Modern Commentary Related to Chapter II
DECLINE AND LOSS OF THIS SCIENCE AMONG THE JEWS.
O horrid! awful! melancholy sight!
A nation, wont to soar ‘mid realms of light,
Degraded, fallen, sunk in dark despair,
The hiss, the scorn, the bye-word everywhere;
No eye to pity, and no arm to save,
Till wearied nature finds an exile’s grave.
It now becomes our painful task to trace the decline of the science of Theology and its powers among the nations, and to review the awful consequences of such decline.
We will commence with the Jewish nation.
The science of Theology, as we have just reviewed, was enjoyed, and its powers were wonderfully developed, under the several dispensations called Patriarchal, Mosaic, and Jewish.
There had, however, been a great decline, a retrogression of the powers and knowledge of the same, previous to their restoration by John the Baptist and Jesus Christ.
This was owing to the general prevalence of sectarian principles, divisions, precepts, commandments, and doctrines of men, by which the Law and the Prophets were made void, and a veil was thrown over them, or over the hearts of men, by which means they were misunderstood, or rather, not understood at all.
It therefore became the duty of Jesus Christ and his Apostles and Elders, as well as of his forerunner, to reprove those sects, denounce their doctrines and traditions, and restore that which was lost in this great science.
This restoration was at first confined strictly to the nation of the Jews. But seeing they turned from it, and judged themselves unworthy of eternal life, preferring their own powerless forms and doctrines, to the science of revelation, miracles, visions, and prophecy, which had ever illuminated the pathway of their more ancient fathers, the Apostles turned from them, by the commandment of the Lord, and translated this science, with its keys and legitimate powers, to the Gentiles.
The nation had rejected and slain the Messiah, stoned the Prophets, and imprisoned and even murdered many of the Apostles and Elders; and Jesus had already, in tears of anguish, announced their doom—
“O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, thou that killest the Prophets, and stonest them which are sent unto thee, how often would I have gathered thy children together, even as a hen gathereth her chickens under her wings, and ye would not! Behold, your house is left unto you desolate. For I say unto you, ye shall not see me henceforth till ye shall say, Blessed is He that cometh in the name of the Lord.”
Again, on another occasion, the Messiah uttered his voice, saying—”There shall be great distress in the land, and wrath upon this people. And they shall fall by the edge of the sword, and shall be led away captive into all nations: and Jerusalem shall be trodden down of the Gentiles, until the times of the Gentiles be fulfilled.”
Again he spake, concerning the Temple, saying—”There shall net be left here one stone upon another, that shall not be thrown down.”
All these things, foretold by the science of Theology, were fulfilled in that generation. And Jerusalem has been destroyed, trodden down by the Gentiles, and the Jews have remained in captivity among the nations until now.
Our readers will readily discern the entire loss of the science and powers of Theology among this nation; the time, circumstances, and reasons of its decline; and the time or circumstances which will restore it unto them.
They lost it when, by the hand of the Apostles, it was taken from them and given to the Gentiles.
The result was, the destruction of their city and temple, and of their national existence.
Their temple, priesthood, and offerings were no longer attended by divine power. Its outward forms were, therefore, of no possible use.
From that very time to the present—One thousand eight hundred and fifty-one of the Christian era, the voice of a Prophet has not been heard among the Jews.
Angels have not ministered unto them.
There has been no vision from the Lord.
No dream or interpretation.
No answer by Urim or Thummim.
No comforting whisper.
All is silence—stillness—solemn blackness of despair.
All is as the similitude and shadow of death.
Oh the weariness, the painful suspense, the watchings, the wanderings, the anxieties, the pains and sorrows of eighteen centuries! Oh the mist of ages which has shrouded a nation as it were in the gloom of an endless night!
When—O when, will their day dawn, and the day star of their ancient science appear above the horizon, disperse the cloud, and usher in the morning of a brighter day?
When the times of the Gentiles are fulfilled.
When they shall welcome a messenger in the name of the Lord.