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bound himself to any other nation, to account to them for their temporal prosperity and adversity : but to the Jews, with whom he had established a law and a covenant upon temporal promises, he stood obliged to make good his word, and to justify himself to them in the administration of temporal affairs. For this reason a succession of prophets was raised up among them, at whose mouths they might receive the direction of God: and this is what Moses means when he says, What nation is there fo great, who hath God fo nigh unto them, as the Lord our God is in all things that we call upon him for? Deut. iv. 7.
Whenever it was necessary to punish the people for their disobedience, that they might not be tempted by the prosperity of other nations, and their own adversity, to fall away to other gods, they were forewarned of the things that were to befall them; their calamities were prophetically described to them, that they might know, whenever they suffered, that it was the very hand of God, of their own God, that was upon them : and this is the reason of our finding so many prophecies, under the law, relating to the civil state and condition of the Jews; for this cause the great captivity of Babylon is so largely and fully foretold by the prophets, that the people might not be tempted to think that the gods of the nations had prevailed against them, and thereby be seduced, as oftentimes they were seduced by this very imagination, to forsake God in their distress; but that they might know that the almighty hand of the Lord was in all their sufferings, and might thereby become humble and obedient : and further, that they might know that all their adversity and prosperity came on them according to the express terms of their covenant with God, who blessed them when obedient, and humbled them when obftinate. All nations have had, and still have, their turns of prosperity and adversity; and God thinks not himself obliged to account to them for the measures of his providence towards them. But the case was otherwise with the Jewish nation ; for God having established a covenant with them, upon temporal promises and temporal curses, the very execution of the covenant, on God's part, required him to appear and openly administer the penalties and promises of his law; to procure the happiness of the people when obedient, and to inflict the punishment due to their iniquity. Hence it is that he directs them in the way of temporal happiness by the voice of his prophets, and gives them open warning of all evils which he brings on them; that they might see him in every instance performing the word of his covenant. Every prophecy from God spoke in the language of Moses's song, See now, that I, even I am he, and there is no god with me: I kill, and I make alive; I wound, and I heal; neither is there any that can deliver out of my hand.
This accounts for all the prophecies of the Old Testament relating to the temporal state of the Jewish nation : with which we have no further concern, than only to give a reasonable account of them; that the ancient prophets of God may not pass for mere fortune-tellers, as they have been represented to the world of late.
The people of the Jews were so prone to follow the customs of the nations around them, and to fall
away to idolatry, that, from their coming into Canaan, till the times of the Babylonish captivity, there was a perpetual struggle between the prophets of
God, and the false prophets of the nations, which E should prevail ; with this view are many ancient pro
phecies given, to preserve the people from being seduced by the nations round them. We may learn this from the reproof given to the messengers of Aliaziah, who had sent to inquire of Baalzebub, the god of Ekron, whether he should recover of his disease: Go, says the angel of the Lord to Elijah, Go meet the messengers of the king of Samaria, and say unto them, Is it not because there is not a God in Ifrael, that ye go to inquire of Baalzebub, the god of Ekron ? Now, therefore, thus faith the Lord, Thou shalt not come down from that bed on which thou art gone up, but falt surely die. 2 Kings i. 3, 4. To the very same purpose God speaks in the prophet Isaiah, rendering an account of his ancient prophecies; I have declared the former things from the beginning ; and they went forth out of my mouth, and I shewed them; I did them suddenly, and they came to pass. Because I knew that thou art obstinale, and thy neck is an iron finew, and thy brow brass; I have even from the beginning declared it to thee ; before it came to pass I fewed it thee : left thou shouldest fay, Mine idol hath done them; and my graven image, and my molten image, hath commanded them. Isaiah xlviii. 3, 4, 5.
You see now upon what foot all the prophecies in the Old Testament stand, which relate to the temporal concerns of the Jewish nation ; you see likewise the reason why this kind of prophecy has ceased
in the Christian church. The Gospel is not founded in temporal promises ; so far from it, that we are called upon to take up our cross, and follow Chrift. The bringing in of better hopes has vacated the proinises of the Mosaic covenant; and it is expected of us, after so much light given, that our faith should be proof against the adversities of the world, without the help of a prophet to foretel, or to reveal to us, in every instance, the counsel of God.
These prophecies relating to the things of this life concern us but little ; they have had their completion, long fince, in events which affect not us : but others there are, relating to the great depoftum entrusted with the Jews, even the hopes of redemption, which were to be a blessing to all the nations of the earth, in which we are highly concerned, and which will deserve our particular consideration.
The prophecies of the Old Testament, generally considered, relate either to the temporal state and condition of the Jews, and were, in order to the administration and execution, on God's part, of the temporal covenant, given to Abraham and his natural descendants ; or they relate to that great and universal blessing, promised to Abraham and to his seed, though not limited to them, but expressly designed and extended, in the words of the original covenant, to all the nations of the world. Of these, we have al, ready considered the first kind, and endeavoured to Thew the purport and design of Providence in the many oracles reducible to this head. It remains now, that we consider the prophecies of the second kind in the same method, not inquiring into the express meaning and accomplishment of every single prophecy applicable to this subject, but into the general use and design of these prophecies ; : which being discovered, we shall be able, with better fuccess, to apply ourselves to the examination of each divine oracle. The prophecies of the several periods, already considered, have been found to correspond to the state of religion in the world, at the time of giving the prophecy : a great presumption that the