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of many nations as already gathered together against Zion like sheaves for the threshing floor ;* whilst, had he referred to the first chapter of the same prophecy, he would have found the advent of the predicted invader (it matters not for our present purpose, whether the Assyrian or the Babylonian invasion be the subject of the prophecy) described (ver. 9) as an event which had already come to pass, and the injunction added, by which the parallel to Isa. xl. 2 seems to be completed: “Declare ye it not at Gath, weep ye not at all; in the house of Aphrah, roll thyself in the dust." (ver. 10.)
Pre-eminently does Le Clerc's explanation of the reason of the adoption of the past time rather than the future, in the Song of Moses, apply to the revelations which were commu. nicated in vision to the prophet Isaiah ; to those things which he "saw," and which as a seer he described concerning the latter days of Judah and Jerusalem.
We do not, indeed, deny the allegation, that the stand-point of the prophet is Babylon, not Jerusalem ; we insist only that the objection should be amplified, and that the range of prophetic vision should be enlarged. For, not only do we find the prophet taking his stand in the land of his people's captivity, as Ezekiel, at a later period, in the valley full of dry bones; but we find him also hearkening, on the Jordan's banks, to the Baptist's cry; describing, as at the cross of Calvary, the Messiah's sufferings; recording, as though the new tomb were already before his eyes, the place of his Saviour's burial. “He either takes his station" (as Hengstenberg has well observed with regard to the ancient seers generally)“ in the present, and thence beholds the less distant future, or he takes his station in the nearer future, and thence extends his view to the more remote.”'t
We must also demur to the assertion of Dean Stanley, that there are “no references to historical circumstances which mark the reigns of Hezekiah and of Manasseh," no return to the actual present of the prophet's age and country.
On the contrary, the repeated allusions to the idolatrous worship which then defiled the land seem to us altogether inapplicable to the later history of the Jews, but entirely consistent with all that is recorded of their earlier history; while the reproaches which the prophet utters on account of the prevailing neglect and contempt of the temple-worship and sacrifices, the allusion to the “ slaying the children in the valleys” (lvii. 5), and the designation given to the Church, of Hephzibah, who was the wife of king Hezekiah, appear to us decisive of the
The English Version has, “He shall gather them,” in ver. 12, but in the Hebrew it is, “He hath gathered them."
+ Christology, vol. i. p. 400.
fact, that the writer, if not guilty of intentional fraud and imposture, was himself an inhabitant of Judah, and lifted up his warning voice against the sins of his countrymen, whilst the temple was yet standing, and the appointed sacrifices might yet be offered.
IV. We have reserved to the last of the four heads, under which we have endeavoured to meet the chief objections which have been urged against the genuineness of these prophecies, the consideration of certain others of those “facts,” which being incapable of explanation on any other supposition than that of the existence of the prophetic gift in its highest and fullest degree, have been the real, and it is but fair to add, as regards many of the objections, the confessedly real, grounds of the attempts to assign the last twenty-seven chapters of Isaiah's prophecies to the later period of the Babylonian exile. Under this head we must notice
The mention by name of Cyrus, or Koresh, as the future deliverer and restorer of the exiled Jews, at a time when no human foresight or sagacity could by possibility have predicted the adverse power by which the Captivity should be effected, much less the origin or name of him by whom the destined deliverance should be wrought.
We shall not pause to enquire whether the name of Cyrus was strictly personal, or whether, like that of Pharaoh and of Cæsar, it belonged in common to the Persian royal race. The prediction is professedly uttered under the direct inspiration of the Holy Spirit of God. The challenge is distinctly given to the worshippers of idols to announce, by the aid of their gods, “the things that are coming and shall come" (xliv. 7); and “it is He who frustrates the tokens of liars,” and “confirms the word of His servant," to Whom alone it belonged to say of Cyrus, “ He is my shepherd, and shall perform all my pleasure, even saying to Jerusalem, Thou shalt be built, and to the Temple, Thy foundation shall be laid.” “No one” (says Windischmann) “who believes in a living, personal, omniscient God, and in the possibility of His revealing future events, will ever deny that He possesses the power to foretell the name of a future monarch.”* Had, then, this prediction of Cyrus been absolutely without parallel throughout the inspired volume of Scripture, we should not hesitate to assert that, presenting itself as it does for our acceptance, professedly and explicitly, as a Divine revelation, it ought to be received as such with admiring awe and with submissive homage.
But so far from standing out in that unapproachable solitude which has been urged as a plea for its rejection, this prophecy is accompanied by others, proceeding from the same pen, which
Quoted by Delitzsch, ii. 138.
impose an equal demand upon our faith ; and its authority is confirmed, were such confirmation needful, by other prophecies of a similar nature in other books of Scripture.
Under the former of these heads we may adduce, by way of illustration, (1) the prediction of the growth and destruction of the Chaldean dynasty, as foretold in the former portion of Isaiah's Prophecies (xiii., xiv.); and (2) that of “the drying up of the deep” (xliv. 27), and “ the opening of the two-leaved gates" (xlv. 1), so remarkably fulfilled in the capture of the city of Babylon ; whilst, under the latter head, we may notice, (1) the almost precisely analogous prediction concerning king Josiah ;* and (2) the whole series of prophecies concerning the birth, with its attendant circumstances of time and place: the earthly ministry; the sufferings; the death; the burial, and the resurrection of the Messiah, foretold alike by acted types and by written words, beginning with the day in which the curse was pronounced upon the serpent, and ending with that in which the roll of the prophet Malachi was completed.
It has been our endeavour, in this paper, to consider, candidly and dispassionately, the chief objections which have been alleged by certain modern critics against the later portion of Isaiah's Book of Prophecy.
Enough has, we trust, been adduced to show that the “facts,” so confidently alleged, are incapable of being sustained when submitted to the test of sober reason.
Our object will be attained, should we have succeeded in our endeavours to show that so-called modern criticism has hitherto failed to establish those claims to freedom from prejudice, and the patient investigation of truth, which have been so often and so confidently advanced in its behalf. Our labours will be yet more abundantly rewarded if any be thereby incited to give more earnest and prayerful heed to the “ sure word of prophecy," "until the day dawn, and the day star arise in their hearts.”
QUESNEL'S COMMENTARY ON ST. MATTHEW. Devotional Commentary on St. Matthew, translated from the
French of Quesnel. 1869. London, Oxford, and Cambridge : Rivingtons.
The publication of the “Reflexions Morales du Père Quesnel” has not unaptly been compared to the opening of Pandora's box, so many were the fearful passions let loose, and so deadly
* 1 Kings xiii. 2.
was the strife which ensued. We are not quite sure that Hope, too, did not make her escape; for, so far as we can judge, the destruction of the liberties of the Gallican Church, and of the prospects of personal and national regeneration in France by the sanctifying influences of the Word which is able to make men wise unto salvation, may fairly be traced to the controversies arising from this source. Before proceeding to review the volume at the head of our article, it may be well and seasonable to give some account both of the author and of the fortunes of his work, which may not be familiar to some of our readers, and which others may not be unwilling to recall.
With the earlier history of Jansenism we have nothing to do, neither have we with that of Port Royal. To those who need information, the interesting account furnished by Sir James Stephen, in his Essay on the Port Royalists, will impart it with a charm of description to which we make no pretence. Pasquier Quesnel was a mere youth, entering upon his studies at the Sorbonne, when Innocent X., in his Bull “ Cum Occasione, condemned the Five Propositions of Jansenius; nor had he finished them, when Arnauld was expelled from the theological faculty, giving rise to the combat à l'outrance waged between the Jesuits and the Jansenists, when Pascal, in his “Lettres Provinciales," under a king who had declared “L'État c'est moi," appealed from the Sorbonne to the higher tribunal of public opinion, and prepared men's minds for seeing and judging not only scholastic theology, but all the vice and disorder which was bringing France to ruin. Born at Paris in 1634, after having been for some years a student of theology in the Sorbonne, he was received into the Congregation of the Oratory, and was admitted into Holy Orders in 1657. Very shortly afterwards he began the composition of his great work, a portion of which we have now under review; it was at first of a very unpretentious character, and consisted only of some detached thoughts on striking passages of Scripture. It was introduced to the notice of F. Violart, Bishop of Chalons, who authorised its use in his diocese; and was published in Paris in 1671, with the knowledge and con. sent of Mgr. Harlai, the Archbishop of Paris, under the title of “Abrégé de la Morale de l'Évangile.” The Bishop of Chalons speaks of it as “an excellent book, which Providence had put into his hands, and which he had examined with great care and attention. In his judgment, the author must have been a long time a disciple in the school of the Holy Ghost to have pene. trated with so much light and unction into the mysteries and teaching of the Word Incarnate.” Meanwhile Quesnel was engaged in his edition of the Works of St. Leo, which, when it appeared, was put upon the Index at Rome, because the com
attentio disciple in the light and uncțion leanwhile Queshehen i
ments of Quesnel favoured Gallican views, which were most distasteful to the authorities there. In 1681, Archbishop Harlai, a turbulent disreputable man, exiled Saint Marthe, the General of the Oratory, who was supposed to favour Jansenist opinions, and Quesnel thought it prudent to retire to Orleans. In 1684, upon his refusal to sign a formula of doctrine which the Oratory had drawn up some years before, and now required their mem. bers either to sign or quit the Society, he withdrew from it, and, as a measure of safety, took refuge in Brussels. In this city he remained, living as an exile in disguise, engaged in literary work, till 1703. It was during this period that he published his “Reflexions Morales," with the addition of the Acts and Epistles, in the form we now have it. In 1694, he watched over the dying bed of the great Arnauld,* an exile like himself; and beheld him enter into that rest which he had denied himself on earth. At Arnauld's death, by force of ability, he became himself the acknowledged head of the Jansenist party, whose earlier leaders had passed, or were by this time passing, from the scene. Upon his retreat being discovered, he was thrown into prison at the instigation of the Archbishop of Malines, but managed to make his escape to Amsterdam, where he died in 1719. His dying confession was, that "he wished to die, as he had lived, in the bosom of the (Roman) Catholic Church; that he believed all the truth she teaches, and condemned all the errors that she condemned; that he recognised the Pope as the Chief Vicar of Jesus Christ, and the Apostolic See as the centre of unity.” He was a man, on the confession even of his adversaries, of singular piety and most blameless life, the whole energies of whose powerful mind were given up to the maintenance of what he deemed to be truth, for which he was content to suffer persecution and to die an exile.
Such is a brief record of the main incidents in the life of the Père Quesnel. His works were numerous, but we can only now notice that which we have under review. Its fortunes were most remarkable. The full title in the French edition of 1736 is, “ The New Testament in French, with Moral Reflexions on each Verse.” On the title-page it is stated that the book is printed by order of the Bishop of Chalons, and approved by his Eminence the Cardinal de Noailles, Archbishop of Paris. We have seen already the high estimation in which it was held by the Bishop of Chalons, and he was by no means singular in his opinion. "Bissy, the Bishop of Toul, ordered all his clergy to read it, as quite enough for their own instruction and that of their people, and as containing all that was necessary for doc
* Un jour Nicole, lassé de tant de luttes, parlait de se reposer. “Vous reposer! s'écrie impétueusement Ar. nauld ; "eh! n'aurez vous donc pas
l'éternité entière pour vous reposer ?” - Eloge de Pascal par M. Bordas. Demoulin.