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Hofea i. 19, 20. Joel ii. 26, 27, and c. iii. 20 Amos ix. 15. Zeph. iii. 15.) as if they strove who should set it forth the most.
This Note and Title of Perpetuity, takes away all those Answers and Pretences which some are wont to make, that this Restitution has already been made in past Times; for certainly past things upon that very Account can never be perpetual. Whatever happy Days, or lucid Intervals the Israelites have had, they are now expired. We may properly stile them lucid Intervals; since they were transitory and uncertain : And that they are now expired the present forrowful and laborious State of the Fews (who are like a desolate People, only not entirely deserted) fufficiently demonstrates.' Nor is it only now, or of late Years, that the Jews suffer these Afflictions, but they have endured these Tribulations and Calamities for many Ages, almost ever, since the Days of our Saviour, and are yet encompassed by them. No Deliverance of the Jews has hitherto been perpetual ; after their Return from Babylon they suffered the most dilmal Calamities under Antiochus Epiphanes, and the Kings of Syria who succeeded him. They were then spoiled of their Possessions as well sacred as temporal, and harassed by daily Wars. Afterwards they were reduced by the Romans to the last Degree of Misery, and from the time that their Temple and Government were pulled in Pieces they have been dispersed, and wander about the World like forlorn Exiles. . The History of the Ifraelites is like a Picture diversified with various Figures, some are of a joyful and others of a sorrowful Nature. But hicherto the forrowful ones have taken up the greater Part. Now if a future perpetual Rest was ever promised them, there yet remains, as the Apostle [peaks, a Rest for she People of God.
These Tokens and Characters seem to me fufficient to delineate the Time of this Redemption of Ifrael, so as to distinguish from all those which are past. I Mall make no particular Calculations as to future Times, nor am I desirous of knowing the Seasons which the Father hath put in his own Power; but as far as I can perceive, this bright Day has not yer risen on Ifrael, nor do I suppose it is very near at hand. Alas! the Jews have not as yet fufficiently suffered for their Crime in killing the Messiah; they have not as yet atoned for that Offence. And tho' they have suffered many Calamities they have not yet suffered such great Evils as Moses their Prophet and ours foretold they should. Peruse the twenty eighth Chapter of Deuteronomy, where he denounces all sorts of Calamities against the degenerate and rebellious Jews; and some of them, which he describes (from the forty second Verse) seem to be such dreadful Disasters as did not befal the Fews till after our Saviour's time.
. He mentions a Nation which was to come from far, even from the Ends of the Earth, of an inknown Tongue, and who should be fierce and rapacious as an Eagle, and lay all things waste. And then he foretels a close and bloody Siege, in which the besieged should feed on human Flesh, and eat their infant Sons and Daughters. And afterwards he mentions many and wonderful Plagues to be inflicted on them and their Seed: And that their Number would be diminished by many Accidents : And that when they were dispersed thro' other Countries they should be compelled to worship new Gods, such as were entirely unknown to themselves and their Fathers. And lastly, he foretels that their Lives would be disturbed, dubious and uncerrain.
We have before observed, that the Jews suffered many Evils before the time of Christ, but these Calamities which we just now recited, and are so peculiarly distinguished, did not I believe take Place before the Deftru&ion of Jerusalem, and those forrowful times of the Jews which followed it. First by the Romans who raged against them with Slaughters, Devastations, and the utmost Barbarity : And afterwards by the Christians who were indeed justly exasperated by reason of the Murder of the Messiah, and repeated Calumnies and Provocations ; yet they often treated them hardly, not so much for the sake of Piety, as Gain, that they might seize upon their possessions. Many Authors, as well Fews as Christians, have given us a melancholy History of the Jewish Affairs, ever since the time of Christ, which it will be very proper for those to peruse who are desirous to know more of these Affairs, and how they went on in every Age; they will then be sensible that these Calamities exceeded all which happened before the times of Christ, and exa&ly answer to the Descriptions of Mofes.
I cannot easily persuade my self that these Tribulations were omitted by the Prophets who foretold many that were much less. Nor were they silent as to the last Fate of the Jews, which is yet to come in the War with Gog and Magog, in the last Tragedy of this present World.
We have already given our Opinion about this War while we were treating on some Places in Ezekiel (c. xxxviii, and xxxix.) and Joel. (c. iii.) I shall only here repeat, that after this War is over, and the Victory obrained, Happiness is promised to the Jews. (Ezek. xxxix. 23; to the End of the Chapter. Foel iii. 18, &c. Zeph. iii. 8. Zach. xiv.) So that they must both be referred to future Times, since neither of them have yet happened.
Thus Thus we have reduced the Oracles of the Pro. phets, which had been before expounded separately to their Classes, or respective Places; that fo from this double View, as it were from different Stations, we may make a more certain Judgment as to this general Conclusion, That the Jews are yet to be restored. If we turn our Eyes elsewhere to human Affairs, and the present State of the Jews, it will be as it were a kind of third Prospect, and by thus collating all things, the Vision will be clearer and more evident. It must be confessed that the present State of the Jews is vastly different from the abovementioned Prophecies: But yet the difference is such, as intimates fome future Alteration.
God from the earliest Ages has preserved this Nation and People by his special Providence : He has often rescued them from the Invasions of their Enemies, and delivered thein from Servitude, by a Series of Miracles and his omnipotent Arm. He reproved Kings for their fakes, changed the greatest Empires (Isaiah xiv. 4.) and in the four celebrated Monarchies, seems always to have had a Regard to their Condition; the History of these Affairs is celebrated by Moses, the Plalmist, and the Prophets.
Farther, God declared from the Beginning, and repeated the fame by the Prophets, that this people were selected from all the Tribes of the Earth; that they were a peculiar People betrothed to himself, dear and joined by all the Bands of paternal or nup, tial Affe&tion. Lastly, he promised again and again, that his Love should be perpetual and indelible.
And now I beseech you, what can at last become of this people? Has God chosen them for himself, and entered into the stri&eft Bonds of Friendship,
and will he cast them off for ever? Will he suffer them perpetually to be derided and trampled on by all the Nations of the Earth ? At present their Condition is no better, nor has been for many Ages. But is there no Hope remains for Israel? No Comfort amidst their Calamities? No Expectation of Restitution? This seems (with Reverence be it spoken) not agreeable to the Divine Wisdom, Goodness and Fidelity. There is always in this Life room for Repentance and Mercy, since the Goodness of God endures for ever, and his Truth is unshaken.
The Jews, notwithstanding their present Miseries, keep the Law which was given to them as well as they are able, and they remain at this Day, and have done so for a considerable time in great Suspense ; loose and unfixed as tho they were going somewhither, their Satchels being as it were in their Hands; they fix in no Country, nor make any Settlement, nor have they Fields of their own, but carry all their Goods along with them. Bý this means they are the more prepared and ready at the holding up of a Finger to depart into their own Country, when there shall be an opportunity given. They are not so incorporated into any Kingdom, Commonwealth, or City, as not to be perfectly at Liberty to seek new Habitations. Moreover they retain their own peculiar Religion among all Nations, their proper Marriages and the Mark of the ancient Covenant, left they should be confounded with Foreigners. In a Word, as Soldiers are ready at the Sound of the Trumpet to march to their Tents, fo the Jews are prepared in every respect, upon the Signalgiven to return to their own Country.