Imagini ale paginilor
[blocks in formation]

as wise in Europe as in Asia; for the possession of those blessings arise out of obedience to God's law and providence. It is the orderly state of the mind and character which He regards; and where these are, there the Lord is. It is not of the place of men's bodies and their connections with the world, but of the states of men's souls, and of their relationship to heaven, about which the Lord has made His revelations. These considerations, connected with the fact that "God is no respecter of persons," enable us to see, without difficulty, that any predictions concerning the recovery of the lost tribes of Israel must refer to the restoration of some principles which have been lost to the Christian church. This seems clearly to be the spiritual and religious view of the question; the other is only the worldly and political aspect of it: the former may be enjoyed, but it is unreasonable to suppose that the latter ever can be realized. That there have been some principles lost out of the Christian church seems evident from the confusion which exists and the divisions which prevail among its professors.

But let us look at those points with a little more minuteness and discrimination. The Israelitish people consisted of twelve tribes, and these, in their significant capacity, represented all the principles of goodness and truth which belong to the Lord's church; and the land of Canaan, which was set apart for their inheritance, was a type of the church in which the blessings of those principles are to be enjoyed. These are the reasons why that people are said to have been a chosen people, and why such glorious things are spoken of the land of Canaan. It is right principles which the Lord chooses, and people only so far as they possess them; and the church is that rich and abundant country which the Lord has provided for the spiritual sustentation of the faithful. It is on these grounds that a hundred and forty-four thousand of each of the tribes are said to be sealed in heaven. (Rev. vii. 4.) No people can become inhabitants of this kingdom merely because they may happen to be the descendants of certain families in the world. All who dwell there must, while here, have come into the possession of . some of its principles; and, therefore, those tribes are said to have been there, not because they were literally the descendants of Jacob, but to teach us that all will find a place in heaven whose characters have been formed by any of those spiritual principles which the various tribes were intended to prefigure. But the tribe of Ephraim is not enumerated among the sealed, because something of that of which he was the representative belonged to each. What this was will subsequently appear.

God loves and cares for all men with a uniform providence; but those only can enjoy His blessings who first receive His principles. It is this



reception which constitutes the groundwork of all the happiness He has promised; and the principles which the twelve tribes represented, constitute the church which He is solicitous to establish and maintain. The prosperity and security of the Israelites, represented the blessings and safety which attend the development of those principles; the adversity and rebellion of the people represented the perversion and rejection of those excellencies; and the final loss of ten of those tribes prefigured the disappearance of a great proportion of those principles from the church; consequently, the predictions which appear to refer to the restoration of those tribes are intended to inform us that, in the fulness of time, there will be a re-development of those lost principles in the church with all their magnificence and glory.

Now, those brief intimations present themselves to our minds as being in perfect consistency with the spiritual purposes of Christianity, the freedom of man, the character of God, and the wisdom of His Word. But under the general representations to which we have adverted, there are, of course, a great variety of particulars. As all the tribes, viewed in their complex, were representatives of all the goods and truths which belong to the church, so each particular tribe must have sustained the representation of some particular excellence.

Let us, then, carry this conclusion to the subject of our text:-"There shall be a day that the watchmen upon the mount Ephraim shall cry, Arise ye, and let us go up to Zion, unto the Lord our God." Ephraim is the only tribe after which a mountain has been named; and the reason is, because of its eminent significance. It may be plain that the watchman's cry from Mount Ephraim, was intended as a call upon the church to enter upon some spiritual enjoyment. The letter is the vehicle employed to bring down from heaven some spiritual intelligence for the acceptance of the world. The watchmen are those who by the knowledge of spiritual truth are enabled to mark the mutations and doings of the church. Without such knowledge, a man may watch, but he cannot see. Now, it is this eminent condition of the intellectual part of the mind which is represented by Mount Ephraim. Zion is commonly acknowledged to be the type of some eminent love. The cry of the watchman, then, to go from Mount Ephraim to Mount Zion, teaches us concerning the progress of truth from an elevated condition of the intellect, in which God is known, to an elevated condition of the affections, in which God is loved. It is by this view that we penetrate into the practical purpose of the cry. It is by a change of state as to the soul, and not by a change of place as to the body, out of which all our religious advantages arise.

[blocks in formation]

But let us pay a little more attention to the significance of this tribe. Ephraim and Manasseh were two sons of Joseph. Ephraim was the younger; but both were adopted by Jacob, for he said of them-"They are mine, as Reuben and Simeon they shall be mine; " (Gen. xli. 52; xlviii. 1.) and thereupon they were counted as being among the tribes of Israel. But in the blessing which Jacob pronounced upon them, Ephraim had the precedence; and he was not only among the ten tribes who were lost, but his name is sometimes employed to designate the whole of them. This is well known; it is generally admitted; it is particularly conspicuous in the book of Hosea, and some other of the minor Prophets; hence the recovery of those tribes is sometimes spoken of as the restoration of Ephraim:-"The Lord said," of Ephraim, and Israel his fellows, "Behold, I will take the children of Israel from among the heathen whither they be gone, and will gather them on every side, and bring them into their own land; and I will make them one nation in the land upon the mountains of Israel, and one king shall be king to them all." (Ezekiel xxxvii. 19-22.) Ephraim is thus spoken of, not as a man, for he was dead; not as a tribe, for they were lost; but of that intellectual principle of the church which he was selected to represent. The tribe of Ephraim disappeared from Canaan when idolatry was adopted, to signify that the intellectual principle passes away from the church when a false worship is established in it. There cannot be any genuine intelligence in the church when the true God of it is not acknowledged; but the church is obviously an intellectual institution when God is known to it.

But it will be useful to produce some other evidences in proof of this representation of that tribe. It is written that Joseph called his son Ephraim, because God had caused him to be fruitful in the land of his affliction. (Genesis xli. 52.) The name, therefore, denotes fruitfulness in the midst of difficulties; and this is a peculiar characteristic of the intellectual principle: it has to struggle against perversities, and strive to retain somewhat of its light amidst the darkness of temptations. It is true that in disastrous times its energies may be weakened; yet its activity and vigour will be recovered whensoever the church shall be delivered from the vain traditions which darken and oppress it. The church without an intellectual principle sinks into a dim mysterious thing; its light may shine in the darkness, but the darkness comprehends it not. The genuine church is marked and distinguished by a system of spiritual truths, of which the Word is the sole foundation;she asks to be investigated by the highest intellect; she shrinks from no inquiry, because such an institution will always allow men to enter intellectually into the things of faith.

[merged small][ocr errors]

There are two general things which are proper to the church with men; these are the intellectual principle by which to know God, and the voluntary principle by which to love Him. These two principles are as two spiritual brothers; the former is represented by Ephraim, and the latter by Manasseh. The voluntary principle by which God is loved, and which is represented by Manasseh, is first with regard to activity and end, and therefore he was really the elder brother; but Jacob, by adoption, made Ephraim the first; (Genesis xlviii. 14—19.) and this was intended to teach us that the intellectual principle by which God is known, is first in respect to faith and time. Love first stirs up the thought; but it is thought which first gives to love its light and form. We are moved by love to know God; but we cannot love Him unless we know Him; thus love is first in respect to end, but knowledge is first in respect to means.

It was in consequence of those significations that the Psalmist prayed and said "Before Ephraim and Benjamin and Manasseh stir up thy strength, and come and save us." (lxxx. 2.) The internal sense of this supplication is, that the Lord would lead those who intellectually know what is true into the voluntary love of what is good, because it is only through this good that the Lord can come and save us."


It is because Ephraim sustained this representation that it is so frequently said of him that he is gone down into Egypt, and departed into Assyria; for those statements had only a slight (if any) historical significance, and they were written mainly for the sake of the spiritual lesson they are intended to convey. Egypt, in such cases, represented the scientific things of religion in a state of perversion, and Assyria the rational things of religion in a condition of defilement. And the reason for those significations is because the external corruptions of the Ancient Church remained in those places much longer than in any other of the surrounding countries. When, then, it is said that Ephraim went into those lands, the spiritual meaning is, that the intellectual principle of the church descended into those perversions, and this is a condition of it frequently treated of in the Word. Mind does not cease to be mind because it may be exercised in the confirmation of what is false; in that case, however, it becomes a perverted mind. So that when Ephraim is spoken of in a bad sense, he still represents the intellectual principle of the church, but misdirected by some corrupting love. Hence we read of the "drunkards of Ephraim," and of the "pride of Ephraim," to denote the mental intoxication and spiritual haughtiness of those who are wise in their own conceits. And Ephraim is said to be "joined to his idols" when the intellectual knowledges of the church are employed

[blocks in formation]

only for the gratification of some selfish love: when men use the sanctities of the church to hide the deformities of their heart, Ephraim is joined to his idols.

But this is a state which will pass away as the regeneration of the church is effected. It is predicted that "the envy of Ephraim shall depart, and the adversaries of Judah shall be cut off; Ephraim shall not envy Judah, and Judah shall not vex Ephraim," (Isaiah xi. 13.) plainly to inform us that a period will arise in the history of the church when its people will understand the truth, because they will love the goodness which it teaches, and so shake off the fallacies and falsehoods by which it may have been distressed. The intellect, represented by Ephraim, and the love, signified by Judah, are to be mutually conjoined. Every one knows that this has not always been the case, and that its absence has been one of the marked deficiencies of men. Who has not loved what his knowledge has condemned? Do not all know much better than they do? and in those facts do we not experience something of the envy of Ephraim and the vexation of Judah? But this experience is not confined to individuals; it has been developed in the church. The doctrines which have been taught, and the loves which have been demanded, do not conform with each other. Who does not know that charity has been divorced from faith? The teachings of Justification by Faith alone do not require the duties of charity for such a result; and so Ephraim envies Judah, and Judah vexes Ephraim. But this is a state of things which is to cease, because as the regeneration of the church advances, the affections will conform to the truth which the intellect perceives, and both will work together in carrying out the great purposes of enlighted love.

Again, it is written-" Ephraim said, Yet I am become rich, I have found me out substance: in all my labours they shall find none iniquity in me that were sin. . . . I have also spoken by the prophets, and I have multiplied visions, and used similitudes, by the ministry of the prophets." (Hosea xii. 8, 10.) Here by Ephraim being rich, and finding substance, is not meant natural wealth and worldly possessions, but heavenly riches and enjoyment, which are the knowledges of truth and goodness; and these things are said of Ephraim, because by him is represented those whose minds are illustrated when the Word is read: and hence it is added that he spoke by the prophets, multiplied visions, and used similitudes, which every one may see are among the activities of the intellectual principles of the church. The Lord said "Ephraim is the strength of mine head," (Psalm lx. 7.) to teach us that the knowledges of truth are the power by which He manifests his goodness in

« ÎnapoiContinuă »