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Lord's personal ministry understood it to mean? To come at once to the point, I would ask you to consider that question which the disciples put to our Lord, “Lord, wilt thou at this time restore the kingdom to Israel?"* And I think you cannot but admit that they expected our Lord would actually occupy the throne of David; and that this question proved two things:

I. That the disciples expected that the kingdom would be restored to Israel.

II. That they expected that its restoration would be effected by Jesus Christ.

You cannot but grant that the disciples of Christ did hold these opinions; and is it not worth while to inquire how they came by them?

I. They believed that the kingdom would be restored to Israel. How did they come by this idea?

The kingdom of Israel had long since been rent asunder, and ten out of the twelve tribes had been cut off from their Jand, and from the privileges of their nation. They had gone into captivity, and were lost among the heathen. The sceptre had also departed from Judah, and the lawgiver from between his feet; and the children of Abraham were living under Gentile government; their land an inconsiderable province of a great heathen empire. Judah and Israel were separated. Judah knew not whither Ephraim was gone, but only that he was dispersed among the Gentiles; and Ephraim, if in the land of his captivity he remembered Jerusalem, did not think of it with affectionate remembrance and desire, for he had said, “we will be as the heathen."

The disciples knew this; but they read in the sure word of prophecy, “Thus saith the Lord God, Behold, I will take the children of Israel from among the heathen whither they be gone, and will gather them on every side, and bring them into their own land; and I will make them one nation in the land, upon the mountains of Israel, and one king shall be king to them all; and they shall be no more two nations, neither shall they be divided into two kingdoms any more at all. †

What do you think they understood when they read these words? what could they understand? Do you think that when they read of “their own land, the mountains of Israel;" or as it is called in verse 25, “the land that I have given to Jacob my servant, wherein your fathers have dwelt," they understood either heaven, or the Gentile church, in neither of which their fathers had ever dwelt? They knew that this prophecy had been given long after the division between Judah and Ephraim; and when had it ever been fulfilled? In what * Acts i. 6.

+ Ezek. xxxvii. 21.

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possible sense could it be said that the house of Israel, and the house of Judah had been reunited and formed “ONE NATION IN THE LAND,” under "ONE King?” Read the whole chapter; and say how they could possibly understand less than that the kingdom of Israel should be restored in the plain and obvious sense of the words? Nay; take all the benefit of that system of spiritualization, which they perhaps did not understand, but which has since their time too often perverted, or nullified, the word of God; talk of figures and metaphors, and accommodations, and spiritual meanings, as much as you will; and after all, see what else you can make of the thirty-seventh chapter of Ezekiel yourself.

This chapter alone would be sufficient to form the ground of their opinion, and to authorize their expectations; but was it the only one to be found in the books of the Prophets? so far from it, that it would be tedious to quote all the predictions which relate to the subject. It is enough for our present purpose to refer to one or two out of many. What did the Lord announce to Israel by Isaiah? "I will restore thy judges as at the first, and thy counsellors as at the beginning." What by Jeremiah? “I will raise unto David a righteous branch, and a king shall reign and prosper; and shall execute judgment and justice in the earth. In his days, Judah shall be saved and Israel shall dwell safely.”+ And again, “I will cause the captivity of Judah and the captivity of Israel, to return; and will build them as at the first.”—“In those days, and at that time, will I cause the branch of Righteousness to grow up unto David; and he shall execute judgment and righteousness in the land.”—“Thus saith the Lord: If ye can break my covenant of the day, and my covenant of the night, and that there should not be day and night in their season;

then

may covenant be broken with David my servant, that he should not have a son to reign upon his throne." I

Is it strange that those who held these prophecies in their hands, and believed them to be the word of God, should confidently expect the restoration of the kingdom to Israel?

Do not suppose me to mean that they understood all the prophecies relating to this subject correctly, and thoroughly. I only contend that such predictions as these very naturally led them, and fully authorized them, to except the restoration of the kingdom of Israel, in the plain and obvious sense of the words. I know that they were fools, and slow of heart to believe all that the prophets had written;9 and that they passed over the predictions of a suffering Messiah, and a land utterly

* Isaiah i. 26. + Jeremiah xxiii. 5, 6. # Jeremiah xxxiii, 7. 15. 20. 9 Luke xxiv. 25.

also my

wasted, which must precede the glory which they anticipated. There is a prediction of which they seem to have overlooked the former part; unless indeed they explained it away as violently as Christians have explained away the latter part. For this, if they did it, they had not what is the only excuse for modern Christians; namely, that the division of the prophecy into chapters, has disjoined two clauses of a sentence which are most intimately connected. “Therefore shall Zion, for your sake, be ploughed as a field, and Jerusalem shall become heaps, and the mountain of the house as the high places of the forest."* This they appear not to have seen, or not to have believed; but modern Christians look with confirmed faith on its literal accomplishment. Passing over this first clause, the disciples seem to have fixed on the second; and probably never supposed that it was to be spiritualized away from its plain meaning, and that "the mountain of the house, in the first clause of the sentence, was literal, and in the second, mystical. “The mountain of the house as the high places of the forest: but in the last days it shall come to pass that the mountain of the house of the Lord shall be established in the top of the mountains, and it shall be exalted above the hills, and people shall flow unto it, and many nations shall come and say, "Come and let us go up to the mountain of the Lord, and to the house of the God of Jacob;' and he will teach us of his ways, and we will walk in his paths; for the law shall go

forth of Zion, and the word of the Lord from Jerusalem, and he shall judge among many people, and rebuke strong nations afar off.”—“O! tower of the fock, the strong hold of the daughter of Zion, unto thee shall it come, even the FIRST DOMINION: THE KINGDOM shall come to the daughter of Jerusalem.”+

I ask again, is it wonderful that the disciples of Christ should expect the restoration of the kingdom to Israel? that they passed over other prophecies which predicted the sin, and the sufferings of Israel, was their folly; and their Lord rebuked them for it; but how could the sons of Abraham read such prophecies as those which have been quoted, without expecting happier days for Israel than those which were passing under heathen tyranny? days of independence, and peace, and glory? While they were crouching beneath the Roman yoke, do you think they never met together to read these oracles of God, and to speak of the future destiny of Israel, until their hearts burned within them? Perhaps, even in the presence of the scornful idolaters who ruled them, they ventured to say one to another, “Considerest thou not what this people have spoken, saying, 'the two families which the Lord hath chosen, he hath * Micah iii. 12.

+ Micah iv. 1.8.

even cast them off.' Thus they have despised my people that they should be no more a NATION before them. Thus saith the Lord, 'If my covenant be not with day and night, and if I have not appointed the ordinances of heaven and earth; then will I cast away the seed of Jacob, and David my servant, so that I will not take any of his seed to be rulers over the seed of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob."* _The remnant of Jacob shall be among the Gentiles, in the midst of many people, as a lion among the beasts of the forest, as a young lion among the flocks of sheep; who if he goeth through, both treadeth down and teareth in pieces, and none can deliver. Thine hand shall be lifted up upon thine adversaries, and all thine enemies shall be cut off."-"The sons of strangers shall build up thy walls, and their kings shall minister unto thee;"_"the nation and kingdom that will not serve thee shall perish; yea, those nations shall be utterly wasted. I

Was there not enough in all these predictions to lead the disciples to believe that the KINGDOM would be, at some time or other, restored to Israel?

Let us, then, inquire whence they obtained the second opinion which their question shows them to have held; namely

II. That the restoration of the kingdom to Israel should be effected by Jesus Christ.

That they held this opinion, as well as the former, is evident from their question, “Lord, wilt thou at this time restore the kingdom to İsrael?” They took it for granted, not only that the kingdom would be restored, but that its restoration would be effected by Jesus Christ. This opinion, I believe, they were led to form,

1. By their idea of the character of Jesus. 2. By inferences drawn from his language and conduct. 1. Their idea of the character of Jesus was, that he was the Messiah predicted by their prophets. This he claimed to be; and as, on the one hand, if they refused to admit his pretensions, they must have at once condemned him as an impostor; so, on the other hand, when they had once admitted his claim, they naturally invested him with the attributes of that character which he assumed; and held that idea of Him which they had previously formed respecting the Messiah.

I need scarcely say that it was, and ever has been, the unshaken opinion of the Jewish nation, that Messiah should be the redeemer and deliverer of Israel; and that they applied to Messiah many of the prophecies which Christians believe to have been fulfilled in Jesus Christ. They believed that it was said of Messiah, “The government shall be upon his shoulder" * Jer. xxxiii. 24. 26.

+ Micah v.9.

#Isaiah lx, 12.

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- of the increase of his government and peace there shall be no end, upon the THRONE OF David and upon his KINGDOM, to order it, and to establish it, with judgment, and with justice, from henceforth, even for ever.

They, as well as Christians, applied to the Messiah that prophecy of Isaiah—“Who is this that cometh from Edom, with dyed garments from Bozrah”—and they believed it was Messiah who should tread the wine-press alone, and whose arm should work salvation. +

I freely admit, that by the Throne of David, and the destruction of Edom, they understood something very different from what is understood by many Christians in the present day; but that is nothing to the purpose; I am at present only endeavouring to show why the disciples of Christ expected that Jesus of Nazareth would restore the kingdom to Israel. In fact, it cannot be denied that they, in common with the rest of their nation, expected the Messiah to redeem them from captivity, and to reign over the liberated nation on the mountains of Israel. Whether this opinion was right or wrong, it is worth the reader's while to inquire from the word of God; but for the present, it is sufficient to say, that having formed this idea of the character of Messiah, the disciples naturally transferred it to him whom they believed to be the Messiah.

2. I believe this idea was confirmed by the language and conduct of our Lord.

You will say, perhaps, (for it has been said a thousand times,) How could they expect such things from Jesus of Nazareth? Did he come as a mighty warrior, in all the pomp and circumstance of royalty? I answer, at once, that he came as they were led to expect their King would come; and that this common-place, which has figured in a thousand invectives against the national pride and blind stupidity of the Jews, is altogether absurd. You may, if you please, make up a picture of a conquering hero, with triumphal cars, and all the accompaniments which you have read of in poetry or in profane history; but the Jew who waited for the consolation of Israel, and drew his expectations from the word of God, looked for nothing such. He read of Him who should be the “RULER OF ISRAEL,” at the time when all their enemies should be cut off, that he should come out of Bethlehem Ephratah;t and there was Christ born. The fact was notorious, and indelibly recorded in the blood of all the children that were in Bethlehem, and in all the coasts thereof.” He read again, “Rejoice greatly, 0 daughter of Zion, shout, 0 daughter of Jerusalem: behold TAY KING COMETA unto thee; he is just and * Isaiah ix. 6. + Isaiah Ixiii. 1. 3. # Micah v. 2.9. Matt. ii. 5, 6. 16.

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