« AnteriorContinuar »
dence, in this respect, with the New Testament predictions of the establishment of the millennium, after the terrible destruction of all opposers ;' and, in addition to all, its very obscurity leads me to conclude, that it relates to events yet future, and subsequent to the conversion and restoration of * Israel.' But I am fully persuaded that nothing, previous to its fulfilment, will enable any man to know how far it should be understood literally, and how far figuratively. The city, (which is never called Jerusalem,) according to the admeasurement assigned to it, would be forty miles square : and the land (which is never called Canaan,) of far larger dimensions, than that divided by Joshua. Exactly the same proportion is assigned to each tribe, without any difference as to numbers; and each portion is stated as extended directly across the country. I only hint these things, as obvious difficulties in the way of the strictly literal interpretation ; and to shew how little certainty there can be in our reasonings from this obscure unfulfilled prophecy.
I have already observed, and desire again to point out to the reader, that the restoration of · Israel' is, neither in Ezekiel, nor in any of the prophets, directly connected with the coming of the Messiah : but, if his coming is spoken of, something is constantly introduced, between the mention of it and the prophecy of Israel's restoration. Thus in Isaiah, the calling of the gentiles is introduced between the coming of the Messiah,
See the author's Commentary on Ez. xxxix. xl. xlviii.Rev. xix. xx.
and the restoration of Israel.' Thus in Amos, the same order is observed. But in very many prophecies, the coming of the Messiah is not at all mentioned: He is supposed to have come, and to have set up his kingdom; and at length Israel receives him, or submits to him, and is restored.3_The prophecy of Jeremiah seems more like an exception to this statement, than any other : 4 yet the days of the restoration of Israel are marked distinctly, as subsequent to his coming. It may also be observed, that the coming of the Messiah is, in several prophecies, closely connected with judgments on the Jews, as the immediate consequence; which is wholly inconsistent with the restoration of the nation being the immediate consequence.5
I would however most especially observe, as connected with the present question, that 'the • restoration of Israel'is uniformly connected with the promise of spiritual blessings : if the forgiveness of sins, and the renewal of the heart to holiness, be spiritual blessings. It will, I believe, be difficult to find any clear exception to this arrangement. Thus Moses connects that event with their confessing their sins, “ their uncir“cumcised hearts being humbled ; and their “accepting the punishment of their sin."-And let it be here noted, that the Lord says, “ Then “I will remember my covenant with Jacob, and “ also my covenant with Isaac, and also my
"Is. xi. 10--16. ? Am. ix. 11-15. * Ez. xxxiv. 23_31. xxxvi. 21---28. Hos. iii. 4, 5.
• Jer. xxiii. 5-8. * Dan. ix. 24-27. Zec, ix. I, 10. xii, 7-9. Mal. iii. 1-5.
“ covenant with Abraham."! The Abrahamic, not the Sinai covenant is pointed out.
Again, predicting the present dispersion of Israel: “ But, if from thence thou shalt seek the “ Lord thy God, thou shalt find him, if thou seek “ him with all thy heart and with all thy soul. “ When thou art in tribulation, and all these things
are come upon thee in the latter days; if thou “ turn to the Lord thy God, and shalt be obedient “ to his voice, (for the Lord thy God is a merciful
God, he will not forsake thee, nor destroy “ thee; nor forget the covenant of thy fathers, “ which he sware unto them.” 2–Observe again, “ the covenant of thy fathers, which he sware “ unto them.” 3 The Sinai covenant was not confirmed with an oath.
But whence does this conduct of the dispersed Israelites arise :-Moses, speaking concerning the same events, says, “ The Lord thy God will “ circumcise thine heart to love the Lord thy “ God, with all thy heart.” 4
It would be far too prolix to adduce the other passages, which connect the restoration of Israel with spiritual blessings ; and I must only refer the reader to them. And let those, who contend for an absolutely earthly kingdom, produce the prophecies in which this connexion cannot be traced ; if indeed any such can be found. If then
· Lev. xxvi. 40-42. 2 Deut. iv. 29–31. * Gen. xxii. 16,17. Ps. cv. 8-10. Luke i. 72–74. Heb. vi. 14-18. Deut. xxx. 6.
• Is. xi. 11-16. xii. 1-3. lix. 20, 21. Jer. xxxi. 31–36. xxxii. 39–41. Ez. xi. 17-20. xxxvi. 24-28. Hos. xiv. Mic. vii. 15-20. Zeph. iii. 13-20. Zech. xii. 10-14.
the restoration of Israel be seldom, if ever, immediately connected with the coming of the Messiah ; if his coming be sometimes predicted in connexion with judgments on the Jewish nation; and if the restoration of Israel be uniformly predicted in connexion with spiritual blessings to be poured out on the nation: we shall understand what estimate we ought to make of the assertion : that
THE KINGDOM OF THE MESSIAH IS NOT SPIRITUAL, “BUT ABSOLUTELY EARTHLY :” especially as the kingdom of the Messiah and the restoration of Israel are constantly considered by the writer, as inseparably united.
P. 53. 1. 32. “One Shepherd,' &c. We Christians are apt to think, that invaluable spiritual blessings are implied in the title of SHEPHERD, as used concerning the Messiah, in several of these prophecies: and we suppose that this is grounded on many parts of the Old Testament, as well as on the New; and contains a prominent revelation of “ the great mystery of godliness, God is “ manifest in the flesh.”_" JEHOVAH is my Shep“ herd,” says David ; and again,
“ Give ear, o “Shepherd of Israel.” 1
“He shall feed his flock “ like a shepherd : he shall gather the lambs with “his arm, and carry them in his bosom, and shall
gently lead those that are with young.”“ And he “ shall stand and feed in the strength of JEHOVAH, “ in the majesty of the name of Jehovah his “God." 3 Who is here spoken of ? Surely he who was to be born at Bethlehem,—" whose goings “ forth have been from of old, from everlasting.”
Ps. xxiii. 1, 2. lxxx. 1.
· Is. xl. 11.
* Mic, v. 2-4.
“Awake, Osword, against my Shepherd,
against the Man that is my fellow, saith the “ Lord of hosts; smite the Shepherd.” When, I say, we consider these predictions in connexion, with what the New Testament says, of “the good Shepherd, who layeth down his life for the
sheep :" “ the great Shepherd of the sheep :" “ the chief Shepherd:"2 we consider vast, yea all, spiritual blessings, as involved in this name alone.
P. 55. 1. 3. * He shall execute judgment and * justice in the earth ; but not in heaven. I do not see the intention of this addition to this text from Jeremiah. Our inquiry is not concerning the kingdom of the Messiah in heaven, (though he there reigns Lord of all worlds ;) but concerning the nature of that kingdom which he hath set up, or will set up, on earth; whether the nature and administration of it be spiritual or altogether
earthly.'—Perhaps it is meant, that he shall reign visibly on earth : and not as ascended into heaven, and ruling by his providence and the influences of his grace. This, however, suggests the propriety of stating most explicitly our views of a spiritual kingdom, as distinguished from one altogether earthly.'
We consider that as an earthly kingdom, (whether we see the king or not,) which is administered, in great measure, like the other kingdoms of this world ; and which provides, or professes to provide, only for the temporal security and prosperity of
'Zech. xiii. 17. ? John x. 11-14. 26-30. Heb. xiii. 20.
1 Pet. v. 4.