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present heavens and earth shall have passed away : whilst others consider the fulfilment to be already manifested in the Gospel Church, uniting Jew and Gentile into one, through Christ, who has broken down the middle wall of partition between them.
The Lord made this promise to Abraham, (Gen. xiii.) that he would give him all the land of Canaan, "unto him and to his seed for ever," and that he would "make his seed as the dust of the earth for number:"The promise is repeated, Gen. xvii. in these comprehensive words: "I will establish my covenant between me and thee, and thy seed after thee in their generations, for an everlasting covenant to be a God unto thee, and to thy seed after thee. And I will give unto thee, and to thy seed after thee, the land wherein thou art a stranger, all the land of Canaan, for an everlasting possession, and I will be their God." And again, after Abraham had obeyed the voice of the Lord in offering up his son Isaac, the child of the promise, the angel of the Lord said to him, Gen. xxii. "In blessing I will bless thee, and in multiplying I will multiply thy seed as the stars of the heaven, and as the sand which is upon the sea shore, and thy seed shall possess the gate of his enemies; and in thy seed shall all the nations of the earth be blessed, because thou hast obeyed my voice."
The land of Canaan was first peopled by ten nations, the descendants of the ten sons of Canaan, son of Ham, whom he had besides Sidon his first born: and at the time when the children of Israel were brought into Canaan under Joshua, these nations, through intermixture, diminution, or otherwise, had been reduced to seven, (Deut. i. 7,) and they were wasted and destroyed before the armies of Israel.When Joshua was waxed old, and was about to go the way of all flesh, he assembled the children of Israel to address them. And although he called them "to witness that not one thing had failed of all the good things, which the Lord their God spake concerning them, that all was come to pass, and not one thing had failed," Josh. xxiii. yet he in no wise told them, that the land of Canaan was become a sure possession, unto them and unto their seed for ever, according to the promise given to Abraham, but, on the contrary, he reminded them of the remnant of the Canaanitish people, still dwelling in the land, and warned them against intermixing with those people in marriage, assuring them, that if they did, and thus transgressed the covenant of the Lord their God, the Lord would bring evil upon them, to destroy them from off the good land which he had then given them. -That the foregoing promise to Abraham was not fully accomplished in the time of Joshua, is clear from this
statement: nor does the reign of Solomon evidence a more complete fulfilment, than the time of Joshua: and, consequently, the promise has had no fulfilment hitherto it is, therefore, still future; for the word of the Lord shall stand, and "one jot or tittle shall in no wise pass away till all be fulfilled." With respect to Abraham personally, the promise was never fulfilled beyond the mere circumstance of his dwelling in the land of Canaan with his family: that he had the possession, or the government, or that he reigned as king over the land, is never hinted at in any part of sacred history. On the contrary, the Martyr Stephen, (Acts viii.) in the commencement of that memorable address to the Jewish council, which ended in his being stoned to death, says to them, speaking of Abraham, that "God gave him none inheritance in the land, no not so much as to set his foot in, though he promised that he would give it to him for a possession, and to his seed after him, when as yet he had no child."
It is not necessary for the purpose now in view, to trace the manner in which the promise given to Abraham, was renewed afterwards, from time to time, to his descendants in the line of the spiritual seed; but it should be remembered that Moses, and Joshua, and the prophets, each in his. turn, declared to Israel collectively, before the captivity of the ten tribes, and
again, other prophets repeated continually to Judah, that judgments awaited them at the Lord's hand by reason of their transgressions--judgments, of which the Babylonish captivity was a type or figure, and which should cause them to be scattered and dispersed. throughout all the nations of the earth, as a reproach, and a hissing, and an astonishment: and that in the latter day they should be gathered from out of those nations into the land which the Lord had appointed for them. Of the ten tribes carried away by Salmanassar, almost all vestiges have disappeared; and we do not find them spoken of as a distinct or subsisting race, except in the pages of modern travellers, some of whom have ingeniously attempted to shew, that tribes in North America, and others, that tribes in the interior of Asia, are probably descended from the lost ten tribes of Israel. In one of the Apocryphal books (2 Esdras xiii. 39 to 47.) they are spoken of as having passed over the Euphrates into a land very far away called Arsareth, where they dwell till the latter time when the Highest shall stay the springs of the stream again that they may go through." If the authority of Esdras be allowed, this probably has reference to what is spoken of in Rev. xvi. 12. and also in Isaiah xi.
The dispersion of the tribe of Judah, however, is
now a standing miracle before the eyes of all men, and so wonderfully has the prophecy regarding them been accomplished, that there is hardly a nation upon the face of the whole earth, in which some of this tribe are not now to be recognized, living according to their own customs, and as a separate people, in the midst of the nations with whom they dwell. To shew that the prophecies of the restoration of the children of Israel, were not fulfilled by the return from the Babylonish captivity, it is only necessary to refer to the words of the prophecies themselves. "He shall assemble the outcasts of Israel, and gather together the dispersed of Judah from the four corners of the earth."-Isaiah xi. 12. "The house of Judah shall walk with the house of Israel, and they shall come together out of the land of the north.”—Jerem. iii. 8. It is to be observed that these promises are to Israel, to Judah, and to Ephraim; and they are continually repeated to each throughout the prophetic writings; and it is equally impossible to maintain that these promises have been fulfilled by the return of the Jews (the tribe of Judah with a small admixture of the ten tribes) from the Babylonish captivity, as it is to assert, in contradiction to the Martyr Stephen, that a land in which Abraham "had none inheritance, no not so much as to set his foot in," and from which we see his seed cast out at this day, has