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mouth, and devoureth their enemies; as it is said, “These have power to shut heaven, that it remain not in the days of their prophecy.” But this it is impossible to affirm with certainty.
The other part of Elijah's work at his return, has been equally the subject of discordant interpretation. Some suppose that by the restitution of all things is meant merely “the regulation of the present disorders in the moral world, and the seeming inequalities of providential dispensations;" others, “the restoration of the paradisaic state to the world, for which the whole creation groaneth and travaileth ;" and others, again, “ the restoration of those things which were then corrupt amongst the Jews. To which belongs not only the external state of the republic and religion, but also the internal state of doctrines, concerning which there was a wonderful discord amongst the Jews." And this seems to me best to agree to the circumstances under which he is promised. It is to the Jewish people that the prophet declares that he is to be sent. It is to the Jews only that Malachi is speaking, and to them he says, “Remember ye the law of Moses, my servant, which I commanded unto him for all Israel ;" and then adds, “Behold, I will send you Elijah the Prophet before the coming of the great and dreadful day of the Lord.” It was to Jews that both our Lord and Peter spoke of the restitution of all things, and it must be supposed that they used language familiar to those whom they addressed, and in the sense which they understood. Almost everything that the Jews valued as their peculiar privilege had been lost, and was wanting, when the words were spoken. The quiet possession of the land—the union of all the tribes of Israel—the immediate communion with God—the theocracy—the kingdom of God. It was for the restoration of these things that the Jewish people longed; and concerning the kingdom that the apostles asked, “Lord, wilt thou at this time restore again the kingdom to Israel ?” And if we inquire of the prophets of old, of what restitution they have spoken, we shall find that it is the restoration of the kingdom of God in Israel, as Isaiah says, “I will restore thy judges as at the first, and thy counsellors as at the beginning ;” and Jeremiah, “I will restore health unto thee, and heal thee of thy wounds, saith the Lord, because they called thee an outcast, saying, This is Zion, whom no man seeketh after.” The breaking down of the kingdom of God took place at the rise of the four great monarchies. From the day that the King of Babylon destroyed the first temple and carried the Jews captive, the world has seen no theocracy. After the return
from Babylon the Jews remained a conquered and dependent people, subject to Persians, Greeks, and Romans. The kingdom was not restored to Israel ; the supreme power was vested in mortal men, and God appeared not as their Judge, their Lawgiver, their King. The intimate and visible relation once existing between God and Israel, and through them between heaven and earth, has long been interrupted. The children of Israel have for centuries wandered over the world as fugitives, without a country, or a king, an ephod, or a priest. They have been driven from one kingdom to another people. They have been scattered and peeled, meted and trodden down, and God hath looked on in silence. But this state of separation shall not continue for ever. Their relation to God shall be restored, and Elijah be the instrument of the restoration. Elijah, verily, shall first come and restore all things. Without miraculous interposition nothing can be restored. Even though the land of their fathers should be given back, and the power of legislation, and the privileges of an independent nation, they could not erect the kingdom of God. Neither could all the sovereigns of the world renew the relation between God and Israel.
To restore is not to make or establish anything new, but to re-establish that which has once been. The promise of restoration, therefore, implies the re-establishment of all that once distinguished Israel as the peculiar people of God. The two chief characteristics were, that they were the kingdom of God, and the Church of God, and these shall be theirs again. “And thou, O tower of the flock, the stronghold of the daughter of Zion, unto thee shall it come, the former dominion: the kingdom shall be the daughter of Jerusalem.” When all the world is wondering after the beast, and all that dwell on the earth, whose names are not written in the book of life, are worshipping him, being deceived by the working of Satan, with all power, and signs, and lying wonders, and with all deceivableness of unrighteousness in those that perish, Christ will have a testimony and witnesses in the land where he suffered. Elijah shall come, and by his presence exhibit the restored communication between earth and heaven, promote the great work of repentance amongst his people, and prepare the way of the Lord, lest he come and smite the earth with a curse.
BY THE REV. R. W. DIBDIN, M.A.,
MINISTER OF WEST-STREET EPISCOPAL CHAPEL, ST. GILES.
2 Sam. XXIII. 3—5.
“ He that ruleth over men must be just, ruling in
the fear of God. And he shall be as the light of the morning, when the sun riseth, even a morning without clouds ; as the tender grass springing out of the earth by clear shining after rain. Although my house be not so with God; yet he hath made with me an everlasting covenant, ordered in all things, and sure : for this is all my salvation, and all my desire, although he make it not to grow.".
In these remarkable “last words” of David, the King of Israel, we find,