« הקודםהמשך »
pability: Such sentiments are most dishonourable to God, and totally inconsistent with those principles of morality he incessantly commands us to cherish.
We have shewn, from every part of the Jewish history, that the grand object was to destroy idolatry, which is so fatal to human happiness, and to establish among a particular people the important doctrines of Monotheism, or the existence of one God, the great creator and sovereign ruler, without rival or competitor, possessing every natural and every moral attribute.--We have shewn, from the very nature of rational religion, or of such sentiments concerning religion as are most consonant to our reason, that human happiness cannot be ensured in any other way, than by submitting to their influence. We have also shewn that these very sentiments of the Deity, and his moral relations, are uniformly inculcated in the Jewish dispensa, tion; that the practice of every moral virtue is
founded upon them, and represented as being essentially necessary to obtain the favour of God, or to enjoy that happiness of which our nature is rendered capable.
But we are not to suppose that to destroy idolatrous worship, and to establish, after the lapse of many centuries, sublimer principles of religion, among a small remnant of a particular people, was the ultimate purpose of God. The beneficial effects of this change would be too circumscribed, and too disproportionate to the length of time and complicated means employed, and to the numerous obstacles surmounted. The result of these unwearied exertions, would have been of small importance, were it not preparatory for other blessings, for the enjoyment of which religious ignorance was a total disqualification. The sacred history, which has informed us of so many important facts, informs ús alsò that higher purposes are to be answered; --that a much more extensive good is in reserve for mankind at large, through the medium established, and the progressive operation of the means pre-ordained ; - that the whole human race shall be rendered partakers of signal blessings ;--and that the descendants of Abraham shall finally become the objects of the divine
complacency, by their possessing a character which deserves it.
Although the transgression of Adam, disqualified him for the immediate possession of immortality, and deprived him of the honour of being the parent of an immortal race, yet he was not left in his humiliated state, destitute of consolation. Whatever we are to understand by the Serpent, and the sentence pronounced, “ I will put enmity between thee and the woman, between thy seed and her seed; it shall bruise thy head, and thou shalt bruise his heel ;" it is universally acknowledged that these expressions were intended to convey the consolatory promise, that finally a victory shall be obtained, greatly superior to the partial evils induced by a compliance with the temptation;; and that this final success respects the posterity of Adam as one great family. Nor can it be applied to any one particular people exclusively.
The promise pronounced to Abraham, several ages afterwards, was full and explicit. “I will make of thee a great nation, and I will bless thee and make thy name great ; and thou shalt be a blessing; and I will bless them that bless thee, and curse them that curse thee; and in thee
shall all the families of the earth be blessed." After Abraham had testified his readiness to obey the severe command, the Angel of the Lord said unto him," now I know that thou fearest God, seeing thou last not withheld thy son, thine only son from me.” He repeated the blessing and assigned the reason," because thou hast obeyed my voice.” The same promise was repeated to Isaac, during the season of a desolating famine; and the obedience of Abraham is alleged as the
It was also confirmed to Jacob, as he was on his way to Padanaram. .
Among the predictions which were uttered by this patriarch in his last hours, the assurance that “ the sceptre shall not depart from Judah, nor a lawgiver from between his feet, until Shiloh come, and unto him shall the gathering of the people be,"* is the most remarkable. It is not consistent with our design to state the different opinions of commentators upon this passage, much less to decide between them; but to point out a fact in which they must all concur. We learn from the Jewish history, that after the revolt of the ten tribes, the tribe of Judah was the principal, and upon the return of the Israelites from captivity, it was the only tribe that was recognized ; the individuals of the other tribes, being blended, and as it were absorbed by it. The descendants from this tribe remain to the present day a distinct people, perfectly insulated from all others among whom they are resident. Thus, they are under a theocratic government to the present hour, so far as to be preserved from intermixing with the nations among whom they are scattered, and so as not to lose the characteristics of a foreign people ; which has been universally the case with all other strangers, however opposite their primitive characters and customs may have been. Their original propensity to conform to the most impious and absurd customs of the nations, with whom they had intercourse, now yields to insuperable aversions and prejudices, in things apparently indifferent. Wherever there is a
* Gen. ch. xlix. v. 10.
professed Jew, there is a strict observer of the mosaic law.. This fact is consonant with the expression, nor a lawgiver from between his feet; which cannot refer to a succession of legislators enacting new laws, for such could not be the laws of God, but of superintendants who should preserve the law entire, until the Shiloh come. Concerning the precise meaning of the word Shiloh, commentators are notagreed; but they are agreed that the character and qualifications it is supposed to express, belong to a divine personage,