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God, and David their king, and shall fear the Lord and his goodness in the latter days.”
We have seen that the great empires, which in their turns oppressed and subdued the people of God, are all come to ruin. Though they executed the purposes of God, yet that was more than they understood; all that they intended was to satiate their own pride and ambition, their own cruelty and revenge. This should serve as a warning to all those who are for raising a clamour and persecution against the Jews. Their persisting in infidelity, after so many means of conviction, is no warrant or authority for us to abuse, injure, and oppress them. Charity is greater than faith, and it is worse in us to be cruel and unjust, than it is in them to be obstinate and unbelieving.
Read the eleventh chapter of the Epistle to the Romans, and see what the great apostle to the Gentiles, who certainly understood the prophecies better than any of us can pretend to do, saith of the infidelity of the Jews. Some of the Gentiles of his time valued themselves upon their superior advantages; and he reproves them for it, that they, which were cut out of the olive tree which is wild by nature, and were grafted contrary to nature into a good olive tree, should presume to boast against the natural branches; verses 18, 21; but what would he have said, if they had made religion an instrument of faction, and had been for stirring up a persecution against them?
We should consider that to the Jews we owe the oracles of God, the Scriptures of the New Testament as well as of the Old. We should consider that the glorious company of the apostles, as well as the goodly fellowship of the prophets, were Jews; we should consider that of them, according to the flesh, Christ came, the Saviour of the world ; and surely on these accounts something of kindness and gratitude should be exercised toward them.
Though they are now broken off, yet are they not utterly cast away. “ Because of unbelief,” says the apostle, verse 20, “they were broken off, and thou standest by faith. Be not high minded, but fear.” There will be a time when they will be grafted in again, and again become the people of God; for as the apostle proceeds, verses 25, 26, “I would not, brethren, that ye should be ignorant of this mystery, lest ye should be wise in your own conceits, that blindness in part is happened to Israel until the fulness of the Gentiles be come in, and so all Israel shall be saved."
And which, think ye, is the most likely method to contribute to their conversion; which are the most natural means of reconciling them to us, and to our religion-prayer, argument, long suffering, gentleness, goodness; or noise and invective, injury and outrage, the malice of some, and the folly of more? They cannot be worse than when they crucified the Son of God, and persecuted his apostles; but, what saith our Saviour? “Father! forgive them, for they know not what they do.” Luke xxiii. 34.
PROPHECIES CONCERNING NINEVEH AND
AS the Jews were the people of God, the prophets were sent to them chiefly; and the main subjects of the prophecies, are the various changes and revolutions in the Jewish church and state. But the spirit of prophecy is not limited there, the fate of other nations is also foretold, and especially of those nations which lay in the neighbourhood of Judea, and had intercourse and connexion with the Jews.
Nineveh* was the metropolis of the Assyrian empire; and the Assyrians were formidable enemies to the kingdoms both of Israel and Judah. We have seen that the Assyrians to
x The kingdom of Assyria began 2059 years before Christ, lasted about 1264 years, and ended with Sardanapalis. Out of its ruins were formed the Assyrians of Babylon, those of Nine veh, and the Medes.
tally destroyed the kingdom of Israel, and greatly distressed the kingdom of Judah ; and no wonder therefore that they are made the subjects of several prophecies. The prophet Isaiah denounced the judgments of God against the Assyrians in general : “Oh," or rather wo to the “ Assyrian, the rod of mine anger.”
The Supreme Being might employ them as the ministers of his wrath, and the executioners of his vengeance, and so make the wickedness of some nations the means of correcting that of others. But it was far from any intent of theirs to execute the Divine will, or to chastise the vices of mankind; they only meant to extend their conquests, and to establish their dominion upon the ruin of others. “I will send him against a hypocritical nation, and against the people of my wrath will I give him a charge, to take the spoil, and to take the prey, and to tread them down like the mire of the streets." Isaiah x. 6. “Howbeit he meaneth not so, neither doth his heart think so, but it is in his heart to destroy, and to cut off nations not a few." cerse 7. " Wherefore it shall come to pass, that when the Lord hath performed his whole work upon Mount Sion, and on Jerusalem, I will punish the fruit of the stout heart of the king of Assyria, and the glory of his high looks.” verse 12.