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world is to proceed regularly, and that every thing has an appointed time.
When the world at large became rebellious in the time of the confusion of languages, Abraham was the only man that was found just in the sight of God. On this account, he and his seed were chosen to be the ministers of God, and at last to bring back the ruined gentiles. It was also foretold to Abraham that his seed, on this account, must be scattered among all nations. All this was told to Abraham; but there was also the time fixed when Israel should be made to know it. When Israel made the molten calf, that was the time to make it known, but the sentence is not yet passed.
When the spies returned, and brought a bad report, Joshua and Caleb informed the people that the land was very good; but their good report was disbelieved, and all the people gave ear to falsehood, " and all the congregation lifted up their voice, and cried; and the people wept that night." Numbers xiv. 1. The day when the spies returned was the ninth day of the month Ab, or August. The Lord said, the land is very good, according as it was reported by Joshua and Caleb; but still they would not believe the good report, but they rather believed lies, and they wept for nothing. But pronounce unto the congregation that this night is recorded already, that it shall remain for a weeping night in Israel, and that for ages. * In this night was burnt the first and second temple.
This bad report of the spies, in conjunction with that of the molten calf, finished the perfection of the sentence. And here was passed the sentence, that Israel should be scattered among all the seventy nations; but when it was to begin was not told them. And that this sentence was passed in the desert, is confirmed by two witnesses; the one, "Therefore he lifted up his hand against them to overthrow them in the desert; to overthrow their seed also among the nations, and to scatter them in the lands." Psalm cvi. 26, 27. "I lifted up mine hand unto them also in the wilderness, that I would scatter them among the heathen, and disperse them through the countries." Ezekiel xx. 23.
The commencement of the dispersion remained a mystery unto the Lord until the time of Daniel. Daniel the prophet was the man appointed for that errand: he did what he was commanded in pronouncing the sentence of the general dispersion: "Seventy weeks are determined upon thy people and upon thy holy city;" * that is, 490 years shall yet pass away before the beginning thereof, which is from the destruction of the first temple until the desolation of the second temple; and then will be the general dispersion.
2. We shall return again to observe the nature of a worldly kingdom. A king that has a large country, and all whose subjects are faithful, yet it would be impossible for him to make every subje'ct for a minister; but the king will choose only one set of men, and such men as he knows are qualified for that office; and to his ministers he will give instruction, and whatever the king will communicate to the public at large, he makes it known unto his ministers, and then they publish it to the public at large; also all the secrets of the king are only communicated to his ministers.
In the same manner the Lord did proceed. All the nations were his subjects; the whole of this world was his empire; he could not make all the seventy nations ministers, but out of all he chose only one family, and called him by the name of his first-born son, Israel; knowing that they only are fit to be entrusted with his secrets. Therefore he said unto Israel, Come, follow me in a secret place, that is, the wilderness; Israel followed him, and there he appeared to them, * and spoke with them face to face, and there he told him all his secrets; he also charged them to write down in a book some part of his secrets; * as for'the rest, they must not be written in a book, but only kept a secret in our hearts. This was the written law, or the law of Moses; but the oral law was forbidden to be written down, and was only to be delivered from mouth to mouth. The Lord said unto them, Now I have entrusted you with my oracles, from henceforth ye shall be called my ministers, and so it is written, * " And ye shall be unto me a kingdom of priests, and a holy nation ;" and so they will remain for ever. Exod. xix. 6.
3. *The Christians are pleased to say that they are now the ministers; but this is not true, for the day will come when they shall be obliged to confess, and cry out, "But ye shall be named the priests of the Lord; men shall call you the ministers of our God." Isaiah lxi. 6. Thus far, it is proved that Israel only are the ministers of God, but not the gentiles.
4. The Misconduct Op Israel.—By continually provoking the Lord to anger, in worshipping the false gods of the gentiles, they continued in their errors until their measure became full, and then they fell; the temple was burnt, the holy land was laid waste, and they were carried away into captivity, even into Babylon.
* Idolatry Taken Away From Israel.—This is a surprising thing; for, from the time they entered Babylon until this very time, idolatry is an abhorrence to Israel; and from that time until this day, Israel has worshipped nothing else but the true God: to this all the nations are witnesses.
But here we ask how, or by what means, did idolatry cease from Israel? Was it by accident, or was it done by the hand of God t It was certainly not accidental, but was done by the hand of God, for the time drew near for the general dispersion of Israel, when they were to wander among all nations: and, * if idolatry had not been taken away from them, Israel would have been soon lost among the nations: nay, even their very name would have been extinct: therefore the Lord blotted out from the heart of Israel the desire of worshipping strange gods.
It is well known, that during the time of the second temple Israel served only the God of their forefathers: four hundred and ninety years were given to Israel to prepare for their general dispersion, * and all of them were the servants of the true God at that time. The second temple was destroyed, and Israel was scattered abroad, even among all the nations. The Lord said, This is the proper time for my people Israel * to begin their ministry: and he said to them, Your fathers have recompensed me evil instead of good. I said unto them, Thou shalt have no other gods before me; but they soon polluted my command; they made a molten calf, and worshipped it, and sacrificed thereunto, and said, These be thy gods, O Israel. I then lifted up mine hand unto them, that I would scatter their seed among the gentiles. Now for the idolatry of your fathers, and your own sins, *you shall go abroad and make an atonement; and the atonement shall be, that you shall preach against idolatry among the nations. I know you will suffer much, and you must suffer, yea, even a great deal for my name's sake: but never despair; remember that I have passed my holy word already, to make thee Lord over all the sons of Adam; and in due time I will fulfil my word. I also will never forget them that shall be kind to you; but *all those families that shall trouble you, they shall receive punishment.
Jews and gentiles believe that God created the heaven and the earth, and all that is in them; the Lord created mankind that they should be happy, but the sons of Adam turned aside. What was to be done? they must all return, but there must be some means devised how to bring them all back. Here God acted like a wise husbandman, who, having * one bushel of fine wheat, will not keep it concealed; for so it never will increase: but he will scatter it abroad, and by so doing he expects a good harvest. And the only seed which was to be scattered was Israel; for they are the ministers, they must preach, but no others •, as it is written: *This people have I