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limited to the first period of their trial, on being placed in possession of the vineyard ; but from the time of the departure of the owner, when it properly began, it continued, strictly speaking, to the time of the mission of his son, with the result of which it may properly be said to have ceased. The history of the Jewish church, from the time of its settlement in Canaan, to the period of its transition into the Christian, is the counterpart of this, more especially in the fact of a series of efforts, analogous to those which were made to bring the husbandmen to a sense of their duty—the object of all which was to preserve it what it was—the original church of God—and to prevent the alienation of their peculiar privilege from the Jews to any other community.
But besides this general economy of probation, which runs through the whole of the history of the husbandmen, there was a determinate interval of time, between the conclusion of the contract by which they were put in the possession of the vineyard, and the first demand of the owner to receive his dues; an interval devoted to the raising and maturing of the fruits of the vineyard—before which the claims of the owner could not be reasonably preferred, nor after it, lawfully resisted. The circumstances in which the husbandmen were placed for this length of time, were different from those in which they were placed afterwards. If they were placed, for both periods alike, in a state of probation, yet for the former it was in a state of probation that might be considered ordinary and in course; for the latter, in a state which must be considered extraordinary and accidental. They must always have been left to themselves for the first of the intervals in question; but not necessarily for the second.
The fact, in the economy of God's dealings with the Jewish church, which answers to this, is as remarkable as any thing else. When the time was arrived for the settlement of the people in their promised inheritance, that event being over—the perusal of the history of the Jews, as contained in the book of Judges, compared with the same history for the rest of the period of their national existence, as contained in the remaining historical books of the Old Testament-clearly proves that their condition for the first and the last of these periods respectively, was not the same. They were brought out of Egypt, by an illustrious prophet ', and conducted in their wanderings through the desert by an illustrious prophet; who acted in all things as the mediator between God and them. They were settled in the possession of Canaan, by an illustrious prophet; on whom the spirit of Moses had rested, and who filled the same place of mediator between God and the people, as he had done. But from the time of the death of Joshua, not many years subsequent to the conquest of the country, there is no appearance in Jewish history for some centuries afterwards, of the existence of a single person, who bore the same relation to God and the people, as had been sustained by Moses and by him. The first of the prophets, posterior to the settlement in Canaan, as we learn from the testimony of the sacred narrative itself, and from the assurance of St. Peter and St. Paul", was Samuel.
Moses is called a prophet, Hosea xii. 13.
From the time of Joshua, then, to the time of Samuel, there was no prophet among the Jews. From the time of Samuel to the time of Malachi, there was no time without one. The former. of these periods was of determinate length; being filled up by the lengths of the administrations of the judges, and being further remarkable for this coincidence, that the institution of the order of the prophets was synchronous, or nearly so, with the change of the civil constitution, from a government subject to judges, raised up from time to time, to that of hereditary kings. In fact there is reason to believe, that the interval between the Exodus from Egypt and the institution of the order of the prophets, was as nearly as possible the same as between the promise made to Abraham, and the delivery of the Law ; viz. 430 years .
* It may well, I think, be admitted, that the prophecy of Moses, Deuteronomy xviii. 15 : “ The LORD thy God will raise “ up unto thee a Prophet from the midst of thee, of thy bre“thren, like unto me;” is first and properly to be understood of the institution of the order of prophets in the abstract ; without prejudicing the possibility of its referring to some particular prophet-in which sense, the Jews before the coming of the Christ understood it indefinitely, (see John i. 21. 25; vi. 14; vii. 40.) and in which sense, St. Peter, Acts iii. 22, 23: and St. Stephen, Acts vii. 37. like the Christian church in general, understood it to be meant, kattoxiv, of our Saviour. The prophetical order was typical of our Saviour in his prophetical capacity-as the Levitical priesthood was typical of him in his sacerdotal ; and a prophecy in its primary intention referring to that order, might be meant of him in its secondary.
The context of the same passage, from 17–21. seems to confirm this construction: and the words, which are added to the conclusion of the book of Deuteronomy, by whomsoever and whensoever written, may be thought to have an express referNow the condition of the Jews, in their peculiar relation of the people of God, during the period for
ence to the passage, in that sense, and to imply, that between the time of the death of Moses, and the age of the writer, which was doubtless sometime in the interval before the birth of Samuel, the promise contained in it, of raising up such a prophet as Moses, had not yet been fulfilled: “And there arose “ not a prophet since in Israel like unto Moses, whom the Lord “ knew face to face ;" for the promise was to this effect—that a prophet like unto Moses, would the LORD God raise up to them, from among their brethren. '
It is impossible not to conclude from such a declaration as the following-premised to the first instance of the revelation made by God of himself to Samuel, in his quality of prophet, or the organ of communication between God and the rest of the people, “ And the word of the Lord was precious in those days; there “ was no open vision;” 1 Sam. iii. 1: that such a phenomenon as a prophet, whom the Lord knew face to face, which means the same thing as the open vision, was still unprecedented. And when it is added shortly after, 20, 21: “ And all Israel from “ Dan even to Beersheba knew that Samuel was established to “ be a prophet of the Lord. And the LORD appeared again in “ Shiloh: for the LORD revealed himself to Samuel in Shiloh ~ by the word of the LORD:" it must be equally evident that from that time forward, the phenomenon in question was no longer unprecedented ; a standing communication between God and the people was opened, in the person of a proper mediator
--and was known to be so; and the prophecy of Moses, that the Lord would raise up unto them a prophet, of their brethren, like unto himself, whom God would know face to face, or in open vision, was no longer unfulfilled.
The birth of Samuel is probably to be placed B. C. 1144 : and his death B. C. 1056: at the age of eighty-eight; as I endeavoured to shew in my former work, Appendix iii. vol. iii. p. 279—283. The first revelation of God to him, which was so far his ordination openly to the prophetical office, as we have it recorded, 1 Sam. iii, might be made when he was fourteen years old—the age of puberty among the Jews; B. C. 1130. If that was the case, it was just 430 years after B. C. 1560, the
which they were still destitute of such an order of persons, must have been materially different froin their situation in the same respect, after they came to possess it. To what then were they left for the interval in question, whether longer or shorter, between the death of Moses or Joshua, and the appearance of the first of the prophets? To what could they be left, but their Law, such as they had received it from Moses, and such as they had bound themselves, by their own agreement, to observe it? For this period their only teacher could be Moses; their only rule of conduct, or standard of belief, could be the precepts or doctrines of the Law. There is no proof that ought was added to, or ought was detracted from the original covenant—that
true date of the Exodus, (as I apprehend,) and of the delivery of the Law; and just the same distance of time from that event, as the call of Abraham into Canaan, (B. C. 1990.) was before the Exodus, (B. C. 1560.) See my former work, vol. i. Dissertation x. and the Appendix.
The case of Deborah, who is described as a prophetess, Judges iv. 4. just before the deliverance of the Israelites from their servitude to Jabin, king of Canaan, B. C. 1336. and the mention of the mission of a prophet to the children of Israel, Judges vi. 8. just before their deliverance from the servitude to the Midianites, B. C. 1290, are no grounds of exception to the truth of the position in general, that the whole interval between the death of Joshua and the birth of Samuel, was destitute of such an order of persons as the prophets. Deborah is called a prophetess either as being in some sense a teacher of the people, for the time, as well as their judge—or in special reference to one particular gift; that of her inspired songs, of which we have an instance in Judges v. As to the other case, it was purely extraordinary, and a special interposition for a special purpose. The same may be said of a case parallel to it, the mission of a man of God to Eli, sometime before B. C. 1130, to denounce against him the prophecy recorded 1 Sam. ii. 27–36.