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Jerusalem, and that all nations are to go up to Jerusalem to worship, according to the ancient law, “ three times a year” (Ex. 23: 17; and that Jerusalem is to be the grand central point, all luminous and glorious, the top of the nations, sending out its light and influence to the rest of the world, through all coming time? Or, is it intended under imagery drawn from the then existing dispensation, to represent the glory of the Messiah’s reign? Whatever distinction the literal Jerusalem was to have, when the prophet wrote, has she not already had it, in the rebulding of her temple, and the reëstablishinent of her state after the Chaldean captivity, and in the appearance of the Messiah among her children, and the foundation of the Christian church in the midst of her-an institution literally to bless all nations ? Is pot this the thing which the prophet designed to set before us, only employing Jewish phrase, because Jewish phrase was the garb in which, then, the true religion appeared in the earth? It is im. possible for us to doubt, that it is the spiritual reign of Jesus, which is designed to be set forth in the prophet's language.
Again the prophet says: “In this mountain shall the Lord of hosts make unto all people a feast of fat things, a feast of wines on the lees, of fat things full of marrow, of wines on the lees well refined. And he will destroy in this mountain the face of the covering cast over all people, and the veil that is spread over all nations. He will swallow up death in victory; and the Lord God will wipe away tears from off all faces; and the rebuke of his people shall he take away from off all the earth; for the Lord hath spoken it. And it shall be said in that day, Lo, this is our God; we have waited for him, and he will save us; this is the Lord; we have waited for him, we will be glad and rejoice in his salvation,” (25: 6–9). Must Judaism be reëstablished at Je. rusalem, in order to realize the great results here promised ? Why is it not more rational to suppose, that Judaisın accomplished its work, when it gave the Messiah to the world? And that now the Messiah's spiritual reign is to produce the blessed state of things here figuratively described ?
And so of other passages. “Behold, I will lift up mine hand to the Gentiles, and set up my standard to the people; and they shall bring thy sons in their arms, and thy daughters shall be carried upon their shoulders. And kings shall be thy nursing fathers, and their queens thy nursing mothers; they shall bow down to thee with their face towards the earth, and lick up the dust of thy feet,” (49: 22, 23). Shall this be literal? Is this the true
1847.] The Predictions of Spiritual Blessings.
361 appointed relation between Jews and Gentiles in the fulness of the Messiah's reign? Or is this a figurative and impressive representation of the universal triumph of the true religion, the religion of Christ, with the reverence and homage which shall everywhere be rendered to it, and the unhappiness of its rejectors? Does not the latter seem altogether the more rational interpretation ?
Again it was said to Zion: “Arise, shine ; for thy light is come, and the glory of the Lord is risen upon thee. And the Gentiles shall come to thy light, and kings to the brightness of thy rising.–The abundance of the sea shall be converted unto thee, the forces of the Gentiles shall come unto thee. The multitude of camels shall cover thee, the dromedaries of Midian and Ephah; all they from Sheba shall come; they shall bring gold and incense, and they shall show forth the praises of the Lord. All the flocks of Kedar shall be gathered together into thee, the rams of Nebaioth shall minister unto thee (for sacrifice); they shall come up with acceptance on mine altar, and I will glorify the house of my glory, (60: 1, 3, 5–7). Shall the Jewish sacrifices, then, be restored ? Shall the blood of bulls and calves, and rams and goats, again flow in the worship of God ? Shall the world go back again to the rites of that old dispensation,“ a yoke," says the apostle, “ which neither our fathers nor we were able to bear?" (Acts 15: 10). To what purpose, then, is Christianity? Why did the blood of Calvary flow? And why all the declarations respecting this surpassing glory of the Messiah's reign ? Let the passage be, then, a figurative description of a spiritual religion, such as the Messiah has actually introduced into the world, and all is right; it is inimitably beautiful, and portrays a blessing in which the world shall rejoice through unnumbered ages. And one more passage : " Behold, I create new heavens and a new earth; and the former shall not be remembered, nor come into mind. But be ye glad and rejoice forever in that which I create ; for, behold, I create Jerusalem a rejoicing, and her people a joy," (65: 17, 18). And “as the new heavens, and the new earth, which I will make, shall remain before me, saith the Lord, so shall your seed and your name remain. And it shall come to pass, that from one new moon to another, and from one Sabbath to another, shall all flesh come to worship before me, saith the Lord,” (56: 22, 23). This must be a figurative promise of spiritual good, the blessings of the Messiah's reign. flesh, on all sides of the world, cannot literally go to Jerusalem VOL. IV. No. 14.
every new moon, and every Sabbath, to worship. It is a glowing description of the fact, that all will be true worshippers. The literal must be thrown aside; the spiritual must be adopted. Jerusalem, dropping her childish garments which she has outgrown, rises and unfolds into a spiritual being, of which her early existence was a shadow; and, in the person of the Messiah and his dispensation, which have sprung from her, pours her blessings over all the earth.
Such is a specimen of the teachings of Isaiah on the subject before us. And is there anything here, which requires us to believe in a literal restoration of the Jews, yet suture, to Palestine, and the reëstablishment of their ancient polity there? May not the passages which relate manifestly to the former restoration, be considered as fulfilled by that restoration, and their import, in the literal acceptation, exhausted? And may not the passages which relate to the Messiah's reign,-and must they not, for consistency's sake,-be interpreted as figurative representations, highly beautiful and glowing, of the triumph of a spiritual religion?
JEREMIAH. Jeremiah flourished somewhat more than 100 years after Isaiah (B. C. 629—588, according to the common reckoning), and the latter part of his course, was at the very time when the captivity took place.
This prophet, in the early part of his office, employed the strongest terms of reprehension towards the Jews, for their mani. fold wickedness. The picture drawn presents a state of things truly appalling: "I had planted thee a noble vine, wholly a right seed; how then art thou turned into the degenerate plant of a strange vine unto me? For though thou wash thee with nitre, and take thee much soap, yet thine iniquity is marked before me, saith the Lord God,” (2: 21, 22). Behold, thou hast spoken and done evil things as thou couldest,” (3:5). And the threatenings followed : “ Out of the north an evil shall break forth upon all the inhabitants of the land,” (1: 14). Destruction upon destruction is cried; for the whole land is spoiled,” (4: 20). “ I will make Jerusalem heaps, and a den of dragons; and I will make the cities of Judah desolate, without an inhabitant," (9: 11). "I will give all Judah into the hand of the king of Babylon, and he shall carry them captive into Babylon, and shall slay them with the sword,” (20:4). “This whole land shall be a desolation,
The Prophecies of Jeremiah
and an astonishment; and these nations (some others with Judab] shall serve the king of Babylon seventy years,” (25: 11). The latter part of the Book of this prophet relates particularly to the execution of these threatenings, the actual captivity that occurred-interspersed frequently, as the former part is occasionally, with promises of restoration, and glances at the coming glory of the Messiah's reign, towards which the Jewish mind was ever directed. These things, with some denunciations on the surrounding nations, employed the mind and pen of Jeremiah, during his active life of some forty years; a part of the time dwelling with the people in the land (40: 6), and a part of the time with a small company who had removed to Egypt, carrying the prophet with them, (xliii). He died, leaving the people in their dispersion and bondage.
See now, particularly, what this prophet says with reference to restoration, and whether it is to be understood of the restoration then to take place, or of a restoration of the Jews from their present dispersion : " I will take you, one of a city, and two of a family, and I will bring you to Zion," (3: 14). This is most naturally understood, certainly, of the restoration then about to take place.
Again, it shortly follows: “At that time they shall call Jerusalem the throne of the Lord ; and all the nations shall be gathered unto it, to the name of the Lord, to Jerusalem; neither shall they walk any more after the imagination of their evil heart. In those days the house of Judah shall walk with the house of Israel, and they shall come together out of the land of the north, to the land that I have given for an inheritance unto your fathers,” (vs. 17, 18). What is the import of this prediction? It foretold the restoration then about to occur, “out of the land of the north. It spoke of Judah and Israel as “returning together;" which, to some extent, was then actually the case. It spoke of the gathering of all nations to the name of the Lord,” which is rather, perhaps, a glance at the better times of the Messiah's reign. Their being gathered "to Jerusalem,” is but the dress of the truth, in accommodation to the institutions of worship then existing.
But “ The house of Judah,” it is said, “shall walk with the house of Israel, and they shall come together out of the north country, to the land that I have given for an inheritance to their fathers.” And Isaiah had predicted the same: “ The Lord shall assemble the outcasts of Israel, and gather together the dispersed of Judah from the four corners of the earth. The envy also of Ephraim shall depart, and the adversaries of Judah shall be cut off
Ephraiin shall not envy Judah, and Judah shall not vex Ephraim,” (Is. 11: 11-13. They shall be together, that is, as one nation; as they were before the revolt of the Ten Tribes, and shall live together in peace.
This, many are disposed to think, is yet to take place. And it is deemed a grand argument in favor of a literal restoration. But what are the facts of the case? Did not some, from the Ten Tribes, as well as from the Two Tribes, actually return to Palestine at the end of the Babylonish captivity? Israel had been in captivity towards a century and a half longer than Judah. Josephus says, indeed, that “the entire body of the people of Israel remained in that country,” (Antiq. 11.5). That is, there was, no public organized movement for their return, as with Judah. And a large portion, of both branches of the nation, seem to have remained in the countries whither they had been carried. They had acquired property, and made friends, and were happy in their new location, and were unwilling to be at the trouble of a return to their land. As Josephus says also of Judah : “ Yet did many of them stay at Babylon, not willing to leave their possessions,” (Antiq. 11. 1).
Yet a part returned. And that part, there is reason to believe, contained a portion of Israel, as well as of Judah. When Cyrus, on obtaining the supremacy of the East, made his proclamation for the restoration of the captive people, the country of Israel's captivity, as well as that of Judah’s, constituted a part of his dominion. And the proclamation was made " thronghout all his kingdom,” (Ezra 1: 1). Who can doubt that Israel, to some ex. tent at least, as individuals, availed themselves of the advantage of it? Moreover, the proclamation speaks of “the Lord God of heaven," whose house was to be built at Jerusalem, and of HIS PEOPLE,” which can hardly be understood of less than all who
any interest at Jerusalem, Israel as well as Judah, who had all built the former temple, and claimed Jerusalem as their own ; and commands respecting every such one : “ Whosoever remaineth in any place where he sojourneth, let the men of his place help him," (Ib. vs. 2–4). This covered the sojournings of Israel as well as of Judah.
In the decree of Artaxerxes in favor of Ezra, a few years later, it is said: "I make a decree, that all they of the people of Israel, and of his priests and Levites, IN MY REALM, which are minded of their own free will to go up to Jerusalem, go with thee," (Ezra 7: 13). Josephus says that Ezra “ read the Epistle at Babylon, to those Jews that were there; but he kept the Epistle itself, and