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ment upon them, scattering them to the four winds, as ye see them this day, and transferring their privileges to another people--even to us Gentiles, “who were not a people, but are now the people of God, who had not obtained mercy, but now have obtained mercy.”
The Jews had priority of honour and blessing, chiefly, because that unto them were committed the oracles of God, to them pertained “the adoption, and the glory, and the covenants, and the giving of the law, and the service of God, and the promises; whose are the fathers, and of whom, as concerning the flesh, Christ came, who is over all, God blessed for ever." The stream of electing grace first flowed in Jewish veins, and it was not until the nation filled up the measure of their guilt, that it passed into another family. But does the history of Israel end here? Have they ceased to exist as a separate people, and become incorporated with the Gentile Church? Has the Lord sealed up the vision and prophecy concerning them? This is, or rather has been, the opinion of many.
But what does the fact before our eyes teach? We see in the midst of
a dispersed and distinct nation, the only instance of any upon record, which has survived the loss of its civil and religious polity. We are bold to invite the sceptic to account for this
upon natural principles. Where is the man who can trace the history of the extermination of the ten tribes, or follow them to their hidingplace, in which for 2,600 years they have remained in complete obscurity? Many have attempted this, but no one has ever yet given anything approaching to a solution of the difficulty. Who can deny the existence of the tribes of Judah and Benjamin as a distinct people to the present day? They have survived the state of divorce to which the ten tribes have been exposed, and through various vicissitudes have maintained their acknowledged separate but dispersed individuality from the destruction of Jerusalem to the present hour. They survived the captivity in Babylon, the mixture with various nations on their return, their intercourse with the victorious powers of Greece, the persecutions of Antiochus, their subjection to the Romans, and their abasement under the Persians, Saracens, Turks, and Egyptians; yet we see the prophecy fulfilled—“ The nation shall dwell alone, and shall not be reckoned among the nations.” They have rarely intermarried with the strangers among whom they have sojourned; and although separate as the dew among many nations, they have, like the dew, preserved their essential unity. In their language, customs, and religion, they are essentially Jews—they observe the feasts of the Mosaic ceremonial, and the outward sign of circumcision—they abstain from blood and idolatry, and are zealous for the law—even in their features and physical conformation they exhibit a distinctness of character which stamps them as the nation scattered and peeled, a people terrible from their beginning hitherto, a nation meted out and trodden down. And this is not an arbitrary or groundless assertion, for we can produce the testimony of those who, upon purely natural principles, are obliged to bow before the mystery of Divine agency. A modern physiologist writes thus:“ The Jews exhibit one of the most striking instances of national formation, unaltered by the most various changes; they have been scattered for ages over the face of the whole earth, but their peculiar religious opinions and practices have kept them uncommonly pure." (Lawrence on Physiology, third edition, p. 468.*) So far from its being speculative or uncertain, we have an endless combination of evidence, and the subject demands a close investigation. We ask the question, Why is this? Can it be explained ? Is any practical benefit to be derived from the consideration? Assuredly, brethren, for the Holy
• See the remarks of the Rev. H. M'Neile upon this author. (Lecture üi. p. 55 ; “ Lectures upon the Jews.")
Ghost calls our attention to it, and bids us pause to meditate upon the solemn, personal, and heartsearching truth conveyed in the text. “ Well, because of unbelief they were broken off, and thou standest by faith. Be not highminded, but fear.”
In the present dispersion of Israel we have a living comment upon fulfilled prophecy, an evidence which the most accomplished sceptic cannot gainsay, or the most wilful Atheist deny. God has preserved this monument of his moral government that he may awaken the Church to a sense of her responsibility. He opens a page of deep but plain truth, and he that runs may read; for all these things happened unto them for ensamples, and they are written for our admonition, upon whom the ends of the world are come. Israel stands as a parenthesis between fulfilled and unfulfilled prophecy, and we may trace in what is past, the elements of God's righteousness, while we anticipate the glory which shall follow hereafter. We occupy the position of a pupil who has received his first instructions from the artist. We have the outline, the deep shadows and the first tints of colour and effect, but the painting is left in an unfinished state for a study. Thus the Lord having marked out his great purposes, has placed the Jews as a study upon the earth, directing us by the light of his Word to trace in their history,
past and present, the deep, clear, and masterly outlines of his moral attributes, and thus to anticipate the glorious result when the whole shall be complete.
From this view of the subject we may gather some important lessons. May the Lord graciously teach us, and unfold the truth of his word with demonstration of the Spirit and with power!
The present dispersion affords1. A moral warning to the Gentiles. 2. A proof of the literal fulfilment of prophecy. 3. A sure pledge of Israel's return and glory.
1. It is to be feared that much ignorance has prevailed among professing Christians as to the dispersion of Israel, from a neglect of the plain and obvious interpretation of the chapter from which my text is taken. The judicial rejection of Israel, and the ascendancy of the Gentiles, has been regarded with a complacent self-righteous spirit by many; the heart has been puffed up with pride, the mind darkened by prejudice, so that the real, awful, and critical tenure of our privileges in the covenant of election is in a very great degree overlooked. The object of the Epistle to the Romans is to prove, that the justification of a sinner before God is wholly of grace through faith in the Lord Jesus Christ, and that as regards this article of salvation, Jew and Gentile, who are both