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William Nicholls.

A Conference with a Theist : containing an answer to all the most usual objections of the infidels against the Christian religion ... (Volume 1) online

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fhall have no more a Scepter or Laiv-giver^ then they fhall
be no longer a fettled People ; but Ihall be difperfed
throughout all the Corners of the Earth, and live under
the rigid Lav/s of other Nations, where-ever they chance
to come. Now the Prophefy, in this Senfe, was moft
manifeftly ccmpleatedj about the Time of our Saviour
Chrift's Coming. For all along before, lince thtye^s
were grown up, from a family to a People, they were

governed



Part III. 'With a TuEi ST. 355

governed by Lawsatid Rulers of their own; not onlyji
during the Time of their Judges and iCings^ which was
their more flourifhing Eftate> but even after their Cap-
tivity, for a Time, by the Afmon^an Race, who were
of the ancient Leviticd Blood ; and afterwards by the
Hcrodim Family, who, though they were only Jews by
Religion, yet they maintained their Laws and Difcipl'me
as well, as if they had been originally fo. But about
the Coming of Chrift, that is, a few Years after his Af-
ceniion, the Scepter of the Jews was perfectly taken away,
and they have had no National Government ever fince :
Jerufdem^ the Metropolis of their Nation, was about
that Time utterly deftroyed, and rafed to the Ground ;
and fuch a Difperfion of that People made all about the
World, as no Hiftory can parallel. For, though the
Romans conquered Spain^ and GmU and Britain^ &c. yet
they never fo chafed thefe Nations out of their Country^
as they did the Je^s ; but fuffered them to incorporate
with their ov/n Colonies ; fo that thofe Countries feemed
to be the fame People ftill, though their Government was
fomething altered by the Introdudlion of Roman Laws.
Butj ever fince Titus's Devaftatioh of that City and
Country, there has been no ^ Face of a Common-wealth
among the Jeiv'S', either in Judah, or in any other place ;
and therefore, I fay, this total Diifolution of the Jewijli
Commohrwealth, is the departing of the Scepter-t which is
mentioned in this Prophefy. Now when we confider^
that all the ancient Jeivs took this Paffage as a Prophefy
pf the MeJJias^ and that a Scepter fhould be among the
Jews till the Time of the Mejjiasy when there fliould be
an End of it ; we may reafonably conclude, that our Sa-
viour was that MeJJias, . Becaufe at that Time no Body,'
befides our Saviour, had any Colour or Pretence to be
the Aiejfias ; and becaufe rhr.t great and fatal Period of
the Jewijl) Scepter, or Government happened juft after
his Appearance : Therefore, I fay, it mufi be conclii-f
ded, that the departing of the Scepter was the wonderful
Diffolution of that Government or Polity : And that
our Saviour (about the Time of whofe Appesjrarice up-

A sr oii



354 -^ Conference

on Earth this came to pafs) is the Shilo> or the MeJJiai
that is here predided.

PhiL But by the Way, Sir, this is a little too much
forced, to go down with us. How comes the Tribe of*
Jtidah^ or the Seed of that one Patriarch, to fignify the
whole Nation of the Je^l;sy of which this was but a
Twelfth Part ?
The -^hole Cred, Why, during all the Time of the Jev/iJJj Efla-'
Nation of blifhment, the Tribe of Judah was the moft eminent ;
the ]cws ^^^ ^^^ ^ Precedency of the reft, not only by Reafon
underjtood of their Wealth and Number, but upon Account of their
^Judah. Primogeniture. After they had Kings, the Monarchy
was entailed upon that Trii3e : And after the Captivity*
that was the only Tribe in a Manner remaining, and all
the Jfi-aelites that are now known to be in the World, and
that have been ever fince the Captivity of Babylotty are
denominated yejvs from that Tribe. For if there are any
of the other Tribes among them, as to be fure there are
many of the Tribe of Benjamm, and perhaps of fbme of
the reft, they are all engrafted upon the Stock of the
Tribe of Judah^ and therefore do very properly bear its
Name. As at firft the primitive Inhabitants of the City
of Romc^ only bore the Name of Romans from their firft
Founder Ro??mlm ; yet afterwards the Sahmes, and other
People that were incorporated with them, had the fame
Name likewife. And why miay not all the Ifraelitesy which
were built upon the Stock ofyudah, be called as properly
by his Name, as all the mixed Citizens of Rome, by that
of RomulHS ? Now, unlefs we fhould expert, that Jmoby
in this prophetick feleffing of Jpidah, fhould be fo nice,
as to delccnd to all the particular Variations of the Jewip^
Government, he could hardly exprefs the whole national
Felicity of all the Tribes, ( among whom that of Jndah
fhould make the greateft Figure, and at laft be all in all,)
more properly, than by the Scepter's not departing from
J^idah,

PhiL Well ! but if this be fuch a manifeft Prophefy
of Chrift, how came it never to be mentioned by the
Writers of the New Teftament, who are wont to amafs

toge-



Part III. "i^hh a Theist. 355

together Prophefies, which are not more to the Piirpofe?
Or how come the ancient Fathers, to put fuch a different
Senfe upon the Words, and to make the Prophefy to
have its Completion in Herod ?,

Cred. As to the former Part of your Qiieftion, why ^^^10''
this Prophefy was not quoted by the Writers of the New 'JJ '^'£fgj
Teftament ? This I know has been flarted, and endea- m theNer»
voured to be anfwered by feveral learned Men. Pererms Teftament,
^ fays the Reafon was, becaufe this Prophefy only proved
the Time when the MeJJlas fhould come ; but did not
prove that Chrift was the MeJJias, Monf. Hnet's t Rea-
fon is, becaufe this Text fingly of its felf does not prove
Chrift to be the MeJJias^ but only in Conjundion with
others. But I think this to be the truer Account of the
Matter ; that though the Evangelifts were not bound to
quote every Text of the Old Teftament, which referred
to the MeJJiasy in Proof of Jefus's being the Chrift ; for
that would have obliged them to have tranfcribed almoft
the whole Law and the Prophets, Luke xvi. 29. Yet they
would have hardly omitted this remarkable Paffage, if it
had been proper to have alleged it, either when the
Gofpcl was preached by our Saviour, or when moft of
the Gofpel-Hiftories were wrote. If our bleffed Saviour
had alleged this Text in Proof of his being the MeJJtasy
and faid the Scepter was departing from Judah upon his
Coming, this v/ould have been apt to have raifed too
many Jealoufies in the Heads of the Jnvijl) Government;
wliich might have prejudiced them againft his Dod'rine
too much, and have hindred his Preaching. Neither was
it a convincing Argument in the beginning of Chriftia-
nity, before Jerufalem was deftroyed, and the People
were fo difperfed, as they were never like to return again.
Now Men could not be abfolutely fure, that the Scepter
and Legiflator were perfedly departed from the Jews^ tilJ
^ confiderable Time after the Gofpels were wrote ; and
therefore I take this to be a very probable Reafon, of this
Prophefy being omitted by them.

* Per in Gen. xlix, f Demonf. Evang.

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556



A Conference



r.o-fy tie As to your fecond Queftion, Why we interpret this
cnacht Yd- pj^^e coiitrary to the ancient Fathers, who underftood it
!t^'!^! TfZ. of Herod ? I Anfwer : It is true that moft of the anci-

WilCa This T-'l TJ* 1*1 n -^ I •

I'ropUfy. ent Fathers did interpret this Place of Herody it may be,
from the miftaken Opinions of fome of the Jews who
lived in Hcrod*s Time, who from this Prophefy ill-applied,
did flatter him that he was the Mejjias ; which was that
Se6l of the Herodiansy mentioned in the Gofpel, Mat,
xxii. 1(5. Marl^xn, 13. ^sTertullimj EpiphamtiSy and o-
ther of the Ancients inform us.

This gave Occafion to many of the primitive Chri-
flians to think, that there were fome Marks of Herod's
/ Government in this Text ; and though it could not be
referred to Herod as the Mejfias^ yet they thought it re-
ferred to Chrift, as born in the Days of Herod ; who
being an Idumeany and not of the twelve Tribes, they
fuppofcd, that then the Scepter was departed from y//-
dah. But, upon the moft impartial Confideratiori, we
muft needs allow, that the Scepters departing jrom]udz\\
muft have a higher Senfe than to fignify a bare Idumem
Jew's coming to the Crown ; for he was a Jew how-
ever, and zealous for their Law, and that Nation lived in
a great deal of Splendor under him, nay made a greater
Figure tlian they had done in fome Ages before ; fo that
this muft be a very jejune Senfe, to put upon that Ex-
preftion of the Scepter's departmg from Judaht or the Jews;
becaufe, I fay, the Jeius enjoy 'd the Benefit of a Scepter
of their own, more eminently, than they had done a great
while before.

But the Devaftation of the City, and Difperfion of
"the People, in Tttuss Expedition, was a departing of the
Scepter in good Earneft ; and therefore this does much
l^etter fuit with the Words of the Prophefy, than the
Succeftion o^ Herod, And this was the Opinion of fome
of the moft confidcrable of the Ancients too, as particu-
liily o^Juflin Afartyr^ who in his Colloquy with 7?^-
pho the Jew-, has thefe Words : There u none of you wh&
cm he jo confident to i^fferty or are able to jhew, that thert
71 as ever wanting a Prophet ^ or a I rince^ in your Natton$

^^ from



Part III, with aT heist. 357

from the 'very hegmning ofity till after the Time when this Je-
fits Chrifl Tvas horny and had fujfered, Fpr though yon fiy
that Heroi under whofe Reign he was hornj was an Aska-
lonite ; yet you mufl needs allow, that you had an High^PrieJi
of your onvn Rnce^ who offered up Sacrifices ^ and performed
other Things according to your LaWy and there was a Sue*
ceffion of the Prophets down to '^ohn. And when, after the
SubduElion of jour Country y your People were carried anv ay tQ
Babylon 5 ^d dl your Holy Fcjfels taken away, the Prophet
amon(T you did not ceafiy who 7V as your Lord, and Leader y
and Governour. For the Spirity which was in jour Prophet Sf
did anoint and appoint your Kings, But afier the Appearingy
and the Death of our Chrifl y who was of your Bloody joh
never had, nor have now, any more a Prophet y nay, everfince
you have ceafedto be governed by a King of your own*

So that, you fee, this holy Martyr refers the Comple-!
tion of this Prophefy to the Time after the Death of
Chrifl:, when the Jewifl) Government ceafed j and fets
afide the other Opinion, which referred jt to Herod\ be-
ing an Askdonite.

Nay, that the Mahometans themfelves took this Text
in the Senfe as I have now explained it, I will f^ive you a
remarkable Inftance out of an Arabick, Writer, Ahmed Ihn*
Idrisy Q^oVt6,hy Hottingery Thefaur, Phil, lib. i. cap. 2.
The Text of the Law confirms the Prophefy of Jefusy upon
whom be PeacCy when he faysy The Scepter fijaH not depart
/row? Judah, nor a Law-giver from his Feet till the Meiltas
come. Which has came to pafsy for there were not wanting
Kings to the Jews, nor an Empire, tjll Meilias*j Time, upon
whom be Peace, But then they became a vile Opprobrj and
a captive People, which is Jo true thcj cannot deny. And this
is an evident Argument for the Truth of the Prophejy concern r
ing Ifa, or [efus, upon whom be Peace, For Mofes, of pious
Memory, did foretelly That thej fijould be add^'Sfed to P^anity
or Lying y and that the Mellias fJjould bring Truth, whab
fhotild drive aivay Vanity or Lying. This is a very farpri-
iing Teftimony from an Infidel, in behalf of our Reli-
gion ; and fince you Deiflsy and the Aidmnetansy have
been fo gracious of late, I defire you would learn f^f rlicnij^

A a 3 tct



35^



A Conference



to treat our Saviour with the fame good Breeding, at leaft,

that they do.

ThiL Well, Sir, but what think you of ^^/^



Online LibraryWilliam NichollsA Conference with a Theist : containing an answer to all the most usual objections of the infidels against the Christian religion ... (Volume 1) → online text (page 32 of 47)