« הקודםהמשך »
Jeremiah broke the potter's vessel; and Ezekiel publicly removed his household goods from the city, to express correspondent calamities which were about to descend upon the enemies of Jehovah. Sometimes also, they taught by revealing transactions seen in visions, which could not have well been submitted to in reality; thus conveying instruction with great force.
Many of their predictions had a double meaning. They related first to some event which would shortly occur, but chiefly to one of which that was only the type, and which was far distant. Different predictions therefore, such as those of the first and second dispersion, of the first and second restoration, of the first and second coming of Christ, were mingled in one; a vast period was often embraced in one prophecy, and what a cursory reader would suppose to belong to a particular people in a particular age, often embraced great portions of the human family, through many successive generations.
Their style was highly figurative, bold and magnificent. They drew their imagery from the luminaries of heaven, from the ocean, the mountain, the storm, from their native scenery, from their temple worship and the idolatrous rites of the heathen; and if sometimes it partook of an indelicate cast, it was because of the taste of the age, or because they would more indignantly express the divine abhorrence of the sins of the people.
Their predictions were necessarily obscure, that they might not control human freedom, and appear to produce their own accomplishment. But so numerous and express were they respecting the advent of Christ, as to occasion, about the time of his birth, both among Jews and Gentiles, a very general expectation of the appearance of some illustrious personage.
“The testimony of Jesus, is the spirit of prophecy; and he who can contemplate that spirit operating through four thousand years, and be an infidel, would not be persuaded though one rose from the dead."
TABLE of the Prophets who prophesied before the Captivity. BEFORE CHRIST. KINGS OF JUDAH KINGS OF IS
RAEL. Elijah, From 912 to 896 Jehosaphat. Ahat
Jehoram. Elisha, 906 to 839 Jehoram, Jehoash.
Jehu. Jonah, 856 to 784 Jehoash.
Jehu and Je
hoahaz. Amos, 810 to 785
Jeroboam 2d Azariah.
Jeroboam 2d Hosea,
810 to 725 Azariah.
Uzziah, Jotham, A- Pekah, HoIsaiah,
760 to 698 haz, Hezekiah, & shea.
21 Jotham, Ahaz and Hoshea. Micah,
720 to 7001 Hezekiah. Zephaniah, 650 to 610) Josiah. Joel,
640 to 610 Josiah. Jeremiah, 629 to 588 Josiah,Jehoiakim. Obadiah,
607 to 580j Jehoiakim. Habakkuk, 612 to 595 Zedekiah.
Babylonish captivity. Ezekiel. Triumphs of faith. Prophecies of Daniel. Providence
of God relating to Cyrus. Restoration of the Jews. Temple rebuilt. Preservation of the Church through Esther. Favorable decrees of Artaxerxes to Ezra and Nehemiah Their labors and success at Jerusalem. The last of the Prophets. Closing of the sacred canon. Zoroaster.
In the year 588 B. C. the destruction of Jerusalem, of the Temple and the nation was rendered complete. The remnant of this once happy and flourishing people was carried captive to Babylon, and scattered throughout the east. Their sufferings were without a parallel. Every curse and wo which had been denounced upon them by God through his prophets, if they forsook him, were strictly and literally fulfilled. But amid the treachery of friends and persecution of enemies, the Church lived." The bush burned with fire, but the bush was not consumed.” God had a seed to serve him; men of prayer; who sat down by the rivers of Babylon and wept when they remembered Zion-who, in
recollection of their beloved homes, their Temple worship and the God of their fathers, said, “ If I forget thee, O Jerusalem, let my right hand forget her cunning. If I do not remember thee, let my tongue cleave to the roof of my mouth; if I prefer not Jerusalem above my chief joy.”
Among the children of the captivity was the prophet Ezekiel. He was a descendant of Aaron, of the tribe of Levi; and was carried captive with Jehoiachin and placed on the banks of the river Chebar. He began to prophesy six years before the destruction of Jerusalem by Nebuchad. nezzar, and continued to prophesy sixteen years after. In the fifth year of his captivity, and thirtieth of his age, the Lord appeared to him on a throne, supported by cherubims and wheels, signifying angels and changing providences; and directed him to go and declare his mind and will to the captive Jews. They had made themselves miserable from supposing that the remnant at Jerusalem were in happy cir. cumstances. He corrected their error, by showing them the melancholy state of Jerusalem, and the still greater ca. lamities which awaited it, because of the total apostacy of the Jews. He occasionally adverted to the certain destruction of their enemies; predicted the advent of the Messiah and the final restoration of the Jews. His style is bold and tragical. Many of his prophecies are obscure. The nine last chapters, furnish a description of a new temple and city, seen in vision, under which seems to be shadowed the glorious Church universal.
But the most eminent saint and the most exalted personage in the Church at this time, was the prophet Daniel. He was descended from the kings of Judah, and was carried captive in the fourth year of Jehoiachin. He flourished during the reigns of several monarchs, and died in old age, after the capture of Babylon by Cyrus. Because of his birth, beauty and wisdom, he was selected, among others, to receive a princely education, and stand in the presence of Nebuchadnezzar. By his extraordinary qualities, he conciliated the favor of monarchs and was elevated to great rank and power; but, sanctified by the Spirit, he maintained a close walk with God, professed his religion and continued steadfast in prayer, in defiance of the greatest dangers. Often were he and his companions tempted by the greatest possible allurements—by life itself, to renounce their religion and become idolaters, but nothing could move them,
They feared God rather than man. And their heroism and fortitude spread the knowledge of God among all nations.
History presents no greater exhibition of moral sublimity, no greater triumphs of faith than are to be witnessed in Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego. Throughout the east, idolatry was at its height and God was unknown. Vast kingdoms were summoned by Nebuchadnezzar, the haughtiest of monarchs, to the plains of Dura, to bow down before an immense idol, which he had set up. These companions of Daniel* were accused and brought before the king as disobedient to his command. A tremendous fiery furnace was prepared for the disobedient, and they were threatened with being instantly cast into it. Had these pious youths yielded, Satan's triumph would have been complete. But the seed of the woman was to bruise the head of the serpent, and they stood firm. The mighty mass of idolaters, gnashed on them with their teeth. But they stood firm. They were cast into the furnace. But God was with them. One like to the Son of man was seen walking with them in the fire, and the fire was not permitted to singe their garments, or the hair of their head. The king, astonished, called them forth and cast their accusers into the furnace to their imme. diate and awful destruction. And behold the result! “I make a decree,” said this mightiest of human monarchs, " That every people, nation and language which speak any thing amiss against the God of Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego, shall be cut in pieces, and their houses shall be made a dung-hill.” It was a glorious triumph over the powers of darkness.
The propecies of Daniel are the most magnificent and extensive of any which were ever delivered. They chiefly respect the rise and fall of the four great monarchies of the world, which were to be succeeded by that kingdom which should not be destroyed. They furnish a striking exhibition of the power and destruction of Antichrist, and distinctly assure men of a general resurrection to a life of everlasting shame, or everlasting blessedness. Before him was the map of divine providence; and with such accuracy did he delineate future events, that Porphyry, a bitter enemy of Christianity, could only maintain his cause by the assertion that his prophecies were written after the events had occurred.
* Where Daniel was at this time, is uncertain; probably he was absent, or so much in favor at court that the idolaters durst not touch him.
7 in t
ism and His first prophecy was contained in his explanation of tions. • Nebuchadnezzar's dream. This mighty monarch beheld in blimit vision, a great image, whose head was of fine gold; whose essed it breast and arms were of silver; whose belly and thighs he eas were of brass; whose legs were of iron, and whose feet . Ta were part of iron and part of clay. He saw, till a stone
haug was cut out without hands, which smote and destroyed m before the image, and became a great mountain, and filled the
whole earth. In his explanation, Daniel showed that the
head of gold represented the Babylonian empire, which ace me was renowned for its riches; the breast and arms of silver, neder the Persian empire; the belly and thighs of brass, the
Macedonian empire, which, under Alexander, ruled the whole earth; and the legs of iron, and feet of iron and clay, the Roman empire, which was stronger than any that had gone before it, but which was composed of a mixture of all nations, and which, therefore, was partly strong, and partly weak. Having thus clearly pointed out these four great empires, he uttered an illustrious prediction of the kingdom of Christ which the God of heaven should set up,
and which, imagined by the stone, should break all these pime kingdoms to pieces, and stand for ever.
Forty-eight years after, the same things were revealed to Daniel, and by him to the church, under the similitude of wild beasts. By a lion, who shadowed out to him the Babylonian empire; by a bear, the Medo-Persian; by a leopard, with four heads, the Macedonian, which after the death of Alexander, was divided into four kingdoms; and by
a beast which was dreadful and terrible, and strong exceedude ingly, and which had great iron teeth, and ten horns, the
Roman, which should be divided into ten kingdoms. While he was considering, a little horn arose, in which were eyes like the eyes of a man, and a mouth speaking great things, shadowing forth the Man of sin, the papal hierarchy; which should speak great things against the Most High, and wear out the saints. To this succeeded a most sublime view of the universal reign of Christ, and of the coming of the ancient days to judgment. " Thousand thousands ministering unto him and ten thousand times ten thousand stood before him; the judgment was set, and the books were opened."
Besides these, Daniel had other visions of the events of nations, which have long since been realized, and of some,
probably, which are yet to come to pass; but there is one absão class of his prophecies peculiarly interesting to the Church,