« AnteriorContinuar »
of the eleventh chapter to the Romans, but upon the supposition of a further and more general conversion of the Jews, even of that part of the Jewish nation, which were then cut off from the true church for their infidelity; and as the apostle applies to this purpose a passage quoted out of one of the prophets, it seems to me to serve as a key for the right understanding a great number of places in the prophets concerning the state of the Jews in the latter days; a great part of which I have therefore collected, or referred to in the last fection. I know indeed, those prophecies are supposed by Grotius and other learned commentators, to have been fulfilled by the return of the Jews from the Babylonish captivity, the favour they obtained from several princes, and the victories gained by the Maccabees over the enemies of the Jews. And perhaps, the foretelling of those remarkable events, was in part the design of at least some of those prophecies. But they must be allowed also to have had a further view, if we consider the low, afflicted, and persecuted state of the Jewish nation, most part of the time after their return to their own land, under the Persian, Grecian, and at length the Roman empire, and the corruptions and disorders that crept into, and at last quite over-run their church ; of which Dr. Prideaux has given a very full account in his excellent history. Now this no ways agrees with those sublime and lively defcriptions of the peace, prosperity, holiness, and flourishing condition, both of their church and state, foretold in those prophecies ; as particularly in Jer. xxx. 9, 16. Ezek. xxxiv. 28. and xxxvi. 11. Joel iii. 17, 20, &C. Besides that, in many of those prophecies the latter days, or the days of the Messiah; are expressly pointed at, as the time of their accomplishment. This has therefore led many to apply all those passages to the Gentile church, which they suppose to be spoken
of, under names and characters proper to the Jewish church, as being typified by it. But whoever will carefully observe the connection of the several parts of those prophecies, must acknowledge that the Jewish nation is in fome of the verses plainly spoken of, and that in other verses of the same context, the Pro.. mises of conversion and restoration to their own land, are made to the very fame persons ; of which see in-. stances in the chapters above mentioned, and in Hof. ü. and iii.
There are many indeed of those who expect a more: general conversion of the Jews, that yet will not ad.. mit of their restoration to their own land, but fuppose they shall be, upon their conversion, embodied with the several nations among which they live. But in those prophecies concerning them, which evidently refer to the gospel times, there are several passages which speak to fully and positively of their return to their own country, and that Jerusalem shall be rebuilt and re-inhabited by them, that it seems to me impossible to understand them in any other than the literal sense, without doing them great violence; as Jer. xxxii. 41. and xxxiii. 16. Ezek. xxxvi. 11, 24, 28. and xxxvii. 25. Zech. xii. 6. and xiv. 11, &c. It is beyond my present design, and the compass of this Introduction, to give all the reasons that incline me to these sentiments ; they that pleafe to search further into the matter, may consult Dr. Whitby, and other learned writers. I shall conclude what I have to say upon this head, with recommending it to Chrif. tians, to make use of these texts to raise their hopes and expectations of those future happy times, when the gospel shall be preached more universally throughout the world, the Christian church receives a vast acceflion by the calling of the Jews, and the coming in of the fulness of the Gentiles ; and holiness, peace, and love, Iball flourish probably in a greater measure
than ever, at least since the apostles' times. Let this be the subject of their daily and most fervent prayers, and these Promises be made use of, as pleas to enforce their petitions, and support their faith.
THOUGH this Collection has cost me not a little time and pains, I think it very well bestowed not only upon the account of the advantage I have myself received from the study of the. Promises, and the aslista ance I still expect from this book, for my private thoughts and compofures for the pulpit, by having it continually before me ; but also in hopes it may be useful to others in several respects, for promoting the holiness and comfort of Christians. Here they have before them, in one view, the riches of the co. venant of grace ; here are all the strongest arguments to persuade to real religion, to recommend every duty, and to support in every afflicted and perplexed case. This book may be very useful to assist in prayer, both for the reasons before mentioned, and also because from hence, one may, be furnished with variety of proper matter and expreffion upon all the cases we are concerned to represent to God. And as the study of these Promises would be to the advantage of all sorts of persons, it might be a very useful and easy exercise for children to be employed in learning some of the plainest texts under those heads which are most proper for them, and to question one ano. ther upon them, being instructed by their teachers in their sense and use. In this way the directors of the education of children in the charity schools, may make this book serve good purposes, for the infruction and improvement of their children in the knowledge of the scriptures. And I know no better way of enriching the minds of children with useful and solid knowledge, than by making them well acquainted with the scriptures themselves, those pure unmix.
ed fountains of excellent and divine wisdom, and trea, suring up in their memories a great number of select fcriptures most suited to their capacity and use. For this end, I have frequently thought of making some proper Collections, particularly for the benefit of the charity school at St. Albans, and of all other children whose parents or teachers shall think fit to make use of them ; which perhaps*, I may hereafter finish, if: this meet with acceptance.
If we would
the comfort and benefit of these Promises, it is not enough that we have them by us;. or now and then look into them : but we must thoroughly acquaint ourselves with them, store them up in our memories, and be often meditating upon them, that they may be ready for use, when we most want them. And whatever pains we may be at on this account, the pleasure and advantage we shall receive will be a fufficient recompense ; for these are pleasant words, that are as a honey comb ; sweet to the soul, and health to the bones, Prov. xvi. 24. and therefore well deserve to be bound upon our fingers, and written upon the table of our hearts, Prov. vii. 3. and would serious Chriftians make the Promises the frequent subject of their conversation together, and at the fame timetake notice of the feveral instances wherein they have: been made good to themselves and others, within their observation, it would both impress them upon their memories, and very much. increase their force and in fluence upon their hearts.
But care must be taken to understand them in their
* I had laid aside this design, upon finding that there was a variety of fuch collections already published. But as foine friends to whom I have a great regard, think something of that nature more suited to the inftruction of children is wanting, and therefore have put me lately upon it, I am now drawing up a small collection for the press.
true sense, and rightly to employ them. Mistaken apprehensions of scripture, have often been the cause of peoples deceiving themselves with ungrounded com. forts and expectations; or, at least they have not built their comforts upon proper texts, though they may have had sufficient foundation for them in other places. The comparing one scripture with another, as they lie here together, will be, in many cases, of great use to assist in the right understanding of them. And in most instances, it will be still a further ad. vantage to turn to the place quoted, and confider the circumstances of the text, and its connection with the context. This will shew how far there is an agreement of your case with that referred to in the text ; and, consequently, how far the Promise is to be applied, whether absolutely and in its whole extent, or only in some degree, and with limite ations.
In particular cases, we may draw comfort, not only from the Promises peculiar to that case, but also from those that are of a more general nature.
As under fickness, we may have relief, not only from those scriptures which expressly relate to that circumstance, but also from the Promises relating to trouble in general, and the assurances of God's Love, Care, and Readiness to help his people, &c. which the Table of Contents will easily direct to.
That we may have the comfort of the Promises, a steady exercise of faith, is, above all things, necessary. For this purpofe, we must impress upon our minds the power, goodness, and faithfulness of God, and the experience of good men in every age ; and by this means, and by an attentive consideration of the Promises, suck at those breasts of confolation till we are satisfied, Ifa. lxvi. 11. But at the same time our eyes must be fixed upon the Lord Jesus Christ, as the only foundation of our hopes, in and through