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    IV. THE MAJOR PROPHETS

    ISAIAH

    This most eminent and holy man began to prophesy about seven hundred and sixty years before Christ, under Uzziah, Jotham, Ahaz, Hezekiah, and Manasseh, kings of Judah. This last king was extremely wicked; and under his reign, and by his command, it is said that Isaiah suffered martyrdom, being sawed asunder with a wooden saw! He is supposed to have been of the blood royal of Judah; and is the most sublime of all the prophets. His prophecies are so clear and minute, that they appear rather to be narrations of things past, than predictions of things to come. Of these prophecies the first five chapters are supposed to have been delivered in the reign of Uzziah; the sixth in the reign of Jotham; the seventh to the fifteenth in the reign of Ahaz; and the rest in that of Hezekiah. His predictions of the advent, sufferings, death, resurrection, and glorious conquests of Jesus Christ, are so clear and pointed, as to have gained him the title(name) of the evangelical prophet. He spoke clearly also of the calling of the Gentiles; and foretold the ruin that Nebuchadnezzar brought on the Tyrians, Moabites, Ammonites, Edomites, and Philistines; and also the ruin of Nebuchadnezzar himself, and the Babylonish empire. He is supposed to have prophesied about fifty or sixty years.

    JEREMIAH

    This man was a priest of the tribe of Benjamin; and entered on the prophetic office about the thirteenth year of the reign of Josiah, king of Judah, seventy years after the death of Isaiah. He foretold the ruin, captivity, and restoration of the Jews, and the destruction of the Babylonish empire. He also predicted the calling of the Gentiles. He lived to see the siege and destruction of Jerusalem, and suffered much himself; all which he feelingly describes. When Jerusalem was taken, and the king of Babylon had committed the government of the land to Gedaliah, Jeremiah continued in Judea: but Ishmael, who was of the seed royal, having slain Gedaliah, the remaining Jews, fearing the Chaldeans, fled to Egypt, whither this prophet was carried, and there died or was put to death. He prophesied about forty-five years, during the reigns of Josiah, Jekoiakim, and Zedekiah, and under the government of Gedaliah; about five hundred and eighty-eight years before Christ.

    LAMENTATIONS

    The Lamentations of Jeremiah, composed after the destruction of Jerusalem, and the captivity of Judah, are divided into five distinct chapters, which are so many beautiful elegies bewailing those sad events. Chap. i-iv, are written in acrostics, each verse beginning with a letter of the Hebrew alphabet in consecutive order. The third chapter is written in double acrostics; and the fifth in single lines, without this artificial order.

    EZEKIEL

    This prophet was one of the Jews who were carried captive to Babylon, with Jehoiakim, king of Judah. He began to prophesy in Chaldea, about the fifth year of the captivity, before Christ five hundred and ninety-five years; and continued about twenty-five years. He preached against the iniquities of the Jews; and foretold the destruction of several neighboring nations, enemies to the Jews. He was chiefly sent for the edification of the poor captives in Babylon. He foretold the calling of the Gentiles, and the glorious state of the church of God, under the similitude of a temple, the parts of which he very minutely describes. He is on the whole very obscure.

    DANIEL

    This prophet was also one of the captives in Babylon, whither it is supposed he was carried when very young. He was contemporary with Ezekiel; and was famous for wisdom, penetration, and piety. His prophecies concerning the Messiah, the destruction of Jerusalem, the formation of the Chaldean, Persian, Greek, and Roman empires, and their revolutions, are so very clear that their very dates are fixed. That concerning the advent and death of our Lord is the clearest prophecy ever delivered: though he lived nearly six hundred years before our Lord, he foretold the very year in which he should be manifested, and the year in which he should be cut off. He, and his companions, after running great risks, and suffering great hardships, were raised to great honors in, the kingdom of Babylon. His prophecy is a lasting monument against the Jews of the truth of the Christian religion. He died about five hundred and thirty-six years before Christ.

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