"For thus saith the Lord, That after seventy years be accomplished at Babylon, I will visit you, and perform my good word toward you in causing you to return to this place. For 1 know the thoughts that I think toward you smith the Lord, thoughts of peace, and not of evil, to give you an expected end. Then shall ye call upon me, and ye shall go and pray unto me, and I will hearken unto you. And ye shall seek me, and find me, when ye shall search for me with all your heart. And I will be found of you, with the Lord; and I will turn away your captivity, and I will gather you from all the nations, and from all the places whither I have driven you, saith the Lord; and I will bring you again into the place whence I caused you to be carried away captive." - Jer. xxix. 10-14.
The cause of Israel, which we plead, is one that has interested the saints of God in every age; but we wish you specially to remark that it is a cause which God has brought into view, whenever there was any thing great to be done in his kingdom below.
At the Reformation from Popery, Israel came into remembrance. Luther
pleaded, "that we should act brotherly to them, as the apostles, who were Jews,
had acted brotherly to us." In this country, John Fox, the martyrologist, in
baptizing a Jew from Spain, preached a sermon, entitled, "The Gospel Olive,"
wherein he takes pains to show the influence of Popery in keeping the Jews away
from Christ. And another, John Bale,* after stating that he had been of opinion
that there was only one sign wanting to prove the nearness of antichrist's
downfall, viz., a movement among the Jews, records that he believed he had got
that sign at last, for in Germany vast numbers of them were inquiring after
* [See Works of British Reformers, Preface to the Life of A.. Askew]
In Scotland, during the commotion of the Second Reformation, Samuel Rutherford - whose letters have a sweet savour with every man of God - out of the midst of his trials, speaks of the Jewish cause with peculiar interest and fervour. The holy Archbishop Leighton also felt as did Rutherford. And in the records of our martyrs, who gave up their lives for Christ's crown and covenant, there is one Walter Smith, executed at the cross of Edinburgh in 1681, who sought to stir up a prayer-meeting of Christians in behalf of Israel, by reminding them, "that the old stock of Israel casten off for unbelief, should never be forgotten, especially in these meetings; that the promised day of their engrafting again by faith may be hastened, and that dead weight of blood removed off them which their fathers took on them and their children, and which has sunk them down to hell upwards of 1700 years."
You know of the revivals in Scotland and America in the middle of last
century. Now, these were preceded and followed by great movements in the Jewish
cause in other places, as if God would not give liberally of the provision of
his table to his new family the Gentiles, without, at the same time, casting
some crumbs to the children of the old. More than ten years previous to these
revivals, God had stirred up the spirit of his people in Protestant Germany,
and the Callenberg Institution was formed at Halle, a missionary seminary
exclusively for Israel. So deep was the interest felt, that two students of
divinity gave themselves to the work of traversing the chief countries of
Europe, seeking the salvation of Israel. It seems to be in reference to the
effects which some years after followed these efforts, that President Edwards
writes from the midst of his revivals, to Dr Erskine of our Church, exulting in
the glad news that 600 Jews had been brought to Christ.**
About the same time and onwards till 1764s the Moravian brethren were zealous in the cause. They took up the cause as a Church; for their litany contained this prayer, "Deliver the ten tribes of Israel from their blindness and estrangement, and make us acquainted with their sealed ones: bring in the tribe of Judah in its time, and bless its first fruits among us."
* * [See Edwards' Life chap. xvii.]
About the beginning of this century, when the Papal kingdoms were
receiving the stroke of judgment, missions began to be conducted with much zeal
in Britain; and it was not long ere God brought the Jewish cause into view.
Indeed, the success of other missions was almost contemporaneous with active
efforts in behalf of Israel, put forth by members of the Church of England. And
in Scotland, though it is only of late years that we have, as a Church,
interested ourselves in missions at all, yet already, and very speedily, has
God brought the cause of his ancient people into the prominent view of the
Church of Scotland.
Every thing conspires to prove that when any great movement is to take place in God's kingdom below, the Jews must come into remembrance. "Ye that are escaped from the sword, remember the Lord afar off, and let Jerusalem come into your mind."`- Jer. li. 50. O may it be for good to our land and people! We are longing for revivals. - may the Lord give them now! Let us use Nehemiah's prayer as he built the temple, "Think on us, O our God, for good."
Our subject tonight is, The first captivity and restoration, and the
special purposes served thereby in regard to the coming of Messiah.
Our text is a prediction; but very soon the prediction became history. Last evening you were directed to God's promise to Abraham of a land which his posterity should inherit.
It was within the bounds of that land that God wrought his purposes in regard to Messiah. The posterity of Abraham were planted in a glorious land; for, so liberal is our God, if he bless at all, he blesses to the full. It was a land of plenty and of beauty, in order that no pretence of want might ever lead them to seek removal from these happy seats wherein the Lord had placed them. He desired the they might feel constrained by the liberality and love of their God to keep his will; and out of their quiet and abundant land, look undistracted to the promised Saviour. Hence it was that the spot selected was like an Eden in the midst of the earth. Moses wrote. "Israel shall dwell in safety, the fountain of Jacob all alone; upon a land of corn and wine; his heaven also shall drop down dew." - Deut. xxxiii. 28. On the eastern side was to be found a region of richest verdure -the shores of the beautiful lake of Galilee. Its sloping banks, laved by purest waters, exhibited every variety of produce and fertility. If you descended by the stream that issued from this lake, you passed along the valley of Jordan to the plain where Jericho raised its head amid majestic palms, and rose-beds, and gardens of balsam. Or, if from this point you crossed the river, you had on every side a wide range of plenty: the flowery vale of Sibma clad with vines, and the well-watered lands where Reuben fed his flocks; while north of this luxuriant spot, lay the balm-hills of Gilead, the rich fields of Manasseh, and the pasture that fattened the bulls of Bashan, and clothed the very mountain heights.
But this was only the eastern side of this favoured land. Penetrate into the other tribes, and more abundance and plenty appear. Ask for a specimen of their plains, and they could show you the great valley of Jezreel, waving in its whole extent with "the finest of the wheat." Or they could lead you to Sharon, where bloomed in profusion the rose of Sharon," and whose glory was .to the prophets a type of the splendour of the New Earth. - Isa. xxiv.2. Hills which elsewhere are barren, were in this land glorious as the plains. Carmel stood magnificent by the sea, clad in olives and fragrant verdure ; and on its sides, as on most of the other hills, terraces of earth exhibited vine their shade." Even in Lebanon alone, met the glory of the whole land, constituting that goodly mountain, even Lebanon (Deut. iii. 25), which Moses sought so earnestly to see, as a relief from the bleak and barren desert. Yes! the very rocks of this wondrous land yielded increase. For stores of honey were deposited there, and under the heat of the sun dropped from the comb in streams. God himself said of it (Deut. viii. 7), "a land of brooks of water, of fountains and depths that flow out of valleys and hills; a land of wheat, and barley, and vines, and fig-trees, and pomegranates; a land of the olive-tree, of oil, and honey; a land wherein thou shalt eat bread without scarceness, and not lack any thing in it."
Look on the twelve tribes of Israel settled in this land! Behold how blessed! Their paths drop fatness; the little hills rejoice on every side; they sit under their vine and fig tree. And the heaven over them is not brass, but sends down its needful dews, and the summer sun ripens their fruits, shining bright in the deep sapphire blue of a cloudless sky, over fields, and vineyards, and groves. O, would not any one that saw the glorious reality, take up Balaam's song, - "How goodly are thy tents, O Jacob, and thy, tabernacles, O Israel."-Num. xxiv. 5, 6.
This peculiar land was shut in by deserts and hills on the north, the
east, and the south; and its whole western bound was washed by the great sea.
Thus the people were set apart, and dwelt alone. The object of God was to set
them down in calm serenity, that under their vine and fig tree they might spend
their time in praising Jehovah, and have nothing to divert their eye from
looking to the promised Saviour.
Prophets and priests walked through the land to teach the people to look steadfastly to Him. The ark, whether at Shiloh, or Gibeon, or Zion, or Moriah, formed the centre point of worship. The work of coming Saviour was the heart and essence of the worship of this people. If Israel had any religion all, it was throughout what led to a dying Saviour.
But in the midst of such advantages, temporal and religious, the people
showed a corrupt and depraved heart. Never, never has there been so stupendous
a discovery of long-suffering love as in the case of Israel. For scarcely will
you find two generations in succession that adhered to the Lord in purity and
truth; and yet he still held out his hand to them, beseeching them, "turn ye,
turn ye." You have seen a mighty rock in the midst of the ocean, beat by
incessant billows, yet never moved, its steadiness declaring how immovable is
the object against which they dash their strength. Thus fully proved was the
long-suffering of Jehovah, when heaven beheld, from age to age, floods of
ungodly men, and these, too, men of Israel, dash their fury against the throne
of Him who is so full of grace,-nay, against that heart which, when opened on
the cross, disclosed the name written, "God is love !" They were a people
favoured beyond all others, and therefore their apostasies were directed
peculiarly at the love of their God. Other nations spurned his authority,
Israel spurned his love. The reason why he bore with them was, that Messiah was
to come of them, and "God so loved the world," that he would not withhold this
gift from men. Hence, also, prophets were multiplied in order to call Israel to
their God. Yes; and the temple stood before them in unrivalled splendour, in
order to fix the eye of the tribes upon the great Sacrifice.
God was ever bringing more and more into view his own Son, and his work of redemption. By word, by type, by miracle, by judgments, by prophets, and above all, by his Spirit, the Lord testified and strove with this people, as he did with the men before the flood.
At length "the day of grace" ended. There is a limit to God's long-suffering. There is a time when the cup is full. There is a moment when the deluge bursts fearfully over the earth. There is a moment when Sodom must be visited. There is an hour when Babylon's strong walls must shake and fall. Even as there is an hour wherein mystic Babylon, mother of abominations, shall perish; and another hour hastening on, when this world itself shall know the tread of its Judge, and hear the archangel's voice.
The special sins that filled up Israel's cup, all flowed from this one
source-idolatry.*** With Israel it had a twofold aspect, - neglect of the
promised Saviour and neglect of the Sabbaths whereon sacrifice and other rites
used specially to show him forth. Their neglect of the promised Saviour, the
woman's seed, is shown in such passages as this, - 2 Chron. xxxvi. 14:
"Moreover all the chief of the 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 every where the pious kings had
to begin reformation by rebuilding the altar, and repairing the house of the
Lord. Ezekiel's visions discovered idols set up in place of the Lord in his own
house. Thus thoroughly had the two tribes forgotten the promised Saviour. The
prophets every where mark the despising of the altar and the house, which is
their way of proclaiming him who was prefigured by the altar, and by every
vessel of the temple. In regard to the ten tribes, the matter is yet clearer.
They set up two golden calves at Bethel and Dan; and often, often is this sin,
"the sin of Jeroboam the son of Nebat," declared to be the sin which kindled
and kept burning the anger of the Lord against these tribes.
*** [idolatry is the sin of forming to ourselves another God, or other ideas of the true God than He Himself reveals. He that sets aside any revelation of God, is presumed to change God, and is therefore guilty of idolatry.]
This sin led to the neglect of the Sabbath. - Jer. xvii. How could they
care for God's day, when they hated the very object of all that day's
observances? For the smoke of sacrifice, prefiguring Messiah's offering,
ascended oftener that day than on others.
Even as amongst us, neglect of the Sabbath arises from the infidelity of the age in regard to the Redeemer. They care not for him: how, then, can they endure a day set apart for his worship and glory? But O! how will such men endure eternity? They cannot bear hell, for it has everlasting burnings; but, on the other hand, they cannot bear heaven, for there, every day is a day of praise to Jesus, and every song a song to Jesus, and every redeemed one a witness to the work of Jesus, and every angel takes up the strains of the Church, proclaiming the manifold wisdom of God in him!
There is deep malignity against God in these sins, and therefore when
punished, it must be by tremendous woe. Hence the slowness of God to punish.
When his hand was lifted up to smite the ten tribes, he seemed for a moment to
relent. In the reign of the second Jeroboam (2 Kings xiv. 25), he sent Jonah
the prophet to foretell that the coast of the sea of Genesereth, and the land
as far as Hamath, should be delivered from foes. "For the Lord saw the
affliction of Israel, that it was very bitter," and the Lord had not said that
he would blot out the name of Israel.
But, very soon they compelled him to send the stroke; and the first tremendous blow fell on the spot which he had so peculiarly delivered. For we read that Tiglath-pileser took by a mighty hand, "Gilead, and Galilee, and Naphtali," and cities round the sea (2 Kings xv. 29); and Isaiah (ix.1) speaks of this stroke on Zebulon and Naphtali, and the way of the sea. Despised mercy provokes the severest and speediest vengeance. At last, in the ninth year of Hosea, Samaria was taken, and the kingdom of the ten tribes ended. They were sent into a captivity, out of which they have not yet returned.
But still the two tribes were spared; often were they warned by the example of the ten (Jer. iv. 15), -" A voice declareth from Dan, and publisheth affliction from Mount Ephraim." Ch. vii.12 Go ye now to my place which was at Shiloh, where I set my name at the first, and see what I have done to it: And Ezekiel, chap. xvi, points them to Samaria an one hand, and to Sodom on the other. It was the same Ezekiel who saw the cherubim come out to the court, then linger on Olivet, and at length forsake the land. The day of wrath began, - the enemy came; city after city fell. Jerusalem itself was twice taken, twice spared, but the third time the stroke was complete. The Lord twice brandished his flaming sword over the guilty city, and then the third time the flame shot into the holy place like lightning. "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; and all the vessels of the house of God, great and small, and the treasures of the house of the Lord, and the treasures of the king and of his princes; all these he brought to Babylon. And they burnt the house of God, and brake down the wall of Jerusalem, and burnt all the palaces thereof with fire, and destroyed all the goodly vessels thereof." -.2 Chron. xxxvi. 17-19. A few lingered still in Gilead under Gedaliah, but these, too, were soon swept away. "And the cities were left without inhabitant, and the land utterly forsaken, until the reign of the kingdom of Persia." - Isa. vi.11.
"Thus their house was left unto them desolate." It was their house
still, for it was theirs from the Lord, but they were driven from possession.
Like Paradise, when Adam was exiled, the magnificence and beauty remained, but all seemed sadness; so with this land. Carmel looked down in silence on the sea at its feet; Lebanon stood in its majesty as before, but the breezes swept through a solitude. No voice of man was heard, and no cheerful sound of the hewer of the cedar. Sharon was beautiful as before; but the shepherds kept not their flocks among the lilies. The clusters of Eschol hung upon the vines; but there was no voice of joy in treading the grapes. Jerusalem itself lay so desolate, that "the Dragon-well " became known (Nehemiah ii. 13), implying that serpents had occupied the sacred city, gliding through its streets, as through a fallen Paradise of which they had gained possession. No priest, nor prince, nor elder! "The elders have ceased from the gate, the young men from their music." - Lam. v.14. "The ways of Zion mourn, because none come to the solemn feasts: all her gates are desolate; her priests sigh, her virgins are afflicted, and she is in bitterness." - i. 4. "For this our heart is faint; for these things our eyes are dim, because of the mountain of Zion which is desolate, the foxes walk upon it."- v.17,18.
But when seventy years were running to a close, as our text foretold, prayer began to ascend unceasingly to God. Daniel prayed much as the time drew near. Psalm cxxxvii. shows us that the godly had never ceased. The Lamentations prove the same. And the deliverers Ezra and Nehemiah were men of prayer. Even as in their second captivity, shall yet be the case. In answer to prayer, the Lord turned back their captivity, and moved the heart of kings for this end. Cyrus, Darius, Ahasuerus, were successively instruments in the work; and the people returned. The altar was reared again; its smoke again ascended to heaven. This (it is to be noticed) was the first act after their return. It was a return to the promised Saviour, as well as to the promised land, - and a return to the Sabbaths whereon they waited for him. And in that land they abode till Messiah came, their own hopes bending forward to the Saviour, and other nations bending their eyes on them, and wondering at their peculiar hope.
This was their first captivity and restoration. We might now review the subject in order to gather out the many lessons contained. For, like Israel's own land, so is their history, - everywhere streams flow down. We must, however, catch up at present only the chief and leading points, - the purposes of God in regard to the Messiah. His grand design referred to the promised Saviour. The purpose of God in the first captivity and restoration, was to present pre-eminently to Israel, and to the world, the glory of his Son, the promised Saviour
These events were done on the theatre of Israel's land, but meant for all the earth. "Look unto me, and be ye saved, all ends of the earth," was the voice even then. God's love embraces the whole world. God's struggle with Israel was just the same as with the world now. It was to get them to look to Immanuel; for the carnal mind is enmity," even to a redeeming God. He set them in peace that they might have time for this. He punished them when they sinned, that they might come back to the altar, and see there a Saviour from their trouble. He dealt by type, miracle, and judgment, for this great end. And, finally, he cast them out of their land on the same account, in order to unloose idolatry from their grasp, and turn their face to Jehovah the Saviour. And no sooner were their idols cast to the moles and the bats, and their faces turned Zion-ward, where the types of atonement used to be, than lo! they return. As soon as their eye is toward God in Zion, or, in other words, God revealed in his Son, then lo! kings are moved for them, and send them homewards.
Indeed, the case is more remarkable still; they must be converted in order to the manifestation of Messiah. "A Son" must be given. "to us. The Father had said that his Son was to be given to the world; and that the gift would descend in the land of Judah. Hence, Israels two tribes must return to get that promise fulfilled. The gates of Babylon must open. The enemy may cry, "sing us one the songs of Zion," but this cannot be in a strange land. They must return, and they will sing then. O brethren! you observe, he that is connected with Immanuel has Godhead on his side; nations that honour Him cannot be cast off; souls that glorify God by honouring him cannot perish. You notice that the ten tribes did not return, while the two, Benjamin and Judah, were restored. Why is this? Solely because these two had to do peculiarly with Messiahs coming. The tribes, whose united kingdom was the throne of David, must return and dwell safely. Yea, farther; Benjamin returns, because chiefly in his tribe the temple stood that typified the Saviour; and Judah, because Bethlehem-Ephratah was there; whereas, the ten are left in bondage. The sin of all the twelve tribes was fearful. God proved the fearfulness of this sin, inasmuch as he has not, to this day, reversed the woe of the ten while he also showed the way of pardon, even for such sin, inasmuch as he turned back the exile of Judah and Benjamin, solely an the ground of their connection with Messiah.
O, then, let us learn the preciousness of Immanuel. The Lord calls all earth to behold him. He fixes all eyes on the land of Israel for the sake of his Son; for this Saviour is Jehovah manifest in flesh. The God that said, "Let there be light," is the God that stood in our flesh and said, "Come unto me, and I will give you rest." O sinner, surely that place of rest must be glorious! We ask you to trust your souls eternity to Him who is the Lord, the fountain of immortality. Godhead is your safe place of refuge; for (Eph. ii.14) He is our peace "who bath made both one, and hath broken down the middle wall of partition between us. And MEN OF ISRAEL, we call YOU to behold, as God did your fathers, Jehovah manifest in flesh! He so loved your nation, that he would not finally remove your ark or temple till he gave you better far; for, he gave himself! Behold! Jehovah was made flesh, standing in our nature. He laid his hand on the temple - its altar, its mercy-seat, its glory - and said, "One greater is here!" And in removing them from the hills of Jerusalem, he substituted himself. By himself he purged our sins." O will ye not come to Jehovah himself, the one God and Saviour? The mercy-seat is in his person now; for Immanuel is the mercy-seat. The first captivity was brought back that you might acknowledge the fulfilment of all types in the suffering Redeemer; and your second captivity is to be brought back that you may look on Him who was pierced, and mourn. Brethren of the seed of Abraham, this Saviour loveth you. It was his love to you that made the title, "King of the Jews," be written on the cross over the crown of thorns. O, men of Israel, we love you because our Lord loved you! "Come unto me, and I will give you rest," were words first spoken to Jews; and who needs rest more than you? That Messiah whom you curse, and whom you teach your children to curse, as Tola and Nazarene, loveth you with intense compassion. It was his comfort in humiliation (Psa. cii. 13-16), that you who rejected him then would at last receive him. If revealed this night, he would say, "I am Joseph whom you sold into Egypt, but God sent me to preserve you alive, and save your lives by a great deliverance." "Repent and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out, when the times of refreshing shall come from the presence of the Lord. - Acts iii. 19.
I may now sum up our subject by showing you the position in which these facts place the people of whom Christ was born. The fact, we have seen, is really this, that God restored them for the end that Christ should come of them. Immanuel would be born of no other people. He might have chosen others of the mighty nations (Psa. lxxxvii.), Rahab, Babylon, or Tyre, but he would not. You may say, "The reason was that he had once promised to Abraham." True, but that promise was not made without a foresight of all consequences in ages to come. He had undoubtedly a decided intention and purpose in choosing this people, and selecting them for this honour. Among other reasons, we see this one, viz., He designs to keep the world's eye on them. Paul's words imply this.-Rom. ix. 4. Nothing can ever obliterate the fact that so distinguishes the Jews, viz., Christ came of them. If nations are spoken of in heaven, this nation will be most of all wondered at; - one seraph saying to another, "Christ has come of them!" They themselves speak of coming from Abraham, but the angels point higher far, and say, "Of these came Christ." They are not waiting for their nobility - it has come already. Jehovah, who fills the heaven of heavens, took human nature from a Jewish virgin, and began at Bethlehem to show himself in the veil of flesh, and at Calvary in the same, bore the sins of the world, and in the same shall shine out of Zion, and reign before his ancients gloriously." - Isa. xxvi. 23.
Now, brethren, do you not often say of our Church, "Surely the Church for which God has done so great things in past ages, - a Church that has had martyrs and men of God who wrestled for its blessing, shall not be forgotten " but we may say this especially of Israel. Here is a people of whom the Lord said, even when he scattered them, "I have delivered the dearly beloved of my soul into the hands of her enemies" (Jer. xii. 7); and of whom he says still, "Beloved for their fathers' sake." The Church that has had patriarchs, prophets, apostles, and the great army of martyrs, and which has Christ as its great Intercessor, shall never perish. He himself says, (Isa. lxii. 1), "For Zion's sake will I not hold my peace, and for Jerusalem's sake I will not rest, until the righteousness thereof go forth as brightness, and the salvation thereof as a lamp that burneth."
O brethren, pray for them! Such a people must yet revive. And the promise is sure they shall turn again to the Lord and to the land. Oh! it is joy beyond measure sweet, when a minister hears of souls that have been awakened, and have come to the Saviour; but what is this to the sudden and deep joy of the Church when tidings come suddenly that Judah and Benjamin are flowing to the goodness of theLord, and that also the long lost ten are coming with weeping to Zion! There will then be discoveries of God's ways and of God's truth that shall make the light of present times seem dim. That day shall witness Popery clean rooted out of the earth. No more proud intolerant claims to apostolic succession. No schism and envy-when Israel, the true olive. becomes the true Catholic Church, the mother of us all. "From Zion shall go forth the Law." "The long-loved olive tree" shall grow green and wave branches of peace over the world that shall come to its shade. The best of Gentile Churches are, after all, but twigs on the stem. Oh, then, what shall be the fatness of the true olive tree? Israel is the lever that is to move the world. Hosea (xiv. 6) represents them when converted, as filling earth with fragrance, "the smell of Lebanon," which the breezes carry to the isles of the Gentile. Micah (v.7) calls them rain and dew to the withered earth. Zechariah describes them as the bow and sword of the Lord (ix. 13), and fire on the dry stubble (xii. 6). Jeremiah (li. 20), as the Lord's tremendous battle-axe and weapons of war. Paul speaks of them as "life from the dead." Joel and Ezekiel use the image of a calm and peaceful stream, - the river out of Jerusalem sweetening the salt sea, and spreading health on every side. And once more, Isaiah (lx. 1) compares them to the light - the rising sun over a dark world, to which kings come, and see that light which is as the "light of seven days."
The explanation of all this influence is, that, when the Lord shall build up Zion he shall appear in his glory. Christ's personal glory shall shine over Zion as it does now in the streets of heaven. The people shall thus see, not ark nor temple, but Christ; and from this pure and full well of salvation, shall their souls be filled. They shall go to look upon him; and coming out, as priests from the Most Holy, each from the direct presence of Jesus, they shall proclaim his name with ardour, and freshness, and power, that none, save perhaps Paul, have ever shown on earth.
But you will ask, are Gentiles to be used in bring ing back the second
captivity? Yes; - Isaiah xi. and lxvi. 20; but I do not know how far. We know
as little positively as to the times; but taking the aspect of the nations as
an index, the watchman may conjecture what hour of the night; and it seems to
be near the dawn. Remember Acts i. 7, - "the kingdom shall be restored to
Israel;" but when the time is, may be hid from us, and yet we are to be his
witnesses to Judea and Samaria, and the ends of the earth. But if any say that
you need not labour, for the Jews are to be converted by miracle, let me speak
to such. I believe as firmly as these men, that Israel's second restoration and
national conversion, is a work of God's immediate power, and that by some
miraculous agency, they are to be brought into contact with the truth. But
remark four things with which this opinion in no way interferes.
1st. Conversion shall be in them the same process as with us, produced by the same truth and the agent of the same Spirit.
2nd, Ere that great day when all Israel shall be saved, there is a day wherein a remnant is gathered. This is what we expect to gather at present.
3rd, It is the completion of this remnant that makes way for the other greater work. Hence, so long as there is left one little child, such as Christ took up in his arms and blessed, to be gathered, that other mode of dealing cannot begin -Gen. xix. 22.
And 4th, The event to precede that other miraculous interference, is, "the saints taking pleasure in her stones." Even miracles have their forerunners. At the Red Sea, God used the east wind as his wedge to cleave the deep. At Jericho, the sound of trumpets preceded the miraculous fall.
This is the position our Church is assuming.
1st, Our Church is holding up the truth that converts to every man of Israel.
2nd, We are seeking to gather the remnant during the time of the Gentiles.
3rd, We are helping forward that ingathering which makes way for the fullness of Israel.
4th, We are living proof of our desire to obey God, by taking pleasure in Zion.
And now, finally, let me engage your prayers for those whom the Church is sending forth to inquire of the house of Israel. You remember Nehemiah 1. Hanani had been visiting Jerusalem's ruins, "he and certain men of Judah;" and on his return, Nehemiah asked them concerning the Jews that had escaped, and concerning Jerusalem. Their report moved him first to prayer, and then to labour, and through him God moved kings; and by them many peoples were moved, till at length the thousands of Israel returned. Here is the providence of God and his unsearchable ways! O then, ask the Lord to accomplish at this time by those sent from the Church of Scotland, some work for Israel. Ask him to make their mission one link of a great chain; let it move some, who afterwards shall move the energies of thousands. Even if none of Israel be gathered, our Church secures to herself the fulfilment of the promise, "Blessed is he that blesseth thee." If no one soul were saved by it, yet still that blessing is secured. "that shall observe the least of these commandments, and teach men so, the same shall be great in the kingdom of heaven." Ye, then, "that are the Lord's remembrancers, O keep not silence and give him no rest, till he establish, and till he make Jerusalem a praise in the earth."- Isaiah lxii, 6, 7.
Another lecture on the same subject by Robert Candlish can be found here.
With grateful thanks to Robert Crozier, who scanned and sent this lecture.
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This article added 15July 2008