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doms of the world evidently derived their names, and origin ;-these are all matters of authentic and historical record, some traces of which, indeed, we find mutilated, or disfigured, in the pages of heathen poets and philosophers; but which we can no where read in their genuine truth and simplicity, except in the first and ve. nerable book of the Holy Bible.
The interesting history of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, the solemn covenant of the Almighty with the father of the faithful, and the prophetic blessings pronounced on his family,--the twelve sons of Jacob, from whom the twelve tribes of Israel descended, -together with the very interesting and pathetic story of Joseph, ending with the settlement of his family in Egypt, and the predictions of his venerable father just before his death, are also striking features in the inspired narrative, and are intimately connected with subsequent events, in that wonderful connection which subsists throughout the whole history of human redemption.
The conversion of the succor and protecs : tion, which the Israelites first experienced from the Egyptians, into a state of the most abject slavery and bondage, is well known; and their miraculous deliverance by Moses has been justly
considered by divines as typical of the great deli verance of the world from sin by the Son of God.
It may be only necessary to observe of the remaining books of the Pentateuch, that the laws and ordinances, the rites and ceremonies, which the great Jewish legislator instituted in the wilderness, by the commands of God, were, in addition to their typical nature and cha racter, admirably adapted to keep his people distinct from the contagion of the idolatrous nations with which they were surrounded ;to preserve, in a hot climate, cleanliness and health ;-to keep alive in the human heart the knowledge of the Great Jehovah ;-his independent existence, his sovereign, almighty power, his perfect justice, wisdom, and mercy;--and to make the descendants of Abraham the depos sitaries of those sacred oracles, which announced in various forms, and at some distant period, " the glad tidings of salvation to all people." ;11:
The recovery of the land of Canaan, after an " interval of four hundred years; the establish
: ment of the government by judges; the appointment of the kingly office and power; the advancement of the people to the highest na - 1 tional prosperity, and the evils which often follow in its train, as no unusual consequence;
namely, neglecting the warning voice of their prophets, and forsaking the laws of God; the division of the ten tribes; the lamentable fall of their kings into all the follies and corruptions of idolatry, with the destruction of their temple, and their subsequent captivity in Babylon, exactly as foretold ;-all these are interesting events, and may well serve both the rulers and the people, of all nations, “ for reproof, for correction, and instruction in righteousness.
The brief history of the return of the Israelites to the land of their forefathers, after a miserable bondage of seventy years, during which time they lost their native language;—the account of the rebuilding of their temple, and of the establishments of Ezra and Nehemiah, close the narrative parts of the canonical books of the Old Testament: But we know, when the appointed time was come for the appearance of their promised Messiah, who was to fulfil the glorious predictions of the prophets, and to be “ the messenger, or the mediator of an everlasting covenant,” the Jews were utterly unprepared to receive him, not because they had relapsed into idolatry; but because, from the union of ignorance, bigotry, and pride, they had entirely mistaken the nature of his divine character and
office; and farther, because they had now
As the last, and, perhaps, severest punishment of their obduracy and guilt, in the history of God's providence, with this " stiff-necked and rebellious people," it was denounced by the Saviour of the World himself, that their city and their temple should be destroyed “from its very foundations, so that not one stone should be left on another;" and that they themselves, after wars and famines, pestilence and earthquakes, should be dispersed, as captives, among all nations.'
These events were so very remarkable, and so unlikely to happen, (particularly the latter), that, at the time, the annunciation of them might have been regarded by the Jews as mere assertion,-as an idle threat, or as empty declamation,—and the express terms of our blessed Lord's prediction were such, and so restricted with respect to time, that his pretensions to the divine character which he assumed, might be said to have rested, in a great measure, on the fulfilment of this clear and express prediction. But, extraordinary as it must appear,
pages of the Jewish historian, as well as the annals of
profane history, bear ample testimony to the truth of the prophet of Nazareth; and we ourselves have an opportunity of seeing,"even in this our day," after the lapse of nearly two thousand years, those wretched people, whose political and religious institutions seemed best calculated, as a bond of union, to keep them together, scattered in all directions over the face of the earth,-regarded wherever they are, with a strange mixture of pity and contempt,--and though found every where, yet no where having a country, a government, a temple, or a home.
These, then, are some of the historical facts in the sacred records, which “ were written aforetime for our learning, that we through patience, and comfort of the Scriptures, might have hope.”
We may conclude, from the manner in which we are thus referred to the holy Scriptures by the apostle, and, indeed, by our blessed Lord him. self, that, though we have had the advantage of being regularly baptised in our infancy, and instructed, in our childhood, in all the articles of the Christian faith, nothing can exempt us from the great duty of reading the sacred volume with the utmost reverence and attention for our instruction, as well as for our hope and comfort.