« PreviousContinue »
of the eleventh chapter to the Romans, but upon the fuppofition of a further and more general converfion of the Jews, even of that part of the Jewish nation, which were then cut off from the true church for their infidelity; and as the apoftle applies to this purpofe a paffage quoted out of one of the prophets, it feems to me to ferve as a key for the right understanding a great number of places in the prophets concerning the ftate of the Jews in the latter days; a great part of which I have therefore collected, or referred to in the laft fection. I know indeed, those prophecies are supposed by Grotius and other learned commentators, to have been fulfilled by the return of the Jews from the Babylonifh captivity, the favour they obtained from feveral princes, and the victories gained by the Maccabees over the enemies of the Jews. And perhaps, the foretelling of thofe remarkable events, was in part the defign of at least some of thofe prophecies. But they must be allowed alfo to have had a further view, if we confider the low, afflicted, and perfecuted ftate of the Jewish nation, moft part of the time after their return to their own land, under the Perfian, Grecian, and at length the Roman empire, and the corruptions and diforders that crept into, and at last quite over-run their church; of which Dr. Prideaux has given a very full account in his excellent hiftory. Now this no ways agrees with thofe fublime and lively defcriptions of the peace, profperity, holiness, and flourishing condition, both of their church and state, foretold in those prophecies; as particularly in Jer. xxx. 9, 16. Ezek. xxxiv. 28. and xxxvi. 11. Joel iii. 17, 20, &c. Befides that, in many of thofe prophecies the latter days, or the days of the Meffiah; are expressly pointed at, as the time of their accomplishment. This has therefore led many to apply all thofe paffages to the Gentile church, which they fuppofe to be spoken.
of, under names and characters proper to the Jewish church, as being typified by it. But whoever will carefully obferve the connection of the feveral parts of thofe prophecies, muft acknowledge that the Jewifh nation is in fome of the verfes plainly spoken of, and that in other verfes of the fame context, the Pro-. mifes of converfion and restoration to their own land, are made to the very fame perfons; of which fee in-. ftances in the chapters above mentioned, and in Hof. ii. and iii.
There are many indeed of those who expect a more: general converfion of the Jews, that yet will not admit of their restoration to their own land, but fuppofe they fhall be, upon their converfion, embodied with the feveral nations among which they live. But in thofe prophecies concerning them, which evidently refer to the gofpel times, there are feveral paffages which speak fo fully and pofitively of their return to their own country, and that Jerufalem fhall be rebuilt and re-inhabited by them, that it seems to me impoffible to understand them in any other than the literal fenfe, without doing them great violence; as Jer. xxxii. 41. and xxxiii. 16. Ezek. xxxvi. 11, 24, 28. and xxxvii. 25. Zech. xi. 6. and xiv. 11, &c. It is beyond my prefent defign, and the compass of this Introduction, to give all the reafons that incline me to these sentiments; they that please to search further into the matter, may confult Dr. Whitby, and other learned writers. I fhall conclude what I have to fay upon this head, with recommending it to Chriftians, to make use of these texts to raise their hopes and expectations of thofe future happy times, when the gospel fhall be preached more univerfally throughout the world, the Chriftian church receives a vast acceffion by the calling of the Jews, and the coming in of the fulness of the Gentiles; and holinefs, peace, and love, fhall flourish probably in a greater measure
than ever, at leaft fince the apostles' times. Let this be the fubject of their daily and moft fervent prayers, and thefe Promises be made ufe of, as pleas to enforce their petitions, and fupport their faith.
THOUGH this Collection has coft me not a little time and pains, I think it very well beftowed not only upon the account of the advantage I have myself re-. ceived from the ftudy of the. Promifes, and the affistance I ftill expect from this book, for my private thoughts and compofures for the pulpit, by having it continually before me; but also in hopes it may be useful to others in feveral respects, for promoting the holiness and comfort of Chriftians. Here they have before them, in one view, the riches of the covenant of grace; here are all the strongest arguments to perfuade to real religion, to recommend every duty, and to fupport in every afflicted and perplexed cafe. This book may be very useful to affist in prayer, both for the reafons before mentioned, and also because from hence, one may be furnished with va riety of proper matter and expreffion upon all the cafes we are concerned to reprefent to God. And as the study of thefe Promifes would be to the advantage of all forts of persons, it might be a very useful and eafy exercise for children to be employed in learning fome of the plaineft texts under thofe heads which are most proper for them, and to question one another upon them, being inftructed by their teachers in their fenfe and ufe. In this way the directors of the education of children in the charity fchools, may make this book ferve good purposes, for the inftruction and improvement of their children in the knowledge of the fcriptures. And I know no better way of enriching the minds of children with useful and folid knowledge, than by making them well acquainted with the fcriptures themselves, thofe pure unmix
ed fountains of excellent and divine wisdom, and trea furing up in their memories a great number of select fcriptures most suited to their capacity and use. For this end, I have frequently thought of making fome proper Collections, particularly for the benefit of the charity school at St. Alban's, and of all other children whofe parents or teachers fhall think fit to make use of them; which perhaps*, I may hereafter finish, if this meet with acceptance.
If we would reap the comfort and benefit of thefe Promifes, it is not enough that we have them by us, or now and then look into them: but we must thoroughly acquaint ourselves with them, ftore them up in our memories, and be often meditating upon them, that they may be ready for use, when we most want them. And whatever pains we may be at on this account, the pleasure and advantage we fhall receive will be a fufficient recompenfe; for these are pleasant words, that are as a honey comb; fweet to the foul, and health to the bones, Prov. xvi. 24. and therefore well deserve to be bound upon our fingers, and written upon the table of our hearts, Prov. vii. 3. and would ferious Chriftians make the Promifes the frequent fubject of their converfation together, and at the fame time take notice of the feveral inftances wherein they have been made good to themselves and others, within their obfervation, it would both imprefs them upon their memories, and very much increase their force and influence upon their hearts.
But care must be taken to understand them in their
* I had laid afide this defign, upon finding that there was a variety of fuch collections already publifhed. But as foine friends to whom I have a great regard, think fomething of that nature more fuited to the inftruction of children is wanting, and therefore have put me lately upon it, I am now drawing up a small collection for the prefs.
true fenfe, and rightly to employ them. Miftaken ap prehenfions of fcripture, have often been the cause of peoples deceiving themfelves with ungrounded comforts and expectations; or, at least they have not built their comforts upon proper texts, though they may have had fufficient foundation for them in other places. The comparing one fcripture with another, as they lie here together, will be, in many cafes, of great use to affift in the right understanding of them. And in most instances, it will be ftill a further advantage to turn to the place quoted, and confider the circumftances of the text, and its connection with the context. This will fhew how far there
is an agreement of your cafe with that referred to in the text; and, confequently, how far the Promife is to be applied, whether abfolutely and in its whole extent, or only in fome degree, and with limitations.
In particular cafes, we may draw comfort, not only from the Promifes peculiar to that cafe, but also from those that are of a more general nature. As under fickness, we may have relief, not only from thofe fcriptures which exprefsly relate to that circumstance, but also from the Promifes relating to trouble in general, and the affurances of God's Love, Care, and Readiness to help his people, &c. which the Table of Contents will eafily direct to.
That we may have the comfort of the Promifes, a fteady exercife of faith, is, above all things, neceffary. For this purpofe, we muft imprefs upon our minds the power, goodnefs, and faithfulnefs of God, and the experience of good men in every age; and by this means, and by an attentive confideration of the Promifes, fuck at thofe breasts of confolation till we are fatisfied, Ifa. lxvi. 11. But at the fame time our eyes must be fixed upon the Lord Jefus Christ, as the only foundation of our hopes, in and through whom