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out of him," or that he should be made “ a multitude of peoples.” To say that nations or peoples stand only for tribes, is an illdevised subterfuge of Jewish expositors: It is founded upon a principle which ever will mislead, because it is in itself false, (though,

way, it is the favourite assumption of our modern Socinians, and is the foundation of their whole system,) that the prophetic style describes little things by gigantic images. Even in the spiritual sense, the expression that Jacob should be a multitude of peoples, or that a company of nations should come out of him, would be improper and unprophetic; for the various races if men, who, by embracing the faith of Christ, are become in a spiritual sense the children of Abraham and of Jacob, are in the same spiritual sense, by virtue of their adoption into the blessed family, become parts of the one nation of the spiritual Israel, and are no longer to be called in any spiritual sense a multitude or a company of peoples or of nations. It is a just observation of the learned Calvin, that a prophecy which should have described the Christian community under the image of a variety of nations would have been no blessing, but a curse; since, according to the regular signification of the prophetic images,


which have their regular and determined significations no less than the words of common speech, such a prophecy would have been predictive of factions and schisms, and would have threatened a dissolution of that unity on which the welfare of the church depends. The word which in these promises to Jacob is rendered by “ multitude” or company” in our English Bibles, takes its origin and its meaning from a root which properly signifies “ to assemble,” or “ to call an assembly:" And the force of it in these passages seems more properly expressed in the Greek translation of the Seventy, than by any later interpreter. Their translation is to this effect : In the two first places, “ I will make thee for the gathering together of nations ;" in the third place, 6 The gathering together of nations shall be from thee:" And the gathering together which is intended can be no other than the gathering of all nations into one in Christ. But, if I mistake not, this great event is much more expressly mentioned in these passages, than it appears to be even in the version of the Seventy ; the Messiah being personally mentioned under the character of the “ Gatherer of the nations :" For the word which the Seventy render by “ the gathering together," and the


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English translators by “ a multitude" or

company,” may, by its derivation, either signify the persons of which an assembly is composed, in which sense our English translators understood it, or the act of bringing them together, which is the sense the Seventy express; or it may bear a third sense, which perhaps is of all the most pertinent in the passages in question, — it may stand for the person by whose authority the assembly is convened. Any one of these three senses, the word, for its natural force, may bear indifferently; and in which of the three it is in any particular passage to be taken, can only be determined by the occasion

upon which it is introduced, by what is said of it, and by the words with which it is immediately connected. In the



question, the first sense seems absolutely excluded by the truth of history, with which true prophecy must ever be consistent: Jacob never became the father of a multitude of nations. Of the remaining two, we are at liberty to to choose that which


be most consistent with history and with the general tenor of the ancient prophecies, and may give the most importance to the sense and the most spirit to the expression. The spirit of the expression will be the most striking if the

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last of the three senses be adopted, that of a person; for, with this sense of the word, the literal rendering of the three passages will be thus : Of the two first, “ I have appointed thee for a gatherer of the peoples ;” of the third, “ A nation and the Gatherer of nations shall arise from thee.” Were I satisfied that our modern copies of the Hebrew text give these promises to Jacob precisely in the terms in which they were originally delivered to him, without the alteration or omission of a single letter, I might perhaps allege, in confirmation of the interpretation I would propose, that our Lord may be imagined to allude to this prediction of himself under the character of a Gatherer of the nations, in those pathetic words with which he closed his public preaching : “ O Jerusalem, Jerusalem ! thou murderess of the prophets ! thou that stonest them that are sent unto thee! how often would I have gathered thy children together in what manner the hen gathereth her own chickens under her wings, and ye

would not !” But, whichever be the true rendering, — whether “ the Gatherer,"

for which my opinion stands, or “ the gathering together,” which the Seventy approve,

the prophecy contains an evident allusion either to the person of Christ as a teacher, or

to his business as a teaching; for although the ambiguous word, in the sense of an assembly, seems to carry no natural limitation of its meaning, but might stand for any assembly convened by proclamation, without regard to any particular end or purpose for which it might be holden, — yet the most frequent use of it among the sacred writers is, for assemblies of which the


is either civil consultation or religious worship and instruction : And the civil assemblies to which it is applied are, for the most part, those in which something of religious business mixes itself, more or less, with the purpose of the meeting: So that, in the sense of “ assembly,” it pretty much corresponds with the English word “ congregation;" which by its natural force might stand for any assembly, and yet, by the usage of our best writers, and indeed of common speech, is appropriated to religious assemblies. By analogy, therefore, we may conclude that this same word, in the sense of an “ assembler," must peculiarly denote the person who presides in a religious congregation, who leads the public worship, and instructs the people : And the Gatherer of nations, in this sense, is the proper

character of the founder of a religion which was to be adopted by the whole Gen


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