, whom he styles a prophet. Some persons are said to have prophesied with musical instruments. "David, and the captains of the host, separated to the service of the sons of Asaph, and of Heman, and of Jeduthun, who should prophesy with harps, with psalteries, and with cymbals." Samuel thus addressed Saul, on one occasion: "Thou shalt meet a company of prophets coming down

*Titus, i. 12. +1 Chronicles, xxv. 1.

from the high place, with a psaltery, and a tabret, and a harp before them, and they shall prophesy. And the Spirit of the Lord shall come upon thee, and thou shalt prophesy with them, and shalt be turned into another man." In the First Epistle to the Corinthians, preacl.ing or expounding is called prophesying. "Every man praying or prophesying, having his head covered, dishonoreth his head." The same use is also made of the word prophesying in the verse immediately after. Some of the primitive disciples of Christ were termed prophets. "Now there were in the church that was at Artioch, certain prophets and teachers; as Barnabus, and Simeon that was called Niger, and Lucius of Cyrene, and Manaen, which had been brought up with Herod the tetrarch, and Saul." "God hath set some in the church; first apostles; secondarily, prophets;" &c.|| Philip, the evangelist, is said to have had four daughters "which did prophesy." Indeed, female prophets (or prophetesses, as they are called) were not unconmon in ancient times. They are quite frequently alluded to in the Old Testament.

To prophesy, as defined by lexicographers, significs to foretell, or to perceive before-hand, an approaching event, either near or remote. This is the current acceptation of the term as employed in our daily conve: sation. And in this sense, who is there that is not, in some degree, a prophet? Who that possesses a com* 1 Samuel, x. 5, 6. † 1 Cor. xi. 4. + Acts, xiii. 1. 1 Cor. xii. 28, Acts, xxi. 9.

mon share of intellect cannot foretell the inevitable occurrence of some events, of greater or less importance? Do we not prophesy almost every day of our lives? Most assuredly we do. We utter predictions in regard to the weather-concerning the successful or disastrous termination of business affairs-in relation to the perpetuity, or the changes and even ultimate downfall of human governments-respecting the progress of social improvement, the advance of scientific or religious truth, and the final triumph of moral enterprises, which are at first strenuously opposed-with reference to inventions, discoveries, new applications and wider developments of principles long understood in their simpler forms; and countless other subjects that engross human attention. The eye of the mind is continually straining its vision to pierce the intercepting veils of the Future. The old prophets are sometimes called the ancient seers-see-ers, those who see their spiritual sight being considered very keen; so much so as to enable them to look through years, centuries, ages, and to foreshow the final state of an empire, or the appearance of a new light to the world in the person of a great man. Whatever our age, our avocation or our rank in society, we look for ward oftener than we look back. If disappointment and despair have not entirely crushed our spirits, some bright and cheerful anticipation makes our hearts throb with a bounding pulsation of new delight. Who of us does not awake, each day, with some new purpose, either half-formed or well-matured? The path of every one of

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