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ages rested on the ruins of desolated Thebes, involving it in mystery and obscurity. Profound learning, and sober-minded conjecture have done no more than establish a few probable suppositions; but the recent discoveries in hieroglyphics have thrown a ray of light on many a hewn stone and symbolic description, rendering that plain and intelligible, which before was utterly unknown. There is, now, scarcely a doubt of the identity of Thebes of Egypt, with the No-Amon mentioned by the prophet Nahum: "Art thou better than populous No, that was situate among the rivers, that had the waters round about it, whose rampart was the sea, and her wall was from the sea? Ethiopia and Egypt were her strength, and it was infinite: Put and Lubim were thy helpers. Yet was she carried away, she went into captivity: her young children also were dashed in pieces at the top of all the streets: and they cast lots for her honourable men, and all her great men were bound in chains," Nahum iii. 8—10.
Every fresh light thrown on the darkness which has so long shrouded Thebes, renders it more interesting; it is like finding something of value while groping amid ruins, that raises our estimation of the mouldering pile.
The term used to distinguish this city of No, or No-Amon, means "the dwelling of Ammon." The fact is beyond contradiction, that there were more places than one in Egypt, called by the Greeks Diospolis, signifying the same thing.
The prophetical denunciations of Jeremiah and Ezekiel against a city of the same name, must have referred to another place, not then destroyed, whereas the greatness of the city mentioned by Nahum had already departed. Little doubt remains, as I said, that the city of No-Amon, mentioned by the prophet Nahum, and the city of Thebes, are one and the same. The word "sea" is frequently used in Scripture for great waters of all kinds, and the river Nile is undoubtedly of this description.
Herodotus would surely have described the glory of Thebes, as well as that of Memphis, if the former had not passed away before his day, and that was between four and five hundred years before the coming of our Saviour. We may, then, without much fear of deceiving ourselves, allow our eyes to rove over the panorama of Thebes as over the ruins of No-Amon. We may, without subjecting ourselves to the charge of easy-minded credulity, believe the cities to be one and the same.
It is not, however, the antiquity alone of Thebes that so powerfully absorbs the mind of the reflecting visitor of the panorama; but the immensity of the masses of sculptured temples and obelisks, and colossal statues, which at once excite, astonish, and confound.
It is one thing to be told that Egypt was a flourishing nation in the earliest ages of the world, or to read that Thebes was the renowned capital of the Egyptian monarchy, and that her warriors issued forth armed from a hundred gates; but it is another to see with our eyes a correct representation of the stupendous, though faded glory of that mighty capital, as it is at this day. The gigantic blocks of massive stone, the avenues of sphinxes, the groves of columns, sculptured over with mysterious hieroglyphics, are so unlike the common objects around us; so much beyond our pigmy dwellings, and comparatively miniature public buildings, that mystery and amazement prevail in the spectator's mind.
When gazing on such huge masses as these before me, we cannot but be struck with the feebleness of "mighty men," when contrasted with the power of the Almighty. Man builds a city, but the hand of the Almighty overturns it. Man designs it to endure from generation to generation in prosperity, but God humbleth its pride and its power: "The Lord of hosts hath purposed, and who shall disannul it? And his hand is stretched out, and who shall turn it back?" Isaiah xiv. 27.
It is said that the whole French army, when they came suddenly in sight of these immense ruins, with one accord stood in amazement, and clapped their hands with delight. These goodly temples were erected by idolaters, by vain mortal men, who "changed the glory of the incorruptible God into an image made like to corruptible man, and to birds, and four-footed beasts, and creeping things;" yet are their ruins even now attesting the truth of Holy Writ, respecting the destruction of idolatrous nations. "Their land is full of idols ; they worship the work of their own hands; that which their own fingers have made." "The day of the Lord of hosts shall be upon every one that is proud and lofty, and upon every one that is lifted up; and he shall be brought low," Isaiah ii. 8, 12. I know not if others are moved as I am, by this painted semblance of ancient Thebes, but I stand oppressed, I might almost say afflicted, with confused reflections. The mighty ruins around wear not the appearance of decay; their edges are still sharp; their sculptured hieroglyphics seem as fresh as if the chisel of yesterday had fashioned them. These solid blocks of uninjured stone have defied the hand of Time, yet have they been shaken by the only arm that could shake them asunder, the arm of the Holy One.
"Not all proud Thebes' unrivall'd walls contain,
could oppose the power of God, or endure the withering touch of the hand of the Eternal!
As the eye wanders over the banks of the river Nile and the distant mountains of Arabia, and then falls on the mighty temples of Karnak and Luxor, which appear to have been shaken to their foundations, and partly overturned, while yet in the pinnacle of their glory, one absorbing inquiry urges itself on the mind: "Whose hand hath done this?" and though no audible response be heard, the heart feels the reply, "The Lord strong and mighty, the Lord mighty in battle!" "He doeth according to his will in the army of heaven, and among the inhabitants of the earth; and none can stay his hand, or say unto him, What doest thou?" Dan. iv. 35.
Jerusalem! thou hast awakened my awe, my reverence, and my spiritual affections, and more deeply impressed on my mind the everlasting verities of the book of truth. And, Thebes!
I view thy noble relics with a sigh,