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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 ftrove who fhould fet it forth the most.
This Note and Title of Perpetuity, takes away all thofe Anfwers and Pretences which fome are wont to make, that this Restitution has already been made in paft Times; for certainly past things upon that very Account can never be perpetual. Whatever happy Days, or lucid Intervals the Ifraelites have had, they are now expired. We may properly ftile them lucid Intervals; fince they were tranfitory and uncertain: And that they are now expired the prefent forrowful and laborious State of the Jews (who are like a defolate People, only not entirely deferted) fufficiently demonftrates. Nor is it only now, or of late Years, that the Jews fuffer thefe Afflictions, but they have endured these Tribulations and Calamities for many Ages, almost ever fince the Days of our Saviour, and are yet encompaffed by them. No Deliverance of the Jews has hitherto been perpetual; after their Return from Babylon they fuffered the moft difmal Calamities under Antiochus Epiphanes, and the Kings of Syria who fucceeded him. They were then spoiled of their Poffeffions as well facred as temporal, and haraffed by daily Wars. Afterwards they were reduced by the Romans to the laft Degree of Mifery, and from the time that their Temple and Government were pulled in Pieces they have been difperfed, and wander about the World like forlorn Exiles. The Hiftory of the Ifraelites is like a Picture diverfified with various Figures, fome are of a joyful and others of a forrowful Nature. But hitherto the forrowful ones have taken up the greater Part. Now if a future perpetual Reft was ever promised them, there yet remains, as the Apoftle fpeaks, a Reft for the People of God.
Thefe Tokens and Characters feem to me fufficient to delineate the Time of this Redemption of Ifrael, fo as to diftinguish from all those which are paft. I fhall make no particular Calculations as to future Times, nor am I defirous of knowing the Seafons which the Father hath put in his own Power; but as far as I can perceive, this bright Day has not yet rifen on Ifrael, nor do I fuppofe it is very near at hand. Alas! the Jews have not as yet fufficiently fuffered for their Crime in killing the Meffiah; they have not as yet atoned for that Offence. And tho' they have fuffered many Calamities they have not yet fuffered fuch great Evils as Mofes their Prophet and ours foretold they should. Perufe the twenty eighth Chapter of Deuteronomy, where he denounces all forts of Calamities against the degenerate and rebellious Jews; and fome of them, which he defcribes (from the forty fecond Verfe) seem to be fuch dreadful Difafters as did not befal the Jews 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 unknown Tongue, and who fhould be fierce and rapacious as an Eagle, and lay all things wafte. And then he foretels a clofe and bloody Siege, in which the befieged fhould 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 difperfed thro' other Countries they should be compelled to worship new Gods, fuch as were entirely unknown to themselves and their Fathers. And lastly, he foretels that their Lives would be disturbed, dubious and uncertain.
We have before obferved, that the Jews fuffered many Evils before the time of Chrift, but these Calamities which we just now recited, and are fo peculiarly distinguished, did not I believe take Place before the Destruction of Jerufalem, and those forrowful times of the Jews which followed it. First by the Romans who raged against them with Slaughters, Devaftations, and the utmost Barbarity: And afterwards by the Christians who were indeed justly exafperated by reafon of the Murder of the Meffiah, and repeated Calumnies and Provocations; yet they often treated them hardly, not fo much for the Sake of Piety, as Gain, that they might feize upon their Poffeffions. Many Authors, as well Jews as Chriftians, have given us a melancholy Hiftory of the Jewish Affairs, ever fince the time of Chrift, which it will be very proper for those to perufe who are defirous to know more of thefe Affairs, and how they went on in every Age; they will then be fenfible that these Calamities exceeded all which happened before the times of Christ, and exactly answer to the Defcriptions of Mofes.
I cannot eafily perfuade my felf that thefe Tribulations were omitted by the Prophets who foretold many that were much lefs. Nor were they filent as to the laft Fate of the Jews, which is yet to come in the War with Gog and Magog, in the last Tragedy of this prefent World.
We have already given our Opinion about this War while we were treating on fome Places in Ezekiel (c. xxxviii, and xxxix.) and Foel. (c. iii.) I fhall only here repeat, that after this War is over, and the Victory obtained, Happiness is promised to the Jews. (Ezek. xxxix. 23, to the End of the Chapter. Joel iii. 18, &c. Zeph. iii. 8. Zach. xiv.) So that they muft both be referred to future Times, fince neither of them have yet happened.
Thus we have reduced the Oracles of the Prophets, which had been before expounded feparately to their Claffes, or refpective Places; that fo from this double View, as it were from different Stations, we may make a more certain Judgment as to this general Conclufion, That the Jews are yet to be restored. If we turn our Eyes elsewhere to human Affairs, and the prefent State of the Jews, it will be as it were a kind of third Profpect, and by thus collating all things, the Vifion will be clearer and more evident. It must be confessed that the prefent State of the Jews is vaftly different from the abovementioned Prophecies: But yet the difference is fuch, as intimates fome future Alteration.
God from the earliest Ages has preserved this Nation and People by his fpecial Providence: He has often rescued them from the Invasions of their Enemies, and delivered them from Servitude, by a Series of Miracles and his omnipotent Arm. He reproved Kings for their fakes, changed the greatest Empires (Ifaiah xiv. 4.) and in the four celebrated Monarchies, feems always to have had a Regard to their Condition; the Hiftory of thefe Affairs is celebrated by Mofes, the Pfalmift, and the Prophets.
Farther, God declared from the Beginning, and repeated the fame by the Prophets, that this People were felected 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 nuptial Affection. Laftly, he promised again and again, that his Love fhould be perpetual and inde
And now I beseech you, what can at laft become of this People? Has God chofen them for himself, and entered into the ftri&teft Bonds of Friendship, and
and will he caft 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 Ifrael? No Comfort amidst their Calamities? No Expectation of Reftitution? This feems (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, fince the Goodness of God endures for ever, and his Truth is unfhaken.
The Jews, notwithstanding their prefent Miferies, keep the Law which was given to them as well as they are able, and they remain at this Day, and have done fo for a confiderable time in great Sufpenfe; loofe and unfixed as tho' they were going fomewhither, 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. By this means they are the more prepared and ready at the holding up of a Finger to depart into their own Country, when there fhall be an Opportunity given. They are not fo incorporated into any Kingdom, Commonwealth, or City, as not to be perfectly at Liberty to feek new Habitations. Moreover they retain their own peculiar Religion among all Nations, their proper Marriages and the Mark of the ancient Covenant, left they fhould 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 Signal given to return to their own Country.