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nounce God for the world, the enjoyment of heaven for indulgence in present pleasure, read carefully the history of the rebellious Israelites, and ponder their miserable end, and say, whether the prayer does not immediately arise from his heart—“My soul, come not thou into their secret, unto their assembly, mine honour, be not thou united ?"
HISTORY OF THE JEWS, FROM THE TIME OF MOSES TO THE
BABYLONISH CAPTIVITY, VIEWED, IN CONNECTION WITH PROPHECY.
BY THE REV. JONATHAN R. ANDERSON,
MINISTER OF KIRKFIELD PARISH, GLASGOW.
For thou art an holy people unto the Lord thy God: the Lord thy God hath chosen thee to be a special people unto himself, above all people that are upon the face of the earth. The Lord did not set his love upon you, nor choose you, because ye were more in number than any people; (for ye were the fewest of all people;) but because the Lord loved you, and because he would keep the oath which he had sworn unto your fathers, hath the Lord brought you out with a mighty hand, and redeemed you out of the house of bondmen, from the hand of Pharaoh king of Egypt.—Deut. vii. 6—8.
The Jews are a peculiar people, and it requires peculiar qualifications rightly to understand their history. The wisdom of this world is utterly insufficient to discover the principles on which it is to be explained, and to guide us in the application of these principles, to the remarkable events with which it is enriched. We must have recourse to the fountains of Divine truth, that are laid open to us in holy Scripture, if we would attain unto any sound knowledge of the subject: and that too, not in the strength of carnal reason, nor under the impulse of vain curiosity. For against inquirers, under the influence of such a spirit, these fountains are fast closed. The only guide that is competent to lead us is the Spirit of the Lord of hosts, by whose inspiration their history has been recorded; and who in it, as in the whole body of sacred Scripture, doth design to glorify the Son of God incarnate, as the deliverer who turns away iniquity from Jacob, and brings salvation unto the ends of the earth.
The key to the history of the Jews, as recorded in the Old Testament, will be found in the passage which we have just read from one of the books of Moses. We may not attempt to trace the origin of this people to the causes which usually give birth to nationsthe apparently accidental association of small tribes, their conquest of their weaker neighbours, their consequent increase in numbers and power, and their slow and gradual advancement to wealth and influ
The origin of the Jewish nation is to be found in the sovereign purpose of Divine love-the grand and original spring of all the good that is to be found in the universe of creatures, and as this constitutes the primary cause of the existence of the Jewish nation, so to it are we to refer all the privileges which they enjoyed, and all the excellence by which they were distinguished from the heathen. The purpose of Divine love, however, towards the Jews, is closely and inseparably connected with the redemption of a lost world, by the incarnation, obedience, and death of the Lord Jesus Christ: and, therefore, we shall not understand what we have termed the key to their history, nor be able to make any use of it in explaining its details, unless we carry along with us this important fact. The Jews were often brought apparently to the very brink of destruction, and were repeatedly in danger of being mixed up and confounded with surrounding nations: but the providence of God, which watched over them, said, " Destroy it not, for a blessing is in it,” even the blessed Seed who was to be “a light to lighten the Gentiles, and the glory of his people Israel.” Luke ii. 32.
But the particular subject of this lecture reminds us of another peculiarity in the history of the Jews, to which we must here advert—and that is, that from first-to last, it runs parallel with the stream of Divine prophecy. To place this deeply interesting matter in a proper light, it is necessary briefly to notice the nature and design of prophecy in general. A prophecy, in the simple acceptation of the term, is the prediction of a future event. The very nature of the thing
shows that this can be done only by Him who seeth and knoweth all things, and who, therefore, can de-, clare the end from the beginning. By prophecy, therefore, viewed in this simple light, we have a clear demonstration of the absolute perfection and supreme dominion of Him who was, and who is, and who is to come. And hence the frequency, with which the Lord, by his prophets, appeals to this evidence of his glory, in contrast with the idols that were worshipped by the heathen. “I am the Lord, that is my name, and my glory will I not give to another, neither my praise to graven images. Behold the former things are come to pass, and new things do I declare; before they spring forth, I tell you of them.” Isaiah xlii. 8.'
But in the sacred Scripture, we have not a few, no, nor many insulated predictions, which stand as só many individual witnesses for the Lord, that he is God. We have one grand and well-compacted scheme of prophecy, extending from the beginning of the world to the end of all things, and embracing the principal events that are to occur in the revolutions of time. The subject, in this view, opens upon us with a grandeur and immensity which are truly wonderful. And to a mind lifted up to the contemplation by the Spirit of light, and sustained in the survey by the everlasting arm, it must afford intense and solemn delight, to see the testimony which it affords, to the infinite glory of Him, to whom all things are known, and by whom all things are controlled. Isaiah xlvi. 5.9, 10: “ To whom will ye liken me, and make me equal, and compare me that we may be like? ** ** Remember the former things of old: for I am God, and there is none else; I am God, and there is none like me, declaring the end from the beginning, and from ancient times, the things that are not yet done, saying, my counsel shall'stand, and I will do all my pleasure.
The scheme of prophecy takes its rise in the unfathomable depths of the truth of God, and bears the most indubitable marks of his infinite glory. He
might, had it seemed good in his sight, have written a complete history of the world, before a single event had occurred, or even before the world was called into existence. But, instead of this, he has been pleased to embrace in the scheme of prophecy an epitome of the history of the world: and has held up to view,in-its pure and certain light, the principal points; showing most unequivocally, that he who gave the outline, could, with equal facility, have given the details also. The scheme thus framed, divides itself into two great branches, the one, extending from the fall of man to the coming of the Messiah, the other reaching from his advent in humiliation and sorrow, to his appearance in power and glory, at the consummation of all things.
With the former of these branches, we have especially to deal in the present lecture: and this we see opening in the first prediction, that the seed of the woman should bruise the head of the Serpent. The stream which thus opens upon our view continues to run its majestic course steadily onwards, to the first advent of the Lord Christ. In its progress, it becomes more widely diffused, and more clearly defined; and receives a vast number of tributary streams, all of which, on falling into it, tend towards the same great point. The history of the Jews, therefore, being the effect of the purpose of Divine love, in the redemption of the world by Jesus Christ; it is very obvious, that it must have a close connection with the stream of prophecy, which is in effect just a foreshowing of what that purpose is designed to accomplish. “ The testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy.” Rev. xix. 10.
In either of the views that have been suggested, the history of the Jews appears invested with the deepest interest. For what is it but a history of the ways of God, preparatory to the grandest event which ever occurred in time, the manifestation of the Son of God in the flesh! And whether we look at the stream of prophecy, issuing from the fountain of eternal truth; or at the parallel stream of history, which records the