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It is the Obfervation of Theodoret, and of St. Jerom, upon Ezek. v. 5. that God placed Jerufalem, the Seat of the Jewish Government, in the midst of the Nations, that it might be a Direction to the Heathen in Matters of Religion; from whence, as from the Centre, Light might be communicated to the farther Parts of the Earth. But the Divifions and Calamites of the People of Ifrael, the Deftruction of their City, and Difperfion of their whole Nation, contributed as much to the Propagation of Religion, as their greatest Profperity could do.
The Divifion of the Ten Tribes, after the Death of Solomon, and the Erection of the Kingdom of Ifrael, diftin&t from that of Judah, with the many Leagues and Wars which these two mighty Kingdoms had with the Kings of Egypt, and Syria, and Babylon, and with other Nations, could not but exceedingly conduce to the divulging the True Religion in the World, and give opportunity to the Prophets to declare their Prophecies, and work their Miracles among the Heathen, as we find they did in many Inftances. One of the greatest Cities of the World was converted by JCnab's Preaching. Upon the Fafting and Prayer of Jehoshaphat, a very numerous Army of Moabites, and Ammonites, and other Nations, according to the Prediction of Jehaziel, destroyed one another: And the fear of God was on all the kingdoms of thofe countries, when they had heard that the Lord fought against the enemies of Ifrael, 2 Chron. xx. 29. Hezekiah being diftreffed by Sennacherib, prayed to God for Deliverance out of his Hand; that all the kingdoms of the earth may know that thou art the Lord God, even thou only: and his Prayer was anfwer'd, not only in the Deliverance, but in the manner of it; which was fo wonderful, that all must know, and be astonished at it; for that very Night the Angel of the Lord went out, and fmote in the camp of the Affyrians an hundred four core aud five thoufand, 2 Kings xix. 19, 35. which was the fulfilling
of the Prophecy of Ifaiah, deliver'd to Hezekiah, in a Meffage to him from God, in Anfwer to his Prayer: And Sennacherib returned to Nineveh and there fell by the Sword, as the fame Prophet had foretold, and ne ver came before Jerufalem, ver.7,33,37. And after wards Ambafladors came from the King of Babylon, to enquire of the Wonder, or Miracle, that was wrought in the Recovery of Hezekiah from his Sickness, 2. Chron. xxxii.3r. And at laft,the Captivity of the Jews for Seventy Years in Babylon, made their Religion almoft as well known there, as in Jerusalem it self. Jeremiah had foretold the Captivity of the Jews, and the Conqueft of all the adjacent Countries, fo long and fo plainly, before-hand, that all the neighbour Nations muft be fenfible of it, as Nebuchadnezzar himfelf alfo was; for which reafon, he gave a ftrict Charge concerning Jeremiah, to Nebuzaradan the Captain of the Guard, who declares the reafon of their Captivity to be, their Sins againft the Lord, or Jehovah, Jer. xl. 3. and, as the Jews fay, he became a Profelyte. Their Enemies were fenfible of the Caufe of their Destru tion: Their adverfaries faid, We offend not, becaufe they have finned against the Lord, the habitation of Fu-. tice, even the Lord the hope of their fathers, Jer. 1. 7. God profeffes, that he had a regard to the Honour of his Name among the Heathen, in his Mercies vouchfafed to the Children of Ifrael, or elfe he had utterly confumed them, Ezek. xx. 9. xxxvi. 22,23, 36. and the Judgments upon the feveral Nations prophefied againft, were to this End, that they might know him to be the Lord, Ezek. xxv. 7, 17. xxvi. 6. xxviii. zz, 23, 24. xxix. 6. xxxv.9. xxxvi. 23. xxxvii. 28. I am a great king, faith the Lord of hofts, and my name is dreadful among the heathen, Mal. i. 14. The Jews, in their Captivity, are commanded to make an open Declaration against the Heathen Gods; and becaufe they understood not the Chaldee Tongue, the Prophet Jeremiah fupplies them with fo much of the Language
as might ferve them for that Purpofe; Thus all ye fay unto them, Jer. x. t. that is, b Ye fhall fpeak to them in their own Language, and in the Words which I now fer down to you, to bid Defiance to their Falle Gods. Thus did he fulfil his Commiffion and Character, who was fantified and ordained a Pro phet unto the nations, Jer. i. 5. And Jeremiah was put to Death in Egypt, and Ezekiel in Babylon, for appearing againft the Idolatry of thofe Places.
During the Captivity, Jehoiachin was reconciled to the King of Babylon, and in great favour with him: His throne was fet above the throne of the kings that were with him in Babylon, 2 Kings xxv. 28. The Jews were commanded to take Wives for them, and for their Sons, that they might be encreafed there, and not diminifhed, (Jer. xxix. 6.) And they were not only confiderable for their Number, but were in great Efteem, and in Places of great Honour and Truft; and their Religion was extolled and recommended by Publick Edicts to all under that vaft Empire. The Almighty Power of God was manifested by Miracles, and by the Interpretation of Dreams and Prophecies; and his Majefty and Honour was acknowledged and proclaimed in the moft publick and folemn manner, throughout all the Babylonian Empire, at the Command of Princes who were Idolaters, and were forced to it by the mere Convictions of their own Confciences, wrought in them by the irrefiftible Power of God, Dah. chap. ii, iii, iv, v, vi.
Daniel had acquainted Cyrus (as Jofephus fays) with the Prophecy of Ifaiak, in which he was fo long before mention'd by Name: However, the Lord ftirred up the Spirit of Cyrus, by this or fome other means, to
b Lingua Aramea dicunt Interpretes Prophetam idcirco locutum effe, quia Judaos cum Chaldais difputantes Jeremias inftruebat, quomodo is refpondendum effet Lingua Chaldaica. Abravanel. de Cap. Fidei, c. 20.
accomplish the Prophecy which had been deliver'd both by Isaiah and Jeremiah, concerning the Reftoration of the Jews, after a Captivity of Seventy Years; and Cyrus fent forth his Proclamation, declaring that he had received his Kingdom from God, with a Charge to rebuild the Temple at ferufalem, 2 Chron. xxxvi. 23. And this Decree of Cyrus was reinforced by Darius and Artaxerxes, Ezra vi, vii. Now fo many feveral Decrees put forth in favour of the Religion of the Jews, and the miraculous Power and Wifdom which gave occafion to them, and the Advancement of Daniel and others, and the long Life and Continuance of Daniel in that Power and Efteem, must leave all the Eastern part of the World without any Excufe, who were not Converted to the Knowledge and Worship of the True God. The Advancement of Efther and Mordecai under Abafuerus, and of Nehemiah under Artaxerxes, gave the Jews great Authority, and great Opportunities of propagating their Religion from India even unto Ethiopia, over an hundred and feven and twenty provinces; for this was the extent of the Dominions of Abafuerus, Efth. i. 1. and the Jews were difperfed in all the Provinces of the Kingdom of Babylon, chap. iii. 8. And they wanted no Čare nor Diligence to improve every Opportunity; as we learn from the Books of Ezekiel, Daniel, Ezra, Nehemiah, and Efther. And the very Names of fuch Perfons are enough to convince us, that that part of the World could want no Means of Conversion : Confefs him before the Gentiles, ye children of Ifrael; for he hath fcattered us among them: there declare his greatnefs, and extol him before all the living; for he is our Lord, and he is the God our Father for ever. the land of my captivity do I praife him, and declare his might and majefty to a finful nation, Tob. xiii. 3, 4, 6. This was the Practice of pious Men among the Ten Tribes, of whom fome were likewife in great Place and Authority, chap. i. 13, 21, 22.
And as the Ten Tribes were firft carried away Captive; fo, upon the Restoration of the Tribes of Judab and Benjamin, all but a few, in comparison of the other Tribes, remained in the Places of their Captivity; and many of thofe Two Tribes alfo chofe rather to continue in the Territories of Babylon, than for fake the Poffeffions which they enjoyed there: It is supposed, that not much more than half of them returned; and there were afterwards three celebrated Universities d of the Jews in Babylon, Nehardea, Pombeditha, and Soria, befides feveral other Places famous for Learning. The Jews relate, that the Ten Tribes were carried away not only into Media and Perfia, but into the Northern Countries beyond the Bofphorus ; Land Ortelius finds them in Tartary. The Qdomantes, a People of Thrace, were Circumcifed; and the f Scholiaft of Ariftophanes fays, that they were reported to be Jews. In process of time they went as far as China.
The Reftoration of the Jews by Cyrus, who had been fo long before appointed and named by God himself for that Work, was ordained for this End, that they might know, from the rifing of the fun, and from the weft, that there is no God befides him, Ifa, xlv. 6. The Conquefts of Cyrus opened a great Correspondence between the Nations of the World; and his particular Favour to the Jews, made them much taken notice of by other Nations: And it is obfervable, that after the Captivity, the Jews were never given to Idolatry; and though they were before too much addicted to it, yet this gave occafion to Prophecies and Miracles to withdraw them from it; and thefe, with the Judgments of God which befel them for their Iniquities,
Jofeph. Antiq. 1. 1. c. 1. d Buxtorf. Tiber. c. 6. ercitat. on Acts, p. 681, 709.
f Ariftophan. Acharnenf. Act. 1. Scen. 4,
Mede's Difcourfe, 20. p. 75.