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worship of God, and all things connected with the general instruction of the people, would be comparatively small, when the sums expended by irreligious princes in needless luxury and splendour, or in more criminal pursuits, are considered.
It is in this view observable, that they among the kings and princes of Judah, who (in addition to the legal dues,) most liberally contributed towards the expenses of the instituted worship of God out of their own revenues, or gains, or spoils, or estates, (from David and his immense treasures, dedicated to God, for the building of the temple, to Josiah and his princes,) are never censured by the sacred writers for so doing, but the contrary: some of them also, at least, were in other respects more indisposed to lavish expenditure, than the other kings and princes. Josiah, for instance, was contented with the ancient mansions of his predecessors; as Hezekiah also had been: his expenditure was of another kind: but Jehoiakim his son, whose profaneness equalled his father's piety and holy zeal, brought on himself this awful and instructive rebuke for his profuse magnificence, "Wo unto him that buildeth his house by. "unrighteousness and his chambers by wrong; "that useth his neighbour's service without wages, " and giveth him not for his work; that saith, I "will build me a wide house, and large chambers, "and cutteth him out windows, and it is ceiled "with cedar, and painted with vermilion. Shalt "thou reign, because thou closest thyself in cedar?
12 Chr. xxxv. 7-9.
"Did not thy father eat and drink, and do judg"ment and justice, and then it was well with "him? He judged the cause of the poor and "needy; then it was well with him. Was not "this to know me? saith the Lord. But thine
eyes and thine heart are not but for thy cove"tousness." Nehemiah also, who enforced the payment of the dues to the priests and Levites, and at vast expense supported the cause of his. people and his religion; would not make any advantage of his station, or suffer his servants to do it; or even take the emoluments which had been paid to former governors.2 Can any man help perceiving that, if Christian kings, rulers, princes, and senates would thus spare in various other ways, that they might imitate these pious and zealous rulers of Judah; and see to it that a proper distribution was made of the sums thus appropriated, to things immediately connected with true religion; much indeed might be done without further burdening their subjects.
It is, in my view, no small confirmation of the point which I am desirous of establishing (namely, that the conduct of the pious kings of Israel and Judah was not adopted in obedience to any part of the ritual or political law of Moses, or . by any establishment made in that law, but was intended as an example for kings and princes, professing Christianity, to imitate,) that the spirit of prophecy mentions the grand outlines of their
'Jer. xxii. 14-19.
'Neh. v. 8. 10, 14-19. x. 29-39. xiii. 10-13.
conduct, either as predicting it, or enjoining it on the princes who shall reign over Israel, in the approaching happy days of the church. The general prediction in Isaiah, that " kings shall be "nursing fathers, and their queens nursing "mothers,"1 to the church, seems to imply all that has been stated, and much more; especially as compared with the prophecy in the sixtieth chapter. But how can kings, queens, and princes answer this character, or perform their duty, and improve their talent, in this respect, by a line of conduct resembling that of Gallio?2 or without imitating Jehoshaphat, Hezekiah, and Josiah, by employing their authority and wealth in the support of true religion, "according to the word of "God?" But, should kings and nobles copy the example of these pious rulers and princes of Israel: should they concur in exciting, encouraging, and requiring the ministers of religion to attend to their peculiar duties, with constancy and assiduity: should they take care that a suitable provision be made for them and their families, while thus employed; so as to preclude the temptation to leave the word of God to procure a maintenance, and the temptation to excuse this, which urgent poverty supplies: should they take care that all who are thus maintained apply themselves to the duties of their office; especially encouraging and countenancing the diligent and zealous: should kings and emperors, by their example, stimulate their nobles and more affluent subjects to offer willingly and liberally in this best of
Is. xlix. 23.
2 Acts xviii. 12-17.
causes, and to retrench proportionably all needless expenses: and should all compulsive and persecuting measures be at the same time avoided;, would they not then become indeed "nursing "fathers to the church?
Whatever interpretation may be given of Ezekiel's last vision, two things must be allowed: 1. That it is divinely inspired; and therefore has some appropriate and important meaning, which will at length be clearly understood: and, 2. That it is prophetical, and not historical; for nothing in the whole history of Israel, from the beginning to this day, at all accords to it. The order in which it is placed, subsequent to the restoration of Israel, and the prophecy of Gog and Magog, fixes the intended period to the expected glorious millennium. If it be interpreted exclusively of the state of restored Israel, during that happy period; yet it cannot be admitted that the ceremonial law of Moses, which the apostle (who, doubtless, was well acquainted with this part of "the oracles of God,") expressly declares was "waxing old and ready to vanish away," should be reinstated in full authority over the converts to Christianity: and, even if that could be admitted, several of the regulations given in it, concerning the prince and princes, and their conduct in religion, answer to nothing contained in the letter of that law. But, however that may be determined, those things which so exclusively belong to the Old Testament, as to be wholly inconsistent with the dispensation of the New,
2 Heb. vii. 13.
can never be re-established among Christians. Yet scarcely one point in which we suppose that Christian kings should imitate Jehoshaphat, Hezekiah, and Josiah, or Zerubbabel, Ezra, and Nehemiah, is omitted in this vision. A large portion of the land is required to be separated and allotted to the ministers of the sanctuary. It is the prince's part to give " burnt-offerings," ? &c: that is, he shall, like Hezekiah and Josiah, (not to say Darius and Artaxerxes,) bear the expenses of the sacred worship of God, as circumstances may require. 3 3 And, indeed, the regulations concerning those priests who were to be admitted to exercise their sacred function, and those who must be excluded, are evidently given to the prince, or some person or persons exercising authority over the very chief priests themselves. The prince also is every where spoken of as one of the worshippers; so that it would be mere trifling to endeavour to evade this, by saying, that Christ our Prince is meant. 5
It has been intimated above, that, in some of these respects, even heathen kings used their authority and treasures in support of the instituted worship of Israel; and their assistance was accepted by pious Jews without the least scruple: so far was this interposition of princes in the cause of true religion, from being considered as a peculiar part of the Mosaic law, restricted to Israel alone. But then these heathen princes did it, without in
'Ezek. xlv. 1-5. xlvii. 8-20. 32 Chr. xxxi. 24. xxxv. 7-8. Ezek. xliv. 3-16.
"Ezek. xlv. 17-25. Ezra vi. 8-10. vii. 15-24. 3 Ezek. xliv. 3. xlvi. 4, 8, 12.