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In the patriarchal ages, the intercourse between the divine being and the human race is continued; but without his assuming a higher character than men in those times were capable of having intercourse with. Consequently, their apprehensions of moral government would be growing more clear and determinate, and their ideas of duty and obligation (together with their expectation of consequences corresponding to their actions) more definite and certain; so as to induce them to be less influenced by prospects of immediate pleasure or gain than before.
The fate of men's children and posterity is always an interesting object to them, and must have been peculiarly so in the early ages of the world, when the whole earth was before them, and every man had the chance of being the founder of great and mighty nations. Thcse, therefore, were the views with which the divine being thought proper, at that time, to engage the attelition of the patriarchs, and enforce the obligation of virtue. Abraham had the pro
mise of becoming the father of many nations, and that in his feed all ihe fanilies of the earth fis uit be bezig? With these prospects, we find his mind so much enlarged, and his faith in futurity so strong, that he leaves his native land; content and happy in being a sojourner in the country which his posterity were to possess.
In the whole course of the Jewish history, repeated miracles and prophecies would conftantly tend to keep up the views of that people to great and remote objects. And this, together with the diffinit ideas they had of the origin of the world, and the early history of it, their knowiedge of the rise of their own nation, and of the frequent interpositions of the divine being in their favour, would give a dignity to their conceptions, and a grandeur to their prospects, to which the heathen nations must have been strangers. There was a majetty and dignity in the Jewish ritual, in their temple, and the service of it, which far exceeded any thing in the heathen world; and being accompanied with just and sublime ideas of
the one true God, it must have given a sublimity to their sentiments, and a warmth and fervour to their religious impressions, to which other nations could not have attained. Accordingly, in all the compositions of the heathen poets, in honour of their gods, there are no traces of any thing like that spirit of manly devotion, which animates the psalms of David,
• In the frequent relapses of the Jews into idolatry, the prophets are continually sent of God, to remind them of the allegiance they owed to their maker, to hold out to them the expectation of his favour or refentment, and thereby preserve upon their minds the influence of great and remote objects,
When they were effectually cured of their proneness to idolatry, by the Babylonish captivity; and, therefore, such frequent interpositions of the divine being were less necessary, their minds were prepared for that long interruption of miracles which ensued, by the remarkably distinct prophecies
of Isaiah, Daniel, and Malachi, concerning future and glorious times under the Mefsiah. The very year of his appearance was fixed by Daniel, and though it was not done in such a manner as to enable them to make it out with perfect exactness, yet it was sufficient to keep up their attention to it; and, in fact, they were not so far out in their calculations, but that, at the time of our Saviour, and not long before, we find a general and most ardent expectation raised in the whole body of the Jewish nation of some approaching deliverer. :
In this interval, therefore, between the captivity and the birth of Christ, far greater views and prospects were present to the mind of a Jew, than people of other nations could have any idea of. So great was the actual influence of these ideas, that, in the time of the Maccabees, they shewed a heroism and magnanimity in the defence of their religion, and in suffering for it, which must have astonished their heathen persecutors. And our Saviour found ainong them such notions of a future state, and of a re
furrection, as (however they came by them, and how imperfect and obscure foever they were) could not fail to make numbers of them to think and act in a manner far superior to the most admired of the Greek and Roman philosophers."
If the attention of the Jews was kept awake to great and distant objects, how much more is this the case with christians, to whom life and immortality are brought to light by the gospel. Christianity is the last diipensation of God to mankind, and it doth not seem pofiible, that more ample provision should be made to enlarge the views and comprehension of the human mind, in order to fix its attention upon great and reinote objects, and raise it above the influence of present and temporary things.
A true christian, like his great master, is not of this world, but a citizen of heaven. He considers himself as a stranger and pilgrim here below, and lives by faith, and not by fight. Let him be ever so poor and despised here, he looks upon himself as an heir of