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Israel :1 and, if this be the only token of dominion over all nations, there will be a danger of great competition about it, among the several nations who use circumcision at this day, and profess to derive it from Abraham. Even Ishmael and Edom may contest it with Israel.
P. 78. 1. 27. “The noun,' &c.-Learned men in general, whether Jews, Christians, or heathens, have hitherto agreed, that ISRAEL signifies“ “ Prince of God.” * Thy name shall be no more “ called Jacob, but Israel ; for as a prince hast “thou power with God and with men, and hast “ prevailed." “ By his strength he had power “ .” obtained the dominion, and Sex God :-ban is, therefore, “ a prince of God;" ' one who obtains ' principal power from God.' (Leigh.) SARAI, from the same root, signifies, my princess, Sarah a princess.
If, however, Mr. C., contrary to the text itself, and the general opinion of learned men, chooses to assign to the name another derivation ; it is not a matter of such importance as to require a refutation. The derivation assigned seems to require ISHRAEL, not Israel: as JESHURUN, not JESURUN.3
P. 78. 1. 32. * To Israel was delivered,' &c.St. Paul calls “ circumcision the seal ;” but it was “ the seal of the righteousness of the faith, which “ Abraham had, being yet uncircumcised.” 4 Circumcision is never called a seal, much less the
Gen. xxxii. 28. Hos. xii. 35.
* Rom. iv. 11.
great seal,' in the Old Testament; nor yet the 'crown. The scriptures of the Old Testament never speak of any special blessings as connected with the outward circumcision; but sometimes the contrary. When peculiar blessings are promised, they are connected with “ the circumcision “ of the heart." 2 Indeed it is surprising, in examining this subject, to find how very seldom circumcision is mentioned in the Old Testament, except at its appointment, and when the Israelites were circumcised on entering Canaan.3 There can, however, be no doubt that the apostle has summed up the instruction of the Old Testament on the subject, when he says, “ That is not cir“ cumcision which is outward in the flesh: cir“cumcision is that of the heart, in the spirit, not “ in the letter; whose praise is not of men but of “ God." 4—'A great seal,' and ' a crown,' in which Edom, the type of the most inveterate enemies of Israel, participated equally with Israel, is not greatly to be gloried in.-The noun circumcision occurs but once in our version of the Old Testament.5
P. 79. 1. 5. Israel was chosen and elected before the creation of this world to be the lord ' and king of it.'— It is rather unfavourable to this statement, that Israel, through so long a course of years, has had so little even of the appearance of dominion among the nations. This the writer felt, and anticipated the answer of the gentiles; and he tries in vain to repel it. Above 3500 years have passed since the calling of Abraham, and the
Jer. ix. 25, 26.
? Deut. xxx. 6. Jer. iv. 4.
5 Ex. iv. 26.
institution of circumcision. More than 400 years passed before the deliverance of Israel from Egyptian bondage : 1 480 from that time to the building of Solomon's temple : 2 434 more to the Babylonish captivity : 588 from the beginning of the captivity to the Christian æra, and above 1800 years since that commenced. Yet the reign of David, after he became king over all Israel, and that of Solomon, comprising together 73 years, is almost the only term in which they had any considerable dominion over other nations ; and this was in comparatively a contracted circle, not extending over the twentieth part of the continent of Asia, and not at all including any part of Africa or Europe. So that, if dominion over the world was the grand temporal advantage intended for Israel, they have hitherto been unaccountably kept out of the possession of it. All the great kingdoms and empires, noted in history, have been possessed by the gentiles; and Israel was generally subjected to one or other of them. Now 3500 years are so large a part of the 7000 to which the author seems to limit the duration of the world; and another so large a part had elapsed before the calling of Abraham ; that it seems impossible that this design of Israel's election should ever be answered.
The passage under consideration may, however, remind us of the answer which the Jews of old made to our Lord, and which has perplexed commentators. He had said “ to those Jews which “ believed in him, If ye continue in my word,
Ex. xii, 41.
1 Kings vi. 1.
“then are ye my disciples indeed : and shall know “ the truth, and the truth shall make you free. “ They answered him, We be Abraham's seed ; “ and were never in bondage to any man, how
sayest thou, Ye shall be made free?' The nation had been bondslaves in Egypt, captives at Babylon, and vassals to the three preceding great empires; Judea was at the time a province of the Roman empire, and deeply oppressed by that haughty power: yet they had “never been in
bondage to any man!"-The whole may also illustrate the words, ' And to this day Israel is still
Israel :' not the same as in the days of their pious progenitors; but the same as in the days of Christ and his apostles.--St. Paul has given us the true meaning of the promises, to this effect: “ The “promise, that he should be the heir of the world,
was not to Abraham and his seed through the
law, but through the righteousness of faith.” ? The Messiah to descend from him would be Lord of all the world : and all true believers of every age and nation, being considered as one with him, “ inherit the earth,” the world, “ all things." 3
P. 79. 1.' 16. • It is a vain thing for the 'gentiles to grasp at the kingdom of this world.' -Whatever other gentiles may have, Christians, as such, have no controversy with Jews on this subject: they have no idea of 'grasping at the • kingdom of this world :' Though sons, yet their valued inheritance is in heaven, not on earth. It is nothing to them, whether gentile conquerors and oppressors exercise dominion over Jews, and treat them as abject slaves; or Jews exercise similar dominion over gentiles. The oppressed they compassionate, and condemn the oppressors: yet they at least equally pity them also. The fact is clearly as here stated; "the gentiles are the lords of the world and Israel are their servants even until 'this day :' (1. 26.) the right or grant is another thing, as is the future superiority or dominion. These things however seldom occur to the thoughts of real Christians : and they severely condemn themselves, if conscious of any rising desire of rule and dominion, of this kind, over any human being. They know it to be wholly inconsistent with their principles, to rule with rigour over the meanest servant: all men are their brethren, if not in Christ, yet in Adam : and their neighbours, to be " loved as themselves.” Even nominal Christians in general think little on the subject; nay, the pagan nations do not think of grasping in this sense at the kingdom of this world. The idea seems peculiar to the Jews, and almost exclusively their own. I cannot conceive that it ever enters into the politics, either of the potentates on the continent, or the Grand Turk, or the Emperor of China ; much less is it any part of the object of the London Society. The event will prove, whether the vain expectations of the Jews, from age to age, of temporal dominion over all nations, will ever be realized or not. I say vain : for what advantage could this be to all preceding generations, who have here lived in a state of vassalage, and have, previously to the expected period, en
'John viii. 31-35. 2 Rom. iv. 13. 'Dan. vii. 13, 14, 27. 1 Cor. iii. 21–23. Gal. iii. 28, 29. Rev. iii. 21. v. 10. xi. 15. xxi. 7.