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Jehovah concerning the nation; and restoration, free pardon, and final glory, were the animating themes. On this point the thirtieth chapter of Deuteronomy is as clear and explicit, though not so copious, as is the twenty-eighth chapter on the desolation. It does not belong to our present purpose, to enter into any detailed examination of these prophecies: it is sufficient to observe, that such of the Israelites as paid due attention to the predictions delivered to Abraham, comparing them with their literal fulfilment, had every reason to expect a similarly literal fulfilment of those delivered by Moses. Moses proclaimed two leading branches of the purpose of God respecting the Jewish nation—1. Desolation, long and dreary. 2. Restoration, complete and glorious. Under these two heads nearly all the subsequent prophecies concerning the nation might be perspicuously arranged: with this remarkable difference, however, in the distribution; that whereas, in the predictions of Moses, a manifest superiority in stress and copiousness is given to the afflictive side of the prophecy; in David, Isaiah, and the other prophets, the case is just the reverse. The tribulation is indeed described by them all, but only as enduring for a night; while the exuberance of the prophecy is reserved for the joy of the succeeding morning. A train is laid under the nation, ready to explode, and scatter them to the four winds: while, at the same time, an everlasting arm is described as stretched forth around the ruins, all powerful to preserve, to restore, to rebuild, in permanent magnificence. In confirmation of this, it would be easy to adduce from all the prophets, a multitude of passages, parallel to the twenty-eighth and the thirtieth chapters of Deuteronomy: but our attention is, for the present, to be restricted to some of those predictions, concerning the nation, which have already been avowedly fulfilled.
IV. Subsequently to the establishment of the Israelites in Canaan, a period of four hundred years elapsed, without any event permanently affecting the affairs of the nation. "Israel served the Lord, all the days of Joshua, and all the days of the elders that overlived Joshua, and which had known all the works of the Lord, that he had done for Israel."" The next ages degenerated: their compliances with the idolatrous customs of the surrounding nations, provoked the Lord their God to anger, and brought down frequent and severe chastisements upon them. They were given successively into the hands of their enemies, the king of Mesopotamia, the king of Moab, the king of Canaan, the king of Midian, the king of the Philistines, and served them. But still they were kept separate; and in their troubles, when they called upon the Lord, he heard them, and raised up deliverers for them, one after another—Othniel, and Ehud, and Barak, and Gideon, and Samson, by ° Joshua xxiv. 31.
whom he brought them out of all their distresses, without any internal change in their national constitution. During this period, there seems to have been a cessation of prophecy, if we except the song of Deborah: and that song has been deemed prophetic, more, perhaps, on account of a parallelism of expression in one clause of it, with a passage in the sixty-eighth Psalm, than because of any actual prediction contained in it.
V. The next period of the history of Israel, was marked by a great and national change—the introduction and establishment of the regal government. I pass over the anointing of Saul to be king, which was done by special directions from God to Samuel, without what can properly be called a prophecy. The same may be said of the call of David to the throne: but after his appointment, the settlement of the crown in his family became the subject of clear and copious prediction. The first king of the nation had been of the tribe of Benjamin; the second was of the tribe of Judah; and there was nothing in the existing state of affairs, independent of prophecy, to give satisfaction to the people, on the subject of the succession to the throne of David, or the establishment of the royal dynasty. Prophecy supplied this want, accurately defining and limiting the succession of the crown in David's family. (2 Sam. vii. 12—17- 1 Chron. xvii. 11—87.) It is scarcely possible to comment upon this prophecy, without adverting to what has been well called, the double sense ;° as it is scarcely possible to read it (comparing it with Heb. i. 5) without perceiving that a greater than Solomon is here. But it is the primary and temporal sense alone, to which we are now to advert, and that for the single purpose of marking its strictly literal fulfilment. The prophecy declares an eternity of dominion to be enjoyed by the seed of David: "Thine house, and thy kingdom shall be established for ever before thee: thy throne shall be established for ever." The fulfilment of this declaration, in the full and absolute meaning of the terms, is reserved (as I
° "Scripture prophecy is so framed in some of its predictions, as to bear a sense directed to two objects; of which structure the predictions concerning the kingdom of David furnish a conspicuous example; and, I should say, an unquestionable one, if the whole principle of that kind of interpretation had not been by some disputed and denied. But the principle has met with this ill acceptance, for no better reason, it should seem, than because it has been injudiciously applied in cases where it had no proper place; or has been suspected, if not mistaken, in its constituent character, as to what it really is. The double sense of prophecy, however, is of all things the most remote from fraud or equivocation, and has its ground of reason perfectly clear. For what is it? Not the convenient latitude of two unconnected senses, wide of each other, and giving room to a fallacious ambiguity; but the combination of two related, analogous and harmonizing, though disparate subjects, each clear and definite in itself; implying a twofold truth in the prescience, and creating an aggravated difficulty, and thereby an accumulated proof, in the completion."—Davison, pp. 210, 211.
shall endeavour to prove in its proper place) for that king of the Jews, who was born of the house of David, according to the flesh; and concerning whom, the angel Gabriel proclaimed at his birth, "He shall be great, and shall be called the Son of the Highest: and the Lord God shall give unto him the throne of his father David; and he shall reign over the house of Jacob for ever; and of his kingdom there shall be no end." But in its application to the typical kingdom of David, and his successors ; the expressions/or ever conveys, according to an acknowledged principle of scriptural criticism, the idea of an age or dispensation; an unbroken perpetuity for a given time; holding on through a period or system of things, to which a reference is understood to be made. Here, the system of things to which reference is made, is the regal government of Judah. So long as kings shall reign in Jerusalem, the throne shall be filled by a man of the house and lineage of David.
The prophecy thus understood was fulfilled to the letter. Solomon, Rehoboam, Abijah, Asa, Jehoshaphat, &c., son after father in regular succession, occupied the throne of David in Jerusalem; till the kingdom was overturned, the city destroyed, and the nation carried captive into Babylon. The common adjunct to the history of the death of a king of Judah, from David to Coniah,p is, and his son reigned in his stead. If our object were to p See page 140, and note.