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pitch their tents and feed their flocks wherever they please; and that they search after every green thing,' are continually looking after prey, and seize on every kind of property that comes in their way."-Dr. A. Clarke on Gen. xvi, 12.
Fourthly. "His hand will be against every man, and every man's hand against him." Ishmael lived by prey and rapine in the wilderness, and ever since his posterity have infested Arabia and the adjacent countries with their robberies and incursions. They live in a state of continual war with the rest of the world, and are both robbers by land and pirates by sea. Formerly, and even now, travelers are obliged to go armed, and in caravans, and to march and keep guard, like an army, to defend themselves from the assaults of these freebooters, who run about in troops, and rob and plunder all whom they can by any means subdue. As they have been such enemies to mankind, it is no wonder that, in return, mankind have been enemies to them, and that many and powerful efforts have been made to extirpate them from the face of the earth. But the most amazing part of the prediction is yet to be examined.
Fifthly. "He shall dwell in the presence of all his brethren.” This is indeed very extraordinary, that "his hand should be against every man, and every man's hand against him," and yet that he should be able to "dwell in the presence of all his brethren ;" but, extraordinary as it was, this likewise has been fulfilled, both in Ishmael and in his posterity. Concerning Ishmael the sacred historian relates, Gen. xxv, 17, 18, that "the years of the life of Ishmael were a hundred and thirty and seven years, and he died in the presence of all his brethren." And in respect to his posterity, they dwelt likewise in the presence of all their brethren: Abraham's sons by Keturah; the Ammonites and Moabites, descendants of Lot; the Israelites, descendants of Abraham by Jacob; and the Edomites, his descendants by Esau. And they still subsist a distinct and independent people, possessing the country of their fathers, notwithstanding the perpetual enmity between them and the rest of mankind.
Let it not be said that the barrenness of their country was the cause of its preservation. Though the greater part of it be sandy and barren deserts, yet here and there are interspersed beautiful spots and fruitful valleys. On the green mountains of Yemen flourishes an almost continual spring; there the silvery streamlet glides sweetly along; there the golden corn richly waves in the breeze, while the senses are regaled by the purple grape, the blooming flowers, the verdant foliage, and the fragrant odors sweetly wafted in the gentle zephyrs that breathe along the fields of Arabian spice, so famous in history and song.
But were the country ever so barren and worthless, still it would be to the interest of the neighboring princes at any hazard to subdue such a pestilential race of robbers, who, by their depredations and incursions, are constantly injuring and frequently destroying the subjects of the adjacent states. And, indeed, their subjugation has often been attempted, but never accomplished. They have from their beginning until now maintained their independence; and notwithstanding the most powerful efforts made for their destruction, they still dwell in the presence of all their brethren, and in the presence of all their enemies.
In the time of Moses "they dwelt from Havidah unto Shur," and
yet we do not find that they were ever subject to either of their powerful neighbors, the Egyptians or the Assyrians. The mighty Sesostris, who led forth his victorious legions from conquering to conquest; who revelled in the gore of nations; and whose dominion extended from the Danube to the Ganges,-he, in the pride of his greatness, turned his arms against Arabia, and though a few of the western provinces, bordering upon Egypt, submitted, yet he who had triumphed over the nations in Europe, Africa, and Asia, was himself compelled to draw a line from Heliopolis to Pelusium, to secure Egypt from the incursions of his Arabian enemies. Cyrus, who took the invulnerable Babylon, directed his arms against the Arabians; but neither he nor his haughty successors, with their innumerable hosts, were able to reduce more than some of the exterior parts; and Herodotus expressly assures us that while Phenicia, Palestine, Syria, and the neighboring nations were taxed, the Arabian territories continued free from paying any tribute.
Alexander overthrew the Persian empire, and conquered Asia. The neighboring princes sent their ambassadors to make their submissions. The Arabs alone disdained to acknowledge the conqueror, and scorned to send any embassy. Provoked by this slight, he resolved on an expedition against them; and the great preparations which he made for it showed that he thought them a formidable enemy; but death intervened, and put an end to all that his ambition or resentment had formed against them. And Antigonus, one of the greatest of his successors, made two attempts upon them, yet without any success.
Afterward the Romans invaded the East, and subdued the adjacent countries; but never were able to reduce Arabia into the form of a Roman province. Lucullus subdued some particular tribes; but being recalled, the command was given to Pompey; and though he triumphed over three parts of the world, yet he could not subdue the Arabians. Elius Gallus, in the reign of Augustus, penetrated far into the country; but a strange distemper made terrible havoc in his army, and after two years spent in this unfortunate expedition he was glad to escape with the small remainder of his forces. The Emperor Trajan reduced some parts of Arabia, but he could never subdue it entirely; and when he besieged the city of the Hagarenes his soldiers were repelled by lightnings, thunderings, hail, whirlwinds, and other prodigies, and were constantly so repelled as often as they renewed their assaults. At the same time great swarms of flies infested his camp, so that at last he was forced to raise the siege, and retire with disgrace into his own dominions. Afterward the Emperor Severus and others attempted the conquest of Arabia; but they met with no better success than their illustrious predecessors. And the Arabs continued their incursions and depredations in Syria and other Roman provinces with their usual license and impunity.
Such was the condition of the Arabs to the time of their famous prophet, Mohammed, who laid the foundations of a great empire,— and then, for several centuries, they were better known in Europe by the name of Saracens. Their conquests were amazingly rapid, and can be compared to nothing more properly than to a sudden inundation. They were then not only free and independent of the rest of the world, but were themselves masters of the most consi
derable parts of the earth. And thus they continued for about three centuries; and after their empire was dissolved, and they were reduced within the limits of their native country, they still maintained their liberty against the Tartars, Mamelukes, Turks, and all foreign enemies whatsoever. Whoever were the conquerors of Asia, they were still unconquered, still continued their incursions, and preyed upon all alike. Though for several centuries the Turks have been lords of the adjacent countries, yet they have been under the necessity of paying to the Arabs a kind of annual tribute for the safe passage of their caravans through their territories. And, indeed, notwithstanding this tax, the celebrated traveler, Dr. Shaw, in his journey from Ramah to Jerusalem, was robbed by a party of Arabs, though he was escorted by four bands of Turkish soldiers.
Here we have a prophecy delivered more than three thousand seven hundred years ago, and we have seen its precise and wonderful accomplishment, even to the present day. Since it was first pronounced ages have passed away, centuries have rolled into oblivion, and in their mighty sweep have carried with them the nations of the earth, leaving naught but their names and the story of their greatness. As the rolling waves that lash the resounding shore efface the marks of each other's greatness, so empire has succeeded empire, and all the pomp and majesty of the one has soon been lost in the grandeur and splendor of its successor. Now the pride and greatness of the nations of the world are humbled in the dust beneath the majesty of the Egyptian arms; then the greatness and grandeur of Babylon droop and expire before Cyrus's conquering sword; here Alexander, like a fiery tempest, sweeps destruction over the kingdoms; there the Roman heroes march from conquest unto victory, overturning kingdoms, destroying thrones, and crowns, and sceptres, and scattering their broken fragments to the winds of heaven. Nations and their names have perished; ten of Heaven's chosen tribes are lost; the remaining two are scattered, without a country, a temple, or a priest; but Ishmael's sons have still their liberty and their land.
Could frail man have seen through more than three thousand years that Ishmael's sons should become a great nation; that they should retain their fierceness, their enmity, and their independence; and that amid this general wreck of nations the Arabs should stand secure? Ah! rather let me ask him what to-morrow shall bring forth. He knows not. Surely then it is God that hath spoken the prophecy; it is he that hath directed it to a lucid fulfilment, even in our own day, "that seeing we might believe, and that believing we might have life through his name." Let us then reverence this book of God, that, by its prophecies, as well as the purity and power of its truths, demonstrates the divinity of its origin.
W. H. W.
Rushville, Ill., Feb. 16, 1838.
From the Wesleyan Methodist Magazine.
I FIND from the Minutes of the last Wesleyan conference that it is intended in the year 1839 to celebrate the centenary of the formation of the Methodist societies: an arrangement from which great good may be anticipated. Communities as well as individuals are liable to degenerate; and hence the necessity of a frequent recurrence to the principles upon which they were originally founded, and to the objects which they were intended to accomplish. There is one fact connected with the rise of that form of Christianity which is denominated Methodism, to which I think attention might at present be profitably directed. I allude to Mr. Wesley's conversion, the centenary of which will fall upon the 24th of May next. It was on the 24th of May, in the year 1738, that the Rev. John Wesley obtained the inward witness of God's pardoning mercy, with that new and holy nature which was manifest in his active zeal and blameless conduct during the remainder of his very useful life. Of this great and momentous change he has given a circumstantial account in his Journal, which I beg leave to transcribe, and to which I shall take the liberty of appending a few remarks. The following is his own account:
"Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday I had continual sorrow and heaviness in my heart; something of which I described, in the broken manner I was able, in the following letter to a friend :
""O why is it, that so great, so wise, so holy a God will use such an instrument as me? Lord, let the dead bury their dead! But wilt thou send the dead to raise the dead? Yea, thou sendest whom thou wilt send, and showest mercy by whom thou wilt show mercy! Amen! Be it then according to thy will! If thou speak the word, Judas shall cast out devils.
"I feel what you say, (though not enough,) for I am under the same condemnation. I see that the whole law of God is holy, just, and good. I know every thought, every temper of my soul, ought to bear God's image and superscription. But how am I fallen from the glory of God! I feel that I am sold under sin. I know that I, too, deserve nothing but wrath, being full of all abominations; and having no good thing in me, to atone for them, or to remove the wrath of God. All my works, my righteousness, my prayers, need an atonement for themselves. So that my mouth is stopped. I have nothing to plead. God is holy; I am unholy. God is a consuming fire; I am altogether a sinner, meet to be consumed.
"Yet I hear a voice (and is it not the voice of God?) saying, Believe, and thou shalt be saved. He that believeth is passed from death unto life. God so loved the world that he gave his only-begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.
"O let no one deceive us by vain words, as if we had already obtained this faith!* By its fruits we shall know. Do we already feel peace with God, and joy in the Holy Ghost? Does his Spirit bear witness with our spirit, that we are the children of God? Alas! with
"That is, the proper Christian faith.” VOL. IX.-July, 1838. 41
mine he does not. Nor, I fear, with yours. O thou Saviour of men, save us from trusting in any thing but thee! Draw us after thee! Let us be emptied of ourselves, and then fill us with all peace and joy in believing, and let nothing separate us from thy love, in time or in eternity!'
"What occurred on Wednesday, the 24th, I think best to relate at large, after premising what may make it the better understood. Let him that cannot receive it ask the Father of lights that he would give more light to him and me.
"1. I believe, till I was about ten years old, I had not sinned away that washing of the Holy Ghost' which was given me in baptism, having been strictly educated, and carefully taught that I could only be saved by universal obedience, by keeping all the commandments of God;' in the meaning of which I was diligently instructed. And those instructions, so far as they respected outward duties and sins, I gladly received and often thought of. But all that was said to me of inward obedience or holiness I neither understood nor remembered. So that I was, indeed, as ignorant of the true meaning of the law as I was of the gospel of Christ.
"2. The next six or seven years were spent at school; where, outward restraints being removed, I was much more negligent than before, even of outward duties, and almost continually guilty of outward sins, which I knew to be such, though they were not scandalous in the eye of the world. However, I still read the Scriptures, and said my prayers, morning and evening. And what I now hoped to be saved by was, 1. Not being so bad as other people. 2. Having still a kindness for religion. And, 3. Reading the Bible, going to church, and saying my prayers.
"3. Being removed to the university, for five years, I still said my prayers, both in public and private, and read, with the Scriptures, several other books of religion, especially comments on the New Testament. Yet I had not all this while so much as a notion of inward holiness; nay, went on habitually and, for the most part, very contentedly, in some or other known sin; indeed, with some intermission and short struggles, especially before and after the holy communion, which I was obliged to receive thrice a year. I cannot well tell what I hoped to be saved by now, when I was continually sinning against that little light I had, unless by those transient fits of what many divines taught me to call 'repentance.'
"4. When I was about twenty-two, my father pressed me to enter into holy orders. At the same time the providence of God directing me to Kempis's 'Christian Pattern,' I began to see that true religion was seated in the heart, and that God's law extended to all our thoughts, as well as words and actions. I was, however, very angry at Kempis for being too strict, though I read him only in Dean Stanhope's translation. Yet I had frequently much sensible comfort in reading him, such as I was an utter stranger to before; and meeting likewise with a religious friend, which I never had until now, I began to alter the whole form of my conversation, and to set in earnest upon a new life. I set apart an hour or two a day for religious retirement. I communicated every week. I watched against all sin, whether in word or deed. I began to aim at, and pray for, Inward holiness. So that now, 'doing so much, and living so good a life,' I doubted not but I was a good Christian.