« AnteriorContinuar »
tion. It is remarkable enough, that the terms should be so changed here; but, if a different sense is intended to be given, the reason is obvious. I would not press verbal criticism with too much rigour in questions of this kind; but when we find other circumstances conspiring, it would surely be blameable to omit it.
Again, at ver. 27, it is said: "My tabernacle shall be with them (in the preceding verse, evermore): yea, I will be their God, and they shall be my people." It may be objected: God's tabernacle has not remained with the Jews evermore; nor have they continued to be his people. My answer is: I do not think it at all necessary either of these things should take place, in order to satisfy the terms of this prediction. His tabernacle remained with the true Israelites, the remnant spoken of by St. Paul. They continued to be his people under the old dispensation, until the new one commenced; and, when that commenced, as the same Apostle has testified, this remnant composed the main part of the first Christian churches. This objection, therefore, falls to the ground.*
The last objection, I think, that can be raised must be: Times like these predicted by the prophet have never been witnessed, either in the Jewish or the Christian Church; and, therefore, we must look for them at some future period, when they all shall be fully realised. I answer: This objection has already been noticed, and met (p. 156). The same may be said of the predictions of Moses respecting the land of Canaan; it was to flow with milk and honey, and so on. And yet the Jews as a nation never found any thing like this taking place. In like manner, Christianity promises to its professors a peace which passeth all understanding ; that they shall be filled with all the fulness of God; that the Spirit beareth witness within them, that they are the children of God, and so on: but, Where shall we find a Christian state,
After what has been said, it will be quite superfluous to examine the modern notion, viz., that the Gentiles cannot generally be brought into the Church until the Jews shall have been converted to Christianity, and sent out as missionaries. One prophecy, which is thought sufficient to prove this, I will notice Micah, v. 7-9. I remark: The New Testament writers have limited the time in which this was to be fulfilled. See Matt. ii. 6, &c. Also Eusebius, Dem. Evang. lib. ii. cap. 4, sect. li.
Church, or even family, so supremely blest? Probably no where. Yet it is true, that Christianity has these blessings to bestow; and it is equally true, that the ways of Divine wisdom were, even in the days of Solomon, ways of pleasantness and paths of peace: and also, that the Canaan of Israel had provisions such as to bless every one of its inhabitants in a way exceeding all human expectation: but unhappily, in each case, there has been a want of faith, a defective obedience, a murmuring, unthankful, and rebellious spirit. The people, not the system, has been, in every case, to blame; although thousands of individual cases have occurred, in which the blessedness here promised has been experienced to a degree almost exceeding credibility. That peace, which passes common understandings, has been felt, confessed, and demonstrated, times innumerable; and it is so still. Those ways of pleasantness and paths of peace have, under both the old and the new dispensations, cheered the waning days of many a servant of the spiritual David, they do so now, and shall do so even to the end of time. This, then, will satisfy the terms of the revelation in every case which describes the true Church,-the state of the true believers, and not the men generally: and this too, I will maintain, is the only rational way in which such a Book could proceed; unless, indeed, divine energies were forcibly to control the unsteady and wayward wills of all, and make them saints whether they would or no. But, in this case, revelation would be unnecessary; all distinctions between virtue and vice would necessarily cease; and, consequently, every provision of rewards or punishments would be at an end: -a system of things which reason proclaims cannot take place on this side the grave; and which Scripture as constantly keeps out of sight. We have not the least grounds, therefore, for supposing, that every particular mentioned in the chapter above cited has not been entirely fulfilled; and may, therefore, be sufficiently accounted for, without having recourse to a future restoration of infidel Jews to Palestine.
A portion, however, of the New Testament has been chosen, and so interpreted by some, as to make it appear that the restoration of the Jews to Palestine is also there taught. Let us briefly consider it.
On the election and calling of the Jews, as taught by St. Paul in the 10th and 11th chapters of the Epistle to the Romans.
In chap. x. 3, we have the principles first stated, by which the rejection of Israel was effected, as formerly remarked: "For they being ignorant of God's righteousness, and going about to establish their own righteousness, have not submitted themselves unto the righteousness of God. For Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to every one that believeth." Some particulars are then given on this subject; and at verse 11 it is said: "For the Scripture saith: Whosoever believeth on him shall not be ashamed. For there is no difference between the Jew and the Greek; for the same Lord over all is rich unto all that call upon him. For," it is added, whosoever shall call on the name of the Lord shall be saved." From these passages, I think, it is sufficiently clear, that, as the grace of God in Christ was intended to be made known to the Gentiles, who should also receive it; all the advantages of religion, which the Jews had formerly possessed exclusively, had now been proposed to all men, without respect of persons; faith being the means, and the only means, proposed as introductory to their attainment. Every religious privilege, therefore, had now been equally laid open to all believers. But the Jew, in refusing to receive Christ the real end of the law, had mistaken the Scriptures, had endeavoured to establish his own righteousness independently of that proposed by God, which could be obtained only through faith in the atonement.
But this is not all: St. Paul further tells us, that this obduracy of theirs had also been foretold. "But," adds he, "they have not all obeyed the Gospel. For Esaias saith, Lord, who hath believed our report ?* (v. 16). And again (ver. 19, 20, 21): "But I say, Did not Israel know? First Moses saith, I will provoke you to jealousy by them that are no people, and by a foolish nation I will anger you.†
* See Is. liii. where the rejection and death of Christ are plainly foretold. + Deut. xxxii. 15-43. In ver. 29,, their latter (end), I believe alludes to the end of their polity; and in consonance with this view, in ver. 43, the nations are called upon to rejoice with his people, i. e. with those of the Jews who should believe. This chapter appears, therefore, to be a prophecy of the defection of the Jews, and of their consequent rejection by God.
Esaias is very bold, and saith, I was found of them that sought me not; I was made manifest unto them that asked not after But to Israel he saith, All day long I have stretched forth my hands unto a disobedient and gainsaying people."* I think we may safely conclude, upon this, that the calling in of the Gentiles, and the rejection, as well as the disobedience, of the Jews, were plainly foretold by the prophets. Passages to this effect may be multiplied to an indefinite extent; but these, explained and applied as they are here by the Apostle, will be quite sufficient to satisfy every reasonable person on this subject. We may then conclude thus far, that the Jew had actually ceased to be a part of the Church of God, through unbelief. The Gentile had become a party in the true Church, through faith; and both these things had been foreseen and predicted.
Let us now proceed to inquire into the drift and scope of the 11th chapter. The first question is: "I say then, Hath God cast away his people? God forbid. For I also am
* It is impossible to imagine any thing more explicit on this subject than Isaiah is, in the chapter (lxv.) from which this citation is made. "I am sought," says God by his prophet, "of them that asked not for me; I am found of them that sought me not: I said, Behold me, behold me, unto a nation that was not called by my name:" which must mean the Gentiles. Then of Israel, he says: "I have spread out my hands all the day unto a rebellious people, which walketh in a way that was not good, after their own thoughts." (ver. 6.) "I will not keep silence, but will recompense, even recompense into their bosom," &c. Then at ver. 8, the remnant to be saved is mentioned: "Destroy it not; for a blessing is in it: so will I do for my servants' sakes, that I may not destroy them all. And I will bring forth a seed out of Jacob, and out of Judah an inheritor of my holy mountains: and mine elect shall inherit it, and my servants shall dwell there." Here we have St. Paul's elected remnant. (ver. 11.) "But YE are they that forsake the Lord, that forget my holy mountain Therefore will I number you to the sword, and ye shall bow down to the slaughter: because when I called, ye did not answer; when I spake, ye did not hear," &c. Here is, certainly, a most clear distinction between the fate of the believing and unbelieving Jews the one party is termed God's elect; while the other, purely through unbelief, is numbered out for the slaughter. See ver. 13-16, to the same effect. And in ver. 15, we are told that God's servants are to be called by another name. Now what can this imply? I suppose the new dispensation; and this supposition the context confirms. (ver 17.) "Behold, I create new heavens, and a new earth: and the former shall not be remembered, nor come into mind." This chapter, therefore, is strictly consonant with the reasoning of St. Paul; so much so, that it will admit of no other interpretation.
an Israelite, of the seed of Abraham, of the tribe of Benjamin. God hath not cast away his people which he foreknew." Here, I think, we may find the solution of all the difficulty before us: we shall, therefore, first of all, endeavour to ascertain the Apostle's mind in this place.
An inattentive reader might imagine from the foregoing context, that God had systematically and intentionally rejected the whole posterity of Abraham, and that without remedy. But no: the Apostle declares he meant no such thing; and, that his mind may not possibly be misunderstood on this important point, he adds: God forbid! Far be it from me to make any such assertion; for his gifts and callings are without repentance (ver. 29); they are unchangeable, and subject to no caprice. Christ himself was sent to the Jews, and to the Jews alone; he was purely a minister of the circumcision, or sent only to the circumcised; and we the Apostles were commissioned first to go to the Jews, and secondly to the Gentiles. How then can it be said, that God had intended to cast off his ancient people, when it is quite evident that to them the first offers were made; and made to them because they were of the house of Israel, the descendants of the fathers, to whom the promises had been given. And to confirm this I say: "I also am an Israelite, of the seed of Abraham, of the tribe of Benjamin."* I, who am one of the most favoured Apostles, am lineally and literally an Israelite; and I look upon myself, not only as having found this inestimable salvation, but I am commissioned to preach it to you Israelites first, and secondly to the Gentiles. Israel, as such, is not then by any means rejected: no; they are still beloved for the fathers' sake; and this is the most welcome part of my commission to them. But, further, let me ask you, Is there any thing new in this? Was not the same the case in the days of Elias; for, although the nation had to an amazing degree given up the worship of Jehovah, and were therefore accused as idolaters and aliens by Elias, there was nevertheless a large number still adhering to his worship, and these he had not rejected; they were still his people; and they were his through his covenanted mercies
* See Eusebius, Demonst. Evangel. lib. ii. cap. iii. iv. &c. See also the passages of Scripture generally which speak of the remnant, and among these Micah, iv. 1—7.