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ther Canaanilistinguished for piety, and that he was
contain little additional information on the subject. Here we remark, first, that Melchisedec is said to be made like unto the Son of God, which proves, we conceive, that he could not be the Christ, as, in that case, he would be asserted to be made like unto himself. Second. If we believe Melchisedec to have been an angel, we must suppose that a celestial spirit became really incarnate, lived a considerable length of time on earth, governed a city, and exercised the office of priesthood ; an opinion unsupported by any other part of scripture. Third. To affirm that he was Shem, or that he is men- ' tioned under any other name, to give an account of his father or mother, or even fron what stock he derived his origin, is only seeking to be wise beyond what is written, Fourth. The most probable conclusion, therefore, is, that he was a human prince, whether Canaanitish or not we cannot say, who reigned over a certain city denominated Salem, was distinguished for piety, and officiated, with great acceptance, as a priest of the most high God. When it is said that he was first king of righteousness and then king of peace; the inspired author of the epistle to the Hebrews, appears only to trace in the interpretation of Melchisedec's name and title, a typical representation of our Lord Jesus Christ. He was without father, mother, or descent, without beginning of life or end of days, in this sense ; that none of these particulars are recorded by Moscs, and that he had no successor in his holy office.
As Abraham, previously to the destruction of Sodom, was visited by three angels ; as Lot, on that occasion, received only iwo of these heavenly messengers ; and as
Abraham, after the departure of the angels, immediately entered into conversation • with the Lord: it is believed, that the third angel was no less person than the Son of
God. However, this we may safely conclude, that a mere angel was never called Jehovah, and reverenced as the judge of all the earth, who must do right.
Concerning that part of the life of Lot, which elapsed after the destruction of Sodom,' we are possessed of but scanty memorials; yet we hope that he was recovered from his fall, though his descendants, the Moabites and Ammonites, were idolatrous nations, and enemies of the children of Israel.
The illustrious patriarch Abraham, appears equally distinguished by his ready obedience to God on the most trying and distressing occasions, and by the comprehensive nature of that covenant, which the Lord did him the honour to make with him. When he had been prevented from offering up his only son Isaac, The angel of the Lord called unto Abraham out of heaven the second time, and said, By myself have I sworn, saith the Lord, for because thou hast done this thing, and hast not with-hold thy son, thine only son ; That in blessing I will bless thee, in multiplying I will multiply thy seed as the stars of the heaven, and as the sand which is upon the sea-shore ; and thy seed shall possess the gate of his enemies : And in thy seed shall all the nations of the earth : be blessed, because thou hast obeyed my voice. These promises were fulfilled by the amazing increase of the posterity of Abraham, whether derived from Ishmael, Keturah, Esau, or Jacob ; the establishment of the children of Israel in the land of Palestine ; and lastly, by the incarnation of the Lord Jesns Christ, who commanded bis gospel to be preached to all nations, beginning at Jerusalem. The rite of circumcision, which is characterized by Paul as the seal of the righteousness by faith, was intended to teach, that they who professed to be heirs of the promises, should be cargful to depart from all iniquity. .
Isaac was a faithful follower of his father Abraham, but his faith was subjected to less severe trials. The sufferings of Jacob, on the contrary, were so many and great, that he told Pharaoh that the days of his life had been few and coil. The prophecy which Jacob delivered, when he blessed his son Judah, was very romarkable. Jubah, thou art he whom thy brethren shall praise ; thy hand shall be in the nork of thtre che,
mies, thy father's children shall bow down before thee. Judah is a lion's whelp"; froni the prey, my son, thou art gone up ; lue stooped down, he couched as a lion, and as an old li on who shall rouse him up? The sceptre, (the rod of the tribe) shall not depart from Judah, nor a lawgiver from between his feet, until Shiloh come ; and unto him shall the gathering of the people be. Binding his foal unto the vinc, and his asses colt unto the choice vine ; he washed his garments in wine, and his clothes in the blood of grapes. His eyes shall be red with wine, and his teeth white with milk. Here are, undoubtedly, references to different instances, of the prosperity of the tribe of Judah; to the fertility: of the soil, which it should fall to their lot to cultivate ; to the dignity, they should receive, by the advancement of David and his family to the throne ; to the victories of David ; and fiually, to the loss of their independence, about the time of the coming of Jesus Christ, who is here denominated Shiloh. To the name Shiloh, many different etymologies haye been assigned ; but it has been generally admitted by the Jewish, to have been the Messiah.
The last who might be denominated a patriarch was Job, concerning whom it is un certain, whrther he was a descendant of Abraham'; but it is agreed, on all sides, that he was not a Jew, Like Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, he was sincerely devoted to the worship of the true God, and proved the purity of his religious principles by the benevolence and integrity of his .conduct, towards men. In him we discover all that is amiable in the character of the modern Arabians, upmixed with their implacable resentment and love of de predation... Hear the earnest and uncontradicted appeal, which lie makes to his friends, in the hour of his most bitter calamity. If I did despise įthe caisse, of my manservunt, or of my maidservant, when they contended with me; What then shall I do when God riseth up and, when he visiteth, what shall I answer him? Did not lie, that made ine in the womb make him? , and did not one fashion us in the wonih? If I have, with-held the poor from their desire, or have caused the eyes of the widow to fail; Or have eaten iny morsel myself alone, and the fatherless hath not eaten thereof;:(Fon: from my youth he was brought up with me, as with 12.futher, and I have guided liers. from iny mnother's womb;;). If I have scen any-perish for want of clothing, or any poor without covering';, If his loins have not blessed me, and if he were not warmed with the fleece of my sheep; If I have lifted up my hand against the fatherless, when I saw my help in the gate : Then let mine arm fall from any shoulder-blade, and mine arn. be broken front the bone. For destruction from God was a terror to me, and by reason of his highness I could not endure. If I rejoiced at the destruction of him that hated me, or lified up myself when evil found him ; Neither have I suffered iny mouth to sitt, by wish ing a curse to his soul. If the men, of my-tabernacle said not, Oh ! that we had of his flesk, we cannot be satisfied. The stranger did not lodge in the street, but I opened my, doors, to the traveller.. If I covered my transgressions as Adam, sor; as a man] by. hiding mine iniquity in any boson. Did I fear a great multitude, or did the contempt of families terrify ind, that I kept silence, and went 'not out of the door? If my, landı cry against me, or, that the furrows likewise thereof complain; If I have eaten the fruits thereof, without anoney, or have caused the owners thereof to lose their life; Let thistles grow instead.of wheat, and cockle instead of barley.'
The book of Job, says Dr. Blair,' is known to be extremelyantient'; generally. reputed the most antient of all the poetical books; the author uncertain. It is remarkable; that:this book has no connexion with the affairs or 'manners of the Jews or Hebrews. The scene is, laid ju the land, of Uz, or Idumca, whieh is a part of Arabia ; and the imagery employed;; is generally of a different kind from what I before shewed to be peculiar to the Hebrew poets, We meet with no allusions 'to the great events of Sacred History, to the religious cites of the Jews, to Lebanon,, or to Carmel, or any od the peculiarities of the climate of Judea. We find few comparisons founded on rivers or torrents ; these were not familiar objects in Arabia. But the longest comparison that occurs in the book, is, to an object frequent and well known in that region, a brook, that fails in the season of heat, and disappoints the expectation of the traveller."
The poetry, however, of the book of Job, is not only equal to that of any other of the sacred writings, but is superior to them all, except those of Isaiah alone. As Isaiah is the most sublime, David the most pleasing and tender, so Job is the most descriptive of all the inspired poets. A peculiar glow of fancy and strength of description, characterize the author. No writer whatever, abounds so much in metaphors. He may be said, not to describe, but to render visible whatever he treats of. A variety of instances might be given. Let us remark only thase strong and lively colours, with which, in the following passages taken from the 18th and 20th chapters of his book, lie paints the condition of the wicked: observe how rapidly his figures rise before us, and what a deep impression, at the same time, they leave on the imagination. “Knowest thou not this of old, since man was placed upon the earth, that the triumphing of this wicked is short, and the joy of the hypocrite but for a moment ? Though his excellency, mount up to the heavens, and his head reach the clouds, yet he shall perish for ever. He shall fly away as a dream, and shall not be found ; yea, he shall be chased away as the vision of the night. The eye, also, which saw him, shall see him no more; they which have seen him shall say, where is he? He shall suck the poison of asps; the viper's, tongue shall slay him. In the fulness of his sufficiency he shall be in straits ; every hand shall come upon him. He shall flee from the iron weapon, and the bow of steel shall strike him through. All darkness shall be lid in his secret places. A fire, not blown, shall consume him. The heaven shall reveal fris iniquity, and the earth shall rise up against him.. The increase of his house shall depart. His goods shall flow away in the day of wrath. The light of the wicked shall be put out; the light shall be dark in his tabernacle. The steps of strength shall be straitened, and his own counsel shall cast him down. For he is cast into a net by his own feet, he walketh upon a share. Terror shall make him afraid on every side, and the robber shall prevail against him. Brimstone shall be scattered upon his habitation. His remembrance shall perish from the carth, and he shall have no name in the street. He shall be driven from light into darkness. They that come after him shall be astonished at his day. He shall drink of the wrath of the Almighty." ;
But there is one passage in Job, which, more than any other, demands our attention. Having, in the nineteenth chapter, bitterly lamented, that the reproaches of his friends were added to his other sufferings ; he expresses, in the following terms, his expectation of deliverance at the general resurrection. For I know that my Redeemer liveth, and that he shall stand at the latter day upon the earth: And though, after my skin, worms destroy this body, yet in my flesh shall I see God ;. whom I shall see for myself, and minc eyes shall behold, and not another ; though my reins be consumed within me.
About two hundred years after the call of Abraham, towards the end of the life of Jacob ; his family, which had now increased to seventy persons, went down with him into Egypt, to avoid the calamitons effects of famine. They met with an hospitable reception from the king, who was induced to use them the more kindly, on account of the benefits he had derived from the premonitions of Joseph. They did not mingle with the other inhabitants of the land.; but resided, as a distinct people, in the land of: Goshen... Here they increased in numbers and in riches, but not in piety; for many of them became corrupted by the idolatry of their neighbours. But they soon reaped the fruit of their folly. A revolution having happened, which placed another race of priocos, probably the shepherd kingrs, on the throne of Egppti; the Israelites began to
f God, was more frumen how they action of importante which wer
excite suspicion in the breasts of their new masters, by their rapid increase ; and it was first determined to break their spirits by slavery, and afterwards to destroy their new. born male infants. Under all this persecution they still continued to prosper, and were, at length, miraculously delivered from the house of bondage.
In reviewing this dispensation of divine providence, it is easy to discover in it the footsteps of wisdom and goodness. The posterity of Jacob had become so corrupt before the death of that venerable patriarch, as not merely to grieve his spirit, but to bring an evil reproach upon that holy religion, of which they were professors: it was therefore better, that they should become stationary in a particular province'; than that they should remove from one country to another, as their ancestors had done, in proof of their professed obedience to God. Their increasing numbers did also render this mode of life much less convenient, than it had been to the smaller families of Abraham and Isaac. Their subsequent idolatry of the land of Egypt served to shew, that their diyine deliverance was the mere effect of mercy, and nothing which they could claim as the reward of their righteousness. Lastly, the long train of miraculous events, · by which they were removed from Egypt, and, at length, put in possession of Canaan, displayed the power and providence of the Almighty in so eminent a manner ; as not only to attract the present attention of the neighbouring nations, but to cause several relations of their history to be written by Pagan historians, which, though dark and confused, still serve to confirm the authenticity of the Mosaic writings. : Moses, who was distinguished by his meekness, and sustained the honourable appel lation of the man of God, was more eminent as a lawgiver, than as a prophet; and was raised up, rather to teach his countrymen how they should practise, than what they should believe. Making but little addition to that collection of important truths, which the Israelites had already received by tradition ; he gave them the precepts, which were necessary to form their character as a peculiar nation, subject to the immediate civil government of God. • He has obtained celebrity, not only as a legislator and as a performer of miracles, but also as an historian, a poet, and a prophet. As an historian, he is one of the most valuable, as he is the most antient, whose writings are extant. Without attempting to unfold the secret springs of action, or giving us any copious account of the customs of those, whose actions he records ; he tells their story with such lucid simplicity, that they appear to speak and act before us, and make us deeply interested in their successes and misfortunes. His language is the purest Hebrew, and is not excelled, nor even equalled, by David, Solomon, or Isaiah. His materials were probably derived, partly from traditional history, and partly from immediate inspiration.
The poetical parts of the writings of Moses are numerous, but generally short. Two of the most remarkable, are the triumphant song, which was sung by the Israelites after having passed through the Red Sea ; and the Prophetic ode, which he delivered a little before his death.
The principal prediction of Moses concerning the Messiah, 'is contained in the eighteenth chapter of Deuteronomy, 15..19 verses. The Lord thy God will raise up unto thee a prophet from the midst of thee, of thy brethren, like unto me ; unto him ye shall hearken; According to all that thou desiredst of the Lord thy God in Horeb, in the day of the assembly, saying, Let me not hear again the voice of the Lord my God; neither let me see this great fire any more, that I die not. And the Lord said unto me, They have well spoken that which they have spoken. I will raise them up a prophet from ainong their brethren like unto thee, and will put iny words in his mouth ; and he shall speak urto them all that I shall command him. And it shall come to pass, that whosoever will not hearkek unto my words, which he shall speak in my name, I will require it of him.
Balaam, the son of Beor, was a very singular character, whom it is difficult to class, either with the prophets of the true God, or the sooth-sayers, who were much encouraged among idolatrous nations. His predictions, which were delivered contrary to his wishes, under the influence of divine inspiration, are expressed in the most sublime and elegant language of poetry. The following are believed to refer to the kingdom of the Son of God, Numbers, xxiv. 15..19. And he took up his parable, and said, Balaam, the son of Beor, hath said, and the man whose eycs are open hath said ; He hath said, which heard the words of God, and knew the knowledge of the most Highi, whichi saw the vision of the Almighty, falling into a trance, but having his eyes open : I shall see him, but not now :: I shall behold him, but not nigh : there shall come a Star out of Jacob, and a sceptre shall rise out of Israel, and shall smite the corners of Moab, and destroy (or rule over] all the children of Sheth. And Edom shall be a possession, Seir also shall be a possession. for his enemies ; and Israel shall do valiantly. Out of Jacob shall coine he that shall: have dominion, and shall destroy him that remaineth of the city.
The age immediately succeeding that of Moses, affords us but little matter for obserration; as we discover very few indications of a religious or literary prosperity, and have. only here and there a dark hint respecting the coming of Christ. Joshua has been supposed to have been a type of the Messiah ; and the similarity of the names, Joshua, and Jesus, which is perfect in the Greek and Hebrew languages, is adduced to confirm this opinion. The angel which appeared to the mother of Samson, has been supposed to be the eternal word, from the circumstance of his declaring that his name was secret. Gibeon, Barak, Samson, Jephthah, and Samuel, are mentioned in the eleventh chapter of Hebrews, as having performed wonders by the power of faith : but whether that faith did, in every one of these instances, mean the faith of God's elect, or only a confidence in his protecting care of the Jewish nation ; we shall not attempt precisely to determine. In the time of Samuel, we find the first mention of the schools of the prophets ; an institution, which we shall endeayour to describe in the words of Bishop Lowth, who is speaking concerning the nature of Hebrew prophecy.
The prophets were chosen by God himself, and were, certainly, excellently prepared for the execution of their office. They were, in general, taken from those who had been educated from childhood, in a course of discipline adapted to the ministerial, function. It is evident from many parts of the Sacred History, that, even from the earliest times of the Hebrew republic, there existed certain colleges of prophets ; in. which the candidates for the prophetic office, removed altogether from an intercourse with the world, devoted themselves entirely to the exercises and study of religion: over each of these, some prophet of superior authority, and more peculiarly under the divine infuence, presided as the moderator and preceptor of the whole assembly. Though the Sacred History affords us but little information, and that in a cursory manner, concerning their institutes and discipline ; we, nevertheless, understand, that a principal part of their occupation consisted in celebrating the praises of Almighty God, in hymns and poetry, with choiral chants, accompanied by stringed instruments and pipes.
David, the son of Jesse, was eminent in many different respects. Equally distin-. guished by his exemplary piety, and his exalted dignity; he was, at the same time, a king, a poet, and a prophet; an ancestor, and yet a type of the blessed Redeemer. His reign was one of the most prosperous eras in the Jewish history, when the power of the Israelites extended over many of the surrounding nations. The excellencies and defects of his character, are easily to be perceived from the examination of his history : but that which more particularly merits the attention of christians, is that collection of Psalms, which bears his name ; and which is composed of pieces, generally, either. writs
i pline ; we, nevert the praises of Alments and pipes.tally distin