THE JUBILEE YEAR. BY REV. W. THISTLETHWAITE, M.A.

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Levit. XXV. 10. Ye shaU hallow the Jijlieth yeaVy and proclaim liherty throughout aU the land unto aU the inhabitants thereof: it shaU be a jubilee unto you ; and ye sháU retum every man to his possession^ and ye shaU retum every m^an unto his family. The whole state of the Jewish nation, civil, political^ and religious, was of a very peculiar nature. The Lord God was their govemor and king, till in the pride of their hearts they would not be content with his sovereignty^ but desired to have a king to rule over them as the other nations had. Yet he himself appointed their laws and ordinances and ceremonies. And while they were taught by this to consider themselves as under his

THE JUBILEE YEAR. 241 especial goyernment and protection^ thesë very appointments were every one of them iutended to sbadow forth the dispensation of his spiritual kingdom in the times of the gospel. Among these appointments there were none more remarkable than the sabbatical and júbilee jears^ of which an account is coBtained in this twenty-fifth chapter pf Leviticus. They were ordinances peculiarly calculated to impress upon tbe minds of the Israelites, that they and their possessions were the Lord's ; that they had received all from him, and that he had made such dispositíous of them as he pleased. But let us remember that they also represent the peculiar privileges, mercies, and blessings of the

gospel of Christ We wiU enqiure into the nature and intention of ihese remarkable appointments. The text iiideed re£ers only to the year of jubilee, but I shall take occasion from it to consider the sabbatical year also. I will endeavour then, in the first place, to give the scríptúre account of these ordinances, and, in the VOL. III. M

242 THE JUBILEE YEAR. second place, to shew in what manner thej represented the mercy and grace of the gospel. May the God of sabbaths and ordinances give his blessing on the subject. I. The account of the sabbatical year is given us in the preceding verses. And the first thing to be observed of it is this, that it was to be a year of rest to the land. 'As on the seventh day of the week, so on each seventh year, there was to be no tilling, ploughing, mowing, or reaping, of any kind. The land was also to lie open for the common use of all the people. That which grew naturally and spontaneously of itself, or was the produce of seed scattered or left in the preceding year, might be gathered and used for food by all. It was for the poor, as well as for the owner, and for the sustenance of the beasts of the field. Evidently one principal intention herein was to put an additional honoiir on the sabbath day, as a memorial of the rest of God from his work of creation. In the next chapter we find several grievous threatenings against the people if they should walk contrary to God, and not obey his

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coinmandmeuts and statutes, aud especially that tliey should be carried away captive iuto an enemy's land, dnring which time their own land should lie desolate; aud we fínd in the thirty-fifth verse, that this judgment should be inflicted upon them for their neglect of the rest of the sabbath and the sabbatical year, for the Lord there says, " As long as the land lieth desolate, it shall rest; because it did not rest ou your sabbaths, when ye dwelt upon it." And when that captivity came, and the Jews were carried away to Babylon, it is expressly said that they were servants unto the kiug of the Chaldees and his sons, ^^ until the land had enjoyed her sabbaths, for as long as she lay desolate, she kept sabbath, to fulfil threescore and ten years." All this is a manifest proof of the jealousy vrith which God regards the observance of his sabbaths. Another remarkable circumstance in the Jewish law respectíng the sabbatical year was the remission of all debts that were owing to the Israelites by any of their brethren. We find it in the beginning of the M2

244 THE JUBILEE YEAR. fifteenth chapter of Deuteronomy, " At the end of every seven years thou shalt make a release : every creditor that lendeth ought to his neighbour shall release it; he shall not exact it of his neighbour or his brother; because it is caUed the Lord's release/' Tlie creditor might exact his debt at any time previous to . the year of release ; but when that árrived, it was to be remitted by him. I now proceed to state to you the circumstances respecting the jubilee year, to whicb the text especially refers. It retumed every fiftieth year. *^ Ye shall hallow the fiítieth year." When they had numbered seven times seven, or forty-nÍHe years, then they were to cause the trumpet to sound throughout the whole land, proclaimingthat the approaching year was the jubilee, to be observed with peculiar ceremonies. It is from this sounding of the trumpet that its name is deríved, the Hebrew \^ord, jubilee, meaning a sonorous and joyful sound. On this year, as on eyery seventh or sabbatical year, they were forbidden either to sow or reap, and assured

THE JUBILEE YEAR. 245 that the land should hring forth suffideut ÍTuit in the preceding ýears to meet this deficiency. In this respéct it was the same as every sabbatical year, but there were other circumstances peculiar to itself alone, of a yery remarkable nature. These were, the universal restoration of their lands, and the uuiyersal restoratíon of their freedom. If anj of the Israelites, through misfortuue, impru4ence, or misconduct, had been

obliged to sell his patrímonial lands, or any part thereof, they retumed to him fiee at the year of jubilee, if he could not redeem them sooner. The whole country was held by them under a particular tenure. Jehoyah himself was the Lord under whom they held it. They could Dot alienate it^ or sell it out entirely for eyer ; it could osly be disposed of till the nex.t ensuing jubilee, and then eyery man and eyery family entered again on his original possessions. Their land was a grant to them from God himself with this reseryation upon it. Thus we read in the twemty-third yerse, " The land shall not be sold for eyer ; for the land is mihe ; for ye

246 THE JTBILEE TEAK.

are stnuigere and sojoumeni wMi me;' This fras the anÍFersal law to tlie natioo. There is something analogoos to this in the acts of our own conntiy. Lands gianted hy the king or given bj the nation for splendid services, are often attached to the title of nobilitj which nsoally is confeired at the same time, and descend witii it in continnal succession. The present possessor may, by extravagauce or misconduct, deyrive himsdf of any advantage from them, eyen during the whole term of his natural life, but at his death they retnm again to the heir of the family. Among the Israelites eyery inheritance was held under this peculiar law of God's appointment, which we are confiádering, and at the jubilee year every man retumed to his house and possessions. And moreoyer, if any of die Israelites had been reduced to a state of slavery, whether he had sold himself yoluntarily, or had been sold for debt or theft or other cause by the authority and sentence of the judge^ all uniyersally recoyered their freedom in the

year of jubilee. The general law respectíng

THE JUBILEE YEAR. 247 personal slavery, for personal slayeij was aHowed by the law, was this, that every one was to be released from it at the end of six years; no one could be held in bondage for a longer time; and if an Israelite had sold himself to a rich sojonmer among them of another nation, he might redeem himself at any time within the six years, or be redeemed by his relatives, on payment of an eqoitable som. Some however chose to continue longer in that state, and this determination was to be made known before the magistrate^ and acknowledged by allowing his ear to be pierced with an awl^ and fastened to the door of his master's hoase. Bat these slaves, and all others, of the Israelitish nation, were to go out perfectly free at the year of jubilee, for then they were to proclaim liberty ' throughout all the land unto all the inhabitants thereof. These were then to retum every man to his possession, and every man to his family. ow these ordinances were most extraordinary. They wëte founded entirely on the command of God, and secured by his

248 THE JUBILEE YEAR. providence. He engaged that the piecedmg; year should alwajs prodace enough ibr the supplj hoth of itselfy and of the sabbatical or jubilee year. o hum^n legislator would erer have dared to promulge such a law as lliisi^ with such a promise atlached to it, upon his own authorityy and the appointment of these ordinances is a manifest proof that the whole of the Jewish law, and conseqmently of the Jewish religion, was immediatdy from

God. These were also wise and merdful appointments. Wise for one great porpose wUch God had in view, because by this law^ which forbade the perpetual alienation of their land^ a regular genealogy of every particular tribe and family would be preserved, and thereby might be determined the exact fíilfihnent of the prophecies respecting the Redeemer, <má the stock from which he should sprlng : merciful also, since everj familj was preserved írom being totall j ruined for ever by any head of it, and eveiy individual prevented from being cruelly oppressed bejond measure, or without hope of relief.

THE JUBILEE YEAR. 249 What a joyful year must the year of jubilee have been to the poor. They were the people tl^at had the greatest cause to rejoice in it. Their debts were rdeased, their liberties recovared, their possessidns restored. The sound of the jubilee trumpet luust have been to them a joyful sound indeed. And we are told by Jewish writers that at that season the poor debtors and slaves and those who had been obliged to part with their lands, crowned their heads with garlands, and made processioDs, and shewed every demonstration of joy. It was a blessed ánd happy «eason to them. The hard-hearted creditor might repine at ihe liberation of his slave; the rich man might feél reluctance to restore the land ; but among the poor all would be gladness, and joy, and happiness. My soul looks back with delight upon the glad occasion, and fandes itself even now in the happy land, when every poór man's face bore an expressíon of satisfaction, and beamed with a smile of thankfulness and II. I now proceed, in the sécond place, to shew in what manner these ordinances

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250 THE JUBILEE YEAR. amoDg the Jews represented the mercj and grace of the gospel. There can be no doubt that this was the year to which our Lord referred, when, quoting the prophet Isaiah, he spake of the acceptable year of the Lord. He reads thus in the synagogue from that prophet, " The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he hath anointed me to preach the gospel to the poor, he hath sent me to heal the brokenhearted, to preach deliverance to the captives, and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty them that are bruised, to preach the acceptable year of the Lord." And then he said, " This day is this scripture fulfilled in your ears." The gospel dispensatíon therefore is the sinner's jubilee ; and as that word jubilee signiíies a joyful sound, so the word gospel signifies glad tidings. And blessed are the people who hear the sound of joy which it sends forth. View the sinner as a debtor, a debtor to God in the sum of ten thousand talents, and having nothíng wherewith he can pay. The gospel proclaims a remission, a remission of

THE JUBILEE YEAR. 251 debts, that is, of aiilB, to eyeiy soul that is oppressed with their weíght, and eamestly desires the boBefit of its grace. And neyer onght the proclamation of a ^neral goal delivery to gire half the pleasnre to poor imprisoned debtors and felons, which the general proclamation of the remission of sins oQght to give to sinners. The whole dispensation óf the gospel is a jnbilee year, a season

of grace, and every sermon that preaches its loving-kindness and mercy, is the sound of its trumpet announcing the glad tidings of salvation through the redemption of JesQs upon its terms of repentance and faith in him. View the sinner as a bondman, a servant, and slave. He has sold himself by sin to Satan^ who, as a tyrannical master, has him Qnder his power^ and holds him in his chain. But tbé gospel jubilee proclaims a deliverance. Jesus rescues sinners who believe in him from their bondage. He destroys the works of the devil, and sets his oppressed captives free from all his power. — ^Again, the sinner is in bondage under wrath and

262 THE JUBILEE YEAR. condenination. The law-tFiinipet tbunders out a curse npón bis soidl Its han^ lond note, as it sounds from Sinai proclaimÍBg'that curse, condemns aud ternfies. Bnt the silTer tone of the gospel-tmmpei prodaims pardon, peace, and reconciliation with God. It ^sanounces a iustification thraa&rh faith, and a sanctification by grace, aad thL inapú^s hope and joy. — Once more, the isinner is a slave to fear. He is afraid of God, afbdd of death, afraid of a world to come. But the gospel brÍDgs liberty, liberty of conscience, liberty of soul, liberty in prayer. By it he rec^Tes, ^^ not the spirit of bondage again to fear, bnt the spirit of adoption," by which he cries, Abba, Father. Jesus, by fais power and grace, delivers those. " who throngh fear of death were all their lifetime subject to bondage," and gives them in prospect after it, a hope full of immortality* ow view the sinner as haying spent and wasted his original inheritance. Once the first head of his family held a fair possession in Eden. But it was forfeited through trans-

gression. His descendants have trodden in

THE JUfilLEE YEAR. 253 his ateps. They too bave sold their heavenly inherítaiice for a thíng of nought, even for the pleasure of sinning. Bnt the gospeltrumpet proclaims a retum. '^ Ye faave sold yourselves for nought, and ye shall be redeemed without monejr.'' The rích free grace of the Redeemer is made known, giving to as many as receive him the power and prívilege of again becoming the sons of God. He proclaims a return to the love and favour of the etemal Father, and the enjoyment of heaven. He has himself entered into the purchased possession^ redeemed for sinners who shall believe on him with the price of his own blood. In his fatber^s house are many mansions, and thither is he gone to prepare a place for his ransomed people. There is an inherítance incoiruptible and undefíled, reserved for tbose who are kept by the power of God through faith unto salvation, The dispensation of the gospel is the real jttbilee

then of which the other was the tjpe. This is the acceptable year of the Lord. Behold now is the accepted time, and now is the day of freedom, remission, and salvation. ^ The

254 THE JUBILEE Y£AR. year of jubilee ís come^ Return ye raDsomed sinners home.' Return, like the prodigal son, with penitence and prayer, believing in Chríst^ and you shall again recover and be reinstated in the fair inheritance which you had sold and lost through sin. And now, in application of this subject, I auswer those who maj be disposed to ask, to whom is this proclamation of mercj made ? It is made with the grace and freeness of the King of kings. The proclamation of Cyrus, giving leave to the captive Jews to retum to Jerusalem was not more large. That proclamation ran thuS;, ^^ Who is there among jou of all his people ? His God be with him^ and let him go up to Jerusalem, which is in Judah; and build the house of the Lord 6od of Israel, (he is the God,) which is at Jerusalem." The proclamation of the gospel runs thus, as it is delivered bj the evangelical prophet Isaiah, ^^ Ho^ every one that thirsteth, come ye to the waters." It runs thus^ as in sweet and mild accents it falls írom the mouth of Jesus^ ^^ Come unto me^ all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I wiU give you

THE JUBILEE YEAR. 295 rest." " Whosoever cometh to me, I will in no wise cast out." It rans thus, as it pro-

ceeds from the spirit and the bride, the church of Christ, " Whosoever will, let him take of the water of life freely." Well might it have been said, ^' Ye have sown the wind, and je shall reap the whirlwind ;" but instead thereof we read, as I have already quoted, " Ye have solS yourselves for nought, and ye shall be redeemed without money.** Yes, be it ever remembered that this deliverance is perfectly free to the sinner, though prociired at immense cost to his great surety and bondsman. " Ye were redeemed, not with corraptible things, as silver and gold, but with the precious blood of Christ." The inheritance on which the returaing soul is to enter is called, '' the purchased possession," because it has been purchased at the cost of the life of the Son of God in the body of our human nature. It is the reception of this truth which secures the blessing. *^ This is the record, that God hath given to us eteraal life, and this life is in his Son. He that hath the Son hath life, and

256 THE JUBILEE YEAR. he that hath not the Son of God hath not life." " To as many as recdve him, to them gives he power to become the sons of God, even to them who believe on his name." Let aU then come to him who through a felt convictiou of their sins think themselves ready to perish. Let them seek the Saviour. Let them return unto God through him. He is the redeemer of their forfeited inherítance ; he is the restorer of their lost Kberty ; he pays the debts which they have contracted with Gody and answers every demand of his law upon them ; it is his grace whicJi sets the oppressed free ; it is liis year which is the year of jubilee. " Surely shall one say, In the Lord have I righteousness and strengib/' in the Lord deliverance from sin, restoratíén to my birthright, and an inherítance in heaven. Draw nigh then to him in penitence ; apply in prayer; come in faith. Let the eye of your mind take an enlightened view of tfae gospel method of salvation. Let the deiáres of your soul spring forth to possess it. And in order that you may possess it, stríve, 'oh ! stríve to ^' win Chríst and to be found in

THE JUBILEE YBAR. 257 him." Labour that you may enter into his rest, that peaceful aud happy land of religion and pietj on earth, wbich ia an earnest aud anticipatíon of the ^^ iuherítauce incorruptible and uhdefiled/' of buildiugs -^^not made with hands^ eternal in the heaveus/' Happy iudeed are ye who have known the joyful sound. You are "justífied Ireely;" you have " peace with God;" you may " rejoice in hope of his glory.'' You are made firee, aud '^ those whom.the Son makes free, are free indeed." You are delivered

" from the boudage of corruptiou into the glorious liberty of sons of God." " Staud fast then iu the liberty whêrewith Christ hath made you free, aud be uot eutaugled again by the yoke of boudage." " Ye have been called to liberty, only use not liberty for au occasion to the flesh." Yes, beloved brethren, you are no longer the slaves of Satan and sin, but oh ! remember and shew that y ou aré the servants of Christ. You are no longer debtors lying in a prison-house, but oh ! ever think how greatly you are indebted to Christ for your liberation, yea, that you owe to him

258 THE JUBILEE YEAR. even your whole spirít, and soul, and body. Yes, you are free indeed, bnt jon have been made free from sin that you may be servants of righteousness. You are not your own. You have been " bought with a price," Oh ! you well know whatthat price was, "therefore glorify God in your body and in your spirit, which are his.'' Shew that you not only choose to remain with him, as a slave who had allowed his ear to be nailed to the door of a kind master's house, but that you désire to abide with him as a son, to serve him with the utmost affection and love, even as a son begotten and bom again by his grace.

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