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conduct, either as predicting it, or enjoining it on the princes who shall reign over Israel, in the approaching happy days of the church. The general prediction in Isaiah, that “ kings shall be “ nursing fathers, and their queens nursing “ mothers,”! to the church, seems to imply all that has been stated, and much more; especially as compared with the prophecy in the sixtieth chapter. But how can kings, queens, and princes answer this character, or perform their duty, and improve their talent, in this respect, by a line of conduct resembling that of Gallio?? or without imitating Jehoshaphat, Hezekiah, and Josiah, by employing their authority and wealth in the support of true religion, “according to the word of “ God ?" But, should kings and nobles copy the example of these pious rulers and princes of Israel : should they concur in exciting, encouraging, and requiring the ministers of religion to attend to their peculiar duties, with constancy and assiduity: should they take care that a suitable provision be made for them and their families, while thus employed; so as to preclude the temptation to leave the word of God to procure a maintenance, and the temptation to excuse this, which urgent poverty supplies : should they take care that all who are thus maintained apply themselves to the duties of their office; especially encouraging and countenancing the diligent and zealous: should kings and emperors, by their example, stimulate their nobles and more affluent subjects to offer willingly and liberally in this best of
! Is. xlix. 23.
? Acts xviii. 12-17.
causes, and to retrench proportionably all needless expenses: and should all compulsive and persecuting measures be at the same time avoided ;, would they not then become indeed “ nursing " fathers ” to the church?
Whatever interpretation may be given of Ezekiel's last vision, two things must be allowed : 1. That it is divinely inspired; and therefore has some appropriate and important meaning, which will at length be clearly understood: and, 2. That it is prophetical, and not historical; for nothing in the whole history of Israel, from the beginning to this day, at all accords to it. The order in which it is placed, subsequent to the restoration of Israel, and the prophecy of Gog and Magog, fixes the intended period to the expected glorious millennium. If it be interpreted exclusively of the state of restored Israel, during that happy period; yet it cannot be admitted that the ceremonial law of Moses, which the apostle (who, doubtless, was well acquainted with this part of “the oracles of God,") expressly declares was “ waxing old and ready to vanish away,"2 should be reinstated in full authority over the converts to Christianity: and, even if that could be admitted, several of the regulations. given in it, concerning the prince and princes, and their conduct in religion, answer to nothing contained in the letter of that law. But, however that may be determined, those things which so exclusively belong to the Old Testament, as to be wholly inconsistent with the dispensation of the New,
can never be re-established among Christians. Yet scarcely one point in which we suppose that Christian kings should imitate Jehoshaphat, Hezekiah, and Josiah, or Zerubbabel, Ezra, and Nehemiah, is omitted in this vision. A large portion of the land is required to be separated and allotted to the ministers of the sanctuary.' It is the prince's part to give “ burnt-offerings,"? &c: that is, he shall, like Hezekiah and Josiah, (not to say Darius and Artaxerxes,) bear the expenses of the sacred worship of God, as circumstances may require. 3 And, indeed, the regulations concerning those priests who were to be admitted to exercise their sacred function, and those who must be excluded, are evidently given to the prince, or some person or persons exercising authority over the very chief priesis themselves. The prince also is every where spoken of as one of the worshippers ; so that it would be mere trifling to endeavour to evade this, by saying, that Christ our Prince is meant. 5
It has been intimated above, that, in some of these respects, even heathen kings used their authority and treasures in support of the instituted worship of Israel; and their assistance was accepted by pious Jews without the least scruple : 80 far was this interposition of princes in the cause of true religion, from being considered as a peculiar part of the Mosaic law, restricted to Israel alone. But then these heathen princes did it, without in
'Ezek. xlv. 1-5. xlviii. 8-20. Ezek. xlv. 17-25. 32 Chr. xxxi. 24. xxxv, 7-8. Ezra vi. 8-10. vii. 15-24. * Ezek, xliv. 3-16.
Ezekxliv. 3. xlvi. 4, 8, 12.
the least attempting to interfere with the ministers of religion in their work, but entirely leaving, or even calling on them, to do all things “ according “ to the law," and commandment of Jehovah." And therefore Ezra, Nehemialı, and others, not only accepted of their assistance, but solicited it, and blessed God for “putting it into their hearts;' nay, prayed to God to give them favour with the king, in their petitions about these matters. 2 But, if the heathen kings had endeavoured to model the religion of Israel according to their own - reasoning notions, political purposes, or idolatrous usages; and to prescribe things contrary to the divine law; would such men as these have accepted and availed themselves of this conditional and mischievous support? Would they have prayed for it, or blessed and thanked God for putting such a thing into the king's heart? Would they have thought that the king helped
to beautify the temple,” while he was requiring them to pollute it?
Now does not this draw the precise line, in which kingly interposition, in the great concerns of religion, may be desired, prayed for, and thankfully received ? So long as
So long as “the commandment “ of the king and his princes is according to the “ vord of God,” it may be expected that “the “ hand of God will be to give the people one “ heart to do" that commandment; and that so great and extensive benefits will be vouchsafed by their means, as to excite us to bless the Lord for
" Ezra vii. 14, 18, 23, 25.
? Ezra i. 1-10. ii. 1, 12. vi. 1-14. vii. 11--28. Nch. i. 11. ii. 4, 18.
putting such a thing into their hearts.” But, if they go beyond this, and attempt to new-model religion, according to their own notions, or in subserviency to their political purposes ; to enjoin what is evidently incompatible with the sacred oracles, or to alter their essential truths, ordi, nances, and commandments : then all, who re- ) semble Ezra and Nehemiah, will stand aloof, and not accept of such unscriptural support. They will think of Jeroboam, Ahaz, and Uzziah ; and of Jewish priests, scribes, and rulers, who “ made “ void the commandment of God by their tradi“ tions;” and not of David, Solomon, Asa, Jehoshaphat, Hezekiah, and Josiah : and this will induce them to decline the proffered aid, or protest against the presumptuous intrusion.
Even when regal, and princely, or senatorial support is connected with appendages which are questionable ; and excite a doubt whether the things enjoined beyond the express word of God be not more than mere circumstances; (such as relate to the time or manner of administering sacred services, which, not being expressly mentioned in scripture, must by every religious company be arranged by some direction or agreement;) while some will probably be found too little cautions or suspicious of the object and effect of such interposition, and too eager improvidently to seize on the supposed advantage to the cause; it may also be inferred, that others will be over suspicious and scrupulous, at least in the judgment of their brethren. Now, as far as I have studied the subject, those who favour estab