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not of the body, is it therefore not of the body? &c. Assuredly it is a necessary part of it. JVoy much more, those members of the body which seem to be more feeble, are necessary. And as God has put more abundant honour upon the part which lacked, let them not be discouraged. /
That one question, h it not of the body ? is full of meaning. It denotes that you are connected with Christ your head, and partakers of his fullness, even all that is common to the body. Particularly you have an interest in Christ's love. For we are members of his body, of his flesh, and of his bones. In his salvation: For the husband is the head of the wife, even as Christ is the head of the church: and he is the Saviour of the body. In all that is communicated from him you have a part: But, speaking the truth in love, may grow up into him in all things which is the head, even Christ; from whom the whole body, fitly joined together, and compacted by that which every joint supplieth, according to the effectual working in the measure of every part, malceth increase of the body, unto the edifying of itself in love. Yea, you are necessary to his relative fullness, the fullness of him that filleth all in all: Which is the body, the fullness of him that filleth all in all. If the least member were gone, it would not be a full or perfect body.
THE CONVERSION OF THE JEWS.
I Was lately reading a book, published about eighty years ago, in which the author reproves another for having prayed for the conversion of the Jews, contending that they had sinned the sin
unto death; that therefore prayer for them was not the prayer of faith; and that there was nothing in the scriptures from whence we could conclude that they ever would be converted. I shall not trouble your readers with the author's arguments, which appear to me to have no weight; but having been employed of late years in a morning exposition, I have met with several parts of the prophecies which have appeared to me inexplicable on any other supposition; and as it may furnish Christians with matter and motives for prayer, 1 will offer a few remarks on two or three passages which I conceive to relate to this subject. My present paper will be grounded on the vision of the dry bones, in the 37th chapter of Ezekiel.
This vision, I allow, had its first and immediate accomplishment in the restoration of the Jews from the Babylonish captivity, who in that country were like dead men, or rather like bones of a dead man disunited and scattered, and in a manner without hope of recovery. Their restoration by Cyrus was a kind of resurrection from the dead; and as the Assyrian power, which carried away the ten tribes, had been swallowed up by that of Babylon, and Babylon was now in its turn swallowed up by that of Media and Persia, opportunity would probably be afforded for many of the other tribes to attach themselves to Judah, and return with them. The inquiry at that time does not appear to have been, whether they were of Judah, or Benjamin, or Levi; but whether they were of Israel? This may in some degree answer to the two sticks of Ephraim and Judah becoming one. Being governed also by princes of the house of David, he might be said to reign over them, and to be their shepherd. Ver. 16—24.
But as it is not unusual for the same thing (the passover for instance) to refer immediately to one event, and remotely to another, so it is common for a prophecy to have a partial fulfilment in something at or near the time, and a more perfect one at some distant period. God's works being a whole, and the end seen from the beginning, there is often a dignified analogy between them; system as it were within system; one train of events making way for another, and furnishing an earnest of its fulfilment. Thus the kingdom of the Messiah is manifestly predicted in the 72d Psalm.
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though it is mostly under the form of the prosperous reign of Solomon. In like manner, the vision in question contains a prediction of the restoration and conversion of the Jews in the latter days, though it is mostly under the form of the return of their forefathers from Babylon. In proof of this, let the following particulars be considered. First: The number of the ten tribes who might return with Judah was too small to contain a full accomplishment of the prophecy, which is expressly applied to the whole house of Israel. Secondly : Those who were to return are described as an exceeding great army, but that of Judah, and the other tribes which returned from Babylon, was very far from answering to this description, they were but a small company compared with the number which usually composed an eastern army. Ezra ii. 64. Thirdly: It is said of David, God's servant, who was to be king over them, that he should be their prince for ever. This is language which very much resembles that of the covenant with David, that his seed should be established for ever, and his throne built up to all generations, even as the sun and movn in the heavens, which is clearly to be understood of the kingdom of Christ. There is also a similar phraseology in a prophecy of Hosea: For the children of Israel shall abide many days without a king, and without a prince, and without a sacrifice, and without an image, and without an ephod, and without teraphim. Afterward shall the children of Israel return and seek Jehovab their God, and David their king, in the latter days. Fourthly: Though the company who returned with Zerubbabe! were many of them godly people, yet the history of the nation from thence to "the1 coming of Christ, is far from answering to what is said of them in this prophecy, that they should walk in Goo"s judgments, observe his statutes, and do them. Such promises also of his tabernacle being with them, and his sanctuary in the midst of them for evermore, seem to be much too strong for the above period. Finally: It accords with the general design of this prophet, towards the latter end of his prophecies, which was, under the form of Jewish phraseology, to foretell the glory of the latter days. Hence his description ofa new temple (chap. xl. xli. xlii.); of the glory of the God of Israel as dwelling in it (xliii.); of the division of the land by lot (xlv.); of the holy waters (xlvii.); and of the city whose name should be culled JehovahShammah, The Lord is there, (xlviii.)
Admitting the prophecy to refer to the condition of the Jews it their last dispersion, and future return to Christ, there is something very impressive in the whole account. Their present scattered and unconverted state is filly represented by a number of dry bones. The allusion may be to a field of battle, where many years before thousands upon thousands fell by the sword, and their bodies remaining unburied, their bones lay scattered over all the plain. Once, they lived, but can they live again? Israel was once a living body, and what was more, lived to God; yea, they were the only people who did so. But what are they now? scattered over the face of the earth; no longer a body, but separated bone from his bone; no more possessed of that life and spirit which distinguished their holy predecessors, but dry as bones which have been long dead; not only devoid of every thing like true religion, like other sinners, but singularly averse to it. AH unconverted sinners are dry, but they are very dry. They indeed retain something of the resemblance of religion; but it is that which a skull retains of the human countenance—ugly, disgusting, and horrid.
Their hopeless condition is also fitly expressed by the question to the prophet, Can these bones live? judging by sense, the answer must have been, They cannot. There is no people so apparently hardened against conviction; none who have lived among Christians so much in vain; none who manifest such diabolical enmity and wrath when reasoned with, though it be in the meekest manner. The frequent disappointments which we have met with in attempting their conversion, is almost enough to overcome us with despair. Even they themselves seem to have no hopes, except what are of a worldly nature. Yet, hoping in him with whom all things are possible, we may answer with the prophet, 0 Lord God, thou knottiest.
Their restoration and conversion are no less fitly represented by a resurrection Such is the idea given us by the apostle, of this very event. Jfthe casting away of them be the reconciling of the world, what shall the receiving of them be but Life From The Dead r So extraordinary an instance of divine power and goodness could scarcely be illustrated by any thing more suitable.
The order in which it will be accomplished is worthy of notice. Several thing?, it seems, will precede their becoming truly alive to God, some of which may be preparatory to it. If they should be collected and combined by some occurrence in providence, previous to their conversion to Christ, it will correspond, not only with the account here given, of their first coming forth out of their graves, &c. and then having the Spirit of God imparted, but with another given by Zechariah. Jerusalem is, by him, represented as a torch of fire in a sheaf, to her enemies, and afterwards as having o spirit of grace and supplication given her, by which her inhabitants should look on him whom they had pierced, and mourn. Though sinners do nothing preparatory to their own conversion, yet God frequently does much in this way with them, and for them; and many events may precede the effectual calling of God's ancient people, which may answer to the noise, the shaking, and the hones coming together, bone to Ms bone. Even the sinews and the flesh may come upon them, and the skin cover them from above, while yet there is no breath in them. In other words, they may become a body politic, and possibly have the form of devotion as heretofore, while yet it is only a form. But if, while the doctrine of the cross is preached, the Spirit of Life from God out of heaven breathe upon these slain that they live, then shall they know that the Son of Qod is come, and having an understanding given them to know Him that is true, shall believe and be in Him that is true, even in his Son Jesus Christ. 1 John v. 20.
In two or three future papers, I may offer some remarks on a few more prophecies on this subject. At present, I only observe that God's designs of mercy towards the descendants of his ancient people are, I hope, sufficiently manifest to afford a ground for the prayer of faith.