« PreviousContinue »
people, because they are almost uniformly blended together.
We find, then, that these ancient people of God are to be restored as a nation, under very peculiar circumstances; and further, that a remnant will be eventually reclaimed from their unbelief and hardness of heart. Indeed it is rational to suppose, that they who through the wisdom and goodness of God, have been honoured as the primary instruments of salvation to lost mankind, should, through his wonted mercy, be finally relieved from their manifold privations and sufferings, and become triumphant and happy in the land of their fathers, from whence they have been so long expelled.
In the course of this chapter the frequent recital from Scripture of extraordinary acts of Divine intervention which will be displayed in favour of the Israelites, however wonderful, may appear tedious or uninteresting to some of our readers; yet we feel constrained to present them. They have been greatly neglected, and their true purport but little regarded. Their design and importance has, as it were, been closed to the generality of both hearers and readers. We must further observe, that the prophecies relative to the Jews cannot be given in regular succession, as with historical precision. Not only their obscurity, in some instances, but the spirit of the sacred Oracles, preclude the possibility of such an arrangement. Partial repetitions, mingled with additional predictions, almost constantly recur; so that any attempt to condense these important prophecies to a complete order of succession, in point of time, would be not only to misrepresent the sense, but to injure their beauty, and would prove alike unsatisfactory and incomplete.
Their restoration will be achieved during the general prevalence of trial and affliction. The prophet Daniel, after foretelling the extinction of the Turkish empire, immediately predicts the unexampled trouble which shall take place at that time, (Dan. XII. 1;) but adds that “Michael shall stand up, the great Prince who standeth for the children of God's people;" i. e., Christ. We cannot from thence, however, presume to determine what length of time may intervene before the completion of this important event; and can only conjecture, that when the troubles which lead to the fall of the mystical Babylon shall have extensively commenced, the Jews will be unavoidably involved in them. It is from the midst of these that they will seek deliverance and national restoration, endeavouring to effect a return to the land of their forefathers, and deriving aid from those nations who will favour their project, doubtless from various political motives, and, perhaps, in some degree from the influence of prophecy. But as there is no ground for supposing that this will take place before the fall of the Mystical Babylon, we conclude that both revolutions, Mahommedan and Papal, will be necessary to facilitate it. We may also imagine, that the nations which have united in hostility to Papal domination, will particularly assist in effecting this great design. The power and influence of those kingdoms must be greatly extended by the victories gained over both civil and ecclesiastical despotism in the more southern regions of Europe, and Mahommedan fanaticism in the east; and whatever changes may ensue in their territorial acquisitions, the way must be prepared, and many obstructions removed, for the return of the Jews to Palestine.
The rapid extension of Christian knowledge which will now be erected on the ruins of Mahommedism, will probably prevent the pristine followers of the false prophet from placing obstructions to, if not dispose them to cooperate in the fulfilment of that revelation so fully accomplished in themselves; which so many among them will probably have embraced, and which so abundantly declares that the restoration of the Jews will diffuse peace, liberty, and happiness throughout the world.
It does not appear, nor is it rational to imagine, that though restored, they will be a converted and a holy people generally, at this period. Severe and afflictive providences first await them; and “the sinners in Zion" must be separated from the devoted adherents of the Redeemer before his actual re-appearance; or if any shall still remain adverse to the truth, they must eventually share in the destruction of the wicked.
It is supposed by a cotemporary writer that there will be three successive periods for their restoration, and there appears ground for the supposition. If it in any respect seems questionable, the reader will be enabled to judge for himself by the method we have adopted; as it is our intention to place these interesting passages, so far as their contents permit, in a natural order of succession, and to make such comments as may, in some measure, tend to elucidate what may seem desirable or necessary for the generality of our readers.
Mr. Frey says: “ There are not a few who believe that the nation at large will return to their own land before their conversion, and that a remnant will be converted who will not return with the nation, but will afterwards be carried as a present to the Lord of hosts,' &c., Isai. XVIII. 7; when the nation will be converted in a remarkable
manner as was the apostle Paul, beholding the Lord Jesus Christ.”
They will be numerously invaded by their former enemies, after their re-establishment; but whether the passages relative to this comprise one grand assault, or intimate two distinct invasions at separate periods, remains for consideration in subsequent pages, writers being divided on this subject. These important interventions will be necessary, not only for their own purification, but to lead the heathen more effectually to the knowledge and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.
No people ever existed whose history has been so wonderful, so interesting! Had their superiority continued, after they had acquired the summit of earthly glory under Solomon, or had it been possible that a further increase of empire could have been acquired, consistently with the holiness of God and the interests of his redeemed, they would appear to have been that people who would have obtained universal or unlimited dominion, so many proofs do after ages afford of their indomitable spirit in war; and which was greatly enhanced by their obstinate adherence to a carnal interpretation of the divine law. But having attained a summit of earthly grandeur, which was typical of the glory of the Redeemer's kingdom on earth, a division of the empire took place under Rehoboam, which proved fatal to their further aggrandizement. Their abominable idolatries before the Babylonish captivity, together with their blind adherence to “ the traditions and commands of men,” the latter, so apparent in the sequel, involved them in a perpetual succession of troubles, till they fulfilled on themselves the denunciations which they so loudly invoked.
Thus they remain a living monument of divine wrath, of the unalterable nature of Almighty justice, and of the unfailing accomplishment of those wonderful prophecies in Lev. xxvi. and Deut. XXVIII. ; but which equally attest God's sure purposes of mercy towards them, “ when the fulness of the Gentiles shall come in; and so all Israel shall be saved.”
They appear to be now thrown in our way, and brought, as it were, to every man's door, (for where is the nation that has not Jews scattered among them ?) on purpose to put to the test our bowels of compassion towards them. For if they also now have not believed, it is that through our mercy they may also obtain mercy. (Rom. xi. 30, 31.) And if, on the one hand, there is need to fear the jealousy of the Lord if we despise or neglect them, we may, on the other hand, be assured of his favour, if, out of love to Him, we do them good. In regard to Israel, it is still, · Blessed is he that blesseth thee, and cursed is he, that curseth thee.' (Num. xxiv. 9.) And with the exhor-' tation to pray for the peace of Jerusalem, we have the gracious assurance,
THEY SHALL PROSPER THAT LOVE THEE.' (Psalm cxxi. 6.)”*
We now enter on the consideration of those early announcements which declare their future reinstatement in the favour of God, and the high pre-eminence which they are again destined to possess in the scale of nations; but this we think will be eminently, if not wholly, of a spiritual nature. A view of the blessings and glorious privileges which they are to maintain in the Millennial kingdom, will be found in another Chapter. To notice the objections which have been made against a mass of evidence so vast and de