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present. But it cannot be doubted, that these prophetic visions, in connection with other Scriptural prophecies, are designed to give to the waiting people of God some general notion and outline of what is to come to pass hereafter.
It cannot, again, be doubted, but that we are to interpret these visions now before us in analogy with other prophecies. They are not to be interpreted“ privately," as a part of Scripture standing alone, but as forming part of the system of prophetic revelation, which is designed, by little and little, to manifest to mankind, as the appointed time draws near, what God is about to do in the great day of his power and kingdom. The comparison of other prophecies must, therefore, be our chief guide to the interpretation of this. And, especially, those prophecies that have been fulfilled must teach us, in the event foretold compared with the language and symbols of the predictions, how far we are to expect a substantial and literal fulfilment, and how much we may venture to attribute to metaphor and figure.
By this rule of interpretation, I am led to conclude, that we are to expect a very substantial, and a very literal fulfilment of the vision before us. Those parts of prophecy that have been fulfilled, which foretold the present situation of Israel, and of their country, have been very substantially, and very literally fulfilled.-Why, therefore, should we doubt the exactness of the part of the vision as yet unfulfilled, which speaks of God's future bounties to his people, and to his land ? Those parts of prophecy which describe the humiliation and passion of the Son of God, have also been most substantially and most literally fulfilled, down indeed to the minutest circumstances pointed out in the language of the ancient prophets :--even predictions, which before they came to pass, when interpreted literally, seemed in the estimation of the masters of Israel, and of the disciples of Jesus, too, very improbable, very unlikely to happen to “the Christ of God,” very unsuitable, according to their conceptions, to the future kingdom and glory of the Messiah. If, however, we are careful not to interpret of the first advent any Scriptures but such as clearly belong to it, how little was there of metaphor and figure, except what is usual in the most exact and perspicuous style!
These are the reasons which weigh in my mind to understand what follows literally, and to expect an exact fulfilment of every circumstance detailed; though, perhaps, the suitableness, and the spiritual importance of some things related, may not appear to us who "see through a glass darkly," or may seem inadequate to our expectations of the glories of Messiah's reign. We see not the reason, nor the design, nor the future bearings, it may be, of what we object to; and, therefore, are ready like Peter, on a similar
occasion, to reject the notion with disdain, as unworthy of God. But it surely becomes us to suspend our judgment in these cases till more fully informed, and not to be "slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have written."
One thing we should bear in mind; the vision which follows does not show us the glorious majesty and circumstance of the church triumphant,--of that “new Jerusalem which descends from God out of heaven,” the residence of glorified spirits, who reign paramount over the nations upon earth,“ kings," and “priests of God and of Christ.” But we have here a prophetic description of the situation of one of these nations on the earth-of men in “ flesh and blood,” « inhabiting houses of clay.” The description is that of the most favored nation, the remnant of Israel, restored to the land of Canaan, made the leading nation upon earth ; and in some sort, as it should seem, the link of communication between mortal man in the flesh, and the “holy myriads” of glorified spirits that come with the Lord from heaven, and reign with him upon earth.
We have already met with prophecies that have plainly told us of the restoration of the sanctuary and temple at Jerusalem, the re-organization of their priesthood, and Levitical ministry,“ to keep the charge of the house," and to perform the rites of an appointed ceremonial.-- Jer. xxxiii. 21, &c.; Ezek. xx. 40, &c.; xxvii. 26, &c. We have been told, that the remnants of other nations, which shall survive the destructions of the latter days, will be partakers in the rites and solemnities of this new temple, and go up thither to worship; and that some of them will be admitted into the priesthood of the sons of Aaron, and permitted to discharge the functions of the Levitical ministry.—Isaiah lxvi. 21. We have been told, notwithstanding, that Israel, from its situation, and from the particular blessings of their fathers' God, will have a vast preeminence over the other nations, and hold a sacred character among them.--Isaiah lxi. 6. All this we have already learned from former oracles. The vision of Ezekiel, on which we are now engaged, only goes more into detail on the circumstances of this restored Israel, their temple, their city, and their land.
The use which God hath made of this people, and of this country, in the present world, in providing for the redemption and gathering of the chosen remnant which are predestined to reign in glory with Christ " in the world to come,” is extraordinary and wonderful! So, it seems, the use he will make of them, “ in the world to come of which we speak,” in regard to the whole mass of mankind, under the spiritual rule of Christ and his saints, will be extraordinary and wonderful too! God has made of the spiritual children of Abraham-the heirs of promise, who with the Seed are to be heirs of the world—a great people like the stars of heaven for
multitude; but he has promised besides, “In thee, and in thy seed, shall all the families of the earth be blessed;" this will also come to pass in its season.
New Division of the Holy Land. Ezek. xlv. and xlviii.
In this division of the country, so different from any former division, six tribes are stationed in the north, and six tribes to the south of an OFFERING of land, containing a square of twenty-five thousand reeds, lying in the midst.
In the midst of this OFFERING, we are told, the Sanctuary is placed. From an inspection of the forty-eighth chapter, it will be evident that all the portions, both for the tribes and for 66 THE OFFERING," are measured straight across, from east to west, from the Mediterranean to the river Jordan and its lakes. The former possessions of the two tribes and a half beyond the Jordan are not mentioned : all the tribes have an allotment in the original land of Canaan. Now, if we measure in breadth from north to south, making Jerusalem the middle point, twenty-five thousand reeds, we shall find the boundary-lines will pass from east to west somewhere above the latitude of Joppa, or Jaffa, on the north, and somewhere below the latitude of Hebron on the south: within these lines is “ THE OFFERING," in breadth about forty miles, and varying in its length, according to the line of the Mediterranean coast on the one side, and that of the Dead Sea, with the course of the Jordan, on the other. All the country to the north will be occupied by the six tribes, Dan, Asher, Naphtali, Manasseh, Ephraim, Reuben, and Judah. What is the breadth of their respective portions we are not told, only that they extend in length from Jordan to the sea, and Judah's allotment is next to the offering."-Chap. xlviii. 147.
The south of the offering is to be occupied in the same manner by Benjamin, Simeon, Isaachar, Zebulun, and Gad.--Ver. 23-28.
of land, then, which we are more particularly to consider, lies between the latitudes of Jaffa and Hebron, or latitudes to be taken some miles more to the north and south.
And here a remarkable coincidence must be pointed out. We learn from the prophecy of Zechariah, chapter 14: 10, that “all the land was to be turned into a plain, from Geba to Rimmon, south of Jerusalem.” Now, it will be found, Geba is on the same parallel of latitude with Jaffa, and on the parallel of Hebron is Eremmon, which is no doubt,“ Rimmon, south of Jerusalem.” Both are about the same distance from Jerusalem, north and south, and both are in the middle point of the parallel of latitude, between east and west,