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of the Romans. The stone (that is, the power of Christ) smote the image upon his feet
of iron and clay, and brake them to pieces, Dan. ii. 31. I beheld then, because of the voice of the great words which the horn spake; I beheld even till the beast was slain, and his body destroyed, and given to the burning flame, Dan. vii
. 11. And again, the judgment shall sit, and they shall take away his dominion, to consume, and to destroy it unto the end, ver. 26. All which implies that the dominion of the Romans shall finally be destroyed with some extraordinary manifestations of the Divine power.
Daniel was much affected with the misfortunes and afflictions which were to befal the church and people of God. And I Daniel fainted and was sick certain days ; afterward I rose up, and did the king's business, and was astonished at the vision, but none understood it, Dan. viii. 27. That Daniel was thus affected can only be ascribed to his foreseeing that the future distress and misery of the Jews would greatly exceed all they had before sustained. And indeed the calamities which they suffered under the Romans were much greater than the evils brought on them by Nebuchadnezzar. But they expect, and we expect, that at length the sanctuary will be cleansed, and that God's promise will, in time, be fully accomplished. I will return, and will build again the tabernacle of David, which is fallen down; and I will build again the ruins thereof, and I will set it up: that the residue of men might seek after the Lord, and all the Gentiles upon whom my name is called, saith the Lord, who doeth all these things, Acts xv. 16, 17.
This concern of Daniel, and affection for his religion and country, show him in a very amiable light, and give an additional lustre to his character. But not only in this instance, but in every other, he manifests the same public spirit, and appears no less eminently a patriot than a prophet. Though he was torn early from his country, and enjoyed all the advantages that he could enjoy from foreign service, yet there was not any thing that could make him forget his native home; and in the next chapter (chap. ix.) we see him pouring out his soul in prayer, and most earnestly and devoutly supplicating for the pardon and restoration of his captive nation.
It is, therefore, a gross mistake to think that religion will ever extinguish or abate our love for our own country. The scriptures will rather excite and encourage it, exhibit several illustrious examples of it, and recommend and enforce this, as well as all other moral and social virtues; and especially when the interests of true religion and of our country are so blended and interwoven, that they cannot well be separated the one from the other. This is a double incentive to the love of our country; and with the same zeal that every pious Jew might say formerly, every honest Christian may say now, with the royal psalmist: O pray for the peace of Jerusalem ; they shall prosper that love thee. Peace be within thy walls, and plenteousness within thy palaces. For my brethren and companion's sake I will wish thee prosperity: Yea, because of the house of the Lord our God I will seek to do thee good, Psal. cxxii. 6, &c.
Of the Jewish RITUAL, or CEREMONIAL LAW.
IN the preceding chapters of this book we have given an ample account of the respective prophecies contained in the Old Testament, the greater part of which have been already fulfilled, some are still fulfilling, and, no doubt, the rest will be fulfilled when the appointed time shall arrive. In this chapter we shall take some notice of the religious laws and ceremonies of the Jews, as also the means whereby they became acquainted with learning and literature.
The constitution of the Mosaic law consisted of three parts, namely,
1. Of Political and Judicial laws.
2. Of Moral Precepts, such as the Ten Commandments.
YOL, iji. Q
3. Of Rites and Ceremonies, such as Circumcision, Sacrifices, Washings, Purifications, the use of certain garments, &c. and divers Rites by the priests in the tabernacle.
We shall observe in general, that the design of these ceremonies was, to convey religious and moral instructions to the people; and the method of their receiving these instructions was, in many instances, by Hieroglyphics. Thus the government of the world by Divine Providence, and his extraordinary interposition in favor of good men, is represented by a ladder standing on the earth, and reaching to heaven, with the angels ascending and descending on it, to receive and execute orders from God above, who ruleth over all, Gen. xxviii. 12, 13. In the stile of this bieroglyphic our Lord himself speaks, Hereafter shall ye see heaven open, and the angels of God ascending and descending upon the son of man, John i. 51.
The exaltation of Joseph above the rest of his family, was represented by the hieroglyphic of his sheaf standing upright, and the eleven sheaves of his brethren standing round about, and bowing to it. As also of the Sun, and Moon, and eleven Stars, making obeisance to him, Gen. xxxvii. 7, 9.
The tribe of Judah is represented by a young lion; Issachar, by a strong ass; Dan, by a serpent lurking in the road; Naphtali, by a hind; Joseph, by a fruitful bough; Benjamin, by a ravening wolf; Gen. xlix. 9. 14, &c.
A rod or staff, as it is an instrument of striking or beating down, is the hieroglyphic of power exerted in conquering, punishing and ruling, Isa. x. 5, 24. With such a rod Moses and Aaron appeared before Pharaoh, as hieroglyphically representing the power and authority of God, in whose name they demanded the release of the Israelites, Exod. vii. 15. Thus they appeared as men of learning, and acted agreeable to the literature of the age in which they lived.
A horn represented temporal power and dominion, 1 Sam. ii. 10. Psalm lxxix. 21.
A yoke, such as slaves carried upon their shoulders, represented servitude or bondage. Gen. xxvii. 37, 40.
This may serve to explain the nature of hieroglyphics, a sort of language to which the Jews were accustomed; being the learning of that age, which they could understand much better than abstract reasonings, about moral truths and duties.
We may, therefore, on this account, well admit, that the rites and ceremonies of their religious institutions were hieroglyphic, and intended, by external representations, to give them useful instructions in true religion and real goodness.
If we consult the prophets and apostles, who were well acquainted with their meaning, we shall find so much evidence of the moral and spiritual intention of so many, as may induce us to believe this was the sense and spirit of all the rest.
The Jews were enjoined frequent and various ablutions, or washings with water; the common use of which is to discharge the body from all dirt and filth, and to keep it clean. This was a very easy representation of purity of mind, or of an heart purged from filth and sin. In this manner the prophets understood it, Wash me from mine Iniquity, Psal. li. 2. Wash me, and I shall be clean, ver. 7. Wash yourselves, make yourselves clean; put away the evil of your doings, Isaiah i. 6.
Anointing with oil, or ointment, by which the head was beautified, and the countenance exhilirated, had the signification of honor, joy, holiness, and inspiration, Psal. xlv. Acts x. 38. The priests officiated in garments of fine linen, Exod. xxxix. 27. meaning, that the priests should be clothed, or have their minds adorned with righteousness.
Burning of incense, whose smoke riseth up with a pleasant scent, was an hieroglyphic representation of acceptable prayer, Psal. cxli. 2. Luke i. 10.
Circumcision had relation to the heart and soul, or to the retrenching all inordinate affections and inclinations, Lev. xxvi. 41. Rom. ii. 29.
The sprinkling of blood, and of the water of separation (Numb. xix. 13, 19.) was hieroglyphic and bad a
moral signification, See Heb. ix. 13, 14. 1 Pet. 1. 2. As had likewise the muzzled mouth of the ox, Deut. xxv. 4. compared with 1 Cor. ix. 9, 10. 1 Tim. v. 17, 18.
Some persons have indulged their fancies more than they ought, and pretended to have found more mysteries in the Hebrew ritual, than were really designed; but these instances, explained by authentic evidence, may convince us, that the whole had a spiritual meaning; and as we are taught in the gospel every thing necessary to faith and practice, in the plainest manner, we need not give ourselves much trouble about discovering the meaning of the other rites, which are not explained by the prophets and apostles.
But the affair of sacrifice, so often mentioned in the Old Testament, was a type of the great Redeemer, and will be best explained by a careful attention to the Life, Sufferings and Death of our Blessed Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ, which will be the subject of the succeeding part of our Work,