Abbildungen der Seite
PDF
EPUB

have been, all connection between them and the land of their fathers, were they a people numbered among the nations, might well have seemed ere now, so far as human foresight could discern, to have ceased for ever. And yet the separate, though similar fates of the land and of the people, are in fact so closely linked together and interwoven in the unerring word of the unchangeable Jehovah, that clearly as the long-continued blindness and dispersion of the Jews were foretold, so clearly does the very degree of desolation to which their father-land should finally be reduced, rank among the measures of the time of their return,

The Lord said to Isaiah, when he beheld his glory, “Go, and tell this people, Hear ye, indeed, but understand not; and see ye, indeed, but perceive not. Make the heart of this people fat, and make their ears heavy, and shut their eyes; lest they see with their eyes, and hear with their ears, and understand with their heart, and convert, and be healed. Then said I, how long? And He answered, Until the cities be wasted without inhabitant, and the houses without man, and the land be utterly desolate, and the Lord have removed men far away, and there be a great forsaking in the midst of the land. But yet in it shall be a tenth, and it shall return, and shall be eaten : as a teil tree and as an oak, whose substance is in them when they cast their leaves, so the holy seed shall be the substance thereof."

The land of Israel, as possessed and peopled of old by the seed of Jacob, and also the neighbouring regions, which, as shown in the following pages, were included within the promised inheritance, are so full of literal illustrations of literal predictions, that, as the author has been enabled to show in successive editions of the

[יי

1 Isa. vi. 9-13.

Evidence of Prophecy, the truth of more than two hundred texts, or upwards of a hundred distinct prophecies, may be read in the history and existing state of the land, and of its desolate cities. The curses of the covenant which the Israelites brake, are there as legible, word for word, as in the oracles of the living God, whose covenant it was, and who made it with the Israelites when they first entered into Canaan. They have taken effect till nothing more than the predicted tenth is left.

The hope expressed in the preface to the first edition of that treatise, of bringing the subject of the literal fulfilment of prophecy into view, especially as illustrated by the discoveries of recent travellers, has been amply realized ; and many prophetic topics that needed illustration are now familiar to thousands. It is therefore needless to repeat the proofs of the existing desolation, or to trace anew the discriminating features of the ruined cities, as drawn of old by the prophets. But the hope is cherished of presenting many of them to the Christian public, and of setting them before unbelievers, without the aid either of the pen or of the pencil. Yet as one reason, among many others, for exciting interest in another theme, and for regarding other words of the Lord that have to be accomplished in another way, the degree of desolation marked in the preceding words uttered by the Lord in the hearing of the prophet, as he looked upon his glory, may here prove a befitting introduction to a covenant without a curse.

No man hath seen the Father at any time; but centuries before his incarnation, the Lord of hosts, the eternal Word, who is the same yesterday, to-day, and for eter, spake to the prophet of the long-continued blindness and impenitence

· Evidence of Prophecy, pp. 97–263.

? By a process which may be said to be natural, the calyotype, or daguerreotype.

1

of Israel, and answered his question, How long? by an appeal to what the land should finally become, ere that blindness should cease. But the Lord did not appear in his glory to Isaiah, amid the halleluiahs of the cherubim, and send an angel to touch his lips with a live coal from off the altar, to enable him to ask the question, in order that He himself might return to it an unmeaning or indefinite answer. It becomes man, who is a worm, to regard with reverence, and to hear with faith, the words which the Lord hath spoken. “My days are like a shadow, that declineth," saith the Psalmist; " and I am withered like grass. But thou, O Lord, shalt endure for ever, and thy remembrance unto all generations. Thou shalt arise, and have mercy upon Zion : for the time to favour her, yea, the set time, is come. For thy servants take pleasure in her stones, and favour the dust thereof; so the heathen shall fear the name of the Lord, and all the kings of the earth thy glory. When the Lord shall build up Zion, He shall appear in his glory. He will regard the prayer of the destitute, and not despise their prayer.

This shall be written for the generation to come ; and the people which shall be created shall praise the Lord.” As thus it is written for a generation to come, so the Lord appeared in his glory to Isaiah, when He made known to him the time of the final termination of the blindness of Israel.

Earthly sovereigns are the executioners of the judgments of the heavenly King; and do, even when it is not in their heart to think so, all His pleasure. Often, as unconsciously, have sceptical writers, like Gibbon or Volney, recorded the things by which His word is illustrated. But it is worthy of remark, as if official evidence were needed here, that the British Government, a few years ago, sent forth a commissioner to make inquiry, and to report on the state of Syria, whose report,

when completed, was presented to both houses of Parliament by command of her Majesty. It supplied some striking additional illustrations, seemingly unconsciously given, of literal prophecies concerning the land. Among these not the least remarkable, is the very first paragraph of the appendix, or the report of Mr Consul Moore, an intelligent observer, who has resided for

years in the land.

“Syria is a country whose population bears no proportion to its superficies, and the inhabitants may be considered, on the most moderate calculation, as reduced to a tithe of what the soil could abundantly maintain under a wiser system of administration.":3 And in the body of the report it is stated, that “ the country is capable of producing tenfold the present produce. "4

According to the word of the Lord, They that dwell therein are desolate, and few men left. The city that went out by a thousand shall leave an hundred, and that which went out by a hundred shall leave ten, to the house of Israel. Make the hearts of this people fat, and make their ears heavy, und shut their eyes, &c. And I said, how long? And He answered, Until the cities be wasted without inhabitant, and the houses without man, &c.; but yet in it shall be a tenth, &c.

Is it not time, then, to look to another covenant than that which bears the curses that have indeed devoured the land, but have also their term assigned them by the Lord ?

“ The covenant of works, and the covenant of grace have often divided Christian theology between them, as in some respects they rightly may. But there are other

[ocr errors]

| Report on the Commercial Statistics of Syria. London, 1840. · Evidence of Prophecy, pp. 427-9. 3 Report on Syria, p. 111. * Report on Syria, p. 90. 5 Isaiah xxiv. 6. 6 Amos v. 3.

or more defined covenants in the word of God, to which it becomes believers to have respect. That which God made with Abraham, of promise and of grace, is everlasting, and knows no other termination than that of the heavens and of the earth.

In the subsequent pages the perpetuity of that covenant concerning the land, and its connection with that which was made with the Israelites when the Lord brought them out of Egypt, and with the new and everlasting covenant which He will make with the house of Israel, and with the house of Judah, and also with the covenant which the Lord made with David concerning his throne, is, in the first place, brought within the view of the reader. The borders of the land, not as it was anciently possessed, but as set of the Lord, naturally form the immediately succeeding theme, which is treated at so great length as to demand an apology. But so little was the writer aware, ere he entered on the investigation, of the full extent, especially on the north, of the Scriptural boundaries of the promised land, that, when requested at a recent date to mark their limits, for the construction of a map, he drew a line a little to the north of Hamath, conscious that it was included ; but, unobservant then of the precise Scriptural definition of the entrance into Hamath, he drew it regardless of any entrance, or any natural border whatever, across a double chain of mountains. This obvious error led to a closer examination. And now he can plead only the novelty of the topic in excuse for this lengthened illustration, for which, if he mistake not, a few words may henceforth suffice, without the hazard of a repetition of the error.

In the sequel of the volume proof is adduced, from its past history and actual condition, of the goodliness of the land; of its natural fertility, not impaired but in

« ZurückWeiter »