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that pathetic plea of the apostle-"To them pertained the adoption, and the glory, and the covenants, and the giving of the law, and the service of God, and the promises whose are the fathers, and of whom, as concerning the fesh, Christ came, who is over all, God, blessed for ever!”
The dispersion of the Israelites, and the captivity and restoration of Judah at the time, and in the manner predicted by the prophets, together with many subordinate events, which
have noticed in the course of our Conversations, will have given you some notions of the importance of their writings to the truth and unity of the Scriptures. The conquest, or extermination of the Amalekites, the Moabites, and the Idumeans, foretold by Balaam, also corroborates this remark. No nation with which the Israelites had much intercourse, was unnoticed by the prophets. But the predictions concerning Babylon and Tyre, Egypt and Nineveh, names better known in latter times than those I have just mentioned, would alone establish their divine inspiration. These mighty states were flourishing in the meridian of their glory at the time the denunciations against them were pronounced, and betrayed to the human eye no symptom of declension, from which sagacity might calculate their downfall, unless it might be predicated on their vice and luxury.
Tyre, “the daughter of Sidon," as she is called, and after her the greatest and most ancient city of the Phoenicians—the most celebrated place in the world for its trade and navigation—"a mart of nations, the crowning city,
whose merchants were princes, whose traffickers were the honourable of the earth," -was consigned to destruction by the prophets Joel and Amos, for their enmity to the chosen people, for exulting in their ruin, and for selling the captives of Judah like the cattle in their markets. For these offences especially, Ezekiel, Isaiah, and Jeremiah, likewise uttered. many prophecies against them, which are all summed up by a celebrated writer* in the following particulars : “ That the city was to be taken, and destroyed by the Chaldeans, who were, at the time of the delivery of the prophecy, an inconsiderable people, and particularly by Nebuchadnezzar, king of Babylon; that the inhabitants should fly over the Mediterranean into the islands and countries adjoining, and even there should not find a quiet settlement; that the city should be restored after seventy years, and return to her gain and merchandize ; that it should be taken and destroyed again; that the people should, in time, forsake their idolatry, and become converts to the true religion and worship of God; and, finally, that the city should be totally destroyed, and become only a place for fishers to spread their nets upon.” Of Nineveh, that immense metropolis of Assyria, it was declared, that “ an utter end" should be made of her; that Nineveh should be 66
a desolation, and dry like a wilderness ;" that “ flocks should lie down in the midst of her;" “ all the beasts of the nations, both the cormorant and the bittern shall lodge in the upper lintels of it, their voice shall sing in the windows, desolation shall be in the thresh. olds.”+
t Zephaniah, chap. ii.
- Babylon, another cruel enemy of God's people, became for this cause obnoxious to divine wrath. After Nineveh was destroyed, Babylon became “ the queen of the east,' and although less in extent, she surpassed her predecessor in splendour. Her public works, excelling in strength and grandeur, were justly esteemed among the wonders of the world. Yet this stupendous city, whose removal
. might only be supposed amongst the possibilities of human power--this admirable city is called “ to come down and sit in the dust-for she should be swept with the besom of destruction !” “ Her palaces (she is told) should be a den of wild beasts, and be inhabited by men no more for ever!"* The prophecies against Babylon are very numerous,t and particularly even to the name of Cyrus, her conqueror, above an hundred years before his birth; and to the manner in which the city should be taken. A second siege of the city by Darius, after the death of Cyrus, and the cruelties he should exercise on the vanquished people, is also foretold. In the fourteenth chapter of Isaiah, the wrapt bard, foreseeing, by divine prescience, the ruin of Babylon accomplished, and the proud oppressors of nations broken in pieces, breaks out into that incomparable ode, which is said to have no parallel in the utmost efforts of human genius. Inimitably sublime in thought and regular in construction, it is called the most perfect model of lyric poetry. I
Of Egypt, too, the inveterate enemy of the Hebrews, and the great academy of the early ages---the prophecies are not less various and circumstantial. Noah had declared
it Isaiah in a variety of places.
Lowth's Lectures on Hebrew poetry,
that the posterity of Ham should “be a servant of servants;" and now Ezekiel tells them ---they “shall be
, the basest of kingdoms, and governed by strangers." Another event, most unlikely to happen in a country debased above all others by the grossest superstitions, it was foretold should be seen; that the pure religion of Jehovah should be partially known and acknowledged by the Egyptians.
That all these predictions have been fulfilled, is perfectly well known to every reader of profane history. In Bishop Newton's excellent Dissertations on the Prophecies, you have both the prediction and its accomplishment, to the very letter, exhibited in the most ample and convincing form. Tyre, the emporium of nations, is described by all travellers, both ancient and modern, as “ a place only for fishers to dry their nets upon;"-.-her walls a heap of ruins, and her shores whitened by the winds and waves ; --the remains of her stately structures afford only a mean shelter to a few wretched fishermen !
Egypt is the most ancient kingdom of any note, although her antiquity is not so high as has been pretended, But she flourished in wealth and wisdom so early as the days of Joseph, and to this day there remain the most magnificent monuments of her power. Yet Egypt has verified the words of Ezekiel---it has been for ages a base kingdom, and has had no prince of its own : for from the conquest of Nebuchadnezzar to this day, it has been “tributary to strangers." “ It is now, (says Bishop Newton) a great deal above two thousand years since this prophecy was first delivered; and what likelihood or appearance was there, that the Egyptians should for so many years bow unto a foreign yoke, and never in all that time be able