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tions, and encounter many perils; thus did they finally rebuild the temple, and reinstate the worship of the true God, in the midst of numberless dangers and difficulties.
Through the whole of the divine œconomy respecting this people, from their emigration out of Egypt to their return from the Babylonish captivity, embracing a period of nearly nine hundred years, a succession of holy men and prophets was thus appointed, who were endowed with qualifications precisely adapted to the exigencies of every stage. Notwithstanding the diversity of their gifts, the object, was one. It was uniformly their aim to preserve or reinstate true religion; and to counteract the disposition to apostatize that was so prevalent among this people. They were authorized to direct, to counsel, to punish, to predict punishment, to encourage or to reward, according to the exigencies of the case, or the tenor of conduct. Some of these prophets were enabled to penetrate deeply into futurity. They foresaw calamities in the midst of prosperity; destruction in the midst of security; and future deliverance through the gloom of present consternation and distress. Although many of their predictions were expressed in figurative and obscure terms, yet no obscurities
concealed the judgments which were denounced against impiety, or the promises of felicity to the obedient. The style and manner of these prophets were perfectly adapted to the character of those ruder times, and to the capacities. and conceptions of an ignorant and perverse people, while they possessed an elevation suited to the cause which animated their breasts, soaring far beyond compositions merely human. To conquer the prevalent insensibility of this people, they borrow images and allusions from every part of nature, from every habit and custom with which the people were most familiar, and which were most correspondent with their prevalent ideas. As powerful hurricanes will rouse chaff and dust from the earth, to a height that creates sublimity, thus did the impetuous. earnestness of their expostulations, give an elevation and grandeur to images most adapted to the comprehension of the populace, without stooping to a refined attention to the materials of which they were composed. Sometimes with an indignant tone, and in sarcastic language, they pour contempt upon the folly of "saying to the work of men's hands, be ye our gods." Sometimes they attempt to alarm and terrify by a denunciation of judgments; and to inspire reverential awe by representing the
Creator of all things, in the plenitude of his power, and insuperable majesty. At others, their counsels, reproofs, admonitions, were delivered in such pathetic strains of eloquence, as must have affected every mind that was not callous to the influence of moral suasion. The adorable attributes of the God who demanded their service, are placed in contrast with the contemptible images, and nonentities, whom the heathens vainly worshipped. The infinite benignity of his nature, is opposed to the ferocity of the gods that required human victims, and inspired their votaries with insufferable terror. To win upon the ingenuous affections of the heart, they condescend to expostulate, as if they were asking a favour in behalf of the great Jehovah ; as if his felicity could be augmented by their welfare. In a word, the grandeur, the importance of true religion, the stupidity of pagan superstitions, and the still greater stupi dity of the Israelites in giving them the preference, are represented in such animated language, that nothing remained to complete the folly of this obdurate people, but the prevalent indifference and contempt with which such admonitions were received.
Yet these pious efforts were not in vain. They greatly checked the profligacies of the
times: They were instrumental in preserving Judah from too free an intercourse with the apostate tribes of Israel: They encouraged all their pious kings to oppose idolatry, and assisted them in the work of reformation: They were a powerful counterpoise to the destructive influence, which the false prophets were perpetually exerting, over both Sovereign and people. The number of these false prophets must, at some periods, have been immensely great; for when idolatrous worship prevailed, altars were erected, and groves consecrated, in every part of the land; and as each of these required their officiating priests, diviners, soothsayers, &c. the noxious tribes of impostors thus generated, would have become so extensive and powerful, that true religion would have been completely extinguished, had not the prophets of the Lord intervened upon urgent occasions, to detect their falsehoods, and alarm those who were tempted to confide in them. It was through their prophetic warnings, respecting the dispersion of the ten tribes, the captivity of Judah, the destruction of Jerusalem; their assurances that the house of Judah should not remain in perpetual bondage, but be restored to the divine favour, upon repen. tance and reformation; it was through their influence over the minds of the conquerors, and
the assistance they afforded to the returning penitents, that the great work of reformation was finally accomplished. This brings us to the last period of the Jewish history which demands our
ON THE CAPTIVITY OF THE TRIBES OF JUDAH AND BENJAMIN, AND ITS SALUTARY EFFECT IN THE FINAL ESTABLISHMENT OF MONOTHEISM IN THE LAND OF JUDEA,
WHEN the dreadful hour was come;when kings, the princes of the people, and the elders, were led away into captivity;-when they were torn from their native soil, leaving relatives and valuable possessions behind, and hurried into a foreign country, uncertain of the treatment they should receive, and their fears portending the worst;-the hour of reflection might also be expected to arrive; and it did arrive. The subsequent history of this extraor dinary people evinces, that the influence of deep -affliction was powerful to effect a cure, although every other expedient had failed. The alarms, disgrace, and numberless sufferings incident to a state of bondage, accomplished a purpose, to which distinguished blessings, temporary punish