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Maria. And we have a right to regard the explanation of the New Testament as just, from the performance of the miracles, and the fulfilment of the prophecies.
Mr. B. Taken separately from the New Testament, to us, living at this period, with the history of the world before us, the whole would become absurd; but when we view it only as the type of a better dispensation which was to follow, its insertion becomes highly expedient, if not absolutely necessary. The true Israelite, who looked beyond the types and shadows of ritual observance to the great sacrifice hereafter to be offered for sin, would, though thankful for the light thus afforded him, rejoice that the tiine approached when this “heavy yoke” would be exchanged for the liberty with which the Messias would make him free.
Maria. This closely connects the two Testaments together, and makes them, strictly speaking, only parts of one revelation.
Mr. B. Nor is this all; for not only do the positive ordinances of God appear as types of better things to come, —even some historical facts must be admitted in å similar manner. The deliverance from Egypt, the Passover, the passage through the Red Sea, the wanderings in the wilderness, the rest in Canaan, correspond too closely with higher things in the Christian dispensation, for us not to acknowledge the hand of Providence as prefiguring in these greater mercies.
Maria. They form a kind of prophecy in actions, as others are in words.
Mr. B. But all this manifests a deliberate course of proceedings, a regular plan laid down and acted upon from the beginning, and that which explains the whole cannot therefore be treated as if it were a thing unheard of before, for ages.
Edward. Yet some write as if Christianity appeared 1800 years ago, wholly without expectation, having no foundation in any thing before.
29 How would the Levitical law appear to us taken separately from the New Testament?-30 What is said of the true Israelite?-31 What his. torical facts are named as possessing a typical character?-32 What does Mr. B. say of all this?-33 How does Edward say that some appear to view Christianity?
Mr. B. But in all we have hitherto considered, we find a constant reference to soinething which preceded and something which followed. If in Abraham all nations of the earth were to be blessed, it was because from him should spring that seed of the woman which should bruise the serpent's head; and therefore to his seed should the land of Canaan be given, that he might spring there from the tribe of Judah.
Thus also advancing further, we find every thing still arranged with reference to some succeeding revelation, as well as that which preceded it, and thereby the whole is strictly connected together. In every stage we find, the same efforts to impress upon the minds of the people the necessity for the salvation hereafter to be wrought, its magnitude, and the consequences which should result from it. The feelings of the Jews, as a nation, were interested by the promise, that from them the Messias should spring; a succession of heavy judgments at length had the effect of eradicating idolatry; the great chages in which the mightiest empires on every side of them were overthrown, were so over-ruled by Divine Providence, that they remained a separate people in their own land.
Edward. It is singular that the ten tribes should have been utterly ruined when carried away captive, whilst the rest were brought back to their own country, and were enabled to rebuild their Temple, and observe the Mosaical law.
Mr. B. The history of the East during that period, from the light thrown upon it by revelation, becomes more interesting and important than we otherwise could have imagined. In seeing such men as Nebuchadnezzar and Cyrus, whilst overthrowing empires, only fulfilling the designs of Providence, we are led to form correct ideas of the nature of the divine government, and duly to appreciate that kingdom which the Lord was about to set up, and for which all these were but preparatory:
34 What is said of the relation in which Abraham stood to the nations of the earth:-35 In advancing further, what do we find?—36 By what means were the Jews to continue a distinct people in their own land?—37 What is considered singular by Edward relating to the ten tribes?_38 What is said of the history of the East?-39 What is stated in connexion with the names of Nebuchadnezzar and Cyrus?
Maria. The accomplishment of many of the prophecies having taken place during these times, must have contributed to impress the minds of the Israelites with a due sense of the divine attributes, and of the necessity of implicit obedience to the will of God.
Mr. B. And hence the sneer of Gibbon appears as weak as it is malicious. Without fairly meeting the question, he insinuates, that there is little reason to believe in the miracles of the Old Testament, because it is only in later times that the Jews have been free from idolatry. But effects cannot take place before their causes have operated; and who that considers the state of the word in those times, the “mixed multitude” that came out of Egypt, and their situation in Canaan, can be surprised that they were at times seduced into idolatry. Like all other nations, they were naturally prone to idolatry; all others but themselves were idolaters: the idea of national and local deities was at that time universally prevalent. They had true miracles; but others had what to many must have appeared true miracles also: the law of God ran counter to the spirit of the people; and is it then to be wondered at, that though many miracles wrought among them proved “the Lord to be God," an ignorant people should not immediately perceive, that there was only this one God, and that “him only must they serve," although he had declared it?
Maria. It required a considerable time to convince them of these great truths; but when once convinced, they retained them most firmly.
Mr. B. There is an error very common among many modern writers, of reasoning upon facts, as if the same light and knowledge existed formerly which does at present; of taking it for granted, that, in the earliest times, whole nations would draw conclusions as soberly and logically as they may do in their closets. But experience must decide; and I do not think it would be
40 How does Maria think the minds of the Israelites became impressed with a sense of the divine attributes ?-41 Of Gibbon, what is said ?42 What comparison is made between the Israelites and idolatrous nations on the subject of religion?-43 What error is named as common among modern writers?–44 What does Mr. B. think might be easily proved?
necessary to travel out of our own times for abundant proofs of the proneness of human nature to lower the divine authority and the demands of religion, and of its willingness to take the most inconclusive evidence in favour of what agreed with its wishes.
Edward. When the miracles were wrought before their eyes, the effect upon them seems fully answerable to our expectations; as at the deliverance from Pharaoh in the Red Sea: when Elijah called down fire from heaven, the people cried, “ The Lord he is the God, the Lord he is the God.”
Mr. B. The evidence afforded by a special providence was necessarily interrupted when the Jews ceased to observe the commandments; and then it was that prophecy became more abundant. The grand question at issue, viz. whether the God of the Jews was the only real God, was put upon the accomplishment of prophecies, which were made so definite and detailed, that there was no escaping from some conclusion, for or against them. Now what was the consequence ?-nothing less than the extirpation of idolatry among the people. Our conclusion, therefore, must be, that the people saw with their own eyes the prophecies fulfilled; they felt that it was in vain to fight against God; they saw no God of any other nation had delivered his votaries; and therefore had the fullest conviction, that such were only the creatures of the imagination, or literally the works of men's hands.
Edward. All history seems calculated to give the idea, that just views of God and of his service are but slowly embraced by the bulk of mankind.
Mr. B. And the cause is not far removed; for, so far as the intellect only is concerned, we ever see persons stopping at second causes, or having recourse to some occult quality, the existence of which can neither be
45 What instances of miracles are named by Edward, which appeared to produce on that people a full effect?–46 On what occasion did prophecy become more abundant!—47 What was the grand question at issue? -48 How does Edward think that history will teach us in regard to the progress in the world of just views of God and his service?–49°What does Mr. B. say of the intellect and the heart of man, so far as religion is concerned?
proved nor disproved. With respect to the heart, I think no one can doubt, that, naturally, all men seek to make ther religion such as will favour their own inclinations.
Maria. Of the infinite importance of truth, no one doubts in theory; but every day's experience shows how little it is regarded in practice.
Mr. B. The Jews, when once fixed in their religion, became bigots, and sought only, whilst retaining the great leading truths, to make it speak the language most agreeable to themselves. Any doubt as to idolatry was altogether out of the question; that the Lord only was God could not be doubted; but by keeping out of view the fact that He was a Spirit, and required those who worshipped him, to do it in spirit and in truth," they contrived to retain every outward observance of respect, with little or no regard to higher duties.
Edward. It was in this state that they were found by our Lord, who, by rebuking them for having “made the Word of God of none effect,” drew upon himself the hatred of those “ who loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil.”
Mr. B. If no period had elapsed sufficient to develope this general corruption of the Jewish nation, how much
should we have wanted of the instruction of our Lord, which was called forth by the state in which he found them! This instruction, you will also observe, is not merely applicable to the circumstances of the Jews, but becomes very important to the church itself, in later times, for its own use. The same endeavour to escape from moral obligation, which made the Jews seek to merge the whole of religion in ritual observances, has subsequently prevailed in a very large portion of the Christian church, and with as pernicious effects. Indeed, “ there is nothing new under the sun;" human nature is ever developing the same propensities in different ways, as modified by changes of situation, manners,
50 Into what inconsistency did the Jews run in relation to the worship of God?-51 What was their state when our Lord appeared upon earth, and how did he reprove them ?-52 What advantages do we derive from their being in such a state?–53 What analogy is there between the conduct of professed Christians and the ancient Jews in one particular bere named?