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desired it." Psalm cxxxv. 4. “For the Lord hath chosen Jacob, unto himself; and Israel, for his peculiar treasure." Isaiah liv. 5. “For thy Maker is thy husband.” Jeremiah iii. 14. “ Turn, O backsliding children ; saith the Lord, for I am married unto you.” Ib. xii. 7. “I have forsaken my house ; I have left my heritage ; I have given the dearly belove ed of my soul into the hands of her enemies." Ib. xxxi. 3. “The Lord hath appeared of old unto me, saying, yea, I have loved thee with an everlasting love ; therefore with loving kindness have I drawn thee.” Can these endearing expressions be understood as applying to a mere nation of hypocrites, or a mere civil community?
4. This community, as God's peculiar treasure, and consisting of his redeemed, is often spoken of, and promises are made to it, in terms implying ; nay, unequivocally determining, its unfailing stability. A few examples shall be presented. Psalm xlvi. 5, and 7. "God is in the midst of her, she shall not be moved. God shall help her, and that right early. The Lord of Hosts is with us. The God of Jacob is our refuge." Psalm xlviii. 8. 66. As we have heard, so have we seen, in the city of the Lord of Hosts, in the city of our God, God will establish it forever.” Psalm lxxxvii. 5.
And of Zion, it shall be said, this and that man, was born in her, and the highest himself shall establish her.” Ib. cii. 28. “ The children of thy servants shall continue, and their seed shall be established before thee." Ib. cxy. 12, 13, 14. “ The Lord hath been mindful of us; he will bless us ; he will bless the house of Israel; he will bless the house of Aaion. He will bless them that fear the Lord, both small and great. The Lord shall increase you more and more, you and your children." Isaiah xli. 10. " Fear thou not, for I am with thee ; be not dismayed, for I am thy God ; I will strengthen thee; yea, I will help thee; yea I will uphold thee with the right hand of my righteousness." These scriptures, and there are hundreds of a like tenor, are perfect trifling upon the supposition
that the community of Israel, was not perpetuated, in its religious character.
5. God's treatment of Isracl, determines the contin. uance of their relation to him, under this character.He extended an immediate superintendance over them, and subjected them to discipline, as appropriately his people, in distinction from the rest of the world.The ignorance of the rest of the world he winked at- * He left its impieties comparatively unreproved. To Israel, he extended the instructions, reproofs, and chastisements of a Father. To this purpose, is that memorable passage in Isaiah liv. chapter. “For a sinall moment have I forsaken thee ; but with great mercies will I gather thee ; in a little wrath, I hid my face from thee for a moment, but with everlasting kindness, will I have mercy on thee, saith the Lord, thy Redeemer.” St. Paul, addressing those, who were lineally descended from Abraham, says, Hebrews xü. 5. “ And ye have forgotten the exhortation which speaketh unto you, as unto children. My son, despise not thou the chastening of the Lord, nor faint when thou art rebuked of him. For whom the Lord loveth. he chasteneth, and scourgeth every son whom he receive eth. If ye endure chastening, God dealeth with you as with sons, But if ye be without chastening, where of alljare partakers, then are ye bastards, and not sons. This manifestation of paternity was made towards the Hebrew, as clearly as it is towards the Christian Church. What abundant warnings; what pointed reproofs ; what displays of anger; what tender remonstrances; and what denunciations of evil, against the guilty, run through the Old Testament? The mission of prophets, and the giving of oracular responses; the establishment of the tabernacle, and afterwards of the temple, as a symbol of God's special residence ; the altar, and the sacrifice; the presence, and the withdrawment of the visible glory,called the Shekinah, were expressions of the same thing. How do God's dispensations, in bestowing blessings, and inflicting judg. ments, in protecting, or exterminating, vary, as obc.
* Acts xvii. 30.
dience or disobience, is manifested by this people ? What deliverances were wrought, when a spirit of repentance prevailed ? And what terrible calamities fol. lowed general declensions ? How often, and how extensively, were the rebellious cut off from the midst of their people, when they had Aagrantly broken the coy. enant? The idolatry at the foot of Sinai, the sedition of Korah, the impure intercourse with the Midianites, the faithless report of the spies, the presumption at Ai, and the general murmurings of the wilderness, were not suffered to pass unpunished. During the period, now especially under our view, captivities, devastations, intestine, and national wars, famines, and pestitilences, severely reproved prevailing sins, and wasted the rebellious.
5. It is to be carefully observed, that in the worst times, and when the greater part of this people, were, for their wickedness, cast off of God, there is always particular mention made of a remnant, who were the true, Israel, and in whom the society was continued. Thus in the 6th chap. of Isaiah, after mentioning the reprobation of the refractory part of Israel, who, with respect to the period of which the prophet speaks, would seem to have been a majority,
majority, he adds, " But yet, in it shall be a tenth, and it shall return, and be eaten, ás a teil tree, and as an oak, whose substance is in them, when they cast their leaves, so the holy seed shall be the substance thereof." In the time of the general defection, under the reign of Ahab, God says, I Kings xix. 18. " Yet I have left me seven thou. sand in Israel, all the knees which have not bowed un. to Baal, and every mouth which hath not kissed him." Jer. xv. 11. “ The Lord said, verily it shall be well with thy remnant." Ezek. ix. 6. “Slay utterly old, and young, both maids and little children, and women, but come not near any man upon whom is the mark." B. xiv. 22. “ Yet behold therein shall be left a remnant, that shall be brought forth, &c.” Mi. cah iv. 7. And I will make her that hatted a remnant, and her that was cast off a strong nation ; and the Lord shall reign over them in Mount Zion, from henceforthi even forever.” It is needless to multiply quotations of this kind. They are to be drawn from almost every part of the Bible. And the idea will be necessarily iligstrated and confirmed farther, as we proceed.
If there was perpetually, even in the worst times, a remnant, then the Community of Israel never did become, according to the intimation of Paul, as Sodoma, or was made like unto Gomorrah. They never were totally corrupted ; nor did they, as a Church, become extinct.
To obviate the objection drawn from the regal government, which commenced in the person of Saul, it may be observed, in addition to what has been al. ready said, that God expressly protested against the introduction of this sort of government, as inconsistent with that holy relation, which subsisted between him, and Israel. He dissuaded them from this experiment; this wanton defection from the covenant; by foretelling the innumerable evils which would ensue ; and by portentous testimonials of his displeasure. Therefore, though on the principle of forbearance, he tolerated this defection, with all its attendant abuses, it is to be considered as altogether an innovation. Events proved that it was a rod in the hand of God. It begot divisions, spent itself in desolating wars, facilitated the introduction, and spread of idolatry ; and diffused corruption in manners.
But allowing that this adventitious government had a divine sanction, it was a mere modal affair, which respected the external ordering of the society, but did by no means destroy its peculiar charac. ter. Some of the kings, at least on the throne of Ju. dah, were pious men, and employed their authority in favor of real religion. The bad kings, and the corruptions they introduced, were condemned, and punished.
War was one of the scourges which God employed to chastise his people. It served to lop off the withered limbs; and to promote, on the whole, the growth, and fruitfulness of the tree.
Idolatry was pursued with unceasing denunciations and judgments. It served, therefore, to prove the holiness of the society, rather than the opposite. Why were apostates to idolatry scourged out of it, but because the society, in itself, was on a purely religious design ?
And with respect to the bad character fixed on the Jews by the prophets, great abstractions dught to be made, or our estimate will not be just. It is to be remembered, that the ten tribes, who had renounced the covenant alliance with Judah, and taken separate ground, under Jeroboam and his successors, were, af, ter long forbearance, and the resistance of multiplied means to reclaim them, openly rejected ; so that they were no longer counted as of the heritag'e of the Lord. And with respect to the tribe of Judah, who, with the tribe of Benjamin, and individuals undoubtedly from the other tribes, maintained its Church state ; as the leading object of the mission of the prophets, be sides foretelling future events, was to reprove wicked. ness, we ought to consider, that their representations apply to the disobedient only.
The prophets have introduced us into the outer court, rather than into the cleanly, and ornamented apartments of the inner temple. As the counterpart to this view of Zion, in a state of disease ; it ought to be considered, how she appeared in her seasons of health and vigor. Though the spirit was not poured out so plentifully, as it has been in the Gospel day, the people of Israel were distinguished from the uncovenanted world, by many seasons of rich refreshings, from the presence of the Lord. That generation which entered the promised land was very generally pious ; and so was the generation which succeeded. Seasons of general repentance are mentioned afterwards. The indignation, excited by the abuse done to the concubine of the Levite at Gibeah, proved that a respect to the laws of God, was at that time, by no means, lost among this people. There was a great reformation in Samuel's time. See 1. Samuel vii. 2, 3, 4, 5, 6. The grief which was spread when the ark of God was taken; and the joy