« AnteriorContinuar »
of good, and the blessings of peace. They shall beat their swords into plough-shares, and their spears into pruning-hooks; for nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war any more."*
Unto us a " child is born,” says the same prophet, "unto us a son is given; and the government shall be upon his shoulders, and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor, the mighty God, the everlasting Father, the Prince of Peace. Of the increase of his government and peace there shall be no end." &c. The meekness of his character is thus represented: “ He shall not
up, nor cause his voice to be heard in the street. A bruised reed shall he not break, and the smoking flax shall he not quench. He shall not fail, nor be discouraged, until he have set judgment in the earth, and the isles shall wait for his law." His humiliation is thus described : << He hath no form nor comeliness; and when we shall see him there is no beauty that we should desire him. He is despised and rejected of men, a man of sorrow, and acquainted with grief.” He was oppressed and he was afflicted, yet he opened nat his mouth; lie js brought as a lamb to the slaughter, and as
cry, nor lift
* Is. ch. ii. v. 4. Is. ch. ix. v. 6.
f Is.c. ix. v. 6. Is. ch. xlii. V.2, 4.
sheep before her shearers is dunib, so he opened not his mouth,” &c.* Yet “ the spirit of God is
upon him; the Lord hath anointed him to preach good tidings unto the meek; to bind up the broken hearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison to them that are bound.”+
This great personage is further represented under a character which denotes firmness and permanency as a foundation, and as a chief corner stone of the new edifice which is to be erected; that everlasting temple of universal holiness and felicity. “Behold, saith the Lord God, I lay in Zion for a foundation, a stone, a tried stone, a precious corner stone, a sure foundation.-Judg. ment will I lay to the line, and righteousness to the plummet." I
From the above epitome of the moral and religious history of the ancient Hebrews, united with these prophetic declarations, it is manifest that, in consequence of the separation of this people from every other nation, and the peculiar dispensations of providence respecting them, by their instrumentality, and through their medium, a preparation is made for the general welfare of mankind, by the gradual progress of knowlege, virtue, and piety, which are so essential to human happiness. The works of righteousness can alone be productive of peace, and the effects of righteousness be quietness and assurance for
* Isa. ch. lii. v. 2, 7. + Isa. ch. lxi. v. 1, 2.
#Isa. ch. xxviii. V. 16.
Yet these people are not destined to be the medium of important blessings to others, from which they shall be totally excluded. Their impieties have opened a way for the communication of those blessings to the Gentiles, which they had despised. But the same prophecies give them the encouraging assurance, that they shall finally become partakers of them. Their continuing firm in the profession of Monotheism, and their scrupulous renunciation of those idolatrous customs, to which they had formerly been so prone, were not sufficient to secure a perpetuity of the divine favour. They were but as means for more important ends. These people were still destitute of purity of morals, and genuine devotion, which alone could render them a consolation to each other, and secure the favour of heaven. Their religious habits degenerated into cold, uninfluential ceremonies, which in place of forming the minds to the habits of virtue, became substitutes for them. Their prophets, in primitive times, frequently com: plained of their approaching to God with their lips, while their hearts were far from him; and the great Prophet afterwards reproached them with being scrupulously, exact in the payment of the tythe of mint, annise, and cummin, while they neglected the weightier matters of the law, judgment, mercy, and faithfulness. But as they have, by the severe dispensations of providence, been cured of idolatry, they are now under a discipline which will correct their remaining depravities. When these important purposes • are accomplished, he that scattered Israel “will gather them, and keep them as a shepherd doth his flock.” Many declarations of this kind are so intermixed with the prophecies relative to their return from the Babylonish captivity, that it may be difficult to distinguish them; but others possess characteristic marks which cannot he mistaken; for they refer to a state of religion and morality, which has hitherto been unknown. “Behold the days come, saith the Lord, that I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel, and with the house of Judah; not according to the covenant that I made with their fathers, in the day that I took them by the hand to bring them out of the land of Egypt;
which my covenant they brake, although I was an husband to them, saith the Lord; but this shall be the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel. After those days, saith the Lord, I will put my law in their inward parts, and write it in their hearts; and will be their God, and they shall be my people. And they shall teach no more every man his neighbour, and every man his brother, saying, know the Lord; for they shall all know me; from the least of them unto the greatest of them; for I will forgive their iniquity, and I will remember their sin no more."*
ON THE NATURÁL AND MORAL INFLUENCE OF THE JEWISH RELIGION, IN MITIGATINO THE HORRORS OF PAGANISM.
* It would manifest great ignorance of the nature of man, and of the power which habits, prejudices, and predilections have upon his mind, to expect that the nations who were deeply immersed in barbarism and idolatry, who had de
* Jerem. ch. xxxi. v. 31-34. See also Jer. ch. 1. v. 20. Ezek. ch. xxxiv. v. 11, passim. Ezek. ch. xxxvii. 4. 21-28.