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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
* Tract. Bezaroth, Distinct Hajakorr. In Bereshith Rabba, on Gen. xxx, they have a long story to the same purpose.
"(which the gloss of R. Solomon Jarchi reckons from "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
Tract. Saned. Distinct. Chelec.
this designation of time, they add, was but conditional,
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 you, O ye poor miserable sons of Adam, to send you a Savior and a Deliverer, who at such a time shall come and
declare to you, the way of life eternal, shall open the door of heaven, and save you from the wrath that you have deserved; but I will do it on this condition, that the Jews, an obstinate and rebellious people, be good and holy, righteous and penitent, for unless they be so, the Savior shall not come, nor is it possible it should, until they be so." Is this worthy of the Most High?
$6. 2. When God limited the time of the Messiah's coming, he either foresaw what would be the state and condition of the Jews, or he did not. If they say he did not, then, besides that, they deny him to be God, by denying those essential attributes of his nature, which the very heathen acknowledge in their deities; they also utterly overthrow all the predictions of the Old Testament; for there is not any of them, but depends upon a supposition of the presence of God; and this is nothing but to countenance their unbelief with perfect atheism. If they say he did foresee, that their conditions and manners would be according to the event, so as to know that it was impossible the Messiah would come at the time determined; I ask, to what end and purpose doth he so often, and at so great a distance of time, predict and promise that he should come, and so that not one word of his predictions should be fulfilled? Why, I say, did he fix on a time and season, foretel it often, limit it by signs infallible, give out an exact computation of the years, from the time of his predictions, and call all men to an expectation of his coming accordingly; when, it seems, by his foresight, he knew that, by reason of all the Jews wanting merit and repentance, no such thing could possibly take place? This were not to promise and foretel in infinite veracity, but purposely to deceive. The condition, then, pretended,