« PreviousContinue »
complacency, by their possessing a character which deserves it.
Although the transgression of Adam, disqualified him for the immediate possession of immortality, and deprived him of the honour of being the parent of an immortal race, yet he was not left in his humiliated state, destitute of consolation. Whatever we are to understand by the Serpent, and the sentence pronounced, "I will put enmity between thee and the woman, between thy seed and her seed; it shall bruise thy head, and thou shalt bruise his heel;" it is universally acknowledged that these expressions were intended to convey the consolatory promise, that finally a victory shall be obtained, greatly superior to the partial evils induced by a compliance with the temptation; and that this final success respects the posterity of Adam as one great family. Nor can it be applied to any one particular people exclusively.
The promise pronounced to Abraham, several ages afterwards, was full and explicit. “I will make of thee a great nation, and I will bless thee and make thy name great; and thou shalt be a blessing; and I will bless them that bless thee, and curse them that curse thee; and in thee
shall all the families of the earth be blessed." After Abraham had testified his readiness to obey the severe command, the Angel of the Lord said unto him," now I know that thou fearest God, seeing thou hast not withheld thy son, thine only son from me.” He repeated the blessing and assigned the reason, "because thou hast obeyed my voice." The same promise was repeated to Isaac, during the season of a desolating famine; and the obedience of Abraham is alleged as the cause. It was also confirmed to Jacob, as he was on his way to Padanaram.
Among the predictions which were uttered by this patriarch in his last hours, the assurance that "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," is the most remarkable. It is not consistent with our design to state the different opinions of commentators upon this passage, much less to decide between them; but to point out a fact in which they must all We learn from the Jewish history, that after the revolt of the ten tribes, the tribe of Judah was the principal, and upon the return of the Israelites from captivity, it was the only tribe that was recognized; the individuals of the other * Gen. ch. xlix. v. 10.
tribes, being blended, and as it were absorbed by it. The descendants from this tribe remain to the present day a distinct people, perfectly insulated from all others among whom they are resident. Thus they are under a theocratic government to the present hour, so far as to be preserved from intermixing with the nations among whom they are scattered, and so as not to lose the characteristics of a foreign people; which has been universally the case with all other strangers, however opposite their primitive characters and customs may have been. Their original propensity to conform to the most impious and absurd customs of the nations, with whom they had intercourse, now yields to insuperable aversions and prejudices, in things apparently indifferent. Wherever there is a professed Jew, there is a strict observer of the mosaic law. This fact is consonant with the expression, nor a lawgiver from between his feet; which cannot refer to a succession of legislators enacting new laws, for such could not be the laws of God, but of superintendants who should preserve the law entire, until the Shiloh come. Concerning the precise meaning of the word Shiloh, commentators are not agreed; but they are agreed that the character and qualifications it is supposed to express, belong to a divine personage,
under whose government all the nations of the earth shall finally be assembled.
Moses, in giving directions concerning the Priests and the Levites, admonishes them, when they should come to the land which the Lord had given them, not to learn to do after the abomination of those nations, nor in any instance to listen to deceivers ; and he adds, "the Lord thy God will raise up unto thee a prophet from the midst of thy brethren, like unto me, unto him shall ye hearken." Some divines have considered this passage as predictive of the advent of the great prophet, who shall more fully instruct his people in the counsels of the Most High. Others think that the context necessarily confines it to Joshua the prophet, who should immediately succeed him, or to the order of prophets raised up in his place to instruct the people,in whatever related to their religious concerns, Notwithstanding therefore its apparent relation to our subject, we shall not venture to apply it.
Numerous are the passages in the prophecies of Isaiah, and other succeeding prophets, which confirm the above assurances. We need not subjoin, that the completion of various events predicted by them are vouchers of the future accomplishments. "It shall come to pass," says Isaiah, "that the mountain of the
Lord's house be established in the top of the mountains, and shall be exalted above the hills, and all nations shall flow unto it."* The same prophet, anticipating the future, as if the event had already taken place, declares, "the people that walked in darkness have seen a great light: they that dwell in the land of the shadow of death, upon them hath the light shined."t "The earth shall be full of the knowledge of the Lord, as the waters cover the sea." "In that day there shall be a root in Jesse which shall stand as an ensign of the people; to it shall all the Gentiles seek."§ "He shall bring forth judgment to the Gentiles ;-the isles shall wait for his law," &c.|| "Look unto me and be ye saved, all the ends of the earth."¶ The Gentile shall come to thy light, and kings to the brightness of thy rising."**" I am sought of them that asked not for me, I am found of them that sought me not. I said, behold me, behold me, to a nation that was not called by my name."++
The extent of blessings in reserve for those
* Isa. ch. ii. v. 2.
+ Isa. ch. ix. v. 2, 3.
Isa. ch. xi. v. 9.
Isaiah ch. xi. v: 11
Isa. ch. xlii. from v. 1 to 12. ¶ Isa. ch. xlv. v. 22. ** Isa. ch. lx. v. 1 to 11.
†† Isa. ch. xlv. v. 1.