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their God. He gave them free will to choose; and we have seen that choice :a union from the first with surrounding nations, a lingering amidst the heathen lands, or invitations to the heathen within their own-adoption of heathen customs—faithful in the hour of persecution, only to relapse into indifference when the iron rod was withdrawn-the Priesthood, the Sovereignty stained with crimes, even to read which, causes the blood to curdlealliance with the Heathen Mistress of the world, instead of that pure reliance on the Eternal to increase prosperity and dominion, which His law ordained—the holy religion He deigned to teach, so fitted for every class and condition of men, split into opposing factions, arming each against the other-statues and images desecrating the Temple and the land, erected indeed by the Romans, but originating primarily in the Jewish assimilation and alliance with that nation. Was it marvel that the Eternal, in His justice, should make the sin of their assimilation with other nations the very means of their punishment?—and that the power they had courted, flattered, made voluntary submission to (because the Roman name was omnipotent in earthly glory, earthly greatness, forgetting that if they trusted in and served their God, His word had gone forth to make them greatest amongst the nations)—was it marvel that that power should be the instrument in the Eternal's hand to execute His wrath ? We shudder at the horrible oppressions of which we read. Its humun agency must excite our abhorrence, as it would the anger of the Lord; but on themselves the Jews had hurled it; they reaped the wretchedness their own hands had sown.
But let it not be supposed, in the fearful state to
which the nation was reduced, that there were none to uphold the glory of the Lord, and be His witnesses on earth. In the tumultuous annals of the period—in the vast and whelming ocean of despair and misery and crime, how may the historian discern and bring forward those who were yet faithful and accepted servants of the most high God? Yet even as the Eternal promised that Israel should never cease from being a nation before Him, so has He equally promised that He would never be without his witnesses on earth; and, therefore, are we bound to believe that even in this awful epoch of Jewish history, ay, throughout its dark annals of previous years, there were yet, as there had been in the days of Elijah, “seven thousand who had not bowed the knee to Baal.” In every faction, every party, there were noble and faithful spirits of either sex acting or enduring a martyr's part - leavening many a mass of otherwise foul iniquity, and as acceptable to the Almighty as the saints of old. We see them not, we know thern not, for not on earth may we “discern between the righteous and the wicked”-not on earth may their fate be distinct -not in the threatened vengeance of the Eternal might a miracle interpose to protect His faithful from the destruction waiting the rebellious and the sinful, but in His heaven, the distinction between him that serveth Him and him that serveth Him not, was made. And therefore did He permit universal misery and destruction to whelm all on earth, as a warning to the nations, as a witness of His word, a fulfilment of His threatened wrath for disobedience; preparing for the 66 thousands that had not bowed the knee to Baal, such transcendant glory and unspeakable happiness with Him
that the evils they had endured below seemed but as watch in the night,”-or as the transient pang of “yesterday when it is passed.”
In this rapid and very imperfect sketch of the history of Judea, from the return from Babylon to the commencement of the war under the administration of the odious Florus, A. C. 66, we have seen how little of rest or independence she enjoyed—chat in fact massacre and persecution even for religion may be dated many years even centuries before the general dispersion—that the national divisions of tribes, both of land and people, were entirely lost—the throne not once occupied by that royal branch of David which the Eternal has so expressly promised—that the Jews had settled by their own will in various parts of the world besides Jerusalem. And, having seen all this, do we need more than a knowledge of our own history to refute the assertion of our adversaries, that our return from Babylon fulfilled the prophecies? Shall we not rather, in deepest gratitude and consolation, take them to our hearts and believe in their fulfilment yet TO COME ! rejoicing even as did the venerable Akiba, who laughed when his companions wept, at beholding a fox run out from the place where the Holy of Holies once stood; and, being asked the wherefore of such unseemly mirth, replied by inquiry wherefore they wept : “ Should we not weep," they answered, “when we see the curse so clearly verified; • for the mountain of Sion, foxes shall walk upon it ! ” 6 And therefore do I laugh,” replied the venerable
6 Whilst the evil remained unaccomplished, there might have been doubts entertained for the fulfilment of the good promised by our prophets; but now, when
we see the evil coming to pass, can we possibly doubt the eventual fulfilment of the consolation of Zion, and does not God rather reward than punish ?” And shall we not also rejoice ; for Akiba's hope is ours !
THE MARTYR MOTHER.
In a time so fraught with national confusion, foreign alliances, treacherous peace, or destructive war, as the period which our sketch comprises, history reveals but little to aid us in our attempt to delineate the character and condition of our female ancestors. Yet that little is most important, tending unanswerably to prove the exaltation of our social position, the elevation of our individual character, and also to convince us that there was not a single law then in force that could, either morally, physically, or socially debase us. We shall find the influence of woman actuating man, in more than one instance, for the evil unhappily, also with the good; but the very power of the evil is, as we have before said, an argument in favour of our equality and freedom.
During the persecution under Antiochus Epiphanes, the sufferings of the women of Israel must have been as fearful, as their constancy and fidelity were powerful proofs, of the perfect adaptation of the Law of the Eternal, to their temporal and spiritual wants. Never could a religion which made them soul-less slaves, have become so dear, so part of their very hearts, that it was easier to endure torture, and slavery, and death rather than depart from it themselves, or refuse its privileges to their infant sons. Eighty thousand persons, men, women, and children, slain in the forcible entrance of Antiochus within Jerusalem, and forty thousand of both sexes sold into slavery was the horrible preface to the misery which