“When the Most High divided to the nations their inheritance, when he separated the sons of Adam, he set the bounds of the people according to the number of the children of Israel.” Deut. 32:8
This is an important and interesting communication. It supplies us with two facts.
First, that God originally divided the nations their inheritance. When after the deluge he gave the new earth to the children of men, he did not throw it in among them, so to speak, for a kind of scramble, that each might seize what he could, but he assigned them their several portions, that the discontented might not invade the peaceful, nor the mighty prey upon the weak. God permits what he does not approve; but nothing can be more contrary to his pleasure than for powerful states to invade and incorporate little ones. And the crime generally punishes itself. Such unjust and forced accessions add nothing to the safety, strength, or happiness of the acquirers; but become sources of uneasiness, corruption, and revolt; so difficult is it to suppress old attachments, and patriotic instincts that are almost equal to the force of nature. Paul justifies the sentiment of Moses: “He hath made of one blood all nations of men for to dwell on all the face of the earth, and hath determined the times before appointed, and the bounds of their habitation; that they should seek the Lord, if haply they might feel after him and find him, though he be not far from every one of us.”
Secondly, in the arrangement of the limits and conditions of mankind, he had an especial reference to the future commonwealth of Israel. For they were by far the most important detachment of the human race. They were the Lord’s portion, and the lot of his inheritance. They were the depositaries of revealed religion; the heirs of the righteousness which is by faith. To them pertained the adoption and glory and the covenant, and the giving of the law, and the service of God, and the promises; theirs were the fathers; and of them, as concerning the flesh, Christ came. We cannot trace this fact perfectly, for want of more materials; and we know not all the purposes of God in making and keeping the Jews a peculiar body; otherwise we should clearly see how all the dispensations of God corresponded to their privileged destination.
One thing is to be observed. They were not intended to engross the divine favor, but to be the mediums and diffusers of it. They were not only to be blessed, but to be blessings. Hence their being placed in the midst of the earth, that from them knowledge might be derived, and proselytes to revealed religion might be made; and that, in the fullness of time, out of Zion might go forth the law, and the word of the Lord from Jerusalem; and that the great supper, as our Lord calls it, and which was designed for the whole family of Adam, might be spread in the midst of the earth, and be accessible to all.
While we here see that there is nothing like chance in the government of the world, there is what may be called a peculiar providence in particular instances. And here we cannot help thinking of our own country. No country on earth bears such a comparison with Judea, in privilege and design, as this favored land. Its appropriation and appointment will account for its preservation, and emerging from difficulties which seemed likely to swallow it up. And when we consider what it is and what it promises to be, we can find reason for its insular situation; its government, laws, and commerce; its talent and learning, and influence and dominion. We are a sinful people, but as “the new wine is found in the cluster, and one saith, Destroy it not, for a blessing is in it; so, says God, will I do for my servants’ sakes that I may not destroy them all.” We cannot approve of everything we have done, especially in the West and East Indies; but we cannot be ignorant that God is overruling for good; and has ends in view far beyond slave-holders, and mercantile companies, and heroes, and statesmen. We have fought, and we have conquered; but the negro is instructed, and the captive is made free indeed; and openings are made and occupied for the spread of the gospel.
The economies of heaven on earth have always been regulated by one end—the cause of the Messiah; and could we view things as God does, we should perceive how all the revolutions of the world, the changes of empire, the successes or defeats of haughty worms, have affected this cause, immediately or remotely, in a way of achievement or preparation, of purification or increase, of solidity or diffusion; and that all things are going on not only consistently with it, but conducively to it. For says the Ruler over all, “I have sworn by myself, the word is gone out of my mouth in righteousness, and shall not return, That unto me every knee shall bow, every tongue shall swear.”
And O, Christian, there is a special providence over thee. The hairs of thy head are all numbered. One thing regulates all that befalls thee; all the dark, as well as the clear; all the painful, as well as the cheerful—thy spiritual, thy everlasting welfare: “For we know that all things work together for good to them that love God; to them that are called according to his purpose.”
From—MORNING EXERCISES, by Rev. William Jay 1769-1853 (Harrisonburg, Virginia; SPRINKLE PUBLICATIONS, 1998); page 279.