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With the future condition of the Jewish people are bound up the common destinies of the redeemed portion of mankind, and when the promised salvation shall have come to them out of Zion, they shall at once be put in possession of a glory peculiarly their own, and be honoured also to convey somewhat of the same to the other nations of the earth. The promise, that “in them all the families of the earth should be blessed,” has never yet been properly verified—all the good, whether temporal or spiritual, which from time to time they have been the means of imparting to the gentile world during the period of their history which is past, has been nothing more than partial fulfilments of the promise-a few scattered rays merely of that unrivalled glory in this respect which is yet to be concentrated in them, and to emanate from them.
The conversion of the gentile world is dependent, to a certain extent, upon their conversion, and shall not be consummated till they have turned to the Lord: “For if the casting away of them,” says the apostle, “were the reconciling of the world, what shall the receiving of them be but life from the dead?” either in such a declaration, or in the argument founded on it, to pre. vent us from taking the prediction quoted in the text in its most plain and literal acceptation, as referring pre-eminently to the seed of Abraham, according to the flesh. For granting that the word “seed" there also denotes Christ and his people as one great whole, knowing, as we do, the peculiar love which, for the fathers' sakes, is ever to be borne to that portion of the body of Christ which belongs to the natural Israel, we are warranted to infer, that whatever blessing might, through the instrumentality of Christ's spiritual body, bé conveyed to the world, should be so in a peculiar and eminent degree by converted Israel-by that portion of Christ's church who were in a double sense the seed of Abraham. And not only so, but when the promise runs, “ In thee and in thy seed shall all the families of the earth be blessed," if we limit the latter expression, “ in thy seed," to the spiritual progeny of Abraham, we must understand the former “in thee” of his natural progeny. For Abraham here unquestiona. bly stood, and is addressed as the representative of his posterity, and we are unavoidably shut up by it to the conclusion, that whatever benefits may be destined to flow to the world from the church of Christ generally, a special and singular part shall be borne in the communication of these by the natural descendants of Abraham, when they shall have turned to the Lord.
Their rejection of the gospel at the first, was the occasion of its being offered in the manner it was to the strumentality of the elect and believing portion of strumen's and through their instrumentality—the inthem—the message of salvation was carried to the gentiles, and from among the gentiles a church chiefly formed. But if this benefit flowed to the gentile world in spite of, nay, in some sense, in consequence of their excision as a people from the church of God, what may, we not expect when, by their conversion to the faith of Christ, they shall be received again into the bosom of the church? It shall be, we are assured, “ life from the dead," not merely, thereforefor we must take the words in their full and proper significancy-serving, by the spectacle of a general reception of the gospel on the part of those who have so long and so obstinately opposed it, to reanimate the faith and quicken the zeal of nations already christianized, but operating also to the certain and immediate conversion of those who had not hitherto been quickened from the death of trespasses and sins. How the return of the Jews into the fold of Christ may be destined to produce this glorious result, we cannot now perhaps fully understand. We can easily conceive, however, that the simple fact of their general conversion to the faith of Christ, known as they have been in all lands whither they were scattered for their hereditary and inveterate antipathy to that faith, will of itself be productive of a very deep and powerful impression in favour of the gospel, and in its moral effect upon the nations, may give rise to the most wonderful results. We can easily conceive, too, that the signs and wonders and unparalleled judgments which are to be wrought by the outstretched arm of God, when he sets his hand the second time to recover his ancient people, shall have a mighty influence in extending the boundaries of Messiah's kingdom, and that, as it is written, "the nations of the earth shall fear and tremble for all the goodness and for all the prosperity which the Lord shall procure unto them.” (Jer. xxxiii. 9.) But however
much may be accomplished by these grand movements, the entire result shall not be thus obtained; there shall still be nations remaining in ignorance of the true God, and in alienation from his commonwealth: and “the remnant of Jacob,” it is again written, “shall be in the midst of them as a dew from the Lord, as the showers upon the grass,"? (Micah ver. 7;) “ and I will send those that escape of them into the nations, to Tarshish, Pul and Lud, that draw the bow, to Tubal and Javan, to the isles afar off, that have not heard my fame, neither have seen my glory; and they shall declare my glory among the gentiles.” (Isa. Ixvi. 19.)* Wherefore, as it was through their ministry, that the life which is in Christ was first conveyed to the world, so through their ministry again' much that remains dead shall yet be quickened; the most successful and honoured missionaries are yet to spring out of the root of Jacob; to them, even to the despised and degraded Jews, many nations of the earth must yet be indebted for their spiritual.enlightenment and evangelical glory; and in all the countries where they have been a curse, they are still destined to be found a blessing.
* There is unquestionably a certain degree of ambiguity in this text, which makes it somewhat doubtful whether the persons spoken of as having escaped, and who were to be sent as ambassadors to the distant nations, form a gentile or a Jewish remnant; but the more probable opinion, I think, is that which regards them as being of the latter description. I subjoin the paraphrase of Frazer, (of Kirkhill,) as exhibiting the most natural view of the prophet's meaning in this verse: “ As a king intending to levy troops, to which his subjects are commanded to repair from all corners of his dominions, so will I manifest the Messiah to the heathen nations, that they may believe on him, and be admitted as members into the true church. And I will send of the Jews, after their conversion and restoration, to the nations most remote and widely separated from each other; to the inhabitants of Tarshish eastward; to the descendants of Pul and Lud to the south; to the nations sprung from Tubal and Javan, northward; and to the islands and coasts of the sea that are most remote to the west ; even to those nations who were always strangers to my revealed will, and were unbelievers respecting the Messiah, in whom my glory is manifested: and these Jews shall preach the Messiah who is my glory among the heathen.”—Commentary on Isaiah, p. 340.
The only passage in the New Testament that seems to speak a dif ferent sentiment from that given in this paraphrase, and in the dis'course, is Rom. xi. 25, where it is said, that “ blindness in part has happened unto Israel, until the fulness of the gentiles be come in;" which is very often understood to mean that the Jewish blindness shall not be removed until the whole gentile world is converted. This, however, is to put a sense on the declaration which the apostle's words do not warrant. Hodge, after Storr, takes the word fulness in the sense of multitude-"Until the multitude of the gentiles be converted—and adds, “ It does not necessarily imply that all the gentiles are to be thus brought in before the conversion of the Jews occurs, but that this latter event was not to take place until a great multitude of the gentiles had entered into the kingdom of Christ.” I have no doubt that this is the whole that the passage really imports; at the same time, I scarcely think it brings out distinctly the proper meaning of the word rendered fulness. Whatever may be the, precise shade of meaning which that word possesses in the different passages where it occurs, it seems always to denote a certain com. pleteness—the thing spoken of is, in the particular aspect of it refer. red to, represented as filled up or completed. And there is no reason to think it is used otherwise here. In a general or popular way, we may say that the apostle speaks of a multitude, but strictly and pro.. perly he speaks of a filling up or completing of the gentiles, in the respect considered by him, which was their conversion to the faith, or standing in the church of Christ. At the casting off of the Jews, God revealed his purpose “ to take out of the gentiles a people for his name,” (Acts xv. 14,) not the whole gentiles, but a people taken out of them-an elect church—the members of which are to be a chosen people, called and gathered out of all kindreds and tribes and tongues. And the precise idea, as I understand it, of the apostle is, that when the purpose of God in this respect has been accomplished, when this elect body, to be taken from among the gentiles, has reached its completion, then shall the blindness of Israel be removed; then, in short, shall be ushered in that glorious era, when the church of God' shall no longer be an elect church, standing out of the midst of an ungodly world, but shall comprehend all tribes and kingdoms, whe, ther Jew or gentile, (Rev. xi. 15;) so that the sentiment, instead of militating against, may rather be considered as confirming the views we have advocated.
This, however, shall be but the commencement of Israel's honour among the nations. The glory of the latter days is all interwoven with the peculiar standing, and even the local habitation of this singular people; insomuch that when Moses shuts up the long perspective view which he was enabled to present of their future history, we find him breaking out into a shout of triumph, in which he calls upon every nation of the earth to join with him, as personally interested in the good things which were in store for the favoured seed, to be brought forth when their warfare was accomplished: “Rejoice, O ye nations, with his people; for he will avenge the blood of his servants, and will render vengeance to his adversaries, and will be merciful to his land and to his people.?!
In describing the peculiar or distinctive greatness and felicity of the descendants of Jacob, after they have been finally established in their own land, and every yoke of bondage has been removed from their shoulder, the prophets employ language, which cannot be understood otherwise than as indicating a state of things transcendently grand and blessed. Yet the kind of greatness and felicity described, is evidently such as belongs to a people who are themselves stiil in the flesh, who tread upon a material earth, require the means of a bodily support, and engage in the services of an outward worship-of a people beautified, indeed, beyond measure with the garments of salvation, and resplendent with the glory of the Lord, yet still clothed upon with the mortality which is hereafter to be swallowed up of life, though that mortality coupled with a degree of health and longevity, far surpassing what is now experienced by the present inhabitants of the earth. “They shall build houses and inhabit them; and they shall plant vineyards, and eat the fruit of them. They shall not build, and an. other inhabit; they shall not plant, and another eat; for as the days of a tree (shedding its leaves upon the graves of many successive generations) are the days of my people, and mine elect shall long enjoy the work of their hands.-Behold the days come, saith the Lord, that the plowman shall overtake the reaper, and the
treader of grapes him that soweth seed; and the mountains shall drop sweet wine, and all the hills shall melt. And I will bring again the captivity of my people Israel, and they shall build the waste cities and inhabit them; and they shall plant vineyards, and drink the wine thereof; they shall also make gardens, and eat the fruit of them. , And I will plant them upon their land, and they shall no more be pulled up out of their land, which I have given them, saith the