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Jerusalem, till the kingdom was overturned, the city destroyed, and the nation carried captive into Babylon. "The common adjunct to the history of the death of a king of Judah, from David to Coniah,* is, and his son reigned in his stead. If our object were to prove the inspiration of the prophecy," this might be strikingly contrasted with the kingdom of Israel; in which, during a part of the same period, one dynasty after another was cut off, and the crown transferred from family to family. This might naturally have excited, in the people of Judah, some apprehensions of similar disasters in their kingdom. And when they beheld the great wickedness of some of their kings; when they heard of insurrection, and conspiracy, and domestic treason in the state, and of confederated invasion from without, for the avowed purpose of setting up another king in Jerusalem; their only security against the success of such attempts, lay in their reliance on the faithfulness of the prophecy literally interpreted. It is manifest, that any swerving from the simply literal interpretation would, in this case, have totally defeated the main object of the prophecy; or, in other words, that if any relaxed interpretation of the terms of the prediction had been admitted, the nation might as well have been left without any prediction at all. This is what strictly belongs to our present subject. During the whole of the period in question, we have, in the history of the kingdom of Judah, a continuous fulfilment of the prophecy of Nathan, literally interpreted; and any interpretation, other than the literal, would not accord with the facts of the case.
VI. In the reigns of the last of the kings of Judah, Jeremiah predicted the destruction of the kingdom, the captivity of the people in Babylon for seventy years, and their restoration to their own land, at the expiration of that period. The terms of these predictions are briefly these: "This whole land shall be a desolation and an astonishment, and these nations shall serve the king of Babylon seventy years. After seventy years be accomplished at Babylon, I will visit you, and perform my good word toward you, in causing you to return to this place." (See Jer. xxv. 8-14, and xxix. 10.) In these prophecies, three things are plainly asserted, and a fourth very obviously implied. It is asserted-1. That the nation of Judah should be carried captive to Babylon, leaving their own land desolate. 2. That their captivity would last seventy years. 3. That at the termination of those years they would be restored to their own land and city; and by these assertions, it is obviously implied, 4. That during their captivity they would be preserved a separate people: for if amal*See Lecture V., and note near the end.
gamated with the Babylonians, how could they be again separated, and brought back as a nation to the possession of their fathers?
We have only to advert to the plain terms of the subsequent history, to see how accurately all this was fulfilled, in the obviously literal meaning of the language of the Prophet. the captivity of Judah, and desolation of her land, see 2 Chron. xxxvi. 17-21. For the fact of their providential 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, and 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
*See Keith on Fulfilled Prophecy. After an admirable selection of details, illustrative of literal interpretation, he proceeds to say:-"On a review of the prophecies relative to Nineveh, Babylon, Tyre, and Egypt, may we not, by the plainest induction, from indisputable facts, conclude that the fate of these cities and countries, as well as of the land of Judea and the adjoining territories, demonstrates the truth of all the prophecies respecting them; and that
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 fulfil
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.
these prophecies, ratified by the events, give the most powerful of testimonies to the truth of the Christian religion. The desolation was the work of man, and was effected by the enemies of Christianity, and would have been the same as it is, though not a single prophecy had been uttered. It is the prediction of these facts in all their particulars, infinitely surpassing human foresight, which is the work of God alone. And the ruin of these empires, while it substantiates the truth of every iota of these predictions, is thus a miraculous confirmation and proof of the inspiration of the Scriptures. By what fatality is it, then, that infidels should have chosen, for a display of their power, this very field, where, without conjuring, as they have done, a lying spirit from the ruins, they might have read the fulfilment of the prophecies on every spot? Instead of disproving the truth of every religion, the greater these ruins are, the more strongly do they authenticate the scriptural prophecies; and it is not, at least, on this stronghold of faith that the standard of infidelity can be erected. Every fact related by Volney is a witness against all his speculations; and out of his own mouth is he condemned. Can any purposed deception be more glaring or great, than to overlook all these prophecies, and to raise an argument against the truth of Christianity from the very facts by which they have been fulfilled? Or can any evidence of divine inspiration be more convincing and clear, than to view, in conjunction, all these marvellous predictions, and their exact completion?"
"It matters not by what means these prophecies have been verified; for the means were as inscrutable, and as impossible to have been foreseen by man, as the event. The fact is beyond a doubt, that they have been literally fulfilled, and therefore the PROPHECIES ARE TRUE. They may be overlooked, but no ingenuity can pervert them. No facts could have been more unlikely or striking, and no predictions respecting them could have been more clear.
NUMB. Xxiii. 9. "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 a 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 common with the heathen, to the true knowledge of Jesus
Christ; but no longer recognised 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 following up this subject, it is necessary carefully to remark, First, The distinction between Israel and Judah; and, Secondly, The distinction between Judah, considered nationally, and certain individuals, selected out of that nation, in each succeeding age.
I. The distinction between Israel and Judah is a plain matter of history. In the latter part of the reign of Solomon, who was king over all the twelve tribes, the prophet Ahijah met in a field, alone, Jeroboam, one of Solomon's generals; and he had clad himself with a new garment; and Ahijah caught the new garment that was on him, and rent it in twelve pieces: and he said to Jeroboam, "Take thee ten pieces; for thus saith the Lord, the God of Israel, Behold, I will rend the kingdom out of the hand of Solomon, and will give ten tribes to thee. Howbeit, I will not take the whole kingdom out of his hand; but I will make him prince all the days of his life, for David my servant's sake, whom I chose, because he kept my commandments and my statutes: but I will take the kingdom out of his son's hand, and will give it unto thee, even ten tribes. And unto his son will I give one tribe, (in addition to his own tribe of Judah,) that David my servant may have a light always before me in Jerusalem, the city which I have chosen me to put my name there. And I will take thee, and thou shalt