« AnteriorContinua »
this important truth, we have here a Prophetie declaration enouncing the same thing,--the sceptre shall not depart from Judah till Shiloh come: Shiloh is Christo Now Christ is not the Successor of those VICEGERENTS of the Jewish State, but of God himself, the KING of the Jew's. The Sceptre therefore which descends to him, through the hands of those vicegerents, is not merely a civil, but a THEOCRATIC Sceptre. This, at the same tiine, explains the Evangelic doctrine of Christ's KINGDOM, arising out of the Theocracy or Kingdom of God. Hence the distinction in that famous declaration of Christ, so much abused to factious and party purposes, that His KINGDOM WAS NOT OF THIS WORLD: The Theocracy which was administered over the Jews only, and in a carnal manner, was a Kingdom of this world: but when transferred to Shiloh, and extended over all mankind, and administered in a spiritual manner, it became a Kingdom not of this world. And the making the Sceptre of Judah neither Tribal, nor MERELY Civil, but property Theocratic, clears the Prophecy from those insuperable difficulties which render all the other interpretations hurtful or dishonourable to the Prophetic system in general.
These are the superior advantages of the sense I have here endeavoured to establish. Nor are these all the advantages. The Prophecy is seen to embrace a much nobler object than was iinagined. It was supposed to relate only to the fortunes of the Jewish Economy, and we find it extends itself to the whole Dispensation of Grace. It was considered but as a simple PROPHECY, while it had the dignity of a RE
It was mistaken for the species, when it is indeed, of the genus.
But to all this an Answerer may reply: 1. “That, as we admit the THEOCRACY to be a Kingdom of this 3
World, the same objection will lie as well against the CONTINUANCE or duration of a Theocratic Sceptre as of a mere Civil one.” But here we must distinguish. The Theocracy was indeed carnal in its administration, but in its original it was Divine. Therefore, as where the subject is of the continuance of a mere civil Sceptre, we cannot but understand the continuance of its administration, because the administration is inseparable from the existence; so where the subject is of the continuance of a Thcocratic Sceptre, we must understand that continuance to consist in its remaining unrevoked, since what is of divine original exists, independently of its being actually administered; it exists till it be formally abrogated. This difference is evident from the nature of things. Forms of Government ordained by Men, cease when Men no longer administer them; because, in the non-administration of them, they are naturally supposed to revoke what they had ordained : But men's ceasing to administer (whether by choice or force) a Form of Government given by God, does not on any rules of logic or ideas of nature) imply God's revocation of that form of Government.
Again, we must remember what has been said of the effect and consequence of a THEOCRACY. It not only united, but incorporated the two Societies, civil and religious, into One. And this incorporated body of the Jewish State went by the name of the Law. Now under that part of the Law which more intimately regarded Religion, the Jews always lived FREE till the publication of the Gospel; though the other part of it, regarding the sovereign administration of civil policy and justice, they had lost from the time of Pompey. For a power precariously enjoyed, and ready to be abolished at the nod of a Conqueror, can never be
called Sovereign (which iinplies the being frees and independent) without the worst abuse of words, which is, the quibbling upon them. So that a Sovereignty in this. Theocracy was still adininistered to the last; though in part. However, this partial exercise was consentaneous to the System on wlrich this Theocracy was dispensed; its Administration being ordained to have a gradual decline. The Jews, for their transgressions, being first of all deprived of that natural effect of Theocratic rule, the extraordinary providence : and then, for their incorrigible manners, further punished by an infiingement of their civil sovereignty : but still the Theocracy, as to that more essential, the Religious part, remained unhurt till the coming of Christ: And let it be observed, that it was this part in particular which was to be assigned over to him, froin the Father. Thus, as I said before, this is not so properly a prediction of human events, as a revelation concerning the course of God's Dispensation.
2. Secondly, it hath been objected, that “ according to the sense here put upon the Sceptre, it should have been said the Sceptre sirall not depart from JEHOVAH instead of JUDAH. But such Objectors do not advert, that the Theocracy, was administered by Vicegerents of JUDAH. And this likewise will account for the expression of a Lawgiver between his feet.
3. Lastly, it may be said, “ That by this interpretation of the Sceptre of Judah wedeprive the Prophecy of one principal part of the information it was supposed to give, namely, the Time of Christ's advent, which the common interpretation is supposed to fix exactly.” To this I answer, that Religion loses nothing by this change, since there are so many other Prophecies which point out the time with infinitely more precision. On the other hand, Religion gains much by it, in evad
ing a number of objections, which had stigmatized the supposed Prediction with apparent marks of falshood.
Thus we see this noble Prophecy, concerning the transfer of the Kingdom of God, to Christ, contains a matter.of much greater dignity in itself, and of much greater moment for the support of CHRISTIANITY, than could arise from the perplexed question about the reign of the Asmonean Princes, or the Continuance of the power of life and death amongst a tributary People. For, in predicting the Abolition of the Law, it supplies us with a new and excellent Argument for the Conversion of the Jewish People, fatally persuaded of its eternal obligation. < The Reasons of my being so particular concerning the duration of the THEOCRACY are various, and will be seen as occasion offers. Only the reader may
here take notice, that it was necessary for the present purpose, to shew its continuance throughout the whole duration of the Republic, in order to vindicate the justice of those-Laws all along in force, for the punishment of idolatrous Worship.
S E C T. IV.
THUS far as to the nature and duration of the Mosaic Republic. Let us now see what PECULIAR , CONSEQUENCES necessarily attended the administration of a THEOCRATIC form of Government. :,,One necessary consequence was an EXTRAORDINARY PROVIDENCE, For the affairs of a People under a Theocracy, being administered by God as King; and his peculiar and immediate administration of human affairs being what we call an extraordinary Providence; it follows that an extraordinary Providence inust needs be exercised over such a People. Níy meaning is, that if the Jews were indeed under a Theocracy, they were indeed under an extraordinary Providence: And if a Theocracy was only pretended, yet an extraordinary Providence must necessarily be pretended likewise. In a word, they must be either both true or both false, but still inseparable; in reality or idea. Nor docs this at all contradict (as was suggested by Doctor Sykes even after he had seen his sugyestion confuted) what I observe concerning the gradual decay and total extinction of the extraordinary Providence, while the Theocracy yet existed. For , when I say an extruordinary Providence was one necessary consequence of a Theocracy, I can only mean that it was so in its original constitution, and in the order and nature of things : not that in this, which was matter of compact, the contravening acts of one Party might not make a separation. For, as this extraordinary Providence was (besides its being a mode of administration arising out of a Theocracy) a reward for obedience, it became liable to forfeiture by disobedience, though subjection to the Government still continued. I beg leave to illustrate this position both by a foreign and a domestic instance. The Ærarii in the Roman State were such who, for their crimes, were deprived of the right of Citizens : Yet these delinquents were obliged to pay the public taxes. At home, a voice in the supreme
Council of the kingdom is the necessary consequence of an English Barony; yet they may be separated by a judicial Sentence; and actually have been so separated; as we may see in the two famous cases of Lord Verulam, and the Earl of Middlesex, in the reign of James the First; who were both deprived of their seats in the House of Lords, and yet held their Baronies, with all the other rights pertaining to them. Thus a punishment of this kind was inflicted