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The great body of the Jewish na
'CHA P. II.
ERROR RESPECTING THE CONNECTION OF
THERE is yet another error refpecting
Error respecting the connection
the connection of the Law and the Gofand the Gof- pel, in which many of the primitive Jew
of the Law
to the Jews. ifh Chriftians were involved, and in which
the whole body of the Jewish nation, as is ftill the cafe with their defcendants, was deeply immersed. Through the prevalence of this error, they totally mistook the intent of the Law, fuppofing it to be a perfect whole, when, in reality, it formed only the first half of God's gracious covenant with man.
1. The Jews, a grofs and fenfual people, had, long before. the time of Christ,
accustomed themselves to confider the CHAP. fplendid festivals, bloody facrifices, and numerous ceremonies of their law, as really and intrinfically pleafing to God, notwithftanding the frequent and express declarations of their prophets to the contrary a. Owing to this perfuafion, they could not bear the idea, that it was ever to have an end; ftill lefs could they conceive it poffible, that the Meffiah himself should be the inftrument of its diffolution. From the figurative and ecftatic language of the infpired prophets, when they painted, in glowing colours, a victorious and warlike prince, fprinkled with the blood of his enemies, and triumphing over the prostrate Gentiles, they imagined, that these predictions were to be literally, instead of spiritually, fulfilled". They anticipated with joyful expectation the moment, when their conqueror and deliverer was to appear, and
a This affertion is not to be taken in its ftricteft and moft abfolute fenfe; for many of the Jews did look forward through their ceremonial law, to its completion in the Mesfiah. Vide infra, Sect. II. Chap. V.
It is poffible indeed, that these predictions may relate to the fecond advent, in which case they will, in fome meafure at least, be fulfilled literally. But whatever be the true interpretation, the Jews were clearly mistaken in applying them literally to the first manifeftation of the Meffiah. rescue
SECT. rescue them from the yoke of the Romans. They had not fufficient purity of heart, to pray humbly to God, that he would be pleased to liberate them from the heavy bondage of fin, and the corrupt appetites of their nature; that he would teach them, inftead of being fubject to a round of ceremonies, fignificant indeed but highly burdenfome, to offer up to him the lively facrifice of thanksgiving, and to bear the badge of circumcifion in their hearts.
Far different thoughts from these were they accustomed to cherish; thoughts equally abhorrent from the wisdom and the goodnefs of God. They vainly hoped, that the temporal glory of the fecond temple would be greater than that of the first; and that the fplendid pageant of feftivals and ceremonies would be once more presented to their longing eyes, with a luftre, fuperior even to the pomp and majesty of the reign of Solomon. They grossly and impiously fancied, that the King of Glory, the Seed, in whom all nations fhould be bleffed, was to defcend from heaven, for no other purpofe, than to gratify the pride and evil in-. clinations of the stock of Abraham. Under his banners they were to go forth conquering
quering and to conquer; the blood of the CHAP. flain was to mark the progress,, and the II. groans of the dying were to celebrate the triumphs of the Prince of Peace. The vanquifhed Romans were in their turn to bow the neck before the lordly Jews; and the earthly Zion, enriched with the spoils of the whole world, was to be the feat of univerfal empire. The defire of all nations was to be the perfecutor and enflaver of mankind; and Ifrael alone was to be exalted in that day, at the expence of fuffering humanity.
As this difpofition of the Jews is clearly shewn, on the one hand, by their rejection of the true Meffiah, who would not flatter their ambitious views, and who conftantly afferted, that his kingdom was not of this world; fo is it no lefs fhewn on the other, by the readiness with which they listened to falfe Chrifts, who never failed to promise them fovereign fway, as the only method of gaining their affections. Once indeed, during the life of Jefus, the people, aftonished at his miracles, but ftill under the influence of this mistaken notion, would have made him king by force: but this he could not fuffer, either confiftently with
SECT. the nature of his real kingdom, or without encouraging and promoting their error. The strange perplexity, into which the Jews were thrown at the fight of his miracles, while they were unable to reconcile the humble appearance of our Lord with the pompous expectations which they had formed of the Meffiah, is ftrikingly described in feveral parts of the Gofpel. They were unwilling to give up their preconceived opinions, though they knew not how to account for fuch an exertion of fupernatural power, by any person inferior in point of dignity to the Meffiah. As the Jews, in the time of our Saviour, could not bear to imagine, that the Law of Mofes was ever to have an end; fo is their pofterity equally blind to the connection, which fubfifts between the two difpenfations.
2. The fentiments of those Jews, who embraced Christianity during the ministry of our Lord, are nearly allied to the preminiftry of vailing notion of a fecular deliverer. The
The Jews, who embraced Chriftianity during the
our Lord. national error refpecting the character of the Meffiah infected even the Apostles,
See John vii. and xii.