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of putting themselves under that covenant. There is no limitation with respect to time ; nay it is expressly said that the covenant should be perpetual. The ordinance of the Passover is also said to be
perpetual, Ex. xii. 14, &c. " And this day shall be unto you for a memorial, and you shall keep it as a feast to the Lord throughout your generations. You shall keep it a feast by an ordinance forever.”
This is repeated afterwards, and the observance of this rite is confined to Israelites, Proselytes, and slaves who should be circumcised, v. 48.
The observance of the Sabbath was never to be discontinued, Ex. xxxi. 16. 66 Wherefore the children of Israel shall keep the Sabbath t'oroughout their generations, for a perpetual covenant. It is a sign between me and the children of Israel forever.".
The appointment of the Family of Aaron to be Priests, was to continue as long as the Israelites should be a nation, see Lev. vii. 35.
The Feast of Tabernacles was to be forever, Lev. xxiii. 41. 6 It shall he a statute forever, in your generations." The observance of this Festival is particularly mentioned in the prophecies, which foretell a future settlement of the Jews in their own land, as obligatory on all the world; as if an union of worship at Jerusalem was to be, accordiug to thein, effected among all nations by the united observance of this Festival there, see Zech. 14 ; what he there says is confirmed by what Isaiah prophecied concerning the same period, Is. 2.
“ It shall come to pass in the last days, that the mountain of the Lord's house shall be established in the top of the mountains, and shall be exalted above the hills, and all nations shall flow unto it. And many people shall
and let us go up to the mountain of the Lord to the house of the God of Jacob, and he will teach us of his ways, and we will walk in his paths. For out of Zion shall go forth the Law, and the word of the Lord from Jerusalem. And he shall judge among the nations, and rebuke many people, and they shall beat their swords into ploughshares, and their spears into pruning hooks. Nation
lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war any more.”
With respect to all the Laws of Moses, it is evident from the manner in which they were promulgated, that they were intended to be of perpetual obligation upon the Hebrew nation, and that by the observance of them they were to be distinguished from the other nations, see Deut. xxvi. 16.
The observance of their peculiar Laws was the express condition on which the Israelites were to continue in possession of the promised land; and though on account of their disobedience they were to be driven out of it, they had the strongest assurances given them that they should never be utterly destroyed, like many other nations who should oppress them; but that on their repentance God would gather them from the remote parts of the world, and bring them to their own country again. And both Moses, and the later Prophets assure them, that in consequence of their becoming obedi. ent to God in all things, which it is asserted they will, (and which may be the natural consequence of the Discipline they will haye gone through,) they shall be continued in the peaceable enjoyment of the land of promise, in its greatest extent to the end of Tiine, see to this purpose Deut. iv. 25, &c. also Deut. 30, where it is thus written.
6 And it shall come to pass, when all these things are come upon thee, the blessing and the curse, which I have set before thee, and thou shalt call them to mind among all the nations whither the Lord thy God hath driven thee; and shalt return unto the Lord thy God, and shalt obey his voice according to all that I command thee this day, thou and thy children, with all thy heart, and with all thy soul ; that then the Lord thy God will turn thy captivity, and have compassion upon thee, and will return, and gather thee from all the nations whither the Lord thy God hath scattered thee. If any of thine be driven out unto the utmost parts of heaven, from thence will the Lord thy God gather thee, and from thence will he fetch thee. And the Lord thy God will bring thee unto the Land which thy Fathers possessed, and thou shalt possess it, and
He will do thee good, and multiply thee above thy Fathers. And the Lord thy God will circumcise thy heart, and the heart of thy seed, to love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, that thou mayest live ; and the Lord thy God will put ail these curses upon thine enemies, and on them that hate thee, which persecuted thee. And thou shalt return, and obey the voice of the Lord, and do all his commandments which I command thee this day." &c.
6. What an extent of prophery, and how firm a faith in the whole of it do we see here! (says Dr. Priestley.) The Israelites were not then in the land of Canaan, It was occupied by nations far more numerous, and powerful than they; and yet it is distinctly foretold in the 4th ch. that they would soon take possession of it, and multiply in it : and that afterwards they would offend God by their idolatry, and wickedness, and would in eonsequence of it be driven out of their country; and without being exterminated, or lost, be scattered among the nations of the world ; that by this dispersion, and their calamities, they would at length be reformed, and restored to the divine favour, and that then (as in the quotation) in the latter days they would be gathered from all nations, and restored to their own country, when they would observe all the laws which were then prescribed to them. Past history, and present appearances correspond with such wonderful exactness to what has been fulfilled of this prophecy, that we can have no doubt with respect to the complete accomplishment of what remains to be fulfilled of it.”
What was first announced by Moses is repeated by Isaiah, and other prophets, assuring them of their certain return wherever dispersed, to their own land in the latter days ; and that they should have the undisturbed possession of it to the end of time.
It has been objected, that the term “forever" is not always to be understood in its greatest extent, but is to be interpreted according to circumstances. This for the sake of saving time I will acknowledge. But tie circumstances in which this phrase is used in the passages already adduced, and in a number of others of similar import which might be adduced, clearly indieate, that it is to be understood in those passages to mean a period as long as the duration of the Israelitish nation, which elsewhere is said to continue to the end of the world.
For this reason, among others, this final return of the Jews from their present dispersed state, cannot at, any rate be said to have been accomplished at their return from the Babylonish captivity.
For that captivity was not by any means such a total dispersion of the people among all nations, as Moses, and the later prophets have foretold. Nor does their possession of the country subsequent to it at all correspond to that state of peace, and prosperity, which was promised to succeed this final return,
Figures of speech must no doubt be allowed for. But. if the whole of the Jewish polity was to terminate at the destruction of Jerusalem by Titus, (as is maintained by Christians,) while the world is still to continue, the magnificent promises made to Abraham, and his posterity, and to the nation in general afterwards, have never had any proper accomplishment at all. Because with respect to external prosperity, which is contained in the promises, many nations have hitherto been more distinguished by God, than the Jews. Hitherto the posterity of Ishmael has had a much happier lot than that of Isaac. To say, as Christians do, that these prophecies have had a spiritual accomplishment in the spread of the Gospel, when there is nothing in the phraseology in which the promises are expressed, that could possibly suggest any such ideas, nay when the promise itself in the most definite language expresses the contrary, is so arbitrary a construction as nothing can warrant. By this mode of interpretation, any event may be said to be the fulfillment of any prophecy whatever.
Besides, it is perfectly evident, that these prophecies, whether they will be fulfilled, or not, cannot yet have been fulfilled. For all the calamity that was ever to befall the Jewish nation is expressly said to bear no sensible proportion to their subsequent prosperity : whereas, their prosperity has hitherto borne a small proportion to their calamity; so that had Abraham re
ally foreseen the fate of bis posterity, he would, on this idea, have had little reason to rejoice in the prospect. It
may be said, that the prosperity of the descendants of Abraham, was to depend on a condition, viz. their obedience, and that this condition was not fulfilled. But besides that the Divine Being must have foreseen this circumstance, and therefore must have known that he was only tantalizing Abraham with a promise. which would never be accomplished ; this disobedience, and the consequences of it are expressly mentioned by Moses, and the other Prophets, only as a temporary thing, and what was to be succeeded by an effectual repentance, and perpetual obedience, and prosperity.
Among others, let the following prophecy of Isaiah (in which the future security of Israel is compared to the security of the world from a second deluge) be considered, and let any impartial person say, whether the language does not necessarily lead those who kelieve the Old Testament, to the expectation of a much more durable state of Glory, and Happiness, than has as yet fallen to the lot of the posterity of Abraham.
Is. 54, 7. 66 For a small moment have I forsaken thee, but with great mercies will l gather thee. In a little wrath I hid my face from thee for a moment, but with everlasting kindness will I have mercy on thee saith the Lord thy Reedemer. For this is as the waters of Noah unto me. For as I have sword that the waters of Noah should no more go over the earth, so have I sworn, that I would not be wroth with thee, nor rebuke. thee. For the mountains shall (or “may”] depart, and the hills be removed, but my kiudness shall not depart from thee, neither shall the covenant of my peace be removed, saith the Lord that hath inercy on thee.All thy children shall be taught of the Lord, and great shall be the peace of thy children. In righteousness shalt thou be established. Thou shalt be far from oppression, for thou shalt not fear, and from terror for it shall not come nigh thee. No weapon formed against thee shall prosper, and every tongue, that shall rise against thee in judgment, thou shalt condemn. This is the heritage of the servants of the Lord, and their righteousness is of me saith the Lord."