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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. For 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 ii.
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 fulfilment.
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 be
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,
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
reign according to all that thy soul desireth, and shalt be king over Israel." Accordingly, we read, that immediately after Solomon's death, when Rehoboam, his son, ascended the throne, ten of the twelve tribes revolted from him, at the instigation of Jeroboam; that Rehoboam sent a messenger to remonstrate with them; that they seized his messenger, and stoned him to death; that Rehoboam then assembled all the house of Judah, with the tribe of Benjamin, a hundred and four-score thousand chosen men, which were warriors, to fight against the house of Israel, to bring the kingdom again to Rehoboam, the son of Solomon. But the word of the Lord came to Shemaiah, the man of God, saying, Speak unto Rehoboam, the son of Solomon, king of Judah, and unto the house of Judah and Benjamin, and to the remnant of the people, (whatever individuals of the ten tribes had adhered to the cause of the royal family of David,) saying, Thus saith the Lord, ye shall not go up, nor fight against your brethren, the children of Israel: return every man to his house; for this thing is from me. Thus was the distinction established between Israel and Judah; and we read of them, for three centuries afterwards, as distinct kingdoms, under distinct lines of kings.
This distinction is fully recognised by the prophets. Thus saith the Lord, by his servant Hosea, «Though thou Israel play the harlot, yet let not Judah offend.” And after Judah had offended, the Lord said to Jeremiah, "Hast thou seen that which backsliding Israel hath done? . . . And her treacherous sister Judah saw it; and I saw, when for all the causes whereby backsliding Israel committed adultery, I had put her away, and given her a bill of divorce; yet her treacherous sister Judah feared not, but went and played the harlot also.” The same subject is dilated by the prophet Ezekiel, xxiii.; where the names Aholah, and Aholibah, are given to the two kingdoms. “Thus were their names; Samaria is Aholah, and Jerusalem, Aholibah.” And Isaiah is very clear, and says, “The Lord shall set up an ensign for the nations, and shall assemble the outcasts of Israel; and gather together the dispersed of Judah, from the four corners of the earth."
The predicted dealings of God, with these two kingdoms, are widely different. Concerning Israel, it was declared that they should be outcasts; totally cut off from all visible interposition in their behalf; not only put away from their divine husband, but divorced also; not only scattered among the nations, but also losing one important feature of their distinguishing identity, in that they would serve the strange gods of th nations, wood and stone: yet still, with a final clause, that in
* 1 Kings xi. and xii.