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the destruction of Jerusalem by Nebuchadnezzar. In the second book of Esdras we meet with a remarkable passage concerning them; and though, I am well aware, that it is an Apocryphal book, and, therefore, that its testimony upon any subject will be received with much hesitation, yet, it may be allowed a certain degree of weight on such a question as the present. What then is the amount of this information ? That, fearing lest they should be betrayed into idolatry, they determined upon leaving the haunts of men, and journeyed for one year and a half from Assyria, in which country they had been placed. If there be any credit due to this, all we desire to take from it is the fact that they did not continue in that country into which they had been carried away captive.
An occurrence is upon record, which took place a few years since, the truth of which, I think, has never been gainsayed; and which is, without doubt, fresh in the minds of some. At the great annual fair, which is held at Leipsic, some of the seed of Abraham appeared, bringing with them their articles of merchandise; and when inquiry was made about them, it is reported, that their reply was to the following effect: - That Abraham was their father, that there were large numbers of them in the country where they dwelt, and that country was Bucharia.” This I believe to have been the substance of the narrative. That there is something more than probability in the idea, that these are the lost tribes of Israel, I am ready to think, not only because the minds of men have been of late directed to that part of the world, which before had been little noticed ; but because the principal approach to Bucharia is from China. Thus when the time for favouring Zion appears to be arriving, and therefore for the restoration of the kingdom of Israel, the doors of that vast empire, are being providentially opened; and thus, if this be true, a way is preparing for the return of that people from their hiding place, where the Lord has shut them
But it may be objected, If so, they have not been visited with judgment as their brethren during the time of their dispersions. Should what has here been argued prove correct, God will be justified herein. In this, as in all his works, he will be found righteous. For, let it not be forgotten, or overlooked, that if, as we believe, the kingdom of Israel never returned from their dispersion with the kingdom of Judah, they have been altogether exempt from that tremendous curse which was laid by the fathers upon the head of the children, when, about to crucify the Lord's anointed, they cried with one voice, 6 His blood be on us, and on our children.”* And, if the Lord have hid them, of this we are persuaded, that, when the fulness of time for their restoration shall arrive, he will bring them forth; for “He that scattered Israel will gather him, and keep him as a shepherd doth his flock.”
* See Note A.
Their restoration then is clear, and the thirtyseventh chapter of Ezekiel is so full upon the point, that we need only study it throughout to be satisfied of the fact, and that they shall be reunited unto Christ, never again to be divided.
We ask now the question which has before been put. Did these things occur after the return from Babylon? We are constrained to confess they did not; and if so, that there is no harmony or agreement between this feature of the restoration, spoken of by the prophets, and that which was then accomplished.
IV. I would direct attention now to another particular, I mean, the coming of Elijah the Prophet before the great and terrible day of the Lord. It is no
uncommon occurrence, when this subject is brought forward, for men to say, “Oh, this is John the Baptist, and our Lord himself
* Matt. xxvii, 25.
tells us that it is;" and in proof of it, Matt. xi. 14 is quoted, which testifies, “ This is Elias which was for to come.”
We will endeavour, concisely, to examine the question. In Mal. iv. 5, 6, it is written: “Behold, I will send you Elijah the Prophet before the coming of the great and dreadful day of the Lord: And he shall turn the heart of the fathers to the children, and the heart of the children to their fathers, lest I come and smite the earth with a curse." Here we find the individual so clearly identified, that no other person can be intended
Elijah the Prophet;" and the coming of Elijah is connected with the coming of the great and dreadful day of the Lord.” But it is replied, “ Our Saviour, in the passage of St. Matthew's Gospel already quoted, teaches that it is John the Baptist.” It happens in this case, as in others, that what is shortly stated in the with Matt., is stated at length in the xviith; and no reasonable person will reject the light which God himself condescends to throw upon the shorter passage by the longer. We find instances of this in the history of man's creation, in the first and second chapters of Genesis. In the first is a concise narrative of the fact: in the second, further particulars are added. So, in the case of the resurrection of the dead. That doctrine
is shortly laid down by Daniel and other holy men of God; but St. Paul reveals that event in detail, as also does St. John, and teaches, that there must be two acts of the resurrection, with a long interval between them. To Matt. xvii. now refer.
There the three favoured disciples, on their return from the mount of transfiguration, put this question to the Lord,
Why then say the Scribes that Elias must first come? And Jesus answered and said unto them, Elias truly shall first come, and restore all things. But I say unto you, That Elias is come already, and they knew him not, but have done unto him whatsoever they listed. Likewise shall also the Son of man suffer of them. Then the disciples understood that he spake unto them of John the Baptist.”* Now, here are two specific assertions made in reply: the one “ that Elias shall first come and restore all things:" the other, in another tense, speaking of a thing past, and asserting, that (in some way or other) “ Elias was already come." Here, according to the prevailing notion, our Lord neutralizes his first assertion by his second: in other words, he says in one breath a thing which, in the next, he teaches to be untrue!
How then are these to be reconciled ? Most easily. Was John Baptist Elijah the Prophet?
* Matt. xvii. 11-13.