Abbildungen der Seite
PDF
EPUB

INTRODUCTION.

True in all their emphatic meaning have been the words of the prophet for many ages past, Who shall have pity upon thee, O Jerusalem? or who shall bemoan thee? or who shall turn aside to ask how thou doest?! Yet the time cometh when the truth of other words of more propitious omen shall be as clearly seen, " For the Lord hath proclaimed unto the end of the world, say ye to the daughter of Zion, Behold, thy salvation cometh; behold his reward is with him, and his work before him, and they shall call them, The holy people, The redeemed of the Lord : and thou shall be called, sought out, a city not forsaken."

While the Jews have been scattered among all nations under heaven, the land of Israel,-except in history and in the associations pertaining to ancient times, which suffer it not to be dissevered from the minds or memories of Christians or Jews,-was long almost forgotten as an existing country, and its actual condition in a great measure unknown. After the age of the crusades it ceased to exercise any influence on the world

Jer. xv. 5.

? Isa. lxii. 11, 12.

at large, or any peculiar general interest in Asia or Europe. Its political importance was gone.

And by the discovery of a new passage to India, the line of communication between these two quarters of the world was turned far from its shores. Its coast, though the cradle of commerce, was desolate, lone, and unvisited, the prey of barbarism, and the resort of wild beasts. And it was only towards the close of the last, and the commencement of the present century, that Syria began to be enquired after, and to re-assert its claim to the notice of the world. Bereaving the nations of men, as foretold, and partly fulfilled, it became during the crusades the common grave of Europe, of Asia, and of Africa, yet it could not be rescued from the hands of infidel but not idolatrous Moslems, but was left to the unmarked progress of decay and desolation, till its once vine-clad mountains are bare, and its cities waste, and its plains desolate, and nothing but the scantling of a population left in the land, for the possession of which many myriads had contended, and which in times more ancient had been thickly studded with cities. Yet these, when reduced to desolation, had ruins sufficient in an inquiring age, to attract the traveller, and to command admiration. They were successively searched out, visited, and pourtrayed, till, strange to say, Tadmor or Palmyra, Baalath or Baalbec-built by Solomon-Petra and Gerasa became in succession novelties to the world. New causes speedily conspired to attach a higher interest than that of curiosity to Syria. Lying at the extremity of the Mediterranean, between Britain and India, its locality in a commercial view raised it, by the invention of steam navigation, into a new importance; and the traffic, or at least communication between Asia and Europe, pointed after the lapse of ages towards its direct and original channels. And as the contest between these quarters of the globe for its possession had rivetted on it in former ages the attention of the world, so all eyes were fixed on it again in the course of the last few years, when the question of its subserviency to the pasha of Egypt, or the sultan of Turkey, was a question of the integrity or existence of the Ottoman empire, and consequently of peace or war throughout Europe or the world.

But the heritage of Jacob, however desolate it may lie, or by whatever hordes of Gentiles it may be trodden down, has far higher interest attached to it than that of being a field for the inspection of ruins, and a higher destiny to fulfil than that of a bond of peace, or a cause of war, or any apportioning of earthly kingdoms. Of that land, even as of the people whose it is by the covenant of the Lord God of their fathers, we can speak as of no other. Though it had passed as an existing state into oblivion, and men, in familiar phrase, had lost sight of it, and no one bemoaned it, yet the eyes of the Lord are always upon it, even as he hath declared of Zion, I have graven thee upon the palms of my hands ; thy walls are continually before me; thy destroyers and they that made thee desolate shall go forth of thee. Not to regard the peculiarity of the land, as well as of the people Israel, in respect to the threatened curses and the promised blessings, is to miss the proper character, and to omit the chief discriminating feature of the one and of the other. It would be as unwise as wicked to qualify a historical statement, or wrest a geographical fact in accordance with a fancy, whether to show that all the history and all the facts pertaining to their land, may be explained without a miracle, or whether, more philosophically we think, it be indubitably held, in illustrating the prophecies concerning both, as miraculous throughout, the hand of the Lord being revealed in it all. The

facts are the saine, and have to be stated with the same precision and truth, whether predicted or not. The additional fact, that they were foretold, adds a new import to them all, and solves a problem otherwise inexplicable. A mystery, in the marvellous transition it has undergone, seems to hang over the land as over the people; and the desolation of the one is analogous in character, and coincident in time, with the dispersion of the other. But the sure word of prophecy, to which we do well to take heed, unfolds the future, as it revealed the past, and lays open to the believer's view the declared, but yet unaccomplished purpose of the Lord, which can never be disannulled. The everlasting cocenant with Abraham, with Isaac, and with Jacob, concerning the land as the everlasting possession of their seed, was made with these faithful fathers of the Hebrew race, before that covenant was made with the Israelites under Moses and Joshua, the curses of which, not heard of till then, have come upon the land. As it preceded, it is destined to survive them all. Coming history must therefore bear its part, like all the past, in the actual and finally palpable development, in the sight of all men, of the counsels of the Holy One of Israel, the God of the whole earth, as He yet shall be called And all the idol-devotees of a more worldly policy shall be brought to see, as time advances and momentous events ensue with a closeness and velocity hitherto unparalleled, that all their schemes which accord not with the faith that He is the Ruler among the nations, shall lie as low as the once mighty Babylon, of which nothing is left, and which has crumbled into dust before His word.

The full accomplishment of the judgments that were to come upon the land, is the harbinger of the completion, in the latter days, of the covenant of promise. Expatriated for nearly eighteen centuries as the Jews

« ZurückWeiter »