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or Danes or Normans? The most ancient and honourable pedigrees can be traced up only to a certain period, and beyond that, there is nothing but conjecture and uncertainty, obscurity and ignorance; but the Jews can go up higher than any nation, they can even deduce their pedigree from the beginning of the world.
The Jews may not know from what particular tribe or family they are descended, but they know certainly that they are all sprung from the stock of Abraham. And yet the contempt with which they have been treated, and the hardships which they have undergone, in almost all countries, should, one would think, have made them desirous to forget or renounce their original. But they profess it, they glory in it; and after so many wars, massacres, and persecutions, they still subsist; they are still very numerous. What but a supernatural power, could have preserved them in such a manner as no other nation upon earth has been preserved!
Nor is the providence of God less remarkable in the destruction of their enemies, than in their preservation. For, from the beginning, who have been the great enemies and oppressors of the Jewish nation, who removed them from their own land, and compelled them into captivity and slavery? The Egyptians afflicted them much,
and retained them in bondage many years. The Assyrians carried away captive the ten tribes of Israel; and the Babylonians, afterwards, the two remaining tribes of Judah and Benjamin. The Syro Macedonians, especially Antiochus Epiphanes, cruelly persecuted them; and the Romans utterly dissolved the Jewish state, and dispersed the people, so that they have never been able to recover their city and country again.
But where are now those great and famous monarchies, which, in their turns, subdued and oppressed the people of God? Are they not vanished as a dream, and not only their power, but their very names lost in the earth? The Egyptians, Assyrians, and Babylonians, were overthrown and entirely subjugated by the Persians; and the Persians, it is remarkable, were the restorers of the Jews, as well as the destroyers of their enemies.
The Syro Macedonians were swallowed up by the Romans; and the Roman empire, great and powerful as it was, was broken to pieces by the incursions of the northern nations, while the Jews are subsisting as a distinct people at this. day. And what a wonder of Providence it is, that the vanquished should so many years survive the victors, and the former be spread over all the world, while the latter are no more!
Nay, not only nations have been punished for their cruelties to the Jews, but Divine vengeance hath pursued even single persons, who have been their persecutors and oppressors. The first born of Pharoah was destroyed, and he himself, with his host, was drowned in the sea. Most of those who oppressed Israel in the days of the Judges, Eglon, Jabin, and Sisera, Oreb, Zeeb, and the rest, came to an untimely end.
Nebuchadnezzar was stricken with madness, and the crown was soon transferred from his family to strangers. Antiochus Epiphanes died in great agonies, with ulcers intolerable to all his attendants and even to himself. Herod, who was a cruel tyrant to the Jews, died in the same miserable manner. Flaccus, governor of Egypt, who barbarously plundered and oppressed the Jews of Alexandria, was afterwards banished and slain.
Coli-l..., wv persecutea the Jews for refusing to pay divine honour to his statues, was murdered in the flower of his age. But where are the Jews now, since they have absolutely rejected the gospel, and been no longer the peculiar people of God? Where are now such visible manifestations of Divine interposition in their favour? Were the Jews rightly to consider this, it might be the means of opening
their eyes, and of turning them to Christ our Saviour..
The desolation of Judea is another memorable instance of the fulfilment of prophecy. It was foretold so long ago as by Moses, Levit. xxvi. 33: "I will scatter you among the heathen, and will draw out a sword after you; and your land shall be desolate, and your cities waste."
It was foretold again by Isaiah the prophet, speaking as prophets often do, of things future as present. Chap. i. verses 7, 8, and 9. "Your country is desolate, your cities burned with fire; your land, strangers devour it in your presence; and it is desolate, as overthrown by strangers." "And the daughter of Zion is left as a cottage in a vineyard; as a lodge in a garden of cucumbers; as a besieged city." This passage may immediately relate to the times of Ahaz and Hezekiah; but it must have a further reference to the devastations made by the c.11. and especially by the Romans. In this sense it is understood by Justin Martyr, Tertullian, Jerome, and most ancient interpreters; and the following words imply no less than a general, and almost total destruction of the people, such as they suffered under the Chaldeans, but more fully under the Romans: "Except the Lord of hosts had left unto us a very small remnant, we
should have been as Sodom, and like unto Gomorrha."
The same thing was again pointed out by Jeremiah; for, speaking afterwards of the conversion of the Gentiles, and the restoration of the Jews in the latter days, he must be understood to speak here of the times preceding. Chap. xii. 10, 11. "Many pastors (princes or leaders) have destroyed my vineyard, they have trodden my portion under foot, they have made my pleasant portion a desolate wilderness. They have made it desolate; and, being desolate, it mourneth unto me; the whole land is made desolate, because no man layeth it to heart." The same thing is expressed and implied in other places. And hath not the state of Judea now, for many ages, been exactly answerable to these descriptions?
That a country should be depopulated, and desolated by the incursions and depredations of foreign powers, is nothing wonderful; but that it should be so many ages in this miserable condition, is more than man could foresee; and could be revealed only by God.
Nothing can be a stronger or clearer proof of the Divine inspiration of the prophets, than their foretelling, not only the outward actions, but even the inward dispositions of men, many