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Do we find then any mention made, in other collateral prophecies, of a furious attack about to be made upon Palestine from the region of the north, at the period of the restoration of Judah? If we do, we may reasonably conclude, that Jeremiah, treating as he does of the same period, means likewise the same northern attack.
Joel, predicting the restoration of the Jews, declares, that at the time when they are brought back to their own land they shall be violently assailed by a confederacy of many nations; but that God will remove far from them the northern tyrant, and drive him into a land barren and desolate, with his face toward the east-sea, and his hinder part toward the utmost sea *. This northern tyrant, described by Joel, can be no other than Daniel's wilful king, the head of the Antichristian confederacy, who invades Palestine at the same era of the restoration, and who is destined to perish between the two seas †. Such being the case, if the head of the confederacy or the wilful king be infidel France, as I have elsewhere attempted to prove, he can only be styled a northern one with reference to Judea, on account of his invading that country by land and from the north. Accordingly the infidel king, the life and soul of the whole confederacy, is plainly represented by Daniel, as conducting his expedition, not by sea, but by land.
Since then we find a northern expedition against Palestine, at the period of the restoration of Judah, clearly foretold both by Joel and Daniel with a variety of minute circumstances; and since this expedition cannot but be that of Antichrist and his associates: we must, I think, almost unavoidably conclude, that the northern invasion, so often mentioned by Jeremiah as contemporary with the restoration of Judah, is the expedition of Antichrist like
The description, which Jeremiah gives of this northern invasion, perfectly accords with such a supposition. As Isaiah represents the Antichristian confederacy under the images of a bird of prey and beasts of the earth wintering and summering upon the mountains of Israel ‡; so
Joel ii. 20.
† Dan. xi. 45. xii. 1.
Isaiah xviii. 6.
Jeremiah here beholds in his vision Antichrist or the infidel tyrant, that great destroyer of the nations *, going forth from his place to desolate Palestine, as a lion cometh up from his thicket: and, as both Isaiah and Joel depict, under symbols borrowed from the universal wreck of nature, the last dreadful struggles of Antichrist, during what Daniel terms in plain language a period of unexampled trouble; so Jeremiah exhibits to us the same tremendous events, under the very same set of hieroglyphics †.
The sum of the whole prophecy seems to be this. That, although God had scattered both Judah and Israel, he would nevertheless restore both Judah and Israel. That, after their restoration, they should become one people, worshipping God in spirit and in truth, not in the ceremonial observances of the law. That the Lord would surely pluck them out of the hand of those, who had so long trodden their portion under foot; and, although he might suffer their enemies, the northern confederacy, to prevail for a season, he would at length overthrow that confederacy, and utterly break its strength for ever. That nevertheless, if such as escaped in the day of God's controversy with the nations would diligently learn the ways of his people, they should then be built up in the midst of his people. And that finally, when the Lord had poured out his wrathful indignation on Antichrist and his rebellious associates, Jerusalem should be called the throne of the Lord, and all nations should be gathered unto it §.
St. John speaks of this same monster and his popish associates, as being those who destroy the earth, but whom God was about to destroy in their turn during the blast of the third wo-trumpet (Rev. xi. 18.). Precisely the same language is used by Isaiah, in speaking of the typical king of Babylon; by whom, as I have already attempted to shew, we must understand the great Antichrist of the last ages. "He, who smote the people in wrath with a continual stroke, he, that ruled the nations in anger...How art thou cut down to the ground, which didst weaken the nations !---Is this the man, that made the earth to tremble, that did shake kingdoms that made the world as a wilderness, and destroyed the cities thereof?" Isaiah xiv. 6, 12, 16, 17. † Compare Isaiah xxiv. 19---23. and Joel ii. 30, 31. with Jerem. iv. 23---26. Compare Isaiah lxvi. 19. and Zechar. xiii. 8.
§ Compare Isaiah ii. 3.
The idolatry of the Israelites in the land of their dispersion-Their restoration by sea and by land-The punishment of Judah-The general conversion of the Gentiles.
Jeremiah xvi. 13. I will cast you out of this land into a land that ye know not, ye and your fathers; and there shall ye serve other gods day and night, where I will not shew you favour.
14. After this, behold, The days come, saith the Lord, that it shall no more be said, As the Lord liveth, that brought up the children of Israel out of the land of Egypt; 15. But, As the Lord liveth, that brought up the children of Israel from the land of the north, and from all the lands whither he had driven them: for I will bring them again into their land that I gave unto their fathers. 16. Behold, I will send unto many fishers, saith the Lord, and they shall fish them; and after that will I send unto many hunters, and they shall hunt them from every mountain, and from every hill, and from the holes of the rocks. 17. For mine eyes are upon all their ways: they are not hid from my face, neither is their iniquity hid from mine eyes. 18. And first I will recompense their iniquity and their sin double; because they have defiled my land, they have filled mine inheritance with the carcasses of their detestable and abominable things.
19. O Lord, my strength, and my fortress, and my refuge in the day of affliction, the Gentiles shall come unto thee from the ends of the earth, and shall say, Surely our fathers have inherited lies, vanity, and things wherein there is no profit. 20. Shall a man make gods unto himself? Even they are no gods. 21. Therefore behold, I will at this time cause them to know, I will cause them to know my hand and my might, and they shall know that my name is Jehovah.
Jeremiah commences with predicting, that, after the children of Israel had been cast out of their own land,
they should serve, in a land which they knew not, other gods day and night. This part of the prophecy has been accomplished in the case of Judah by means of the diabolical tyranny of Popery. The fear of the inquisition has compelled many of the Jews to worship the gods of modern Rome, and to bow to stocks and stones rather than their effects should be seized and confiscated. According to Basnage, that iniquitous court reduces them to the dilemma of being either hypocrites or burnt. "The number of these dissemblers," says he, "is very considerable; and it ought not to be concluded, that there are no Jews in Spain or Portugal, because they are not known. They are so much the more dangerous, for not only being very numerous, but confounded with the ecclesiastics, and entering into all ecclesiastical dignities *." Nor is this the only tyranny to which the Jews have been exposed: in order that their children may be trained up to idolatry from their very youth, they have, in several countries, in Spain and Portugal particularly, been taken from them by order of government to be educated in the popish religion †. The prophecy has been equally accomplished in the case of the ten tribes. Such of them as mingled with the nations fell into their idolatrous practices; and the Afghans, if they be descendants of the Israelites, are at the present day Mohammedans ‡.
Yet, notwithstanding their dispersion and apostasy, the time should come, when their deliverance out of Egypt should be no more regarded, in comparison with their still greater restoration from the land of the north and from all the lands into which they had been scattered. In due season, God should first send many fishers, to fish them; and afterwards many hunters, to hunt them out of all their hiding places. Throughout the whole prophecy, we are to observe, the restoration, not merely of Judah, but of the whole people of Israel, is evidently spoken of. In this part of it therefore we have a manifest allusion to
*Bp. Newton's Dissert. vii. 15.
† Bp. Newton's Dissert. v11. 13.
I have already noticed the manner, in which prophecies that foretell the idolatry of the Jews during their dispersion, and prophecies that declare they should not relapse into idolatry, have alike been accomplished, however apparently inconsistent with each other. Vide supra Note on Proph. vr
the two-fold return, first of Judah, and afterwards of Israel. Since a considerable part of the first division, or Judah, namely such of the Jews as shall be converted previous to their return into their own country, is to be restored by a great maritime nation, Jeremiah aptly borrows an image from maritime life, and styles the restoring people fishers; and, since the second division, or Israel, is to be restored by continental powers, he similarly borrows an image from land life, and styles the restoring nations hunters. Both these images are exquisitely chosen in another point of view likewise: as the exercise of fishing partakes little of that laborious search and investigation which characterises the exercise of hunting, so Judah will be much more easily collected together, than Israel. The one will readily be allured by the bait of the metaphorical fishermen; the other, lost in the widely extended regions of Asia, must be hunted by the metaphorical hunters from every mountain, and from every hill, and from all the holes of the rocks.
Nevertheless, though all Israel shall be restored, the Jews at least shall assuredly be restored through much tribulation. God will visit upon them their former abominations, and will first recompense their iniquity and their sin double. But, when their restoration and that of Israel is fully accomplished, then shall the Gentiles come unto the Lord from the ends of the earth, and they shall jointly form one fold under one shepherd *.
A denunciation against those who have tyrannized over Israel— The restoration and conversion both of Israel and Judah.
Jeremiah xxiii. 1. Wo be unto the pastors, that destroy and scatter the sheep of my pasture, saith the Lord. 2. Therefore thus saith the Lord God of Israel against the pastors that feed my people; Ye have scattered my flock, and driven them away, and have not visited them: be
*I much doubt whether this prophecy can have even a primary relation to the return from the Babylonian captivity.