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self in his glory and majesty, in so affecting and astonishing a manner, as tended most deeply and durably to impress their minds; that they might never forsake him more. But so perverse were they, that they murmured even in the midst of the miracles that God wrought for them in Egypt, and murmured at the red sea, in a few days after God had brought them out with such a mighty hand. When he had led them through the sea, they sang his praise, but soon forgat his works. Before they got to mount Sinai, they openly manifested their perverseness from time to time ; so that God says of them, Exod. xvi. 28. “ How long refuse ye to keep my commandments, and my laws?” Afterwards they murmured again at Rephidim.
In about two months after they came out of Egypt, they came to Mount Sinai, where God entered into a most solemn covenant with the people, that they should be an holy people unto him, with such astonishing manifestations of his power, majesty and holiness, as were altogether unparalleled ; as God puts the people in mind, Deut. iv. 32....34. “ For ask now of the days that are past, which were before thee, since the day that God created man upon the earth ; and ask from one side of heaven unto the other, whether there has been any such thing as this great thing is, or hath been heard like it. Did ever people hear the voice of God, speaking out of the midst of the fire, as thou hast heard, and live? Or hath God assayed to take him a nation from the midst of another nation," &c. And these great things were to that end, to impress their minds with such a conviction and sense of divine truth, and their obligations to their duty, that they might nev. er forget them; As God says, Exod. xix. 9. “Lo, I come unto thee in a thick cloud, that the people may hear when I speak with thee, and believe thee for ever.” But what was the effect of all? Why, it was not more than two or three months, before that people, there, under that very mountain, returned to their old Egyptian idolatry, and were singing and dancing before a golden calf, which they had set up to wor. ship. And after such awful manifestations as there were of God's displeasure for that sin, and so much done to bring Vol. VI.
them to repentance, and confirm them in obedience, it was but a few months before they came to that violence of spirit, in open rebellion against God, that with the utmost vehemence they declared their resolution to follow God no lon. ger, but to make them a captain to return into Egypt. And thus they went on in ways of perverse opposition to be most high, from time to time, repeating their open acts of rebellion, in the midst of continued, astonishing miracles till that generation was destroyed. And though the following generation seems to have been the best that ever was in Israel, yet, notwithstanding their good example, and notwithstanding all the wonders of God's power and love to that people in Joshua's time, how scor did that people degenerate, and be. gin to forsake God, and join with the heathen in their idola. tries, till God, by severe means, and by sending prophets and judges, extraordinarily influenced from above, reclaimed them? But when they were brought to some reformation by such means, they soon fell away again into the practice of idolatry ; and so from time to time, from one age to another; and nothing proved effectual for any abiding reformation.
After things had gone on thus for several hundred years, God used new methods with his people, in two respects; First, He raised up a great prophet, under whom a number of young men were trained up in schools, that from among them there might be a constant succession of great prophets in Israel, of such as God should choose ; which soems to have been continued for more than five hundred years. Secondly, God raised up a great king, David, one eminent for wisdom, piety, and fortitude, to subdue all their heathen neighbors, who used to be such a snore to them ; and to confirm, adorn and perfect the institutions of his public worship; and by him to make a more full revelation of the great salvation, and future glorious kingdom of the Messiah. And after him, raised up his son, Solomon, the wisest and greatest prince that ever was on earth, more fully to settle and establish those things which his father David had begun, concerning the public worship of God in Israel, and to build a glorious tem. ple for the honor of Jehovah, and the institutions of his worwhip, and to instruct the neighbor nations in true wisdom and religion. But as to the success of these new and extraordi. nary means ; if we take Dr. Taylor for our expositor of scripture, the nation must be extremely corrupt in David's time; for he supposes, he has respect to his own times, in those words, Psal. xiv. 2, 3. « The Lord looked down from heayen, to see if there were any that did understand, and seek God; they are all gone aside; they are together become filthy ; there is none that doeth good ; no, not one.” But whether Dr. Taylor be in the right in this, or not, yet if we consider what appeared in Israel, in Absalom's and Sheba's rebellion, we shall not see cause to think, that the greater part of the nation at that day were men of true wisdom and piety. As to Solomon's time, Dr. Taylor supposes, as has been already observed, that Solomon speaks of his own times, when he says, he had found but one in a thousand that was a thoroughly upright man. However, it appears, that all those great means used to promote and establish virtue and true religion, in Samuel's, David's and Solomon's times, were so far from having any general, abiding good effect in Israel, that Solomon himself, with all his wisdom, and not withstanding the unparalleled favors of God to him, had his mind corrupted, so as openly to tolerate idolatry in the land, and greatly to provoke God against him. And as soon as he was dead, tep tribes of the twelve forsook the true worship of God, and instead of it, openly established the like idolatry, that the people fell into at mount Sinai, when they made the golden calf ; and continued finally obstinate in this apostasy, notwithstanding all means that could be used with them by the prophets, whom God sent, one after another, to reprove, counsel and warn them, for about two hundred and fifty years ; especially those two great prophets, Elijah and Elisha. Of all the kings that reigned over them, there was not so much as one but what was of a wicked character. And at last it came to that, that their case seemed utterly desperate ; so that nothing remained to be done with them, but to remove them out
And as to the other two tribes ; though their kings were always of the family of David, and they were favored in mang respects far beyond their brethren, yet they were generally very corrupt; their kings were most of them wicked men, and their other magistrates, and priests and people, were generally agreed in the corruption. Thus the matter is represented in the scripture history, and the books of the prophets. And when they had seen how God had cast off the ten tribes, instead of taking warning, they made themselves vastly more vile than ever the others had done ; as appears by 2 Kings xvii. 18, 19. Ezek. xvi. 46, 47, 51. God indeed waited lon. ger upon them, for his servant David's sake, and for Jerusalem's sake, that he had chosen ; and used more extraordinary means with them ; especially by those great prophets, Isaiah and Jeremiah, but to no effect : So that at last it came to this, as the prophets represent the matter, that they were like a body universally and desperately diseased and corrupted, that would admit of no cure, the whole head sick, and the whole heart faint, &c.
Things being come to that pass, God took this method with them : He utterly destroyed their city and land, and the temple which he had among them, made thorough work in purging the land of them ; as when a man empties a dish, wipes it, and turns it upside down; or when a vessel is cast into a fierce fire, till its filthiness is thoroughly burnt out. 2 Kings xxi. 13. Ezek. Chap. xxiv. They were carried into captivity, and there left till that wicked generation was dead, and those old rebels were purged out ; that afterwards the land might be resettled with a more pure generation.
After the return from the captivity, and God had built the Jewish church again in their own land, by a series of wonder. ful providences; yet they corrupted themselves again, to so great a degree, that the transgressors were come to the full again in the days of Antiochus Epiphanes ; as the matter is represented in the prophecy of Daniel, Dan. viii. 23. And then God made them the the subjects of a dispensation, little, if any thing, less terrible than that which had been in Nebuchadnezzar's days. And after God had again delivered
them, and restored the state of religion among them, by the instrumentality of the Maccabees, they degenerated again ; so that when Christ came, they were arrived to that extreme degree of corruption, which is represented in the accounts given by the evangelists.
It may be observed here in general, that the Jews, though so vastly distinguished with advantages, means and motives to holiness, yet are represented as coming, from time to time, to that degree of corruption and guilt, that they were more wicked in the sight of God, than the very worst of the Heathen As, of old, God sware by his life, that the wickedness of Sodom was small, compared with that of the Jews. Ezek. xvi. 47, 48, &c. also chap. v. 5..., 10. So Christ, speaking of the Jews in his time, represents them as having much greater guilt than the inhabitants of Tyre and Sidon, or even Sod. om and Gomorrah.
But we are now come to the time when the grandest scene was displayed, that ever was opened on earth. After all other. schemes had been so long and so thoroughly tried, and had so greatly failed of success, both among Jews and Gentiles ; that wonderful dispensation was at length introduced, which was the greatest scheme for the suppressing and restraining iniquity among mankind, that ever infinite wisdom and mercy contrived, even the glorious gospel of Jesus Christ. “A new dispensation of grace was erected to use Dr. Taylor's own words, p. 239, 240) for the more certain and effectual sanctification of mankind, into the image of God; the delivering them from the sin and wickedness, into which they might fall, or were already fallen ; to redeem them from all iniquity, and bring them to the knowledge and obedience of God.” In whatever high and exalted terms the scripture speaks of the means and motives which the Jews enjoyed of old ; yet their privileges are represented as haying no glory, in comparison of the advantages of the gospel. Dr. Taylor's words in p. 233, are worthy to be here repeated. “ Even the Heathen (says he) knew God, and might have glorified him as God ; but under the glorious light of the gospel, we have very clear ideas of the divine perfections,