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cept that about the coming of the Meffiah) than that which concerns the Prefervation and future Reftauration of the Jews.
Having thus premised and expounded these things, it remains that we enquire, by what Right and Authority Expofitors transfer the Kingdom of the Meffiah, promife in the prophetical Writings to a mere fpiritual Reign. Now Chrift nor the Prophets, neither the Angel nor the Apostles, as far as we can yet perceive, have ever afferted any fuch thing. What Rules of Interpretation do they then rely on? It is a received Rule among Expofitors, whether Jews or Chriftians, that we must not depart from the Letter, but where we are obliged to do fo by fomé Abfurdity or Contradiction in the Nature of Things. That Chriftian-Interpreters are agreed about this Rule is, I fuppofe, paft doubt; and the Jews have appointed themfelves the very fame Rule of Expounding. And this is what we have obferved in our Expofition of the Writings, as well of the Old as of the New Teftament. We do not much refent it, if you contrive to weaken the Force of one or two particular Places by Allegories; but you take away the very Foundations if you affert that thefe Promifes contain nothing eminent and particular, with refpect to the Jews. By this means you not only wreft a particular Prophecy, but ftrive against the whole Stream of the prophetic Writings. We grant there is fometimes Room for
Menajah Ben Ifrael, of the Refurrection. Be it known that the Scripture must always be understood and explained according to the Letter, unless fuch an Explication contains fome thing that implies a Contradiction. Alfo the fame Author in his Treatife of the Term of Life, &c. fays, the Jews believe the Letter as often as it contains no Abfurdity. But they admit of Allegories when the ftrict Senfe, according to the Propriety of the Words, would be against right Reason,
Allegories and figurative Expofitions, when the Nature of the Subject calls for them. But I think it is dangerous to diffolve famous and repeated Prophecies to Allegories when there is no neceffity, by this means we shall make them vanish and come to nothing.
When God promises Heaven and a celestial Life to pious Men, with Crowns and Rivers of Pleasure, and on the other Hand, threatens the wicked with a Worm which shall never die, we readily grant that we must a little depart from the Letter in the Interpretation of thefe Places, yet fo as that the Subftance of the Matter must be ftill retained; namely, that the one Sort fhall partake of the higheft Felicity, and the other fuffer the utmost Torment. Even in Allegories, Parables, Hyperboles themselves, and fuch like figurative Speeches, there are (if we may fo call them) certain Stamina which muft not be violated..
The Promifes concerning the coming and Kingdom of the Meffiah were given to the Fathers, and Ifraelites, by way of Confolation, and that they and their Pofterity for ever might have Caufe to rejoice and triumph. But by this method of interpreting the Prophets, you cut off all Hope from Ifrael, and deftroy both Root and Branches, as if the Counfels of God were variable, or his Oaths of an uncertain Signification. For hitherto the Jews, inftead of enjoying peculiar Bleffings, fince the coming of the Meffiah, have fuffered the greatest Calamities. And, unlefs like Perfons returning from the Dead, they receive again the Land of their Fathers fo often promifed, they are wholly cut off from thofe Bleffings which are fo often promised them in the facred Writings. The bleffed Virgin feemed to expect other things, namely, that the fhould bring forth one who would be a Friend and a Benefactor to Ifrael, (Luke i. 54, 55.) when H
being divinely inspired, and bearing Jesus in her Womb fhe thus fung, He bath holpen his Servant Ifrael in Remembrance of his Mercy. As he spake to our Fathers, to Abraham and his Seed for ever.
Moreover Zacharias,being filled with the Holy Ghoft when he prophefied about the Birth of Chrift, faid thus, (Luke i. 68, &c.) Bleffed be the Lord God of Ifrael, for he hath visited, and redeemed his People. And hath raifed up a Horn of Salvation for us in the Houfe of his Servant David. As he spake by the Mouth of his holy Prophets, which have been fince the World began. That we should be faved from our Enemies, and from the Hand of all that hate us. perform the Mercy promifed to our Fathers, and to remember his holy Covenant. The Oath which he fware to our Father Abraham, that he would grant unto us, that we being delivered from the Hands of our Enemies, might ferve him without Fear. In Holiness and Righteousness before him, all the Days of our Lives.
In this facred Hymn Zacharias offers to God the firft Fruits of his Speech after his Tongue was loofed. He in a particular manner praifes his Name for the Meffiah that was foon to be born, and triumphs in the Contemplation of thofe good things, which fhould come from thence to Ifrael. He pronounces Salvation, Peace, and Freedom from all Enemies on Ifrael, and produces the Fathers and Prophets as Witneffes from the earliest Ages; nor did he do it unadvisedly, he has Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Mofes, David, Ifaiah, and the reft of the Prophets, as well greater as leffer, to confirm his Opinion. This Promife comprehends the facred Faith of all Ages, ancient and later times, the Oracles of both the Old and New Teftament, even from the Days of Abraham to our Saviour's Birth, Death, Refurrection, and Afcenfion into Heaven. All Authorities agree and confpire in this Series; I fay they
all confent in these general Conclufions, That God will never finally for fake his People Ifrael. Secondly, That the Promifes which were given to the Ifraelites, are not as yet fulfilled. Laftly, That the Jews fhall yet enjoy fome great Felicity by means of the Meffiah, when the times of Refreshing fhall come; which we pray that God would haften for his own Glory thro' the fame Jefus the MESSIAH.