No subject presented to the human mind imposes profounder reverence, greater caution, and deeper research, than an elucidation of prophetic truth; and yet no theme has been more prolific of fanaticism among the incautious and adventurous in almost every age.
We must look to the Scriptures themselves for direction to a true and legitimate interpretation of their own meaning. It is important also to discriminate between "secret things that belong to God, and things that are revealed, which belong to us and our children." For want of this discernment, Millerism, and all that class of fanatical fancies, have deluded misguided thousands. Whenever, therefore, an interpreter of prophecy attempts to tell when the day of judgment will come, just rest assured he is wise above what is written; for we are taught by the Great Prophet himself, Of that day, and hour, knoweth no man; no, not the angels of heaven, but my Father only. This Divine announcement should always quiet such unauthorized pretensions.
It must be universally conceded that the Almighty has interdicted a knowledge of some sublime subjects, which he alone will fully reveal and explain by their own accomplishment. Notwithstanding, it is equally evident that there are certain portions of prophetic truth that he himself designed should be understood by the sons of men, for it is written, Blessed is he that readeth and they that hear the words of this prophecy. Here, then, is a Divine encouragement to study inspired prophecy. But how can we be beneficiaries of this promise, though we may both read and hear, if, at the same time, we cannot understand them?
A few self-evident propositions we will now submit, as indispensable principles for the investigation of prophecy --principles that must form the only true and infallible criteria to determine their intended meaning.
First. All prophecy is either plain and literal, or obscure and symbolical.
Second. A plain and literal prophecy may be understood prior to fulfillment, just as well as subsequent to the event predicted. For example, Jesus Christ said, There shall not be left here one stone upon another that shall not be thrown down. His meaning was too obvious to be misunderstood.
Third. But an obscure or symbolic prophecy cannot possibly be fully known, however impressive the general outline of the subject; yet the special application of the prediction to time, event, and circumstances cannot be understood until fulfillment settles the true meaning. There may be several interpretations of an obscure prophecy offered a priori, provided they are legitimate; that is, if such definitions are not unreasonable or incompatible with the nature of the subject. Nevertheless, we must bide our time till fulfillment determines the meaning intended. As an example, it is written, Behold, I will send you Elijah the prophet before the coming of the great and dreadful day of the Lord. Now, it is evident that one legitimate interpretation of this prophecy was the same entertained by the Jews, that God would send the old prophet in person, for it expressly states, Elijah the prophet. But it so happened that another man altogether, John the Baptist, coming in the spirit and power of Elijah, is said by Christ to be "the Elijah which was for to come.
Fourth. A perfect coincidence of character, circumstances, and events with any given prophecy, is perfect fulfillment. This is so plain and patent that we cannot deny it without denying the very proof of the Messiahship of the Son of God. When John sent his disciples to Christ to inquire, Art thou he that should come, or do we look for another? Jesus answered and said unto them, Go and show John again those things which ye do hear and see: the blind receive their sight, and the lame walk, and the lepers are cleansed, and the deaf hear, the dead are raised up, and the poor have the gospel preached unto them. As much as if he had said, John will have sense enough to know that in whomsoever these coincidences are found, he is the Messiah.
With these principles to guide us, we proceed to the investigation of our subject.
We are fully apprised that the novelty and sublimity of our subject, upon its bare announcement, will awaken the incredulity of some, and enlist the opposition of others. To all such we politely bespeak the courtesy of a candid hearing. We are not concerned that you receive or reject the truth of this theory, but we are concerned that you carefully examine the testimony upon which it rests. Do you believe the Holy Scriptures? "Then hear me for my cause."
But that you may understand that we do not attempt to prove what is unreasonable and absurd, we propose the following question:
Is it at all probable that our great country, with its teeming magnificence, now the fear and glory of all lands, would have been overlooked by prophecy? How comes it to pass that smaller countries, and lesser kingdoms, retired hamlets, solitary island, and seaport towns; that Edom, Moab, Egypt, and Syria; that Tarshish, Tyre, and Sidon, with the rest, are particularly programmed upon the inspired page, and our land the only portion of God's terrafirma that is proscribed a place in the book -- that prophetic book that professes to map the world till the end of time? Has the inspired penman no account, no place for a nation that is at this very moment telling more upon the intellectual and moral destiny of the world than any other under heaven? Do you believe it? And yet you must believe it if our theory is a fable.
The possibility of the truthfulness of our subject is certainly deeply interesting; the probability of the fact is startling; but the clear and unanswerable demonstration of that truth is actually sublime.
The predictions of the Bible touching the nations, down to the destruction of the Jewish capitol, are indeed but a literal history of Egypt, Moab, Syria, Edom, and Judea. Here all is plain and self-evident, as time has witnessed the fulfillment. But from that memorable event, the downfall of Jerusalem, on to a certain chronological period, called by Daniel the time of the end, all is obscurity. No interpretation breaks the seal of its wonders. Clouds curtain the heavens; and the symbols that glow in the vision of God's holy prophets are alike mysterious to them and to the wondering seraphim.
To Daniel, the prince of the prophets, this great truth seemed first to have been announced. When the prophet had the stupendous visions covering that symbolic period, he exclaimed: I heard, but I understood not: then said I, 0 my Lord, What shall be the end of these wonders? And he said, Go thy way, Daniel; for the words are closed up and sealed till the time of the end. This positive declaration of Jehovah was thrice repeated to the prophet. But Gabriel gives him to understand personally thus much: These wonders will not occur in your day, Daniel; you will rest with your fathers long before the seal shall be broken; nevertheless, you will arise in the resurrection of the just; therefore, go thy way, and be comforted with the blessed hope. Such we suppose to be the meaning of the angel, when, closing his sublime mission to the prophet, he said, But go thou thy way till the end before thou shalt rest, and stand in thy lot in the end of the days.
That the time of the end was a certain chronological length, and not the end of the world, is very certain, for things are said of the time of the end not at all consistent with the scriptural account of the day of judgment. In the time of the end many should run to and fro, and knowledge be increased' then the wise should understand, but none of the wicked should understand. Whereas, in the final day, we suppose the wise and the wicked will both understand. These expressions evidently characterize that period called the time of the end, as an age of great locomotion, intelligence, and enterprise. And the words wise and wicked, being generic terms, and nouns of multitude, doubtless refer to nations. The friends of civil and religious liberty shall understand, but subjects of absolutism, and the dupes of despotism, shall not understand.
As the visions of Daniel, that covered the lapse of ages to the time of the end, were sealed and closed up, it is conclusive that the visions of Isaiah and Ezekiel, Jeremiah and John, embracing the same subjects and measuring the same period, are interdicted also. This is a legitimate and necessary deduction.
Now, is it not very surprising that eminent men, deeply pious and profoundly learned, have never discovered the seal of the Divine interdiction placed upon these visions? The impenetrable mystery, by Divine authority, hangs before their eyes, while the vague and unsatisfactory explanations of the most gifted commentators confirm the truth of the Divine prohibition. The truth is, there is not one writer in the long learned catalog of commentators on the prophecies, down to our present theory, but has attempted to explain the meaning of these symbols by principles and rules that were known and applied during the interdicted ages, and are consequently necessarily erroneous; for God had again and again declared, the vision is sealed, and the words are closed up till the time of the end.
Two obvious truths are here revealed: 1. The closing up of the vision down to a certain period. 2. As the sealing of the vision was only till that time, of course when that time should come the seal would be broken and the vision be understood.
If, therefore, the period when these sublime disclosures should be made was to be characterized as an age of vast enterprise, intellectual energy, and moral adventure; and if we live in such an age -- an age marked with unparalleled progress and discovery -- we ask, with the profoundest reverence, may we not venture to inquire, and to inquire hopefully, for the meaning of these wonders?
Should it be demanded, why have not the erudite and the learned in ages past apprehended this interpretation of prophecy, we have already anticipated the inquiry: that God had sealed a knowledge of these wonders during those ages. But should the unassuming pretensions of the learned author of Armageddon be looked upon as a barrier to a candid investigation of this most deeply interesting theory, we have only to suggest that great and ingenious minds are too magnanimous for such uncandid evasion. As the gifted author himself has asked, May not a child find a gem? Was it not a poor peon of the mountains that first discovered the riches of Peru? But perhaps one material reason why our great country has hitherto never been dreamed of as the burden of prophetic truth, has been owing to the fact that most of the principal writers on prophecy have been Englishmen, who putting one foot of the compasses down on Great Britain as the center of creation, and describing a circle, have invariably left out the United States of America; somewhat after the fashion of a Chinese map of the world, which, after giving to the Celestial Empire almost the entire map, puts down Europe and America on a space no larger than a penny, calling them the Barbarian Islands.
We will certainly be excused for disposing of another class of captious cavilers. It has been asked with much emphasis, What good, or what purpose, could the truth of such a theory accomplish? This inquiry, we will apprise you, is never made by the learned or the considerate; certainly not by one who reveres the truth of the Holy Scriptures.
What is the design of prophecy? Surely, wise and glorious accomplishments were intended by the Almighty in communicating to his servants the words and visions of prophecy. Doubtless, to inspire the hope of man for their realization, and to confirm the faith of mortals in the divinity of those truths by their fulfillment. But where will you find a broader field for such accomplishments, or a more glorious theatre for the fulfillment of prophetic truth, than in the providential rise and prosperity of a great nation that should be the exponent and example of popular freedom -- a nation whose principles and progress should excite the admiration and arouse the emulation of the whole earth? Let men but behold, on this magnificent scale, a fulfillment of those sublime symbols and announcements that have staggered the philosophy of men, and baffled their profoundest learning from age to age; then indeed infidelity would seek annihilation for shelter, and its last refuge of lies be swept from the face of the earth.
We shall first consider the symbolic predictions of the United States.
The rise of a great nationality is evidently predicted by Daniel, when the power of the holy people, or friends of civil and religious liberty, shall cease to be scattered; when the wise nations should understand, and many should run to and fro, and knowledge be increased. This glorious era was to be the period called the time of the end. The rise of the United States of America synchronizes with that time, and no other nation under heaven.
The fifth government in the dream of Nebuchadnezzar, or the stone kingdom, symbolizes our great nationality.
The king of Babylon saw in his vision a vast image, whose brightness was excellent, and the form thereof was terrible. This image's head was of fine gold, his breast and his arms of silver, his belly and his thighs of brass, his legs of iron, his feet part of iron and part of clay. In this terrific image, as interpreted by the prophet, God showed to the Assyrian monarch the whole of monarchy to the end of time, in four great dynasties that should consequently arise, his being the first of the series: Thou art this head of gold. After thee shall arise another kingdom inferior to thee, etc. It is universally admitted by the learned, that the Assyrian, the Medo-Persian, the Macedonian, and the Roman empires, are clearly and unequivocally represented here, and that, too, in the order in which they arose.
In the fourth or iron portion of this image, another substance enters into the formation of its feet and toes, of which a more minute and extended description and the interpretation are given than of any other part of the dream: "And whereas thou sawest the feet and toes, part of potters' clay, and part of iron, the kingdom shall be divided,' and there shall be in it of the strength of the iron, forasmuch as thou sawest the iron mixed with the miry clay. And as the toes of the feet were part of iron, and part of clay, so the kingdom shall be partly strong, and partly broken. And whereas thou sawest iron mixed with miry clay, they shall mingle themselves with the seed of men,' but they shall not cleave one to another, even as iron is not mixed with clay." That the two materials constituting the feet and toes should always have been understood to represent a division of the kingdom into a stronger and weaker part of the civil government, is the only opinion perhaps ever offered by commentators in every age.
The theory of Armageddon alone maintains that The division of the fourth empire, as represented by the feet and toes, symbolizes the ten kingdoms, which according to Bishop Newton, was the exact number that actually did arise from the old Roman empire; but that the iron and clay in the feet and toes symbolized the union of Church and State, and nothing else. With this interpretation of the words of the angel perfectly agree, and are impressively intelligible: Whereas' thou sawest iron mixed with miry clay, they shall mingle themselves with the seed of men: but they shall not cleave one to another, even as iron is not mixed with clay. That is, as a perfect chemical amalgam with the two cannot be formed, because the ingredients will not adhere, so the union of Church and State will never be happy in its combination -- never a harmonious and peaceful union -- but a illegitimate commerce, unsanctioned by the will of God, and runiounous, to the best interests of the human family. They shall mingle themselves with the seed of men. That is, a superior order of men will join an inferior order: or the Church shall be joined to the State, and, consequently such a government must always be partly strong and partly broken -- a politico-ecclesiastical concubinage that would curse the nations of the earth.
This interpretation is greatly strengthened by the chronological character of the image, the iron and clay enter into the composition of the feet and toes, after that the Roman empire for a thousand years had stood upon iron legs, a nation of soldiers. The date of the feet synchronizes most wonderfully with the event represented; for Church and State union in the Roman empire began under Constantine, A.D. 325, and was perpetuated with each of the ten-toe kingdoms that swarmed out of the old Roman hive.
Such was the image and its legitimate interpretation, a knowledge of which is essential to a correct understanding of the fifth or stone kingdom.
Thou sawest till that a stone was cut out without hands, which smote the image upon his feet that were of iron and clay, and brake them to pieces. Then was the iron, the clay, the brass, the silver, and the gold, broken to pieces together, and became like the chaff of the summer threshing-floors; and the wind carried them away, that no place was found for them; and the stone that smote the image became a great mountain, and filled the whole earth.
Of this sublime symbol the angel gives the following interpretation: In the days of these kings shall the God of heaven set up a kingdom, which shall never be destroyed; and the kingdom shall not be left to other people, but it shall break in pieces and consume all these kingdoms, and it shall stand for ever. Forasmuch as thou sawest that the stone was cut out of the mountain without hands, and that it brake in pieces the iron, the brass, the clay, the silver, and the gold; the great God hath made known to the king what shall come to pass hereafter; and the dream is certain, and the interpretation thereof sure. Let it be observed, the word kingdom, in the prophecies, is a convertible term with government, and must be so understood in this passage.
The absurdity of applying the stone kingdom to Christianity is so very obvious, it is indeed remarkable that the learned should endorse such an opinion. The stone could not symbolize Christianity, 1. Because it did not arise at the proper time for Christianity. "In the days of these kings" must refer to that plurality of kings last mentioned, the ten-toe kings or kingdoms; that arose from the Roman empire. The philosophy of our language demands this sense. But Christianity arose in the days of one king, Augustus Caesar. In point of fact, then, the truth of history for ever forbids any other interpretation. Our great nationality arose exactly in the days of that very plurality of kings or kingdoms that came out of the old Roman dynasty. 2. The stone kingdom did not arise in the proper place for Christianity. Rome arose where the Grecian empire had stood, the Grecian or Macedonian succeeded Mede-Persia, and Mede-Persia was successor to the Babylonian or Assyrian kingdom; but the stone kingdom had no previous connection with this corporate image of monarchy; did not grow up under its shadow, precincts, or presence, but comes from a distance, and strikes the image from without, and, at one dreadful stroke of external violence, breaks the colossal image to fragments; and its atoms, ground to infinitesimal dust, fly like chaff before "the winds of the summer threshing-floors." But Christianity arose within the dominions of Rome: Judea was a Roman province where Christianity was born. 3. The stone kingdom could not have arisen at all at the time that Christianity arose, or it would have risen in the Roman empire also; for Rome at that time embraced the known world.
At the birth of Christ, There went out a decree from Caesar Augustus, that all the world should be taxed. But there was a land, my countrymen, where the Roman cohorts were never marshaled -- a land that Heaven had concealed from the cupidity and ambition of her conquering armies. That land is our own beloved America, the only portion of the globe, beyond the limits of ancient Rome, where a great nationality, in its constitution, character, and mission, could possibly answer the true meaning of the fifth symbolic kingdom that the God of heaven would set up.
As the political governments of monarchy were severally represented by a symbol taken from the mineral kingdom in one corporate connection, showing the uniformity of the genius that pervaded the whole, so the fifth government, being political also, is symbolized by a mineral type (a stone) likewise. But being entirely distinct from and unconnected with the image of monarchy, it is very clear that the fifth government is not only a political organization, but an anti-monarchical government; consequently, a political republican government, arising under the supervision of Almighty God. a stone cut out of the mountain without hands: brought into being and glorious nationality by a wonderful chain of Divine providences.
The violent destruction of the monarchical image by the stone, necessarily implies political organization and military power. The mild and tranquil genius of Christianity offers no violence to any man, or any nation; but it wins its gradual conquests by moral persuasion. But here is a power dreadful as the enginery of battle, swift and destructive as the bolt of heaven. And did Christianity indeed break down and annihilate the Roman empire? What a failure! Was it not the barbarian hordes of Goths and Vandals from the North that overran imperial Rome? But how are we to account for the stone smiting the image "on the feet?" Why was the attack not made upon the head, or upon some vital part?
Let it be remembered, the feet was the point of the union of Church and State; consequently, the mission of this great fifth nationality was the destruction of State and Church union, as well as the utter and ultimate extermination of ecclesiastical and political despotism from the face of the earth. Now, we appeal to the assembled wisdom before us, to profound statesmen, and venerable ministers of God, if the antagonism of the stone to the iron and clay is not fully answered in the genius of the American people? Are not the sentiment and feeling of this great nation more harmonious and universal in their hostility to Church and State union than on any other subject? Has not the Constitution of the United States, in devoting a whole chapter to the subject, raised an eternal barrier against it? And is not our nation the only enlightened government among the nations of the earth, where the illegitimate union of Church and State is most solemnly interdicted? thus leading our free people to Render unto Caesar the things which are Caesar's and unto God the things that are God's.
While it is, therefore, conclusive that the stone kingdom is a providential political government, "cut out of the mountain without hands," incompatible with, hostile to, and destined in its great mission to annihilate the last vestige of monarchy from the nations of the earth, it is equally evident that "the mountain" out of which the stone is cut is Christianity. So our great government is founded upon the Bible. Remove this indestructible basis that supports the fair fabric of our political institutions, and we have no government. The Declaration of American Independence evidently recognizes the obligations of the first, and fully embraces the principles of the second great commandment. The smiles of a Christian Sabbath inspire the devotion, and call from labor to rest our toiling millions; while the obligation of every officer of state, from the chief magistrate of the nation down to the humblest minister of justice, is rendered inviolate by a solemn averment upon Divine revelation.
The history of the world confirms the fact, that a nation's religion molds the character of its civic government. A despotic, superstitious, and blood-thirsty system of religion will form and fashion its political economy after the same model. So a pure, enlightened, and divinely authorized religion has ever been the maternal source of a pure, liberal, and happy civil government.
As, therefore, the four great empires were to be succeeded by a fifth great government, altogether differing in its principles and character, and as the United States of America is the only great nation that ever has or ever can arise to answer the description and fill the mission of the fifth empire, the conclusion is inevitable, that our glorious republic is the stone kingdom that the God of heaven was to set up.
A glimpse of this sublime reality inspired the good Bishop Berkeley, more than a hundred years ago, to declare what even now seems a wonderful consummation:
Westward the star of empire makes its way;
The first four acts already passed,
The fifth shall close the drama with the day:
Time's noblest offspring is the last.
The United States of America is symbolized by the man-child of the winged woman of the wilderness.
And there appeared a great wonder in heaven; a woman clothed with the sun, and the moon under her feet, and upon her head a crown of twelve stars. And there appeared another wonder in heaven; and behold a great red dragon, having seven heads and ten horns, and seven crowns upon his heads. · . . And the dragon stood before the woman which was ready to be delivered, for to devour her child as soon as it was born.
And she brought forth a man-child, who was to rule all nations with a rod of iron; and her child was caught up to God, and to his throne ... And to the woman were given two wings of a great eagle, that she might fly into the wilderness, into her place ... And the serpent cast out of his mouth water as a flood, that he might cause her to be carried away of the flood. And the earth helped the woman, and the earth opened her mouth, and swallowed up the flood which the dragon cast out of his mouth. And the dragon was wroth with the woman, etc.
It is almost universally admitted that the true Church of God is represented by the woman in this symbol. And, without pausing to examine the many opinions which divines have entertained as to the true meaning of the man-child -- some supposing it refers to Christ, and others to Constantine -- we will demonstrate that the symbolic meaning of the man-child is that of a great nationality that was to arise under the superintending providence of Almighty God in the latter times; and that that great nationality is the United States of America.
To this man-child a rod was given to rule -- always the ensign of political power; so that, while the mother represents a pure, enlightened religion, her offspring, "a man-child," who is invested with political authority, must represent an enlightened nationality. This exposition we claim with great confidence to be legitimate. We shall now show that such is the testimony of the Holy Scriptures.
Isaiah declares, Before she travailed, she brought forth,' before her pain came, she was delivered of a man-child. Who hath heard such things? who hath seen such things? Shall the earth be made to bring forth in one day? or shall a nation be born at once? For as soon as Zion travailed, she brought forth.
In this passage, the term Zion meaning the Church of God, settles, beyond all doubt, the symbolic meaning of the woman clothed with the sun; and as the man-child in the one case is put in apposition with a nation born at once, he must be understood in the other instance to be the symbol of a nation also. We cannot deny the explanation without denying the interpretation the Holy Scriptures give of their own symbols.
But is this nationality, arising from a true and enlightened religion, the United States of America? We shall see. In the first place, the man-child was the offspring of a true and enlightened religion. 2. Its destruction was determined upon, in its infancy, b~ a great red dragon. 3. It received a rod in its infancy, to rule, or to maintain political jurisdiction. 4. He and his mother were favored by the earth. 5. The child was caught up to the throne Of God.
Now, how remarkably does our great nation answer to this description? Our nationality arose from and was the legitimate offspring of an enlightened liberal religion. Our honored ancestry, having fled from the storms of persecution in the old world, sought to find in the new, freedom to worship God; the founders and framers of our political fabric being, in the main, worshipers of the true God, and believers in his Son Jesus Christ.
Our infancy was warily watched by the demon of despotism, and fearful were the efforts made by the dragon of autocracy to crush us in the cradle. But "the earth helped the woman. "The seat of the old Roman empire is termed, in the symbolic language of the Apocalypse, "the earth." And did not several of the European powers come to our assistance in that dreadful conflict? Russia declared neutrality; Spain, and especially Holland, waged war against England, while the fleets of France came to our rescue in our Revolutionary struggle. "The earth helped the woman," and the man-child was rescued.
But we were specially protected and defended by the providence of Almighty God, which we understand the expression, caught up to the throne of God, to imply. How wonderful the eventful history of our new-born nation! Who can trace the special interventions of a Divine hand through all the stages of our infant existence, from our natal hour, without acknowledging that the God of Washington was on our side?
The coincidences are so numerous, and the agreement of our great nationality with the symbolic description of the man-child so wonderfully accurate, that the conclusion is demonstration. For if perfect coincidence be perfect fulfillment, then the United States of America is symbolized by the man-child of the winged woman in the wilderness.
The United States of America is the nationality that is promised in the prophetic Scriptures to arise in the latter times as Israel Restored. It has long been a favorite theory, both with Jewish and Christian writers, that the nationality to be gathered together in the latter days, was understood to mean the returned or restoration of the scattered sons of Abraham to the land of Palestine.
We are not surprised at the confidence with which this opinion has been entertained from age to age, because it is a legitimate a priori interpretation, seeing this nationality is called Israel by the prophets. In a conversation had with a venerable Bishop of the Episcopal Church, he inquired of us: "Sir, by what construction of language do you make the great nationality, promised to arise in the latter times, to mean the United States? That the Bible authorizes us to expect such a nationality there can be no doubt; but how do you make out that nationality to be the United States of America, as it was promised to be Israel?" To which we replied: "Beloved Bishop, the predictions of the prophets are put up in Hebrew dress; the regalia is Mosaic, the custom is Israelitish. They did not say, friends of civil and religious liberty, Americans, or even Christians; but they used the best terms they had on hand: they said 'Israel.'"
Only doff the subject of its Jewish robes, and the symmetrical proportions and sublimity of Christian republicanism are as perfectly delineated as a Grecian pillar. But we will now show that what is reasonable and legitimate is a true principle of interpretation, being authorized by the great Teacher from heaven.
Said the disciples to our Lord, Why say the scribes that Elias must first come? for it is written, Behold, I will send Elijah the prophet, before that great and notable day of the Lord. Jesus answered and said unto them, Elias is come already, and they knew him not, but have done unto him whatsoever they listed. Then the disciples understood that he spake unto them of John the Baptist.
Now, suppose the difficulty of the pious Bishop were proposed to our Lord: "Master, by what construction of language do you make out that John the Baptist, the son of Zacharias and Elizabeth, is indeed Elias the prophet, which was to come, seeing he is in reality another man altogether?" Does not the same difficulty exist in both cases; and has not our Lord, by answering the objection in one case, removed it in the other? John was the Elias which was for to come; not because that was the name by which he was called in his generation among men, but because he came in the spirit and power of Elias, thereby answering the moral portrait that was drawn by the pencil of inspiration, and was, consequently, declared by the Savior to be indeed the Elias.
If, therefore, a great nationality is promised to arise in the latter days, and the United States of America exhibits the character of such nationality, as delineated by the pen of prophecy, arising in the spirit and power of Israel to come, and no other nation under heaven ever has or ever can answer the description, then, perfect coincidence being perfect fulfillment, our glorious republic is the nationality which was to be gathered together in the latter times under the prophetic name of Israel.
Let it be remembered, that the term Israel was a cognomen of honor, and not the natural right of a Jew. God gave the appellation to Jacob, because as a prince he prevailed with God. While the children of Jacob maintained their integrity, they enjoyed this high distinction; but St. Paul defends the application of the term to Gentiles who may possess the proper claims to this honor. But perhaps the most plausible bill of exceptions taken to our theory is presented here. It is suggested, with much apparent reason, that we are too wicked and unworthy a people to bear the honored title of Israel. Alas for us, my countrymen! Heaven knows full well that we are wicked enough; for when we consider the special providence of Almighty God, marvelously exercised over us from the very infancy of our organization, through every change of fortune -- what prosperity has crowned our cause -- how we have been guided and guarded by a Divine supervision, as virtually present as the holy Shekinah, in a cloud by day, and a pillar of fire by night -- and then look at the abominations that pollute our national escutcheon, it is humiliating in the extreme.
Look at the blasphemy that outrages the highest obligation of created beings, marring the purest language on earth, in desecrating the name of the holiest Being in the universe. Look at the violation of even heathen honest, discrediting character in almost all gradations of society. See the frenzy of political parties, disrupting the very bonds of brotherhood; while blood and debauchery infect the air and pollute the earth, bribery, homicide, and murder transpire in the very halls of our nation's councils.
But bad as we are, fellow-citizens, we are the very best people upon the face of the earth. The great heart of our magnanimous country beats responsive to the sighs and sorrows of all nations. Our peaceful land is the hospitable home for the oppressed of all countries. Our laws are the transcript of eternal justice. True, we have neither titled dukes nor hereditary lords, but the emoluments of profit and honor are offered to the deserving of all classes, and our loftiest promotions are accessible to the humblest poor. Though denounced abroad by all aristocracy that dooms its own pauper millions to proscription, beggary, and starvation, yet our institutions, which they fain would pity, are the pulsations of health, compared with the plague-spots of pestilential Europe.
Already have three hundred thousand of our African population become the Christianized children of God -- a greater number of true Christian converts, heathens as their fathers were who first came amongst us, than are to be found in all the missions of all denominations upon the earth. We have colonized a happy republic also, upon the benighted shores of their fatherland. Our ministers of mercy have gone to every heathen shore, and preached glad tidings to almost every island that dots the bosom of the ocean. Beams of light, radiating from this central home of civil and religious liberty, already break upon the distant millions that weep in the shadow of death.
When the noble Greek is crushed by the hoof of Turkish despotism, the halls of our Senate are eloquent with a sympathy that responds in the bosom of a whole people. When Poland, Hungary, and Italy struggle and fall, the hope of the American people struggles and falls with them. When the cry of starvation is heard from ill-fated Ireland, American transports are freighted with the munificent offering of a generous people. And, moved by a magnanimity which knows no parallel, our swift ships are dispatched to recover England's lost navigators in the regions of eternal snow.
We have the one living and true God, one Savior, and one religion -- one Constitution, one Confederacy, one Republic, one nationality; therefore, a true religion and a true civil government is the Israel that was to come, the "nation born at once" -- born on the 4th of July, 1776.
But let us not be misled by the consecrated name of Israel. For all are not Israel who are called Israel. A nation possessing the true religion, and enjoying an enlightened and liberal civil government, may have many unbelieving and rebellious people in its midst; and, doubtless, millennial glory, and the day of judgment also, will find both the righteous and the wicked, the just and the unjust, the wise and the foolish virgins, for the wheat and tares will grow together until the general harvest, which is the end of the world. Even Israel restored to nationality will not be the Eden of bliss.
It was in the brightest days of the Hebrew nation when the tribes of Jacob were led out to the solitudes of the desert to behold the glory of God revealed upon the sacred mountain. Clouds of awful grandeur encircled its brow. Lightnings rent the mantle of the sky, and deep-toned thunders rocked Mount Sinai from its glowing summit to its granite base. Then, where was Israel -- God's own Israel? Behold him at the foot of the hill making a golden calf!
By the term of Israel, therefore, we mean to be understood, a providential nation, possessing the only true religion, and a divinely sanctioned form of civil government. Such, with all its sunshine and shadows, was ancient Israel, and such is the United States of America, and the United States of America alone.
As to the scattered Jews -- who have long since lost all genealogical proof of their respective tribes -- forming such great nationality any where, that is supremely ridiculous. That they may return to Jewry, we think highly probable; because every thing formerly connected with that nation was typical. Their fiftieth, or Jubal year, was a time when the scattered Jews returned to their respective homes, and were put in possession or seized of their patrimonial estates. This custom may anticipate the jubilee of the world; that is, when republicanism shall become world-wide.
Then the Jews, in masses, may return to Canaan; for the Almighty by deed of gift made Abraham and his posterity proprietors of that land. They may return and form a little Christian republic in Palestine. But to become the great national headship of the world, restore temple worship and priestly offerings, with all the gorgeous paraphernalia of its ancient sacerdotal splendor, is but the pious dream of fanaticism. This simplicity and spirituality of the religion of the Son of God forbids the idea; while the burdensome rites of the Jewish ritual have long since been discarded by the unostentatious loveliness and grace of a Christianity that claims to worship the Father "in spirit and in truth."
But even the supposition that they will return and form a literal government in their ancient home may be a mistake. For those prophecies that seem to refer to their literal restoration are interpreted by many worthy divines to foretell their conversion to their long-rejected Savior. This is indeed plausible.
"In foreign climes they'll cease to roam'
Nor weeping, think on Jordan's flood:
In every land they'll find a home,
In every temple worship God."
And so must it be. But if the Almighty designed to honor a people by raising them to become a great nationality, of whom is it probable such nationality would be composed? Let this question be settled by a plain principle of Divine revelation. Who are the Jews? A persecuted and disbanded people. Why are they persecuted? For rejecting the claims of the Son of God. From his very birth to this day they have, as a nation, derided and discarded him. They sealed the dreadful imprecation at his crucifixion: His blood be upon us, and on our children.
But there is another persecuted people -- the friends of civil and religious liberty. They have been hunted down in every land, like the hart of the mountains. They have been proscribed and execrated, outraged and banished, in every age; and, for conscience' sake, have been martyred by the million. Why were they persecuted, scattered, and peeled? For accepting and acknowledging Jesus Christ. Here, then, is the difference. Now, apply an infallible principle which must test this question. Said the adorable Savior, If any man serve me, him will my Father honor.
Is it, then, at all probable that God would honor a people by the promised glorious nationality, who have, as a nation, spurned the mercy of the Prince of peace, and obstinately persisted, before the eyes of all nations, in rejecting the clearest evidence of his Messiahship, during the long, long night of their wanderings; and yet, at the same time, pass by a people who, through every change of fortune, propitious and adverse, have firmly maintained their faith in Christ, and invincibly breasted the storms of persecuting vengeance for his glorious name's sake? Will heaven honor a people who dishonor his Son, and overlook a people who were ready to live and labor and suffer and die in his blessed cause? The case being self-evident, and the rule to determine our judgment infallible, the decision must be inevitable.
Christianity mourns the ill-fated children of a divinely chosen and illustrious ancestry, and ardently prays for their conversion to Christ. But even this glorious consummation our faith beholds far in the distance. That the Jews will ultimately embrace Christianity, we entertain no doubt; but they will be the last nation on the face of the earth that will be converted. For the blindness that has happened to Israel will remain until the fullness of the Gentiles is brought in. That is, the Gentile world will be converted to God before the blindness of infidelity will be removed from Israel. To suppose the conversion of the Jewish nation to be the means of converting the Gentile world, is, consequently, directly opposed by the words of the apostle. In their case we behold the verification of another gospel maxim: the first shall be last, and the last first. They were the first to hear the blessed tidings of man's redemption from the lips of its glorious Author, but they received him not.
And the Apostle Paul, in his valedictory to his own countrymen, declares, seeing that ye judge yourselves unworthy of eternal life, lo, we turn to the Gentiles. So, also, the melting strains that mingled with the tears of the Son of God over their devoted city announced the same calamity. 0 Jerusalem, Jerusalem, thou that killest the prophets, and stonest them which are sent unto thee; how often would I have gathered thy children together even as a hen gathereth her chickens under her wing, and ye would not . . . If thou hadst known, even thou, the things which belong unto thy peace, at least in this thy day, but now are they hid from thine eyes... Henceforth is your house left unto you desolate; for I say unto you, ye shall not see me henceforth till ye shall say, Blessed is he that cometh in the name of the Lord. That is, Ye shall see me no more until you will be rejoiced to hail me as your Messiah. This is, doubtless, its true meaning.
There are very many passages of Scripture which are universally admitted by the learned and judicious to foretell the rise of a great nationality in the latter times. These predictions cannot, by any reasonable construction, be applied to the rise of such nationality in the land of Judea; but are most wonderfully descriptive of the United States of America, and of no other country under heaven.
We shall now select a few out of the many marked descriptions and coincidences only realized in our favored land and nation.
First. The land of the promised nationality was to be located between two seas -- the eastern sea and the great western sea: From the border unto the east sea, this is the east side .... The west side also shall be the great sea; from the border, this is the west side. Ezekiel 47:18, 20. These broad boundaries of our great country are perfect; the west side being the "great sea, "is most remarkable. Judea is not bounded on the east side by a sea at all. This passage, which is taken from the prophet's geographical description of the land of restored Israel, cannot possibly apply to Palestine, if Ezekiel has given its true boundaries. All commentators understand this chapter as an inspired account that maps the country of the promised nationality; but it is absolutely impossible to locate this land in Palestine, for the want of an eastern border. No sea bounds old Canaan on the east. Learned men have generally supposed that Palestine is the country referred to, but let learned men show us that eastern boundary. This defect is fatal, and must for ever vitiate the claim of Judea to this high distinction.
Second. This land is described as being hitherto uncultivated and unimproved -- a land that has always been waste. Ezekiel 38. Of course Palestine cannot be referred to here, for it cannot be said in truth that Judea has always been waste. But our own country fully answers the description. Our primeval prairies and grand old woods presented, on the arrival of our ancestors, the same unbroken wilderness they had remained for ages, as though Heaven had specially preserved them for the glory of their future destiny. Let it not be said that the footprints of the aborigines of this country are an objection to this account; for that land is waste where tillage has never harvested its blessings for man. But such is the desert description of the country to be possessed by the nationality to come, and such was tile new continent of America.
The song of the eloquent Isaiah can remind you of no other country; the wilderness and tile solitary place shall be glad for them: and the desert shall rejoice, and blossom as the rose. It shall blossom abundantly, even with joy and singing. 'The glory of Lebanon shall be given unto it, the excellency of Carmel and Sharon, they shall see the glory of the Lord and the excellency of our God ... For in the wilderness shall waters break out, and stream in the desert. And the parched ground shall become a pool, and the thirsty land springs of water: in the habitation of dragons, where each lay, shall be grass with reeds arm rushes.
Third. That wonderful country was to be inhabited by a people gathered out of the nations. Ezekiel 38. Not of one nation collected together that had been scattered amongst other nations, but, what is obviously the sense of the passage, composed of people of different nations. This is so prominent a character of the glorious nationality to come, that the prophets seem to dwell upon it with rapture and inspired eloquence. Lift up thine eyes round about, and see, all they gather themselves together, they come to thee: thy sons shall come from far, and thy daughters be nursed by thy side. Then thou shall see, and flow together and thy heart shall fear, and be enlarged; for the abundance of the sea shall be converted (turned) unto thee, the forces of the Gentiles shall come unto thee ... Who are these that fly as a cloud, and as doves to their windows?
The prophet enriches his sublime description by images drawn both from the animal and the vegetable kingdom: The multitude of camels shall cover thee, the dromedaries of Midian and Ephah; all they from Sheba shall come All the flocks of Kedar shall be gathered together unto thee .... The glory of Lebanon shall come unto thee, the fir tree, the pine tree, and the box together. Isaiah 40. As if the holy seer had said, Emigration shall come from the land where the dromedaries roam; they shall come from the land where the fir tree blooms. Therefore thy gates shall be open continually: they shall not be shut day nor night.
Did ever such a tide of emigration set into any country since the creation of the world as continually swarms to our hospitable shores'?. Indeed, the citizens of these States, or their fathers, have come from every country under heaven. But the prophet enters into detail. Strangers shall stand and feed your flocks, and the sons of the alien shall be your plowmen and your vinedressers ... And the sons of strangers shall build your walls, and their kings shall minister unto thee. Now, the walls of a country's defense are its public improvements; and it is notorious that the sons of strangers build most of our public works.
The sons also of them that afflicted thee shall come bending unto thee; and all they that despised thee shall bow themselves down at thy feet. The sons of the very soldierly that invaded your coasts, murdered your people, and burnt your towns and villages, should come to make your country their home; and those who sneered at your experiment of popular freedom, attempted to crush it in the cradle, predicted the downfall of American Independence, and that liberty would die with Washington, and with his dust receive the same rites of sepulture - yes, even they should come and seek a refuse and a home in your happy land. How imposing the picture drawn by the pencil of inspiration here; and how wonderfully true in its fulfillment.
Fourth. In the promised nationality, unlike the political economy of ancient Israel, foreigners were to be allowed a place to dwell, enjoy their homes and the pursuits of happiness in common with the citizens of the country; but it seems from the prophet, the rights of suffrage and eligibility of office were only to be enjoyed by those strangers who had lived long enough in the land to raise their native-born children: "And it shall come to pass, that ye shall divide it by lot for an inheritance unto you, and to the strangers that sojourn among you, which shall beget children among you: and they shall be unto you as born in the country among the children of Israel; they shall have inheritance with you among the tribes of Israel. Ezekiel 47:22,23
There could be no propriety in characterizing the class of foreigners who should be blessed with children born in the land, from the stranger who is only a sojourner, whose residence is but recent and transient, unless peculiar privileges were understood to belong to the fathers of native-born children. As we lay no claims to the politician, we will be allowed strongly to approve of this interesting feature in the economy of restored Israel. Our land should always be the welcome home of foreigners; but, at the same time, they should remain long enough to appreciate our blessings, learn our laws, and the genius of our wonderful constitution, before they aspire to dictate or to govern.
Fifth. The principle of extension, in enlarging the boundaries of their primary possessions should specially characterize the prosperity of the promised nationality.
Lift up thine eyes round about, and behold: all these gather themselves together, and come to thee ... For thy waste and desolate places shall even now be too narrow, by reason of the inhabitants, and they that swallowed thee up (the autocracy of the Old World) shall be far away, (beyond the sea.) The children which thou shalt have, (in this land,) after thou hast lost the other, (ancient Israel,) shall say again in thy ears, The place is too strait for me: give place to me that I may dwell. Isaiah 49:18, 20.
Extension seems to be the genius of our free institutions. From thirteen States, we have already multiplied into thirty-one, besides nine territories that soon will be ready to enter into the Union.
We need give ourselves no uneasiness about Mexico, Cuba, and Central America. Monarchy and anarchy must melt away in the immediate proximity of a glorious republic: while the natural interests of those countries will impel them to seek annexation, that they may also enjoy in common with us the benign blessings of our happy confederacy, Indeed, the words of prophecy, legitimately interpreted, warrant that the domain of this nationality will embrace the entire continent of North and South America. For its dominion shall be from sea to sea, and from the river unto the ends of the earth. We know this passage is usually applied to Christ, to which we make no objection. But will you restrict it to him? If so, you greatly diminish the universal triumphs of his reign. We are taught that his sway shall be illimitable, and every knee shall bow and pay homage to him.
But the passage before us is a clear territorial grant, issued by Divine authority, and must mark the boundaries of Israel that was to come. The geographical description can be found applicable to no other country but ours. Here the grant finds all of its metes and bounds. From sea to sea; from the Atlantic to the Pacific Ocean. And from the river: the Mississippi, the father of waters, with its sixty thousand miles of tributary navigation, and the incalculable tonnage of its transports. Unto the ends of the earth. to the most remote promontories in the North, and to Terra del Fuego and Cape Horn in the South. We must be excused from dwelling further on the emigration that was to come to this land. These predictions are very numerous and wonderfully accurate -- inspired predictions, that never have been realized, and never can be, unless they are fulfilled in the New World. We will, however, notice one other.
Behold, these shall come from far; and, lo, these from the North and from the West; and these from the land of Sinim. Isaiah 49:12. Now, all commentators agree that Sinim is China. The fact is, it was its true ancient name: Thinim, Thina, or China. It is so put down in the ancient maps. And China lies "north" and "west," or north-west of us. In the message of Ex-Governor Bigler, of California, some two years ago, it is there published that there were then some sixty thousand Chinese in that State. Now, no commentator questions that this passage describes emigration coming to the land of restored Israel, for the whole continent confirms it. But how are the Chinese to come from China to Palestine and come from the north-west? It is impossible. Here is a promise made of emigration from a distant country, whose inhabitants have never been known to mingle with other nations; here their true ancient name is given; here is the very direction which they were to come; and here is a fulfillment upon a most magnificent scale. Perfect coincidence being perfect fulfillment, our position is demonstration.
Sixth. The land of restored Israel is described as a country restored from its desolations, by the peculiar construction of its towns and villages, and the prosperity and quietude of its inhabitants.
In the invasion of this land, at the last great battle, by Russia and the autocracy of the Old World, the prophet thus addresses the power that leads that invasion: After many days thou shalt be visited: thou shalt come into the land that is gathered out of many people, against the mountains of Israel, which have been always waste; but it is brought out of the nations, and they shall dwell safely all of them ... Thou shalt say, I will go up to the land of unwalled villages,' I will go to them that are at rest, that dwell safely, all of them dwelling without walls, and having neither bars nor gates. To take a spoil, and to take a prey;' to turn thy hand upon the desolate place that are now inhabited, and upon the people that are gathered out of the nations; which have gotten cattle and goods, that dwell in the midst of the land. Ezekiel 38:8, 11, 12.
Here, my countrymen, is almost a daguerreotype portraiture of your own land. We very much question whether Ezekiel, the prophet ever saw an "unwalled" city in his life. Surely, if old Palestine is to be brought back again to her more than ancient splendor, "unwalled" cities and villages will not be found there. This passage, therefore, can never be applied to Judea; for all her cities were walled, from Jericho to Jerusalem. This remarkable description of the numerous villages and cities, and the possessions, prosperity, and security of the people, is a grand and graphic delineation of the United States of America, and of no other country on earth.
Seventh. The infancy of that country should receive the attention of royal patronage: Kings shall be thy nursing fathers, and queens thy nursing mothers. How very remarkably this has been realized will occur to the mind at once. The term nursing applies to infancy. And it was in the early history of our people that the supervision of royalty was exercised over us. The names of several of the old thirteen States, besides many counties and towns, still perpetuate the recollection of royalty: Georgia and Virginia, Maryland and the Carolinas, as well as King and Queen and King William counties, Prince George, Prince Edward, and prince we don't know what else -- names that will for ever perpetuate the fulfillment of prophecy in what might otherwise seem to be only accidental.
Eighth. A country remarkable for the number of its majestic rivers.
But there the glorious Lord will be unto us a place of broad rivers and streams; wherein shall go no galley with oars, neither shall gallant ship pass thereby.; Isaiah 35:21. This passage from the prophet is admitted to refer to the land of restored Israel. But if that land be Palestine, how are we to see the force of its meaning? Can the river Jordan and the rivulet Kedron answer the grandeur of this description? Certainly not. But the many mighty and majestic rivers in our own country fill up the prophetic map upon a sublime and magnificent scale. By the expression "there the glorious Lord will be unto us a Place of; etc., we understand that he will guarantee that description of country to the nation he would raise up. Wherein shall go no galley with oars, is very singular. The Hebrew word translated galley, literally signifies a government clipper, sent out by a superior kingdom to exact port-duties from a dependent people. The loss of the tea cargo in Boston harbor fully illustrates this subject; while the very genius of our independence, in the days of Andrew Jackson, was stamped upon a medal: Millions for defense, but not one cent for tribute.
Ninth. The land of restored Israel is described to be literally more elevated than any portion of the world.
The mountain of the Lord's house shall be established upon the tops of the mountains, and all nations shall flow unto it. The willful king of the North says in his proclamation of war against us: I will go up to the land of unwalled villages. Lieutenant Maury has shown, in one of his late learned works, that the United States of America is the highest part of the visible earth, and that it is down stream from the ports of our country to every other continent and island of the globe. But if this elevation must be morally and intellectually understood, and not literally, still, the realization being as perfect in the one case as in the other, our argument remains conclusive.
Tenth. The peaceful character of the inhabitants, and the intelligibility and uniformity of their language, should designate that people.
Thou shalt not see a fierce people, of a deeper speech than thou canst perceive; of a stammering tongue, that thou canst not understand. Isaiah 33.
Polite manners and gentle deportment every where characterize the American people: this is a world-wide acknowledgment, so that the solitary exceptions are gloated over by the detracting prints of roving authors as morsels too precious to be erased from their journals. But the uniformity and intelligibility of our language is indeed most extraordinary. Although teeming thousands are constantly pouring into our communities from the Germanic States, France, and other countries, our pure vernacular Anglo-Saxon will conduct you safely through any portion of our vast domain. And it is now contended, by those competent to judge, that the English is more correctly spoken in the wilds of America than at the court of St. James -- more accurately pronounced in our primary schools than in the British Parliament. We do not question their intelligence nor their energy, but Americans speak the English language better than the English themselves. Should the pride of an Albion tempt him to deny it, just put him upon his trial with any word where the consonant h is to be supplied or omitted - the monosyllable hell, for instance - and if he be not satisfied with an attempt to spell and pronounce it, you may give him up as incorrigible.
Eleventh. The rapid advancement of intelligence and divine instruction should mark the rising progress of that people.
"Many shall run to and fro, and knowledge shall be increased." "And all thy children [shall be] taught of the LORD; and great [shall be] the peace of thy children" What nation present, such a spectacle at this very moment as the United States'? Our literary institutions are scattered all over the land, so that the humblest poor may be enriched with the treasures of science; while millions of sheets in the republic of letters pour floods of light upon the human mind. Here the press is free, that mighty enginery of thought, guarding the majesty of law and the inviolable sanctity of the Constitution, Here the pulpit, unawed by the terrors of the throne or the thunders of the Vatican, in tones of power and tongues of flame, proclaims the acceptable year of the Lord, and preaches glad tidings to the poor. Here the word of God is an unchained book: and, like the sun in mid-heaven, rifts the clouds that mantle the world, shedding a strong and steady light upon the shadowy mansions of the dead, inspiring the living with the ecstatic hope that our loved and our lost shall awake from their dusty beds in the last glorious morning.
Twelfth. The country inhabited by the people gathered out of the nations should be settled in thirteen distinct States, like as it was with Israel: only Joseph should have two portions.
Ye shall inherit the land according to the twelve tribes of Israel: Joseph shall have two portions. Ezekiel 47:13. It is a remarkable fact that although the Jews had but twelve tribes, the portion falling to Ephraim and Manasseh, children of Joseph, being divided, made them a confederacy of thirteen states or tribes. It is also just as remarkable, that in the beginning we had but twelve States; and William Penn held the charter of Pennsylvania for twenty years before he obtained that of Delaware, and then we had thirteen States also. But the coincidence in the boundaries of the thirteen states of restored Israel with those of the old thirteen United States, is still more remarkable. The prophet gives the eastern border of each tribe to the eastern sea, and the western border of each tribe to be the great western sea. (See Ezekiel 47.) Wilson, and perhaps Bancroft, affirm, that the original charters of the thirteen United States called for the Atlantic or eastern ocean for their eastern boundary, and the Pacific or the great western ocean for their western boundary, in almost so many words.
It is not a little amusing to see the perplexity of the great and good Dr. Clarke, in attempting to map the land of restored Israel. He lays his plot, of course, in the territory of old Palestine. He bounds his thirteen lots by the Mediterranean or western ocean, but, for the life of the learned Doctor, he can find no eastern sea for his eastern border. The little Dead Sea lies across three of the tribes but does not bound any one of them! Examine his map, at the close of his commentary on Ezekiel, and you will find, for want of an eastern sea, ancient Judea can never be the country of Israel restored.
Thirteenth. Our country is the land described by the prophet Isaiah lying westward from Judea.
Woe to the land shadowing with wings, which is beyond the rivers of Ethiopia, that sendeth messengers by the sea, even in vessels of bulrushes, saving, Go, ye swift messengers, to a nation scattered and peeled, to a people terrible from their beginning hitherto; a nation meted out and trodden down, whose land the rivers have spoiled. Isaiah 18:1,2.
The word woe is not a malediction here, being hoi erets in Hebrew, a particle of hailing; and authorized us to read, All hail, thou land shadowing with wings. But where is that land? From Judea, the standpoint of the prophet, it is beyond the rivers of Ethiopia, Where are the rivers of Ethiopia? The Nile and its tributaries. What country and what people do we find beyond the Nile from Judea? The land is a barren desert, and the wandering Bedouins the only human beings that pass through it. Then we must look for another country and another people, but in the same direction, for that is specific. You will find no other land or people on that line of latitude until you strike the United States of America about the coasts of Carolina.
Should it be contended that Western Africa was not the ancient Ethiopia, but the country inhabited by the Cushites or the children of Cush, very well; they extended eastwardly until the Ganges, the Indus, and the Burrampooter were their rivers; and beyond these from Judea you come direct to the North American continent across the Pacific. So that, in either case, the land beyond the rivers of modern or ancient Ethiopia from Judea is America. Its description -- a land shadowing with wings -- might refer to the geographical conformation of the new continent, for a large map of North and South America very much resembles the expanded wings of a great eagle; or it may be suggestive of the fact that it was the country shadowed or concealed from the cupidity of the nations till God was ready for its discovery. Or was it not designed as a description of a country, the national aegis of whose people should be an eagle, whose pinions should spread from shore to shore? The swift ships and vessels of bulrushes are peculiarly descriptive of our fleets of commerce, as light water-crafts of this material were anciently used upon the Nile.
This land was originally possessed by a people hitherto terrible from the beginning. Such is a true description of the fierce and warlike aborigines who were found in this new world. A people scattered and peeled. broken up into numerous tribes, dispersed without order over the whole country, and wasted by continual wars, were fast waning and melting away. Meted out and trodden down: driven from one part of the country to another, first located in one defined territory and then in another; oppressed, maltreated, and murdered. Whose land the rivers have spoiled: they being the original claimants and proprietors of a country extensive in its domain and rich in its alluvial lands, through which majestic rivers are ever changing their mighty channels.
This prophetic delineation of our country can have no other meaning or application. And learned commentators, never having dreamed that America was the subject of prophecy, acknowledge as does Dr. Adam Clarke, especially, "that this is the most obscure passage in the whole book of Isaiah." Our interpretation is certainly legitimate; while the facts and the fulfillment should awaken our attention and enkindle our admiration.
Fourteenth. But the promised nationality was to be a republic.
Their nobles shall be of themselves, and their governor shall proceed from the midst of them."Jeremiah 30:21. The people should be gathered together, and appoint unto themselves one head. Hosea 1:11. I will restore thy judges as at the first, and the counselors as at the beginning. Isaiah 1:26. Observe one head -- a chief magistrate appointed by the people -- governors, judges, and counselors, taken from the masses of the people, are particularly promised, but no king.
The political economy of ancient Israel being a theocratic republic, the promise in the passages is that the officers necessary to constitute a republican form of government would be restored, and the elective franchise would be free, and the people would possess the sovereign right of choosing their own rulers and judges. Surely the doctrine of the Divine right of kings find no authority here; for the power invested in the people is entirely inconsistent with any grade of monarchy, limited or absolute.
The truth is, the fifth great commonwealth that the God of heaven was to "set up" was so utterly repugnant to monarchy, in all its forms and phases, that it should destroy it from the face of the earth. And we have every assurance that if the Almighty designed to bless a people by conferring upon them a particular form of political government, such form could not possibly be a monarchy.
A most memorable instance of Divine disapprobation of the establishment of an earthly king among men is recorded at the coronation of the first monarch of Israel. Said Almighty God to Samuel the prophet, Protest solemnly, unto them, and show unto them the manner of the king that shall reign over them. He will take your sons, and appoint them for his chariots, and to be his horsemen; and some shall run before his chariots. And he win take your daughters to be confectionaries, and to be cooks, and to be bakers. And he will take your fields, and your vineyards, and your olive yards, even the best of them, and give them to his servants. And he will take the tenth of your seed, and of your vineyards, and give them to his officers, and to his servants.
And he win take your men-servants, and your maidservants, and your goodliest young men, and your asses, and put them to work. He will take the tenth of your sheep; and ye shall be his servants. And ye shall cry out in that day because of your king, and the Lord will not hear you in that day I Samuel 8:9-18.
Such is the solemn protestation of the God of heaven against an earthly monarchy; and faithfully has the history of earthly kings confirmed the truth of the Divine prediction. Then it is absolutely certain that a political government, selected and "set up" for the sons of men by Jehovah, would not be a monarchy. But this very fifth government was to be "set up" by the God of heaven; therefore the fifth government, not being in any possible case a monarchy in any grade, must be a republic.
Fifteenth, and finally. The waiting isles of Isaiah are a sublime announcement of our great country, and its early occupation by European emigrants. Surely, the isles shall wait for me, and the ships of Tarshish first, to bring my sons from far, their silver and their gold with them, unto the name of the Lord the God, and to the Holy One of Israel.
Diodorus Siculus, a most reliable historian of the Augustine age, says that "the term 'isles' in his time, primarily meant undiscovered lands supposed to exist in the Atlantic Ocean." The word "Tarshish," according to Strabo, refers to Tartesus, formerly a seaport city of that name, situated on the site where Cadiz now stands, in Old Spain, near the pillars of Hercules. And Mr. Benson, perhaps the most accurate commentator on the ancient geography of the Scriptures, says that "this opinion is now generally adopted by the learned."
With this explanation of terms, let us read the passage: Surely, the undiscovered lands in the western sea shall wait for me, and the ships of Old Spain shall be first to bring my sons from far, their silver and their gold with them, etc.
Here we have the fact announced, that the country spoken of had hitherto been an undiscovered country, and the reason assigned why it should have remained concealed so long -- shall wait for Me -- unknown and unexplored, until God, in his supervision of the nations, was ready for its occupation. Wait for God, until the Reformation in Europe had neutralized the friends of civil and religious liberty: until the great principle of self-government should move the masses of the people to seek a new theater to realize the blessings of popular freedom -- wait until the facilities of intellectual and moral improvement, the invention of printing, and the freedom of the pulpit, should arise as the powerful auxiliaries of an enlightened republican nation.
And the ships of Old Spain shall be first, to bring my sons from far. And were not the ships of Spain first in the discovery and opening up of emigration to the New World? After being repulsed from every court in Europe to which he appealed, was not Columbus sanctioned and sustained by Ferdinand and Isabella in his expedition? .... To bring my sons from far. "Now, remember this passage cannot apply to the spread of the gospel, for the tidings of salvation are sent out to heathen lands; but here the sons of God are represented as being transported from their original homes to a newly discovered country. It cannot refer to Judea, for that was not an undiscovered country, and the ships of Spain never have brought, and never can bring, its first emigration to people it. "Their silver and their gold with them:" that they might make that land their permanent home, bringing their treasure with them.
But the great motive of their emigration deserves special attention. They were to come for the privilege of worshiping God unto the name of the Lord thy God, and to the Holy One of Israel. Our noble ancestry, driven by the storms of persecution from the Old World, sought a refuge in the New. When the minions of monarchy invaded the Southern hemisphere, it was for the sake of gold. The Portuguese in Brazil, Cortez in Mexico, and Pizarro in Peru, took possession of those countries in the names of the majesties of their respective governments. But when the Huguenots, the Quakers, and the Puritans came to America, they took possession of these lands in the name of Almighty God.
"Not as the conquerors come,
They the true-hearted came:
Not with the roll of the stirring drum,
Or the trumpet that sings of fame.
"Not as the flying come,
In silence and in fear,
They shook the depths of the desert gloom
With their hymns of lofty cheer.
"Amid the storm they sang,
And the stars heard and the sea;
And the waiting isles of promise rang
With the anthems of the free.
"The ocean eagle soared
From his nest by the white wave's foam;
And the rocking pines of the forest roared,
This is your welcome home.
"What sought they thus afar?
Bright jewels of the mine?
The wealth of seas, the spoils of war?
They sought a faith's pure shrine.
"All, call it holy ground,
The spot where first they trod:
They've left unstained what there they found,
Freedom to worship God."
To review the history of our great nation is but to trace the wonderful providence of God. Look at the very men who directed and guarded the infancy of our republic; whether in the cabinet, or in the camp, whether in the national council or on foreign diplomacy, "their like we shall never see again." For this very end they seemed to have been born; and they evidently believed in their Divine destination.
There was a time when darkness shrouded the breath of heaven; not one gleam of light nor a solitary star was seen struggling through the dim distance. Congress paused under the dreadful gloom, when it was agreed to submit their cause to the arbitration of Heaven. A day of solemn fasting and prayer was proposed; instantly the resolution passed with deep emotion. The council-chamber was closed; grave senators retired in silence, personally to engage in fervent prayer; holy ministers of God at the altar, and pious women, with their babes pressed to their bosoms, lifted their streaming eyes to heaven; while Washington was on his knees, when "a nation was born at once" -- born on the 4th day of July, 1776.
Preserved as an handful of corn scattered on the summit of the mountains, a little one has become a thousand, and a small one a strong nation. It is the Lord's doings, and marvelous in our eyes; for according to his promise, the Lord has hastened it in his time.
0 happy America! O favored children of the free! when will the great heart of they mighty people fully know God and the salvation of his Son! Then Gentiles and kings shall see thy glory, and thou shalt be called by a new name, which the mouth of the Lord shall name. Thou shalt no more be termed Forsaken: neither shall thy land any more be termed Desolate: but thou shalt be called Hephzibah, and thy land Beulah: for the Lord delighteth in thee. Then shall thy glory continue; for Thy sun shall no more go down, neither shall thy moon withdraw itself; for the Lord shall be thine everlasting light, and the days of thy mourning shall be ended.
And the destruction of the Jewish state began on the 21st of Nisan, A.D. 68. The 70 weeks of Daniel were to begin at the decree of Cyrus, and to end at both the other named epochs. From the decree of Cyrus to the crucifixion, was 564 years and 109 days; and from the same decree to the last general Jewish Passover, was 603 years and 129 days. These two lengths were embraced in the 70 weeks, and show the precise duration of those weeks, as exactly those many years and days transpired to reach the events predicted. This fact no one can deny.
Now the explanation of the matter is simple: the 70 weeks are Hebrew weeks of years, or 490 years. But these are abbreviated weeks; that is, they require the addition of one or more kinds of sacred time to complete them. By adding the sabbatic days which would be in 490 years, we have 560 years. These are symbolic years of 360 parts; and as a symbolic year may stand for any Hebrew year of years, it may stand for the one of 364. Then we have the equation of time, as 360: 364 - 560: 566 2/9.
These 566 2/9 years are composed of 364 days each; and by reducing them to solar time of 365 days, 5 hours, 48 minutes, and 47 1/10 seconds to the year, we have 564 years and 109 days, as the fulfillment exhibits.
In a similar manner the other results will be found; but this example is a sufficient illustration of the principle of explaining sacred time.
The 3½ times of Daniel, chapter 12, are, by this mode of explanation, easily understood. Three and a half times, or years, are equal to 1260 symbolic years. To this, if we add sabbatic years proportionally, we have 1440 years; and again adding proportionable sabbatic years, or one to every six, we have 1680 years.
Then, as the symbolic year of 360 parts may represent any Hebrew year, it may represent the year 366 days or parts. We then have the following equation: 360:366 x 1680 equals 1708 years, or 623,833 days, 17 hours, 1 minute, and 40 seconds.
These 3½ times were to begin at the cessation of the daily sacrifice. The Daily sacrifice was offered at sunrise. The sun arose at the meridian of Old Jerusalem oil the 189th day of the year 68 A.D., about 5 o'clock A.M. This, then, is the beginning of the 3½ times, or the 1260 days, or the 2300 "evening mornings."
An "evening morning" was a lamb sacrifice at sunrise, and a lamb sacrifice at sunset - two lambs to a day; so 2300 are equal to 1150 days; add the: proportion of sabbatic time, and 23000 evenings mornings equal 3½ times.
These lengths all agree, and embrace, in solar time, 623,833 days and 17 hour; and from the last Jewish sacrifice, end, at the meridian of Philadelphia. at a quarter to three o'clock in the afternoon of July the 4th, 1776.
Another length of time these times is 1335 days. which by the same rule, equal 1810 solar years, and will end in 1878. These two endings begin and close "the time of the end," and answer to the rise of the American Republic and the expansion into the millennium. The 1260 and the 1335 days coincide with the two lengths of the 3½ times.
In brief, Daniel's 70 symbolic weeks embrace the time from the decree of Cyrus to build and restore the city and temple, to the crucifixion of Christ and the final destruction of Jerusalem, which, in solar time was 564 years to the first event and 603 years to the latter. And from this last event, the destruction of the holy place, it was to be 3½ times or 623,833 days and 17 hours, to the rise of the great nationality.
Now if 70 symbolic weeks are equal to 564 solar years, 3½ times, or 1260 symbolic day, are equal to 1708 solar years, but 1708 solar years, or 623,833 days, reach from the burning of the temple on the 189th day of the year 68 A.D., to the 4th of July 1776.
Let it be remembered, The 70 weeks call for two endings -- the cutting off of Messiah and the destruction of the holy place. But these two events are 39 years apart. The two lengths are made out legitimately by adding the proper sabbatic time of days, weeks, and years, as authorized by the Jewish calendar; for the weeks themselves are "determined," cut short or abbreviated weeks, So that both lengths are accurately fulfilled, and are correctly firmed "70 weeks."
But to suppose, as do most all of the old commentators, that a day means a year, and that 70 weeks are to be understood as 490 years, is to fall short of the events predicted, 94 years in the first case, and 113 years in the second; consequently, their theory is false. But time has not only demonstrated the error in their opinion of the 70 weeks, but also their error in relation to the 1260 and 1290 days that were to follow. If days meant years, pray tell us what great nationality arose at the end of the 1290 years after the destruction of Jerusalem? or what other great event happened that could possibly be construed into a fulfillment? Positively none.
The calculation, being purely mathematical, and guided by astronomy, has been rigidly made to the tenth fraction of a second, and must be reliable. The interpretation of the chronology is legitimate, for it is governed by Daniel's 70 weeks; consequently, the fulfillment is shown in the rise of a glorious civil and religious republic exactly at the end of these symbolic lengths, and that republic is the United States of America.