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2. A zealous attachment to his people
[A person truly converted to God can no longer associate with those, who would turn him from the paths of righteousness. He seeks rather those who will aid him in his journey heaven-ward. He sees that God is with his people, forting them with his presence,” and “ blessing them with all spiritual blessings.". He therefore desires to cast in his lot with them;a he “ takes the Lord's people, as it were, by the skirt, saying, I will go with you;" and, with Moses, accounts it better to renounce all the vanities of the world, and to “ suffer affliction with the Lord's people, than to enjoy the pleasures of sin for a season.” In this choice he is not instigated by fear, as the heathen were in the days of Esther, but from a firm persuasion, that God is with his church, and that there is no solid happiness to be enjoyed but in connexion with it."] This subject affords ample matter 1. For reproof
[With all our profession of Christianity, the generality never once in all their lives have manifested such a disposition as is described above. We frequently say to each other, Let us go to this or that amusement; but never, speedily and seek the Lord.” On the contrary, though fre. quently, and earnestly exhorted by the ministers of God, we cannot even be persuaded to seek the Lord for ourselves. What resemblance then is there between such persons, and the Christians of the latter day? Let us know that to call ourselves Christians, while we are wholly destitute of Christian principles and Christian habits, is a fond and fatal delusion.] 2. For encouragement
[God is with his church at this time, as well as in the days of old:e and his people can testify, that it is well with those who seek his face. Behold then, we say to all, as Moses to his father-in-law, “ We are journeying unto the place of which the Lord said, I will give it you: and it shall be, if ye go with us: yea, it shall be, that what goodness the Lord shall do unto us, the same will he do to you.'
.8 Let the day then, the blessed day, commence amongst us, when that prophecy shall be accomplished, “ The children of Israel shall come together, going, and weeping, they shall go and seek
16 Let us go
* 2 Cor. vi. 14, 15.
Matt. xxviii. 20.
✓ John xiv. 21, 22.
with Acts ii. 41.
2 Chron. xxvi. 5.
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.”h]
h Jer. 1. 4, 5.
CCXVIII. THE RESTORATION OF THE JEWS.
Hos. iii. 5. Afterward shall the children of Israel return, and
seek the Lord their God, and David their king; and shall fear the Lord and his goodness in the latter days
KNOWN unto God are all his works from the beginning of the world; and whatever he has predetermined in his eternal counsels shall surely be fulfilled. Often indeed is the execution of his purposes delayed till unbelievers begin to think that his word has failed of its accomplishment: but “ in the evening time it shall be light:” and when the obstacles to his will seem almost insurmountable, he will glorify himself in fulfilling it beyond all human expectation. Thus he acted, when, according to his promise, he brought the Israelites out of Egypt. He suffered them to be detained till the very last day that they could be consistently with the truth of his promise; and then, when the Israelites themselves were almost reduced to despair, he brought them out with a mighty hand and a stretched out arm. Thus also will he act yet once more towards that chosen people. They are now dispersed almost beyond the hope of conversion to God. But there is a period when they shall as universally, and perhaps too as suddenly, commit themselves to the government of Christ, as ever they did to the direction of Moses; nor is it improbable that they will yet again inhabit that very land, from which they have been driven for their iniquities.
To elucidate this subject we shall consider I. The event foretold in this prophecy
The whole of the gospel dispensation is often called “ the latter days:" but here the expression refers to what is called by many, The millennium, or the time when all
the kingdoms of the world shall be converted to Christ. In that day
The Jews shall universally return to God through Christ
[When the ten tribes revolted from the house of David under Jeroboam, they established idolatry in opposition to the worship of the true God, and set up kings of their own in opposition to those who sat on the throne of David. But in about two hundred and fifty years they were carried captive to Assyria; and from that time to the present hour they have had no king of their own; and have been deprived of all opportunities of worshipping God either according to the Mosaic ritual, or according to their own idolatrous superstitions. However they are not wholly and finally abandoned of their God: for, when his Spirit shall be poured out upon all flesh, they shall take the lead in turning unto God, and shall voluntarily appoint the Lord Jesus Christ as their head. This blessed truth is abundantly confirmed in scripture:d and the accomplishment of it will display in a most stupendous manner the unsearchable riches of God's wisdom and goodness.e]
In turning to God they shall be peculiarly influenced by the divine goodness
[The sanctions of the Jewish law were principally of a penal nature, and calculated to beget a servile spirit. Even Moses himself at the giving of the law exceedingly trembled and quaked. But, as formerly they feared the Lord and his judgments, so in the latter day they will “fear the Lord and his goodness:"8 they will marvel at his kindness in choosing their nation in the days of old; and at his patience in bearing with them during their long departure from him; and, above all, at his mercy and faithfulness in bringing them back into his church, and manifesting to them again the tokens of his love. With these considerations they will be overwhelmed; and, constrained by his love, will become patterns of all righteousness.]
While we contemplate this stupendous event, let us improve it by considering HI. Some instructive lessons which it affords us
We may learn from it
a Ver. 4. The “ Teraphim” seem to have been images to which they resorted for the purposes of divination. b Zech. viii. 23.
e Hos. i. 11. d Ezek. xxxiv. 23, 24, and xxxvii. 21, 22, 24. e Rom. xi. 33. f Heb. xi. 21.
Isai. ii. 2.
1. Wherein true conversion consists
[There are two leading points comprising the whole of conversion, and absolutely inseparable from it; these are, a returning unto God through Christ, and a serving of God from a principle of love. We have seen, that the conversion of the Jews will be eminently distinguished in both these respects; and a work of grace is universally characterized by the same marks. Let us then enquire, have we returned to God in Christ, and to God through Christ, relying wholly on the mediation and intercession of that once crucified, but now exalted Saviour? Are we also willing to put ourselves under his government, as we are to experience his salvation; not ac. counting any of his commandments grievous, but yielding to them that cheerful obedience, which is the genuine offspring of faith and love! It is for this end that God's perfections are manifested, his promises revealed, his blessings given." And if the glory of the Lord have ever risen upon us, our hearts will cherish this holy fear, and experience this devout enlargement.']
2. That none are in so desperate a state but that they may-yet be converted to God
(Certainly the state of the Jews is, to all appearance, as desperate as that of any human being; so obstinately do they adhere to their own delusions. But they shall, like the return. ing tide, “flow up to the mountain of the Lord's house," as soon as ever the attractive influences of divine grace shall operate upon them. Let none then despair of others, as though they were too far gone from God; or of themselves, as though they were too blind, and too obdurate. The way of mercy is open unto all; nor are any gone beyond the hope of redemption, but those who are summoned into the invisible world. We say not indeed that a person's day of grace cannot be passed, while yet he remains in this world: but no man can be sure that he himself, or that any other individual, is thus given up by God; and therefore every one has encouragement to return to God through Christ. There is forgive.' ness with God that he may be feared. And Christ will be the head of all those who commit themselves to his government. Let us then “fear the Lord and his goodness;" let every instance of it, whether temporal or spiritual, be an incentive to us to love and serve him: and let us seek, each of us in our day, to become monuments of that grace, which will hereafter be so gloriously displayed in the conversion of the whole world.)
b Exod. xxxiv. 6, 8. and Ps. xxx. 4. k Heb. xii. 28.
i 2 Cor. vii. 1. ! Isai. lx. 1,5,
Isai. xi. 9. The earth shall be full of the knowledge of the Lord,
as the waters cover the sea.
THE generality of mankind ascribe a far greater degree of moral influence to civilization, than the state of the heathen world in its most refined ages will justify. We are willing however to admit, that some good effects are to be traced to this cause. But to renew and sanctify the heart is far beyond its power: this is the province of religion, even of that religion which is revealed to us in the gospel. The prophet has been describing in most beautiful language the change that shall one day be wrought on the face of the earth; and he traces it to the propagation of the gospel, and the extension of divine knowledge, as its true and only source; “The wolf shall dwell with the lamb,” &c. for “ the earth shall be full of the know. ledge of the Lord.”
In these words he shews us
It cannot be more justly or comprehensively described than in these words, “the knowledge of the Lord”
[Many indeed even of those who call themselves Christians suppose that religion is altogether comprehended in doing to others as we would be done unto. But, though it must be acknowledged that this is an important branch, yet is it far from being the whole, since it relates only to the duties of the second table, and leaves out all the duties which we owe to God. We must rather say, that the knowledge of God in Christ Jesus is the sum and substance of religion; because in this is contained that vital energy, which puts forth itself in all the fruits of righteousness. It is in this light that the scripturés continually represent it. The prophet Isaiah says, “ By his knowledge shall my righteous servant justify many. Jeremiah cautions us against “ glorying in any thing, but in the understanding and knowing of God” as displaying justice and mercy in the person
of Christ.b Our Lord himself affirms that, “to know God, and Jesus Christ as sent by him, is life eternal.” And St. Paul, in his nervous mode of expression,
a Isai. liii. 11.
Jer. ix. 23, 24.
• John xvii, 1.