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unwillingly, to hear and to obey their directions, though often so incensed by their rebuke, as to resent it by the severest persecutions. Then it was that the prophets evinced the integrity of their characters, by zealously encountering oppression, hatred, and death, in the cause of religion. Then it was that they firmly supported "trial of cruel mockings, and scourgings: yea, moreover, of bonds and imprisonment. They were stoned, they were sawn asunder, were tempted, were slain with the sword: they wandered about, destitute, afflicted, tormented;+" evil entreated for those virtues, of which the memorial should flourish to posterity, and martyred for righteousness, which, whenever resentment should subside, it would be deemed honourable to reverence. The manner in which the prophets published their predictions was, either by uttering them aloud, in some public place, or, by affixing them on the gates of the temple, where they might be generally seen and read. Upon some important occasions, when it was necessary to rouse the fears of a disobedient people, and to recal them to repentance, the prophets, as objects of universal attention, appear to have walked about publicly in sackcloth, and with every external mark of humiliation and sorrow. They then adopted extraordinary modes of expressing their convictions of impending wrath, and endeavoured to awaken the apprehensions of their countrymen, by the most striking illustration of threatened punishment. Thus, Jeremiah made bonds and yokes, and put them upon his neck,§ strongly to intimate the sub jection that God would bring on the nations whom Nebuchadnezzar should subdue. Isaiah likewise walked naked, that is, without the rough garment of the prophet,|| and
* I Kings xii. 21-24; xiii. 2-7; xx. 42-43; xxi. 6-28; 2 Chron. xxviii. 9-14.
+ Heb. xi. 36, &c. James v. 10. Jer. vii. 2. § Jer. xxvii. || Isaiah xx.
barefoot, as a sign of the distress that awaited the Egyptians. So Jeremiah broke the potter's vessel;* and Ezekiel publicly removed his household goods,† from the city; more forcibly to represent by these actions, some correspondent calamities ready to fall on nations obnoxious to God's wrath; this mode of expressing important circumstances by action, being customary and familiar among all Eastern nations." (Vide Dr. Gray's Key to Old Test. p. 329-334.) And we shall find throughout the writings of the prophets, an accommodation of style to the times, and to the customs, and manners, the seasons, the natural history, (whether of animal or vegetable life) the very proverbs and amusements of the countries to which they referred. From these, they borrowed the emblems with which their writings are strengthened and ornamented, and therefore, it must be obvious how great an assistance (particularly to those who can only study these writings through the sometimes imperfect medium of a translation) an intimate acquaintance with these subjects, must prove, to the comprehending of the prophetic authors. We may now proceed to sketch the ministries of the above named prophets, in the order in which they stand in the Chronological Tables of this work; and first,
* Jer. xix.
✦ Ezek. xii. 1-7, compared with 2 Kings xxv. 4-5, where the accomplishment of this typical prophecy is related; vide also, Ezek. xxx vii. 16-26.
The Geography of Wells, and of Major Rennel; the Hora Mosaicæ of Mr. Faber; the observations of Mr. Bryant on the Plagues of Egypt; the travels of Chardin, Maundrel, Shaw, Pocock, &c. &c. Harmer's Observations on Scripture, &c.; the Works of Sir William Jones; the Asiatic Researches; Buchanan's Christian Researches in Asia; Professor Paxton's Illustrations of Scripture, and many other valuable works of the same description, furnish a fund of instruction and entertainment upon these subjects.
|| The dates will be principally extracted from Blair's Tables, and Dr. Gray's Key to the Old Testament.
1. JONAH. He began his ministry, B. C. 856,* in the first year of the reign of Jehoahaz, king of Israel, and continued it for seventy-two years. The date of his prophecy against Nineveh, cannot be ascertained; its accomplishment was averted by the penitence of the inhabitants." The miracle, by which God punished the unbecoming flight of Jonah was, agreeably to the figurative arrangements of the Old Testament, rendered symbolical of an event that was to occur under the New. The Prophet, in this instance a sign of CHRIST, (Matt. xii. 39, 40; xvi. 4; Luke xi. 29, 30.) was swallowed up by a great fish, as our SAVIOUR was admitted into the jaws of death, and for a similar continuance of time; both were detained three days and three nights entombed in the grave."+ Gray's Key.
2. AMOS, began his ministry, B. C. 810, and prophesied during the long reigns of Jeroboam II. in Israel, and Uzziah (called also Azariah) in Judah, till B. C. 785. He denounces God's judgments upon Syria, (i. 1-5;) Philistia (ver 6-8); Tyre (ver. 9-11); Edom (ver. 1113); Ammon (ver. 13-15); and Moab (ii. 1-3); prudent preparation for those against Judah and Israel, (which were then enjoying a high degree of prosperity)
* Blair and Hales date the beginning of Jonah's ministry, B. C. 800, the latest, as the above is the earliest, that can be assigned it.
"The fame of Jonah's deliverance appears to have spread amongst the heathen nations; and the Greeks, who were accustomed to adorn the memory of their Heroes, by every remarkable event and embellishment which they could appropriate, added to the fictitious adventures of Hercules, that of having continued three days without injury in the belly of a dog, sent against him by Neptune. The Fable of Arion and the Dolphin, of which, the date is fixed at a time nearly coeval with the period of Jonah, is, possibly, a representation of particulars recorded in this sacred book." Gray's Key.
These predictions were accomplished in the conquests of Nebuchadnezzar. See p. 162, 163, of this work.
which occupy the rest of the Book. The Prophet concludes with the promise of a spiritual restoration under theg lorious and peaceful reign of MESSIAH, ix.11-15. 3. HOSEA. Began his ministry, B. C. 810, (the same year with Amos; but, whether before, or after him, is not ascertained) and continued it during the reigns of Uzziah, Jotham, and to the third year of Hezekiah, in Judah, and of Jeroboam ii. to the sixth year of Hosea, in Israel. He foretold the captivities, suffering, and dispersion of Israel, (i. 4, 5; v. 5-7; ix. S-6; x. 5, 6, 15; xiii. 16); the deliverance of Judah from Sennacherib, allusively figurative of salvation by CHRIST, (i. 7, compare with 2 Kings xix. 35); the punishment of Judah, and the demolition of its cities (v. 10; viii. 14); the congregation of the Gentile converts (i. 10, 11; ii. 23, compare with Rom. ix. 24-26); the present state of the Jews (iii. 4); and their future restoration in the general establishment of the MESSIAH'S kingdom (i. 11. iii. 5; xiv. 4-8); the calling of OUR SAVIOUR out of Egypt (xi. 1, compare Matt. ii. 15); His resurrection on the third day (vi. 2, compare 1 Cor. xv. 4) and the terrors of the last judgment, figuratively to be represented in temporal destruction impending over Samaria, (x. 8, compare Luke xxiii. 30; Rev. vi. 16, and Lowth on Isaiah (ii. 19.) Thus, amidst the denunciations of wrath, the people were animated by some dawnings of favour, and taught to cultivate righteousness and mercy, in expectation of the blessings of the Lord, (x. 12) and in the assurances of a final ransom from the power of the grave, and of a redemption from death to be vanquished and destroyed." Vid. Gray.
4. JOEL, began his ministry, B. C. 809, during the reign of Uzziah ;* it seems to have been confined wholly to the kingdom of Judah. He shews the pernicious con
* The date here given, is from Blair and Gray; a much later is
sequences of national sins, such as were visible on God's own people at this very time, in parching droughts, devouring locusts, and famine, and prescribes fasting and prayer, as the only means to remove these judgments, (i. 13-15; ii. 1, 12-17). He foretels the conversion of the Jews, and the calling of the Gentiles; the advancement of the kingdom of the MESSIAH, and communication of gifts and graces to His church, (ii. 18-32.) In the last chapter, Joel foretels the assemblage of all nations into the valley of Jehoshaphat, where the enemies of God will be cut off.in some final excision; (compare Ezek. xxxix. 5-11; and Rev. xx. 8, 9.) the Prophet concludes with the assurance of some glorious state of prosperity to be enjoyed by the church. Poole and Gray.
5. ISAIAH, began his ministry in the last year of the life of Uzziah, king of Judah, B. C.757, and continued it under the succeeding sovereigns of that kingdom till the reign of Manasseh, by whom he is supposed to have been put to death. He is considered as the most eminent of all the prophets. His name signifying "the salvation of Jehovah," was descriptive of his character, which was that of a Gospel preacher, and he has been called by some of the ancient fathers of the church, "the evangelical prophet," and even "the fifth Evangelist." "His prophecies, concerning THE MESSIAH, seem al
assigned by some authors, the differences lying between the years, B. C. 809 and 640.
* Though it cannot be positively determined to what period the description contained in the first may apply, it is generally supposed that the Prophet blends two subjects of affliction, in one general consideration, or beautiful allegory; and, that under the devastation to be effected by locusts in the vegetable world, he pourtrays some more distant calamities to be produced by the armies of the Chaldeans, in their invasion of Judea. And, hence a designed ambiguity in the expressions. Gray.
+ See page 156.