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life, that when providence is pleased to humiliate or destroy a kingdoin or people hardened in fin, a certain blindness or fatality seems to attend them in all that they do; which hinders them from seeing their true interest, and the means by which it
be secured. To those who look on from a dirtance, and to some few perhaps in the devoted state, the approach of danger and the way of escape may be clearly discernible; but the great body of the nation, and those to whose care its welfare is entrusted, perceive not their situation, till retreat is impossible and ruin inevitable ; or else by the very measures adopted to avoid it, do but rush more precipitately into the jaws of death and the pit of destruction.
If this observation is well founded, and the
page of history in various ages shews its truth; never, without doubt, fince kingdoms have fubfisted on the face of the earth, was it more deplorably and strikingly verified, than in the final subversion of the Jewish polity civil and religious. In the wonderful account, which the historian has faithfully and feelingly recorded, as, on the one hand, you discover at every step and turn, that the wrath of heaven is upon this people; so, on
the other, you behold, with filent astonishment, the almost incredible infatuation which has seised upon all ranks, the ruler and the judge, the prudent and the ancient, the man of war and the honourable counsellor ; how insensible they are of their alarming situation, when all nature seems to be armed against them, and conspires with the enemy to involve their country in one common overthrow and general devastation.
But amazing and unparalleled as the case really is, it could not be otherwise; for prophecy had foretold that so it should be. He who gave
them laws and founded their state, set before them at once the blessings which they should
reap, while they diligently walked in the commandments of their God; and the curses which should follow them, when they did not hearken to him, nor obey his voice. “The Lord,” says he, “shall smite thee with madness, and blindness, and astonishment of heart.” And what Moses thus
predicted, the Son of God confirmed ; and at his last and solemn approach to Jerusalem, testified publicly with tears of compassion, that the things of her peace were now hidden from her
a Deut. xxviii. 28.
As a nation, their blindness was already begun, when they rejected the message of peace and falvation, which the Beloved of the Father brought down from heaven, and implored them to accept; and those who cast away from them the word of life and terms of reconciliation, which still by his messengers for almost forty years he held out unto them, no balm of Gilead, no discipline or remedy beneath the sun, could heal of their blindness. Experience and disappointment, which teach others wisdom, ferved only to heighten their pride, and augment their misery; and where one calamity ended, another began.
Their Messiah and King they nailed to the cross, lest the Romans should take
their place and nation: His death was the cause of their complicated sufferings and final destruction - The wonderful works, which the Son of God daily performed in their fight, they would not believe : by those who did no miracles, nor made good one of their
• B. J. L. III. c. viii. $. 6.
John xi. 48. Thus the prophecy was fulfilled: “I also will choose their delusions, and will bring their fears upon them.” Ir,
boastful promises, they were repeatedly and fatally deluded.
If the found of war was heard in their gates, and their enemies, in all lands, seemed resolved to extirpate the very name of Jews ; still they flattered themselves with the brightest expectations; still they trusted, a king should rise among them, under whose victorious banner they should trample on the necks of all that hated them, and obtain a kingdom of boundless extent, and perpetual splendor.
When the solid earth and the troubled sky gave signs of woe; these portended confusion to their foes, and to themselves deliverance. When their festivals were marked with aggravated distress, as well as aggravated guilt'; when the sword of the affaffin murdered his brother, and the house of God was the scene of slaughter; they nevertheless were a holy people, the favourites of heaven, and the God of Israel would make bare his arm in their cause.
When the enemy, instead of feising the victory which was within his grasp, on a sudden broke up from before their city, that the Lord's prisoners might come forth in safety, and the wicked even yet might have
fpace to repent; this was the interposition of
Thus did they grope, and thus did they stumble, when the light shone around them, in the morning of their calamities, which we have already furveyed; nor did they roufe from their slumber, nor once lift up their eyes to the hand that smote them, till the day declined, and their sun set upon them in the darkness and horror which we now are to contemplate, when we shall have considered one circumstance, that requires our previous attention.
It was foretold that the vengeance, great in the extreme, should be swift in execution.
Except those days should be shortened, faid our Lord,“ there should no flesh be saved; but for the elect's fake those days shall be shortened."
That by the Elect here we are to understand the Christians, there can be no doubt; and as the word is not limited, in itself or
• Matt. xxiv. 22.