The Jews had held their land on the tenure of the covenant made with Abraham for them, Gen 13:15,16; 15:16; and with their fathers when the Lord brought them up out of Egypt as above noticed; but which covenant they broke, and continued to break in every perverse way. And as a farmer forfeits his good farm and his good livelihood thereon, by breaking every item of his lease, even so the Jews forfeited their night to the land of Canaan, by breaking every item of that conditional covenant, or lease, upon the tenure of which the right of possession was given them, and upon the observance of which only, their night of possession was to be secured to them. But forfeited first by the ten tribes, in a way of grievous idolatry, they were driven out of the land and scattered abroad, according to the – conditions of the covenant, Deut 11:16,17,27,28, after holding it seven hundred and thirty years, 2 Kings 17:22,23. Judah not having then so awfully departed from the covenant of the land, continued in it about a hundred and nineteen years longer; ‘Yet the Lord testified against Israel, and against Judah, by the prophets, and by all the seers, saying, – Turn ye from your evil ways, and keep my commandments and my statutes, according to all the law which I commanded your fathers, and which I sent to you by my servants the prophets,’ verse 13. But ‘Judah kept not the commandments of the Lord their God, but walked in the statutes of Israel which they had made,’ verse 19. ‘And the Lord said, I will remove Judah also out of my sight, as I have removed Israel, and will cast off this city Jerusalem which I have chosen, and the house which I said, my name shall be there,’ 2 Kings 23:27. And the Lord’s ways being equal, Ez. 18:29, he drove them out of the land into captivity for seventy years, and then brought them again and reinstated them in the land, on the tenure of the very same covenant, with all its terms and conditions of possession exactly the same.
And the very same commands of the same kind of obedience as a nation, the same warnings and cautions against their departure from the covenant lease of their possession of the land, and the very same rebukes and threatenings on their corruptions in departing from the covenant, and the very same exhortations to the same repentance, reformation, and returning to their covenant, were as perfectly applicable to them to the very end of their polity as a nation and people, as in the early days of the prophets; without any interference whatever with another covenant, or new obligations. But, in spite of all the warnings, cautions, threatenings, and exhortations, of the prophets of their foretime, Judah departed from the covenant and increased their corruptions, until the coming of the greatest of all their prophets, of whom they were warned; saying to Moses, ‘I will raise them up a prophet from among their brethren, like unto thee, and will put my words in his mouth; and he shall speak unto them all that I shall command him. And it shall come to pass, that whosoever will not hearken unto my words, which he shall speak in my name, I will require it of him,’ Deut 18:18,19. And when this greatest of all prophets came, he took his position as a minister and prophet, upon the very ground and premises of all the prophets, in regard to them as a nation, and their state in regard to their covenant of the land; and warned, cautioned, threatened, and exhorted them, on their covenant ground, and ‘in the language of the very same economy, for their good as a nation, as all the prophets had done; and clothed his instructions, reproofs, warnings, threatenings, and exhortations to repent, reform, and return to an agreement with the lease of their land, and covenant economy of their life and being as a nation, with the significant solemnities, not of the power of internal eternally saving grace, which did not belong to this economy; but of miracles and signs, that in truth he was ‘the Son,’ and that great Prophet. And they continuing in their hardened degeneracy from the word and statutes of their covenant, and rejecting with hostility his exhortatory ministry thereto, and to their following him in external regeneration of times, customs, and dispensation, according to the word of their own prophets concerning such a new order of things, and which they themselves used to speak of as the new times, when the consolation of Israel should come, but which they now resisted; he said unto them, ‘If thou hadst known, even thou, at least in this thy day, the things which belong unto thy peace,’ as a nation and people; ‘but now they are hid from thine eyes,’ Luke 19:42-44. ‘Behold, your house is left unto you desolate,’ Matt 23:38. What house is this? Because, if this text were an eternal salvation text, this house must be heaven, now left void and desolate of them who might have inhabited it! But nay, the text is national, and the house is their city and land, and the right of possession which they had forfeited, by violating every item of their lease or covenant of it, and their ejectment was accordingly thus determined and declared by the Lord of the soil.
John Foreman (1792-1872) was a Strict and Particular Baptist preacher. He was appointed the Pastor of Hill Street Chapel, Marylebone, serving this position for close to forty years.