« ZurückWeiter »
others again there are, and these constitute by far the greatest proportion, which must be exclusively applied to the yet future restoration of Israel ; because they are connected with such circumstances as prevent the possibility of any other application.
This typical mode of foretelling future events very materially affects the phraseology of prophecy. At the era of the restoration of Judah, some great confederacy of God's enemies will be destroyed. Such is the general voice of prophecy; while Daniel and St. John not only teach us that a confederacy of that nature will be destroyed, but intimate very unequivocally of what persons it will be composed. At least, recent events have rendered their predictions, relative to this confederacy, far less equi. vócal and difficult to be understood, than they once necessarily were ; and I doubt not, that every day will throw an increasing light upon them. The confederacy in question is by the other prophets variously pointed out under the mystic names of various ancient enemies and oppressors of the house of Israel. Sometimes, as in the parallel language of the Apocalypse, it is styled Babylon, sometimes Nineveh, sometimes Tyre, but most frequently Edom *.
In prophecies of this nature, it is obvious, that, where Babylon occurs, the destruction of the literal Babylon at the era of the first restoration of the Jews is primarily intended : but the same remark cannot be applied to the other types of the Antichristian confederacy. Neither Nineveh, nor Tyre, nor Edom, were overthrown at the era of the first restoration; and yet, since they have all long since been overthrown, it is manifest, that none of them can literally experience the vengeance of heaven at the yet.future era of the second restoration. Nevertheless it is repeatedly declared, that they shall experience the vengeance of heaven at that very period: hence it is plain, that some mystical Nineveh, Tyre, and Edom, can only be intended. Such accordingly, as we
* It is excellently observed by Bp. Lowth, that, " by a figure very common in the prophetical writings, any city or people, remarkably distinguished as enemies of the people and kingdom of God, is put for those enemies in general. This seems to be the case with Edom and Bozrah." Translat. of Isaiah. Notes on Chap. xxxiv. XXXy. See also his Prælect. Poet. P. 274.
shall find in the sequel, at least in the case of Edom, is the interpretation given by the Jews themselves. With one consent their Rabbies declare, that Edom, when so described, can only mean the fourth beast of Daniel, or the Roman empire: and we, who are Christians, can add, on the authority of St. John, that it must mean the Roman empire in its very last state ; that is to say, the Roman empire when organized into the grand confederacy of Antichrist, now become the last head of the beast. The close connection of the overthrow of Nineveh, Tyre, and Edom, with the restoration of the Jews will sufficiently guard a commentator from the illusions of fancy. This single circumstance will be enough to teach him, whether in any particular prophecy he ought to understand those powers only literally, or whether he is warranted in looking beyond their literal to their mystical import.
The dispersion of the Israelites—Their idolatry in their disper
sion-Their future restoration.
Deuteronomy iv. 27. The Lord shall scatter you among the nations, and ye shall be left few in number among the peoples, whither the Lord shall lead you. 28. And there ye shall serve gods, the work of men's hands, wood and stone, which neither see, nor hear, nor eat, nor smell.
29. But, if from thence thou shalt seek the Lord thy God, thou shalt find him, if thou seek him with all thy heart and with all thy soul. 30. When thou art in tri- . bulation, and all these things are come upon thee, in the end of the days if thou wilt turn unto the Lord thy God and wilt be obedient unto his voice, 31. (For the Lord thy God is a merciful God) he will not forsake thee, neither destroy thee, nor forget the covenant of thy fathers which he sware unto them.
At the time when this prophecy was delivered, the children of Israel were on the point of taking possession of the promised land ; and, humanly speaking, nothing was less likely than that any such calamity, as Moses here predicts, should befall them. Yet, agreeably to his declaration, the ten tribes were first led away captive into Assyria, and have ever since been given up to the delusion of worshipping strange gods. Afterwards the two tribes were carried from their own country to Babylon. And at length the same two tribes were yet more effectually dispersed by the Romans; and are, at the present day, wanderers over the face of the whole earth. In the course of this their last captivity, they have been repeatedly compelled, as if that the prophecy might be completely fulfilled, to bow down before the idols of Popery, and to abjure their own religion *.
See Bp. Newton's Dissert. vir.
Nevertheless, although they be apparently forsaken, God still hath his eye upon them. As they were of old brought back from Babylon ; so will they, in due season be converted from their long apostasy, and be gathered together out of all nations. Nor will Judah alone be restored : Israel likewise shall seek the Lord his God, and be obedient unto his voice. Then shall the two rival kingdoms be for ever united together, so as to form only one people : for God hath declared, that he will not utter. ly destroy them, nor ever forget the covenant which he sware unto their fathers.
The calamities of the siege of Jerusalem--The various circum
stances attending the dispersion of the Jews—Their final conversion and restoration.
Deuteronomy xxviii. 15. It shall come to pass, if thou wilt not hearken unto the voice of the Lord thy God, to observe to do all his commandments and his statutes which I command thee this day; that all these curses shall come upon thee, and overtake thee-46. And they shall be upon thee for a sign and for a wonder, and upon thy seed for ever. 47. Because thou servedst not the Lord thy God with joyfulness and with gladness of heart, for the abundance of all things; 48. Therefore shalt thou serve thine enemies which the Lord shall send against thee, in hunger, and in thirst, and in nakedness, and in want of all things : and þe shall put a yoke of iron upon thy neck, until he have destroyed thee. 49. The Lord shall bring a nation against thee from far, from the end of the earth, as the eagle flieth ; a nation, whose tongue thou shalt not understand ; 50. A nation of fierce countenance, which shall not regard the person of the old, nor shew favour to the young : 51. And he shall eat the fruit of thy cattle, and the fruit of thy land, until thou be destroyed : which also shall not leave thee either corn, wine, or oil, or the increase of thy kine, or flocks of thy sheep, until he have destroyed thee: 52. And he shall besiege thee in all thy gates, until thy high and fenced walls come down, wherein thou trustedst, throughout all thy land: and he shall besiege thee in all thy gates throughout all thy land which the Lord thy God hath given thee.
53. And thou shalt eat the fruit of thine own body, the flesh of thy sons and of thy daughters which the Lord thy God hath given thee, in the siege and in the straitness wherewith thine enemies shall distress thee-56. The tender and delicate woman among you,-her eye shall be evil—57—toward her young one that cometh out from between her feet, and toward her children which she shall bear : for she shall eat them for want of all things secretly in the siege and straitness wherewith thine enemy shall distress thee in thy gates. 58. If thou wilt not observe to do all the words of this law that are written in this book, that thou mayest fear this glorious and fearful name, The Lord thy God; 59. Then the Lord will make thy plagues wonderful, and the plagues of thy seed, even great plagues, and of long continuance, and sore sicknesses, and of long continuance.—63. And it shall come to pass, that, as the Lord rejoiced over you to do you good, and to multiply you ; so the Lord will rejoice over you to destroy you, and to bring you to nought: and ye shall be plucked from the land, whither thou goest to possess it. 64. And the Lord shall scatter thee among all people, from the one end of the earth even to the other; and there thou shalt serve other gods, which neither thou nor thy fathers have known, even wood and stone. 65. And among these nations shalt thou find no ease, neither shall the sole of thy foot have rest : but the Lord shall give thee there a trembling heart, and failing of eyes, and sorrow of mind: 66. And thy life shall hang in doubt before thee : and thou shalt fear day and night, and shalt have none assurance of thy life :-37. And thou shalt become an astonishment, a proverb, and a by-word, among all nations whither the Lord shall lead thee-xxix. 22. So that the generation to come of your children that shall rise up after you, and the stranger that shall come from a far land, shall say, when they see the plagues of that land, and the sicknesses which the Lord hath laid