Abbildungen der Seite

inhabitants, who were so numerous and strong, as sometimes to overcome, and keep them long in subjection : which also, from time to time, their idolatrous neighbours did. ---And after they had lived long in the land, ten of their tribes were carried away into final captivity, and heathen inhabitants planted in their stead: by which the religion of the remaining two tribes was the more exposed. At last, these remaining two tribes, with the Levites, and all that were left of the ten tribes who had mixed with them, were carried away into Babylon, the chief city of Chaldea, the country that above all in the world, (at least excepting Egypt,) was the fountain of idolatry: there they dwelt during the time of one generation. So that before any of them returned, the body of the people were a new generation, born and brought up in that land of darkness, amongst idolaters, their superiors and masters, and most of them the most honourable men that were then in the world ; and a great part, perhaps the greater part of the nation, never returned, but continued dispersed in heathen countries till Christ's com* ing. As to the nation in general, those in Canaan, and those out of it, were in subjection to the three successive heathen monarchies, the Persian, Grecian, and Roman ; and heathen people belonging to each of those empires, often swarmed in their country.

§ 5. The people seemed to be, from their very beginning till the Babylonish captivity, exceedingly prone to idolatry; were fond, in that respect, of the customs of those heathen neighbours, and were apt to think it honourable to be like the rest of the nations, and a disgrace to be singular. This appears, in that they actually oftentimes apostatized to idolatry, embraced the worship of the heathen gods, and neglected the worship of the true God; and continued sometimes for a long time in their conformity to their heathen neighbours. Yet they were wonderfully reclaimed from time to time; so that they were never suffered finally to apostatize, as all other nations in the world had done, nor were left in their apostacy for so long a space of time.

5 6. All is the more remarkable, in that not only the true God and his spiritual worship are so infinitely diverse from the gods and religion of the heathens ; but the external institutions and rites of worship observed among the Jews, and the law of their worship and religion, were remarkably diverse and repugnant to the religious rites of their heathen neighbours. They were exceedingly opposite to the rites of the Egyptians, among whom they lived so long, and among whom they first became a nation. So were they also to the rites of the an. cient inhabitants of Canaan, of the Philistines, Moabites, Ammonites, &c. VOL. VII.


$ 7. The Jews may be considered as a remarkable evidence of the truth of revealed religion, in that they were preserved so long a time a distinct nation from all others, even since their father Jacob's time, till this day ; being neither destroyed, nor abolished, nor lost by mixing with other nations. Jacob himself was exposed to be destroyed by his brother Esau, before he was married. His family were greatly exposed to destruction, at least as to any permanent distinction from other people, when Laban pursued after him, with a design probably to kill him, and to bring back his wives and children into Padan-Aram, and to keep them there, or, at least, by some means to carry back his family, and to prevent their ever going to Canaan. He and his family were in imminent danger of being destroyed, when Esau came out against him with four hundred men. His family were greatly exposed to danger by the inhabitants of Canaan, when provoked by his sons destroying the Shechemites. A series of wonderful and miraculous providences respect. ing Joseph, were the means of preserving the family, without which they would probably either have perished by the famine, or in the time of that famine have wandered away from Canaan, in such obscurity, and under such disadvantages, that they would likely have never returned any more to Canaan ; and so the family would have been broken

up. $ 8. In Egypt they were greatly exposed to be destroyed, when Pharaoh set himself to effect their destruction by drowning all the males. When they had continued so long in Egypt, under such abject circumstances; it could be owing to nothing but a series of the greatest miracles, that ever they were separated from that people and land, so as to return again to dwell by themselves, to be kept a distinct nation. They were in immi. nent danger of being swallowed up by Pharaoh and his host at the Red Sea ; or of receiving such a blow, as wholly to break up the design of their proceeding to Canaan, to live there. They were exposed to suffer that which would have prevented their proceeding, when the Amalekites met them, and fought with them.

$ 9. Nothing but a course of most astonishing miracles for forty years could have prevented their perishing in the wilderness, or being obliged to go back again into Egypt, and suffering captivity, dispersion, and ruin, by the nations that dwelt around that wilderness.—They were greatly exposed to be ruined as a people, by the opposition of the Moabites, Midianites, Amorites, and Og the king of Bashan.-That ever they got the possession of Canaan, which was then held by many nations greater and stronger than they, was owing to a course of great miracles, without the intervention of which they must have perished as a people.

§ 10. After they had obtained the possession of the land, they were often greatly exposed to be utterly ruined in the time of the judges, when their enemies in those parts, who seemed to have an exceeding great hatred of them, prevailed against, and had the mastery of them. It could be owing to nothing but the special providence of God, that those enemies did not im. prove the advantages they had in their hands, utterly to destroy them, or at least to drive, or carry them captive, out of that land ; particularly the provoked Canaanites, before the deliverance by Deborah and Barak; the Midianites, and the people of the East, before the deliverance by Gideon ; and after them the Philistines.

§ 11. Afterward, in the time of the kings, there were many efforts of the enemies of Israel, utterly to destroy the whole nation, to cut them off from being a people, and to blot out their very name from under heaven, agreeably to Psalm lxxxiii. 3–8. "They have taken crafty counsel against thy people, and consulted against thy hidden ones. They have said, Come, let us cut them off from being a nation, that the name of Israel may be no more in remembrance. For they have consulted together with one consent. They are confederate against thee. The tabernacles of Edom and the Ishmaelites, of Moab and the Hagarenes, Gebal, and Ammon, and Amalek, the Philistines with the inhabitants of Tyre; Assur, also is joined with them; they have holpen the children of Lot."-In David's time there was such a mighty combination of enemies against them, and so great a force was raised, that, one would think, might have been sufficient to swallow up the nation. After Solomon's time, the nation was greatly weakened, and so much the more exposed to ruin, by their division into two kingdoms, often contending, and seldom in amity, the one with the other. The nation was greatly exposed in Rehoboam's time to be swallowed up by Shishak king of Egypt; in Asa's time, by the vast army of the Ethiopians: and again, by the mighty army of the Moabites, Ammonites and Edomites, in Jehoshaphat's time, 2 Chron. xx. When the kings of Assyria overran and utterly destroyed the ten tribes, it was a wonder that the two tribes were spared, and the people were greatly exposed to be finally ruined by Sennacherib's army, who intended nothing else.

§ 12. When the people were carried captive into Babylon by Nebuchadnezzar, and the whole land laid utterly waste; it was a wonder, that this did not prove an entire end to them as a people. It was a wonder they were kept distinct in their captivity; that then they were delivered ; and that after they had been in captivity so long, till those that had formerly lived in Canaan were generally dead, and a new generation born in Chaldea was risen up, they should be brought back, and again

settled in their own land, and established as a people there. It was a wonder that the land was vacant for them ; and a wonder that they were not hindered in their design of re-settling there, by the mighty opposition made to it by the Samaritans.

§ 13. The people were marvellously preserved from being blotted out from under heaven by Haman, in the time of Esther and Mordecai. They were wonderfully preserved in Antiochus's time, who was earnestly set on their utter destruction as a people; and it may be observed in general concerning them, during the time of the Old Testament, that there was no nation whatsoever against whom the nations in general were at such enmity, as the nation of the Jews; and they were, on this account, much more likely to be destroyed than any other nation.

§ 14. They lived in a part of the world, where they were more exposed to be overrun by other nations, and so to be by them either trodden down, or torn away and scattered abroad in the earth, than had they dwelt in any other part ; living as it were, in the midst of the earth, betwixt three great continents, Asia, Africa, and Europe. Their land lay in the very road or thoroughfare between Asia and Africa ; between Egypt and the great Eastern and Northern kingdoms, which for many ages were the greatest, most potent, and active kingdoms in the world. It seems the other nations thereabout were all destroyed from being a people, before Christ's time : as the Midianites, the Moabites, Ammonites, Amalekites, the seven nations of Canaan, and the Philistines.

$ 15. It is remarkable, concerning a great part of the time of the Old Testament, viz. from the Babylonish captivity till Christ, that a great part of the Jews lived dispersed amongst other nations: and both those who were thus dispersed, and those that lived in their own land, were all that time in the power of the heathen nations of the four monarchies.

$ 16. With respect to the time since Christ, their preservation as a distinct nation, has, in many respects, been still more remarkable. It was wonderful, that what happened to them in the time of Titus Vespasian, when the greater part of the nation was destroyed, and the rest dispersed all over the world in such wretched circumstances, did not prove their utter destruction as a people. And the calamities that had happened to the remnant soon afterward, made their continuance as a distinct people yet more surprising. For within half a century after their destruction by Titus, in the reign of Trajan and Adrian, the nation in general every where rose in rebellion against the Romans; and were finally every where beaten ; so that in these wars the Jews had a thousand cities and fortresses destroyed, with the slaughter of about five hundred and eighty thousand men. What are left of this people have ever since remained in a total dispersion over all the world, mixed every where with other people, without any thing like a government or civil community of their own, and often extremely harassed by other nations; though still they remain a clear and perfectly distinct nation from all other people.

« ZurückWeiter »