Obrazy na stronie


plenteous in mercy. He will not always chide: neither will he keep his anger for ever. He hath not dealt with us after our sins; nor rewarded us according to our iniquities. For as the heaven is high above the earth, so great is his mercy toward them that fear him. Like as a father pitieth his children, so the Lord pitieth-them that fear him. for he knoweth our frame; he remembereth that we are dust.: 5., Trust in divine aid: I will lift up mine eyes, unto the hills, whence cometh my help. My help cometh from the Lord, which made heaven and earth. 6. Encouragement to domestic union : Behold, how good and how pleasant it is for brethren to dwell together in unity!' 7. Incitements to perseverance in righteousness: • When the righteous man turneth away from his righteousness, and committeth iniquity, and dieth in them; for his iniquity that he hath done, he shall die. Again; · When the wicked man turneth away from his wickedness that he hath committed, and doeth that which is lawful and right, he shall save his soul alive.' 8. Exhortation and encouragement to repent and turn unto God: Let the wicked forsake his way, and the unrighteous man his thoughts : and let him return unto the Lord, and he will have mercy upon him; and to our God, for he will abundantly pardon. For I have no pleasure in the death of him that dieth, saith the Lord God: wherefore turn yourselves, and live ye. These are a few of the characteristic features of the scriptures, which place thein infinitely above gentile theology,—which cast a glory and a splendour around them, that, in the eye of piety, cover a multitude of seeming incongruities, and that, in the judgment of unbiassed reason, cannot fail, I conceive, to establish their authenticity and divine character.

Fifthly; as a necessary consequence of the superiority of the Jewish theology,—the moral and religious condition of the Jews, far surpassed that of the surrounding nations. With all the failings of Jewish character, most of which, indeed, were consequent upon the peculiar circumstances in which they were placed,they possessed many of those substantial virtues, whieh form the basis and the security of all permanent human excellence. They might appear bigoted, and uncharitable, and contemptuous, to the idolators with whom they were surrounded-but the complexion of the times the known evils of idolatry and a consciousness of the superiority of their own theology, will form their excuse, and furnish a cover to a multitude of sins.' Of this, however, we are assured, that whilst the whole world beside, was enveloped in moral and religious darkness, and every nation was paying 'adoration to the deities of its own creation---the Jews had the light of revelation, and worshiped and served the living God: whilst the wisest of the Gentile sages yielded to the popular superstitions, and, both by example and

precept, upheld the popular doctrinesthe Jewish seers and prophets, exposed these sources of crime and death, and proclaimed the Lord their God to be One Lord, and that he only should be worshiped and served: whilst the inhabitants of the surrounding countries, unrestrained by any of the precepts of their religion, abandoned themselves to the grossest sensuality, and to the practice of crimes which cannot even be named in the present day,—the Jewish law denounced the most dreadful judgments against all such abominations, and records the destruction of whole nations which had defiled themselves thereby: whilst the Gentile worshiper, the victim of a rapacious priesthood, confused with the multifarious ceremonies and forms of a senseless superstition, sacrificed to gods many and to lords many; and departed from the fane, fearing lest he should have ineffectually performed his vows,—the Jew, exempt from this perplexity, was addressed by the mouth of the prophet—What doth the Lord require of thee, but to do justly, to love mercy, and to walk humbly with thy God?'-Whilst the penitent heathen, sorrowing for his transgressions, seeking resí and finding none, spent his substance in vain oblations, and doubted the forgiveness of heaven,—the Jew sought consolation in his cherished scriptures, and reposed in the promises of the Eternal: 1, even I, am he that blotteth out thy transgressions, for mine own sake, and will not remember thy sins.'

This astonishing difference between the moral and religious condition of the Jew and Gentile, seems to be utterly inexplicable, upon any other principle than that of divine interference in behalf of the former. If the light of revelation did not shine into the minds of individuals, selected to be the instructors of their brethren, as the scriptures assert, how did it happen that, amongst all the wise and learned men of antiquity, none openly promulgated a pure system of morals and theology, in the manner of Moses and the prophets :-that until Socrates taught, in whose day the canon of scripture was closed.--every thing that appeared in the heathen world upon these all-important subjects, was mingled with the grossest errors, and was utterly unequal to the effecting of a reformation in the opinions and manners of the times:that while the gentile world had no effectual restraint from the practice of idolatry and its attendant evils, in any generally received written code of morals, the people, “whose are the covenants and the law, and the promises, and the fathers,' had been, for ages, in possession, and under the influence, of the purest system of morals and theology. And these facts do, as I conceive, tend to establish the truth of what the scriptures allege, that God did, at sundry times and in divers manners, furnish men with extraordinary wisdom from above, and speak in times past to the fathers by the prophets.

Lastly: the Jews themselves are a perpetual tes. timony to all nations, of the truth of their ancient scriptures. The faith, customs, prejudices, and condition, of this remarkable people, are utterly unaccountable if the scriptures be a tissue of fables. Let it be granted that they are a record of facts, and then we shall have a sufficient cause of the extraordinary phenomena which this nation has presented, and which it still presents, to all the world. Where

Where can a parallel be found to the case of the Jews, in the annals of mankind ? Scattered throughout every region of the globe,


they are yet a distinct and separate people. Both to heathen and to Christian, they do, now, as berę tofore, allege, that Jehovah is One and his name One; and during all the various corruptions of religion, and amid the mysteries of its multiform creeds, they adhere to their ancient faith, and worship the Universal Father, and pray to him alone.

The case of this people is the more extraordi, nary, inasmuch as the powerful nations, by which they were oppressed or enslaved, did, many ages since, pass into oblivion. Babylon, in the height of her power, carried them away captive; but she herself soon afterwards crouched beneath the yoke of the conqueror, and fell a prey to the spoiler; her glory, and her children, and her deities are no more, while Judea's sons remain, a monument of the power and providence of God, Rome destroyed their city and temple, and put an end to their state and polity, and was the means of their being scattered throughout every nation un, der heaven; but Rome yielded to the attack of the barbarian, and priests now rule in the City of the Caesars, while the Jews remain, a distinct, though a scattered people, and they still revere the law, and worship the God of their fathers. Is there any other nation or people with which they can be compared? Yes, says the unbeliever, there is China, with her immoveable institutions: look at the castes of Hindustan, and the Bedouins of Arabia: wherein, therefore is the wonder with respect to the Jews? I reply, that the Jews have been exposed to circumstances essentially diffe

« PoprzedniaDalej »