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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and in the Book Fcjihia ; and among the * Moderns in
R. Mojes ^Ifjech, &c. u4nd note, that the Explication of
Tanchuma, upon the 13 th Verfe is very remarkable. Be*
hold my Servant JJmU be exalted. Sec. This is King Meflias,
hejljall be greatly advanced, he JJjall be advanced above A-
braham, above Mofes, above the Angels of the Minijlry.
\ And all along after, there is fuch a plain Defcription of

the Exinanition, the Glorification, and the Satisfadion
of Chrift, that if it was to be wrote fince his Appearance
in the World, it could hardly be more exad. Of wJiom>

* HuITii Theol. Jud P.31S.


Part III. "With ^Theist. 587

befides our bleffed Saviour, could it be thought fuch an
incredible Thing, to be born, and to fufFer AfHictions ;
As the Prophet thinks it to be, when he ufhers in this
Prophefy with a Who hath helievedour Report f Chap.lii,
V. I. But it was very wonderful to have fuch a Pre-
didion given of the ^^^, whom the^ifZi^; generally had
the moft glorious Conceptions of. 'Twas very ftartling
to them to hear, That W^ fhould grow up like a tender Plant
out of a dry Ground ; That He Ihould have no Form nor
Comelinefs ; That He ftiould be defpifed
who was, in all Refpeds, inferior to himfelf ? What was
there fo ftupendoiis in the Birth of Jeremiah^ as fhould
make Ifaido cry out here, WhoflMll declare his Generation ?
This can agree only. to the eternal Generation of our blef-
fed Lord. How are we healed by Jeremiah' % Stripes ? And
what Prophet was ever m.ade a vicarious Punifhment, for
the Sins of the People \

Nor will the Expofition of fome other modern Jewsy
who apply this Prophefy to the Jewifh Nation , he of
■ more Faliditj, For how flioiild the Prophet ever come
to defcribe that refradory People, who were always fo
ftubborn under their AiBidions, by a Lamb that openeth
not his Afomh^. When that Nation was fo often re-
proved by the Prophets, for their enormous Sins. How
could they be faid to have done no Violence^ neither to have
any Deceit in their Aionth ? How could the Jews, who
were God's People, be faid to be flrid^n for the Tranf-
grefions of God's People ? This is to make the fame Jeim
to be both Innocent and Tranfgreffors, to fuffer and not
tofuiferat the fame Time; which is fuch horrible Non-
fenfe, as is not to be endured.

PhiL I confefs I am more puzzled with this Chapter,
than anv other Place I know of; and when I am more at
Leifure, I will £?ive it a more attentive Conlideration than
I have hitherto done. And now. Sir, will you be pleafed
to proceed to fom.e other Prcdi6tion.
The Mo- Crcd, Next, Sir, I defire you would refled upon that
nwchies ^ wonderful Prophefy conraincd in the II. VII. VIII. and
andd^ens^ IX. Chapters of DanieL I pray you attentively to con-
VrophcGcs lider, how evidently he fets forth the four great Monar-
ch c/?r//f. 'chies of the World : Firft, By the Interpretation of
N^h:4chadnezA.(^'s Dream , Chap, II. And then again,
Bv the F.eorcfentarion • of the four ?reat Beafls, Chap*'
VII. and VIII. Hovv^ ihould it ever enter into Dxnel's
•Thoughts, uiilefs atTiiled by the fore-knowing Spirit of
God, that the Kingdom o^ Pcrfa iliould be dt'ftroyed by
^kXiV'ider the Great, or the King of Grcmy as it is

"^ *. plainly

Part III. ^zth ^Theist. 589

plainly fet down. Dm. viii. ?, i ? Or that, upon the firfl
King of Grecias Death, feveral Kingdoms lliould arife
out of his Conquefts I v, iv. What fnould move him
to fay, That in the latter Time of their Kingdom (i. e. of
the Grecian Monarchy) when the Tranfgrejfors are come to
the full, a King offeree Cotintenance^ and under fiandln(T darlz^
Sentences-, JJjallfiand up j and his Ponder flMll be mighty, hut
not by his own Power, and he fljall deftroy wonderfully , and
fiall pro/per andpra^iice, and Jhall deftroy the mighty, and
the holy People. And through his Policy he flmll cauje Craft
to profper in his Hand, and he fljall magnify himfelf in his
"Hearty and by Peace JImU deftroy many; he flodl up
againft the Prince of Princes, but he ftmll be broken without.
Hand, &c. Dm. viii. ^3. Which is a perfed Defcrip^
tion of the Power, the Pride, and Craft of King Amio-
chus, one of the Seleucidcc ; as alfo of his unmerciful Cru?
elty to the holy People, or the Jews, and of his remark?
able Death, as you may find them recorded in the Books
of the Maccabees, and in Jofephus. But this is not all ;
for after the Prophet has been foretelling of the Succef^
lions of thefe four earthly Monarchies, he begins to tell
of the heavenly or fpiritual Kingdom of Chrift. And
in the Days of thefe Kings fJMll the God of Heaven fet up a
Kingdom, which jhall never be deftroy ed, and the Kimdom
floall not be left to other People, but it fl)all breahjn Piecesy
and confume all thefe Kingdoms, and it ftjallftand for ever,
JForafmuch as thou faweft, thai the Stone was cut out of the
Mountain without Hands, and that it brake in Pieces the
Iron, the Clay, the Brafs, &c. Dan. ii. 44. And when in
the VII Chap, he fpeaks of the fame ivlonarchies under the
Reprefentation of Beafts, he fays : As concerning the reft
of the Beafts they had their Dominion taken aiiJay, yet their
Lives were prolonged for a Scafon and aTime. I fcnv in the
Might Vifions, and behold one like the Son of Man came with
the Clouds of Heaven, and came to the Ancient of Dap, and
they brought him near before him : And there was given him
Dominion, and Glorjy and a Kingdor/i, that all People, Ma-
tions, and. Languages ft jould ferve him : His DoTyimion is an
sverUfting DGrmniony which ftjall not vafs mvay, and l^ii

C c 3 Kingdom



Kingdom that: Tvhich pall not be deflrojed. And again,^
The Saints of the moft High pall take the Kingdom^ and
pojfefs the Kingdom for every even for ever and ever*
Now what greater Evidence can be required of the Truth
of the Chrlfllan Religion-, then that fo many hundred Years
before, it fliould be predided, That, in the Time of the
fourth of thefe great Monarchies, or the Roman Empire,
the Kingdom of the Son of Man^ or Jefus Clirift, fhould
be eftablifhed, which fhould continue for ever ? It is
very wonderful that Darnel^ who lived, in fo early an Age,
fhould foretell, fo exadly, not only the DiiTolution of
the great Empire he then lived under, but of feveral
others that fucceeded upon it \ and fhould give fuch a
particular Defcription of King Antiochus, and his barba-
rous Ufage of the Jeivs^ as looks more like a Hifto-
ry than a Prophefy. But it improves our Faith to a Sort
of Demonftration, to find this holy Prophet, fo many
Ages before, foretelling the Succefs of the Chrijiian Reli-
giony and the Kingdom of Chrift enduring for ever. If
•we fuppofe, with you Deifis^ that all this was a rambling
Guefs; yet how could Daniel guefs at a thing which
he cannot be fuppofed to have thought of? One could
hardly fuppofe that a Man, who lived under the Power
and Grandeur of one of the Eajiern Monarchies, could
ever think it fhould be deftroyed by a King of Grecid,
a poor inconfiderable Spot of Ground in refped of their
vajl: Dominions, and, at the Time when Daniel lived,very
little known at Babjlon ? But it is inconceivable, how it
ihould enter into Daniel's Thoughts, to talk of a fpiri-
tual Kingdom of Saints, or good Men ; and this at a Time,
when the Minds of the Je7vs were fet only upon a tem-
poral Kingdom, upon returning Home again, and being
vidorious and glorious in their own Country. How
came he to guefs that there ihould be a Perfon called the
Son of Many that this Perfon fliould have Dominion and
Glory given him. by God ? That this Perfon was to have
a Kingdom, and that Kingdom to b^ of Saints, and thofe
Saints of all Nations and Languages, and their Kingdom
to continue to the End of the World too? After thi^


Part III. 'VDith ^ T H E I s T* 5^1

Rate, one may write a Hiftory, as well as a Prophefy, by
Guefs. In fhort, the great Porphyry was fo confounded
by the furprifing Exadhefs of this Prophefy, in relation
to the four Monarchies, and the Cruekies o^ Amochusy
that he was forced to afTert, That the Author of the Book
of Daniel lived after Antiochus's Time. And I \vonder
why fome of you Deijis (to tread in your Mafter's Steps)
don't as well aflert, that he lived fince Conflantine^ when
the Empire became Chriftian : For the Prophefy is alto-
gether as exadr, about the Kingdom of Chrift, as about
either of the Monarchies. Nay, if we were at this Day
to contrive an hieroglyphical Defcription of the Preva-
lency of Chrift's Kingdom over the Powers of this
World, and the Fall of the Pagan Empires by the Pro-
grefs of Chriftianity ; how could one better exprefs it,
than by Darnel's Stone cm out of the Mountam withont
Handsy which brake in Pieces the Images, which repre-
fented the four Empires ? What could be more ftrong
and powerful, than thofe vaft Monarchies ? And yet the
ftrongeft of them, viz,, that of Romcy that had fubdued
and proudly ftood upon the Ruins of all the refl, and
laid out all its Force, and Power^ and Policy, againfl: the
Chriftian Religion, was never 4ble to prevail againfl: it.
For, notwithfl:anding this, T^iis Stone cm om oftheAioun*
tmn withom Handsy the Religion of Chrift that was
founded upon no human Art nor Policy, a plain Infl:i-
tution, without any artificial Finery, propagated only
by a few unlearned Fifhermen, amfl:ed by the Power
of God, deftroyed all the Pagan Worfliip throughout
the Roman Empire, brake down their Images, demoli Hi-
ed their Temples, and banifhed their Gods, and never
ceafed till it had perfedly broken in Pieces this great and
gaudy Image, and had fubfl:ituted, in lieu of it, the
Ipiritual Kingdom of Chrift, which muft endure to the
End of the World.

This is a wonderful Predidion, and the more we con-
fidcr it, the more we muft admire it ; and that aifo which
follows concerning the Time of the Death of the MeJ^aSf
is not only the Subjed of our Admiration, but likewife

C c 4 a great


a }. xxix«
17. Tklfil herW^eks, (i. e.) her Seven Years, Levit. xxix. 27. JhoH
fialt mtnwer Seven Sabbaths^ or Weeks, of Tears unto thee.

Part IIL "With ^ T H E I s T. 59 j

How came Daniel to tell, that about 490 Years
after the Edid to rebuild Jcrufdem^ one fhould lay ^
Claim to be the Mejjiai ? I grant it is vtry difficult,
and has puzzled the Heads of Chronologers, to bring
exadly thefe Weekly and the Time of Chrift's Suffer-
ing together, becaufe of the different Accounts of the
Length of Kings Reigns, given by diverfe Hifl:orians>
and the different Ways in reckoning the Beginnings, and
Extent of Years in feveral Nations ; yet, I fay, granting
all this. How fliould Daniel pitch upon the Time of the
MeJJias, fo near as he doth, to the Preaching or Suffering
of Jefus Chrifl, upon any Computation whatfoever ?
Ten, or a Dozen Years, is no great Matter here. You
may think 'twas by Chance, but this mufl be a very
ftrange Chance, and much harder to be believed, than
that DanielhAd the Spirit of Prophefy. It is a good deal
above two thoufmd Years ago, fince Daniel lived ; and.
if his Prophefy was owing to Chance, hq might as well
have conjedur^d the AfeJ/ia^ to come, in any other Parr
of this long Time between the Date of his Prophefy and
us, or any other Part of Time which the World fhall
lafl beyond us; he might have made -him come long'
before, or after our Saviour; but to nick in his prophe-
tick Conjedure, jufl with the Time -of Jefus Chiif]:; and
fp luckily to appoint the Time of the Meffias's coming,
when our Saviour lived, who not only laid Claim to the
Office of the MeJJiasy but has been owned as fiich by fo
many Myriads of Men, by fuch a Number of Nations,
^nd throughout fo many fucceffive Ages; I fay, for a.
Man, fo many hundred Years before, to fay, that the
MeJJias fhould come jufl about the Time of the famous
JESUS CHRIST, wlio has been fb generally repu-
ted the MejJias, is a thing hardly within the Power of
Chance ; and, by all confidering Men, muil: be attri-
buted to the Predidion of God's Holy Spirit.

But the Prophet does not only fortell the precife Time,
when the MeJJias fhould come, but fays fbmething of
liiniji whichj at that Time, it could have entr^d into



A Conference

no ohe*s Head to have fufpeded, That the Mejfias poM
be flamy or, as it is in ih^ Hebrew Phrafe, pall be. cm ojf'*'*
*Tis plain, by this Prophefy, that the Mejjias^ who was
to come into the World about this Time, was to die
too. Nay, the unbelieving Jews themfelves make this
Prophefy yet clearer of our Saviour, when they fay , The
Mejfl^ ihall not only fufFer, but fhall be killed by the
Jews. The Words of Rabbi Simeon^ the Son of Johai,
in the Book Mek^r-hajfodoth^ are very remarkable. For
there Hofea is brought in weeping, and faying, TVo to
thofi wicked unrighteous Murderers of Ifrael, for the Love
ef whom God Jhdl fend his own holy Son, having f tit on
human Flefh^ that he may forgive them their Sins, Wo
to them*, for by their wicked A^ions^ they fhall ba rebelliotu
to the Meflias, neither fhall they regard the Words of him^
who fhdi command them to be furtfied with the Water of
Purifaatiofj, to expiate their Sins; but theyjjjall not walkjjt
JVays acceptable to Gody' buty being enraged by a mighty An*
very he f Mil kUl him.

Nay farther, this Prophefy foretells.the Satisfadion of
Chrift, That Chrift Ihould die for the Sins of the World;
That he fhould be cut off^ md not for himfelf This
could be owing to no fanciful Opinion of the Jews ;
for if it had its Foundation from their fond Conjedures
only, they would not have gueffed him to have come
into the World with this Cnarader of dying for their
Sins, but to have made his Entry, like a triumphing
Monarch, treading upon the Necks of their Enemies,
freeing them from their forlorn Captivity, and bringing
their Mafters into the fame Subjedion, which they groan-
ed under.
; This Prophefy doth moreover predid. That after the
'Mefllass Death, the City Jerufalemy then lately rebuilt
by Cyrus % Decree, fhould, at the End of the fcvenry
Weeks, together with the SanUuaryy be deftroyed with ^
Flood, or impetuous Torrent of Defolation i when the

* Iccareth Jhdl be cut off, fignifies, fhall be flain, Gen. ix. i r.
%X,ik, xxi, 3. iKin^s xviii. 13.


Part IIL ''(^tth a T h e i s t- 595

Sacrifices and Oblatims ihould for ever ceafe. How can
dl thefe Predidrions be attributed to any thing, but to
the Spirit of God? Was it poflible, for Mankind to
have forefeen any of thefe Contingences ? Suppofe, that
DoKiel, being converfant in the Intreigues of the Perjian
Court, could poflibly have forefeen, that the Edid ofCyms
would come out, for the building o^Jerufakmy yet now
tould he forefee, that it fhould la ft but 490 Years after
it \ This was a little too much, for any Politician to pre-
tend to. Or, fuppofe, that Bankl here had a Mind to
give out an unintelligible and obfcure Predidion, only
to puzzle the Jc^s-y and that fome Part of it has chanced
to come to pafs. But, I pray then, How comes Daniel
to be fo particular, in his Prophefy \ Such Kindof Prog-
nofticators love to talk as much, as they can, in the
Clouds ; they apply their Difcourfe only to general Mat-
ters, as Wars, Seditions, and Plots, ^c» which happen
almoft every Day; but they have a great Care of Parti-
culars, as being too many to be gueffed at, and, if one
of them fhould unluckily fall out wrong, the Credit of
the Predider would be ruined. Therefore no one cau
imagine, that Daniely or any other Man of ordinary Senfe,
fhould venture upon contriving a fham Prophefy, with fb
many Particularities in it, and thofe too fo unufual ones>
and fo out of the Road of the common Hit of Acci-
dents, that it was ten thoufand to one, if any of them
ever came to pafs. There was a great Deal of Contin-
gency in the rebuilding of the City and the Temple of
Jerufdetn^ after the Captivity; and there was a great
Deal more in their being deftroyed again 490 Years after
that; but there was a thoufand to one more odds, that the
Inhabitants fhould not have the ordinary Fortune of o-
ther conquered People, in a While to rebuild their City
again, and that their Temple fhould be forced to be for
ever defilate to the Conjummation^ or End of the World.
Thefe are fuch a hardy fort of Conjedures, that the fil-
lieft Prognofticator (much lefs a Court Politician, as
X)a»iel wzs) would not have ventured upon. It remains
therefore, that fo many different Events, fo long before,
'• ' " " ^ and

3^6 A Conference

and fo particularly foretold, mufi: be owing to the di-* \
vine Power, wloich defigned them, as a previous Light ^ ■
to Mankind, to give them a View of the Redemption
by the Mejjlas before-hand ; and to be a lafting Evidence '
ot the Truth of Chriftianity, which, fo many Ages be- .
fore, was fo clearly predi(Sed. Do but ferioufly read '
over this Prophefy, and confider the Time when the
• City was to be deftroyed, and that too with a Flood,
and Torrent of Defolation; that it was never to be'
built again ; but that the Sacrifices and Oblations there-
of, Iliould for ever ceafe : And read the fad Story of this
in Jofefhrn ; that bloody War, the lamentable Defola-
tion, and the dreadful Famine, Seditions, and. Murders,
which accompanied it ; the Fire from Heaven, which
burnt their Temples, notwithftanding all Endeavours to
the contrary ; and, after the rafing of the City, fuch a
Difperfion of the People, as difabled them ever to return
^gain: I fay, if you ferioufly read and confider this,
you muft needs own, that this Prediction came from
God, to whom the Circumftances of future Ages are
only known. • .

But there is one Particular more in this Prophefy^'

which I forgot to mention ^ and yet it is fo remarkable,

that I cannot pafs it by. It is here faid of the MefjJasy

that He JJjall confirm the Covenant 7vith many for a Weck^^

and that in the midji of the Week^ heflMli caufe the Sacrir

fice and the Oblation to ceafe. Which was mofl: exactly

fulfilled by our bleffed Saviour^ who by preaching the

Gofpel^ for half one of thefc Weeks, or about three Yeai's

and a half, confirmed the New Covenant with many^ infti-

tuted the Chriftian Religion, which was to fave the Souls

not only of the yeivs^ but of all other, or many Nations;

and, in the middle of the Week, fubmitted to the Death

of the Crofs, which abrogated all the old Sacrifices and

Oblations, which were only Types of this one great

Sacrifice for the Sins of the whole World.

Now to take all this together, one would think, that
all thefe Particulars, fo exad:ly mentioned, look more like
an Hiftory than a Prophefy; and 'tis a Wonder^ confidQ-

;'^ ■ ^ ^ ifing

Part IIL "With ^ The I ST. ^^y

ring the Plainnefs of it, that the Unbelievers don't pre-'
tend it was wrote fince Chrift came into the World.

PhiL I confefs, Credemm^ there is fomething in this,
which a little iliocks me at prefent, and which I cannot
get over now , but hereafter^ when I have Leiftu'e, I
will give it a more attentive Confideration, and weigh it
impartially : And therefore, in the mean time, if you
have any thing farther to urge upon this Head, I pray go

Cred, I will trouble you but with one Argument more,'
and that is the remarkable Predidion of the Place of
Chriji's Birth, foretelling. That he Ihould be born at
Beth'khem, Mkah the 5 th Chap, ^'

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 35 of 47)