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resolute determination of mind upon the arguments there adduced; remembering, that it is not the Shibboleth of a party amongst men that is at stake; but their own everlasting salvation, both body and soul. The condition of such persons is truly appalling. In the good providence of God, they have been baptized in the name of his dear Son, and have had the oracles of his truth intrusted to their care, and pressed upon their perusal: they have thus been transferred from the wide waste of Tyre and Sidon, into the cultivated enclosure of Chorazin and Bethsaida. But they have despised the baptism; they have resisted the Holy Ghost; they have neglected, nay even denied the Scriptures : under the watchful care of the husbandman, they have proved barren cumberers of the ground; yea, worse, they have been as noxious weeds, distilling poison, and blighting, by their baneful influence, many a fair and promising flower. They cannot stand in the judgment, absolutely, as ignorant and comparatively irresponsible heathen men : no, they must appear before God relatively as deserters and apostates. May the abounding mercy of Jehovah, in Christ Jesus, whom they deny, be extended to them with power, now while it is yet time; pardoning all their sins, including this deadly sin of unbelief : and may the Holy Ghost graciously guide them into the saving truth of the Holy Scriptures !
With the great majority, however, amongst us, thus saith the Scripture, is all sufficient proof. Our
difficulty is in ascertaining unequivocally what the Scripture does say; and our differences of opinion, one from the other, are differences of interpretation only, not of standard.
The question now before us is, What has God revealed concerning his purposes towards the Jews, at and subsequent to the termination of the times of the Gentiles? An adequate answer to this inquiry would include a great variety of particulars. On the present occasion, let us specially consider THEIR PENITENCE IN THEIR DISPERSION, as immediately leading to their restoration to the land of their forefathers.
They shall acknowledge their iniquity, and the consequent righteousness of God's chastisements : they shall recognize his hand, in their dispersion among their enemies : they shall accept their punishment from him, as a token of holy love ; and they shall cry to him for deliverance out of their distresses. These shall be the beginnings in them of the manifestation of God's sovereign mercy towards them, preparatory, and immediately antecedent to their restoration. This state of mind and heart is frequently spoken of, as the obviously implied condition, upon the performance of which their restoration hangs suspended : but God has graciously made the condition of one promise, the subject matter absolutely of another; thus pledging himself to work in them, all that he requires from them.
I. In support of these positions, I appeal, in the first place, directly, to the language of the predictions, in its natural and obvious meaning. The subject is fully stated in our text, and the verses immediately connected with it. The dispersion and misery of the people after the destruction of their city, (that is, as I think, and shall endeavour to prove in its place, their present dispersion,) being largely predicted up to verse 39, it is written at verse 40, If they shall confess their iniquity, and the iniquity of their fathers, with their trespass that they have trespassed against me, and that also they have walked contrary to me, (here is their acknowledgment of their national guilt :) and that I also have walked contrary to them, and have brought them into the land of their enemies : (here is their recognition of God's hand in their dispersion :) if then their uncircumcised hearts be humbled, and they then accept of the punishment of their iniquity(here is their submission of heart, acquiescing in, instead of resisting their punishment)—then will I remember my covenant with Jacob, and also my covenant with Isaac, and also my covenant with Abraham will I remember, and I will remember THE LAND :-(here is the promise put conditionally, depending for its fulfilment upon this state of penitence being produced in the nation.) The desolation of the land is reiterated in the next verse, (43) and then (44, 45) the promise is put absolutely; that which before was introduced, as waiting for the performance of a condition, being now enumerated among the unconditional certainties, which the Lord God of Israel will surely bring to pass. When they be in the land of their enemies, I will not cast them away, neither will I abhor them to destroy them utterly, and to break my covenant with them : for I am the Lord thy God. But I WILL for their sakes remember the covenant of their ancestors, whom I brought forth out of the land of Egypt, in the sight of the heathen, that I might be their God. I am the Lord.
The penitence of the nation, while yet dispersed, is declared in the conditional form, in Deuteronomy iv. 27–31. If from thence thou shalt seek the Lord thy God ..... if thou turn to the Lord thy God ..... &c. : also chapter xxx. 1, 2, 3.
The same is predicted absolutely by Ezekiel, chap. vi. The desolation being described in the early verses, it is written at verse 8, “ Yet will I leave a remnant, that ye may have some that shall escape the sword among the nations, when ye shall be scattered through the countries; and they that escape of you shall remember me among the nations whither they shall be carried captives .... and they shall loathe themselves for the evils which they have committed in all their abominations ; and they shall know that I am the Lord, and that I have not said in vain that I would do this evil unto them.” Also by the prophet Hosea, thus saith the Lord, “ I will be unto Ephraim as a lion,
and as a young lion to the house of Judah ; I, even I, will tear and go away: I will take away, and none shall rescue him ; I will go and return to my place, till they acknowledge their offence, and seek my face : in their affliction they will seek me in the morning. Come, and let us return unto the Lord, for he hath torn, and he will heal us: he hath smitten, and he will bind us up." (v. 14, 15; and vi. 1.)
All this language is in itself very clear and simple. Had it been the intention of the Holy Spirit to inform us by the prophets, that the Jews would be brought into a state of penitence, while still dispersed among the nations ; that is, that they would confess their sins, and the sins of their fathers before the Lord their God; loathe themselves for their iniquity, discern the immediate hand of Jehovah in their dispersion, and seek unto him for deliverance; and that upon their doing so, He would remember his promise to their fathers, and restore them to the possessions of their fathers : —had it been the intention of the great Inspirer of the prophets thus to write, what more express language can we conceive to be used for the purpose, than that which has now been quoted ? Suppose that the event should thus take place, that the Jews in every quarter of the world should (as in many places they already do) acknowledge and bewail the sins of their nation, and cry mightily unto their God for deliverance, not merely in the formal lan