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23. And that the whole land thereof is brimstone and salt and burning, that it is not sown, nor beareth, nor any grass groweth therein, like the overthrow of Sodom, and Gomorrah, Admah and Zeboim, which the Lord overthrew in his anger and in his wrath: 24. Even all nations shall say, Wherefore hath the Lord done thus unto this land? what meaneth the heat of this great anger? 25. Then men shall say, Because they have forsaken the covenant of the Lord God of their fathers, which he made with them when he brought them forth out the land of Egypt: 26. For they went, and served other gods, and worshipped them, gods whom they knew not, and whom he had not given unto them: 27. And the anger of the Lord was kindled against this land, to bring upon it all the curses that are written in this book: 28. And the Lord rooted them out of their land in anger and in wrath and in great indignation, and cast them into another land, as it is this day.
29. The secret things belong unto the Lord our God; but those things, which are revealed, belong unto us and unto our children for ever, that we may do all the words of this law.
xxx. 1. And it shall come to pass, when all these things are come upon thee, the blessing and the curse which I have set before thee, and thou shalt call them to mind among all the nations whither the Lord thy God hath driven thee, 2. And shalt return unto the Lord thy God, and shalt obey his voice according to all that I command thee this day, thou and thy children, with all thine heart and with all thy soul; 3. That then the Lord thy God will turn thy captivity, and have compassion upon thee, and will return and gather thee from all the nations whither the Lord thy God hath scattered thee. 4. If any of thine be driven out unto the utmost parts of heaven, from thence will the Lord thy God gather thee, and from thence will he fetch thee: 5. And the Lord thy God will bring thee into the land which thy fathers possessed, and thou shalt possess it: and he will do thee good, and multiply thee above thy fathers. 6. And the Lord thy God will circumcise thine heart, and the heart of thy seed, to
love the Lord thy God with all thine heart and with all thy soul, that thou mayest live.
7. And the Lord thy God will put all these curses upon thine enemies, and on them that hate thee, which persecuted thee.
8. And thou shalt return and obey the voice of the Lord, and do all his commandments which I command thee this day. 9. And the Lord thy God will make thee plenteous in every work of thine hand, in the fruit of thy body, and in the fruit of thy cattle, and in the fruit of thy land, for good for the Lord will again rejoice over thee for good, as he rejoiced over thy Fathers: 10. If thou wilt hearken unto the voice of the Lord thy God to keep his commandments and his statutes which are written in this book of the law, and if thou turn unto the Lord thy God with all thine heart and with all thy soul.
This famous prophecy of Moses has been so fully and so well discussed by Bp. Newton*, that it is almost superfluous for me to offer any observations upon; yet a work like the present would certainly have been incomplete if I had omitted it.
After describing, as it were with the pen of an historian, the various calamities which have since befallen the Jews; the capture of their city by the Romans, a nation whose language was totally different both from their own and from the collateral oriental dialects; the circumstance of the noble woman being reduced to eat the flesh of her own child; the dispersion of the Jews throughout all nations; their becoming a proverb and a by-word; the comparative sterility, to which their once fruitful land is now reduced; the notice taken of that sterility by travellers, and their comments upon it; the long continuance of these calamities: in short, after delineating with wonderful minuteness and accuracy the future miseries of the Jews, even before they had taken possession of the land to which the Lord was then miraculously conducting them, Moses suddenly reverses the scene, and predicts their restoration
* Dissert. VII. VIII.
and conversion. He declares, that, when in the countries of their dispersion they shall call to mind the things which have befallen them, and shall understand the true grounds of those curses which have so long pursued them, then the Lord will turn their captivity, and gather them out of all the nations whither he had scattered them; that he will bring them back into the land of their fathers; that he will restore to it its former fertility; that he will spiritually circumcise their hearts; and that he will cause both them and their children to love the Lord their God with all their heart and with all their soul. Nor does he only predict the restoration and prosperity of Israel. He intimates, that, at the same period, God will put all the curses, which he had once poured upon the Jews, upon the head of their enemies, and upon the head of those that hated and persecuted them. From other parallel prophecies, which treat more largely of the judgments of the Lord at the era of the restoration of the Jews, we cannot doubt that this is an allusion to the overthrow of Antichrist and his confederacy.
It is deeply interesting to view, in connection with the present prediction, the sentiments of the Jews themselves. "Soon after the establishment of Christianity," says one of their writers, "the Jewish nation, dispersed since the second destruction of its temple, had totally disappeared. By the light of the flames which devoured the monuments of its ancient splendour, the conquerors beheld a million of victims dead or expiring on their ruins. The hatred of the enemies of that unfortunate nation raged longer than the fire which had consumed its temple; active and relentless, it still pursues and oppresses them in every part of the globe over which they are scattered. Their persecutors delight in their torments too much to seal their doom by a general decree of proscription, which would at once put an end to their burthensome and painful existence. It seems as if they were allowed to survive the destruction of their country, only to see the most odious and calumnious imputations laid to their charge, to stand as the constant object of the grossest and most shocking injustice, as a mark for the insulting finger of scorn, as a sport to the most inveterate hatred; it seems
as if their doom was incessantly to suit all the dark and bloody purposes, which can be suggested by human malignity supported by ignorance and fanaticism. Weighed down by taxes, and forced to contribute more than Christians for the support of society, they had hardly any of the rights which it gives. If a destructive scourge happened to spread havock among the inhabitants of a country, the Jews had poisoned the springs; or those men, cursed by heaven, had, nevertheless, incensed it by their prayers against the nation which they were supposed to hate. Did sovereigns want pecuniary assistance to carry on their wars? The Jews were compelled to give up those riches in which they sought some consolation against the oppressing sense of their abject condition : as a reward for their sacrifices, they were expelled from the state which they had supported, and were afterwards recalled to be stript again. Compelled to wear exteriorly the badges of their abject state, they were every where exposed to the insults of the vilest populace. When from his solitary retreat an enthusiastic hermit preached the crusades to the nations of Europe, and a part of its inhabitants left their country to moisten with their blood the plains of Palestine, the knell of promiscuous massacre tolled before the alarm-bell of war. Millions of Jews were then murdered to glut the pious rage of the crusaders. It was by tearing the entrails of their brethren that these warriors sought to deserve the protection of heaven. Skulls of men and bleeding hearts were offered as holocausts on the altars of that God who has no pleasure even in the blood of the innocent lamb, and ministers of peace were thrown into a holy enthusiasm by these bloody sacrifices. It is thus, that Basil, Treves, Coblentz, and Cologn, became human shambles. It is thus, that upwards of 400,000 victims of all ages and of both sexes lost their lives at Cesarea and Alexandria-And is. it, after they have experienced such treatment, that they are reproached with their vices? Is it, after being for eighteen centuries the sport of contempt, that they are reproached with being no longer alive to it? Is it, after having so often glutted with their blood the thirst of their persecutors, that they are held out as enemies to other
nations? Is it, when they have been bereft of all means to mollify the hearts of their tyrants, that indignation is roused, if now and then they cast a mournful look, towards the ruins of their temple, towards their country, where formerly happiness crowned their peaceful days, free from the cares of ambition and of riches ?
"Since the light of philosophy began to dawn over Europe, our enemies have ceased to satisfy their revenge with the sacrifice of our lives. Jews are no longer seen, who, generously refusing to bend under the yoke of intolerance, were led with solemn pomp to the fatal pile, But, although the times of these barbarous executions are past long ago, although the hearts of sovereigns are now strangers to this cruelty, yet slavery itself and prejudices are still the same. By what crimes have we then deserved this furious intolerance? What is our guilt? Is it in that generous constancy which we have manifested in defending the laws of our fathers? But this constancy ought to have entitled us to the admiration of all nations, and it has only sharpened against us the daggers of persecution. Braving all kinds of torments, the pangs of death, the still more terrible pangs of life, we alone have withstood the impetuous torrent of time, sweeping indiscriminately in its course nations, religions, and countries. What is become of those celebrated empires, whose very name still excites our admiration by the ideas of splendid greatness attached to them, and whose power embraced the whole surface of the known globe? They are only remembered as monuments of the vanity of human greatness. Rome and Greece are no more; their descendants, mixed with other nations, have lost even the traces of their origin; while a population of a few millions of men, so often subjugated, stands the test of thirty revolving centuries, and the fiery ordeal of fifteen centuries of persecution! We still preserve laws, which were given to us in the first days of the world, in the infancy of nature! The last followers of a religion which had embraced the universe have disappeared these fifteen centuries, and our temples are still standing! We alone have been spared by the indiscriminating hand of time, like a column left standing amidst the wreck of worlds and the