« PrécédentContinuer »
the chace. The plains of Tartary are filled with a strong and serviceable breed of horses, which are easily trained for the purposes of war and hunting. The Scythians of every age have been celebrated as bold and skilful riders.-The exploits of the hunters of Scythia are not confined to the destruction of timid or innoxious beasts;' and there is one of their modes of hunting, which opens the fairest field to the exertions of valor, and may justly be considered as the image, and as the school, of war. The general hunting matches, the pride and delight of the Tartar princes, compose an instructive exercise for their numerous cavalry. A circle is drawn, of many miles in circumference, to encompass the game of an extensive district; and the troops that form the circle regularly advance towards a common centre; where the captive animals, surrounded on every side, are abandoned to the darts of the hunters. In this march, which frequently continues many days, the cavalry are obliged to climb the hills, or swim rivers, and to wind through the vallies, without interrupting the prescribed order of their gradual progress. They acquire the habit of directing their eye, and their steps, to a remote object; of preserving their intervals; of suspending, or accelerating, their pace, according to the motions of the troops on their right and left; and of watching and repeating the signals of their leaders. Their leaders study, in this practical school, the most important lesson of the military art; the prompt and accurate judgment of ground, of distance, and of time. To employ against a human enemy the same patience and valor, the same skill and discipline, is the only alteration, which is required in real war; and the amusements of the chace serve as a prelude to the conquest of an empire.'
As late as the year 1771, was a great transmigration of Calmucks. Three hundred thousand of them, after having remained about a century under the protection of Russia, near the banks of the Volga, and in the neighborhood of Astrachan, traversed an immense extent of country, and
' returned to their native seats on the frontiers of the Chinese empire115.'
Along with the numerous forces of Gog, there will, the prophet informs us, be the bands of Gomer126 and Togarmah, together with troops from Persia, Æthiopia, and Lybia28; and it is very credible, that the fame of this great invasion, the successes which will be gained in the course of an extensive march, and the expectation of a participation in the spoil, will allure bodies of troops from different countries to enlist under the banners of this mighty host of military plunderers 129.
The prophecy teaches us to expect, that the Jews will not be preserved from the efforts of their invaders, merely by their own valor, or by that of any allies whose assistance they may be able to obtain; for it seems plainly intimated, that the army of the enemy will be dissolved, partly by the spread of some contagious disease, and partly by the progress of internal discord, and the prosecution of sanguinary quarrels among the hostile squadrons. Every man's sword, says the prophet, shall be against his brother. And I will plead against him with pestilence and with blood13 ̧
Of the invading multitude described by Ezekiel, the far greater part, the prophet assures us, shall be destroyed131; and supposing them to be Tartars, and to display the same
125 Gibbon, vol. IV. p. 342, 344, 346, 349, 350, 370.
126 Cimmerians: a very old and celebrated people, who inhabited the peninsula of Crim Tartary.' Michaelis in loc. as quoted by bp. Newcome. 127 According to Bochart, Togarmah is Cappadocia.
128 XXXVIII. 5, 6.
129 In the 13th century, the fame of the arms of the Moguls excited a number of persons to go as far as China from the remote countries of the West, and to enlist themselves into the service of the Tartars. In their attack of the cities in the Northern empire of China, the sieges,' says Mr. Gibbon (vol. XI. p. 415), were conducted by the Mahometans and Franks.'
130 XXXVIII. 21, 22. 'It is plain,' says bishop Newcome, that the circumstances, mentioned in these verses, remain to be accomplished on the future enemies of the Jews, when his people are reinstated in God's favor.'
131 XXXIX. 2, 11.
eagerness to violate all the principles of justice and humanity, as their country men have been accustomed to discover, they will probably be thought to deserve their fate. 'In all their invasions of the civilised empires of the South, the Scythian shepherds,' says Mr. Gibbon,' have been uniformly actuated by a savage and destructive spirit.-After the Moguls had subdued the northern provinces of China, it was seriously proposed, not in the hour of victory and passion, but in calm deliberate council, to exterminate all the inhabitants of that populous country, that the vacant land might be converted to the pasture of cattle.-The most casual provocation, the slightest motive of caprice or convenience, often provoked them to involve a whole people in an indiscriminate massacre: and the ruin of some flourishing cities was executed with such unrelenting perseverance, that, according to their own expression, horses might run, without stumbling, over the ground where they had once stood. The great capitals of Khorasan, Maru, Neisabour, and Herat, were destroyed by the armies of Zingis; and the exact account, which was taken of the slain, amounted to 4,347,000 persons.-In his camp before Delhi, Timur massacred 100,000 Indian prisoners, who had smiled when the army of their countrymen appeared in sight The people of Ispahan supplied 70,000 human sculls for the structure of several lofty towers;' and 'he erected on the ruins of Bagdad a pyramid of 90,000 heads132. The same causes and the same events, it may be added, which will predispose the Jews to investigate the proofs of the divine mission of Jesus, and which will strike conviction into their minds, will operate with similar force upon the disciples of infidelity.
I conclude the chapter with a short but solemn declaration, relative to the future happy state of the Jews, contained in the lxiid ch. of Isaiah. Speaking of Jerusalem, the prophet says, Thou shalt no more be termed Forsaken, neither shall thy land any more be termed Desolate.
132 Vol. VI. p. 53-56; Vol. XII. p. 24.
Lord hath sworn by his right hand, and by the arm of his strength. Surely I will no more give thy corn to be meat for thine enemies; and the sons of the strangers shall not drink thy wine, for the which thou hast labored; but they that have gathered it shall eat it, and praise the Lord; and they that have brought it together shall drink it133.
ON THE PREDICTIONS RELATIVE TO THE PERIOD, DENOMI NATED THE MILLENNIUM.
IN the preceding chapters it has been shewn, that the destruction of ecclesiastical usurpation, of the antichristian monarchies in Europe, and of Oriental despotism, is pointed out in the prophetic scriptures; and, according to the natural order of things, the accomplishment of these great events may justly be thought to have prepared the way for a period of terrestrial felicity, signally elevated and lasting. The prospect of such a period must be soothing to the mind of man, when it returns, fatigued and dispirited, from contemplating the miseries of human-kind, which press so thick upon each other in the page of history. How unceasingly have their rights been usurped, and an ample portion of their property plundered, to promote the interests of a tyrannic priesthood, or in compliance with the orders of the noble, the statesman, or the monarch! How uniformly, in every past period, has their blood been shed, their virtues debased, their understandings darkened, in order to gratify the vices, or to secure the power, of the privileged orders! He, who the most dispassionately contemplates so sad a scene,' to use the words of bishop Hurd, can hardly reconcile appearances to what must have been
133 V. 4, 8, 9.
his natural expectations. Here, then, the prophecies of this work, I mean, of the Apocalypse, comes in to our relief.' They shew, that the end of this dispensation (the Christian) is to promote virtue and happiness; and that this end shall finally, but through many and long obstructions, be accomplished.' Thus they reconcile us to that disordered scene which hath hitherto been presented to us; and give repose to the anxious mind, in the assured hope of better things to come1.'
Before I select from those passages of scripture, which point out the certain arrival of a permanent peric of happiness on earth, it will be proper to explain what my ideas of a millennium are. For I am aware, that, against the more common representations of it, strong prejudices have with justice been entertained. By the disorderly imagination of some visionaries it has been painted as a state of things, altogether wild and irrational; and even many, of a sober turn, and a cultivated judgment, have annexed to it much of the marvellous and improbable. By the MILLENNIUM I mean a period of great length, eminently distinguished for the spread of KNOWLEGE and of genuine CHRISTIANITY, in consequence of which good GOVERN MENT will universally be established, VIRTUE will not only be generally esteemed but practised, and human HAPPINESS will be carried to an unexampled height.
The literal construction of texts is, I apprehend, the grand source of error on this subject. Strange is the length to which this mode of explanation has been carried by very sensible writers; who, upon this topic, appear to have altogether forgotten, that the prophetic scriptures are conspi cuously characterised by highly figurative language. The same men, who uniformly acknowlege all the former part of the Apocalypse to be written in the symbolic style, when they come to the three last chapters, appear all at once to change their method of explication, and in a great