« ПредишнаНапред »
there cannot be any true church without the knowledge and the life of those two laws;—they are to be accepted as among its chief and primary things. But the moment we begin to reflect upon those two general laws, we at once perceive that they involve a great variety of particular duties: the love of God obviously implying the love of goodness under every conception of it; and charity to man denoting the performance of use under every occasion for it. General laws are observed by the faithful performance of particular uses.
The beautiful temple is a successive erection of particular parts ; it is raised and decorated by means of specific works ; and it is through the variety and harmony of these that it becomes a maguificent whole.
The teachings of the Word are general in the letter, suited to the general conceptions of the natural mind; but they are particular and singular in their spirit, because they are adapted to the interior and higher apprehensions of the spiritual mind. The letter is as a general continent of truth, on which the particular teachings of its spirit rest, and by which they are protected from the rude intrusions of sensual thought. It is said of those who are in such thought, that “they seeing, see not; and hearing, they hear not; neither do they understand.” (Matt. xiii. 13.) “The natural man," says the apostle, “receiveth not the things of the spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him ; neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned.” (Cor. ii. 14.) But spiritual men remember the Lord's declaration
The words that I speak unto you, they are spirit, and they are life.” (John vi. 63.)
Now if we take these considerations to our text, we shall at once see that it was not only intended to indicate some general truth, to encourage the church during the prevalence of some unfavourable influences; but also, that it was designed to reveal some spiritual consideration of a particular kind, for men's higher perceptions and greater security.
The whole prediction with which the text is associated is commonly understood to treat of the restoration of Israel. The heading of the chapter in the authorised version so speaks of it. This, however, is not considered to mean the deliverance of the Jews from their captivity in Babylon and their return to Jerusalem. The tribe of Judah did indeed return, and in that event some of the predictions of the Word received an historical fulfilment. But the prophecy is commonly thought to mean, that the Jews, after the establishment of Christianity, will be gathered out of the nations into which they have been scattered, and be returned to Judea, with an acknowledgment of the Lord. We of course should rejoice in their conversion, but do not think that to be a correct view of this prophecy.
The Jews were carried into captivity before that which they experienced in Babylon. It was effected by the invasion and conquests of Shalmanazar king of Assyria, and in that disaster ten of their tribes were lost. They never returned to their native land. The Word furnishes us with no information respecting their subsequent residence and dispersion, and all knowledge concerning them seems to have dropped out of the world's bistory. Now it is the discovery of those tribes and their restoration to Canaan which are commonly considered as the subjects of the general prediction before us. And, therefore, many expeditions have been undertaken by Christian men to explore various portions of the world with a view to their discovery; but they have all terminated in disappointment. Those tribes cannot be found, simply because, as we believe, they must have ceased to exist as a distinct people. Their captivity was unfavourable to the maintenance of their national and their religious peculiarities. And there can be no well-founded doubt that their descendants, by marriage connection and political influences, gradually lost all hope of nationality, and, therefore, they have finally disappeared from history; consequently all reasonable hope of their restoration to Canaan must be abandoned.
But, it may be asked, if this is a correct view of the case, why then was their restoration predicted? We answer that such predictions were not given to be understood of the people, but of the principles which they had been chosen to represent. The history and the religion of the Jews were types, selected by the Divine Providence to represent the spiritual and intellectual teachings of Christianity. The Apostle expressly tells us that “the law was a shadow of good things to come.” (Heb. x. 1.) He furnishes many examples of the allegorical pointings of Jewish history, and expressly tells us that “they are not all Israel which are of Israel.” (Rom. ix. 6.) Upon this principle we say that the loss of the ten tribes from among the Jewish people was a figure of the disappearance of some great truths from the Christian church; and that the predictions which speak of their return to Jerusalem, are to be understood of the restoration of those truths to the church. In this view we pass from the letter of the predictions to their spirit: we regard the one as the basis and vehicle of the other, and thus we pass into the expectations of spiritual Christianity.
The return of the Jews to Canaan would not bring them nearer to the Lord. It would not make them more faithful or more religious for wisdom and holiness are not the results of country nor of climate; those graces do not spring out of geographical locations, nor do they depend upon latitude for their preservation. Men may be as good and as wise in Europe as in Asia; for the possession of those blessings arise out of obedience to God's law and providence. It is the orderly state of the mind and character which He regards; and where these are, there the Lord is. It is not of the place of men's bodies and their connections with the world, but of the states of men's souls, and of their relationship to heaven, about which the Lord has made His revelations. These considerations, connected with the fact that
“ God is no respecter of persons,” enable us to see, without difficulty, that any predictions concerning the recovery of the lost tribes of Israel must refer to the restoration of some principles which have been lost to the Christian church. This seems clearly to be the spiritual and religious view of the question ; the other is only the worldly and political aspect of it: the former may be enjoyed, but it is unreasonable to suppose that the latter ever can be realized. That there have been some principles lost out of the Christian church seems evident from the confusion which exists and the divisions which prevail among its professors.
But let us look at those points with a little more minuteness and discrimination. The Israelitish people consisted of twelve tribes, and these, in their significant capacity, represented all the principles of goodness and truth which belong to the Lord's church; and the land of Canaan, which was set apart for their inheritance, was a type of the church in which the blessings of those principles are to be enjoyed. These are the reasons why that people are said to have been a chosen people, and why such glorious things are spoken of the land of Canaan. It is right principles which the Lord chooses, and people only so far as they possess them; and the church is that rich and abundant country which the Lord has provided for the spiritual sustentation of the faithful. It is on these grounds that a hundred and forty-four thousand of each of the tribes are said to be sealed in heaven. (Rev. vii. 4.) No people can become inhabitants of this kingdom merely because they may happen to be the descendants of certain families in the world. All who dwell there must, while here, have come into the possession of some of its principles; and, therefore, those tribes are said to have been there, not because they were literally the descendants of Jacob, but to teach us that all will find a place in heaven whose characters have been formed by any of those spiritual principles which the various tribes were intended to prefigure. But the tribe of Ephraim is not enumerated among the sealed, because something of that of which he was the representative belonged to each. What this was will subsequently appear.
God loves and cares for all men with a uniform providence; but those only can enjoy His blessings who first receive His principles. It is this
THE INTELLECTUAL PRINCIPLE OF THE CHURCH,
reception which constitutes the groundwork of all the happiness He has promised; and the principles which the twelve tribes represented, .constitute the church which He is solicitous to establish and maintain. The prosperity and security of the Israelites, represented the blessings and safety which attend the development of those principles ; the adversity and rebellion of the people represented the perversion and rejection of those excellencies ; and the final loss of ten of those tribes prefigured the disappearance of a great proportion of those principles from the church; consequently, the predictions which appear to refer to the restoration of those tribes are intended to inform us that, in the fulness of time, there will be a re-development of those lost principles in the church with all their magnificence and glory.
Now, those brief intimations present themselves to our minds as being in perfect consistency with the spiritual purposes of Christianity, the freedom of man, the character of God, and the wisdom of His Word. But under the general representations to which we bave adverted, there are, of course, a great variety of particulars. As all the tribes, viewed in their complex, were representatives of all the goods and truths which belong to the church, so each particular tribe must have sustained the representation of some particular excellence.
Let us, then, carry this conclusion to the subject of our text:—“There shall be a day that the watchmen upon the mount Ephraim shall cry, Arise
ye, and let us go up to Zion, unto the Lord our God.” Ephraim is the only tribe after which a mountain has been named; and the reason is, because of its eminent significance. It may be plain that the watchman's cry from Mount Ephraim, was intended as a call upon the church to enter upon some spiritual enjoyment. The letter is the vehicle employed to bring down from heaven some spiritual intelligence for the acceptance of the world. The watchmen are those who by the knowledge of spiritual truth are enabled to mark the mutations and doings of the church. Without such knowledge, a man may watch, but he cannot see. Now, it is this eminent condition of the intellectual part of the mind which is represented by Mount Ephraim. Zion is commonly acknowledged to be the type of some eminent love. The cry of the watchman, then, to go from Mount Ephraim to Mount Zion, teaches us concerning the progress of truth from an elevated condition of the intellect, in which God is known, to an elevated condition of the affections, in which God is loved. It is by this view that we penetrate into the practical purpose of the cry. It is by a change of state as to the soul, and not by a change of place as to the body, out of which all our religious advantages arise.
THE RESTORATION OF
But let us pay a little more attention to the significance of this tribe. Ephraim and Manasseh were two sons of Joseph. Ephraim was the younger; but both were adopted by Jacob, for he said of them—“They are mine, as Reuben and Simeon they shall be mine;"(Gen. xli. 52; xlviii. 1.) and thereupon they were counted as being among the tribes of Israel. But in the blessing which Jacob pronounced upon them, Ephraim had the precedence; and he was not only among the ten tribes who were lost, but his name is sometimes employed to designate the whole of them. This is well known ; it is generally admitted ; it is particularly conspicuous in the book of Hosea, and some other of the minor Prophets ; hence the recovery of those tribes is sometimes spoken of as the restoration of Ephraim "The Lord said," of Ephraim, and Israel his fellows, “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.” (Ezekiel xxxvii. 19-22.) Ephraim is thus spoken of, not as a man, for he was dead ; not as a tribe, for they were lost; but of that intellectual principle of the church which he was selected to represent. The tribe of Ephraim disappeared from Canaan when idolatry was adopted, to signify that the intellectual principle passes away from the church when a false worship is established in it. There cannot be any genuine intelligence in the church when the true God of it is not acknowledged; but the church is obviously an intellectual institution when God is known to it.
But it will be useful to produce some other evidences in proof of this representation of that tribe. It is written that Joseph called his son Ephraim, because God had caused him to be fruitful in the land of his affliction. (Genesis xli. 52.) The name, therefore, denotes fruitfulness in the midst of difficulties; and this is a peculiar characteristic of the intellectual principle: it has to struggle against perversities, and strive to retain somewhat of its light amidst the darkness of temptations. It is true that in disastrous times its energies may be weakened ; yet its activity and vigour will be recovered whensoever the church shall be delivered from the vain traditions which darken and oppress it. The church without an intellectual principle sinks into a dim mysterious thing; its light may shine in the darkness, but the darkness comprehends it not. The genuine church is marked and distinguished by a system of spiritual truths, of which the Word is the sole foundation ; she asks to be investigated by the highest intellect; she shrinks from no inquiry, because such an institution will always allow men to enter intellectually into the things of faith.