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he had faid, in which ever of these seasons, that ye apoftatize, and forfake my law; yet will I reign over you: for ye fhall always continue to be my people; ye fhall never be mingled with, and entirely loft, and fwallowed up among the nations. And how fully, this hath been accomplished, is clear from all history: for although, before they were carried to Babylon, they were prone to idolatry, worshipping the Sun, Moon, stars, and all the host of heaven; and committing all manner of abominations; and afterwards affiancing themselves to the strange nations, and mingling themselves with the people of the land; as we find, in Ezra, chapter ix. ver. ift.
Now when these things were
done, the princes came to me, faying, The people of Ifrael, and the priests, and the Levites, have not feperated themfelves from the people of the (different) countries, (doing) according to their abominations, (even) of the Canaanites, the Hittites, the Perizzites, the Jebulites, the Ammonites, the Moabites, the Egyptians, and the Amorites. For they have taken of their daughters for themfelves, and for their fous; fo that the holy feed have mingled themfelves with the people of thole
countries: yea, the hand of the princes and rulers hath been chief in this trefpafs."
This trefpafs, which might have been the ruin of the nation, was, by the great providential mercy of God, entirely done away: for they were not only feperated from the people of the land, and the strange women; but were perfectly cured of the crime of idolatry, to which, they had been fo prone; and which must be ascribed to the indefatigable industry of Ezra, and his cotemporaries, whom God raised up, to inftruct them in the law of. God*; and caufing them to understand it. At this time alfo flourished the men of the Great Synagoguet, as they are called; who composed our Liturgy; when Synagogues being erected in every city §, to which they reforted for public worship; and where the Law was read every week; (and from the time of Antiochus's perfecution, the prophets alfo) and finding therein the fevere pu
* Nehem. viii. 5.- -7. 8. & 9.
See Gans in Tiemach David. Sepher Juchfin.
R. Ab. Ben deor, Abarbanal. &c.
Perek Kora Megillah.
Maim. in Huchoth Tophilah, Chap. xi. Sect, 1.
nishment denounced against those that were guilty of the crime of idolatry, (of which, they had already had experience) they were entirely weaned from it. And no doubt, it was this abhorrence of idolatry, that caused the great body of the people, to disbelieve the new doctrine of Jefus; juftly confidering it, as repugnant to the Law of God, which he had given them by the hand of his fervant Mofes; and the frequent admonitions deliwered by the Prophets for the observance thereof.
It is this also, that has enabled them for upwards of feventeen hundred years, so strictly to maintain and preferve the doctrine of the divine Unity, in oppofition to the doctrine of a plurality of perfons; and for which, they have suffered such dreadful perfecutions, and waded through torrents of their own blood.
This, has alfo kept them clear from em bracing the tenets of the Mahometans; (and by whom they have also been miserably perfecuted on that account,) fo that notwithstanding, that during the time of paganifm, they fell into idolatry; and fome of them, VOL. II.
either through fear of perfecution*, or for lucre, have apoftatized from the true faith, to Christianity, yet has the body of the nation ftood firm; and they remain as a distinct nation to this day; ftill retaining the denomination of God's people: fo that the words of the Prophet have been fully accomplished; as will those also, contained in ver. 34: 38. "And I will bring you forth from the people, and I will gather you from the countries, wherein ye are fcattered, with a mighty hand, and with a ftretched out arm, and with fury poured out."
By this, the Prophet fhews that when the time of their redemption fhall arrive, God will be obliged to gather them, with a migh ty hand, and with a stretched out arm, and with fury poured out. This will be on account of the great number of unbelievers that will then be in the nation; who laugh at the idea of a future redemption: these the Prophet calls "rebels, and tranfgreffors; for they wilfully rebel against the word of God; not by committing idolatry, (as their fathers did) nor by apoftatizing to Christianity; but
*See Vol. Ift. p. 18. Note 2d. & p. 30, &c.
by not believing in revelation, and flighting the prophecies, which speak of their future restoration. Of thefe, there are two different parties in the nation.
The one, confifting of fuch; as call themfelves philofophers; enlightened men; who live in the enlightened age of the eighteenth century. These are perfect Deifts, not believing a fyllable of Revelation; but not having a fufficient fund of knowledge of their own, to raise objections; they are obliged to draw all their arguments from the writings of those arch infidels, Hume, Bolingbroke, Voltaire, &c. and which they again deal out by retail, in the most oftentatious manner; and although they are trite and hackneyed, yet they often mislead the young and unweary; who are frequently taken with fuch fpecious reasoning; as not having fufficient Judgment to weigh them in the balance of truth. One of thefe, I must take notice of; as it is a proof of the little knowledge that they have of the Book, that they revile.
They fay, "If God spoke to the Prophets formerly, why should we not have prophets now? If God performed miracles then, why not perform miracles now? Is the hand of