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THE RESTORATION AND CONVERSION OF THE JEWS.
To obtain a satisfactory understanding of any obscure or complicated subject, a patient investigation of its several aspects and combinations becomes absolutely requisite. Now so far as this may be realized from the page of unaccomplished prophecy, the interesting predictions before us claim peculiar attention. So numerous and diffusive are they, that a necessity for their classification is immediately perceived, to preserve in our minds something like a connected view of God's future designs towards his people. And such an arrangement though necessarily imperfect, is not the less desirable, as it leads us at least to a more correct and just conception of the providences, mercies, and glorious manifestations which he has reserved for his elect, whether Jews or Gentiles; redoubling their happiness in the proportion of their past sufferings; Isai. LXI. 7. Notwithstanding these happy prospects, almighty faithfulness and truth forbid the omission of God's just denunciations against those who madly resist his invitations and threatenings,-and the assurance of those dreadful tokens of his providence which he will display against sinful nations, whose principles and practices are at variance with the predicted establishment of his kingdom.
We have hitherto dwelt, for the most part, on the promises vouchsafed to the seed of Abraham, and the means whereby God will accelerate their first exertions towards restoration, gradually destroying the ungodly from among them, while proofs of special protection are afforded to his servants. These judgments and this distinction are emphatically declared in Isai. lxv. 1–16.
We may suppose that they will now have reached their destination in considerable numbers, and will have found present consolation under God's protection, though as yet distant from a final establishment. The grand concern of the converted remnant, will be, we think, the general conversion, not only of their own body, but of the whole world. Indeed we have every reason to suppose that they will make a mighty and unanimous effort to accomplish this, in due time. It would not be consistent with the practice of Christ's true followers to remain at any time inert; but now, overflowing with gratitude for the gracious deliverances vouchsafed,-conscious, from prophecy, of the position which they occupy,—and confiding in God for the final issue, they are inspired with a holy zeal for the universal salvation of the human race, as their highest temporal and eternal interest. Accordingly we find many indications of the increasing conversion of the Gentiles. Whether amid the multitudes of Israel already restored,—whether among those who have not yet reached their desired country, or those who still remain among the Gentile nations, a remnant exists who strenuously and undauntedly publish the Gospel, and who, as faithful “ watchmen, will not keep silence, until Jerusalem become a praise in the earth.”
Isaiah xlix. 5—12. And now saith the LORD that formed me from the womb to be his servant, to bring Jacob again to him, Though Israel be not gathered, yet shall I be glorious in the eyes of the LORD; and my God shall be my strength.
The preceding part of this chapter, together with a portion of the above, are prophetic of the birth, doctrines, and preaching of our Lord Jesus Christ.
The subject of our quotation commences at ver. 5, in the person and language of God the Father, that though Israel were not, or, shall not be all gathered, yet the conversion of the Gentiles shall form a glorious result of the Saviour's sufferings. At ver. 6, the Father thus continues : It is a light thing that thou shouldest be my servant to raise up
the tribes of Jacob, and to restore the preserved of Israel : I will also give thee for a light to the Gentiles, that thou mayest be my salvation to the end of the earth.
The 7th verse brings us conversant with the Christian dispensation.
Thus saith the LORD, the Redeemer of Israel, and his Holy One, to him whom man despiseth, (or, to him who is despised in soul,) to him whom the nation abhorreth, to a servant of rulers, Kings shall see and arise, princes also shall worship, because of the LORD that is faithful, and the Holy One of Israel, and he shall choose thee.
Let us consider the great end signified by this unspeakable gift of Christ. That He was to be given for a covenant of the people, to establish (or, “ raise up") the earth, or renew the face of the world, -to “cause to inherit the desolate heritages," or, replenish the desolate churches with his Spirit,--to liberate those who are in the prisonhouse of sin; and to cause them to be fed in the high and varied pastures of redeeming grace.
Ver. 10. They shall not hunger nor thirst; neither shall the heat nor sun smite them: for he that hath mercy on them shall lead them, even by the springs of water shall he guide them.
These blessed promises are parallel with those of Rev. vii. 16, 17; and afford an introductory view of the spiritual Millennial kingdom of the Redeemer and his saints, or, the New Jerusalem. These will be exceedingly precious to the children of God at that period as revealing the exalted pleasures which so speedily await them.
Ver. 11, 12. And I will make all my mountains a way, and my highways shall be exalted. Behold, these shall come from far : and, lo, these from the north and from the west ; and these from the land of Sinim.
All the churches of God shall then be a way of salvation; and the highways, or ordinary paths to happiness, shall be exalted, or, be those of security and peace. All nations shall, ere long, worship in the holy mount, or, true church of God. By those who “shall come from far,” may probably be understood those who shall arrive from the American continent, the Indian Archipelago, and other distant parts of the world. The north and west signify, we conceive, the northern and western parts of Europe and Asia. And the land of Sinim is supposed to signify China.
Isaiah Lil. 10. The LORD hath made bare his holy arm in the eyes of all the nations; and all the ends of the earth shall see the salvation of our God. See Rom. ix. 25, 26.
Isaiah xlv. 22-25. Look unto me, and be ye saved, all the ends of the earth : for I am God, and there is none else. I have sworn by myself, the word is gone out of my mouth in righteousness, and shall not return, That unto me every knee shall bow, every tongue shall swear. Surely, shall one say, in the LORD have I righteousness and strength ; even to him shall men come; and all that are incensed against him shall be ashamed. In the LORD shall all the seed of Israel be justified, and shall glory.
There are still more express assurances of the conversion of the Gentiles, as,
Zechariah vill. 20—23. Thus saith the Lord of hosts ; It shall yet come to pass, that there shall come people, and the inhabitants of many cities : and the inhabitants of one city shall go to another, saying, Let us go speedily, (or, continually, Hos. VI. 3,) to pray before the LORD, and to seek the Lord of hosts : I will go also. Yea, many people and strong nations shall come to seek the LORD of hosts in Jerusalem, and to pray before the LORD. Thus saith the LORD of hosts ; In those days it shall come to pass, that ten men shall take hold out of all languages of the nations, even shall take hold of the skirt of him that is a Jew, saying, We will go with you: for we have heard that God is
Isaiah iv. 1.
And in that day seven women shall take hold of one man, saying, We will eat our own bread, and wear our own apparel : only let us be called by thy name, to take away our reproach.
What a powerful idea does this convey of the mental exaltation of the pious Jew! His soul is now irradiated with the beams of divine truth. High estimation is affixed to the national character by all those nations who have heard of the gracious gifts by which the Israelites are actuated; and of the blessings which they have now begun to communicate throughout the world; announcing the everlasting Gospel, and walking in its light. How important and precious is example! How prevailing, a pure, zealous, and disinterested conduct! Its influence is continually extended. The number “ ten" used on this occasion, may be understood indefinitely, as Gen. xxxi. 7, 41, &c.
At the conclusion of the 3rd chapter of Isaiah, it is said,
Thy men shall fall by the sword, and thy mighty in the war.” This affords us a very impressive description of the destitute and pitiable condition of many of the widows and daughters of the Gentiles, as the result of war; many of whom would thus appear to be left wholly unprovided for. But from the formerly despised and persecuted wanderer, the Jew, they are now anxious to derive protection, and