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of rivers, the singing of woods, and dancing of trees, and of coaches and chariots of kings to carry them; as also the riding upon the shoulders of their rich neighbors into Jerusalem, the conquest of the world, the eating of Behemoth, and drinking the wine of Paradise; the riches, wives, and long life they shall have in the days of the Messiah: all these brave things make them, as they pretend, patiently to endure all their long exile and calamity. And will not all these fine things prevail with them for a little repentance, which they may perform when they please; and so obtain them all in a trice? If they are so evidently blind, about what they look upon as their only great concernment in this world, have they not great cause to be jealous, lest they are also equally blind in other things, and particularly in that wherein we charge them with blindness? This, it seems, is the state of things; unless they repent, the Messiah will not come; unless he come, they cannot be delivered out of their ca. lamity, nor enjoy the promises. To repent is a thing in their own power, and yet they had rather endure all miseries, and forego all the promises of God, than take in hand, and go through with it. And what shall we say to such a perverse generation of men, who openly proclaim, that they will live in their sins, though they have never more to do with God to eternity!
$3. Some have asserted, “That the deliverance from “Babylon was nothing but a trial, whereby God would “make an experiment, whether, together with the res“titution of their kingdom and temple, those enor“mous sins of adultery, murder, and idolatry, which “they had committed, could be cut off, and expiated; “but instead of a discharge of their former arrears, “which they were obliged to, they heaped up new "debts by their sins.” • But this is plainly a worthless
fiction; as no '
man can produce one word from the scripture, where it treats of these things, in the least giving countenance thereto; or can shew, how this procedure is suitable to the justice of God; either to the general notion that we have of it, or as to any other instance recorded of it in the scripture. On the contrary, the prophets that treated concerning that dispensation of God, in places innumerable, plainly contradict this imagination.
God punisheth not the sins of their fathers upon their children, unless the children continue in the sins of their fathers. This he declareth at large, Ezek. xviii. Now, what were the sins of this people under the first temple, before their captivity? They reckon adultery, murder, and idolatry. It is, no doubt, but many of them were adulterers, and that sin among others was charged upon them by the prophets; but it is evident, that their principal ruining sins were their idolatry and persecution of the prophets. Now, were the Jews, that is, the body of the people, guilty of these sins under the second house? It is known, that from all gross idolatry they preserved themselves, which had been in an especial manner, their ruin before; and as for killing the prophets, they acknowledge that after Malachi they had none, but those whom they will not own to be prophets.
Suppose that all those under the second house continued in the sins of their forefathers, which yet is false, and denied by themselves, as occasion requires; yet what have the Jews done for sixteen hundred years, since the destruction of that house? They plead themselves to be holy, and (applying the prophecy, Isa. liii, to themselves) proclaim themselves to be innocent and righteous; at least they would not have us to think, that the generality of them are adulterers, mur
derers, and idolaters; whence is it, then, that the
punishment of their fathers' sins lies upon them so long? What rule of justice is observed herein? What instance of the like dispensation can they produce? For our parts, we affirm, that they continue to this day in the same sin, for which their forefathers, under the second house, were rejected and destroyed; and we know the righteousness of God in their present captivity.
They say, they abhor the sins of their forefathers, repent of them, and obtain remission of their sins, through their observing the law of Moses; wherein, then, is the faithfulness of God in his promises to them! Why are they not delivered out of captivity? Why not restored to their land, according to express testimonies of the covenant made with them to that purpose? There is no color of truth nor reason, therefore, in this evasion, which they invented, to preserve themselves in their obstinate blindness and unbelief.
$4. Being pressed with the testimonies before insisted on, out of Haggai, concerning the glory of the second temple, and the coming of the desire of all nations into it, they have a tradition, that the Messiah was born the same day, that the second temple was destroyed. “Rabbi Joden, in the name of Rabbi Ibbo, said, The “Messiah was born in the day that the house of the "sanctuary was destroyed,” &c.* Again, they have a tradition out of the school of one Elias, a famous master among them, of the Jannarei, or Ante-Talmudical doctors, which they have recorded in the Talmud, about the continuance of the world, which is as follows: “It is a tradition of Elias, that the world shall “continue six thousand years; two thousand void “(which the gloss of R. Solomon Jarchi reckons from
* Tract. Bezaroth, Distinct Hajakorr. In Bereshith Rabba, on Gen. xxx, they have a long story to the same purpose.
the creation, to the call of Abraham) two thousand “of the law (to the destruction of the second temple) "and two thousand for the days of the Messiah.” It is incredible how the latter rabbins are perplexed with this tradition of their masters, which is recorded in the Talmud as sacred.* But what is become of him all this while? O "he was carried away by the four winds “of heaven, and kept in the great sea four hundred “years!” Is not this, you will say, very ridiculous? True; but he who is offended with the citation of such things out of their Talmudical doctors, is desired only to exercise patience, until he shall be able himself to report from them, things more serious and of greater importance. And yet, from them must we learn the persuasions of the ancient Jews, or be ignorant of them. *This evasion, therefore, needs nothing better than itself to confute it.
$5. They sometimes grant that the time fixed on was determined for the coming of the Messiah; but add withal, that the promise of his coming at that season was not absolute, but conditional; namely, on supposition, that the Jews were righteous, holy, and worthy to receive him. And nothing ismore common with them, than this condition: “if they deserve “it,” “if they repent,” the Messiah will come, “the time “is already past, but because of our sins he is not
come.” “If Israel could repent but one day he “would come." There was a time limited and determined, they grant, for the coming of the Messiah; this time is signified in general in the scripture to be before the destruction of the second temple, and the utter departure of scribe and law-giver from Judah; but all
*Trạct, Sạned. Distinct. Chelec.
this designation of time, they add, was but conditional, and the accomplishment of it had a respect to their righteousness, repentance, good works, and merits; but which failing, their Messiah is not yet come. To this issue is their infidelity at length arrived. But there are reasons innumerable, which expose the vanity of this pretence.
Some of them I shall briefly insist upon:
1. We have before proved, that not the Jews only, but the Gentiles also, even the whole world was concerned in the coming of the Messiah.
The prophets every where declare, that the Gentiles, the nations of the world, were equally concerned with the Jews in the promise of the Messiah's coming, if not principally intended, because of their greatness and number. The time of exhibiting this remedy to them he promised also, and limited, stirring them up to an expectation of its accomplishment, as that whereon all their happiness depended; and shall we now suppose, that all this love, grace, and mercy of God towards mankind, and his faithfulness in his promises, were all suspended on the goodness, righteousness, merits, and repentance of the Jews? Shall we suppose, that God, who so often testifies concerning them, that they were a people, wicked, obstinate, stubborn, and rebellious, should make them keepers of the everlasting happiness of the whole world? Shall we suppose that he hath committed the fountain of his grace and love, which he intended and promised should overflow the whole earth, and make all the barren wildernesses of it fruitful, to be stopped by them at their pleasure? As if he should say in his promises, “I am resolved, out of my infinite goodness and compassion towards
0 ye poor miserable sons of Adam, to send you a Savior and a Deliverer, who at such a time shall come and