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the abomination of the Moabites;” yea, “they made their children to pass through the fire unto Moloch,” and “sacrificed their sons and their daughters unto devils, and shed innocent blood, even the blood of their sons and of their daughters, whom they sacrificed unto the idols of Canaan, and the land was polluted with blood.” Even in the very house of God itself did they place their idols; as though they were determined to provoke the Lord to jealousy beyond a possibility of endurance; nor were there any rites too base, too impure, or too sanguinary for them to practise in the worship of them. Many times did God punish them for these great iniquities, by delivering them into the hands of their enemies; and as often, in answer to their
prayers, did he rescue them again from their oppressors. But at last, as he tells us by the prophet, he was even “ broken with their whorish heart:” and, as they would persist in their idolatries notwithstanding all the warnings which from time to time he had sent them by his prophets, he was constrained to execute upon them the judgment threatened in our text.
This is the account given us by the inspired historian : “ All the chief priests and the people transgressed very much after all the abominations of the heathen, and polluted the house of the Lord which he had hallowed in Jerusalem. And the Lord God of their fathers sent to them by his messengers, rising up betimes and sending; because he had compassion on his people, and on his dwelling-place. But they mocked the messengers of God, and despised his words, and misused his prophets, until the wrath of the Lord arose against his people, till there was no remedy. Therefore he brought upon them the king of the Chaldees, who slew their young men with the sword in the house of their sanctuary, and had no compassion upon young man or maiden, old man, or him that stooped for age; he gave them all into his hand.” In confirmation of this exposition of our text, the Jewish writers refer to a passage in the Prophet Isaiaha. The Chaldeans were but very recently risen into power; for, many hundred years after the Jews were established in the land of Canaan, the very name of Babylon was not at all formidable to Israel, or perhaps scarcely known. It was originally owing to the Assyrians that Babylon was exalted into so great and powerful a state: as, says the prophet, in the passage referred to, “Behold, the land of the Chaldeans; this people was not till the Assyrian founded it for them that dwell in the wilderness : they set up the towers thereof, they raised up the palaces thereof." Now to be vanquished by such a people, and to be carried captive to such a place, appeared a peculiar degradation; which may be supposed to be in part an accomplishment of those words, “ I will move them to jealousy with them which are not a people; I will provoke them to anger with a foolish nation.”
c 2 Chron. xxxvi. 14–17.
But that there was to be a further accomplishment of those words, we cannot doubt. Indeed, the Jews themselves acknowledge, that their present dispersion through the world is a continuation of those very judgments which were denounced against them by Moses. Not only the learned amongst them acknowledge this, but, as Moses himself foretold, even the most ignorant of the Jews are well aware of it. Moses says, in Deut. xxxi. 17, 18, My anger shall be kindled against them in that day, and I will forsake them, and I will hide my face from them, and they shall be devoured, and many evils and troubles shall befall them; so that they will say in that day, Are not these evils come upon us, because our God is not amongst us? And I will surely hide my face in that day for all the evils which they have wrought, in that they are turned unto other gods.” Now “the Jews themselves (as Bishop Patrick observes) take notice that these words have been fulfilled by the many calamities which have befallen them since the destruction of Jerusalem by the Romans. This
Isai. xxiii. 13.
appears from Schebet Jehuda, where Solomon Virgæ quotes this very verse, to prove that their present sufferings proceed not from nature, but from an angry God, more powerful than nature.”
The truth is, that this prophecy received but a very partial accomplishment at that time: for there were but two tribes sent to Babylon; the other ten were carried captive to Assyria. Now the idea of “provoking them to jealousy by those who were not a people,” could have no place in reference to the ten tribes, because Assyria was an empire almost thirteen hundred years before Israel was conquered by them'; and to the other two tribes, provided they were to be carried captive at all, it could make but little difference whether the nation that subdued them was of greater or less antiquity. For the full accomplishment of the prophecy, therefore, we must undoubtedly look to the times subsequent to the destruction of Jerusalem by the Romans.
And here is a matter for the consideration of every Jew, that wishes to form a correct judgment of the main point that is at issue between the Jews and Christians.
The miseries inflicted on the Jewish nation by the Romans, both in the siege of Jerusalem and in their subsequent dispersion throughout the world, have been incomparably more grievous than any that ever were inflicted on them by the Chaldeans. I would ask then of the Jew, What has been the cause of this severe chastisement ? What has your nation done to provoke God in so extraordinary a degree ? There must be some particular crime that they have committed : what is it? God is too righteous, and too merciful, to afflict them without a cause.
I ask, Are any of your Rabbis able to assign an adequate reason for these severe judgments? Your former idolatries were punished in the Babylonish captivity : and you repented of those sins; insomuch that from the time of your return to your own land, to the destruction of your nation by the Romans, you not only never relapsed into idolatry, but you withstood every attempt to ensnare or to compel you to it. Yet, as your sufferings since that period have been so heavy and protracted, it must be supposed that your fathers committed some crime of deeper die, or at least some that was of equal enormity with your former idolatries.
f See Prideaux's Connexion.
e Sect. 13.
I ask then again, What crime is it? for there is not one of you that will venture to say, that God punishes you without a cause. If you cannot tell me, I will tell you what that crime is : it is the crucifying of your Messiah. You know, and your Rabbis all know, that there was a very general expectation of your Messiah at the precise time that Jesus came into the world. You know that Jesus professed himself to be the Messiah : you know also that he wrought innumerable miracles in confirmation of his claim: you know that he appealed to Moses and the prophets as bearing witness of him: you know that he foretold all that he should suffer; and shewed, that in all those sufferings the prophecies concerning him would be fulfilled : you know also, that the crucifying of him was a national act, in which all ranks and orders of your countrymen concurred; and that when Pilate wished to free himself from the guilt of shedding innocent blood, they all cried, “ His blood be on us, and on our children!” You know, moreover, that Jesus foretold the destruction of your city and nation by the Romans, together with your present desolate condition, as the punishment that should be inflicted on you for your murder of him: nay more, that these things should befall your nation before that generation should pass away.
You know also, that, agreeably to his predictions, they did come to pass about forty years after his death, and that these judgments have been upon you from that time to the present hour. If you say, that only two of the tribes were thus guilty of putting him to death ; I answer, that every Jew in the universe approves and applauds that act; and that therefore the judgments are inflicted on them all, and will continue to be inflicted, till they repent of it. All preceding judgments were removed, when your fathers repented of the crimes on account of which they had been inflicted : and the reason that your present judgments are not removed, is, that your enmity against the Lord Jesus is at this hour as strong as ever; and, if he were to put himself in your power again, you would conspire against him as before, and crucify him again. Yet, if He was not the Messiah, your Messiah is not come; and, consequently, those prophecies in your inspired volume which foretold his advent at that time, are falsified. Your Messiah was to come before the sceptre should finally depart from Judah, and while the second temple was yet standing, and about the time that the seventy weeks of Daniel should expire : but the sceptre is departed, and the temple is destroyed; and Daniel's weeks are expired; and nearly eighteen hundred years have elapsed, since the period fixed by these prophecies for his appearance. It is evident therefore that all these prophecies have failed of their accomplishment, if your Messiah is not yet come. As for saying, that the coming of the Messiah was deferred by God for the wickedness of your nation, what proof have you of it? Where has God threatened that, as a consequence of your wickedness ? No: your Messiah is come; and has been treated in the manner which your own prophecies foretold, and as Jesus himself foretold : and though you, like your forefathers, in order to set aside the testimony of his resurrection, have recourse to that self-destructive falsehood of his being taken away by his own disciples, whilst a whole guard of Roman soldiers were asleep, you know that his disciples did at the very next festival, on the day of Pentecost, attest that he was risen, and attest it too in the very presence of the people who had put him to death, no less than three thousand of whom were converted to him on that very day: you know too, that in a short time myriads of Jews believed in Jesus; and that his Gospel continued to prevail throughout the known world, till the judgments threatened