Page images
PDF
EPUB

hold with our own eyes. Familiarly does it meet us, wherever we direct our steps: and, extraordinary as it is in itself, the very circumstance of its familiarity, like the periodical rising and setting of the sun, causes it to produce the less vivid effect upon our imagination and the less forcibly to arrest our languid attention. Among the heedless and the inconsiderate, even the notoriety of the fact tends to diminish its impressiveness.

Yet, while the general accomplishment of the prophecy is seen and acknowledged, its minute accomplishment in a great variety of particulars is not always equally attended to; though such is eminently the matter, which best serves for the basis of an invincibly conclusive argument. That the full weight of this remarkable circumstance may be felt and perceived, let us consider the prediction in all its leading points article by article.

(1.) Moses begins with foretelling, that the threatened curses, when they overtake the wretched Israelites, shall be religiously viewed as a sign and a wonder : and he concludes with declaring, that, when men should behold their strange and unparallelled condition, they would be stirred up by curiosity to inquire into the grounds and reasons of it; intimating at the same time, that the never failing answer would be, that these calamities were judicial. The Lord

G

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.

Such, accordingly, is the precise aspect, under which these curses are now beheld by all nations : such is the invariable solution, which is given of the phenomenon. It is universally taught and believed, that the Jews labour under the special curse of God. Their troubles are not viewed as a matter of ordinary occurrence, which may reasonably deserve and attract little attention : but they are considered as something out of the common course of nature; and they are contemplated, as an awful indication of the divine displeasure. According to the prophecy, this opinion, whether justly founded as the Christian believes, or unjustly founded as the infidel imagines; yet, at all events, as a simple fact, this opinion is to be generally entertained : and, in the accomplishment of the prophecy, this opinion always has been entertained.

(2.) The agent, that in the first instance inflicts these troubles upon the Jews, is described, as a nation of a fierce countenance, a nation distant in point of locality from Palestine, a nation whose language should be unintelligible to the sufferers: and this agent is represented, as besieging them in a fortified town of extraordinary strength, and as completely succeeding in his enterprize notwithstanding the confidence which

6

they should place in their lofty and well-defended towers.

Remarkable, though perfectly familiar to every student of history, is the accomplishment of this particular also. With the several languages of their immediate neighbours, the Jews were not unacquainted; for the Hebrew, the Phenician, the Syriac, the Chaldee, and the Arabic, are all dialects of one and the same primitive tongue : but the Latin which was spoken by the Romans, and the various barbaric western languages which were spoken by their auxiliaries, were utterly unknown to the Jews as a nation. From far distant Italy came this people of a proverbially fierce countenance: and the strong fortifications of Jerusalem, in which the besieged obstinately placed their trust, and which excited the admiration even of Titus himself, were unable to defend them in the day of trouble.

(3.) The horrors of the blockade are prophetically announced to be so great, that even delicate women, while they grudged every morsel to their husbands and adult children, should mercilessly slaughter and devour their own infants.

I need scarcely repeat the often told and well known facts recorded by the Jewish historian Josephus. Such was the scarcity produced by the siege, that the scanty morsel was greedily snatched by wives from the very mouths of their husbands, by sons from the mouths of their fa

thers, by mothers from the mouths of their infants *. Nor was this the worst misery, to which they were reduced : a still more dreadful portent was necessary to the accomplishment of the prophecy. That portent was the unutterable abomination of a worse than Thyestean banquet : a woman of high rank, impelled by the fury of raging hunger, slew and devoured her own sucking child t.

(4.) The troubles, which should come upon the Jews, are foretold to be at once great in extent and long in continuance.

Such, accordingly, they have been. Affecting the whole nation both generally and individually, they have continued without remission for the space of more than seventeen centuries.

(5.) It is further predicted, that this extraordinary people should not only be brought to great and lasting misery ; but that they should likewise be violently plucked from the land, which, when the prophecy was delivered, they were on the point of occupying as conquerors.

Here again we cannot but observe the exact completion of the oracle. Instead of being merely conquered and subjugated, the general fate of other nations attacked by the Romans, it was the harder lot of the Jews to be torn from their

[ocr errors]

Joseph. de bell. Jud. lib. v. c. 10. 3. p. 1245. lib. vi. c. 3. § 3. p. 1274. edit. Hudson. cited by Bp. Newton.

+ Ibid. lib. vi. c. 3. $ 4. cited by Bp. Newton.

native country and on pain of death to be prohibited from setting foot upon its soil *.

(6.) Nor were the Jews to be simply transplanted, like colonists, from Palestine into some other region, which might better suit the policy or convenience of the victors: it is additionally foretold, that the Lord would scatter them among all people, from the one end of the earth even to the other.

This remarkable fact lies open to universal notice. Where is the region, in which the dispersed children of Israel are not to be found ? Plucked violently from their own land, they meet us alike in Europe, Asia, Africa, and America.

(7.) Thus widely scattered, they were further destined to find no ease among the nations whose territories should receive them : but their standing characteristics should be a trembling heart, and failing of eyes, and sorrow of mind, and a perpetual anxiety even respecting life itself.

For the exact accomplishment of the present particular, we may confidently appeal to simple matter of fact. The description could not have been more vivid, had it been written in the

present day, instead of many ages before the predicted dispersion of the house of Israel.

(8.) It is added, that, at the time of their desolation, many of the Jews should be sold as slaves

* Justin. Martyr. Apol. i. p. 71. Euseb. Eccles. Hist. lib. iv. c. 6. Tertull. Apol. c. 21. Hieron, in Isai. c. vi. p. 65. in · Dan. c. ix, p. 1117. cited by Bp. Newton,

« ՆախորդըՇարունակել »