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Lord liveth, that brought up the children of Israel out of Egypt.” Why not? Will the people have become ungrateful to the Lord for the honour put upon their fathers in the days of old, beyond all other nations? No. The prophet goes on to explain this: “ But [they shall say], The Lord liveth, which brought up and which led the seed of the house of Israel out of the north country, and from all countries whither I had driven them; and they shall dwell in their own land.” The meaning is clear. The latter day deliverance shall so far exceed the former, that, by reason of the glory that excelleth, it shall not be remembered nor come into mind. Now, amidst that constellation of wonders which Jehovah wrought when he made bare his arm to bring his people out of the land of Egypt, and to bring them into their own land, which was the brightest, which shed the most glorious light upon them? We may consider the plagues of Egypt in their order, we may add the setting aside the very ordinances of nature, when the sea was loosed from the perpetual decree, by which it had been bound from the beginning, and formed a wall on the right hand and on the left for the ransomed to pass over. This we may do, and arrive at no conclusion. God had made bare his arm, and stamped upon them all the broad characters of
miraculous interference. But there remains one which claims the supremacy, and takes a native precedence of all, and that was, the manifested presence of Christ in the fiery cloudy pillar. And if, in a season of marvels, this was the greatestif this, like Aaron's rod, swallowed up the resthow shall the marvellous things of the latter day exceed in glory the glory of the former, if this overwhelming feature be not there? Surely, the glory of the latter shall drive away the very remembrance of the former, because in the latter their “eyes shall see the king in his beauty;" for then they shall look on him whom they pierced, “ when he shall come in his own glory, and in his Father's, and of the holy angels." *
We ask, for the fifth and last time, What is there of a corresponding character in the return from Babylon? And all of us, I think, must join in one and the same reply, There is nothing
What, therefore, is our conclusion respecting the Babylonish restoration ?
That the promises of the restoration of Israel were not accomplished in that return: that it was partial, inasmuch as one kingdom only was brought back, and not the other: that it was temporary, after an appointed season to be suc
* Luke ix. 26.
ceeded by a wide wasting desolation : (Luke xix. 43, 44:) that it was a reviving in bondage, for the days did arrive in which the sceptre departed from Judah, and a lawgiver from between his feet, and Shiloh came.*
We have only now to inquire, What is the present duty of the Church of Christ, in connexion with this doctrine ?
Her duty is clear, to promote God's purposes of mercy and of truth to Israel. And how may this be done? Here the Lord not only furnishes by precept his will concerning us, but gives his own example in confirmation of the precept. We will go to one deeply interesting period of his eventful history, in order to obtain what we seek. Observe him, not many hours before he entered into his unspeakable passion, when the Father was about to lay upon him the accumulated guilt of a world of sinners; when he was about to be baptized with that baptism of fire upon which his heart was so intent, that he said, “ How am I straitened until it be accomplished !” See him ascend an eminence from which “ he beheld the city,” and what words do we hear from his gracious lips ? “ If thou hadst known, even thou, at least in this thy day, the things which belong unto thy peace.” Here is
. Gen. xlix. 10.
love: here is pity: here is compassion; for out of the abundance of the heart his mouth spake. But draw nearer to that man of sorrows, and what do you see? You see the big tear rolling down his careworn cheek testifying to the grief which swelled his bosom; for those tears were shed for a people just about to fill up the measure of their iniquity by killing him, the Prince of Life. Proceed in this eventful history, and go with me to the consummation on Calvary: when the very
face of nature was shrouded with a noonday darkness, sad testimony to the state of his benighted soul, from which all sensible comfort was withdrawn, because it pleased the Father to put to grief the son of his love, and to make “him to be sin for us who knew no sin, that we might be made the righteousness of God in him.” What gracious words proceeded out of his lips ? “ Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do." And, for the fruit of this intercessory prayer, we look to the day of Pentecost, when three thousand souls, of those who had been his betrayers and murderers, were added to the Church of such as should be saved !
He is still the Shepherd of Israel, and David knew the value of that title when he said, “ The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want.” Full of comfort is the assurance thus conveyed to the
heart of his sheep. In the season of weakness Christ is “the Sheep for the slaughter,” or “the Lamb of God which taketh away the sin of the world.” But in his season of power he is “ the Great Shepherd of the sheep," when, as touching his people Israel, “he will bear them and carry them as in the days of old.”
Here, then, is the Church's duty exhibited in the brightest colours. Here she beholds her example, and it becomes her to go and do likewise. Would she feel as Christ felt, she must love Abraham's seed. Would she do as Christ did, she must labour for their good. She has enjoyed the children's bread, and been fattening upon it for ages, whilst the children of the kingdom have been left to starve. To you, then, whom I now address, the way of duty is clear. Make the claims of Israel plain to those who know them not, and press upon those who know them the duty of acting up to that knowledge.
Here the office of the preacher ceases. It is ours to proclaim the will of God as revealed in his Word. It is his to command the blessing. May that blessing be now largely given, that the ministration of this service may redound to the Divine glory, and the good of his people Israel, through Jesus Christ my Lord, my God!