« PoprzedniaDalej »
ascribed all things to chance, and considered pleasure as the chief good.
CH. XI.-FULfilled ProphECIES OF THE Bible.
THE evidence arising from the fulfilment of prophecy that the Bible was given by divine inspiration, is at once edifying to the believer and confounding to the infidel. "God in his goodness hath afforded to every age sufficient evidence of his truth. Miracles may be said to have been the greatest proofs of revelation to the first ages, who saw them performed. Prophecies may be said to be the great proofs of revelation to the last ages, who see them fulfilled." It does not comport with the design of this little manual to embrace all the predictions of the Bible: nor even the principal of those which relate to all the momentous subjects of prophecy. Those which relate to our Lord Jesus Christ alone would require a whole volume. It is designed to notice, and that as briefly as possible, only a few of those relating to nations and countries, the fulfilment of which is remarkable, and the proofs of which are manifest to all observers, even in our own days. For further information the reader is referred to Keith on the Evidence of Prophecy.
SECTION I. THE ARABS.
The Arabs claim their descent from Ishmael, the son of Abraham. Concerning him, an angel of the Lord announced to his mother, before his birth: "I will multiply thy seed exceedingly, that it shall not be numbered for multitude. Behold thou art with child, and shalt bear a son, and shalt call his name Ishmael; his hand shall be against every man, and every man's hand against him and he shall dwell in the presence of his brethren," Gen. xvi. 10-12.
The divine promise concerning Ishmael has been wonderfully verified. In a few years the family of Ishmael was so increased, that in Gen. xxxvii. we read of Ishmaelites trading into Egypt. His posterity was
multiplied exceedingly in the Hagarenes, probably so called from his mother Hagar; in the Nabatheans, who had their names from his eldest son Nebaioth; in the Itureans, so called from his son Itur; and in the Arabs or Saracens, who overran a great part of the world, and who remain to this day a numerous people. Ishmael himself subsisted by rapine in the wilderness; and his posterity, in every succeeding age, infested Arabia and the neighbouring countries by predatory incursions. Every petty chief, in his own district, considers himself a sovereign prince; and though seemingly divided, they are all united in a sort of league. They live in a state of continual war with the rest of the world, generally robbers by land and pirates by sea. And, as they have been such enemies to the rest of mankind, it can excite no surprise, that, in return, mankind have always been enemies to them. In every age, travellers have been obliged to traverse their country in caravans or large companies, with arms for their protection, and, to defend themselves from the assaults of these freebooters, to march with their sentinels, to keep watch like an armyso literally has the prediction been fulfilled, "his hand shall be against every man."
As to that part of the prediction which declares, “he shall dwell (or tabernacle) in the presence of his brethren," it has been remarkably fulfilled. The country of Ishmael is situated in that part of the globe where society originated, and the first kingdoms were formed. The greatest empires of the world arose and fell around them. They have not been secluded from correspondence with foreign nations, and thus through ignorance and prejudice remained attached to simple and primitive manners. In the early period of their history, they were united as allies to the most powerful monarchs of the east under Mohammed they carried their arms over the most considerable kingdoms of the earth: through successive ages the caravans of the merchant, and the companies of Mohammedan pilgrims, passed regularly over their deserts; even their religion has undergone several total changes. Yet all these circumstances, which it
might be supposed would have subdued the most stubborn prejudices, and have changed the most inveterate habits, produced no effect upon the Arabs; they still preserve, unimpaired, a most exact resemblance to the first descendants of Ishmael.
A sensible and penetrating eye-witness, after having lately visited an Arab camp, and examined their peculiarities, writes-" On the smallest computation, such must have been the manners of these people for inore than three thousand years." Thus in all things verifying the predictions given of Ishmael at his birth, that he in his posterity should be a wild man, and continue to be so, though they shall dwell for ever in the presence of their brethren. And that an acute and active people, surrounded for ages by polished and luxurious nations, should, from their earliest to their latest times, be still found a wild people dwelling in the presence of their brethren, as we may call these nations, unsubdued and unchangeable, is indeed a standing miracle-one of those mysterious facts which establish the truth of prophecy.
SECTION II.-THE JEWS.
Moses, the appointed deliverer and venerable lawgiver of the Israelites, and many also of the prophets who succeeded him, foretold the future condition of the Jews. With a wonderful exactness they predicted their calamities and dispersion on account of their wickedness; and their preservation and ultimate recovery through sovereign mercy and divine goodness. Moses, foreseeing their apostacy and iniquities, wrote, by the direction of the Holy Spirit, the following among many other similar passages. 'If ye will not hearken unto me, and will not do all these commandments; and if ye shall despise my statutes, or if your soul abhor my judgments so that ye will not do all my commandments, but that ye break my covenant; I will make your cities waste, and bring your sanctuaries into desolation; and I will scatter you among the heathen, and will draw out a sword after you; and your land shall be desolate. And thou shalt become an astonishment, a proverb, and a by-word, among all the
nations whither the LORD shall lead thee," Lev. xxvi. 44, 15. 31. 33. Deut. xxviii. 37. The prophet Jeremiah predicted; "I will persecute them with the sword, with the famine, and with the pestilence, and will deliver them to be removed to all the kingdoms of the earth; to be a curse, and an astonishment, and a hissing, and a reproach among all the nations whither I have driven them because they have not hearkened to my words, saith the LORD, which I sent unto them by my servants the prophets, rising up early and sending them," Jer. xxix. 18, 19. The prophet Hosea also declared; "For the children of Israel shall abide many days without a king, and without a prince, and without a sacrifice, and without an image, and without an ephod, and without teraphim," Hosea iii. 4. The prophets were also directed to write-" And yet for all that, when they be in the land of their enemies, I will not cast them away, neither will I abhor them, to destroy them utterly, and to break my covenant with them; for I am the LORD their God," Lev. xxvi. 44. "Afterward shall the children of Israel return, and seek the LORD their God, and David their king; and shall fear the LORD and his goodness in the latter days," Hosea iii. 5.
All these predictions are delivered with the confidence of truth, and the perspicuity of history. They represent the manner, the extent, the nature, and the continuance of their dispersion; their persecutions, their sufferings, their blindness, their hardened impenitence, and their grievous oppression; the universal mockery, the unlimited diffusion, and the unextinguishable existence of that extraordinary people. Strong were the ties which bound the Jews to Canaan. It was not only a glorious land, but the land of their fathers, and the peculiar gift of Heaven, where only, many of their religious customs could be observed. As nothing could separate them from their temple till it was blazing around them, and multitudes perished in its flames, so nothing could tear them from their country but the overwhelming power of the Roman armies. They were rooted up as a nation and banished from their own land: and by an imperial
edict it was death for a Jew to set his foot in Jerusalem, though every Gentile trod upon its ruins.
But the extent of their dispersion is still more remark. able than the manner of its accomplishment. They have traversed the wide world; and there is not a kingdom upon the face of the earth in which they are not to be found. They are numerous in Poland, in Turkey, in Germany, and in Holland; in Russia, France, Spain, Italy, Britain, and America. In Persia, China, and India, on the east and the west of the river Ganges, they are found more thinly scattered. They have trodden the snows of Siberia, and the sands of the burning desert ; and the European traveller hears of their existence, in regions which he cannot reach, even in the very interior of Africa. From one end of the earth unto the other, the Jews and the Jews only have been dispersed among all nations.
As christians we are looking forward to times more glorious than the present; when, as Hosea predicted, ch. iii. 5. "The children of Israel shall return and seek the LORD their God, and David (the Messiah) their king;" when they shall be brought into the church of Christ with the fulness of the Gentiles. That throughout all the changes which have happened in the kingdoms of the earth, from the days of Moses to the present time, a period of more than three thousand years, nothing should have transpired to prevent the accomplishment of these prophecies; but, on the contrary, that the state of the Jewish, and Christian, and Heathen nations at this day should be such as renders them easily capable, even of a literal completion, in every particular, if the will of God be so, is a miracle, a standing miracle to us; and which hath nothing parallel to it in the phenomena of nature! The Jews were once the peculiar people of God: and Paul saith, "Hath God cast away his people? God forbid!" Rom. xi. 1. We see that after so many ages they are still preserved, by a miracle of Providence, a distinct people: and why is such a continual miracle exhibited, but for the greater illustration of divine truth and grace, and the accomplishment of the divine promises,