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description of those glorious times, the comparison may be made, "Arise, shine, for thy light is come, and the glory of the Lord is '• risen upon thee. For behold the darkness shall cover the earth, "and gross darkness 1 he people: but the Lord shall arise upon "thee, and his glory shall be seen upon thee, and the Gentiles shall "come to thy light, and kings to the brightness of thy rising; lift "up thine eyes round about, and see: all they gather themselves "together, they come to thee: thy sons shall come from far, and thy "daughters shall be nursed at thy side. Then thou shah see, and "flow together, and thine heart shall fear, and be enlarged; be"cause the abundance of the sea shall be converted unto thee, the "forces of the Gentiles shall come unto thee. The multitude of "camels shall cover thee, the dromedaries of Midian and Ephah; "all they from Sheba shall come: they shall bring gold and in"cense; and they shall show forth the praises of the Lord. All "the flocks of Kedar shall be gathered together unto thee: the rams "of Nebaioth shall minister unto thee: they shall come up with ac"ceptance on mine altar, and 1 will glorify the house of my glory. "Who are these that fly as a cloud, and as the doves to their windows? "Surely the isles shall wait for me, and the ships of Tarshih first, to "bring thy sons from far, their silver and their gold with them, unto "the name of the Lord thy God, and to the Holy One of Israel, be"cause he hath glorified thee. And the sons of strangers shall build "up thy walls, and their kings shall minister unto thee: for in my "wrath I smote thee, but in my favour have 1 had mercy on thee. "Therefore thy gates shall be open continually; they shall not be "shut day nor night; that men may bring unto thee the forces of the "Gentiles, and that their kings may be brought. For the nation and "kingdom that will not serve thee shall perish; yea, those nations "shall be utterly wasted. The glory of Lebanon shall come unto thee, "the fir-tree, the pine-tree, and the box together, to beautify the "place of my sanctuary; and I will make the place of my feet "glorious. The sons also of them that afflicted thee shall come "bending unto thee: and all they that despised thee shall bow "themselves down at the soles of thy feet; and they shall call thee "The city of the Lord, The Zion of the Holy one of Israel. "Whereas thou hast been forsaken and hated, so that no man went "through thee, I will, make thee an eternal excellency, a joy of ina•" ny generations. Thou shall also suck the milk o( the Gentiles, "and shalt sack the breast of kings: and thou shalt know that I "the Loan <vm thy Saviour and thy Redeemer, the Mighty One of "Jacob. For brass I will bring gold, and for iron I will bring "silver, and for wood brass, and for stones iron: I will also make "thy officers peace, and thine exactors righteousness. Violence "shall no more be heard in thy land, wasting nor destruction with"in thy borders; but thou shalt call thy walls Salvation, and thy "gates Praise. The sun shall be no more thy light by day: "neither for brightness shall the moon give light unto thee: "but the Lord shall be unto thee an everlasting light, and thy "God thy glory. Thy sun shall no more go down; neither shall "thy moon withdraw itself: for the Lord shall be thine ever"lasting light, and the days of thy mourning shall be ended. ** Thy people also shall be all righteous: they shall inherit the "land for ever, the branch of my planting, the work of my hands, "that I may be glorified. A little one shall become a thousand, "and a small one a strong nation: I the Lord will hasten it in his "time."*
This is the glorious state of the Jews, according to the prophet's description. It will be tiresome to make extracts from Ezra and Nehemiah, to prove that nothing like this appeared to the nation at their return from Babylon. I shall, therefore, refer you to the accounts which these writers give of this miserable return, and the many hardships and interruptions the buildings meet with, together with the weakness and wickedness of those few who did return, and shall content myself with giving you a few passages from the history now in the greatest vogue.
"It will be convenient (says the historian) to premise some few things concerning the state of the Jews, during this new epoch'; for, from this time, they are no more to be looked upon as that free, rich, and glorious people which they had been, either under the former theocracy, as Josephus justly terms it, or under their opulent and warlike mona/chs ; and the direction of their prophets, their condition, government, manners, their very name is now entirely changed; and though some of them we find to have attained to very considerable posts, or growing exceeding rich in the land of their captivity, yet these are bat few in comparison of those who groaned under the heavy hand of their oppressors; neither were they the former, but the latter, that is, the poorer sort; that came back into Judea; and even of these, the whole number of all that came, either with Zerobabel, Ezra, or Nehemiah, scarcely amounted o 70,000, among whom a multitude of strangers were likewise intermixed, either by marriages, or otherwise; most of them so indigent, that they were forced to be supported in their journey, by the charitable contributions of those that staid behind. They were indeed to be governed by their own laws, but as they still continued in subjection to other nations, to the Persians, Greeks, and Romans, that privilege, as well as the exercise of their religion, very much depended on the arbitrary will of their conquerors. Even whilst they were under the Persians, the lives and estates of the whole nation were on the brink of being sacrificed to the ambition of a favourite."* Now, from this description, it plainly appears that none of the prophecies did receive their accomplishment at the said return, nor at any time after; so that the promises therein made are still unfulfilled.
* biihch. 60.
] think proper, now we are on this subject, to observe the exact description which Moses makes of the present dispersion of the Jews, which, according to the circumstances he foretells, cannot be applied to any other. "And the Lord shall scatter thee among all people, from one end of the earth even unto the other: and there thou shalt serve other gods, which neither thee nor thy fathers have known, even wood and stone; and among these nations shalt thou find no ease, neither shall the sole of thy feet have rest: but the Lord shall give thee there a trembling heart, and failing of eyes, and sorrow of mind, and thy life shall hang in doubt before thee, and thou shalt fear day and night, and shall have none assurance of thy life.»f
It is impossible that any historian could describe the state of the Jews in their present dispersion more exact; for what more could he say concerning their miserable state, than that they are scattered from one end of the earth to the other: that they are obliged to worship strange gods, unknown to their ancestors, made of wood and stone; that they neither have ease nor rest; continual fear and trembling, both day and night, with never-ceasing sorrow and doubts: persecuted, imprisoned, and delivered to the flames This has been the miserable state of the Jews in many places, and is still their case in Spain and Portugal. There is not in this prophecy the least resemblance of what the Jews suffered in any other captivity. In the time of the Judges, they were often overome, and made tributary, but never dispersed. At the first destruction of Jerusalem, they were made captives, and carried to Babylon, but so far were they there from worshipping other gods, that it entirely cured them from idolatry; so that from that epoch, the Jews are never accused of that heinous crime; and their being obliged to worship gods unknown to them and their ancestors, plainly points out a new system of idolatry, invented and introduced long after that time; and as all the circumstances do wonderfully agree to their present dispersion and oppressions, so their return (described in the following passage) "That then the Lord thy God will turn thy captivity, and have compassion upon thee; and will return and gather thee from among all the nations whither the Lord thy God hath scattered thee. If any of them be driven out unto the utmost part of heaven, from thence will the Lord thy God gather them, and from thence will he fetch them; and the Lord thy God will bring thee unto the land which thy fathers possessed, and thou shah possess it; and he will do thee good, and multiply thee above thy fathers,"* can only be from their present captivity, as the circumstances which were promised them were never accomplished or made good in any of their former deliverances.
* Universal History—vol. 6. chap. 10. t Dent, xxviii. 64.,
Now if the promises made to the Jews by all the prophets, have not been fulfilled at the return from Babylon, or at any other time, either before or since, it follows that their hopes of a Messiah, or a person whom God is to appoint, to make good his promise to the nation, in their deliverance and restoration, is just and well grounded; and it must be vain and presumptuous to pretend that the prophecies have been fulfilled, whilst they find themselves in a situation so very opposite to that which the prophets foretell and describe; a contradiction so glaring, that I wonder any one should pretend to affirm it.
The difficulties which arise, from the prophecies concerning the delivery and return of the Jews not being completed, arp obviated by pretending that none of those prophesies ought to be taken in their plain, literal sense and obvious meaning; in other words, they will not allow the prophecies to have any meaning at all, in order to impose, on all such prophecies, and likewise, on many historical passages of scripture, what they call a spiritual, or figurative and typical sense, and meaning of their own, such as best suits with their purposes: by these means, accommodating prophecies, and history, to events, to which neither the one or other, has the least connexion; contrary to the express sense of the prophets, and passages, and therefore, cannot expect any credit should be given them: of this, the most learned are sensible, and confess, that they "can give no tolerable reason, why, the prophecies, concerning his (Jesus's) humiliation and sufferings, should be understood in a literal, and those of his exaltation, and glorious reign, in a spiritual sense*" the case then stands thus, the Jews must be convinced from the prophecies, that Jesus was the glorious person therein promised for their messiah; not, according to the sense and meaning of the words of the prophets, for they are intirely repugnant to such pretensions; but according to the sense and meaning which ians
* Deut. xxx. 3— $
shall be pleased arbitrarily to impose on all the prophets, (without assigning any tolerable reasons as is confessed by them,) though that sense be, the most contradictory to the prophet's description; for otherwise,they can prove nothing. It is averyjust and judicious' observation, "that the Jews, possessed of the oracles of God, and firmly persuaded of the truth of them, the very first thing therefore, that they had to do, upon the appearance of the Messiah, was to examine his title, by the character given of him in the prophets ; they could not, consistently with the belief in God, and faith in the ancient prophecies, attend to other arguments, till fully satisfied and convinced in this. All the prophecies of the Old Testament, relating to the office and character of the Messiah, were immovable bars to all pretentions, till fulfilled and accomplished in the person."f This is so fair a state of the case, that none of the parties can reasonably have any objection against it: and there only wants proofs, that Jesus did fulfill and accomplish the character given of the Mesiah in the prophets; now if this be done, according to the plain sense and meaning of the prophecies, the character which they give us, is so contradictory and repugnant, to that of Jesus, that/m pre
* Universal History, vol. 3. page 39. t Sherlock on prophecy 6 discourse page 157.