« AnteriorContinuar »
miserable provisions of life, fought with one another.' And we read in the same author, that a woman of rank and opulence killed and eat her own infant-child'.
But the prophet does not foretell merely the greatness of their sufferings during the siege. What should happen to them at a subsequent period he also predicts : the unexampled dispersion they should experience, the universal opprobriums with which they should be assailed, and the cruel persecutions which they should encounter.
Te shall, says Moses, be plucked from off the land whither thou goest to possess'. And the Lord shall scatter thee among all people, from one end of the earth even unto the other!'.-And among these nations shalt thou find no ease, neither shall the sole of thy feet have rest: but the Lord shall give thee there a trembling heart", and failing of eyes, and sorrow of mind. And thy life shall hang in doubt before thee; and thou shalt fear day and night, and shalt have none assurance of thy life. In the morning thou shalt say, Would God it were even! and at even thou shalt say, Would God it were morning! And thou shalt be oppressed and spoiled evermore.-The Lord will make thy plagues wonderful,—even great plagues, and of long continuance.—And thou shalt become an astonishment, a proverb, and a by-word, among all nations whither the Lord shall lead thee.
It is from the xxviiith ch. of Deuteronomy", that all these remarkable passages, which have been quoted from
8 Bel. Jud. I. V. c. 10; 1. VI, c. 3.
9 Moses elsewhere says, in the name of the Supreme Being, I will scatter you among the heathen, und will draw out a sword after you : and your land shall be desolate, and your cities waste. Lev. xxvi. 33.
10 In v. 25, of the same chapter, Moses says, and thou shalt be removed into all the kingdoms of the earth,
11 The same idea is elsewhere given by Moses in a more expanded form, and with great felicity of expression. Upon them that are left alive of you I will send a faintness into their hearts, in the lands of their enemies , and the sound of a shaken leaf shall chase them; and they shall flee, as fleeing from a sword; and they shall fall when none pursueth. Lev. xxvi. 36.
12 Deut. xxviii. 37, 49-52, 59-67. Moses says in another place, And yet for all that, when they be in the land of their enemies, I will not cast them
Moses, are taken. ' Had any thing like this, in Moses's time,' asks Dr. Clarke, 'ever happened to any nation? Or was there in nature any probability that any such thing should ever happen to any people? That, when they were conquered by their enemies, and led into captivity, they should neither continue in the place of their captivity, nor be swallowed up and lost among their conquerors, but be scattered among all the nations of the world, and hated by all nations for many ages, and yet continue a people ?
? Or could any description of the Jews, written at this day, possibly be a more exact and lively picture of the state they have now been in for many ages; than this prophetic description, given by Moses, more than 3000 years ago" ?'
• Here,' says bp. Newton, are instances of prophecies, of prophecies delivered above three thousand years ago, and yet as we see fulfilling in the world at this very time: and what stronger proofs can we desire of the divine legation of Moses? How these instances may affect others, I know not; but for myself I must acknowlege, they not only convince, but amaze and astonish me beyond expression'4.? • Chrysostom,' says Dr. Worthington's, often presses the argument from the completion of the prophecies concerning the Jews, having continued so long in his time. How much greater strength must this argument have acquired since 67
What bishop Newton has related respecting the origin of his Dissertations on Prophecy, in the dedication prefixed to them, may with pertinence be alleged, after the citation of the memorable prophecy of Moses. To the statement of the author of the Dissertations the infidel would do well to attend. Should he unite in himself the abilities of a Hume, a Gibbon and a Voltaire, he would not be equal to the task of demonstrating the insolidity of the bishop's conclusion. • What first suggested the design were some conversations formerly with a great general", who had for many years the chief commands in the
away, neither will I abhor them, to destroy them utterly, and to break my cove. nant with them. Lev. xxvi. 44.
13 Evid. of Nat. and Rev. Rel. 1738, p. 433. For a minute account of the fulfilment of all the prophecies relating to the Jews, in their dispersed and persecuted state, Jortin, bp. Newton, and Basnage may be consulted.
14 Vol. I. p. 199.
army, and was a man of good understanding, and of some reading, but unhappily had no regard for revealed religion or the clergy. When the prophecies were urged as a proof of revelation, he constantly derided the notion, asserted that there was no such thing, and that the prophecies which were pretended were written after the events. He was informed, that though such a thing might with less scruple and more confidence be affirmed of some prophecies fulfilled long ago, yet it could never be proved of any, the contrary might be proved almost to a demonstration: but it could not be so much as affirmed of several prophecies without manifest absurdity ; for there were several prophecies in scripture, which were not fulfilled till these latter ages, and were fulfilling even now, and consequently could not be framed after the events, but undeniably were written and published many ages before. He was startled at this, and said, he must acknowlege, that if this point could be proved to satisfaction, there would be no arguing against such plain matter of fact; it would certainly convince him, and he believed would be the readiest way to convince every reasonable man, of the truth of revelation.'
There are subjects, which to contemplate with what is called philosophic indifference (a favorite and perverted expression among a certain class of persons), infallibly indicates a want of feeling and a deficiency of discernment; betrays the incontestable marks of an unnatural insensibility to the best interests of mankind, and of a blind disregard to their own most important concerns and ultimate
17 In the recently published Discourses of the Rev. Mr. Robert Gray, he is said to have been Marshal Wade.
destination. Prophecy and Revelation are doubtless deserving of being ranked in this class of subjects. The fact, however, is, that infidels are generally chargeable with omitting to consult the pages of prophecy at all; and, when they do consult them, they bring not along with them that degree of previous knowlege, without which, in many cases, it were vain to attempt to arrive at their meaning. Is it then to be wondered, that viewing them, as they do, with an eye, rendered dim by indifference, jaundiced by prejudice, and clouded by ignorance, they should, as they hastily inspect them, discover no solid ground on which to stand ? Is it not to be expected, that amid this religious apathy and neglect of inquiry, they will still wander in the labyrinths of error and the perplexing paths of infidelity; and, remaining involved in its melancholy gloom, will still tread over the tremulous surface of doubt and uncertainty ; without being able to descry, through the mists of futurity, mists which the light of revelation enables man to penetrate, those mansions of immortality and happiness, of exalted virtue and improved intellect, which are situated beyond the confines of the grave and this sublunary world, and to which the Christian looks forward with such steady confidence and such transporting hope ?
But I return to the subject of the chapter. The stubborn incredulity of the Jews, and the extraordinary desolation of their land, Isaiah thus describes. And he said, Go, and tell this people, hear ye indeed, but understand not ; and see ye indeed, but perceive not. Make the heart of his people fat, and make their eyes 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, Lord 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". " Here is,' says bp. Newton, “a remarkable gradation in the denouncing of these judgments. Not only Jerusalem and the cities should be wasted without inhabitant, but even the single houses should be without man; and not only the houses of the cities should be with. out man; but even the country should be utterly desolate ; and not only the people should be removed out of the land, but the Lord should remove them far away; and they should not be removed for a short period, but there should be a great or rather a long forsaking in the midst of the land, And hath not the world seen all these particulars exactly fulfilled ? Have not the Jews labored under a spiritual blind. ness and infatuation in hearing but not understanding, in seeing but not perceiving the Messiah, after the accomplishment of so many prophecies, after the performance of so many miracles? Hath not their land been utterly desolate ? Have they not been removed far away into the most distant parts of the earth? And hath not their removal or banishment been now of near 1700 years duration ? And do they not still continue deaf and blind, obstinate and unbelieving? The Jews, at the time of the delivery of this prophecy, gloried in being the peculiar church and people of God: and would any Jew of himself have thought or have said, that his nation would in process of time become an infidel and reprobate nation, infidel and reprobate for many ages, oppressed by men, and forsaken by God? It was above 750 years before the birth of Christ, that Isaiah predicted these things ; and how could he have predicted them, unless he had been illuminated by the divine vision; or could they have succeeded accordingly, unless the spirit of prophecy had been the spirit of God.?
18 • In the style of scripture the prophets are said to do what they de. clare will be done.' Bp. Newton in loc. vol. I. p. 332. VOL. II.
19 VI. 9-12.
20 Bp. Newton, vol. 1. p. 233. “That a country should be depopulated and desolated by the incursions and depredations of foreign enemies is, says the prelate in another place (p. 222), 'nothing wonderful, but that it should lie so many ages in this miserable condition is more than man could foresee, and could be revealed only by God.'