« PreviousContinue »
the other; and there thou shalt serve other gods, which neither thou, nor thy fathers have heard, even wood, and stone. And among these nations shalt thou find no ease, neither shall the sole of thy foot have rest; but the Lord shall give thee there, trembling of heart, and failing of eyes, and sorrow of mind, &c." The anterior captivities were but preludes to this awful extirpation. At the close of the prophecy of Isaiah, in connexion with the promise, "For as the new heaven and the new earth, which I will make, shall remain, before me, so shall your seed, and your name remain," (which, by the way, absolutely secures the perpetuity of Israel beyond the effects of this extirpation) it is declared, "And they shall "And they shall go forth, and look upon the carcasses of the men, that have transgressed against me, for their worm shall not die, nor shall their fire be quenched. And they shall be an abhorring unto all flesh." See also Mal. last chapter, 1st verse. The solemn warning of John the baptist, though it has been already introduced, deserves in this connexion to be noticed. Mat. ii. 7. "But when he saw many of the Pharisees and Sadducees, come to his baptism, he said unto them, O generation of vi pers, who hath warned you to flee from the wrath to come? Bring forth, therefore, fruits meet for repentance. And think not to say within yourselves, we have Abraham to our father; for I say unto you, &c. And now also the ax is laid at the root of the trees. Every tree, therefore, which bringeth not forth good fruit, is hewn down and cast into the fire." Jesus follows up and confirms these denunciations, as applicable to, and about to be executed upon, those who denied him. He predicts the utter demolition of their temple; the treading down of Jerusalem, until the times of the Gentiles be fulfilled; that there shall be great distress in the land, and wrath upon the people; that these wicked enemies of his, who would not that he should reign over them, after having cast him out of the vineyard, and slain him, shall continue to persecute him in his loyal subjects, till a final period is put to their visible state,
as the people of God, and they are driven, by unpar ralleled judgments, from off the good land which God had given to them; an event which is most evidently intended by the end, which was to come before that generation entirely passed away. After the passage from Mat. xxiii, which I have just quoted, as expressive of their great guilt, he subjoins this solemn testimony. "Wherefore, behold I send unto you prophets, and wise men, and scribes; and some of them ye shall kill, and crucify; and some of them ye shall Scourge in your synagogues, and persecute from city to city, that upon you may come all the righteous blood, shed upon the earth, from the blood of righteous Abel, unto the blood of Zacharias, son of Barachias, whom ye slew between the temple, and the altar. Verily I say unto you, all these things shall come upon this genera tion. O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, thou that killest the prophets, and stonest them that are sent unto thee, how often would I have gathered thy children together, as a hen gathereth her chickens under her wings, and ye would not. Behold your house is left unto you desolate. For I say unto you ye shall not see me henceforth, till ye shall say, Blessed is he that cometh in the name of the Lord." This is the prophetic destiny of the unbelieving Jews, under which they were to remain, as cut off branches, till the second coming of Christ. Events have exactly coincided with these denunciations. The converts, which were afterwards made by the preaching of the Apostles, excepted, they were in fact extirpated, in one form or another, from the land of their inheritance, Hundreds of thousands of them fell, a sacrifice to their public enemies. Multitudes became victims to each other's cruelty. Their temple was burnt to the ground, their city rased, their country desolated, and the miserable fugitives were scattered into the four winds. The blessing no longer attached itself to them, nor was it transmitted to their descendents. They were no longer of the visible seed. According to the declaration of the Apos-. le," wrath came upon them to the uttermost." The
vail of unbelief was thenceforth upon their hearts; and they are now, as nauseous carcasses, an abhorrence to all flesh. "Behold therefore the goodness and severity of God! on them which fell, severity."
Let us now consider the disposal of those, who, as loyal subjects, followed their king. This we shall find to have been altogether the reverse of the other.
Here we are to recollect the many promises which had been made of the unceasing continuance of the name and the seed of Israel, some of which have been called into view, and need not here be repeated. We are to recollect that the Messiah was to be a horn of salvation, (a symbol of invincible strength) to his people Israel; and that, being on the throne of David his father, he was to order and establish his kingdom forever. And we are to recollect, that the zeal of the Lord of hosts was pledged to do this.
Accordingly we see this very kingdom of the Messiah going down the lapse of time; and, with irresistible progress, triumphing over all opposition, even in our own day. We see it surviving the general wreck of Empires, and about to rise upon the entire ruins of them all, as an eternal excellency, the perfection of beauty.
At the time of Christ's ascension, this kingdom consisted of a pretty large number of subjects. For, after his resurrection, he appeared to above five hundred brethren at once. These could be but a part, of the whole number, of his adherents. Some of these five hundred, were alive when Paul wrote his first Epistle to the Corinthians, about twentysix years afterwards. See the 15th chap. of that Epistle. To these, of whatever number they might consist, under the preaching of Peter, at the Pentecost, were added about three thousand souls. Acts. ii. 41. These were all native Jews; as were those to whom they were added. Peter addressed them as such. And the Gospel was not yet preached, either by Christ or his apostles, to the Gentiles. These continued daily, with one accord, in the temple; the principal place of worship, for the Church, since the
days of Solomon. They, with their fellow believers, were the Church. For it is said in the last verse of the chapter. "And the Lord added to the Church, daily such as should be saved." We have here then undeniably the Church of Christ, consisting altogether of native Jews, members of the tribe of Judah, and the seed of Abraham. To this Church, mention is made in the 4th chap. 4th verse, of the addition of about five thousand more believers. These also were native Jews. Afterwards, Acts v. 14. that, "believers were the more added to the Lord; multitudes, both of men and of women." These also were Jews. In the 6th chap. 7th verse, is an additional testimony to the still greater augmentation of the Church. "And the word of God increased; and the number of the disciples multiplied in Jerusalem, greatly; and a great number of priests were obedient to the faith."
The apostles, and leading brethren of the Church, were soon after this, dispersed, by a violent persecution, through the regions of Judea and Samaria. But, "they that were scattered abroad, went every where, (still however within the limits of those regions; and their labours appear to have been confined, even in Samaria, to the Jews) preaching the word."
We have now arrived to the time, when the ingathering of the Gentiles began; a period of great importance, not as terminating the Kingdom of the Messiah but as involving a great change in the actual state of that kingdom. By this event, the system of adoption, which was wrought into the Abrahamic covenant, as an essential part of the economy of the kingdom, was carried into extensive effect; the partition wall between Jews and Gentiles was broken down; and the kingdom removed from its local position, into the midst of an immense people, hitherto sitting in the region and shadow of death. This event, therefore, claims a careful consideration. But before we enter upon it, that nothing essential to the economy may be left in doubt, I deem it expedient to subjoin farther evidence, deduced from the Epistles, that the Church, whose history.
we have so far traced, is in fact a continuance of Israel, as a society; and that this society was continued long after the accession of the Gentiles. Perhaps it is superfluous. But on a subject of so much practical im portance, and such diversity of opinion, the reader will pardon an accumulation of evidence, which to him may seem needless.
Paul, in his Epistle to the Church at Rome, which, as it would seem, from several passages in it, consisted partly of Jews, and partly of Gentiles; an epistle supposed to have been written about seven and twenty years after Christ's ascension, expressly teaches the continuance of the true Israel, in the believing Jews, who then existed; and in distinction from the unbelieving Jews, who were hardened, and cast away, as vessels of wrath. Rom. ix. 22, 23, 24. "What if God, willing to shew his wrath, and make his power known; endured with much long suffering, the vessels of wrath, fitted to destruction. And that he might make known the riches of his glory, on the vessels of mercy, which he had prepared unto glory. Even us, whom he hath called, not of the Jews only, but also of the Gentiles." These believing Jews were called, and made vessels of mercy. In the 27th verse, the Apostle tells us, they were the remnant of Israel. "Esaias also, crieth concerning Israel, though the number of the children of Israel be as the sand of the sea, a remnant shall be saved." This prediction he considers as fulfilled, in the persons of those then existing believing Jews, of whom he was one. 'This idea he resumes in the beginning of the eleventh chapter. then, hath God cast away his people? God forbid, For I also am an Israelite, of the seed of Abraham, of the tribe of Benjamin. God hath not cast away his people which he foreknew." They still remain his people, by the same covenant bonds, in which they had ever been allied to him. He adds in the 5th verse. "Even so then, at this present time, there is a remnant, according to the election of grace. The same idea he inculcates by the similitude of an olive tree, verse 16.