« הקודםהמשך »
. And he shall destroy wonderfully, and prosper, and practise, and shall destroy the mighty and the holy people.—Ver. 24. No historical fact is better known, over the wide world, than that Mahometanism, identified with the name and the faith, and maintaining the principles, of its founder, has prospered and practised. At first, and for a long period, it destroyed wonderfully. The blood of martyrs was the seed of the Christian church; but the progress of the Mahometan faith was tracked by the blood of its enemies, and marked out by their destruction. Fanaticism went forth armed with carnal weapons of warfare. And Mahomet and his successors have to be ranked among the greatest conquerors. So wonderful was the destruction which they wrought, the prosperity which attended on their arms and their creed, and the success of the arts which they practised, that the sway of the Saracen caliphs extended from India to Spain. After the power of the caliphate of Bagdad was undermined by luxury, a new series of conquerors arose, in the race of Othman, to renew the terrors and extend the destruction which were wrought on Christendom, under the name and authority of the prophet of Mecca..
The little horn, that became thus exceeding great, not only destroyed wonderfully and prospered, but practised also ; and artifice effected what the sword alone could not accomplish. “In the field of battle,” says Gibbon, in describing (chap. li.) the propagation of Mahometanism, “ the forfeit lives of the prisoners were redemed by the profession of Islam; the females were bound to embrace the religion of their masters; and a race of sincere proselytes was gradually multiplied by the education of the infant captives. But the millions of African and Asiatic converts, who swelled the native band of the faithful Arabs, must have been allured, rather than constrained, to declare their belief in one God and the apostle of God. By the repetition of a sentence, and the loss of a foreskin, the subject or the slave, the captive or the criminal, arose in a moment the free and equal companion of the victorious Moslems. Every sin was expiated, every engagement was dissolved; the vow of celibacy was superseded ; the active spirits who slept in the cloister were wakened by the trumpet of the Saracens; and in the convulsion of the world, every member of a new society ascended to the level of his capacity and courage. The minds of the multitude were tempted by the temporal as well as invisible blessings of the Arabian prophet.” Through his policy also shall he cause craft to prosper in his hand.
It waxed great, even to the host of heaven ; and it cast down some of the host and of the stars to the ground and stamped upon them. He shall destroy the mighty and the holy people. When transgressions were come to the full, an impostor triumphed over the nominal professors of the Christian faith. The highest stations in church and state fell to the ground before him. Principalities and bishoprics were cast down. . The shaven heads were peculiarly marked out to be cloven. They who should have shone as lights in the world, and held like, like the angels of the seven churches of Asia, the name and the place of stars, were cast down; these stars were stamped upon; and the mollahs of Mahomet supplanted the ministers of Jesus, who had become lords over God's heritage, and who taught their people to bow down to stocks. The place of the sanctuary was cast down. The cross was displaced, and the crescent was planted on the site of the temple of Jerusalem.
He shall magnify himself in his heart, and by peace shall he destroy many. He shall also stand up against the Prince of princes. Acknowledging the mission of Christ as a prophet, he announced himself as a greater. “ The disciples of Abraham, of Moses, and of Jesus, were solemnly invited to accept the more perfect revelation of Mahomet; but if they preferred the payment of a moderate tribute, they were entitled to the freedom of conscience and religious worship,”* He magnified himself in his heart above all the sons of men, and above all the prophets of God. The summary of his creed, ever in the mouth of his blinded followers, is, “ there is no God but one; and Mahomet is the prophet of God.” He blasphemously professed that he was the Paraclete or Comforter, whose coming Christ had foretold ; that no other revelation would be given; and that he was the last and greatest of the prophets. He established his faith on the ruins of a corrupted Christianity, which man had planted, and not God. But he stood up against the Prince of princes, and set himself to subvert the Christian religion, by the substitution of his own, as if the cause of Jesus was to perish with its corruptions, or as if the kingdom of God was to be subverted by a mortal.
By peace shall he destroy many. Accommodating his creed to the opinions, and, by the promises of a sensual paradise, to the passions of men, he called up, from many a heart, an advocate for an unholy faith. The peace which he promised to the vanquished Christians, was one of the arts of proselyting which he so insidiously and successfully practised, and whereby many were destroyed, by abjuring the truth and giving heed to delusion. But even as indicating destruction in a natural sense, by peace has Mahometanism destroyed many. The peaceful reign undisturbed by any foreign aggression, of an Arab Sheikh or of a Turkish Pacha, is unmitigated
despotism and gradual but sure desolation. And though recently and partially interrupted by war, the fairest portions of the earth, from Bagdad to Bosnia, have been destroyed under the blasting influence of the crescent, and are scantily peopled by, at the utmost, one-fourth part of the numerical population, with which their many kingdoms teemed in ancient times; while the debased condition of the remnant gives too ample proof how greatly, in every sense, the moral pestilence of Mahometanism, even by peace, can destroy. It has preserved the same character in every age. “ The Turks,” says Sir Paul Rycaut, than whom none had better means of judging, “ have but one sole means to maintain their countries, which is the same by which they were gained, and that is the cruelty of the sword in the most rigorous way of execution, by killing, consuming and laying desolate the countries, and transplanting unto parts where they are nearest under the command and age (eye) of a governor. Another advantage, and that not inconsiderable, that this manner of dispeopling the country brings to this empire, is the difficulty an enemy would find in their march, should they with a land army attempt to penetrate far into the country; for, without great quantities of provisions they could not possibly be sustained; from the country none can be expected; what little it affords, the inhabitants will conceal or carry away, and have all places as naked and barren of food as the sea itself. The Turks account it one good part of their policy, to lay a considerable part of their empire desolate."* Such are the maxims of Turkish policy; and none more effective could be devised for, even by peace, destroying many. So closely is this principle
* Sir Paul Rycaut on the Maxims of Turkish Polity, p. 32. - vol. ii. Turkish History. .
ingrained in Mahometan despotism, that the first great reformer in Turkey, though the constituted head of the Moslem world, by the introduction of a more enlightened system of government, threatens Mahometanism with subversion.
But he shall be broken without hand. Greatly as Mahomet magnified himself in his heart, and long as he has stood up against the Prince of princes, and although his religion divided the world with that of the Christian in name, there are signs in the heavens and in the earth, from the word of God as well as in the history of man, that his reign is drawing to a close. That power which has for so many ages contended and vied with the kingdom that was set up without hands, is destined, at last, to be broken without hand. And while the light of the sun of righteousness is penetrating through the dark cloud of superstition, which till now has hung over the far greater part of continental Europe, and has cast a deep shade on our sister island, and begins also to shed its rays of divine light and of heavenly love over the habitations of cruelty and the dark places of the earth, from the one end of heaven unto the other, the waning crescent is sinking into darkness from which it never can emerge. And if the day of Mahomet be over, it is only the surer sign that that day of the Lord is at hand when none shall stand up triumphantly any more against the Prince of princes. The fate of Turkey and of the Sultan (heretofore identified with that of Mahometanism), though beset on every side with evil omens to his empire and to his race, cannot be yet read in the pages of history, though it has long been written, as hereafter we will more fully see, in the pages of prophecy. But appearances strongly indicate that the world will not now be held in long suspense concerning the result of what shall be in the last days of the indignation, v. 19. The destiny of Mahom.