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The Jews are converted to Christianity in the Defert where they are gathered together.

WHEN the Jews are thus collected into the wilderness of Affyria, by the perfecution carried on by the blafphemous king, when they are ready to perifh for want, and their hearts, wrung by affliction, are poured out before the Lord, God manifefts his mercy by their converfion, as a previous ftep to their restoration. The manner of it is distinctly represented to the prophet Ezekiel, in a vision, chap. xxxvii. 1.10. and the meaning of that vifion is opened up, ver. 11.-14. (" The hand of the Lord was up"on me, and carried me out in the Spirit of "the Lord, and fet me down in the midst of "the valley which was full of bones," &c.).

That the primary and only meaning of this paffage is to reprefent the converfion of the Jewish nation, appears from the frequent use of this metaphor in fcripture. Perfons unconverted are faid to be dead, while those that are converted are faid to be made alive. So our Lord fays, "Let the dead bury their dead;" Matt. viii. Nn

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Unless the term dead, as firft expreffed, fignifies fpiritually dead, it can have no meaning; but if it does, the meaning is obvious; that they were unconverted, did not incapacitate them to perform the funeral rites of one literally dead. Again, he fays, "Verily I fay unto you, "The hour now is, when the dead shall hear the "voice of the Son of God; and they that hear "fhall live," John v. 25. Our Lord could not refer to the general refurrection, fince that great event is still a diftant one, but evidently meant to affirm that the gofpel was then preached, accompanied with power to convert the unconverted. So the Apostle fays, "You hath he quickened "who were dead in trefpaffes and fins ;" Eph. ii. 1. Again, I find this metaphor exprefsly applied as here, to the converfion of the Jewish nation, both in the Old and New Teftament. Thus, Ifa. xxvi. 19. "Thy dead men fhall live together with my dead body shall they arise. "Awake and fing ye that dwell in the duft; "for thy dew is as the dew of herbs, and the "earth fhall caft out the dead." The address is to the Jewish church, at the period immediately preceding their restoration from the great difperfion. It is as if God had faid, Thy members, fo long fpiritually dead, fhall be revived, in confequence of my covenant relation to



them, they fhall be converted. Awake and fing ye who are spiritually dead, in a hopeless ftate, like those who dwell in the grave. Grace fhall defcend in abundance, and on the multitude as the dew upon the grafs; you fhall be converted in a collected body, univerfally and inftantaneously, as when the earth, at the general refurrection, fhall caft forth the dead.

The Prophet Hofea feems to have their converfion in view, chap. vi. 2. " After two days,

" he


(1) I have followed in the paraphrafe the fentiments of Lowth, in his Commentary, and of Bishop Lowth, in his Notes on his Translation of Ifaiah. Both fuppofe "my "dead body" fhould be my dead bodies, and therefore the fame with the "dead men," mentioned immediately before; only, whereas they are first represented as members of the church, they are afterwards reprefented as in covenant with God. But in regard the word is in the fingular number, as rendered by our tranflation, "My dead "body," I shall offer another sense which the expreffion fuggefts, leaving it to the reader's choice. I fuppofe the words are spoken by the Meffiah, intimating the time and. the mean of their converfion; namely, when they are convinced of his refurrection, and in confequence of their belief in that truth. The Jews did and do believe that the body of Jefus is yet dead. So long as they retain thofe fentiments, their hope shall be buried in his grave; but when they are convinced that he is rifen, together with that conviction, fpiritual life fhall be infufed into their fouls,


" he will revive us; in the third day, he will "raise us up, and we shall live in his fight'. Similar expreffions are used to denote their converfion, Hofea xiii. 14. "I will ranfom them "from the power of the grave: I will redeem "them from death: O death I will be thy "plagues; O grave I will be thy deftruction." To the fame purpose the prophet Zechariah fays, They shall live with their children, and turn "again;" Zech. x. 9. And the Apoftle expreffes "the receiving them again" to be members of the church, and the confequent increase of converfion among the Gentiles, by these words, "Life from the dead; Rom. xi. 15. Further, the meaning of the refurrection in this paffage is clearly ascertained by the illuftration annexed, "And ye fhall know that I am the Lord, when "I have opened your graves, O my people, and brought you up out of your graves, and shall put my Spirit in you, and ye fhall live;" Ezekiel xxxvii. 13, 14. So that, " bringing "them up out of their graves," is, in other words, "putting his spirit in them;" that is, converting them. Their reftoration to the land given their fathers, is an event pofterior to their converfion, not at all intended by the refurrection of the dry bones, but typified by the emblematical


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(1) See an illustration of this paffage, page 80.

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blematical action of the prophet, in the following part of the chapter.

Having thus discovered the general meaning of the paffage, by examining it more narrowly, we fhall find a minute detail of the manner of their converfion. "The hand of the Lord was

upon me, and carried me out in the spirit of "the Lord, and fet me down in the midst of "the valley which was full of bones;" Ezekiel xxxvii. 1. The valley into which the prophet is introduced, is the wilderness of Affyria; the bones are "the whole house of Ifrael" there collected: They are reprefented by bones, because of their hopeless condition, threatened with deftruction, and no appearance of God's interpofition for their deliverance. "They fay, Our "bones are dried, and our hope is loft; we are

cut off for our parts;" Ezekiel xxxvii. 11. Their hopeless condition proceeds from their infidelity, though for the prefent moment they are not confcious of the cause. "And caused "me to pass by them round about; and, be"hold, they were very many in the open valley; "and lo, they were very dry;" Ezekiel xxxvii. 2. On a further furvey, the prophet difcerns the hoft to be numerous, but their infidelity to be rivetted, and to have existed for a long time; the bones are very dry, as having continued in a ftate of death for ages before. "And he said unto me,



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