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Christian or the Pagan subjects have their rise most commonly in the primary topics and occasions of that other history, and are introduced more or less in connexion with it So that whether we look to the order of the prophetic oracles, or to the degrees and state of prophetic knowledge in its several periods, we are carried in each case into the annals of that favoured people, to whom, though not for themselves alone, the word of prophecy originally came. This formal notion of the prophetic subject, however, is taken only as an expedient of arrangement. Whilst the Scripture oracles are open to be examined in many other ways more freely, and it may be with equal advantage, I wish to render my own observations, and the result of them, as clear and intelligible as I can, by borrowing for them the aid of some method and order.
The line of discourse thus premised, the chief points of it will be the more memorable events and seasons of Jewish history, which are briefly as follows:
I. The establishment of the kingdom of David. II. The reign of Solomon, including the building of the Temple.
III. The division of the monarchy of Israel.
IV. The public establishment of Idolatry in Sa
V. The captivity of that kingdom.
VI. The captivity of Judah.
VII. The restoration of Judah, with the building
of the second Temple, followed by the Cessation of prophecy.
Through these points I must endeavour to deduce some idea of the structure, adaptation, and progress of the entire prophetic revelation.
I. When prophecy had taken the crown of Israel from Saul, and placed it on the head of David, an Israelite of that day might have a question to ask. He might wish to know what prospects there were for him and his country hereafter: whether the translation of the kingdom from Saul to David, from the tribe of Benjamin to that of Judah, was straightway to be followed by other the like mutations and vicissitudes, without any permanence of a local or personal inheritance of succession. This was no vain inquiry, nor unworthy of the most sober and pious servant of God in that age. For the recent change, with the troubles and division of spirits which had preceded it, could not pass by without raising a thought what God would do with his people in this particular. God had strongly directed men's minds to that kind of consideration, by making the past change a subject of prophecy, and also by those long troubles and confusions which had entered with their possession of a king, as a consequence of it, if not a judicial visitation; it being clear to any attentive reader of this part of their history, that the Israelites were signally
punished in the immediate effects of their choice; those wars of contention for the kingdom between the house of Saul and David, being some of the bitter fruits of their rejection of the sovereignty of God, as king over them.
Besides, an Israelite had a reason in his religion to inquire whether God would "give his people the blessing of peace.” The repose and stability of their public government are benefits to all, and great in every country; but to a member of the commonwealth of Israel, in these temporal blessings, and others built upon them, the authentic signs of God's favour and the operation of his covenant were contained; and therefore he by his religion, as well as by other motives, had his eye turned to watch the order of Providence in such dispensations.
Now I say that the visible state of things could give that Israelite no answer; for the reign of David was neither tranquil nor secure, and in itself it promised nothing for the future. But Prophecy did give him the answer. Having foreshewn the exaltation of David, it went on to establish his house, and complete his greatness by a promise of the continuance of the kingdom in his family. The predictions to this effect are literal and clear; and they are such as make a great contrast with the ill-omened elevation of Saul, which had neither the preceding auspice of God's pleasure upon it, nor was followed by
any promise of kingly succession after him.
gave thee a king in mine anger, and took him away in my wrath." This is the retrospect of later prophecy upon Saul. Far otherwise with David: "When thy days be fulfilled, and thou "shalt sleep with thy fathers, I will set up thy seed "after thee, which shall proceed out of thy bowels, " and I will establish his kingdom. He shall build a house for my Name, and I will establish the "throne of his kingdom for ever. I will be his "Father, and he shall be my son. If he commit iniquity, I will chasten him with the rod of men, "and with the stripes of the children of men. But my mercy shall not depart from him, as I took it away from Saul, whom I put away before thee. "And thy house and thy kingdom shall be esta"blished for ever before thee. Thy throne shall "be established for ever. Acording to all these "words and this vision, so did Nathan speak unto "David*."
Such were the hopes settled by Prophecy upon this king of Israel and his family. Of the Evangelical promises contained in all this, I shall speak presently; but now of the Temporal, the first in view, and the first to take effect. David's own life and reign, though they closed in victory and peace, had been full of agitation, warfare, and danger.
2 Sam. vii. 12-17. The 89th Psalm dilates the same prediction.
The persecutions of Saul, the hazards of an asylum in banishment in an enemy's land, the insurrection of his subjects, and the treachery and rebellion of his children, reach far in the story of his life.
But as his throne was to be established, and his seed to inherit it, so he had the prediction of another kind of reign for his son, who should come after him; a reign of security and peace. "Behold
a son shall be born unto thee, who shall be a man "of rest; and I will give him rest from all his ene"mies round about; for his name shall be called "Solomon," (a name, and therein, a promise, of peace,)" and I will give peace and quietness unto "Israel in his days *."
Here then we have the engagement and stipulation of Prophecy at this period. A long stability, and an immediate peace, in his succession, with other blessings accumulated upon his seed after him, are the promises made to this chosen king of Israel, and in him, to his people.
But this is only one part of the subject. In the person of David, Prophecy makes some of its greatest revelations. In him, as in Abraham, the temporal and the evangelical predictions are united. His reign is one cardinal point of their union, and of the entire scheme of Prophecy in its double character. He was made a Prophet himself, in