Gambar halaman
PDF
ePub

threatened with overwhelming confederacies and desolating invasions. But the Lord wrought for his holy name's sake that he might preserve a light unto David, and sent them seasonable deliverance. We cannot put this matter in a more interesting light than in the following passage from President Edwards : « The crown of the ten tribes was changed from one family to another continually. First Jeroboam took it; but the crown descended only to his son Nadab: then Baasha, who was of another family, took it; and it remained in his posterity but one generation after his death: and then Zimri, who was his servant, and not of his posterity, took it; from whom Omri, who was of another family, took it. The crown continued in his family for three successions; and then Jehu, who was of another family, took it. The crown continued in his family for three or four successions, and then Shallum, who was of another family, took it. The crown did not descend at all to his posterity ; but Menahem, who was of another family, took it: and it remained in his family but one generation after him. Then Pekah, who was of another family, took it: and after him Hoshea, that was still of another family, took it. So great a difference was there between the crown of Israel and the crown of Judah, the one was continued evermore in the same family, and, with very little interruption, in one right line; the other was continually tossed about from one family to another, as if it were the sport of fortune. The reason was, not because the kings of Judah, at least many of them, were better than the kings of Israel; but the one had the blessing in them: they were the ancestors of Christ, whose right it was to sit on the throne of Israel. But with the kings of Israel it was not so; and therefore Divine Providence exercised a continual care through all the changes that happened through so many generations, and such a long space of time, to keep the crown of Judah in one direct line, in fulfilment of the everlasting covenant he had made with David; the mercies of which covenant were sure mercies: but in the other case

there was no such covenant and no such interposing care of Providence."*

The favour of God to Judah was shown in raising up at intervals pious princes, who checked the torrent of impiety and licentiousness that had set in upon the land, and which, in the reign of wicked kings, threatened to bear down all opposition, and to sweep away every thing that was fair and useful, as with the besom of destruction. The reigns of such kings as Asa, Jehoshaphat, Hezekiah, and Josiah, were marked as periods of reformation from the corruptions of idolatry, of humiliation before the Lord God of their fathers on account of their manifold sins, and of a solemn renewal of that covenant on which rested the glory and stability of their nation. A series of eminent prophets also appeared, such as Isaiah, Jeremiah, Hosea, and others, who faithfully warned the people of the ruinous consequences of their departure from the Lord of hosts, and earnestly besought them to turn from their evil ways, that iniquity might not be their ruin.

But notwithstanding all these barriers, the tide of corruption continued to swell until it became apparent that a similar doom awaited Judah to what had fallen upon Israel. An intimation to this effect, indeed, had been given

so early as the days of Solomon. 1 Kings ix. 6-9: “But if you shall at all turn from following me, you or your children, and will not keep my commandments and my statutes which I have set before you, but go and serve other gods and worship them, then will I cut off Israel out of the land which I have given them; and this house, which I have hallowed for my name, will I cast out of my sight; and Israel shall be a proverb and a byword among all people. And at this house, which is high, every one that passeth by it, shall be astonished and shall hiss; and they shall say, Why hath the Lord done this unto thiş land and to this house? And they shall answer, Because they forsook the Lord their God,

* Edwards' History of Redemption.

who brought forth their fathers out of the land of Egypt, and have taken hold upon other gods, and have worshipped them and served them; therefore hath the Lord brought upon them all this evil.” The intimation thus given was reiterated by prophet after prophet with increasing clearness and power. The very name of the king by whom they should be carried captive was mentioned; the dominions to which they should be carried away were pointed out, and the afflictions which they should endure, and the reproach which they should incur, were foretold: every circumstance indeed was presented which could alarm and impress the human heart. But all in vain. The infatuated people continued to run after their idols, till at length the desolation of Judah came and his glory departed for a season. For they that had been wont to ride in the high places of the earth, sat them down as captives by the rivers of Babylon, hung their harps upon the willows that grew upon their banks, and wept when they remembered Sion. 2 Kings xxv. 1-11.

In this, the heaviest calamity that had overtaken the Jews, a long train of prophecies, from Moses down to Jeremiah, who lived in the time of the captivity, met their accomplishment. For thus had their divinely inspired lawgiver spoken about nine hundred years before the event: Deut. xxviii. 36, 37, “ The Lord shall bring thee, and thy king which thou shalt set over thee, unto a nation which neither thou nor thy fathers have known; and there shalt thou serve other gods, wood and stone. And thou shalt become an astonishment, a proverb, and a byword among all nations whither the Lord shall lead thee." How true is it that one day is with the Lord as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day!” The passages in the later prophets which foretell this event are so numerous that time would fail us even to enu. merate them, much more to repeat them. The Jews, indeed, puffed up with self-sufficiency, and wrapt in the idea that their glorious temple would never be profaned by the hand of the spoiler; that their impregnable city would never be sacked by the fire of the conqueror; that their fruitful land would never be wasted by the ruthless invader; that their kings, and priests, and prophets, and people, would never be reduced to a state of bondage, refused to listen to the solemn warnings which day after day were rung in their ears. “ The temple of the Lord,” they cried in a spirit of vain glory, "the temple of the Lord are we.” But, though the Lord would, for his own name's sake, preserve them from utter extinction, yet he did execute upon them the judgments which he had threatened. And they, who had polluted his land and profaned his name with idols, were sent to be degraded and afflicted in the land of idolaters, and to be a reproach and a proverb to those whose pernicious ways they had been so eager to follow. By this calamity the Jews were most impressively taught that it was not in their magnificent temple, their comely ordinances, their costly sacrifices, and their distinguished privileges, they were to trust. But that their faith and hope were to be directed forward to Him, in whom the shadows of their economy were to find their glorious substance—the King, the Priest, the Prophet of his church—the sacrifice, and the altar that sanctifies the sacrifice—the ark of the covenant and the mercy-seat-the shew-bread, and the candlestick, and the laver of cleansing. And this is Jesus of Nazareth, the Anointed of the Lord of Hosts, the eternal Son of the Father.

66 And now to him, the King eternal, immortal, and invisible, the only wise God our Saviour, be glory, and honour, and dominion, for ever. Amen.”

1. The history of the Jews, during the period which we have now reviewed, is rich in practical instruction. And, first of all, it is most manifest that the redemption of the world by Jesus Christ has its origin in the wisdom of God, and not in the wisdom of men-that it flows from the sovereign love of God, and not from any goodness in the creature. For, in every page of the Jewish history, while we read that, “ verily there is a God who judgeth righteously," we

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

behold the splendour of his sovereign grace. If, therefore, we would obtain an interest in this great work, and partake of the rich and manifold blessings which flow from it, we must submit to receive the high distinction, as the fruit of unmerited mercy. For He who redeems “ will have mercy on whom he will have mercy.

2. We cannot fail to perceive, that great indeed must be the dignity of the Lord Christ. For the whole course of events, from the calling of Abraham, was preparatory to his advent. To him, the law, with its varied institutions and solemn rites, is seen to point. Of him do all the prophets bear witness. Happy, therefore, are they who, through faith in his name, have been interested in the great salvation, which by his death he accomplished. The people of Christ, who know his name and put their trust in him, must delight to trace his steps of majesty as they appear in the history of ancient Israel; and must feel that their faith is more and more established, by the rich and interesting testimonies that are borne to him in type and sacrifice, by symbol and prophecy. “To them that believe, Christ is precious." But if the happiness of believers is great, deep is the guilt, and extreme the wretchedness of those who now despise him, and refuse to bend their necks to the yoke of his grace. The light against which they offend is that of the accumulated testimonies of Moses and the prophets, the evangelists and the apostles—of types that have met their antitype-of prophecies that have reached their fulfilment-of promises that have been accomplished, and threatenings that have been executed. And are there not many such in our day? To them we would say, in the words of the apostle to the Hebrews, Heb. xii. 25: “See that ye refuse not him that speaketh: for if they escaped not, who refused him that spake on earth, much more shall not we escape, if we turn away from him that speaketh from heaven," ii. 1, 2: “ Therefore we ought to give the more earnest heed to the things which we have heard, lest at any time we should let them slip. For

« SebelumnyaLanjutkan »