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with which it was received again ; the building and dedication of the temple; the maintenance of its solemn worship, and the general resort of the people to it, as the consecrated place of prayer, and praise; are in dications of a considerable prevalence of real piety. The honorable mention, which is often made by God, of this Church is a testimony to the same thing A very ex, tensive and thorough reformation took place, on the return from the Babylonian captivity. The temple was then rebuilt, and the law put in practice, with singular zeal, and self denial ; and we have evidence that there was then, and that there, continued even to the coming of the Messiah, a settled abhorrence of idolatry, so that it was no more practised.
The corruption of the visible Christian Church, seems as flagrant, and as extensive, as was that of the Jewish. There was one corrupt member in the family of the Savior. There were many such in the days of the Apostles. There were such in the Church at Corinth. And there were such in the Churches of the Lesser Asia, which were planted and superintended by Paul himself.* There have been such in every period since ; and there are many such in the visible Church at the present day.
Indeed it is not so easy as some people may imagine, to ascertain the exact boundaries of the visible Church. No two persons would perhaps entirely &gree on this subject. As there are hypocrites, there will be corruptions and defections in the purest Churches on earth. Matthew xiii. 47, 48. “Again the kingdom of heaven, is like unto a net, which was cast into the sea, and gathered of every kind; which, when it was full, they drew to shore, and sat down, and gathered the good into vessels, but cast the bad away.” The separation will be made at the day of judgment. Till then, the mixture, in spite of the most industrious discipline, will remain.
* Dr. Gill, in his reply to Clark, presents us this large concession. " It is to be observed, that a large stride, is taken by me from the eleventh to the fourth century ; not being able, in the space of more than six hundred years, to find one instance of an opposer of infant baptism.' He subjoins, “This will not seçm strange to those who know what a time of ignorance this was ; partly through the prevalence of popery, and partly through the inundation of the barbarous nations, which brought a flood of darkness upon the Empire, and very few witnesses arose against the superstitions of the Church of Rome.” Thus it appears from Dr. Gill, one of the most learned opposers of Pædobaptism, that for more than 600 years of the Christian era, he is not able to find a single person, with whom strict baptists could hold Christian fellowship. A hard case this for them to manage ! A hard case too, for those who have temerity enough to attempt to trace up the history of Antipodobaptism, to the days of the Apostles! When the Antipodobaptists, who take delight in sinking the religious character of primitive Israel, shall be able to demonstrate the perpetuity of the real spiritual Church of Christ, through these awfully dark and corrupt centuries, in which not even a remnant is to be found, in a manner which shall be clear of all difficulties; it may be presumed, the principles will be furnished, for proving, the possibility at least, of the continuance of Israel, as a religious socie. ty, from the Exodus to the coming of Christ.
It is possible to narrow the boundaries of the Church, in each dispensation of it, too much. To avoid lax- . ness, we should not run into bigotry, or severity. The prudent physician, will try every expedient to heal the diseased limb, before he adopts the painful resolution to cut it off. A man does not become for. mally dismembered from the christian society, immediately upon his acting an unchristian part. He is still a brother. I. Corinthians v. 11. Forbearance is is to be exercised. Mears are to be put in operation to reclaim him. The Society is practically to adopt the language of the God of Zion, “How shall I give thee up Ephraim ?" And if this may be the case with respect to one, it may be with respect to a multitude, even a majority. And who shall set limits to the long şuffering of God ? If God expressly, and repeatedly, call the house of Israel his people, as it is most certain he does, even when a large proportion of them, proba. bly a majority, had swerved from the covenant, and become corrupt; shall we dare to go directly in the face of his declarations, and say, they are not his people, because they are thus corrupted ? It is certainly more prudent to bow to the divine wisdom, than thus to lean to our own understandings.
The Baptists, whose peculiar system is opposed to that which is exhibited in this Treatise, seem to imagine, and often insinuate, even publicly, that their society is distinguished from the rest of the nominally christian world, as a pure Church. The doctrine of close communion, upon which they generally practice, holds out this language.
Is such an exclusive appropriation of the holy character just ? It is certainly rash, and against evidence to say, as Dr. Gill does, that national Churches are " good for nothing.” Has the visible church of the Redeemer no place here ? Would universal heathenism be
as good ? But the close communion doctrine goes farther. It pronounces all dissenting Churches, if Pædobaptist, good for nothing. * Many corruptions prevail among them indeed. But what reason is there for this discrimination? If entire spiritual purity, in doctrine and practice, be the essential mark of the visible Church, it is apprehended this excluding society itself, will be found good for nothing. Have they no uńchristian opinions or practices among them? Have they no corrupt members ? We certainly witness disputes among them, on the fundamental articles of Christianity. Many of them are Arminians, and many have become Universalists and Deists. - We witness disre. gard of the sabbath, and neglect of public worship. We observe disunion, litigation, and angry contests between elders and churches, and between brethren and brethren. We witness marks of that covetousness, which is idolatry, in the parsimony with which the public teachers of that denomination, are generallytreated; and even the extinction of some of their Churches, through the mere perverseness of their members. Let us not then be told, with too much vaunting; of 'the exclusive purity of any denomination ; or that there is such a contrast in moral character, between the Jewish and Christian communities, that they cannot be component parts, of the one Church of the living God,
* I am ready to pay a due homage to the candor of Dr. Baldwin, who freely acknowledges the Christian visibility and spirituality of some of our Churches, But how this is reconcileable with the doctrine of close communion; is another question,
Respecting the coincidence of prophecies and facts, in regard to
the advent of the Messiah to his people, the Jews ; his treatment of them while conversant among them, and the conclu. sions which are to be drawn from this treatment.
WE have now come down to the appearance of that extraordinary person, whom the types, predictions, history, and ritual law of the Old Testament, principally respected. The types, history, and ritual law, held forth a general, and uninterrupted testimony, in regard to him. The predictions ascertained particulars. They informed of his descent, of the time, and place, and manner of his appearing, his character, the nature of the work he would accomplish; the station he would publicly take and retain, as Lord over his own house; and theeffects, which would follow the fulfilment of his mediatorial offices. We can take notice of these prophecies, and their fulfilment, no farther than they stand in connexion with the main design of this Treatise. Several predictions have been already introduced, which need not here be repeated, determining the un. failing stability, and pepetụity of Israel, as a holy soci, ety: We will now attend to a few others, which determine, that the Messiah should arise in the midst of them as such ; and what he was actually to do, in his public ministry, in varying, or dissolving, or perpetuating this society. The first prediction to this cffect, to which we shall attend, is that of Jacob, respecting Judah. Geneses xlix. 8–12.
66 Judah, thou art he whom thy brethren shall praise; thy hand shall be in the neck of thine enemies ; thy fathers children shall bow down before thee ; Judah is a Li. on's whelp; from the prey my son, thou art gone up;
he'stooped down, he couched as a Lion, and as an old Lion : Who shall rouse him up ? The sceptre shall not depart from Judah; nor a lawgiver from between his feet, until Shiloh come, and unto him shall the gathering of the people be. Binding his foal unto the vine; and his asses colt unto the choice yine, he washed his garments in wine, and his clothes in the blood of grapes. His eyes shall be red with wine, and his teeth white with milk.” This whole prediction is of one character. It bespeaks the preeminent station which the tribe of Judah should hold; its strength, perpetuity, and the spiritual blessings, with which it should be remarkably distinguished. By Shiloh, it is conceded on all hands, is meant the Messiah.* The prophecy then determines, that this tribe should continue in its preeminence of spiritual glory, till he should come; that he should appear in the midst of it; that he should take a conspicuous station among the descendants of Jacob, now remaining in this tribe; and be united to them, as their visible head and king-t
* Le Clerk is a solitary cxception. But his rendering is too tautoloģús to bt. admitted,
+ Very different, and generally unsatisfactory, have been the interpratations, which commentators have given to this famous prophecy; particularly this clause, “ The sceptre shall not depart from Judah, nor a lawgiver from between his feet, until Shiloh come.” The sceptre and lawgiver, have been interpreted, as having respect to temporal and civil authority. This interpretation makes it necessary, that the tribe of Judah should have and retain, till the appearance of Christ, a civil dominion, not over itself, for that would be an absurdity, net would it be in agreement with the terms of the prophecy; but over the whole of Israel : And that there should be a succession of individuais in this tribe, as princeš, by whom, as the fountain of authority, this dominion should be ex. ercised.
The captivities and degraded state to which the Jews, called so from Judah, the head of the tribe, were subjected, by the Babylonian, and Mediopersian monarchs, Antiochus, and the Roman Caesars, seem to be entirely in contradiction to the prophecy, in this sense of it. The great body of Israel, had besides, tor ages, been entirely disconnected from them ; and in no respect, subject to their government. It is beyond all the efforts of ingenpitý therefore,to shew how the prophecy has been fulfilled upon this construction of it. The cause of the em. barrassment, in attemping to shew its fulfilment, is obvious. A system of po. fitical ascendancy is supposed, which was not intended. Upon the principle of this Treatise, which is, that a spiritual or religious society only was projected by God, the interpretation of the prophecy is easy, and the fulfilment of it, evident. " In Judah God was known. He chose the Mount Zion which he love ed.” Here was always found the remnant, according to the election of grace ; the society, consisting of the seed. Here the law was preserved and had its inFuence, For, " from Zion went forth the law and the word of the Lord from