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preservation as a separate people during their captivity, see Esther iii. 8. For the history of their return at the end of the predicted period, when God raised up Cyrus, of whom he had spoken long before, see Isaiah xliv. 28; see Ezra i. ii. and iii.
In order to appreciate this part of the subject, it may be well briefly to contemplate the position of the prophecy in the days of Daniel. Daniel was in possession of the roll of Jeremiah. Comparing, then, the state of affairs, as they existed around him, with the terms of the prophecy ; he would observe, that the assertion of the prophet, concerning the captivity of his nation, had found a plain and literal fulfilment; he would observe, also, that the implication of the prophecy concerning his nation being kept separate, and not reckoned among the Babylonians, was receiving, up to the moment of his observation, a similarly literal fulfilment : what, then, could be so natural, nay, so imperative, as to be guided by the facts of the case so far, in his interpretation of the remainder of the prophecy concerning the restoration of his people to Judea, and, consequently, to anticipate the literal fulfilment of that also ? That such was Daniel's view of the subject, he has plainly told us; and when he understood further, by his studies, that the period mentioned by Jeremiah was drawing near its close he recognised, in his calculation of the time, connected with his interpretation of the language of the prophecy, an animating stimulus to prayer
and supplication, with fasting, before the Lord his God. (Dan. ix. 2, 3, &c.) The event fully justified his literal interpretation; and our contemplation of the whole, supplies us with another important lesson on the subject of prophetic interpretation, in addition to those which we have already learned in the school of history. . ,
Similar lessons may be learned, by comparing the prophecies of Isaiah and Ezekiel, concerning Tyre, Egypt, and Babylon, with the histories of these places respectively. In each case the events justified, we should rather say demanded, the most obviously literal interpretation of the prophecy : and no interpretation, other than the literal, will bear comparison with the facts of the case. The natural and truly important inference is, that other prophecies, conveyed in similar language, shall, in their respective times, find a similar, that is, a literal fulfilment.
We now. conclude for the present, merely observing that up to this period of the history of the Jewish nation; their predicted characteristic of separation from all other nations, was evidently maintained to the letter of the prediction. That it has continued so up to this day, and shall so continue, till the end of this dispensation, are the topics next in order before us.
“ Lo! the people shall dwell alone, and shall not
. be reckoned among the nations."
From these words, we have already considered the separation of the Jewish people from all the surrounding nations, during the early periods of their history. We observed the literal fulfilment of some of the prophecies given to Abraham ; of the celebrated prophecy of Nathan addressed to David; and of some of the prophecies of Jeremiah, respecting the captivity of Judah in Babylon, for seventy years, and their restoration to Judea at the close of that period. From all this we inferred, that other prophecies, conveyed in similar language, would, in their respective times find à similar, that is, a literal fulfilment; and we concluded, leaving the people re-established in their own land, under Ezra and Nehemiah, in consequence of the predicted decree of Cyrus, king of Persia. ...
So far, the application of the language of Balaam
is clear and undeniable, “the people shall dwell alone, and shall not be reckoned among the nations.” It is equally obvious, and equally admitted, that this language applies to them, during the following four centuries of their history. The flattering privileges, conferred upon them by Alexander of Macedon, could not seduce them into any amalgamating compliance with the habits of the heathen. The blood-thirsty persecutions of Antiochus of Syria, could not extirpate the heaven-protected race; although repeated by the tyrant avowedly for that purpose. After a brilliant, but short-lived, struggle for their independence, under the Maccabees, they sunk into comparative insignificance in the political world, and were soon added to the conquests of the then victorious Romans. But though tributary, they continued separate; maintaining their distinguishing peculiarities, without the smallest relaxation, till the time when Jesus of Nazareth was born among them.
Here we reach a period of their history, at which an important difference of opinion concerning them, has existed, and does exist, in the Christian church. It is alleged by some, that the peculiarities of the Jews as a separate people, terminated with the promulgation of the gospel ; since which, they have been in no sense the peculiar people of God, but are totally cast off, in a national point of view ; to be called, indeed, as individuals in com
mon with the heathen, to the true knowledge of Jesus Christ; but no longer recognized as a separate nation, to be distinguished from the Christian church. This is a common opinion. It has been handed down among us Gentiles, from generation to generation; and although some of the most learned expositors of prophecy, in every age of Christianity, have opposed it on scriptural grounds, and demonstrated its falsehood ; yet, still it maintains its hold, firmly rooted in Gentile prejudice ; from a misapplication, it would seem, of the language of the apostles, respecting the unity of the church in Christ. It is adopted without examination, referred to as a matter of course, and asserted without proof. Now, in opposition to this, we think that the scriptures assert a perpetuity of separation; we maintain that the language of our text, put by the Divine Spirit into the mouth of Balaam, describes the state of the Jewish people, as a nation, kept separate by the hand of God, not merely till the time of Christ, but absolutely, without limitation or interruption, till the end of the world. This is of vital importance, in its connexion with other themes of prophecy, afterwards to be considered ; I now, therefore, proceed to give such reasons, and advance such arguments as appear to me satisfactorily to establish it; and I shall endeavour to simplify the proof, as much as possible.
In order to avoid ambiguity of expression, in