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THE HISTORY OF PROPHECY.
THE PROPHECIES CONCERNING ABRAHAM AND HIS FAMILY.
It will occur to
us not unfre- thee a great nation, and I will bless quently, in our progress through thee, and make thy name great; the sacred writings, to meet with and thou shalt be a blessing: and prophecies of so simple and decided I will bless them that bless thee, à character, and whose nature, and curse him that curseth thee: bearing, and ultimate fulfilment, and in thee shall all families of have been so constantly kept before the earth be blessed." the public eye, as to render it al- It is further added in the 7th together useless, and in a certain verse, that “the Lord appeared degree fatiguing to our readers, for unto Abram, and said, Unto thy us to enter minutely into their par seed will I give this land.” ticulars, or repeat again the cir- And more specific information cumstances of their fulfilment. Such was given to the patriarch a few in an eminent degree, were some years afterwards, when, in a vision of the prophecies vouchsafed to narrated in the 15th chapter, God Abraham. In speaking of such, further deigns to tell him, “ Know therefore, we shall briefly state the of a surety that thy seed shall be prediction and its fulfilment, and a stranger in a land that is not not attempt to enlarge upon points their's, and shall serve them; and with which all our readers must they shall afflict them four hunnecessarily be well acquainted. dred years; and also that nation,
We propose on the present occa- whom they shall serve, will I sion to advert, very succinctly, to, judge; and afterward shall they 1. The prophecies concerning Abra- come out with great substance. ham. 2. The prophecies concern- And thou shalt go to thy fathers ing Ishmael; and, 3dly. The pro- in peace; thou shalt be buried in phecies concerning Esau.
a good old age. But in the fourth 1. THE PROPHECIES CONCERN- generation they shall come hither ING ABRAHAM are of that class to again: for the iniquity of the which we have already alluded, Xmorites is not yet full, namely, predictions whose fulfil
The peculiar blessing to Abrament has been so clear, so obvious, ham's so seed” was also repeated and of so simple a nature, as to in the 22nd chapter, in the folmake all comment or explanation lowing words, “And in thy seed appear at the present moment shall all the nations of the earth altogether unnecessary.
be blessed." It was, we apprehend, about the We see then, here, three disyear B. c. 1921, according to the tinct predictions, and their fulfilgeneral acceptation,—that Abra- ment need only be alluded to in ham, being then in the 75th year the briefest manner; seeing that of his age, received that call from our readers will be already well God which is narrated in the 12th acquainted with the particulars of of Genesis in these words : “ Now each. the Lord had said unto Abram, The first prediction was, “ TO Get thee out of thy country, and thee and to thy seed will I give this from thy kindred, and from thy land." The fulfilment of this profather's house, unto a land that I mise has become matter of history, will shew thee; and I will make of and of universal notoriety. The said,
seed of Abraham did
possess Ca- fulfilment of this part of the pronaan; and not only did they come phecy is equally well known. It into possession of it, but it was is clearly marked in Exodus xii. visibly and remarkably “ given" to wherein it is specifically stated them. After they had occupied that “ The sojourning of the chilthe land, Joshua called the tribes dren of Israel, who dwelt in Egypt, of Israel unto him to Shechem, was four hundred and thirty years. and there rehearsed to them the And it came to pass at the end of mercies of the Lord. He there the four hundred and thirty years, tells them, “ Thus saith the Lord even the self-same day it came to God of Israel, I have given you pass, that all the hosts of the Lord a land for which ye did not labour, went out from the land of Egypt." and cities which ye built not, and This passage dates the period of vineyards and oliveyards which ye the sojourn of the seed of Abraplanted not."
ham, from the call of the patriarch And the people answered and himself. That call was given in
" The Lord our God, he it is the year B. c. 1921, and the Exothat brought us up, and our
fathers dus (or Departure) of the Israelout of the land of Egypt, from the ites took place B.c. 1491. house of bondage, and which did The third circumstance predictthose great signs in our sight, and ed, was the coming of the expected preserved us in all the way wherein Saviour, in the line of Abraham's we went, and among all the people seed. “ In thy seed shall all the through whom we passed: and the nations of the earth be blessed.” Lord drave out from before us all This promise was of that striking the people, even the Amorites which and extensive character, that its dwelt in the land : therefore will intent could not be mistaken. The we also serve the Lord; for he is promised “ seed of the woman, our God.”
who should bruise the serpent's Such was the primary fulfilment head, was the object of expecting of this prediction. And although, faith with all those among Abrafor their sins, the seed of Abra- ham's progenitors, who “ called on ham have been again driven out of the name of the Lord.” To be the this land which God had specially chosen individuals, in whose line promised them, and into which he the expected Messiah should aphad wondrously led them-still,
pear, was of itself the highest pri“ the Lord, the God of Israel, vilege; but more especially so, as saith, that he hateth putting
it seemed to hold out the reasonaaway;” and upon this and many ble hope, that the family so selected other manifestations of his cha- would be favoured with the more racter we rest, when we incline to especial care and protection of God. interpret literally those passages And the event justified this of holy writ which speak of Ca- expectation. His seed or family naan as still the home of the chil- became the chosen people of the dren of Israel, and which promise Lord ; and, finally, the prediction them another and more permanent was fulfilled in the birth of Him, restoration to “ their own land.” on whose appearance the angels
But the second prediction, or the sang the joyful hymn of “ Peace second point adverted to, was this, on earth, good will towards men. that the promised settlement of II. But we have next to speak Abraham's seed in Canaan should of THE PROPHECIES CONCERNING be preceded by their remaining in
ISHMAEL, a state of pilgrimage, servitude, Ishmael was the eldest son of and estrangement, for a period of Abraham. He was not the child above four hundred years. The of the promise, but “ the son of the MAY 1833.
bond-woman.” Nevertheless, as sought, by any of the nations the son of Abraham, the “ friend around them. Their forbearance is of God," a blessing, though of an all that has been hoped for or inferior degree, was reserved for solicited. • And,' to use the words him. God said unto his father, of Sir R. K. Porter, " that an “Behold, I have blessed him, and acute and active people, surrounded will make him fruitful, and will
for ages by polished and luxurious multiply him exceedingly : twelve nations, should from their earliest princes shall he beget, and I will to their latest times, be still found make him a great nation. Gen. xvii. a wild people, dwelling in the pre20. And again he said, “ And sence of all their brethren, unsubalso of the son of the bond-woman dued and unchangeable, is, indeed, will I make a nation, BECAUSE a standing miracle; one of those HE IS THY SEED." Gen. xxi. 13. mysterious facts which establish But some particulars are also
the truth of prophecy.'1 added. It is said, “ He will be a It is said of Ishmael, that “he wild man ; his hand will be against dwelt in the wilderness and became every man, and every man's hand an archer,” and the like has conagainst him; and he shall dwell tinued to be true of his descendants in the presence of all his brethren."
for three thousand years. The Gen. xvi. 11, 12.
Itureans, descended from his son Most exactly and literally was Jetur, are famed through all the this prediction accomplished. The writers of classic antiquity, for their sons of Ishmael
twelve prowess with the bow ; and “the princes," and Moses describes them children of Kedar," another of his with great particularity. Gen. xxv. sons, are alluded to as noted archers 16. 6. These are the sons of Ish
in Isaiah xxi. 17. And the general mael, and these are their names,
character of the Arabs, the unby their towns, and by their castles; questionable descendants of Ishtwelve princes according to their mael, has been in other points nations."
“ And they dwelt from equally unchanged. They live, Havilah unto Shur, as thou goest
and ever have lived, in a state of towards Assyria.”
constant hostility with all mankind. But the more wondrous part of They are equally plunderers on this history remains to be told. land and at sea. Commerce and The prediction also stated, “ He intercourse with the rest of the shall be a wild man'; his hand shall world they have had, but nothing be against every man, and every
has modified their fixed national man's hand against him.” This
character. During their conquests description would doubtless apply, under Mahomet they overran a to a certain extent, to every bar- great part of the earth, and were barous and uncivilized people, in
for centuries masters of most of the the earlier periods of their existence. wealth, grandeur, and learning then But every other known nation, in known, but amidst all, they rethe advancing stages of their his
mained and still remain the same tory, has been found to lose this fierce, unruly, and intractable character, and to become more or people that all history describes less civilized, settled, and inter- their ancestors in every age to have woven with its neighbours. The been. Ishmael lived in tents in Arabs, on the contrary, after three the wilderness, shifting from place thousand years, are still found—to to place; and so do they, his deuse the words of Gibbon-armed scendants, to this day. He was against mankind.' Their friendly an archer of the desert, and so are alliance has never been obtained, they. He was the father of twelve and indeed, scarcely ever been i Sir R. K. Porter's Travels, p. 304.
princes or chiefs; and they live in national existence and independence clans, under their chiefs, to this of the Arabs, surrounded as they day. He was
a wild man,
his have ever been by powerful enehand against every man,
every mies, and never knowing or seekman's hand against him; and they ing a friend. The promise ran thus, live in the same state of war, up that although “every man's hand to the present moment.
· Their should be against him," yet in spite skill in horsemanship, and their of all attacks, he should continue capacity of bearing the heat of their to “ dwell in the presence of all burning plains, give them also a his brethren." The infidel historsuperiority over their enemies. ian, Gibbon, while he aims to Hence every petty chief in his own escape from the force of this evidistrict considers himself
dence, is compelled to admit its sovereign prince, and as such exacts substantial truth. He says, customs from all
passengers. When • The perpetual independence of they plunder caravans travelling the Arabs has been the theme of through their territories, they con- praise among strangers and natives; sider it as reprisals on the Turks and the arts of controversy transand Persians, who often make in- form this singular event into a proroads into their country, and carry phecy and a miracle, in favour of away their corn and their flocks.'
the posterity of Ishmael. Some Their unchanged and unchange- exceptions that can neither be disable national character, then, con- sembled nor eluded, do render this stitutes one great standing miracle ; mode of reasoning as indiscreet as and must ever be acknowledged a it is superfluous : the kingdom of miracle far beyond the power of Yemen has been successively subman to account for, on any rational dued by the Abyssinians, the Perprinciples. Consider the princi- sians, the Sultans of Egypt, and pal nations which figure in history. the Turks: the holy cities of Mecca Look at the Persians, first the and Medina have repeatedly bowed hardy and enduring and temperate under a Scythian tyrant; and the conquerors; then, in a few cen
Roman province of Arabia embracturies, the effeminate slaves. Re- ed the peculiar wilderness in which member the wild and savage Ishmael and his sons must have Greeks, so
soon becoming the pitched their tents in the face of orators and sculptors and poets their brethren. Yet these exceptions Or turn to the Ro
are temporary or local ; the body mans, first an assemblage of thieves; of the nation has escaped the yoke then priding themselves on their of the most powerful monarchies : honour and integrity: now becoming the arms of Sesostris and Cyrus, of the masters of the world, and then Pompey and Trajan, could never falling a prey to swarms of naked
achieve the conquest of Arabia ; barbarians. Meanwhile the sons the present sovereign of the Turks of Ishmael-not hidden in some may exercise a shadow of jurisdicremote corner of the globe, but tion, but his pride is reduced to existing in the very midst of all solicit the friendship of a people, these changes are found to this whom it is dangerous to provoke hour, traversing the very same and fruitless to attack.'* wilds, and following the very same Stronger attestation than this we pursuits which their first progen- could not require. The prediction itor, the “son of the bondwoman,” went not to hold out the hope that was especially destined to adopt. no ' temporal or local advantage
But here a second miracle is dis- should ever be gained over them; cernible—namely, in the continued. but it did promise that these advan
* Hanway's Travels, vol. iv. p. 221. * Gibbon's Decline and Fall. Chap. 50.,
of all ages.
tages should be only temporary triarchs or heads of tribes, who and local.' Some of their cities were their princes or governors. might be captured, one of their" The Arabs as well as the Jews provinces might become for a time
marry among themselves and in nominally a part of the Roman their own tribes. The Arabs as empire ; but in the midst of all well as the Jews are singular in these vicissitudes the nation re- several of their customs, and are mained independent; and while the standing monuments to all ages of Assyrian empire fell before the Per- the exactness of the divine predicsian, the Persian before the Greek, tions, and of the veracity of scripand the Greek before the Roman, ture history. We may with more the sons of Ishmael,“ dwelling in confidence believe the particulars the face of all their brethren,” main- related of Abraham and Ishmael, tained their independence in des- when we see them verified in their pite of each and of all. All the posterity at this day. This is greatest conquerors of ancient and having as it were ocular demonmodern days have in their turn failed stration for our faith. This is
provto subjugate the sons of the “wild ing by plain matter of fact, that man. ." Sesostris and Cyrus, Pom- “ the Most High ruleth in the pey and Trajan, alike returned kingdoms of men," and that his without accomplishing their object. truth, as well as his “ No less than five great efforts of
dureth for ever. the mighty Roman empire are IIIdly, however, we must speak recorded, in which these conquer
of THE PROPHECIES CONCERNING ors of the world bent all their ESAU. These are of that simple energies to the subjugation of the character, and their fulfilment of Arabs; but in every instance with- that general notoriety, to which we out success.
And after this we have referred at the commencement need hardly say that no modern of this article: and our notice of power has had any greater suc- them will therefore be very succinct. Three thousand
have It was revealed of the Lord to passed away, and it remains as true Rebecca, the wife of Isaac, that at this moment as it has been in “ two nations are in thy womb, each successive
century,—that and two manner of people shall be “ Ishmael is a wild man; his hand separated from thy towels ;' and against every man, and every man's the one people shall be stronger hand against him;” and yet he than the other people; and the “ dwells in the presence of all his elder shall serve the younger.” brethren.”
And in agreement with this preAnd be it observed, to use the diction, was the prophetic blessing words of Bishop Newton, that pronounced by Isaac over Esau. · These are the only people be- “ Behold, thy dwelling shall be sides the Jews, who have subsisted the fatness of the earth, and of the as a distinct people from the begin- dew of heaven from above. And by ning; and in some respects they thy sword shalt thou live, and very much resemble each other. shalt serve thy brother; and it The Arabs as well as the Jews are shall come to pass when thou shalt descended from Abraham, and both have the dominion, that thou shalt boast of their descent from the break his yoke from off thy neck." father of the faithful. The Arabs We see, in the fulfilment of this
the Jews are circum- prediction, the extensive view cised; and both profess to have which prophecy ever takes. It derived that ceremony from Abra
glances from the present moment, ham. The Arabs as well as the and the interests of individuals, to Jews had originally twelve pa
the destinies of nations, and the