« PreviousContinue »
Ceding its destruction, clearly saw the time of the Saviour's prophetic warning, when, in obedience to his injunction, they escaped and fled. It was by faith in the truth of the divine prediction, and by attention to its times and circumstances, that in the awful calamities which overtook the unbelieving and devoted city, not a hair of their heads did perish. Was not the period of Daniel's “seventy weeks” recognized by the devout and waiting Israelites who received the Saviour as their promised Messiah? Nay, is it not a fact recorded by History, and known to all, that the Jews, as a nation, did expect their Messiah at the very time of Christ's appearance in the world ? and through them did not the expectation of some wonderful Personage extend to the nations around ? The fact of his rejection argues nothing against the sufficiency of the prediction. More solicitous to obtain immediate deliverance from servitude to an earthly conqueror than to receive emancipation from the thraldom of Satan,—and with hearts more intent on temporal power and worldly pomp, than with desires after that holiness which is the basis of Christ's kingdom,—they beheld, in the anticipated Messiah, only the glory which is revealed, and refused to look upon, or receive as literal, the explicit predictions of his sufferings and death. By attention to the Prophetic Scriptures, we can easily see, that although they introduce more frequently, and speak more at large, of the Millennial glory, they also predict. neither seldom nor ambiguously, the humiliation of Messiah which has preceded it. His rejection was occasioned neither by a lack of evidence, nor by their ignorance of the time assigned in Prophecy for his appearance. Men may shut their eyes upon the light, but this is no proof the sun has ceased to shine.
For a length of time, however, great ignorance of the meaning and design of the Prophetic Scriptures has prevailed in the Christian Church; and even yet, the predictions concerning the glory of the Latter Day, few study with care, or seek fully to understand. By a most anomalous system of interpretation, which rests not satisfied with present accommodation and the an
ticipation of future fulfilment, some have imagined that all the proinises of holiness and happiness and peace, under the reign of Him who is emphatically styled, * The King of Israel,” mean nothing more than the presence of the Comforter with the Church since the ascension of our blessed Lord, and individual enjoyment of peace in believing. Such an idea is, indeed, entertained by few in the present day, the great proportion of Christians who have given any attention to the Prophecies believing that they predict a period of purest bliss as yet to be enjoyed upon the earth ; to which, from the term of its duration, has been given the name of The MILLENIUM. Many, however, who not only anticipate this glorious era as still to be realized, but who, from calculation of prophetic dates, believe it to be near at hand, are yet “ slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have spoken” concerning it. There are not a few who can trace the operation of Jehovah's hand in the disposal of nations, and who can read the intimations of His purpose in divine predictions which have been amply verified in their minute accomplishment, who extend not the principle to other cases which seem equally to require it. While they are ready to admit, in general, the literal fulfilment of prophecy, yet, from preconceived ideas of the nature of Christ's reign and presence, they imagine that all the predictions in which these are declared, mean only the universal reception of the gospel, in consequence of the plentiful effusion of the influences of the Holy Spirit.
Much of the opposition which has been made to the doctrine of the glorious personal reign of Messiah on earth, is perhaps to be attributed to the too frequent neglect of the light shed upon Unfulfilled Prophecy, by the addresses of our Lord, and the writings of his apostles. By availing ourselves of the aid to be derived from a careful comparison of scripture with scripture, a more accurate conception may be obtained of the nature and peculiar blessings of that happy era.
There is, however, an intimate connection between the predictions of the Redeemer's Millennial reign and
the promises given to Israel ; and as those of the latter class are by many as little understood as those of the former, it may be proper, before entering upon the consideration of that doctrine, first to point attention to some of the Scripture declarations concerning Abraham's race, classified under distinct heads. So completely blended, indeed, are these promises with all that is predicted of the Millennial age, as to render surprising the ignorance and unbelief displayed on this subject, hy many not otherwise ignorant of the Scriptures.
THE CONVERSION OF ISRAEL.
Tae distinguishing goodness of God has been illustriously displayed in his dealings with the children of Abraham. From the time when He appeared to the patriarch in “ Mesopotamia, before he dwelt in Charran," down through the long lapse of ages which have since intervened, the history of this people beautifully exemplifies the doctrine of a special providence, and places in the most attractive light the long-suffering and sovereign mercy of God. It is a record of human depravity, displaying deep forgetfulness of the way in which they were continually led, and tells of their invincible ingratitude to God for his abundant goodness and many wonderful interpositions in their favour, and in giving into their hands nations greater and stronger than they. Throughout, it is one continued display of Heaven's love and man's rebellion-of the most signal manifestations of divine interference in their behalf, followed by the most criminal departure from their gracious Deliverer.
In studying the annals of Israel, we see that although their perversity of disposition and untowardness of character often call forth the chastisements of Heaven, still the loving-kindness of the Lord is not withdrawn, and renewedly is his favor manifested towards them.
If He takes vengeance on their devices, it is still in measure, and by his love he again woos them to himself. Various kinds and degrees of punishment have at different periods been meted out to them, for their awful apostacies from the living and true God; but their last and longest and most severe affliction has been that which followed their arrival at the summit of rebellion, in the crucifixion of the Lord of glory, and which they still continue to endure. But even from the guilt of this, Prophecy declares, they will yet be cleansed—being washed in the blood they so wantonly shed. Although, in His righteous displeasure, the Lord has long left them to wander in the vain imagination of their own hearts, he has not forsaken them altogether. They shall yet be converted and healed ; they shall yet be restored to purity and peace, to holiness and happiness. Then shall they see and acknowledge the enormity of their sin, in having " denied the Holy One and the Just,” and in having “ killed the Prince of life.” “ I will cleanse them,” says the Lord, “ from all their iniquity, whereby they have sinned against me ; and l will pardon all their iniquities, whereby they have transgressed against me. Jer. xxxiii. 8. “Neither will I hide my face any more from them; for I have poured out my Spirit upon the house of Israel, saith the Lord God.” Ezek. xxxix. 29. This conversion is, therefore, to be followed by no future apostasy; and, accordingly it is here said, “ So the house of Israel shall know that I am the Lord their God, from that day and forward.” ver. 22. “And I will give you the land of Israel ; and they shall come thither, and they shall take away all the detestable things thereof, and all the abominations thereof, from thence. And I will give them one heart, and I will put a new spirit within you; and I will take the stony heart out of their flesh, and will give them a heart of flesh; that they may walk in my statutes and keep mine ordinances, and do them; and they shall be my people, and I will be their God.” Ezek. xi. 17-20. “ Then will I sprinkle clean water upon you, and ye shall be clean ; from all your filthi
ness and from all your idols will I cleanse you. A new heart also will I give you, and a new spirit will I put within you; and I will take away the stony heart out of your flesh, and I will give you an heart of flesh. And I will put my Spirit within you, and cause you to walk in my statutes, and ye shall keep my judgments and do them." Ezek. xxxvi. 25-27.
This conversion of Israel is secured in covenant : “ Behold, the days come, saith the Lord, that I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel, and with the house of Judah.—This shall be the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel; After those days, saith the Lord, I will put my law in their inward parts, and write it in their hearts; and I will be their God, and they shall be my people.” Jer. xxxi. 31–33. " And they shall be my people, and I will be their God; and I will give them one heart and one way, that they may fear me for ever, for the good of them and of their children after them. And I will make an everlasting covenant with them that I will not turn away from them, to do them good; but I will put my fear in their hearts, that they shall not depart from me.” Jer. xxxii. 38-40.“ In those days and in that time, saith the Lord, the children of Israel shall come, they and the children of Judah together, going and weeping: they shall go and seek the Lord their God. They shall ask the way to Zion with their faces thitherward, saying, Come and let us join ourselves to the Lord in a perpetual covenant that shall not be forgotten.” Jer. I. 4, 5. And it shall come to pass, that he that is left in Zion, and he that remaineth in Jerusalem, shall be called holy, even every one that is written among
the living in Jerusalem: when the Lord shall have washed away the filth of the daughters of Zion, and shall have purged the blood of Jerusalem from the midst thereof, by the spirit of judgment, and by the spirit of burning." Is. iv. 3, 4. Their mourning shall at once be general and particular. The praise of the Redeemer is, " And I will pour upon the house of David, and upon the inhabitants of Jerusalem, the spirit of
grace and of supplications; and they shall look upon me whom