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Hosea iii, 4, 5. For the children of Israel shall abide many days without
King, and without a Prince, and without a sacrifice, and without an image, and without an ephod, and without teraphim. Afterward shall the children of Israel return, and seek the Lord their God, and David their king; and shall fear the Lord and his goodness, in the latter days.
Many circumstances, connected with this prophecy, render it one of the most interesting and remarkable.
was left on sacred record 780 years previous to the advent of our Savior; refers, as commentators agree, to the
present captivity of the Jews; represents, in the most impressive language, the degradation and misery which were hastening upon this once beloved people; and follows them, through a long and dreary night, to the dawn of that blessed morning, which will shed
them the light of an eternal day. It developes a series of events, in the system of divine providence, the most instructive and sublime: in view of which, St. Paul was led to exclaim, O the depth of the
riches, both of the wisdom and knowledge of God: how unsearchable are his judgments and his ways past finding out."
The prophecy relates exclusively to the Jewish nation, the seed of Abraham, the friend of God. It is this: The children of Israel shall abide many days, WITHOUT A King, AND WITHOUT A Prince; predicting very evidently the utter subversion of their civil institutions, the extermination of their political state: WITHOUT A SACRIFICE; alluding to the mediatorial service of the High Priest in the Sanctuary; a service, which commanded the highest veneration, as it included all their hopes of the divine favor, and blessing: WITHOUT AN IMAGE, AND WITHOUT AN EPHOD, and WITHOUT
This clause seems to be added to convey a more lively impression of the extent and aggravation of their ruin. It predicts a complete dissolution of their ecclesiastical establishment, a removal of all their sacred utensils, their idols, and indeed every object attached to their religious institutions. And is it not a remarkable fact, that during the present captivity, the Children of Israel have abode without an image, without any vestige of idolatry, even while urged to this sin by the most alluring temptations.
Afterwards THEY SHALL RETURN, be reinstated in all the privileges included in the covenant with Abraham, and be again a peculiar people, a royal priesthood, a chosen generation.
To such scenes and events this interesting prophecy refers. It must be the language of inspiration, the prediction of one, who was enabled to look through the vale of futurity, and describe, with minuteness, the designs of Jehovah. It is now more than eighteen
centuries since this prophecy has begun to unfold; and it will continue to unfold, to an admiring world, until its accomplishment shall be complete, and triumphant; until the Jews shall be gathered in from their present dispersions, and there shall be one fold, and one shepherd.
But permit me to speak, more particularly, of the present captivity of the Children of Israel, of their final restoration, and of their claims upon the Gentile church.
I. THEIR CAPTIVITY.
After their hands were imbued in the blood of the Son of God, the judgments of heaven were not long suspended. In less than forty years, Jerusalem was given up to be plundered; the city was demolished, and a ploughshare drawn over it as a sign of perpetual desolation. On the 17th of July, A. D. 71, as testified by Josephus, the daily sacrifices ceased; and, as the temple was the only place for sacrificing, they have not been, and cannot be, renewed. On the 10th of August, of the same year, the Temple was wrapped in one general conflagration—the Sanctuary of God, the wonder of the world, was laid in ruins. Agreeably to the prediction of our Savior, not one stone was left upon
another which was not cast down. Mount Zion was literally ploughed like a field. As Lot fled from Sodom, so the followers of Christ fled from this city devoted to destruction. No prophet raised his voice of admonition, or of prayer.
The messengers of salvation preached their farewell sermon, and turned to the Gentiles. No angel was seen there with a message of mercy. The Holy Spirit departed from the maddened people forever. The God of their Fathers forsook
them. The door of hope was closed; the day of probation past; and these wretched beings were shut up
in the darkness of an eternal night.
0 Jerusalem, Jerusalem! how often would I have gathered thy children together, as a hen doth gather her brood under her wings, but ye would not.—BEHOLD YOUR
HOUSE IS LEFT UNTO YOU DESOLATE.
The remnant, who escaped this awful catastrophe, were utterly dispersed; their political existence was annihilated; and they have ever since abode without a king, and without a prince; have been a proverb and a by-word among all the nations of the earth.
Their lands in Judea were sold. They were reduced to abject slavery; exposed, in vast multitudes, to public sale; subjected to most rigorous corporeal punishment; and, at last, they were not permitted to tread upon that spot where Jerusalem stood; nor to shed their tears upon that ground, where they crucified the Lord of glory.
From that period, the condition of the Jews in Judea has been miserable beyond description. They have waited for the Messiah, but waited in vain. They have attempted to reestablish the religion of their Fathers, but every attempt has been marked with sword, bloodshed, and death. To this day they remain the objects of universal abhorrence, and contempt. Thus the blood of Jesus has been
upon their children; thus for ages they have been suffering the vengcance of an incensed Judge.
Time will not permit a particular detail of their sufferings in other countries. It will be sufficient to notice a few instruments employed in the execution of this memorable prediction.