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Babylon, no event occurred which can even be mistaken for the fulfilment of this fearful prediction, neither any thing typical of the event here predicted. For the types of that day, we must look back to the deliverance of the Hebrews out of Egypt, and their establishment in Canaan. They were kept in bondage till the iniquity of the Egyptians was full, and they were delayed in the wilderness till the iniquity of the Amorites was full. So now they are kept in dispersion and degradation till the iniquities of the modern mystical Edom and Babylon shall be full, and then fury shall be poured forth, and vengeance executed both by their own hands, as in the case of Joshua's exterminating conquests, and by a greater hand than theirs, stretched out to fight for them, as in the case of Pharaoh's overthrow. Here quotations might be multiplied. (See Isaiah xlix. 25, 26, and li. 21-23; Jer. xxx. 16, 17; Obad. 15-22.)
There is no intimation of any gradual mixing among their oppressors, or of any the smallest mitigation of their oppression. On the contrary, in the day that judgment is executed upon Babylon, Judah is described as arising from the dust of her disgrace and shame, loosing the bands from her neck, and putting on her beautiful garments as God's holy city. Nothing can more clearly mark the separation of Judah from the nations in that day. That day of vengeance will be the termination of the times of the Gentiles; as it is written, "Jerusalem shall be trodden down of the Gentiles, until the times of the Gentiles be fulfilled." Then shall the holy city be trodden under foot no more; the power of the holy people shall no longer be scattered; the king of fierce countenance, and understanding dark sentences, shall be broken without hands: the dominion shall be taken away from the ten horns of the fourth beast, including that little horn which, during its appointed time, times, and dividing of a time, shall have worn out the saints; "and the kingdom and dominion, and the greatness of the kingdom under the whole heaven, (that is, upon all the earth,) shall be given to the people of the saints of the Most High, whose kingdom is an everlasting kingdom, and all dominions shall serve and obey him." (Luke xxi. 24; Dan. vii. and viii. and xii.)
A third consideration, which proves the separate condition of the Jews to the end of this dispensation, is that prophetic argument of the Apostle Paul, in which he concludes, that "the receiving of the Jews again to God's favour, will be as life from the dead, to the Gentile world." "The conversion of the Jews is here described as being much more eminently beneficial to the great collective body of the Gentiles, than was the
conversion of those Gentiles, who in the apostolic age had embraced Christianity; that is to say, the Gentiles collectively are represented to be much more benefitted by the yet future conversion of the Jews, than they were by that partial conversion of certain members only of their own body, which has hitherto taken place. A great benefit, no doubt, was conferred upon the Gentiles, even by a partial admission into the church: for St. Paul styles this benefit the riches of the Gentiles, and the reconciling of the world; but then he contends, that an infinitely greater benefit, a benefit which he celebrates as life from the dead, will be conferred upon them by the receiving of the Jews."* This could not be accomplished in any sense at all answering the magnitude of the expressions, or harmonizing with the drift of the Apostle's reasoning, if the Jews were in the mean time to be mixed among the Gentiles, divested of their national peculiarities, and gradually, or even miraculously, converted to the Christian faith, in common with, or subsequent to, the Gentile world. We maintain, therefore, the uninterrupted application of the language of Balaam, "Lo! the people shall dwell alone, and shall not be reckoned among the nations."
Seeing, therefore, upon the whole, that we have such proof, direct and indirect, of our general position; and such satisfactory answers to the objections urged against it, we settle into the persuasion which has been so eloquently and justly expressed, that as the Jews have been, so till the times of the Gentiles are fulfilled, they shall be, "like those mountain streams, which are said to pass through lakes of another kind of water, and keep a native quality, to repel commixture; holding communication without union, and traced as rivers without banks, in the midst of the alien element which surrounds them?"t
LUKE XXI. 24. "Jerusalem shall be trodden down of the Gentiles; until the times of the Gentiles be fulfilled."
HITHERTO Our subject has been the separation of the Jewish people from all the nations upon earth.
1. The whole twelve tribes during the early periods of their history:
2. The kingdom of Judah subsequent to the casting out of the ten tribes: and
3. The people of Judah, considered nationally, and as distinguished from the election, which has in each succeeding age formed a part of the Christian church. And I hope it is not too much to say, that we have proved the separation hitherto of Judah as a nation, to be not by accident, nor by policy; nor, in any sense, by the will of man; but by the power, and according to the revealed purpose of Almighty God. And also, that such separation shall continue till the end of the times of the Gentiles. The next question is, What is then to be done with the Jewish nation? Has God revealed his further intentions concerning them? And if so, what are those intentions?
Now, as the further and more glorious prediction concerning the Jews, stand closely connected with the conclusion of the times of the Gentiles, or this our existing dispensation; it seems necessary, in order to avoid ambiguity of expression, and the misunderstanding inevitably consequent thereupon, to consider, in passing, what we mean by this present dispensation, and what our views are respecting its design, and the nature and period of its close.
This, therefore, is our present subject; and though it may perhaps appear, at first sight, to be a digression from the topic more immediately before us, it will be found, in the sequel, to be too intimately blended with the Jewish question, to be omitted in any thing like an orderly inquiry into the prophecies relative to the Jewish nation.
It is written, that "To every purpose there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven. A time to be born, and a time to die: a time to plant, and a time to pluck up,” &c. Eccle. iii, 1-8. And, as in the affairs of men here enumerated, so also in the great purpose of God there is a time for the accomplishment of each part. In each of these times, the Lord gives out, or dispenses a portion of his eternal design. Hence a dispensation of religion may be thus defined: -A revelation of some part or parts of the Divine will, accompanied by the performance of some corresponding part or parts of the Divine plan.
It will not be denied, that from the beginning, or ever the mountains were brought forth, Jehovah had a plan in view concerning this world: not its commencement merely, but its continuance also, and its termination; according as it is written, "Known unto God are all his works from the foundation of the world." A part of this plan was, that at some particular
period, known only unto himself, and kept in his own power, all the families of the earth should be blessed with the true and saving knowledge of God-the great enemy of God and man being bruised under the seed of the woman. This we know, by referring to the promises made to Adam and Abraham, as recorded in the book of Genesis. Qur attention is then directed to the manner in which it has pleased God to proceed, towards the accomplishment of this, his gracious purpose.
He did not make Eve the mother of the promised seed of the woman, and so destroy the serpent at once, and make a short work upon the earth. No, the promise was given; but the performance of the thing promised was delayed. Meanwhile, however, some few of the families of the earth were blessed: they believed the promise; through faith they became interested in the benefit of its yet future accomplishment; and being influenced by the blessing, "they walked with God:" but the bulk of the inhabitants of the earth were still under the curse, led captives by the devil at his will, and working uncleanness with greediness. This state of things continued, till the iniquity of man abounding in the earth, so moved Almighty God to anger, that he destroyed the guilty race, saving only the small family of his servant Noah. At that time the promise to Adam, instead of being fulfilled, or in apparently progressive fulfilment, seemed to be forgotten: nay more, it seemed to be contradicted. But God's ways are not as our ways; neither is God's mode of proceeding to be judged of by what seems suitable to us.
Again, when God called Abraham, and told him, that in his seed all the families of the earth should be blessed, he did not make Sarah the mother of the promised seed. Here, as before, the promise was given-but the performance delayed. In the meantime, God separated to himself a people-a peculiar nation-and gave them in types and prophecies more and more clear instruction respecting the execution of his plan. Some believed; through faith they became interested in the benefit of the yet future accomplishment of the promise; and, influenced by the same faith, they too "walked with God:" but the bulk of even that favoured nation, and all the rest of mankind, were still under the curse.
Israel rebelled against the Lord, rejected his counsel, despised and persecuted his messengers, and in the end crucified his Son; they so moved him to anger, that he cut them off from their privileges; destroyed their temple and city; and dispersed them, in disgrace and degradation, among the heaAt that time the promise to Abraham, instead of being
fulfilled, or even in apparent fulfilment, seemed to be forgotten; for the families of the earth, instead of being blessed, were still under the wrath and curse of God. But God's ways are
not as our ways.
The promised seed was now indeed come: but so unlike what had been expected-so unlike the powerful One, who could bruise the serpent's head, and bless all the families upon the earth, that few, very few, recognised him as the seed: few, therefore, derived any benefit from his coming; the nation rejected him; and thus the accomplishment of the promise made to Abraham was partly brought to pass, and partly delayed. The seed was come: all the families of the earth were not blessed in him.
Then it was, that in the wisdom of God, true religion was extended to other people and nations. Another portion of the Divine plan was dispensed. Another dispensation was introduced. The glad tidings of salvation, by the long predicted seed of the woman, were preached to the Greeks and Romans, and other heathen nations, that the blessing of Abraham might come upon the Gentiles through Jesus Christ; and then it seemed as though the whole of the great promises made to Adam and Abraham, and repeated by all the prophets, were about to be fulfilled: the head of the serpent bruised; all the families of the earth blessed; and the whole world covered with the knowledge of the ord, as the waters cover the sea!
But experience should teach us, that God's mode of proceeding is not to be judged of by what seems right or probable to us. We see that the antediluvian dispensation held out a prospect of the glorious promise of universal blessedness being fulfilled. But the time was not yet. That dispensation fell short of the accomplishment. We see that in like manner the patriarchal and Levitical dispensations held out, with increasing clearness, a prospect of the great promise being fulfilled. But still the time was not yet fully come. Those dispensations fell short of it. Now we see this dispensation holding out a still more animating prospect of the final promise being fulfilled. But let us take instruction from what is past. Our dispensation also may fall short of the glorious consummation, and another change may take place, similar to the destruction of the world, similar to the rejection of the Jews.
This is possible, to say no more; and whether it is the revealed purpose of God or not, deserves at least a fair inquiry. Is this dispensation, under which we are living, the final dispensation, which will issue in the full performance of the divine plan of mercy to the whole world? or is it another introductory dispensation, such as those which have preceded it?