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Respecting the conversion of the rejected Jews, their restoration to the land, secured to them in the covenant, and the ingathering of the fullness of the Gentiles; which events are to introduce the millennial glory.
IT may have been an objection in the mind of the reader to the theory which has been exhibited, that the posterity of Abraham have, in fact, been cast out for centuries, from the land of Canaan. This objection, which has considerable plausibility, ought to be obviated. It cannot be obviated, unless it can be made to appear, that the posterity of Abraham either do, or are yet to possess this land, according to covenant. It was given them, as an unalienble possession, by will. If it has been enjoyed but for a time, and this under great interruptions, and it is never again to come into their possession, some embarrassment will seem to attend the scheme which has been advanced.
Though interpretations of prophecy, not yet fulfilled, must always be in some measure doubtful; yet it is to be presumed, God has so far instructed us into the manner in which the covenant is to be executed, that no insuperable objection can lie against it.
It has appeared that the covenant absolutely secured a succession of pious persons, in the posterity of Abraham, constituting the seed, in the proper, literal sense of that term; and that of these, as heirs by natural descent, the kingdom of Christ primarily consists.
Such a succession must be supposed therefore in the Christian Church; though, since the distinction between Jew and Gentile is done away, we are incapable of pointing them out, as such. Our not being able to do this, is certainly not inconsistent with the supposed fact, that such a succession has taken place.
The certainty of it rests upon the best foundation; that of covenant promise. We need only to be sure; and it is thought abundant proof has been furnished, that the promise is absolute. Let there be but a remnant, and the promise stands. If there be not, God hath certainly cast away his people.
It is probably not possible to prove from history, that there has been yetany period of time, in which there have been no Christian believers within the limits of the land of Canaan. History favors the idea that there have ever been such, more or fewer, These, or some of them, may have been lineal descendants from Abraham. What can be more likely than this supposition? If so, then the seed designed in the covenant have nev er been disseized of this inheritance.
If we look back to the period of the Babylonian captivity, we shall find reason to conclude, that during the whole of the time that captivity lasted, there was a remnant which continued to hold the possession. The seed were not ejected. Let us, to convince our selves of this, here recal into view the passage in the 6th chapter of Isaiah. "Go and tell this people, Hear ye indeed, but understand not; and see ye indeed, but perceive not. Make the heart of this people fat, and make their cars heavy, and shut their eyes, lest they see with their eyes, and hear with their ears, and un derstand with their heart, and convert, and be healed. Then said I, O Lord, how long? And he answered, Until the cities be wasted without inhabitant, and the land be uterly desolate. And the Lord have removed men far away, and there be a great forsaking in the midst of the land. But yet, in it shall be a tenth, and it shall return, and shall be eaten, as a teil tree, and as an oak, whose substance is in them, when they cast their leaves; so the holy seed shall be the substance thereof." This passage, though somewhat obscure, is clearly in favour of the idea to prove which it is produced. The words, in it, must refer to the land, which was to be desolated. And the words a tenth, must refer to a favored remnant. The clos
ing words of the verse are clearly in favor of this con struction. The words, and shall be eaten, are apparently against it, and must be a bad translation. Surely the remnant are not to be spared merely for destruction. Poole and Vitringa give different expositions of this clause. They are both in favor of the passive ren dering. But, according to Vitringa, several learned critics render it actively. An active rendering, i. e.. that they should return to eat or waste away their enemies, seems to be necessary to make it agree with the rest of the verse, the context, and the scheme of the Bible. But however this clause is to be rendered, and whatever be the meaning of it, the residue of the verse is decidedly in favor of the continuance of a part of Judah in the land. They are compared to a tree, whose foliage is gone. The tree itself remains, keeps its place in the earth, lives, and thrives.
If we recur to the history, we find it said, II Kings, xxv. 12. "But the captain of the guard, left of the poor of the land for vinedressers and for husbandmen.” These would be more probably inheritors of the bles sing than their richer neighbors. For God hath chosen the poor of this world.
The same thing is intimated in Nehemiah, i. 3. "And they said unto me, The remnant that are left of the captivity there in the Province, are in great affliction, and reproach; the wall also of Jerusalem is broken down, and the gates thereof are burned with fire." There is then no evidence of an entire ejection during this captivity. The evidence is against it. Some were left when the captivity began; and when it closes, some are still found in the land.
The present dispersion of the unbelieving Jews resembles that captivity. Analogy would lead us to presume, that a part at least of the remnant, whose history we have traced as far as the scripture would carry us, remained within the limits of the land of Ca naan, and that their descendants have continued to occupy it to the present day,
I find little in Dr. Mosheim's History, which is explicit and demonstrative on this subject. But there are several passages which imply, that this has been the fact. In his history of the second Century he tells us, Vol. I, page 159; "But it was not from the Romans alone, that the disciples of Christ were to feel oppres sion. Barchochebas, the fictitious king of the Jews, whom Adrian afterwards defeated, vented against them all his fury; because they refused to join his standards, and second his rebellion." This remark will surely apply to no disciples of Christ but such as were of Jewish descent, and lived in Palestine. In the II. Vol. of his history, page 24, the following passage is found. "It was much about this time, that Jevenal, bishop of Jerusalem, or rather of Elia,* attempted to withdraw himself and his church from the jurisdiction of the Bishop of Cesarea, and aspired after a place among the first Prelates of the Christian world. The high degree of veneration, and esteem, in which the church of Jerusalem was held, among all Christian Societies (on account of its rank among the apostolical churches, and its title to the appellation of the Mother Church, as having succeeded the first Christian Assembly founded by the appostles) was extremely favorable to the ambition of Juvenal, and rendered his project much more practicable than it would otherways have been." Maclaine, his translator, subjoins the following observation in a note." After the destruction of Jerusalem, the face of Palestine was almost totally changed; and it was so parcelled out, and wasted by a succes sion of wars, and invasions, that it preserved scarcely any traces of its former condition. Under the Christian Emperors there were three Palestines formed out of the ancient country of that name, cach of which was an episcopal see. And it was over these three dioceses that Juvenal usurped and maintained the jurisdiction." Surely these accounts imply, that there were at this time many Christians of Jewish descent inhabiting the land of Canaan. In the 157 page of this Vol. where Mosheim is speaking of the events which happened in
*The city was generally called Œlia, at that time.
the seventh century, he remarks thus; "In the eastern Countries, and particularly in Syria and Palestine the Jews at certain times, attacked the Christians with merciless fury." There were then at this time also many Christians in this land. He mentions Comas, as a bishop of Jerusalem, in the eighth century, who acquired considerable reputation for sacred poetry. The oppressions which the Christians in Palestine suffered from the Saracens, constituted the reason, or the prin cipal motive, which was holden forth to Christendom for the crusades.
And modern travellers tell us, that there are now a considerable number of Christians in that country. Some of them may be sincere believers.
But let us allow that the seed of Abraham are completely ejected. Then the promise must be interpreted as general and final. It is a fact, that from the time that Jacob went down into Egypt to the passage of Jordan under the conduct of Joshua, the seed of Abraham had not actual possession of the land. If this be reconcileable with the execution of the promise, as all concede that it is, then the present dispersion may be reconcileable with it, though involving a complete ejection of longer continuance,
When the Jews were restored to the land of Canaan from their seventy years captivity in Babylon, they were undoubtedly restored in execution of covenant promise. Should this land be again put into possession of Abraham's descendants, now dispersed among the nations; be holden by them exclusively, finally, and under circumstances of greater glory than has yet been experienced; it will be allowed by those who witness this event, that the promise has in no article failed. If there be evidence in the scripture that this is designed, we ought to look upon it as though it were a reality. And this evidence ought to be received as obviating the objection. It shall be our object therefore now, to prove, that this event is to take place.
The preceding events, the time, the manner, the attending circumstances, and the consequences; their na