Imágenes de páginas

or prophetically foreshows, or divinely reveals, as to this matter, the sacred canon, throughout, authorises the general import which has been deduced.

But besides biblical testimonies, let any authentic histories of civil governments be consulted ; and not an instance will be found of any nation having been annihilated, until it had reached a manifest climax of depravity.

It may, in contradiction, be pretended, that we sometimes see wicked nations prosper, and the more virtuous under calamity: but are our observations, in these cases, taken so deeply as to enable us to well distinguish between dispensations which are 'temporary and Auctuating, liaving, no settled root in the manners of a people; and those which are secretly and steadily working towards a consummation, as a consequence arising out of settled habits and propensities, either good or evil? Objections of this nature are unworthy of being answered by anticipation, except on such a question as the present, which includes within its limits every fraternity of mankind on the face of the earth.

Men cannot act conformably to that of which they are ignorant. Adam once knew good only; but tasting of " the tree of knowledge of good and évil,” came to know evil as well as good. We, for the opposite reason, seek to taste of the same tree, that we may learn,“ to retiise the evil and chuose the good;"*—that we may be better qualified to economise, as a nation, according to such principles as are right, and favoured with a solemn pledge of benediction; and enabled to renounce such as are wrong', and contain the seeds of national bane:

The chief of those principles comprised under the term good, as conducing to the well-being of political bodies, are, simple religion, strict morality, pure honour, and disinterested patriotism. The contraries to any of these are, consequently, to be esteemed bad or evil principles, and such as contribute to bring on misery and destruction.

The two opposite poles on which national destiny revolves, namely, good and evil, having been thus sufficiently explored, and the certainty that states rise and sink, as tliese incline, having been, in a general way, evinced; the next certainty to be inculcated is, that the fate which has buried in oblivion thousands of kingdoms of former times, awaits those of the present day, which persist in a like career of evil.

The curse upon the unrepenting Cities of Chorasin, Bethsaida, and Capernaum, was even to exceed the horror of that which desolated the profane kingdoms of Tyre, Sidon, and Sodom. “Woe unto thee, Chorasin; woe unto thee, Bethsaida; for it the mighty works which were done in you had been done in Tyre and Sidow, they would have repented long ago in sackcloth and ashes. But I say unto yon, it shall be more tolerable for Tyre and Sidon in the day of judgment than for you. And thou, Caper.naum, which art exalted unto heaven, shalt be brought down to hell; for it the mighty works which have been done in thee, bad been done in Sodom, it would have remained until this day. But I say unto you, that it shall be more tolerable for the land of Sodom, in the day of judgment, than for thee.”+

That these desolations are to be regarded rather as examples to future generations, iban as mere historical facts, may be gathered from the following evidences: “Woe unto thee, Assur, thon that hidest the unrighteous in thee; 0 thou wicked people! Remember what I did unto Sodom and Gomorrha, whose land lieth in clods of pitch and heaps of ashes : even so will I

[blocks in formation]
[ocr errors]

do unto them that hear me not, saith the Lord."*—"And turning the Cities of Sodom and Gomorrah,” says St. Peter, “ into ashes, condemued them with an pverthrow; making them an EXAMPLE unto those that after should live' ungodly.”+-Add to these the like warning of St. Jude-“Even as Sodom and Gomorrha, and the cities about them, in like manner giving themselves, over to fornication, and going after strạnge flesh, are set forth for an EXAMPLE, suffering the vengeance of eternal fire.” I

Upon seriously contemplating the miserable end of our forerunners, every one endued with religious susceptibility will see that there is betore as a precipice prodigiously awful! In every heart that professes to be pions, moral, honourable, or patriotic, one sentiment ought to be uppermost-the good óf posterity. Had "ten righteous men” been in her, Sodom would Have escaped Divine vengeance. Had tbat which has been revealed to us been known to her, she would not have been prematurely cut off; but, as the Saviour expresses it,“ remained until this day.”—Tyre and Sidon, with the opportunity of our experience, would “have repented in sackcloth and asbes.' Shall we, then, any longer risk its being more tolerable for these heathen people than for us who profess Christian tenets ? Suppose ye that these Galileans were sinners above all the Galileans, because they suffered such things ! I tell you, nay: but, except ye repent, ye shall ALL like-, wise perish!

Having thus prefaced my subject with some truths calculated to improve its effect, 1 have now, before coming to investigate the Prophecy itself, that the parallel between the type and antitype may be more clearly visible, and for the sake of despatching that part of the proplietic condemnation with less interlocutory commeut which applies immediately to Phenician Tyre, to make a few extracts descriptive of the grandeur and opulence of the city. Morded says,

“ If its situation were considered, it was a fortrese if its traffie, a mart-if its magnificence, a royal court—if its ricles, the treasury of the universe !”|| Heylin describes it as “impregnably fortified, both by art and nature "-"a city of great trade and wealtlı, excelling all others of those times both for learning and manufactures grown to great pride by reason of her wealth and pleasures”—“now nothing but a heap of ruins; but the ruins of so fair a prospect as striketh both pity and amazement into the beholders, showing them an exemplary pattern of our hnman frailty." Isaiah describes its inerchants as princes, and its trafficers as the bonourable of the earth." **

The Ethiopian Eunuch, upon reading some part of the prophecy of Isaiah, put to Philip this question, “I pray thee of whom speaketh the Prophet this ; of himself, or of some other man?”++ Thus, on an occasion like the present, must we ask, Is the Prophet speaking literally or fignratively? To ascertain this, it is necessary that we come to our task with a mind free from all bias, hambly dependent on “the Spirit of Truth, that guides us into all truth,"11 and on nothing else.

“ And it came to pass,” says Ezekiel,“ in the eleventh year, in the first day of the month, that the word of the Lord came unto me, saying, Son of

Because that Tyrus hath said against Jerusalem, Aha, she is broken that was the gates of the people ; she is turned unto me; I shall be re. plenished now she is laid waste : therefore, thus saith the Lord God, Behold, I am against thee, O Tyrus, and will cause many nations to come up against


[blocks in formation]

thee, as the sea causeth his waves to come up: and they shaul aestroy tne walls of Tyrus, and break down her towers: I will also scrape the dust from her; and make her like the top of a rock: it shall be a place for the spreading of nets in the midst of the sea, for I have spoken it, saith the Lord God; and it shall become a spoil to the nations; and her daughters, which are in the field, shall be slain with the sword; and they shall know that I am the Lord.” *

Jeconiah, king of Judah, after a reign of three months, with all the

chief men of his court, among whom was Ezekiel, were carried prisoners to Babylon, by Nebuchadnezzar, and in the eleventh year of their bondage, the prophecy is ed.- Vast numbers of people, trom all quarters, used to flock to Jerusalem, for the purposes of religion, and public business ; and hence, in allusion to the Syrian custom of holding national courts, meetings, marts, &c. at the chief gate of a city, her_great renown is shown by styling ber “the gates of the people.For splendour and popularity, Tyre stood next to Jerusalem, and upon the misfortunes of the other, vaunts upon becoming first. On account of her proud boasting and self-security, the part of the prophecy above-cited, pronounces, in a general form, the approaching calamities of the exulting Tyrians, and the total ruin of the city. - The coming up of many nations, (is the waves of the sea, that is, one after another, is a figure that strikes me as very fully describing the successive attacks this power was to undergo from the time of the prophecy, until her utter overthrow by the last overwhelming billow. By her “ daughters in the field” is meant all her dependent provinces, cities, towns, &c. which were doomed to share the fate of

their ruling city. for thus saith the Lord God, Behold, I will bring upon Tyrus, Nebuchadnezzar, King of Babylon ; (also) a King of Kings from the North, with horses, and with chariots, and with horsemen, and companies, and much people. He shall slay with the sword thy, daughters in the field ; and he shall make a fort against thee, and lift up the buckler against thee, and he shall set engines of war against thy walls; and with his axes he shall break down thy towers ”—“he shall slay thy people with the sword, and thy strong garrisons shall go down to the ground : and they shall make a spoil of thy riches, and a prey of thy merchandise; and they shall break down thy walls, and destroy thy pleasant houses ; and they shall lay thy stones, and thy timber, and thy dust, in the midst of the water : and I will cause thy songs to cease; and the sound of thy harps shall be no more heard." +

The Prophet, from a general proposition goes here into particulars, and

points out Nebuchadnezzar as the first assailant. It can hardly be supposed that Ezekiel, who wrote there, would call, relative to Tyre, the King of Babylon “ a king of kings from the North,” when the latitude of Tyre was higher than that of Babylon. The Kings of Babylon are scarcely mentioned in the remains of the Greek his. torians which have come down to us, which they would have been, as well as those of Media, had they obtained a footing any where in or about Asia Minor: so that the Monarch of Babylon could, in no sense of the word, be styled “a king of kings from the North," as it respects Tyre. From the context of the prophecy, the phrase must surely mean Alexander, who was “ king of all the kings,” any where immediately northward of Tyre. The Isle on which the city was built, this General attacked, by joining it to the continent by a mole: and after a terrible siege of seven months, took it by storm; put 8000 inhabitants to the sword; crucified 2000 on the shore; and

[blocks in formation]

sold 30,000 for slaves.* Every circumstance mentioned in this part
of the prediction was, therefore, strictly fulfilled in the massacre
and devastation committed by the Grecian conqueror. Although
again rebuilt to sustain subsequent demolition, from Antigonus, Tyre
never, after Alexander, recovered its ancient glory. The utter de.
solation to which the place was finally doomed, is again repeated in
verse 14, as in verse 5; atter which, to verse 18, the author goes on
to paint the effect the fall of an Isle of such amazing strength and

resources, will have among the other Isles of the Sea.
" For thus saith the Lord God, When I shall make thee a desolate city,
like the cities that are not inbabited; when I shall bring up the deep upon
thee, and great waters shall cover thee; when I shall bring thee down with
them that descend into the pit, with the people of old time, and shall set
thee in the low parts of the earth, in places desolate of old, with them that
go down into the pit; and I shall set glory in the land of the living : 'I will
make thee a terroi, and thou shalt be no more: though thou be sought for,
yet shalt thou never be found again, saith the Lord God." +

When, as with “the deep,” and “great waters," I shall overwhelm

thee with thịne enemies—when, as those in the pit” of death, I
shall cause thee to perish, as so many nations have done before thee
---when I shall lower thy state, as I have done theirs; though some,
so overthrown, shall be restored to glory, thou never shalt! Thy
ruin, of which the spoil made by the Chaldeans was but the begin.
ning, shall be so perfect, that thou shalt ever remain a desolate heap,
casting consternation round, amidst other Isles, whose presumption
shall be like thine.-The wretched state of havoc which the ruins of
this principality display to the present time, verify, to the letter, the
words of the Prophet.

Thus far, then, we read of Tyre itself, whose series of troubles and calamities, from the zenith of its splendour to its last gloomy decadence, are foreshown. Upon slight inspection, the two following chapters seem, also, to concern Phenician Tyre: bot upon a critical examination, they will be found to refer to a quite different period of the world. The names of Tyre and Sidon certainly appear conspicuously in them as in the former piece: but now, scrupulously proceeding in the inquiry, we ask, "Of whom speaketh the Prophet here; of Tyre, or of some other place?” | Bishop Hurd, Dr. Gill, Mr. Lowth, and most other commentators on the prophecies, think that Ezekiel here nses Tyre and Sidon in a figurative sense, in reference: to some anti-christian power of the latter days. The principal reason for such an opinion is that special passage with which the prophecy concludes : and which we shall here take under consideration.

“ And there shall be no more a pricking briar unto the house of Israel, nor any grieving thorn of all that are round about them that despised them; and they shall know that I am the Lord God. Thnş saith the Lord God, When I shall have gathered the house of Israel from the people among whom they are scattered, and shall be sanctified in the sight of the heathen, then shall they dwell in their land that I hạve given to my servant Jacob: and they shall dwell safely therein ; and shall build houses, and plant vineyards: yea, they shall dwell with confidence when I have executed judgments upon all those that despise them round about them; and they shall know that I am the Lord their God” §

Up to this moment we are certain that “ the house of Israel” has not

been gathered from among the “ pricking briars ” and “ grieving

[merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][ocr errors]
[blocks in formation]

thorns,” that lacerate them. Up to this time we are sure that“ judg. mients upon all those that despise thein, have not been inflicted; and that they, therefore, remain to be fulfilled on some states now existe ing, or hereafter to exist; and we may be further sure that they will be execated, as pre-ordained, before they shall build houses, plant vineyards, and dwell securely in their land.”-The prophecy, therefore, which concludes with these clauses, could not refer to a kingdom which was utterly destroyed long before the dispersion of the Jews : but must allude to some distant nation wherein certain of the fugitives were sojourning, at some short time before their recal.-Lowth, commenting on Isaiah x. 20., says, “ It is usual with the prophets, when they foretel some extraordinary event in or near their own times, to carry their views on further, and point at some greater deliverance which God shall vouchsafe to his people in the latter ages of the world." -Thus, after his denunciation against Tyre itself, Ezekiel, carrying his views on further, predicts the calamitous overthrow of some country bearing, in its maritime preponderance, its unlimited

commerce, and its excessive opulence, sonje analogy to ancient Tyre. It being, then, understood, that the names of kingdoms and cities of their own times were borrowed by the prophets to signity that which places of a similar character should endure in times to come, let us, by following Ezekiel thoughtfully throngh bis subject, and with the extracts descriptive of the glory and power of Old Tyre in memory, endeavour to discern whether this solemo piece of scripture can or cannot apply to our own nation. .

“ The Word of the Lord came again unto me, saying, Now, thou Son of Man, take up a lamentation for Tyrus, and say unto Tyrus, 0 thou that art situate at the entry of the sea, which art a merchant of the people for many isles, Thus saith the Lord God, O Tyrus, thou hast said, I am of perfect lieauty! thy borders are in the midst of the seas; thy builders have perfected thy beauty.” *

“ Entry of the sea” signifies, commodious for trading.-In chap. xvi.

the helpless and destitute state of infant Judea is allegorically repre. sented by a new-born babe, which God takes care of, nurses, leads, tends, and decorates, until it arrives at perfection: that is, until ali the forms and institutions which the good of the country require, are established in purity. Thus, Tyre is reproached for having boasted of the perfection of its government, tramed and finished by its own « builders,” who perfect its beauty, as they vaupt, without divine superintendence. Encompassed by the seas, I am not,” says Tyre,

as other states.” My legislators, or builders, have made me Lord

of the Earth. “ They have made all thy ship-boards of tir-trees of Senir; they have taken cedars from Lebanon to make masts for thee. Of the oaks of Bashan have they made thine oars: the company of the Assurites have made thy benches of ivory brought out of the isles of Chittim. Fine linen with broidered work from Egypt was that which thou spreadest forth to be thy sail; blue and purple from the isles of Elishah was that which covered thee. The inhabi. iants of Zidon and Arvad were thy mariners: thy wise men, 0 Tyrus, that were in thee were thy pilots: the ancients of Gebal, and the wise men thereof that were in thee, thy calkers. All the ships of the sea, with their mariners, were in thee to occupy thy merchandise. They of Persia, and of Lud, and of Phut, were, in thine army, thy men of war: tủey hanged the shield and helmet in thee: they set forth thy coineliness. The men of Arvad,

[blocks in formation]

• Erek. xxvii. 1-4.

[ocr errors]
« AnteriorContinuar »