Page images



Again he objects, that the end for which God kept them distinct is answered.' How does Aleph know that God had but one end to answer in keeping our people distinct from all other nations of the earth ?

“ If the end has been obtained, why has God kept them distinct in so wonderful a manner hitherto? Does God act without design? May not the Lord have some wise design in bringing them back to their own land, and permitting them to re-establish Judaism in all its former splendour, and afterwards opening their eyes to see infinitely more glory in Jesus and his cross than in these things, and thus laying aside Judaism, for the establishment of which they had waited so long, and trusting only in Jesus Christ, as their Saviour and their God? Would not such a mode be a much greater display of the power of the Gospel, than if the Jews were converted gradually in their dispersed state?

“ If the Jews return to their own land, will they rebuild the city of Jerusalem ? will they have a temple, altar, sacrifice, and priest ?”

First, as it respects Jerusalem, there can be no reasonable doubt in the mind of those who will be guided by the plain word of God. Almost in every passage where the restoration of our people is mentioned, the building of the city of Jerusalem, in its own place, is also mentioned. Read only the following predictions: Jer. xxx. 8—11, 18; xxxi. 38—40; Zech. xi. 1–8. Nor ought we to lose sight of the prediction of the blessed Jesus himself, who said, * And Jerusalem shall be trodden down of the Gentiles until the times of the Gentiles be fulfilled,' Lu. XXI, 24., which evidently implies that when the times of the Gentiles are fulfilled, Jerusalem shall no longer be trodden down, but be rebuilt and inhabited again by her own people.” Dr. Guise, Dr. Doddridge, and Dr. Gill, all speak to the same effect.

Let it be considered as a most remarkable circumstance and strong argument in favour of our people's returning again to the land of our fathers, that they are so situated that at the shortest notice they are ready and able to depart as easily as when they came out of Egypt.”

“The Rev. J. Lunn says, “The many disappointments which that people have met with, in attempting to obtain a settlement, or the privileges of citizens in different countries, may indeed be looked upon as a punishment, and part of the curse that lies upon them for their sin in crucifying the Saviour and continuing so long to reject his Gospel; and no doubt, so it is ; but when we consider the kindness of Providence to them in other respects, his preserving, supporting, and even multiplying them, notwithstanding the numberless massacres and persecutions they have sustained; I say, when we consider these things, we cannot help thinking that Providence, in disappointing them of a settlement, has some other end in view besides punishing them for their infidelity. If we deny the restoration of the Jews, we will find it hard to account for their prosperity. But if we admit of their future restoration then the reason not only of their worldly prosperity, but of all the other dispensations of Providence towards them, is most apparent. He denies them a settlement in the countries where they are, to prevent their having any attachment to them, and that they may be under no temptation to stay still, or look back, whensoever they are called in the course of Providence to remove, and for this reason, also, he suffers them to be hated and persecuted, namely, that they may be the more willing to quit the places where they are so used; and, lastly, he endows them with riches, that they may have wherewith to support themselves on their journey to their native country, and to establish themselves therein : for, as many of them live at a great distance from Palestine, to travel so far, and to erect a settlement for themselves in a country almost desolate, is a thing to be done not without considerable wealth; and their being endowed with such wealth, as it renders their return possible, so it adds to the probability of it.”

“ That the Messiah is meant by David, as in Ezek. XXXIV. 23, 24., &c., is acknowledged by all our Rabbins. Zohar, Exod., p. 93., c. 3. Jerusalem, Talmud, Berachoth, v. 1; Bab. Tal. Megilah, xviii. 1; Abarbanel Mash. Yeshua, lv. 4. Ab. Ezra, in loco. Chizuk. Emuna, 44 ; Michlal. Yophi, Ps. cxliv. 14; Abendana, Note in Mich. Yopli, 1 Kings, xi. 39; Hagg. ii. 23. The Targum says, “Seek the worship of the Lord their God, and obey Messiah the Son of David their King.'”

No. XX.- Page 264.



“ An instantaneous change, either from good to evil, or from evil to good, effected in a sovereign manner by a foreign power, and effected irrespectively of an economy of motives, would rather be the annihilation of one being, and the creation another, than the changing of the character of the same being; for it is of the very nature of a change of character that there be an internal process, a concurrence of the will, and an attendant yielding of the rational faculties to rational inducements, and also the giving way of one species of desires, and of one class of habits to another.

“That the Sovereign Benevolence may, indeed, if it pleases, so touch the springs of our motives as to bring about effectively a change of character, is by no means to be denied ; and indeed such an act of grace lies at the foundation of that economy of mercy under which we are now placed; but then this exertion of spiritual influence always flows in the channel of moral means and inducements; nor are we entitled to look for it under any other conditions than those explicitly laid down, and solemnly insisted upon by the inspired writers, who strictly confine our expectations of efficacious grace to the present economy, and who, in the tones of awful warning, announce this to be the day of salvation, and this the accepted season of mercy.

“ A little consideration may convince us, that to indulge an expectation of a sudden and physical restoration of moral soundness, by a sovereign act, in the same way that we look for a renovation of our corporeal faculties, must directly tend to bring the mind into a state in which nothing less than the most prodigious of all miracles could avail to its restoration. The first principles of a moral economy are edia nullified when we persuade ourselves that our moral nature does not differ from our animal organization, in relation to the divine power, and that the one, like the other, might be reinstated by a word.”

No. XXI.


“ There are circumstances which appear not only to render the question of the practical utility and comparative importance of prophecy in a measure capable of demonstration ; but which even seem to bespeak its superior importance. First, may be instanced, the comparative bnlk of the prophetic Scriptures : for if we regard the number of books directly prophetical, together with the copious prophetical passages in other books, especially the Psalms, the declared typical character of much Scripture history, (1 Cor. x. 11, of the ceremonial law, of the tabernacle service, Epistle to Hebrews, passim,) all which, as they were adumbrations of things to come, partook of a prophetical complexion; the natural and unprejudiced conclusion would be that the subject is of very great importance.”

“ It is by some conceded that fulfilled prophecy may be useful: it is only unfulfilled prophecy they consider dangerous, and its study to be consequently avoided. The intelligent reader will at once perceive that this dogma would not only divert us from the cordial reception and serious consideration of a portion of God's word, but that it betrays a great want of acquaintance with the intent and use of prophecy. . And he is more concerned to keep his eye continually fixed on the latter, on the right understanding of which does the correctness of his views in regard to the expectations and destinies of the church entirely depend.”

“Let us suppose that an ingenuous inquirer were induced implicitly to adopt the notion, that it were unsafe to give heed to other than fulfilled prophecy ; in what perplexity would he find himself immediately involved! For how is he, in the first place, to ascertain what is fulfilled, and what is unfulfilled, without studying both? Prophecies containing warnings must, according to this system, not be studiously considered until the danger be overpast in regard to which the warning is given ; whereby the purport and use of such prophecies would be manifestly frustrated. The want of familiarity with their prophets prevented the Jews, during our Lord's ministry on earth, from perceiving and understanding the peculiar signs of their own times, and exposed them to the severe rebuke and awful charge of HYPOCRISY !”

“ The book of the Revelation concludes by declaring, that he is accursed who keeps this prophecy, or any part of it, back : for such is the scope of the words. (Rev. xx11. 19.) How different is this from the admonitions of the danger of looking at prophecy, put forth so frequently in an authoritative tone by those who ought rather diligently to exhort their hearers to “hearken to it, and to keep the words.' Where do we meet with one single warning of the kind in Scripture ?-Had it been needful to have clogged the subject with such restrictions, doubtless the Holy Spirit would have done it, and not have left it to fallible human beings, who are commonly the victims, more or less, of preju

are not.

dice, to prescribe to us what portions of God's word are profitable, and what

On the contrary, we have seen declared the blessedness of those who take heed, &c."

“If the reader of these remarks happen to be a minister of the word of God, he is affectionately entreated to consider his responsibility; how he is bound, as a faithful minister, to deliver the whole counsel of God; and especially in regard to the Apocalypse, not to take away from nor add to it. And is it not to take away the words of this prophecy,' yea, to take away all the words of it, when ministers systematically abstain from bringing forward its contents ?”

“ It is a leaven of popery, to suppose that any class of beings are, by the mere circumstance of birth, rank, wealth, office, or education, privileged to monopolize any portion of the word of God.

" It must be admitted, therefore, that that system which deprives prophecy of the degree of importance (whatsoever it may be) which the Scriptures assign to it, must be so far wrong: and whatsoever is wrong in doctrine, must be, to that extent, mischievous in practice, however plausible. .. Faith is, in a measure, deprived of its food; though faith, it is true, regards the past and present as well as the future, (Heb. xi. 1, 3;) but Hope never can be called into action but by the consideration of things future ; and it, therefore, ceases to be an active principle in the heart, so soon as futurity is withdrawn from its contemplation. ... The great water-floods are evidently arising and increasing fast upon us; and the church is rapidly passing into the dark and cloudy day of tribulation. In the opinion of all thinking and intelligent men, some awful and portentous crisis is at hand; and how is the true church to be comforted in the midst of it, or guided through it, but by taking heed to the more sure word PROPHECY ; which is specially a light intended for a dark time, until the day dawn and the day star arise in our hearts. The lion hath roared; who will not fear? The Lord God hath spoken ; who can but prophesy ?' Amos in. 8.”

“ When Jesus quoted the prophecy of Daniel, he said, “ Whoso readeth let him understand.' This part of revealed truth can do us no good, but in proportion as we understand it. Now I have told you before it come to pass, that when it is come to pass ye might believe.' John xiv. 29. If I know not the meaning of the voice of the prophet,' he that speaketh is a barbarian unto me.'

The author of the Physical Theory of Another Life well observes : “ It is very true that Christianity has suffered damage by vain and presumptuous intrusions into its mysteries; but it may also be injured, and perhaps in a more fatal, although more silent manner, by a cold withdrawment of all attention and all curiosity from the high themes of meditation which it involves. In fact this is the very danger to which our religion is now exposed; nor is a too eager regard to things unseen by any means the fault of our times.



We presume that there is no section of the Christian church which doubts the absolute perfection of the New Testament dispensation, as a code which, when accompanied by the influences of the Holy Spirit, can supply not only the spiritual wants, but promote both the individual and national happiness of the human race. But while we possess the cheering evidence of supreme wisdom and love, it would be irrational, independent of the declarations of prophecy, to limit the term in which, or the varied means whereby, God will accomplish the ends of this dispensation. Hence we clearly infer, that notwithstanding its superior excellence, as “the power of God which effectually works in them that believe,"-yet has he, for the wisest sovereign purposes, permitted its simplicity to be corrupted, its profession sullied, and its authority perverted, to promote ends completely opposed to its divine spirit and tendency. In no respect has this perversion appeared more awfully or destructively, than in the adoption of the principle of war;—a principle whose basis is, unquestionably, the partial aggrandizement, not the general happiness of man; whose consequences are his inevitable “ destruction and misery;"'--yet whose “life” the Redeemer "came to seek and to save.” In this respect, the Christian world, with little exception, has not imitated his gracious example,-neither appreciated nor reciprocated the common blessings to be derived from “his inestimable love and mercy:" so that it is a useless opposition to the spirit of Christianity, to appeal to the practice of the Christian world.

The fall of man was followed by a series of dispensations, designed to effect his restoration to the favour of God; but these, ordained to be effected through man's own instrumentality, have been necessarily tardy in their operation. It is not more surprising, therefore, that the justice and necessity of war should have been equally maintained, as other principles and practices, in manifest opposition to the Gospel.

A people were chosen who were to preserve the worship and oracles of the true God; and thus war became indispensable between them and the idolatrous nations by whom they were surrounded, both for the preservation of the former, and the chastisement of their disobedience to the divine will. The prevalence of idolatry among them was the dominant cause of their repeated wars; their hardness of heart wholly indisposed them for the blessings of permanent peace; and which, could they have obtained, it may be doubted whether the knowledge of the true God would not have become gradually lost. The time arrived when their ritual observances were to be exchanged for the more spiritual dispensation of the Gospel; a system of peace and good will towards men,”—of universal charity. This declares, that “the powers that be are ordained of God,” in common with other sovereign acts of his providence; but no reason can be thence deduced, that kingdoms may be forcibly

# To be had of the Publishers, price 6d.

« PreviousContinue »