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manner are all related, must be attentively noticed by us, or our judgment, in such cases, will be vague and infantile. If you foretel the death of an individual, time will accomplish it, though you have no prophetic gift; but if you venture to add as many as three uncertain particulars, your reputation as a seer, is instantly in jeopardy. Name the death of the man, and say, that it will take place by apoplexy, on Thursday of the next week, and you are likely to fail in all the particulars; whilst you are an impostor, should you mistake only in one. Take a thousand men, and it is not to be expected that any one of them will die just at that day, at a given hour, and with that disease. How much more difficult to sustain your pretensions to prophetic gifts, if three more specifications are added. Suppose these to be improbable particulars, and how much is the difficulty increased!
That which distinguishes the prophecies of the Bible from all heathen, or all pretended predictions, of every age, is simply that the former have not merely three specifications, or six particulars, but often very many, and many of these too altogether unlikely ever to come to pass, in the view and judgment of human wisdom. The prophecy, named by the eminent statesman, mentioned above, has connected with it more than twice six of these items or particulars, many of them totally improbable, according to man's common expectation of things. Before we notice these, or look carefully at the prophecy, we must mention an evasion, which does not belong to the learned unbeliever of the present day; but it is common with those who do not read. The better informed will excuse us for explaining to the youthful and the unlettered, that which is already known
to others. It is concerning the old and common refuge from truth, we now write. "The prophecies (say those who are afraid to believe) may have been written after the events mentioned, transpired." This shall be no difficulty between us, at the present time, for we will present no prediction which did not have all, or a greater part of its fulfilment, many generations after the time, when unbelievers say it was in existence. If we go according to infidel authority, the young skeptic will have no unwillingness to receive the account from his own party, and from leaders on his side of the question. There are many ways in which the date of a prophecy may be fairly proved and established; but we at present will take the shorter course of quoting no prediction, which did not come to pass many years and centuries after the time fixed for its origin, by the most noted and learned opposers. For example, the great hater of Christianity, Porphyry, was perhaps the first who ever used this objection. Some prophecies of the Old Testament were so plain, and seemed to give him so much distress, that he gave it as his opinion, that the book of prophecy must have been written subsequently to their fulfilment. He quoted from the Greek translation, so well known under the name of the Septuagint; the same translation used by the Saviour and his Apostles; the same which was made for, and formed a part of the Alexandrian Library. If you allow this no greater age than the time when the learned unbeliever wrote against it, this will suffice for the present. Porphyry has been dead fifteen hundred years. And the prophetic events we are about to state, came to pass from three to seven, nine, and eleven, hundred years after his death. Or again; concerning the common Greek version of the
Old Testament, the famous Gibbon says, scoffingly and deridingly, that the Egyptian king gathered it from the villages of Judea. But the king of Egypt, of whom he speaks, lived three hundred years before the Saviour was crucified. Then, if you do not fear to receive the account from this champion in unbelief; if you do not fear he was too partial to the Bible, the events we are now about to call to view, occurred from three to seven, nine, eleven, or twenty-one hundred years after the Old Testament was translated into Greek. We can only say to the young reader, with an immortal soul, that if no more could be said on this point than even the little we have now told you, we think you might doubt the security of your refuge. But if you are determined to seek a flimsy hiding place, where even the infidel arrows will pierce you, then you must go there, and there remain.
The first prophecy noticed shall be that which was cited by the able politician, to show that little was proved by its alleged fulfilment, viz: the fall of ancient Babylon. Here the reader is invited to turn to different books of the Old Testament, and there note how the event was mentioned by different prophets. The name of the General who should lead the army, (150 years before his birth,) the manner of the assault, the condition and conduct of the besieged, where the victors were to find the treasures, &c. are all declared. But at present, it is our plan to hold up to view, only that part of these predictions which has come to pass since the Old Testament was translated into the Greek language.
Isaiah, Chapter xiii.—“It shall never be inhabited, neither shall it be dwelt in from generation to generation, neither shall the Arabian pitch tent there, neither shall the shepherds make their fold there; but wild beasts of
the desert shall lie there, and their houses shall be full of doleful creatures; and owls shall dwell there, satyrs shall dance there, and the wild beasts of the islands shall cry in their desolate houses, and dragons in their pleasant palaces," &c.
1. Let it be noted that it was very unlikely that this particular kind of desolation should have happened to any city. We should never conjecture concerning London or Paris, (should these cities come to ruin,) that they would be deserted by man, whilst lofty palaces or stately dwellings were there, inviting the houseless wanderer at least under their friendly shelter. Centuries rolled by after these threatenings were written. Babylon received another and another overthrow. Still these did not unpeople her streets. After a time, history informs us, Seleucia and Ctesiphon were built : the luxu rious and sensual nobles of Babylon must follow their monarch and his court: they left their palaces, and their splendid abodes were deserted in a singular and unexampled manner. The servants and the dependants of these wealthy sons of revelry and authority, followed their lords to gaze at or participate in their feasting. Those who lived by selling their merchandise to the opulent, followed; and the streets were in fact abandoned to unbroken silence.
2. Must it follow of course that the ferocious beasts of the islands shall inhabit dwellings, more splendid in some repects than any we have ever seen? By no means. This was not the natural result; for still enough of the indigent remained to rule the brutal creation that have not reason for their guide. But continue to watch the progress of events. The Lord has spoken, and shall he fail to make it good? After a time a despotic potentate
craves a more splendid hunting-ground: he repairs the wall of the ancient city and makes it the area of his chase. Their houses are then full of doleful creatures; owls dwell there, and dragons in their pleasant palaces.
always the huntingBabylon had stood Will not the shepherd
3. But it was not to be expected that these houses could stand always, and they did not. It was not to be expected that Babylon could continue ground of a king, and it did not. on a fertile and extensive plain. drive his flock wherever vegetation springs to sustain them, if man's dominion does not forbid him? Assuredly he will, if God has not said nay. But when the towering edifices of brick had fallen in, the under cellars and vaults afforded such dens and lairs for tigers, wolves, lions, and hyenas, that travellers inform us it was too hazardous for the approach of a shepherd and his flock.
4. But the Arabians move in bands; they delight to wield the javelin; they tremble not at the lion's growl. The Arab will surely pitch his tent there, as he traverses all the deserts of the eastern continent. And he would have done so in defiance of the most ferocious of the forest tribes; but under the extended and unparalleled rubbish of that spot, denounced of heaven, were concealed scorpions, serpents, and reptiles, so numerous, and of fangs so envenomed and deadly, that no one could close his eyes in safety under the shelter of his friendly
5. But time will obliterate these dens and hiding places; these heaps will dissolve and this rubbish will decay. Babylon was in the midst of a rich plain that could not be washed like the hills of Palestine into nudity and barrenness. Will it not be repeopled? Who shall