Joseph and Benjamin: A Series of Letters on
The Controversy Between Jews and Christians:
Comprising the Most Important Doctrines Of the Christian Religion

Joseph Samuel C. F. Frey
1841

"The faith of a true Christian is the same as that of Moses and the Prophets."

 

Part 9. Second Advent of the Messiah

 

Letter 1. Introduction

Dear Brother Benjamin,

1. Agreeably to my promise in a former letter, I now proceed to consider the second advent of Christ.

In entering on this subject, my feelings are very different from those with which I wrote my former letters: I can only compare them to the different feelings of a person, who, having traveled for a considerable time in a plain and pleasant road, where every by-path was supplied with a direction-post to prevent him from turning out of the right way, and his progress known by a succession of regular milestones, and where he was frequently met by fellow-passengers, but is now entering an extensive forest, where few have traveled before him, and most of them had missed their way without the supply of a proper map, but wholly left to be directed by now and then a marked tree; how different must be his feelings, how trembling his steps, how slow his progress, and how great his anxiety lest he also should miss his way and be lost in a labyrinth, out of which he may not be able to extricate himself without danger! Such are my feelings, and such my fears.

In my former letters I explained prophecies by plain and attested facts which have already come to pass; now I am to describe future events by past prophecies. This is a task in which many have labored in vain, and spent their strength for naught; for it is allowed by all, that prophecies were never intended to be fully understood until near the time of their accomplishment, and sometimes not till after the events had taken place. The remarkable circumstances of Messiah's birth, his life and character, his sufferings and death, his resurrection and ascension, the destruction of Jerusalem, the dispersion of our nation, &c. all were clearly foretold, as has been fully shown in my former letters, yet few understood them till after their accomplishment. The real design of prophecy is, that when they are fulfilled we might have additional evidence of the truth of the sacred Scripture, admit the wisdom and goodness of the author, and thereby our faith and confidence might be strengthened, that those yet unfulfilled will surely be accomplished in God's own time.

2. Under these considerations I assure you, my dear Benjamin, that, were it not for the promise I made to consider the second advent of the Messiah, and your expectation excited thereby, I should gladly omit it. For, after much research, and close examination of what has been written on both sides of the question, I find myself in the same predicament as he who said,

"Before I entered college I thought I might fill the professor's chair; after a year's study I found I had been mistaken, but still thought I might supply the place of an assistant teacher; after the second year I was sure I was only fit to be a scholar; but at the close of the third year I was so convinced of my ignorance that I considered myself unfit to be a student."
Just so, my dear Benjamin, the more I consider the conflicting and opposite opinions of writers on the subject, the more reluctant I feel to enter on the discussion; for "who is to decide when doctors disagree?"

That Jesus Christ shall come again the second time is expressly taught in the Scriptures, and disputed by none; but in defining the nature and designs of his coming, they widely differ. Some understand by it his last appearance unto the judgment day, while others are of opinion that he will come a second time at the commencement of the millennium, and a third time to judgment.

Again: those who are agreed that Christ will appear at the commencement of the millennium, are disagreed with respect to the nature of his appearance, whether it is to be understood literally or figuratively. The same division of sentiment prevails with respect to the nature of the first resurrection and the millennium itself. With these interesting and important, but difficult subjects, several other topics are intimately connected, which have equally divided the opinions and sentiments of the most learned and pious men of different denominations. The restoration of our beloved nation, the overturning of the Ottoman empire, the destruction of the Western Antichrist, &c. &c. are events which must take place before the second coming of Christ, whether that be to judgment or to commence the millennium, whether it be understood literally or figuratively.

3. It is difficult indeed, if not altogether impossible, to fix the exact time or year when these events are to take place; for, although certain periods of time are mentioned in the sacred Scriptures, yet as we are not sure when these periods commenced, we cannot of course be certain when they will end.

To lay before you, my dear Benjamin, all that has been written on this subject, would not only be inconsistent with the nature of our epistolary correspondence, but would also fill too many volumes. Perhaps the following extracts from Bishop Newton and the Rev. George Stanley Faber, on the Prophecies, are the most judicious as well as the most concise.

4. Bishop Newton, on the book of the Revelation to St. John, chapter 21, says,

"It appears, then, that this anti-christian power was to arise in the latter times of the Roman empire, after an end should be put to the imperial power, and after the empire should be divided into ten kingdoms; and it is not only foretold when it should prevail, but moreover how long it should prevail. Here we cannot but observe, that the very same period of time is prefixed for its continuance both by Daniel and by St. John. Wonderful is the consent and harmony between these inspired writers, as in other circumstances of the prophecy, so particularly in this. In Daniel 7:25, 'The little horn' was to 'wear out the saints of the Most High, and think to change times and laws'; as it is said expressly that they 'shall be given into his hand, until a time and times, and the dividing of time'; or as the same thing is expressed in another place, Daniel 12:7, 'for a time, times, and a half.' In the Revelation it is said of the host, 13:5, to whom, in like manner, it was given to make war with the saints, and to overcome them, that 'power also was given unto him to continue forty and two months'; and 'the holy city,' 11:2, 'the Gentiles should tread under foot forty and two months'; and 'the two witnesses,' verse 3, 'should prophecy a thousand two hundred and three-score days, clothed in sackcloth'; and the woman, the true church of Christ, who fled into the wilderness from persecution, 12:6, 14, should be fed and nourished there 'a thousand two hundred and threescore days,' or, as it is otherwise expressed in the same chapter, 'for a time, and times, and half a time.' Now, all these numbers you will find, upon computation, to be the same, and each of them to signify one thousand two hundred and sixty years. For a time is a year, and a time and times, and the dividing of time, or half a time, are three years and a half, and three years and a half are forty-two months, and forty-two months are twelve hundred and sixty days, and twelve hundred and sixty days, in the prophetic style, are one thousand two hundred and sixty years. From all these cases and characters it may be fairly concluded that the time of the Church's great affliction, and of the reign of Antichrist, will be a period of one thousand two hundred and sixty years.

"To fix the time exactly when these twelve hundred and sixty years begin, and consequently when they will end, is a matter of some niceness and difficulty; and perhaps we must see their conclusion before we can possibly ascertain their beginning. It is plain, however, that these twelve hundred and sixty years of the reign of Antichrist are not to be computed from his birth, or infancy, or youth; but from his coming to maturity, from his coming to the throne: and in my opinion the beginning cannot be fixed consistent with the truth of history, either sooner or later than the eighth century. Several memorable events happened in that century. In the year 727, the pope and people of Rome revolted from the exarch of Ravenna, and shook off their allegiance to the Greek emperor. In the year 755, the pope obtained the exarchate of Ravenna for himself, and thenceforwards acted as an absolute temporal prince. In the year 774, the pope, by the assistance of Charles the Great, became possessed of the kingdom of the Lombards. In the year 787, the worship of images was fully established, and the supremacy of the pope acknowledged by the second council of Nice. From one or the other of these transactions it is probable that the beginning of the reign of Antichrist is to be dated. What appears to be most probable is, that it is to be dated from the year 727, when Rome and the Roman dukedom came from the Greeks to the Roman pontiff. Hereby he became, in some measure, a horn or temporal prince; though his power was not fully established till some years afterwards; and before he was a horn at all, he could not answer the character of the little horn. If, then, the beginning of the 1260 years of the reign of Antichrist is to be dated from the year 727, their end will fall near the year 2000 after Christ; and at the end of the six thousandth year of the world, according to a very early tradition of the Jews and Christians, and even of heathens, great change and revolutions are expected, both in the natural and moral world; and 'there remaineth,' according to the words of the apostle, 'a Sabbatism, or holy rest for the people of God'" (Heb 4:9).

5. On Revelation 19:11-21, he says,
"In a word, the design of this sublime and figurative description is to show the downfall of popery and the triumph of Christianity; the true word of God will prevail over superstition and idolatry; all the powers of Antichrist shall be completely subdued; and the religion of Rome, as well as Rome herself, shall be destroyed."
Again he says,
"After the destruction of the beast and the false prophet, there still remains 'the dragon,' who had delegated his power to them, that old serpent, which is the devil and Satan, he that is bound by 'an angel,' an especial minister of Providence; and the famous millennium commences, or the reign of saints upon earth for a thousand years. Wickedness being restrained, the reign of righteousness succeeds, and the administration of justice and judgment is given to the saints of the Most High; and the martyrs and confessors of Jesus, not only those who were beheaded or suffered any kind of death under the heathen emperors, but also those who refused to comply with the idolatrous worship of the beast and of his image, are raised from the dead, and have the principal share in the felicity of Christ's kingdom upon earth. But the rest of the dead lived not again until the thousand years were finished; so that it was a peculiar prerogative of the martyrs and confessors above the rest of mankind. This is the first resurrection, a particular resurrection preceding the general one at least a thousand years. 'Blessed and holy, too, is he who hath part in the first resurrection'; he is holy in all the senses of the word, holy as separated from the common lot of mankind, holy as endowed with all virtuous qualifications, and none but such are permitted to partake of this blessed state; on such the second death hath no power."
Again he says,
"Nothing is more evident than that this prophecy of the millennium, and of the first resurrection, has not yet been fulfilled, even though the resurrection be taken in a figurative sense. For, reckon the thousand years, with Usher, from the time of Christ, or reckon them, with Grotius, from the time of Constantine, yet neither of these periods, nor indeed any other, will answer the description and character of the millennium, the purity and peace, the holiness and happiness of that blessed state. That there shall be such a happy period as the millennium: that the kingdom, and dominion, and the greatness of the kingdom umler the whole heaven shall be given for the people of the saints of the Most High (Dan 7:27), that Christ shall have the heathen for his inheritance, and the uttermost parts of the earth for his possession (Psa 2:8); that the earth shall be full of the knowledge of the Lord, as the waters cover the sea (Isa 11:9); 'that the fullness of the Gentiles shall come in, and all Israel shall be saved' (Rom 11:25,26); in a word, that the kingdom of heaven shall be established upon earth is the plain and express doctrine of Daniel and all the prophets, as well as of St. John; and we daily pray for the accomplishment of it in praying, 'Thy kingdom come.' But of all the prophets, St. John is the only one who hath, declared particularly, and in express terms, that the martyrs shall rise to partake of the felicities of this kingdom, and that it shall continue upon earth a thousand years: and the Jewish Church before him, and the Christian Church after him, have farther believed and taught, that these thousand years will be the seventh millenary of the world.
6. He continues,
"Of the Jewish writers, Rabbi Ketiner, as cited in the Gemera, or glass of their Talmud, said that 'the world endures six thousand years, and one thousand it shall be laid waste, (that is, the enemies of God shall be destroyed ;) whereof it is said, Isaiah 2:11, 'The Lord alone shall be exalted in that day.' Tradition asserts to Rabbi Kenina; as out of seven years, every seventh is the year of remission, so out of the seven thousand years of the world, the seventh millenary shall be the millenary of remission, that God alone may be exalted in that day. It was the tradition of the house of Elias, who lived two hundred years, or thereabouts, before Christ; and the tradition might perhaps be derived from Elias the Tishbite, that the world endures six thousand years, two thousand before the law, two thousand under the law, and two thousand under the Messiah. It is also the tradition of the house of Elias, that the just, whom God shall raise up, (meaning the first resurrection,) shall not be turned again into the dust. Now if you inquire how it shall be with the just in those thousand years, wherein the holy blessed God shall renew his world, whereof it is said, 'and the Lord shall be exalted in that day'; you must know that the holy blessed God will give them the wings, as it were, of eagles, that they may fly upon the face of the waters; when it is said in Psalm 46:2, 'Therefore we will not fear when the earth shall be changed.' But perhaps you will say, it shall be a pain and affliction to them. Not at all, for it is said, Isaiah 40:31, 'They that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles.'
7. Newton on the Christian fathers,
"Of the Christian writers, St. Barnabas, in the first century, thus comments upon those words of Moses: 'And God made in six days the works of his hands, and he finished them on the seventh day, and he rested in it, and sanctified it. Consider, children, what that signifies, that the Lord God will finish all things in six thousand years. For a day, with him is a thousand years; as he himself testified saying, 'Behold, this day shall be as a thousand years.' Therefore, children, in six days, that is in six thousand years, shall all things be consummated. And he rested the seventh day: this signifies that when his Son shall come, and shall abolish the season of the wicked ones, and shall judge the ungodly, and shall change the sun, and the moon, and the stars, then he shall rest gloriously that seventh day.'(1)

"Justin Martyr, in the second century, declares the millennium to be the catholic doctrine of his time. 'I, and as many as are orthodox Christians in all respects, do acknowledge that there shall be a resurrection of the flesh, (meaning the first resurrection,) and in a thousand years Jerusalem rebuilt, and adorned and enlarged, (that is in the new Jerusalem,) as the prophets Ezekiel, and Isaiah, and others unanimously attest.' Afterwards he subjoins, 'A certain, man among us, whose name was John, one of the apostles of Christ, in a revelation made to him, did prophecy that the faithful believers in Christ should live a thousand years in the new Jerusalem; and after these, should be the general resurrection and judgment.'(2)

"Tertullian, at the beginning of the third century, professeth his opinion of the kingdom promised to the saints on earth, of their resurrection for a thousand years, of their living in the new Jerusalem, and therein enjoying all spiritual delights, and of the destruction of the world and the general judgment after the thousand years.(3)

"Lactantius, at the beginning of the fourth century, is very copious upon this subject, in the seventh book of his divine institutions. He saith, 'Because all the works of God were finished in six days, it is necessary that the world should remain in this state six ages, that is six thousand years.' And again, because, having finished the work, he rested on the seventh day, and blessed it; it is necessary, at the end of the six thousandth year, all wickedness should be abolished out of the earth, and justice should reign for a thousand years; he saith, when the Son of God shall have destroyed injustice, and shall have restored the just to life, he shall be conversant among men a thousand years, and shall rule them with most just government. At the same time the prince of devils shall be bound with chains, and shall be in custody the thousand years of the heavenly kingdom, while justice shall reign in the world, lest he should attempt any evil against the people of God. He saith, when the thousand years of the kingdom, that is seven thousand years, shall draw towards a conclusion, Satan shall be loosed again, and when the thousand years shall be completed, then shall be that public resurrection of all, wherein the unjust shall be raised to everlasting torments. And having enlarged upon these topics, he concludes, 'This is the doctrine of the holy prophets, which we Christians follow; this is our wisdom.' In short, the doctrine of the millennium was generally believed in the three first and purest ages; and this belief, as the learned Dodwell has justly observed, was one principal cause of the fortitude of the primitive Christians; they even coveted martyrdom, in hopes of being partakers of the privileges and glories of the martyrs of the first resurrection.

8. Newton says,
"After the expiration of the thousand years, Revelation 20:7-10, the restraint shall be taken off from wickedness, and for 'a little season,' as it is said before, verse 3, Satan shall be loosed out of his prison, and make one effort more to establish his kingdom.

"The nations whom he shall deceive are distinguished by the name of 'Gog and Magog,' and are said to be as numerous as the sand of the sea. 'Gog and Magog' seem to have been formerly the general name of the northern nations of Europe and Asia, as the Scythians have been since, and the Tartars are at present. In Ezekiel, there is a famous prophecy concerning Gog and Magog, and this prophecy alludes to that in many particulars. Both that of Ezekiel and that of St. John remain yet to be fulfilled; and therefore we cannot be absolutely certain that they may not both relate to the same event, but it appears more probable that they relate to different events. The one is expected to take effect before, but the other will not take effect till after the millennium. Gog and Magog, in Ezekiel, are said expressly, 38:6, 15, 39:2, to come from the north quarters and the north parts; but in St. John, they come from the four quarters, or corners of the earth. Gog and Magog, in Ezekiel, bend their forces against the Jews resettled in their own land; but, in St. John, they march up against the saints and church of God in general. Gog and Magog, in Ezekiel, are with very good reason supposed to be Turks; but the Turks are the authors of the second wo, and the second wo, chapter 11:14, is passed before the third wo, and the third wo long precedes the time here treated of. Ezekiel's prophecy apparently coincides with the latter part of the eleventh chapter of Daniel, and presignifies the destruction of the Ottoman empire, which includes Gomer and many European, as well as Ethiopia, Lybia, and other nations. If Gog and Magog, in St. John, are the same with those in Ezekiel, then we must suppose the Ottoman empire to subsist throughout the millennium, which can hardly be believed, as it can hardly be reconciled with other prophecies. It may therefore be concluded that Gog and Magog, as well as Sodom, and Egypt, and Babylon, are mystic names in this book; and the last enemies of the Christian church are so denominated, because Gog and Magog appear to be the last enemies of the Jewish nation. Who they shall be we cannot pretend to say, with the least degree of certainty. Wherever they shall be, they shall come up from the four corners of the earth, on the breadth of the earth, and shall compass the camp of the saints about, and the beloved city, the new Jerusalem, with the saints encamped around it, as the Israelites encamped around the tabernacle in the wilderness. But they shall not succeed and prosper in their attempts; they shall not be able to hurt the church and city of God, but shall be destroyed in an extraordinary manner by fire from heaven; and the devil himself, the promoter and leader of this new apostacy and rebellion against God and his Christ, shall not only be confined as before, but he shall be cast into the lake of fire and brimstone, where he shall be punished, together with the beast and the false prophet, who were cast in before him, and shall be tormented day and night, for ever and ever.

"After this last conflict, and the final defeat of Satan, then follows the resurrection and judgment" (Rev 20:11-15).

In his recapitulation of the prophecies relating to Popery, the Bishop says,
"Sobriety and modesty are required in the interpretations of all prophecies, and especially in the explication of things yet future. Only this much it may be proper to premise, that having seen so many of the prophecies fulfilled, you have the less reason to doubt of the completion of those which are to follow.

"According to the method and order wherein St. John hath arranged these events, they must happen before the end of the second wo, or the fall of the Ottoman empire. Ezekiel 28 and 29, and
Daniel 11:44, 45, have given some intimation that the Ottoman empire shall be overthrown, in opposing the settlement of Israel in their own land, in the latter days. In the conclusion of the book of Daniel there are also some intimations that the religion of Mohammed shall prevail in the east for as long a period of time as the tyranny of the little horn in the west. Very remarkable too it is, that Mohammed first contrived his imposture in the year 606, the very same year wherein the tyrant Phocas made a grant of the supremacy to the Pope; and this might incline one to think that the 1260 years of the reign of Antichrist are to be dated from this time. But though they might rise together, yet they were not fully established together. The authority of Mohammed might be fully established in the 7th century; but that of the Pope was not till the eighth century; and therefore as the one was established somewhat sooner, so it may also be subverted somewhat sooner than the other. The Pope, indeed, was established supreme in spirituals in the seventh century, but he became not a temporal horn or beast till the eighth century.

"About the timeof the fall of the Ottoman empire, and of the Christian Antichrist, the Jews shall turn to the Lord and be restored to their own land. Innumerable are the prophecies concerning the conversion and restoration of the people. See Hosea 3:4, 5; Ezekiel 38:21, 23, 39:28, 29; Romans 11:25. Now these and like predictions, we suppose, will take effect, and this great revolution be accomplished about the time of the fall of the Ottoman empire and of the Christian Antichrist. Ezekiel's Gog and Magog, 38 and 39, we believe to be the Turks or Ottomans, and they shall come up against the children of Israel in the latter days, to oppose their resettlement in their own land; and they shall fall in some extraordinary manner upon the mountains, they and the people that are with them: so the house of Israel shall know that I am the Lord their God from that day and forward. Daniel too, 11:45, 12:1, predicts the fall of the king of the north upon the glorious mountain: and at that time shall Michael stand up, the great prince who standeth for the children of Israel. The restoration of the Jews and the fall of Antichrist shall also happen about the same time. In consequence of, and conformity to this doctrine, a tradition hath prevailed among the Jews, that the destruction of Rome and the redemption of Israel shall fall out about the same time."

9. He continues,
"When these great events, I say, shall come to pass, then shall the kingdom of Christ commence, or the reign of the saints upon earth. So Daniel expressly informs us, that the kingdom of Christ and the saints will be raised upon the ruins of the kingdom of Antichrist (7:26,27). So likewise St. John saith, that upon the final destruction of the beast and the false prophet, Revelation 20, Satan is bound for a thousand years. It is, I conceive, to these great events, the fall of Antichrist, the re-establishment of the Jews, and the beginning of the glorious millennium, that the three different dates of twelve hundred and sixty years, twelve hundred and ninety years, and thirteen hundred and thirty-five years, are to be referred: and as Daniel saith, 12:12, 'Blessed is he that waiteth, and cometh to the 1335 years.' So St. John saith, 'Blessed and holy is he that hath part in the first resurrection' (Rev 20:6). Blessed and happy indeed will be this period; and it is very observable that the martyrs and professors of Jesus in popish, as well as in pagan times, will be raised to partake of this felicity. Then shall all those gracious promises in the Old Testament be fulfilled, of the amplitude and extent of the peace and prosperity of the glory and happiness of the church in the latter days. Then, in the full sense of the words, Revelation 11:15, 'shall the kingdoms of this world become the kingdoms of our Lord and of his Christ; and he shall reign for ever and ever.' According to tradition, these thousand years of the reign of Christ and the saints will be the seventh millenary of the world: for, as God created the world in six days, and rested on the seventh, so the world, it is argued, will continue six thousand years, and the seventh thousand will be the great Sabbatism, or holy rest to the people of God; 'one day being with the Lord as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day' (2 Peter 3:8).

"Prudence, as well as modesty, requires that we should forbear all curious inquiries into the nature and condition of this future kingdom; as how Satan should be bound for a thousand years, and afterwards loosed again; how the raised saints shall dwell with the living, and judge and govern the world; how Christ shall manifest himself to them, and reign among them; how the new Jerusalem, the city and church of the living God, shall descend from heaven to earth; how Satan shall at last deceive the nations, and what nations they shall be. These are points which the Holy Spirit hath not thought fit to explain; and folly may easily ask more questions about them than wisdom can answer."

Farewell.

 

Letter 2. Introduction Continued

Dear Brother Benjamin,

Let me invite your patient attention to a few more extracts on the subject of the millennium.

1. The Rev. G. S. Faber, who published, in the commencement of this century, "A dissertation on the prophecies relative to the 1260 years," in two volumes, closes the whole with the following recapitulation:

"From what has been said, we learn that the 1260 days are the appointed hour of the powers of darkness, the space of time allotted for the prevalence both of popery and Mohammedanism, and for the short-lived triumph of Antichrist.

"In the year 606, the saints seem to have been first given, by the secular power of the Roman empire, into the hand of the papal little horn; consequently, from this year the 1260 days ought most probably to be computed. The desolating transgression of the Mohammedan little horn, however, is destined to prevail during the same space of time that the papal little horn is permitted to reign. Hence, in order that the two periods of 1260 years each might be made to synchronize together, it seemed necessary that the desolating transgression of Mohammedanism should first make its appearance in the very year when the saints were delivered into the hand of the papal little horn. Accordingly we find that it did first make its appearance in that year, for the year 606 is the most proper date of the Mohammedan imposture, because in that year Mohammed first retired to the cave of Hear."

2. He continues,
''The papal horn arose, as we have seen, at the precise time when Daniel predicted that it should rise; namely, while the Roman empire was falling asunder, and while ten independent kingdoms were springing up out of its ruins. It arose gradually and almost imperceptibly, among and behind the ten horns of the fourth beast; three of which were successively eradicated before it, and, by their fall, gave it an opportunity of becoming a temporal, no less than a spiritual power. For some time after its rise it was only an ecclesiastical kingdom: but that kingdom, though small at first, continued perpetually to increase in size; till, in the year 606, when the Pope was declared universal Bishop and supreme head of the Catholic church, it became a mighty ecclesiastical empire. At this era, which seems to be the proper date of the 1260 years, an epoch when the old Pagan Roman beast, which had been mortally wounded by the sword of the Spirit under his sixth head, revived, under the same sixth head, by setting a spiritual tyrant in the church, and by relapsing into idolatry. St. John first introduces upon the stage the power which Daniel symbolizes by the little horn of the fourth beast. The power, however, had now become an universal empire, instead of being what it had hitherto been, a limited ecclesiastical kingdom. Hence the apostle, instead of representing the ten-horned beast as having likewise a little horn, describes him as attended by a second beast, whose character precisely answers to that of the little horn. By the instigation of the corrupt spiritual power, the ten-horned beast, or the secular Roman empire, wages war with the saints during the period of the 1260 days, through the instrumentality either of his last head or his ten horns."
3. Again,
"The desolating transgressions of Mohammedanism arose in the same year that the papal horn became an universal spiritual empire. A few years after its rise, it acquired its predicted character of a little horn of the Macedonian he-goat; and soon, agreeably to the prophecy, waxed exceedingly great toward the south, and toward the east, and toward the pleasant land. In the course of its progress, it cast down many of the symbolical stars, or Christian pastors, to the ground; took away the daily sacrifice of praise and thanksgiving; polluted the spiritual sanctuary; and presumed to magnify itself against even the Prince of princes. As for its character, it was notorious for trampling upon the truth; for prospering in a wonderful manner, for making its appearance exactly when the transgressors were come to the full, by publicly re-establishing idolatry; for teaching dark sentences; for being mighty not through its own unaided power; for exterminating its opponents with the utmost barbarity; for persecuting with peculiar violence the people of the Holy Ones; for advancing itself by craft, and for destroying many while in a state of negligent security.

"In the Apocalypse a more full account is given of the agents by whom this apostate religion should be propagated. A fallen star opens the bottomless pit and lets out the destroying king of the locusts. These locusts are permitted to continue their ravages during the space of five prophetic months, or 150 years, which is found from history to be the precise period allotted to the continuation of the Saracenic incursions. The locusts are succeeded by an immense body of horsemen under four leaders, from the banks of the Euphrates, whose commission is limited to an hour, a day, a month, and a year, or 391 years and 15 days, and who are empowered to kill a third part of men, or the Roman empire, which their predecessors, the Saracenic locusts, had only been permitted to torment.

"History accordingly teaches us that the Saracens were succeeded by the Turks; who came under four leaders from the banks of the Euphrates; whose armies consisted almost entirely of cavalry; whose career of conquest exactly continued 391 years; and who subverted the Constantinopolitan empire, which the Saracens, severely as they harassed it, had never been able to effect.

"The Mohammedan little horn itself, or the religion of Mohammed, is to prevail to the end of 2200 years from the invasion of Asia by Alexander the Great, which is found to bring us down exactly to the year 1860, and thus to allow precisely 1260 years for the triumphs of Mohammedanism, reckoning from its commencement in the year 606."

4. Rev. Faber continues,
"After the era of the Reformation, and in the last days of atheism and insubordination, but previous to the commencement of the time of the end, the infidel king, according to the sure word of prophecy, was destined to arise; that Antichrist who was alike to deny the Father and the Son; that audacious tyrant who should magnify himself above every god; who should speak marvelous things against the God of gods; who should neither regard the God of his fathers nor the desire of women; who should nevertheless honor a foreign god, and acknowledge gods protectors; and who should be allowed to prosper till the indignation be accomplished.

"As the contemporary rise and progress of popery and Mohammedanism is described in the Apocalypse under the two first wo trumpets, so the appearance of the great Antichrist is announced by the third. His full development, however, is to be immediately preceded by the last event of the second wo trumpet, a tremendous earthquake, by which a tenth part of the great Latin city, or one of the ten horns of the Roman beast, is to be overthrown. The last wo, which extends beyond the termination of the 1260 years, at least to the end of the seventh vial, if not to the commencement of the millennium, comprehends the periods of the harvest and the vintage.

"Thus, after the epoch of the Reformation, and immediately after the French Revolution of the year 1789, we have seen the manifestation of a terrific monster which alike set at defiance the laws both of God and man. We have beheld scenes of carnage and impiety which well deserve to be ushered in by a distinct wo trumpet, and which may justly claim to themselves the title of the harvest of God's wrath. The scenes have at last passed away, like the distempered and fantastic vision of a sick man; and the sun of military tyranny has begun to scorch the irreclaimable inhabitants of the Papal Roman empire with an intolerable heat. The madness of the harvest, therefore, is past, and we must expect in due season the commencement of the vintage, in which the enemies of God will be finally destroyed for ever."

5. Again,
"At present we are living under the fourth vial; and from the great length of time which popery and Mohammedanism have continued, we cannot be very far removed from the end of the 1260 days, whatever be the precise year from which they ought to be dated. The year which I have fixed upon for their date, is the year 606, a year marked by so singular a combination of circumstances, that I know not how any other can with equal propriety be selected. If, then, I be right in my opinion, we are now but removed a little more than sixty years from the commencement of the time of the end, and of the vintage of God's wrath. Be this, however, as it may, we are undoubtedly living in the last days of blasphemous infidelity, in that awful period which is the peculiar reign of Antichrist. The signs of the times all concur to teach us that we are fast approaching towards the catastrophe of the great drama. We have seen the unexpected union of infidelity and popery; an union, no doubt, preparatory to the predicted final league of the beast, the false prophet, and the kings of the papal earth. We have seen measures taken, as it were, towards making the atheistical king the last head of the beast. We have seen Palestine, the predicted stage on which Antichrist and his congregated vassals are doomed to perish, brought forward in a remarkable manner to public notice, and becoming at once a subject of political discussion and an object of hostile invasion. We have seen the kings devouring the flesh of the great whore, and making her naked and desolate, though her spiritual empire over the minds of men still continues. We have seen, and we may now see the waters of the mystic Euphrates rapidly drying up previous to their final complete exhaustion under the sixth vial. And we have seen of late years, what I cannot but consider at least as one of the minor signs of the times, an unusual and humble attention paid in this Protestant country to the predictions of the ancient prophets. Although the book be sealed, and will not be fully understood till the time of the end, yet as the time is now approaching, many run to and fro, and knowledge is increased. Of the wicked indeed, of those who are either members of the great apostacy, or have been tainted with the blasphemous impieties of Antichrist, none shall understand but the spiritually wise children of the symbolical manna, they who profess the same evangelical principles as those who perished at the era of the Reformation, who were tried in purging, and in making white their apostate brethren, these shall understand."
6. Rev. Faber continues,
"As yet we have not beheld any signs of the restoration of Judah, nor, to all appearances, shall we behold any, till the three times and a half draw very near to their termination.

"But when that famous period shall have expired, then will commence the wars of Antichrist with the kings of the south and the north, and the restoration of the unconverted Jews through his instrumentality. Then will the Lord call unto the land spreading wide the shadow of its wings, which are beyond the river Cush, accustomed to send messengers by sea, even in quick-sailing vessels, upon the surface of the waters. Then shall the swift messengers go unto a nation dragged away and plucked, unto a people wonderful from the beginning hitherto—a nation expecting, expecting, and trampled under foot, whose land rivers have spoiled. Then shall all the inhabitants of the world, and the dwellers upon earth see the lifting up, as it were, of a hammer upon the mountains, and shall hear the sounding, as it were, of a trumpet. In spite of the opposition of the atheistico-papal confederacy, the great maritime power of the day shall take the lead in the restoration of the converted of Judah, while the enemies of the Lord, notwithstanding their invasion of Palestine, and notwithstanding their temporary success against Jerusalem, bent only upon the accomplishment of their own schemes, and unconsciously subject to the influence of Satanical delusion, shall madly rush on to their destruction in the valley of Megiddo, in the region between the two seas, the region whose limits extend sixteen hundred furlongs."

7. It might probably be expected that I should now state the sentiments of our own brethren on the subject of the coming of the Messiah; but you know, my dear Benjamin, that having so often been disappointed in their expectation, they have at last pronounced a curse on every one who should attempt to calculate the time or the end.(4)

There have, however, been many (some of which have been referred to before) who have from time to time fixed the time of his coming, but have all failed.(5) In Sephor Avcoth Rochel there are ten signs laid down by which Messiah's advent may be known. The seventh sign is the rise of one whom they call Armillus; but Christians, they say, call him Antichrist, who shall lead multitudes to worship him as God; and the Jews refusing to do so, will lead to a great battle, in which Armillus will lose about twenty thousand of his army: his wrath being now kindled more than ever, he will gather the forces of all the nations of the world into the valley of Decision (Joel 3:14).

At that period, all the nations of the world will expel all the Israelites out of their provinces, and not suffer them to dwell among them any more; and they will say, Behold the despised and abject people, who have rebelled against us and appointed themselves a king. And Israel shall experience distress, such as had never been known from the beginning of the world even to that time: then Michael shall stand up to purge out the impious from Israel, as it is said, "And at that time shall Michael stand up, the great prince which standeth for the children of thy people; and there shall be a time of trouble, such as there never was since there was a nation" (Dan 12:1). Immediately all the Israelites will flee away into desert places; and all who are hesitating and doubtful in their hearts will return to the Gentiles, and will say, Is this the redemption which we expected, that the Messiah himself has been slain? Of that redemption, therefore, will all be ashamed, who shall disregard it, and cleave to the Gentiles. Thus will God prove all Israel, and purge them like gold and silver; as it is written, "And I will bring the third part through the fire, and will refine them as silver is refined, and will try them as gold is tried" (Zech 13:9). Again: "And I will purge out from among you the rebels, and them that transgress against me" (Eze 20:38). Again: "Many shall be purified, and made white, and tried; but the wicked shall do wickedly" (Dan 12:10). All the rest of Israel shall be holy and pure in the desert of Judah—for forty-five days' grazing and eating; nettles, and plucking the leaves of herbs and shrubs. In them shall be fulfilled this prophecy: "Therefore will I allure her, and bring her into the wilderness, and speak comfortably unto her" (Hosea 2:14). That this time will be a period of forty-five days, is evident from what is written: "And from the time that the daily sacrifice shall be taken away, and the abomination which maketh desolate set up, there shall be a thousand two hundred and ninety days." The words immediately following are: "Blessed is he that waiteth, and cometh to the thousand three hundred and five and thirty days" (Dan 12:11,12). From the end of the former period to the end of the latter are forty-five days: in the interval all the impious Israelites, who are not worthy to see the redemption, will die: Armillus will come, and conquer, and take possession of Egypt; for it is said, "And the land of Egypt shall not escape" (Dan 11:42). Then he shall turn his face towards Jerusalem, to lay it waste a second time; for it is said, "And he shall plant the tabernacle of his palace between the seas in the glorious holy mountain; yet he shall come to his end, and none shall help him" (Dan 11:45).(6)

Eighth sign.—Michael shall arise and blow a trumpet three times, as it is said: "In that day the great trumpet shall be blown, and they shall come which were ready to perish" (Isa 27:13). It is also written: ''The Lord God shall blow the trumpet, and shall go with the whirlwinds of the south" (Zech 9:14). At the first blast shall be revealed Messiah Ben David and Elijah the prophet; as whose sign the just and the pure Israelites, who had fled into the desert of Judah, at the end of the forty-five days shall recover their spirits, their hands which hung down shall be strengthened, and their feeble knees confirmed; and on hearing the sound of the trumpet, all the rest of the Israelites throughout the world will know that God has visited his people, and granted perfect deliverance. They will, therefore, gather together and come, as it is said, "And they shall come which were ready to perish in the land of Assyria, and the outcasts in the land of Egypt" (Isa 27:13). But that blast shall cause fear and trembling in the Gentiles, and they shall be seized with the most grievous diseases. In the meantime the Israelites shall prepare themselves to go forth; and Messiah Ben David and Elijah the prophet shall come, with the just who shall return from the desert of Judah, and with all the assembled Israelites, and will enter into Jerusalem; and the Son of David going up into the deserted palace, will there fix his residence. But when Armillus shall have heard that there has arisen a King in Israel, he will say, How long shall that most vile and abject nation cause trouble! and collecting the forces of all the nations of the world, he will come to fight with God's Messiah, whom God will not send into the war, but will only say to him, "Sit thou at my right hand" (Psa 110:1). And he will say to Israel, "Stand still, and see the salvation of the Lord, which he will show you to-day" (Exo 14:13). Immediately God himself will fight with their enemies, as it is said, "Then shall the Lord go forth and fight against those nations, as when he fought in the day of battle" (Zech 14:3). And God will rain down fire and brimstone from heaven, as it is written, "And I will plead against him with pestilence, and with blood; and I will rain upon him, and upon his bands, and upon the many people that are with him, an overflowing rain, and great hailstones, fire and brimstone" (Eze 38:22). And there shall the impious Armillus perish, with his whole army, and all the impious who destroyed the house of our God and carried us away from our own land. In that very hour will Israel take vengeance on them; for it is said, "And the house of Jacob shall be a fire, and the house of Joseph a flame, and the house of Esau for stubble" (Oba 1:18).(7)

Ninth sign.—Michael shall blow a great blast, by which the sepulchres of the dead at Jerusalem shall be opened, and the blessed God will restore them to life. Messiah Ben David also, and Elijah the prophet with him, will raise from the dead Messiah Ben Joseph, who was preserved under the gates of Jerusalem. Then they shall send Messiah Ben David to gather together the remainder of the Jews dispersed in all countries; and forthwith all the kings of the Gentiles throughout the world will take the Israelites upon their shoulders and bring them to God.(8)

Tenth sign.—When Michael shall have sounded again, the loudest blast, God will bring forth all the tribes from the rivers Gosan, Lachlach and Chabor, and from the cities of the Medes, an innumerable multitude, and they shall come with the children of Moses. "The land is as the garden of Eden before them, and behind them a flame burneth" (Joel 2:3). And at that time, when the tribes shall go forth, the glorious clouds of the divine majesty shall surround them: the blessed God himself will go before their face, as it is said, "The breaker is come up before them" (Micah 2:13). He will open to them the fountains of the tree of life, and he will drink of them in the way, as it is said, "I will open rivers in high places, and fountains in the midst of valleys: I will make the wilderness a pool of water, and the dry land springs of water'' (Isa 41:18). It is also written: "They shall not hunger nor thirst; neither shall the heat nor sun smite them" (Isa 49:10). God will make us worthy to see the deliverance in a short time; he will make us worthy to see the house of his choice, the temple. He will fulfill in us what is written: "Behold, I will bring again the captivity of Jacob's tents, and have mercy on his dwelling-places: and the city shall be builded upon her own heap, and the palace shall remain after the order thereof" (Jer 30:18). And he will accomplish in us all his consolations and assurances promised by his prophets; "And at that time will I bring you, even in the time that I gather you: for I will make you a name and a praise among all people of the earth" (Zeph 3:20).(9)

8. On the other hand also, there are ten kinds of consolations and assurances in which God causes Israel to trust: and as the root of those consolations, which are as branches proceeding from it,

  1. The coming of the Redeemer; for it is said, "Behold, thy King cometh unto thee" (Zech 9:9).
  2. The gathering together of the captives; for it is said, "Behold, I will bring them from the north country, and gather them from the coasts of the earth, and with them the blind and the lame" (Jer 31:8). What is meant by the "lame and the blind?" This teaches us, that every one of the just will return in the same state in which he departed out of this life. He who was blind, will return to life blind; he who was lame, will return to life lame: and so they will be raised with all their blemishes in order that every one shall be able to recognize his companion, that no one may say they are other persons: but afterwards God will cure them, according to that passage: "Then shall the lame man leap as a hart, and the tongue of the dumb sing" (Isa 35:6).
  3. The resurrection of the dead, as it is written: "And many of them that slept in the dust of the earth shall awake" (Dan 12 :2).
  4. The building of the temple, according to the vision of Ezekiel in his prophecy.
  5. The reign of Israel from sea to sea, over the whole earth, as it is said: "For the nation and kingdom that will not serve thee shall perish" (Isa 60:12). And the whole earth shall return to the judgment of God, and to his law, according to the prophecy: "Then will I turn to the people a pure language, that they may all call upon the name of the Lord" (Zeph 3:9).
  6. That God will destroy all his enemies, and take vengeance upon them, as it is said: "And I will lay my vengeance upon Edom" (Eze 25:14).
  7. That God will take away from Israel all disease, and every plague, according to the prophecy: "And the inhabitants shall not say, I am sick: the people that dwell therein shall be delivered from iniquity" (Isa 33:24).
  8. That God will prolong the days of the Israelites like those of a tree, according to the prophecy: "As the days of a tree shall be the days of my people" (Isa 65:22). It is also written: "For the child shall die an hundred years old; but the sinner, being an hundred years old, shall be accursed" (Isa 65:20). It is also written, "He will swallow up death in victory; and the Lord God will wipe away tears from off all faces" (Isa 25:8).
  9. That God will manifest himself to Israel face to face; for it is said: "And the glory of the Lord shall be revealed, and all flesh shall see it together" (Isa 40:5). He will also make all Israelites prophets, as it is said: "And it shall come to pass afterward, that I will pour out my Spirit upon all flesh, and your sons and your daughters shall prophecy" (Joel 2:28).
  10. God will take away from Israel the evil principle and all evil language, as it is said: "And I will give them one heart, and I will put a new spirit within you; and I will take the stony heart out of their flesh, and will give them a heart of flesh" (Eze 11:19). The wars of the Messiah are ended. "Harden" not "our hearts from thy fear" (Isa 63:17). (10)

9. Pardon me, my dear Benjamin, for having detained you so long. I will now close this introduction with a very brief statement of the sentiments of Joseph Crool, one of our nation, and Hebrew teacher at Cambridge University, in England:

"By sin man has become a fallen creature, and will continue so for six thousand years, according to the days of the creation of the world, but no longer; at the end, or near to it, the Messiah shall come, and there will be a new world. The old world shall be restored to its former glory, a new heaven and a new earth will appear, the former shall pass away, mankind will recover the primitive glory, and will be above angels; Satan and his band will be destroyed. The seventh day of the creation was the Sabbath, and that day only received a blessing, and was set apart for ever to be observed as a holy day; which was a type of the great Sabbath, i. e. the world of the Messiah, which also will be called the blessed world.(11)
Says he,
"God created the world in six days, to teach us that each day is to represent a thousand years, i. e. that this world shall exist for the space of six thousand years; the seventh day, which is called the Sabbath, represented, that after six thousand years, there should be a sabbatical time for one thousand years. This present year, 1812, we count 5571, and here we find there are yet 137 years to the time of his coming: but we know that this time will be shortened; and, according to the opinion of one great and learned Rabbi, there are only 29 years more to the time of his coming; and when we shall begin to count 5600, all things in this world will be settled."
Again he says,
"By this calculation we may learn that the jubilee of the restoration of Israel has begun already, these twenty years back, i.e. just when the Revolution began in France; at that very time the seventy jubilees were at an end. There are yet thirty-six years to the end of the jubilee of Israel, and before the end of these thirty-six years, Israel will be restored, and the Messiah will take possession of his empire."
The Lord will hasten it in his time. Amen. Farewell.

 

Letter 3. The Restoration of the Jews

My Dear Benjamin,

From the statement in the preceding letters, which comprises the sentiments of many writers, both Jewish and Christian, on the subject of the second advent of Christ, or the millennium, it appears that a certain chain of events is to take place; and although the things which relate to the circumstances, the time when, and the means and instruments by which the predicted events are to be brought about, cannot be known with certainty, yet when we shall see the accomplishment of the first, we may confidently look for the appearance of the next event. For more than thirty years, my dear Benjamin, I have studied this subject as much as my other avocations would permit, and from what I have been able to gather, both from the Holy Bible, from the writings of man and from the dispensations of God's providence, I now venture, but with the greatest diffidence and deepest humility, to submit to you my feeble thoughts on this profound subject; not for the purpose of entering into a controversy with any one who may differ, but merely for your consideration, to adopt or reject them as you may think them most agreeable to the revealed will of God.

1. The events to follow each other are probably these:

  1. The way will be prepared for the return of our people to their own land.
  2. They will return as a nation in an unconverted state.
  3. They will rebuild Jerusalem and the temple, and reestablish Judaism for a season.
  4. A considerable number of our brethren will be converted, but not return with our nation.
  5. These will afterwards be carried in vessels of bulrushes to our people, and be the means of leading them to declare themselves an independent nation.
  6. This will cause Jerusalem to be besieged by the eastern and the western antichrist.
  7. Jesus Christ shall then appear personally and visibly.
  8. The effect of this appearance will be two-fold; the destruction of the enemy, or the battle of Armageddon, on the one hand, and the conversion of our nation on the other.
  9. The ten tribes will then return and be re-united with Judah.
  10. The first resurrection will take place.
  11. Satan will be bound for a thousand years.
  12. During this period Christ will reign personally upon the earth, and the knowledge of the glory of the Lord shall fill the whole earth.

    These twelve events will probably happen within the space of 75 years, the portion of time between the 1260 and the 1335 years mentioned by Daniel, and about the middle of the 75 years the eighth event may be expected.

  13. After this, Satan shall be let loose, make war with the saints, and be cast into the lake of fire.
  14. Then comes the general judgment.

You see, my dear Benjamin, what a large field for discussion these different topics present to our view. It would by far exceed my limits to consider each and all of them in the preceding order.

I will therefore select two or three of the principal points, and include some of the rest, and will first call your attention to the,

2. Restoration of our people, i. e. both Judah and his companions, and Ephraim and his companions.

An opponent to the literal restoration of the Jews says,

"It is possible, we say, that the Jews may be restored to their own land, with very mistaken expectations, retaining still their carnal prejudices, rejecting the Son of David, who is come, and vainly looking for another; and that they may afterwards, by a fresh pentecostal effusion, be cured of their fatal blindness, and become obedient to the faith. The question is, what are the scriptural grounds for such an expectation?"(12)
Well, my dear Benjamin, "to the law and the prophets," and after I shall have established, from the Scriptures and other arguments, the literal restoration of our people to their own land in an unconverted state, and their conversion at the personal appearance of Christ, &c. &c. I will endeavor to answer the principal objections that have been brought against the proposed scheme. But there are two methods which have been alternately employed to evade the force of the arguments in the passages I shall quote, which evasions I shall endeavor to notice as I go along. These methods are, either that the prophecy has been already fulfilled, or that it is to be understood in an allegorical sense, and to be applied either to the spiritual conversion of the Jews, or to the conversion of Gentiles, the spiritual Israel.

3. A judicious writer in the Jewish Expositor says,

"They have generally applied the prophecies relating to the restoration of the Jews, and the ten tribes, and the consequent happy state of that nation, and also of the whole Christian world, which is to happen in the latter times, (and which is frequently styled in Scripture, the reign or kingdom of Christ,) to the Church of Christ, as has hitherto subsisted in the world; applying the terms Israel, the seed of Abraham, the city of Jerusalem, in an allegorical sense to the Christians, or the Christian church in general, whenever they meet with them with a promise of great happiness annexed; whereas the great happiness, which is the principal subject of all the Old Testament prophets, appears to me to be no way applicable to any state of Christianity that has ever yet existed, but to relate to the conversion and restoration of the literal Israel, the Jews, and the ten tribes, in the latter times, and to that reign of Christ when the Church shall be triumphant."
Another writer observes,
"The Gentile takes up his station on Gerizim, and engrossing all its blessings, consigns its original occupants to the possession of the curse of Ebal. The Gentile, enjoying the figure, overlooks a literal fulfillment to the Jews. Canaan is transferred to his own bosom, or placed in heaven above, any where but in the land of Canaan."(13)
Another says,
"We would ask our spiritualizing interpreters what they would have to offer with respect to this prophecy?" (alluding to Ezekiel 36:1-5, 8, 12). "Without doubt, spiritualizing will boldly affirm that the prediction which Ezekiel addresses to the mountains of Israel, contains nothing about their return to their own land,—as the papists maintain that after the consecration of the wafer, nothing of real substance remains, but it is really and substantially transubstantiated into the body of Christ, although they cannot deny that the outward appearance continues to be that of a wafer. So these persons, taking a bold flight in allegory, will tell us that the mountains, hills, rivers, valleys, desolate wastes, and cities of Israel in the prophecy, are to be understood of the Christian church among the Gentiles; and that the return of the children of Israel to those places only means their conversion to Christ."(14)
4. I will now proceed to show from the Scriptures, that the Jews, as a nation, will return again to the literal Canaan before their conversion. There is scarcely any thing more frequently foretold than this glorious event. To quote all the passages relating to it would be an endless task, I shall therefore select but a few as a specimen. We will begin, with Moses. "And I will bring the land into desolation; and your enemies that dwell therein shall be astonished at it: and 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. Then will I remember my covenant with Jacob, and also my covenant with Isaac, and also my covenant with Abraham will I remember; and I will remember the land. The land also shall be left of them, and shall enjoy her Sabbaths, while she lieth desolate without them: and they shall accept of the punishment of their iniquity; because, even because they despised my judgments, and their soul abhorred my statutes" (Lev 26:32,33,42,43). In the preceding verses God threatens judgments to overtake our nation for their sins and disobedience to his law; and then promises that he will not utterly destroy them, but remember his covenant made with our fathers Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, which covenant reads thus: "And the Lord said unto Abraham, after that Lot was separated from him, Lift up now thine eyes, and look from the place where thou art, northward, and southward, and eastward, and westward; for all the land which thou seest, to thee will I give it, and to thy seed for ever" (Gen 13:14,15).

5. The learned Dr. Mede, in his answer to Dr. Swift's fourth letter, gives the following explanation of this text, which deserves particular notice:

"I doubt not but you have felt some scruple (as well as others) at our Savior's demonstration of the resurrection in the Gospel (Matt 22:23-33; Mark 13). God said to Moses in the bush, 'I am the God of Abraham, and the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob: God is not the God of the dead, but of the living.' Ergo, Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob must one day rise again from the dead. How does this conclusion follow? Do not the spirits of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob yet live? God should then be the God of the living, though their bodies should never rise again. Therefore some Socinians argue from this place, that the spirits of the just lie in the sleep of death until the resurrection. Or, might not the Sadducees have replied, the meaning to be of what God had been, not of what he should be, viz. That he was that God who had once chosen their fathers, and had made a covenant with them; 'I am the Lord that brought Abraham out of Chaldea, who appeared to Isaac and Jacob whilst they lived,' &c. But how would this then make for the resurrection? Surely it doth. He that could not err said it. Let us see therefore how it may.

"I say, therefore, the words must be understood with a supply of that they have reference to, which is the covenant which the Lord made with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, in respect whereof he calls himself their God. This covenant was to give unto them and to their seed the land wherein they were strangers: (mark it) not their seed, or offspring only, but to themselves.

"To Abraham (Gen 13:15, 17:8). To Isaac (Gen 26:3). To Jacob (Gen 35:12). To all three (Exo 6:4,8; Deut 1:8, 11:21, 30:20). If God then make good to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, this his covenant, whereby he undertook to be their God; then they must needs one day live again to inherit the promised land, which hitherto they have not done. For the God that has covenanted with them, covenanted not to make his promise good to them dead, but living. This is the strength of the divine argument, and irrefragable; which otherwise would not infer any such conclusion."

Now, as the essence of the covenant made with our fathers and their natural posterity, was the possessing the land of Canaan literally, and as the Lord has promised he will remember the covenant during their captivity, it must mean that he will bring them again into the literal Canaan. What else can be the meaning of these words, "and I will remember the land," but this, that God would put an end to its desolation, by restoring it to its ancient inhabitants, to be cultivated and replenished by them.

6. It is a poor evasion, to say that this promise was fulfilled at their return from Babylon, because the restoration to their own land for a few ages, and a subsequent dispersion, for near four times as long a period, among all nations, without any hopes of return, can never be the true meaning of giving that land to the seed of Abraham for ever. Besides, it has justly been observed,

"that it is not unusual for the same thing (the passover for instance) to refer immediately to one event; and remotely to another; so it is common for a prophecy to have a partial fulfillment in something at, or near the time, and a more perfect one at some distant period. God's works being whole, and the end seen from the beginning, there is often a dignified analogy between them; system, as it were, within system; one train of events making way for another, and furnishing an earnest of its fulfillment. Thus the kingdom of the Messiah is manifestly predicted in the 72d Psalm, though it is mostly under the form of the prosperous reign of Solomon."
Mr. Faber, speaking of the prophecy in Joel, says,
"This is applied by St. Peter to the effusion of the Holy Spirit on the day of Pentecost, though strictly relating to the era of the restoration of the Jews, and the glorious period of the millennium. The first advent of Christ is frequently considered by the inspired writers as a sort of type of his second advent; whence we find that predictions which properly belong to the one period, are often applied by anticipation to the other. Thus, in a similar manner, the apostles apply the prophecy of David in the second Psalm, to the conspiracy of the chief princes with Herod and Pontius Pilate against our Lord: yet, if any one will compare that second Psalm with the description of the Word of God routing his enemies congregated in the 19th chapter of the Apocalypse, he will be convinced that it does not receive its ultimate accomplishment till the second advent, whether literal or spiritual, at the commencement of the millennium."
In like manner in this place, as the calamities threatened were not to be inflicted at once, but gradually, and some repeatedly, as Leviticus 26:29, "Ye shall eat the flesh of your sons, and the flesh of your daughters shall ye eat"; which has literally been fulfilled in the siege of Samaria by Ben-hadad, (2 Kings 6:28,29;) in the siege of Jerusalem by the Chaldeans, and in the last siege of Jerusalem by the Romans, as recorded by our own historian Josephus; so likewise the promise was to be fulfilled as often as needed; as often as they are banished from the land given by the covenant to our fathers, Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, so often shall they be restored to enjoy it, and therefore the promise is yet to be fulfilled. I wish you, my dear Benjamin, to remember this observation, as it is applicable to many other predictions, which I shall name hereafter.

7. Says Dr. Scott,

"The reader who consults the marginal references will in them find the most instructive comment on this chapter; and be more and more convinced as he proceeds, that it is a kind of prophetical history of that nation, even to this present time."
Again he says, verses 31-35,
"Indeed the dispersed state of the Jews since the destruction of the temple by the Romans, more fully answers the import of the subsequent prediction than even the desolations of the Babylonish captivity."
And on verses 43-45 he says,
"A glorious accomplishment of this part of the prophecy may hereafter be expected by the conversion of the Jews to Christ, and probably by their restoration to their own land; and after the fulfillment of the previous threatenings, in their present dispersion of above twelve hundred years duration, they are still most miraculously preserved a distinct people, evidently in order to this most desirable event."
8. I will next call your attention to the prophecy in Deuteronomy 30:1-6. "And it shall come to pass, when all these things are come upon thee, the blessing and the curse, which I have set before thee, and thou shalt call them to mind amongst all the nations whither the Lord thy God hath driven thee, and shalt return unto the Lord thy God, and shalt obey his voice, according to all that I command thee this day, thou, and thy children, with all thine heart, and with all thy soul; that then the Lord thy God will turn thy captivity, and have compassion upon thee, and will return, and gather thee from all the nations whither the Lord thy God hath scattered thee. If any of thine be driven out unto the outmost parts of heaven, from thence will the Lord thy God gather thee, and from thence will he fetch thee. And the Lord thy God will bring thee into the land which thy fathers possessed, and thou shalt possess it; and he will do thee good, and multiply thee above thy fathers. And the Lord thy God will circumcise thine heart, and the heart of thy seed, to love the Lord thy God with all thine heart and with all thy soul, that thou mayest live." Now, that this is a prediction yet to be fulfilled in the literal restoration of our beloved people to their own land, and that afterward they shall be truly converted to God, will evidently appear, if we consider that it has never had its fulfillment. It is inapplicable to their return from the Babylonian captivity, during which time they were very far from being scattered among "all people, from one end of the earth to the other." Neither can it be said that the hearts of the people were generally circumcised, so that they loved God with all their heart and all their soul, during the interval of their return from Babylon and their being scattered by Titus. For our Rabbins themselves, as well as Josephus, say that our nation, at the time of the siege of Jerusalem by the Romans, were more wicked than ever, and that therefore the coming of the Messiah was delayed until they shall repent; nor has the other promise been realized, verse 5, "to do them good, and to multiply them above their fathers." Consider next, that as it is allowed by all, that at least many of the calamities in chapters 27-30 were inflicted literally on our nation soon after their dispersion by Titus, why should not the blessing of deliverance and restoration to the land, which "our fathers possessed, and shall possess," be literally fulfilled?

9. Bishop Newton says,

"The design of the work will permit us only to take notice of such (predictions) only as have some reference to the latter ages; and we will confine ourselves principally to the 28th chapter, of Deuteronomy, the greatest part whereof we may see accomplished in the world at this present time. I know that some critics make a division of these prophecies, and imagine that one part relates to the former captivity of the Jews, and the calamities they suffered under the Chaldeans; and that the other part relates to the latter captivity of the Jews, and to the calamities they suffered under the Romans: but there is no need of any such distinctions; there is no reason to think that any such was intended by the author; several predictions on the one part, as well as on the other, have been fulfilled at both periods, but they have all more amply been fulfilling during the latter period; and there cannot be more lively picture than they exhibit of the state of the Jews at present."
And after having pointed out in many particulars the literal fulfillment of these predictions, he observes,
"Here are instances of prophecies, prophecies delivered above three thousand years ago, and yet we see them fulfilling in the world at this very time."
10. Dr. Scott says,
"All these curses, which were denounced against the Israelites when disobedient, have indeed uniformly overtaken them, in every situation, and in every country, from that day to this; as must be evident to every person who is in the least acquainted with their history."
And on the prediction under consideration he says,
"This passage evidently refers to the prophetical denunciations of the two preceding chapters, which had their main accomplishment in the destruction of Jerusalem by the Romans, and in the consequent dispersion of the Jews to the present day; little doubt can therefore remain that these prophetical promises are yet unaccomplished, and that the relics of the nation shall, in some future, if not very distant period, be converted to Christ, and probably be gathered together and re-instated in Canaan. The language here used is in great measure absolute, not containing merely a conditional encouragement, but predicting an event, which would absolutely take place: for the Lord himself engaged 'to circumcise the hearts' of the people; and when regeneration has taken place, and divine love has supplanted the love of sin, then certainly they will consider and repent, and return to God and obey him."
11. From what has been said, my dear Benjamin, you will perceive that this prediction proves my proposition, that our people will return literally to the land which God gave to our fathers; and that they will return in an unconverted state; for the circumcision of the heart, or true conversion to God, is to succeed their restoration to the land. It is of great importance to remember this order established by God himself; for you must know that there are not a few who grant that this prediction has not been fulfilled, but will be accomplished in the conversion of the Jews wherever they are; and that to be gathered to the land of Canaan, "the land which our fathers did possess," is not to be understood literally, but allegorically, of heaven; of which Canaan was a type. True, Canaan was a type of heaven; but does God promise to gather them "out" of all people from one end of the earth to the other, and bring them into heaven?"—what, before their hearts are circumcised to love him? Has Christ changed the order of things? Has it now become possible for sinners to enter the kingdom of God without being born of the Spirit? Consider also, that surely the land which Abraham could "see with his eyes," and "in which he was a stranger," the land in which Isaac "sojourned," the land on which Jacob "lay," must be the very land of Canaan itself, and no other place in heaven or earth. But these are the terms which the Lord employs to define the promised land, that land which he promised to the patriarchs, "and their seed for ever, for an everlasting possession." Besides, what does it mean when God adds, "I will multiply them above their fathers?" "And the Lord thy God will bring thee into the land which thy fathers possessed, and thou shalt possess it: and he will do thee good, and multiply thee above thy fathers" (Deut 30:5). Is this applicable to the inhabitants of heaven? No, my dear Benjamin, it is the Canaan once possessed, which they shall possess again.

12. But let us proceed, to hear what the prophets say on this interesting subject. We begin with the 36th chapter of Ezekiel, which, after you have carefully read over, you will perceive that it contains a promise of temporal and spiritual blessings. The spiritual blessings consist in regeneration and reconciliation with God. "Then will I sprinkle clean water upon you, and ye shall be clean; from all your filthiness, and from all your idols, will I cleanse you. A new heart also will I give you, and a new spirit will I put within you; and I will take away the stony heart out of your flesh, and I will give you a heart of flesh. And I will put my Spirit within you, and cause you to walk in my statutes, and ye shall keep my judgments, and do them" (vv 25-27); by the power and influence of the Holy Spirit they should be quickened and have a new nature implanted, the blood of Jesus applied to their hearts to cleanse their guilty conscience from dead works to serve the living God; and the purifying and sanctifying influence of grace, to enable them to die unto sin and live unto newness of life; and thus God would again be their God, and they should be his people. Amongst the temporal blessings promised, is, first, their return to their own land, which is to precede their regeneration, agreeably to the order (v 25); then, i. e. after having been "gathered out of all countries and brought into their own land" (v 24), then they shall experience the change of heart promised.

13. Now, whatever partial fulfillment this prophecy may have had at the return of our fathers from Babylon, it is very evident that a far more complete accomplishment of it is to take place in future. For in verse 11, the promise is that God would do better unto them than at their beginning; but it is a fact well known, that the outward condition of our people was never so prosperous after the captivity as it had been before that catastrophe. This remark is equally true with respect to their spiritual state; for, as has been observed before, that when our fathers had returned from Babylon, instead of being regenerated and reconciled to God, they rather grew worse, and crucified the Lord of glory; and instead of God's being their God, and they his people, they were cut off; the wrath of God came upon them to the uttermost, and others, who were not the people of God, were adopted in their stead. The land, instead of being like the garden of Eden, the admiration of men, has become the habitation of owls, and the dwelling-place of wild beasts. Further, the persons to be restored are repeatedly said to have blasphemed the name of the Lord amongst the heathen; but this character is not applicable to our fathers in the Babylonish captivity; instead of being profane, they seem to have been so conscientious as not to sing the song of Zion in a strange land.

Again, in verse 12, &c. it is promised, that the land should never be bereaved of its inhabitants; but, since the destruction of Jerusalem by the Romans, very few of our people have lived in the land of our fathers. Further, this people is to be gathered out of all countries; but the captives of Babylon were chiefly confined to one country. This prophecy, therefore, my dear Benjamin, is in perfect unison with that of Moses, which we have considered before; and they both confirm the sentiment that our nation, however scattered in all countries, will return to the land; which our fathers did possess; then, as a nation, they will be converted to God, and clothe themselves in dust and ashes; then the Lord will do them good, better than heretofore.

14. On this prophecy Dr. Scott has the following notes:

"The Lord declared that he would replenish the land, and not suffer it any more to be desolated, as it has been during the Babylonish captivity; and that he would not any more give the heathen occasion to reproach it. Though the whole land of Israel was not desolated after the destruction of Jerusalem by the Romans, as it had been after that by the Chaldeans, yet the slaughter made among the Jews was far greater, and they were entirely driven out of the land, and have continued in a state of exile from it for above seventeen hundred years. It seems therefore unavoidable but that we must refer the full completion of this prophecy to some future event, when the land shall again become fruitful, and be inhabited by the nation of Israel to the end of time.

"In allusion to the divers washings and sprinklings of the ritual law, the Lord promised to sprinkle clean water upon his people, and make them clean from all their filthiness and idols. Clean water is the universal purifier of our persons, garments, houses, streets, and cities; and, under both the Old Testament and the Christian dispensation, it hath been used as an emblem of the cleansing of our polluted souls from sin. But no water, however clean, or in what mode soever it be applied, can do more than take away the filth of the flesh; except as it is used for an outward sign of the inward spiritual grace of the Gospel. Water especially is the sacramental sign of the sanctifying influence of the Holy Spirit; yet this is always connected with the atoning blood of Christ. When the latter is applied to the conscience, through faith, to cleanse it from dead works, the former is always applied to all the powers of the soul, to purify them from the love and pollution of sin; and thus the sinner is washed, and sanctified, and justified in the name of our Lord Jesus, and by the Spirit of our God. But of whom was this spoken? Doubtless, many of the Jews who returned from Babylon were thus renewed and sanctified; yet numbers of them continued strangers to such special blessings, though preserved from outward idolatry. These promises are pleaded by all true believers, in every age, and fulfilled to them; and this may be called the spiritual meaning. But the context speaks so expressly and repeatedly of the house of Israel being restored to the land which the Lord had given to their fathers, that, in the prophetical meaning, I apprehend it greatly confirms the opinion of those who suppose, that, after the Jews shall be converted to Christ, they shall also be restored to their own land. Then these promises will be fulfilled in them, in their fullest meaning; and the subsequent part of the prophecy will be literally accomplished in the sight of all nations; and the Jews no doubt are preserved a distinct people on purpose to make way for this great display of the Lord's power and truth, and thus demonstrate to all the world the divine original of the holy Scriptures."

Says Matthew Henry,
"In this chapter we have two distinct prophecies; the one seems chiefly to relate to the temporal estate of the Jews, wherein their present deplorable condition is described, and the triumph of their neighbors in it; but it is promised that their grievances shall all be redressed, and that in due time they shall be settled again in their own land in the midst of peace and plenty. Verses 1-15. The other seems chiefly to concern their spiritual estate."
15. There are other prophecies which will be considered hereafter, some relating to the restoration of the ten tribes, and others speaking both of Judah and Israel. The two we have now considered relate to Judah, or the two tribes dispersed by Titus. I agree, that the spiritual blessings promised in these predictions are applicable to the conversion of every sinner, whether Jew or Gentile; but the circumstances mentioned before and after the spiritual change, in verses 25-27, ought to lead us to be just before we are charitable; i. e. we ought to apply them first literally, as a promise to the natural descendants of Jacob, and then use them as an illustration of the nature of the conversion of every other sinner. The persons to whom the promise primarily belongs, are such as have dwelt in the land of our fathers, but have been driven out for a season, because of their sins; but, for the covenant made with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, Jehovah will gather them again and bring them into their land, and they are to possess it for ever. This character, therefore, is not applicable to every sinner. Farewell.

 

Letter 4. Continuation of the Subject

Dear Benjamin,

I will again invite your attention to a few more predictions which foretell the restoration of our beloved people to their own land, and their conversion unto God, and the happy reunion of Judah arid Ephraim. I begin with,

1. Ezekiel, chapter 37, in which you will observe that

The prophet sees in a vision a valley of dry bones; he is interrogated with respect to the possibility of their living; he is commanded to bid them live in the name of the Lord. On issuing the proclamation, he perceived a noise among the bones; the bones shook, and came, each to its kindred bone; the sinews, flesh and skin then came upon them, and in answer to his prayer, life was communicated to them.

This allegory may be considered as a partial description of the state of our people in Babylon, and their unexpected deliverance from it: it may also, in some sense, be applied to the conversion of every sinner; but God himself interprets it of the future restoration, conversion, and reunion of the ten tribes with the house of Judah. It is evident that neither this vision, nor the remainder of the chapter, can be said to have received its full accomplishment in the return of our people from Babylon, or in the conversion of any sinner. It is not applicable to the return from the Babylonish captivity, for the following reasons:

The number of the ten tribes that might have returned with Judah was too small to contain a full accomplishment of this prophecy, which is expressly applied to the whole house of Israel. Those who were to return, are described as an "exceeding great army"; but those of Judah and of the other ten tribes which returned from Babylon, were very far from answering this description. The people, to whom the promises in this chapter belong, have been scattered far and wide; they are said to be gathered "from all the heathen," to be gathered on every side; but during the Babylonish captivity our people were not far from each other. Again, they are to return to the land which had been always desolate, which is peculiarly applicable to the land of our fathers since their dispersion by the Romans. The pious character of the people that were to return, and the delight and pleasure God would have in the midst of them, is not applicable to the character of our people after their return from Babylon. Though the company which returned with Zerubbabel were many of them godly people, yet the whole history of our nation, from thence to the coming of Christ, is far from answering to what is said of them in this prophecy, "that they should walk in God's judgments, to observe his statutes, and do them"; such promises also of "his tabernacle being with them, and his sanctuary in the midst of them for evermore," seem to be much too strong for the above period. Further, Ephraim, and the tribes that joined with him, and Judah, together with his associates, are to return and become one nation upon the mountains of Israel, which certainly has never been fulfilled, but will surely be accomplished. Again, it is promised, that, after this union shall have been effected, David, God's servant, shall be king over them, and he shall be their prince for ever; now it is evident that our people, after their return from Babylon, had no temporal prince of David's line to reign over them, nor have they had one since; but, after their return from their present, lost condition, Christ Jesus, the Messiah, the true David, shall reign over them for ever and ever, as will also appear from Hosea, 3d chap, to be considered next. Observe also, my dear Benjamin, that it is declared in the strongest terms, that God would never again cast them off, or disinherit them; which is surely not applicable to their first return; for in a very few centuries they were again cast off and more miserably wasted than before. The time when this prediction is to be fulfilled is called "the latter days," an expression which always refers to the time after the coming of the Messiah, which shows it was a longtime after the prophet had spoken, see chapter 38:8, 16, 17. Lastly, you will please to notice that, in connection with this prophecy, mention is made in the next three chapters of a war made against the inhabitants of Judea, who had just returned to their land, and therefore had not had time to fortify their cities; the enemy is represented as such a numerous army as have never met before Jerusalem; and their destruction, and the deliverance of our people thereby, is ascribed to the immediate hand and power of God, or to a miracle, and that too of the most extraordinary kind. But it is evident, that, since the days of Ezekiel to the present time, no such event has happened, either to our people or to their enemies.

2. From a consideration of all these things together, we may certainly conclude that this prophecy has never had its accomplishment, but refers to an event that is still future, and is not to happen till after our dear people are again settled in their own land of Canaan, and Judah and Ephraim united in one nation, under the happy reign of David their Lord and King, for ever and ever.

Neither can this famous prophecy be spiritualized, or applied with any propriety to the general conversion of sinners from amongst the Gentiles. For the people are declared by Jehovah himself, to be Ephraim and the house of Israel his companions, and Judah and his companions; and they shall be gathered out of all their dwelling-places where they have sinned, "and they shall dwell in the land that I have given unto Jacob my servant., wherein, your fathers have dwelt, and they shall dwell therein, even they and their children, and their children's children for ever."

A very sensible writer in the Jewish Expositor has the following observation:

"That this chapter is not to be applied in an allegorical sense, or applied to the Gentile churches, is evident from verses 21 and 22: for how can the churches of the Gentiles, or the Christians in general, become one nation in the land upon the mountains of Israel? Does not the stick of Judah and the stick of Joseph, &c. which are to become one, evidently mean the two kingdoms of Judah and Israel which had been divided? These are the true and literal children of Israel which are to be taken from among the heathen, and not any allegorical offspring, as some commentators suppose, in order to obscure some of the most clear and plain passages of the Scripture prophecies. If, then, a literal restoration of Israel is here intended, it is plain that the prophecy is not yet fulfilled, from verse 25th, where it is said, that after the restoration here spoken of, 'they shall dwell in the land of their forefathers, they and their children, and their children's children for ever.' But this we cannot suppose to have been verified by any former return, as they have since been dispersed among all nations.

"This prophecy, therefore, is yet to be fulfilled, though not without some powerful opposition, which shall be unsuccessfully made against it by some great and populous nations in the latter days; which is the subject of the two following chapters."

3. M. Henry, in his introduction to this chapter, says,
"God has assured them in the foregoing chapter, that he would gather the house of Israel, even all of it, and would bring them to their own land; but there were two things that rendered this very unlikely:

"1st. That they were so dispersed amongst their enemies, so destitute of all helps and advantages which might favor or follow them on their return, and so dispirited likewise in their own minds upon all these accounts. They are here, in vision, compared to a valley full of dry bones of dead men, which should be brought together and raised to life. Verses 1-14.

"2d. They were so much divided among themselves, too much of the old core remaining even in their captivity. But as to this, by a sign of two sticks made one in the hand of the prophet, is foreshown the happy coalition that should be, at their return, between the two nations of Israel and Judah." Verses 15-22.

Says Dr. Scott,
"The vision was evidently intended in its primary meaning, to encourage the desponding Jews: to predict both their restoration after the captivity and also their recovery from their present long continued dispersion."
Speaking of the union of the two sticks in the hand of the prophet, he says,
"This was partially accomplished after the Babylonish captivity, when all the Israelites that returned with the Jews from Babylon settled under the same government, and formed with them one nation. But it is probable that there will hereafter be a more remarkable accomplishment of it."
On verse 25 he says,
"This cannot possibly be interpreted of any events that took place before the coming of Christ; and after his coming, the Jews were soon driven from their own land, and have never regained possession of it: yet the language is so expressive, that it seems plainly to mean that the Jews should dwell in Canaan, under the rule of Christ, from the time intended, through all generations to the end of the whole."
4. Mr. Faber having proved the future restoration and conversion of Judah, he goes on to say,
"But the lost ten tribes of Israel are still dispersed through the extensive regions of the north and of the east. These, according to the sure word of prophecy, however they may be now concealed from mortal knowledge, will be found again, and will be brought back into the countries of their fathers. All nations and all tongues shall come and see the glory of the Lord; for he will set among them a sign, even the sign of the Son of man, the sign of the illuminated Shechinah; and will send unto them those that have escaped from the slaughter of the antichristian confederacy, that they may declare his glory among the nations. Convinced, by ocular demonstration, that God doth indeed reign in Zion, and at once divinely impelled and enabled both to seek out from among them, and to find the long lost sheep of the house of Israel, they will bring by land, in vast caravans, all the brethren of Judah for an offering unto the Lord, as the great maritime power had already brought the converted Jews for a present unto the Lord to his holy mountain. Then shall the stick of Joseph be united for ever with the stick of Judah: Ephraim shall be no more a separate people, but the whole house of Jacob shall become one nation under one king, even the mystic David, Jesus the Messiah.

"The various prophecies, which speak of the restoration of the ten tribes, certainly cannot relate to the restoration of those detached individuals out of them, who returned with Judah from the Babylonian captivity. This is manifest, both because their restoration is represented as perfectly distinct from the restoration of Judah, and because it is placed at once subsequent to that event, and to the overthrow of Antichrist. In fact, the converted fugitives from the armies of Antichrist are described as being greatly instrumental in bringing about the restoration of the ten tribes. Hence their restoration is plainly future; and hence we cannot with any degree of consistency apply the predictions which foretell it, to the return of a few individuals from Babylon with Judah. Of the Jews who were carried away captive to Babylon, only a very small part, according to Houliegan, not more than a hundredth part, returned to their own country. Those who were left behind will doubtless, at the time of the second advent, be brought back along with their brethren of the ten tribes; just as those individuals of the ten tribes, who returned with Judah from Babylon, and (adhering to him notwithstanding the Samaritan schism) were afterwards scattered with him by the Romans, will be brought back with their brethren the Jews. So far, but no farther, the otherwise distinct restoration of Judah and of Joseph will in some measure be mingled together. This circumstance is very accurately noted by Ezekiel, even when predicting the twofold restoration of Judah and Joseph, and their subsequent union under one king. He speaks neither of Judah nor Joseph simply; but styles the one division Judah, and the children of Israel his companions; and the other division Joseph, and all the house of Israel his companions; thus plainly intimating that some of the children of Israel shall return with Judah; but that numbers of all the tribes, not of the kingdom of ten tribes only, but of all the tribes, shall return with Joseph."

A similar prophecy of the return and conversion of the ten tribes together with Judah we have in,

5. Hosea 3: 4, 5, "For the children of Israel shall abide many days without a king, and without a prince, and without a sacrifice, and without an image, and without an ephod, and without teraphim: afterward shall the children of Israel return and seek the Lord their God, and David their king; and shall fear the Lord and his goodness in the latter days."

Known unto God are all his works, from the beginning of the world; and whatever he has predetermined in his eternal counsels, shall surely be fulfilled. Often, indeed, is the execution of his purposes delayed, till unbelievers begin to think that his word has failed of its accomplishment; but "in the evening time it shall be light"; and when the obstacles to his will seem almost insurmountable, he will glorify himself in fulfilling it beyond all human expectation. Thus he acted, when, according to his promise, he brought our fathers out of Egypt. He suffered them to be detained till the very last day that they could be consistently with the truth of his promise; and then, when our people themselves were almost reduced to despair, he brought them out with a mighty hand and stretched out arm. Thus, also, will he act yet once more toward the children of Israel, his chosen people. They have been for ages "cast out," almost beyond hope of recovery; but there is a period when they shall return, and commit themselves to the government of Christ, as ever they did to the direction of Moses. Of this glorious event the prophecy under consideration assures us. It consists of two parts. It announces the calamities which should befall the children of Israel, and foretells their happy deliverance. And as their calamities had respect both to their civil and religious state, so, in like manner, their deliverance.

That this precious prophecy of their restoration to the knowledge, service and enjoyment of God, and the happy government of the Messiah over them, was not fulfilled at the return of our people from the Babylonish captivity, but is yet to be accomplished, is evident from the following consideration:

6. That by "David their king," is meant the promised Messiah, is acknowledged by almost all our Rabbins, (as will be shown hereafter,) and by almost all Christian divines.

This is a title ascribed to him in several other passages, Jeremiah 30:9, Ezekiel 34:23, 24, 37:21, 22, 24. The context and the manifest scope of them determine them to belong to him.

He is called David, not only because he was the Son and Lord of David, but because David was an eminent type of him, in the meanness of his descent, the comeliness of his person, his wisdom and prudence, his courage and valor; in his holiness and the extraordinary gifts of the Spirit with which he was endowed, as also in his kingly office, and in the battles which he fought, as well as in the conquests which he obtained.

Now, it is a fact too well known to need proof, that our people, after their return from Babylon, were so far from "seeking the Lord their God, and David their king, and fearing the Lord and his goodness, that they grew worse and worse, till they had filled up the measure of their iniquity in crucifying the Lord of glory, and rejecting the offers of mercy through that very precious blood which they had imprecated upon themselves and their children, and for which the wrath of God has come upon our people and continued to the present day.

7. Hence, I observe further, that the prediction of their return cannot yet have been accomplished, because their calamities have not yet ended. How remarkably striking has been the fulfillment of the former part of this prediction! For many centuries past, our dear people have not been a body politic, having no rule and dominion among themselves; they have no king nor prince of their own; the sceptre is departed from them; neither is any sacrifice offered by them, for their daily sacrifice has ceased; and what is very remarkable, although our people were once very prone to idolatrous worship, as their history shows, yet you well know, my dear Benjamin, that there is not now an image among them. And for this reason, many of our brethren, who, at their conversion, joined the Roman Catholics, as soon as they became acquainted with their image worship, left them and joined the Protestants. Witness Joseph Wolff. And for this reason also, when the great council of our Rabbins in the valley of Hungaria, after many days' controversy with Romish priests, had resolved to embrace the Christian religion, but were told by the priests that they worshiped saints and their images, our people were so disgusted that they exclaimed, ''No idols!'' and the council broke up without further discussion.

Now, since it must be acknowledged, and actually is by most divines, that the former part of this prophecy has been fulfilled and is still fulfilling, both with respect to Judah and Ephraim, it follows that the second part is also to be fulfilled, after they return to seek the Lord. Besides, it is expressly said that the children of Israel should be, for many days, deprived of their privileges, and that they shall seek the Lord in the latter days. Both Jewish and Christian commentators agree that the latter days refer to the coming of the Messiah, and therefore this could not have been fulfilled before the coming of Jesus; and I have already shown that our people did not receive him as "David their king." Permit me now, my dear Benjamin, to add the testimony of our Rabbins, of blessed memory, and of a few Christian writers.

8. Kimchi says,

"These are the days of the captivity in which we now are; at this day we have no king, nor prince out of Israel, and we are under the power of the nations, and of their kings and princes; and have no sacrifice for God, nor image for idols: nor ephod for God, that declares future things; and teraphim for idolatry, which show things to come, according to the mind of those that believe in them."
Yarchi speaks much to the same effect:
"Without sacrifice in the sanctuary of Judah, without an image of Baal in Samaria for the kings of Israel, without an ephod of Urim and Thummim, that declare hidden things, and teraphim made for a time to speak of, and show things that are secret."
With this agree the words of Aben Ezra and Abarbanel; and the Targum paraphrases it thus: without a king of the house of David, and without a ruler over Israel, without sacrifice for acceptance at Jerusalem, and without a high place in Samaria, and without an ephod in him that shows, i. e. what shall come to pass.

That the Messiah is meant by David, is acknowledged by all our Rabbins.(15) The Targum says,

"Seek the worship of the Lord their God, and obey Messiah the son of David, their king."
Rabbi Judah Monis, one of our Jewish brethren, who made a public profession of faith at Cambridge, Ms. 1722, in one of his discourses he says,
"The first part of this prophecy, we do see, hath been fulfilled to the very last tittle, they having been, for the space of above 1650 years, (since the destruction of their commonwealth,) deprived of all these things mentioned in the 4th verse; and reduced from that state they were formerly in, which was such as could make any nation happy, to such an one as they are now in, scattered all over the world, subject to all sorts of nations that are willing to let them live among them, ruled by their own enemies; paying tribute to all nations where they live: and finally enduring all the calamities and opprobrious treatment that can make them unhappy; and as we have seen the first part accomplished, so I hope the second part will be fulfilled also, i. e. they shall return and seek the Lord, and David their king, i. e. the Messiah, the Lord Jesus Christ, and fear him and his goodness in the latter days, and look on him whom they have pierced" (Zech 12:10).
9. The learned Dr. Pocock says,
"By the children of Israel are meant the ten tribes, for these does the prophet peculiarly now prophecy to, and the things more especially concern them. This prophecy is not applicable to the children of Israel before the destruction of the second temple."
Mr. Fuller, having proved, by the first and second chapters of Hosea, the future conversion of Judah and Israel, proceeds to say,
"The third chapter contains another prophecy on the same subject. Like the former, it is introduced under the form of a parable. The case supposed is that of a man attached to a woman who is an adultress. Go, saith the Lord to the prophet, see if thou canst love such an one; yet such, if anything, must be my love to this people. The prophet is further supposed to go and covenant with this adultress, engaging her to desist for many days from her lewd courses, living, as it were, as a widow, by herself, and afterward she should become his wife. Such was the love of the Lord to the children of Israel. He loved them notwithstanding their idolatry, and intended, at a future time, to take them to be his people. He would not receive them, however, in their idolatry, nor till a proper time had elapsed, in which they should live in a state of separation; but in due season he would take them to himself as his church and people, remembering their sin no more.

"The children of Israel shall abide many days without a king, and without a prince, and without a sacrifice. Never surely has a prophecy corresponded more exactly with fact. Nor is this all: the whole of the Israelitish race, with whom we have any acquaintance, have also been without an image, and without an ephod, and without teraphim; that is, though mixed with the nations of the world, and in other respects wicked in the extreme, yet they have not been suffered to go into their former idolatrous practices; and have thus answered to the adultress ceasing from playing the harlot, and abiding for her husband, in a state of separation many days. Afterwards shall the children of Israel return and seek Jehovah their God, and David their king; and shall fear the Lord and his goodness in the latter days. On this no reflection need be made, save this, that the superabundant grace of God towards them, in their outcast and perishing condition, shall not only fill their hearts with gratitude, but inspire them with a holy fear of offending him any more."

10. Dr. Scott says,
"Some interpret this almost wholly of the kingdom of Israel: but the prophecy seems to require us to understand it of the whole people descended from Abraham, Isaac and Jacob."
Again,
"The kingdom of Israel was, soon after this, entirely ruined, and the people were incorporated either with the Jews or the nations among whom they resided: and have had neither king, prince, priest, sacrifice, nor religious establishment, from that day to this. The Jews remained several years without these advantages, during the Babylonish captivity; yet their civil and religious constitution was again restored. But since the rejection of that nation at the introduction of Christianity, and the destruction of their city and temple by the Romans, they have continued to this time, for much above seventeen hundred years, without a king or prince of their own nation; and without priest and sacrifice, or any thing substituted in the place of the temple worship: and (what is still more remarkable) they have also remained without an image, ephod, or teraphim, without any of those idolatrous observances and apparatus to which they were so generally attached when this prophecy was uttered." "It was also predicted that afterwards they should return, (from their state of rejection and unbelief,) and seek the Lord their God, and David their King:" "This, even their own writers explain of the promised Messiah, and doubtless it foretold their future conversion to Christ; for which they are evidently preserved a separate people, neither a part of the true church, nor yet given up to spiritual adultery; but put aside on a separate, scanty maintenance, in a debased condition, for a long time, (like Hosea's wife,); to be at length received to favor again."
Now, my dear Benjamin, there are many more predictions of a similar nature with those we have already considered, such as Isaiah 2:1-5, Isaiah 11:11-16, Isa 49:14-26; Amos 9:11-15; Zephaniah 3:8-20; Zechariah 8:18-23, &c. &c. But I shall solicit your attention only to two more, which we shall consider in my next. Farewell.

 

Letter 5. The Subject Continued

Beloved Brother Benjamin,

Permit me now to call your attention once more to two passages of Scripture which predict the future restoration and conversion of our dear people. I commence with,

1. Jeremiah 31:31-40, ''Behold, the days come, saith the Lord, that I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel, and with the house of Judah; not according to the covenant that I made with their fathers, in the day that I look them by the hand to bring them out of the land of Egypt; (which my covenant they broke, although I was a husband unto them, saith the Lord:) but this shall be the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel; after those days, saith the Lord, I will put my law in their inward parts, and write it in their hearts, and will be their God, and they shall be my people. And they shall teach no more every man his neighbor, and every man his brother, saying, know the Lord: for they shall all know me, from the least of them unto the greatest of them, saith the Lord: for I will forgive their iniquity, and I will remember their sin no more. Thus saith the Lord, which giveth the sun for a light by day, and the ordinances of the moon and of the stars for a light by night, which divideth the sea when the waves thereof roar; the Lord of hosts is his name: if those ordinances depart from before me, saith the Lord, then the seed of Israel also shall cease from being a nation before me for ever. Thus saith the Lord, if the heaven above can be measured, and the foundations of the earth searched out beneath, I will also cast off all the seed of Israel, for all they have done, saith the Lord. Behold, the days come, saith the Lord, that the city shall be built to the Lord, from the tower of Hananeel unto the gate of the corner; and the measuring-line shall yet go forth over against it upon the hill Gareb, and shall compass about to Goath; and the whole valley of the dead bodies, and of the ashes, and all the fields unto the brook of Kidron, unto the corner of the horse-gate towards the east, shall be holy unto the Lord; it shall not be plucked up, nor thrown down any more for ever."

Although this prediction respecting a New Covenant is applied by the apostle (Heb 8) to the commencement of the New Testament dispensation, and was actually made or established by the death, resurrection and ascension of Jesus; and although the blessings of this covenant are the same as are enjoyed by every converted sinner, yet literally and more fully it respects our nation, with whom the other covenant had been made when God brought them out of Egypt. Nor was this prediction fulfilled in the conversion of our brethren in the apostolic time, for, however many of them may have been converted, they have all been mixed with the converts of other nations; but the promise in this prophecy is the conversion, not of a few, or many, "but the whole house of Israel and the house of Judah" (v 31), "the nation" (v 36), just as the covenant of Sinai had been made with the nation. "They shall all know me, from the least of them unto the greatest of them" (v 34). Further, this promise was made to the ten tribes as well as to the house of Judah. Long before the giving of this promise, our people were divided into two parts. The one of them, in a way of distinction from the other, retained the name of Israel. These were the ten tribes which fell off from the house of David, under the conduct of Ephraim; whence they are often also in the prophets called by that name. The other, consisting of the tribe properly so called, with that of Benjamin and the greatest part of Levi, took the name of Judah, and afterwards was called the Jews, and with them the promise remained in a peculiar manner. But, whereas they all originally sprang from Abraham, who received the promise for them all, and because they were all equally, in their forefather, brought into the bond of the old covenant, they are here mentioned distinctly, that none of the seed of Abraham might be excluded from the tender of this covenant. Hence, unto the whole seed of Abraham according to the flesh, it was that this covenant was first to be offered. So Peter tells them in his first sermon, that the promise was unto them and their children who were there present, i. e. the house of Judah, and to them that are afar off, i. e. the house of Israel, or the ten tribes, in their dispersion (Acts 2:39). It appears therefore plainly, that the promise is yet to be fulfilled in the conversion of the ten tribes as well as the house of Judah. Besides, at that lime "the city shall be built, which shall not be plucked up or thrown down any more for ever" (vv 38,40).

It is evident, therefore, that our people will first return to the literal Canaan, rebuild the city, and after that be converted as a nation; and the sure fulfillment of it is more certain than the stability of heaven and earth.

2. Says the learned and judicious A. McLean,

"This new covenant was promised to be made with the house of Israel and with the house of Judah. These, in the first place, signify the election among the natural posterity of Abraham, with whose fathers the old covenant was made (Heb 8:8). To them, in the first instance, belong 'the covenants and the promises' (Rom 9:4): and among them they had their first accomplishment (Acts 3:25,26); and though the bulk of that nation was broken off, through their unbelief and rejection of the Messiah (Rom 11:20); yet this covenant still wears a favorable aspect towards that people, when the fullness of the Gentiles shall be come in; for this is God's covenant unto them, when he shall take away their sins (Rom 11:25-27)."
Says Dr. Scott,
"When Israel shall be again called into the church it will not be according to the Sinai covenant; but by having the law written in their hearts, and the covenant thus inwardly ratified to them. As much as the heavenly bodies will continue their settled course to the end of time, so surely will Israel be continued a separate people, without being finally excluded from the church; nor will God ever cast them all off for all their sins, till it be possible for man to measure the height of the heavens, or to search out the foundations of the earth."
The last prediction I shall name, is that by the Prophet,

3. Zechariah 12:10-14, "And I will pour upon the house of David, and upon the inhabitants of Jerusalem, the spirit of grace and of supplications; and they shall look upon me whom they have pierced, and they shall mourn for him, as one mourneth for his only son, and shall be in bitterness for him, as one that is in bitterness for his firstborn. In that day shall there be a great mourning in Jerusalem, as the mourning of Hadadrimmon in the valley of Megiddon. And the land shall mourn, every family apart; the family of the house of David apart, and their wives apart; the family of the house of Nathan apart, and their wives apart; the family of the house of Levi apart, and their wives apart; the family of Shimei apart, and their wives apart; all the families that remain, every family apart, and their wives apart."

1st. That this is a prophecy respecting the Messiah, is acknowledged by our Rabbins.(16) Some think that part of verse 10 was spoken by the prophet, viz. "they shall mourn for him," because it is spoken in the third person, for him; but no converted sinner, whether Jew or Gentile, needs to mourn for him, i. e. Messiah or Christ, but they will mourn for the act of having pierced him; for the word alav, translated him, signifies also it, or on account of it, concerning it. To return.

2d. Two things are ascribed to the Messiah. He was to be pierced; and he was to pour upon the house of David, and the inhabitants of Jerusalem, the spirit of grace and supplications.

3d. The effect of the operations of the Holy Spirit was twofold. Faith in the Messiah, "they shall look unto him," by which faith is expressed: great mourning and true repentance for having pierced him. We have then a description of the nature and extent of the mourning. The former is compared to that of a tender mother, having lost "an only son, or a first-born," which mourning is sincere, deep and lasting; and the extent is compared to that mourning which was occasioned by the death of Josiah, who was slain at Hadadrimmon, in the valley of Megiddon; the greatest mourning our people were acquainted with, and on that account it grew up into a proverb, and as that mourning was national, so would this be also.

Such, my dear Benjamin, is the outline of this precious promise. Now, that the person predicted is the Messiah Jesus, I have shown in a former letter (Part Four, Letter 18, Section 7), and that although this prediction may have been partially fulfilled in the conversion of many of our Jewish brethren in the apostolic times, and however applicable it is to the conversion of every sinner; yet it must be allowed that its proper and complete fulfillment is yet to come. It is evident that no such repentance and faith, such general and particular mourning for piercing Christ, has ever taken place amongst our dear people; nor has the preceding part of the chapter, closely connected with the prediction under consideration, been fulfilled, Jerusalem must first be rebuilt, before it is besieged by the united power of many kings, who shall then be destroyed in a miraculous manner. I conclude, therefore, that this is a prophecy concerning the future restoration of our nation to the literal land of Canaan; that they will rebuild the city Jerusalem; that they will afterward be besieged by many nations, who shall be destroyed by God himself; and in that day Judah and Israel shall be converted unto God.

4. Says Dr. Fuller,

"That we may perceive the connection of the prophecy (Zechariah chapter 12), it will be proper to observe, that chapter 11 contains a prediction of the overthrow of the Jewish nation by the Romans; but chapter 12 contains a prophecy of their restoration; and this is, therefore, called 'the burden of the word of the Lord' (v 1).

"The events of this and the foregoing prophecy, though wide asunder as to time, yet very properly follow each other. Paul takes but little notice of the state of the Jews, during their long dispersion; but passing over that chasm, as included in their being broken off, proceeds to speak of their being grafted in again (Rom 11).

"It were presumptuous to be very positive as to the meaning of a prophecy which is yet to be accomplished; but, comparing it with other prophecies of the same event, the following particulars appear to be conveyed by it:

  1. That the Jews shall be restored lo their own land prior to their conversion (v 6).
  2. That a grand combination will be formed against them, with a view to dispossess them (vv 2, 9).
  3. That the nations engaged in this combination will be repulsed and sorely punished for their presumptuous attempt (vv 2-6).
  4. That the country and city shall be united against the enemy (v 5, 7).
  5. That they shall be guarded by Providence, and strengthened to encounter the greatest difficulties (v 8).
  6. That after these temporal interpositions, the Lord will pour upon them a spirit of grace and of supplications; and they shall lament over their sins, and the sins of their fathers, particularly in having crucified the Lord of glory (v 10).

"Finally, The remedy to all this grief is mentioned, chapter 13:1, 'In that day there shall be a fountain opened to the house of David, and to the inhabitants of Jerusalem, for sin and for uncleanness.' By looking to Jesus, they were wounded; and by looking to Jesus, they are healed. The first fruits of this great work appeared on the day of Pentecost, when thousands were pricked to the heart, repented, and were baptized in that name which they had despised; but the lump is yet to appear. 'Blessed be the Lord God, the God of Israel, who only doeth wondrous things: and blessed be his glorious name for ever: and let the whole earth be filled with his glory. Amen and amen' (Psa 72:18,19)."

5. Some expositors consider this as predicting the victories of the Maccabees over Antiochus; but that persecutor never besieged Jerusalem; says Bishop Newcomb,
"and the language is much too strong to denote the success of the Maccabees."
Again he says,
"God's signal interposition in behalf of Judah and Jerusalem, at their future restoration, having been foretold, the prophet proceeds to foretell their conversion to Christianity."
Says Bishop Lowth,
"The former part of this chapter relates to an invasion made upon the inhabitants of Judah and Jerusalem in the latter times of the world, probably after their restoration and settlement in their own land."
Says Dr. Scott,
"However it may be accommodated some special events were doubtless intended by the Holy Spirit, and it is probable that the grand accomplishment of it is yet to be expected. The ancestors of the Jews caused Christ to be nailed to the cross, and pierced by the soldier's spear; for they employed the Romans to execute the sentence which they had denounced, exclaiming, 'His blood be upon us and on our children'; and their posterity have ever since been consenting to this deed by their obstinate unbelief. But at the predicted period they will know who this crucified Jesus was, and then they shall by faith look to him, and mourn over him, as pierced and slain by them. A partial fulfillment of this took place at and after the day of Pentecost, in the conversion of numbers of the Jews who had just before crucified Christ, and it is descriptive of the conversion of sinners in every age. Yet there can be no reasonable doubt but it is an intended prediction of the conversion of the Jewish nation, when they shall, as one body, embrace the Gospel of Jesus Christ."
Thus, my dear Benjamin, I hope I have, to your satisfaction, established, upon divine testimony, the proposition that our dear people, both Judah and Ephraim, will be brought back to their own land, and after that be brought to the belief in the Lord Jesus Christ; yet it may not be improper to remind you of a few facts, as collateral evidence.

6. It is the opinion of many eminent writers, that our people have never yet possessed all the land which God promised to our fathers, Abraham, Isaac and Jacob; but the time will surely come, when our faithful covenant God will fulfill his promises in the fullest extent.(17)

7. The wonderful preservation of our people as a distinct nation, is another argument in favor of their return to their own land. It has been foretold by Moses and the prophets, that though they shall be dispersed amongst all nations, yet they should not be totally destroyed, but still subsist as a distinct people. Read carefully, my dear Benjamin, the following passages: Leviticus 26:44; Numbers 23:9; Jeremiah 30:11; Amos 9:8. Our beloved nation, like the bush of Moses, hath been always burning, but it is never consumed. And what a marvelous thing it is, that after so many wars, battles and sieges, after so many fires, famines and pestilences, after so many years of captivity, slavery and misery, they are not destroyed utterly, and though scattered among all people, yet subsist as a distinct people by themselves. Where is any thing comparable to this to be found in all the histories and in all the nations under the sun? How just and beautiful is the observation of Bishop Newton on this subject:

"The preservation of the Jews through so many ages, and the total destruction of their enemies, are wonderful events; and are still more wonderful, by being signified beforehand by the spirit of prophecy, as we find particularly in the prophet Jeremiah 46:28, 'Fear not thou, O Jacob my servant, saith the Lord; for I am with thee; for I will make a full end of all the nations whither I have driven thee, but I will not make a full end of thee.' The preservation of the Jews is really one of the most signal and illustrious acts of Divine Providence. They are dispersed among all nations, yet they are not confounded with any. The drops of rain which fall, nay, the great rivers which flow into the ocean, are soon mingled and lost in the immense body of waters: and the same, in all human probability, would have been the fate of the Jews; they would have been mingled and lost in the common mass of mankind; but, on the contrary, they flow into all parts of the world, mix with all nations, and yet keep separate from all. They still live as a distinct people, and jet they no where live according to their own laws, no where elect their own magistrates, no where enjoy the full exercise of their religion. Their solemn feasts and sacrifices are limited to one certain place, and that hath been now for many ages in the hands of strangers and aliens, who will not suffer them to come thither. No people have continued unmixed so long as they have done, not only of those who have sent forth colonies into foreign countries, but even of those who have abodes in their own country. The northern nations have come in swarms unto the most southern parts of Europe, but where are they now to be discerned and distinguished? The Gauls went forth in great bodies, to seek their fortune in foreign parts; but what traces or footsteps of them are now remaining any where? In France, who can separate the race of the ancient Gauls from the various other people who from time to time have settled there? In Spain, who can distinguish exactly between the first possessors, the Spaniards and Goths, and the Moors, who conquered and kept possession of the country for some ages? In England, who can pretend to say with certainty which families are derived from the ancient Britons, and which from the Romans, or Saxons, or Danes, or Normans? The most ancient and honorable 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 date their pedigree from the beginning of the world. They may not know from which particular tribe or family they are descended, but they know certainly that they all spring 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 possess it, they glory in it: and after so many wars, massacres and persecutions, they still subsist, they still are very numerous: and what but a supernatural power could have preserved them in such a manner as none other nation upon earth hath been preserved?"
8. As another argument, I would simply remind you, my dear Benjamin, of the general expectation of our people to return to the land of our fathers. You know that this desire is interwoven in all their prayers from day to day, and more particularly so in the prayers for the festivals, especially on the feast of the passover, when it is said repeatedly, "This year we are here, at the next year we shall be in the land of Israel." Now, my dear Benjamin, I, cannot but hope that these prayers are "the prayers of faith," i. e. believing the many promises of God on this subject, just as Joseph, my namesake, who, just before his death, said to his brethren, "I die, and God will surely visit you, and bring you out of this land, into the land of which he sware unto Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob" (Gen 50:24). It was this promise that supported our fathers in the house of the Egyptian bondage, and encouraged them, even when every appearance of hope was gone, to groan, and sigh, and pray unto the Lord for deliverance: "And Jehovah said, I have surely seen the affliction of my people which are in Egypt, and have heard their cry by reason of their taskmasters; for I know their sorrows, and am come down to deliver them out of the land of the Egyptians, and to bring them up out of that land unto a good land and a large, unto a land flowing with milk and honey; unto the place of the Canaanites, and the Hittites, and the Amorites, and the Perizzites, and the Hiviles, and the Jebusites. Now therefore, behold, the cry of the children of Israel is come unto me; and I have also seen the oppression wherewith the Egyptians oppress them. Come now therefore, and I will send thee unto Pharaoh, that thou mayest bring forth thy people the children of Israel out of Egypt" (Exo 3:7-10). In like manner our dear people, under their present long and unparalleled afflictions, have been supported solely by the "full assurance of faith and hope" in God's many and precious promises, that he will surely gather them again out of every nation, and bring them into the land which he gave to our fathers; and they will not be disappointed in their expectation.

9. Let it also be considered, my dear Benjamin, as a most remarkable circumstance and strong argument in favor of our people's returning again to the land of our fathers, that they are so situated that at the shortest notice they are ready and able to depart as easily as when they came out of Egypt. They have no country they call their own besides the land of Canaan; they are strangers and sojourners as our fathers were; they have no landed property to dispose of; they do not intermarry with other nations, so as to be detained by attachments to relations, friends or possessions. Thus God makes "the wrath of man to praise him, and the remainder thereof he will restrain" (Psa 76:10). Nay, their former enemies will become their friends, and help them in their way to their original possession. Says the Rev. J. Lunn,

"That in all the countries where they are they should, generally speaking, have no property, either in houses or lands, no heritable possession or share in the government, or any thing to detain them from returning to their native country, in case an opportunity should happen, looks as if Providence intended one day to turn back their captivity, and to put them into possession of their ancient inheritance. The many disappointments which that people have met with, in attempting to obtain settlement, or the privileges of citizens, in different countries, may indeed be looked upon as a punishment, and part of the curse that lies upon them for their sin in crucifying the Savior and continuing so long to reject his Gospel; and no doubt so it is: but when we consider the kindness of Providence to them in other respects, his preserving, supporting, and then multiplying them, notwithstanding the numberless massacres and persecutions they have sustained, I say. when we consider these things, we cannot help thinking that Providence, in disappointing them of a settlement, has some other end in view besides punishing them for their infidelity. If we deny the restoration of the Jews, we will find it hard to account for their prosperity. But if we admit of their future restoration, then the reason not only of their worldly prosperity, but of all the other dispensations of Providence towards them, is most apparent. He denies them a settlement in the countries where they are, to prevent their having any attachment to them, and that they may be under no temptation to stay still, or look back, whensoever they are called in the course of Providence to remove; and for this reason, also, he suffers them to be hated and persecuted, namely, that they may be the more willing to quit the places where they are so used; and lastly, he endows them with riches, that they may have wherewith to support themselves on their journey to their native country, and to establish themselves therein: for as many of them live at a great distance from Palestine, to travel so far, and to erect a settlement for themselves in a country almost desolate, is a thing not to be done without considerable wealth; and their being endowed with such wealth, as it renders their return possible, so it adds to the probability of it. Thus both the kindness and the severity of Providence towards this people serve to confirm the doctrine I have been endeavoring to prove, viz. their future conversion and restoration."
10. Permit me, my dear Benjamin, to mention one more argument in favor of the speedy return of our dear people to the land which, though it once flowed with milk and honey, has for many ages been desolate, but will soon become like "the garden of Eden," viz. the removal of the obstacles out of their way. Not only are they prepared by the remarkable hand of Providence to return at a moment's warning, but the way is also preparing for them. The great river Euphrates is drying up; the once terrible Turkish empire is crumbling into pieces; and the determined time "for the land to be trodden under foot by the Gentiles" is near its close, and kings talk of becoming their nursing fathers, and queens their nursing mothers. On each of these particulars, my dear Benjamin, I should gladly expatiate at considerable length, had not I detained you already too long, and greatly exceeded my prescribed limits.

Before I proceed to answer the objections generally brought against the preceding proposition, I will endeavor to answer a question very frequently proposed, viz.

11. If the Jews return to their own land, will they rebuild the city of Jerusalem? Will they have a temple, altar, sacrifice, and priest?

First, as it respects Jerusalem, there can be no reasonable doubt in the mind of those who will be guided by the plain word of God. Almost in every passage, where the restoration of our people to their own land is mentioned, the building of the city of Jerusalem, in its own place, is also mentioned. Read only the following predictions: Jer 30:8-11, 18 , 31:38-40; Zech 12:1-8). Nor ought we to lose sight of the prediction of the blessed Jesus himself, who said, "And Jerusalem shall be trodden down of the Gentiles until the times of the Gentiles be fulfilled" (Luke 21:24); which evidently implies that when the times of the Gentiles are fulfilled, Jerusalem shall no longer be trodden down, but be rebuilt and inhabited again by her own people. Dr. Guise, on this passage, says,

"Jerusalem itself shall be sacked and trampled upon with indignation and contempt; and shall be kept under the jurisdiction of the Gentiles, and never be rebuilt again, with any grandeur, suitable to its present state, till the glorious days shall come, which are appointed for the general conversion of the Jews, and bringing in of the fullness of the Gentiles. Our Lord hereby seems to intimate, that then Jerusalem should be rebuilt, and the Jews gathered to their own country and city again; and that the Gentiles shall then no longer lord it over them, but all nations shall flow in unto them, and shall walk in their light, rejoicing in God's mercy to them, and sharing in all spiritual blessings with them."
Dr. Doddridge says,
"It seems reasonable to suppose that here, as in most other places, the Gentiles are opposed to the Jews; and consequently all the period between the destruction of Jerusalem and the restoration of the Jews to their own land, so expressly foretold in Scripture, is here intended."
See Isaiah 27:12, 13; Ezekiel 11:17, 20:40, 42, 34:13, 36:24, 28, Eze 37:21-28, 39:28, 29; Hosea 3:5; Amos 9:14, 15 and Zechariah 14:10, 11.

Dr. Gill says,

"Then the Jews will be converted, and return to their own land, and rebuild and inhabit Jerusalem: but till that time it will be, as it has been, and still is, possessed by the Gentiles."
My dear Benjamin, I might greatly multiply quotations of this nature, but these may suffice.

12. And as it respects the other part of the question about building a temple, and having an altar and sacrifice &c. &c. my answer to the whole is in the affirmative. For, how could I doubt it for a moment, even if the word of God were perfectly silent on the subject? Suppose a company of five thousand pious and conscientious Christians had gone to Africa to colonize, and had drawn up various articles how to proceed when arrived there; viz. to build a city of such and such dimensions, to erect so many houses, to plant vineyards, to establish certain factories, &c. &c.; but not a word is said in this compact about keeping the Sabbath and building a place of worship, forming a church and administering the ordinances; and suppose also that intelligence has been received, giving an account of their safe arrival and establishment according to the original agreement, but again not a word is mentioned about their religious deportment; would any one who had known these five thousand pious Christians suppose for a moment that they kept no Sabbath, that they had no place of worship, that they had constituted no church, and consequently administered no ordinances, merely because they had not expressly covenanted to do so, and because the intelligence that has reached us of their perfect establishment made no mention of these things? Would such a supposition not be a stigma on their character? Would it not loudly proclaim their former religious professions to have been a hypocrisy of the most heinous kind? Or, must it not rather be taken for granted, by all who believe them to be sincere Christians, that after their arrival, in imitation of the pious patriarchs, who, wherever they pitched their tents, erected immediately an altar unto the Lord, the very first thing they attended to after their safe arrival, was to build a house of worship, and to walk in all God's appointed ways? And now, my dear Benjamin, why should it be thought strange to believe that our dear people, who have, for nearly eighteen hundred years, most conscientiously observed all the religious rites which God gave to fathers, in all countries, amongst all people, and under all circumstances, as far as the law of God allows them to observe them in a strange land, although these observances exposed them to reproach, hatred, persecution, and death itself, would, when they are brought back by the wonderful goodness of God, to the land which God gave to our fathers, build again a temple for the worship of God, erect an altar unto the Lord, and offer up their sacrifices, and observe all other ceremonies which they observed before their dispersion by the Romans? Did they not do so after their return from the Babylonish captivity? How strange and unaccountable would it appear if our people, who, whilst the chastening hand of God was upon them for ages, were, notwithstanding, steadfast and immovable in worshiping that God, should cast off all their religious profession, love and attachment to him, when he has performed his promises in delivering them out of their captivity, and brought them back to the goodly land? Would not such a supposition charge them with "having denied the faith, and become worse than infidels?" God forbid that they should ever act so basely.

13. I am aware, my dear Benjamin, that this sentiment is not only open to an objection which I hope to meet by and by; but some will even charge me with heresy. For a learned and pious author has already thus expressed himself:

"It will not be denied that the possession of the land of Canaan by the natural posterity of Abraham formed an integral part of that covenant. Accordingly as long as that covenant remained in force, Israel retained possession of the land; but when Paul wrote his epistle to the Hebrews, that economy had waxed old, and was ready to vanish away. Now, to me it appears, that to contend for the return of the Jews, as a nation, to their own land, is in effect to 'build again the things that are destroyed'—it is virtually denying that the Sinai covenant has vanished away—it is pleading for its restoration—it is, in a word, denying that Christ is come, or, if come, it is denying that his kingdom is not of this world."
These are hard sayings, my dear Benjamin. Here is multum in parvo. A bad spirit, bad theology, and bad reasoning. This is condemning in a Iump a host of the most eminently learned and pious Christians in every age, who have believed that the Jews will return again to their own country. Here is a sad confounding of the covenant which God made with Abraham, which had the land of Canaan for its object, the natural posterity of Abraham for its subjects, and circumcision for its seal; and that covenant which the Lord made with our fathers when he brought them out of Egypt, which had the promised Messiah, and salvation by him, for its antitype. The former is called the Abrahamic, the second the Sinaic covenant. Hence the latter vanished away when Christ came, as the shadow gives way to the substance; but when and where did God say that the Abrahamic covenant should be disannulled, or vanish away? On the contrary, "heaven and earth may sooner cease than this covenant" (Jer 31:35-38). These two covenants are as distinct in their nature and duration, as the covenant made with Noah and that made at the foot of Mount Sinai. And although the Abrahamic was included in the Sinaic, yet as the former existed before the latter was made, so likewise it continued in force after the other waxed old and vanished away. Besides, what has the mere restoration of the Jews to their own land to do with the coming of Christ ? What difference does it make where the Jews reside, whether in Judea or Europe? You know, my dear Benjamin, that I have proved that the Messiah has come, not from the location of the Jews, but from his having fulfilled all that was written of him in the Law, in the Prophets, and in the book of Psalms; and you will doubtless remember that I have also proved, in a variety of particulars, that Christ's kingdom is not of this world; yet I believe that he will reign on the earth for a thousand years, but not in a worldly spirit, after the manner and customs of this world.

Having, I trust, my dear Benjamin, established the point, that our beloved people, both Judah and Ephraim, are to return to the literal Canaan before their conversion; that they will rebuild Jerusalem, and establish Judaism for a season, and afterwards be converted, "and seek the Lord their God, and David their king, and shall fear the Lord and his goodness in the latter days" (Hosea 3:5); I will now endeavor to answer the principal objections brought against this sentiment.

14. A writer in the Christian Spectator of 1826, over the signature of Aleph, proposes the following question: "Will the Jews, after their conversion to Christianity, be restored to any of their former peculiar distinctions?" He then goes on to state his imaginary difficulties in a literal fulfillment of the prophecies. Now you will easily perceive, my dear Benjamin, that this writer, by putting "the cart before the horse," has run into a slough of despond, from which he thought he could extricate himself only by making a desperate leap—of spiritualizing all that the prophets have said concerning the future condition of our people and nation. Had he put the question thus, "Will the Jews be restored to any of their former peculiar distinctions, and afterwards be converted to Christianity?" all would have been plain and easy. This has been the fatal mistake of almost all the writers in opposition to the literal restoration of our people that I have seen, viz. putting the conversion of Israel before their restoration instead of after it.

Aleph objects that the New Testament speaks only of their spiritual conversion, but is silent respecting the return to Canaan, &c. Answer, The reason is plain: the Jews were, at that time, still in their own land; the only question agitated was, whether all Israel was cut off, or only a part. Nor was the literal restoration denied till ages after their dispersion by the Romans.

Next he says, "that at the time of the conversion of the Jews, there will be but one fold, under one shepherd." True, this is my belief, but that does not prevent their literal return before their conversion, and their re-establishing Judaism, and remaining, probably for forty years, till the Lord shall pour out the spirit of grace and supplication, agreeably to Zechariah 12:10-14.

Again he objects, that "the end for which God kept them distinct is answered." How does Aleph know that God had but one end to answer, in keeping our people distinct from all other nations of the earth?

If the end has been obtained, why has God kept them distinct in so wonderful a manner hitherto? Does God act without design? May not the Lord have some wise design in bringing them back to their own land, and permitting them to re-establish Judaism in all its former splendor, and afterwards opening their eyes to see infinitely more glory in Jesus and his cross than in these things, and thus laying aside Judaism, for the establishment of which they had waited so long, and trusting only in Jesus Christ, as their Savior and their God? Would not such a mode be a much greater display of the power of the Gospel, than if the Jews were converted gradually in their dispersed state? But I must forbear.

He further objects, that because Christ did not comply with the repeated wishes of the Jews to restore to them the kingdom, therefore he will never restore it. Answer, That Christ did not comply with their carnal wishes, was because that was not his errand at his first corning; but when did he say that he would never restore them after their dispersion, or that he would never reign personally on the earth?

Others have objected, "that their return is promised upon their repentance, and therefore their conversion must precede." True, God expects their repentance; but repentance and conversion do not always go together. There never will be conversion without repentance, but there may be repentance without conversion. Surely their repentance cannot mean that of a converted soul—such godly sorrow, such repentance as flows from a renewed heart; for this condition is to be performed before they return to their own land, but the change of heart is promised as succeeding their restoration, Deut 30:1-6; Eze 36, &c. Says a son of Abraham in the Jewish Expositor,

"It is, however, by no means true, that the patriarchal promises were conditional. The terms in which they were given are as absolute as can possibly be conceived; the blessings are most evidently made to depend, not on the conduct of men, but on the sovereign will and power, the eternal foreknowledge, and the unchangeable faithfulness of Jehovah: he does not say, if thou, or thy seed; but, I have given - by myself have I sworn, I will not leave thee, until I have done that which I have spoken to thee of. It is true that the covenant of Sinai was conditional: but this was only of temporal duration: even while it was in full force, the prophets foretold that the days were coming when the Lord would make a new and an unconditional covenant 'with the house of Israel, and with the house of Judah' and with this, as contradistinguished from the other, the Holy Spirit has explicitly identified the patriarchal covenant, for he has taught us by a prophet of the New Testament, that 'the covenant which was confirmed before of God in Christ, the law, which was four hundred years after, could not disannul, that it should make the promise of none effect; for if the inheritance were of the law, it would be no more of promise, but God gave it to Abraham by promise' (Gal 3:17)."
There is but one objection more that I shall notice, viz. "that if the Jews are to return to Canaan before their conversion, then it is needless to make exertions to promote their conversion." Does it follow, my dear Benjamin, that because we do not expect the national conversion of our people till after their restoration to Canaan, that therefore no individuals may be converted before that time? The Apostle Paul said and believed that our dear people would continue under the influence of spiritual darkness until the fullness of the Gentiles be come in, yet that did not prevent him from going into the synagogue every Sabbath day, and reasoning with them from the Scriptures that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God. "Who hath despised the day of small things?" (Zech 4:10).

But I have already mentioned that a considerable number of our brethren will be converted before the nation returns, and that these will not return with them, but be carried thither afterwards, agreeably to Isaiah 18th. On this, as well as on all the other parts mentioned in the first section of the third letter in this part, I intended to have greatly enlarged; but I am compelled to close, at least for the present, the subject of the second advent of Christ, to leave some room for the last part proposed, viz. The coming of the Messiah to judge the world. Farewell.

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