Page images

execration; then the prophet intends “Wo to all who thirst for the want of the Word of God.And he commands them “Go to the waters," i. e. study the word of God; and if any should excuse themselves, saying they were poor, he continues, “Go buy and eat, go buy wine and milk without price and without money." The word will be given gratis to the poor, without money and without price ; at all events go. Surely ......ian divines need not be told at this day that this is the way Jews have explained the text, and this leaves them without excuse; they have not the least colour of reason to translate the word " Oey, Oh, or Ho, for it always ineans wo, and it will by and by appear that, according to our author's plan, it must of necessity be translated Wo, even if it is an execration in the text under consideration. Whether “ the scope and spirit of our text breathes nothing but friendship and confidence,” will shortly appear. In truth I would wish to explain it so, but if it is to be translated with the explanation of our author, I fear it will be impossible so to do. We will however try what can be done. He proceeds:

Land of the overshadowing wings.] This is evidently designed, to point out a country, distinguished by the appendage of wings, either literal or metaphorical. Persons and places, are frequently represented in scripture by some of their appropriate qualities. Pharaoh, in allusion to the Crocodile of bis Nile, is called the dragon of the river. Th. princes of Moab are called Bulls of Bashan, on account of the distinguished breed of cattle that were reared in that noble district. Alexander of Macedon, from his nerve in exertion, from his caprice, and from the rapidity of his motions, guided more by love of fame than by thirst of blood, is styled by Daniel the HE GOAT of Macedonia. Our Saviour describes the Roman armies, by eagles, from the figure of that bird which decorated their marching Legions, their battles and their camp. Rome, because built on seven celebrated hills, is named the beast with seven heads. Guided by these analogies, we may fairly infer, that the country addressed will probably be distinguished by a bird with wide spreading wings painted on her national standards, or by the features of the country which in the vision met the prophet's eyed awakened his poetic imagination.

Near the close of the eighteenth century, a nation emerged on the eastern shore of the American continent, that chose an eagle with expanded wings for her national ensign. The Persian conqueror and the Roman Republic, adopted the same bird to distinguish their respective standards. But their angles represented that winged

hostile attitude, and eager for the prey. The American eagle, without one unfriendly feature, extends her wings for the protection on

her own nation, and of fers a shelter for the persecuted of all the nations of the ea

Sth. Armed on one side

. with the branch of peace extended, and on the other wh

ith the weapons of her aborigines, she is prepared for defence and not for agression.

repared for defence and not for agressie 1. Happy nation, didet thou understand the language of this emblem, and didet om ou follow its instructie.


stile a

The standard and the genius of the nation happily harmonize. History records no other government, that has been established solely for the protection of the governed, and the refuge of the stranger. America is the only nation on earth that invites persons of all countries, of all languages, of all religions, of all complexions, habits and manners, to repair to her standard, to settle on her soil, and to share, without degrading distinctions, in all her invaluable privileges. Other nations, almost without exception, dread, hate, and repel the stranger, and instead of presenting the olive and the wing, meet them with the spear and the sword.

That our application of this epithet to the American nation, is in strict analogy to other predictions o. the same prophet already aceomplished, will appear from his celebrated description of Cyrus, chap. xlvi. 10, 11. God had appointed him by prophecy as the scourge of Babylon and the deliverer of the captive Jews. He produces this decree as proof of his knowledge and foreordination of all future events. "My counsel shall stand and I will do all my pleasure, calling from the east an eagle, the man that executeth my counsel from a far country.Ravenous bird, the English version is the description, instead of the name of the bird. Eagle. makes the inspired prophecy exactly agree with Xenophon, the Grecian biographer of Cyrus. The historian in his 7th book, informs us, that when the conqueror entered on this expedition he ordered a golden eagle to be elevated as the standard of his army, and under it he destroyed Babylon. The Persian and Hebrew game of this bird is “aet," and so scrupulous is the historian that he retains the name with

the prediction referred to Cyrus, and was fulfilled in him. It may with confidence be asked, can the overshadowing wing, when applied to America, be less intelligible than eagle, when applied to Cyrus ? l'ime has rendered the one clear as demonstration; time is gradually enlightening the other.

Were it possible that the eye of the American patriot, who first suggested the adoption of the eagle, as the ensign of his country, or even those who concurred in the device, should meet and approve of these remarks, astonishment and serious reflection must be excited. Full and frank must be their acknowledgment, that with no more knowledge of the prophecy of JEHOVAH, or of intention of fulfilling it, their selection was made, than Cyrus had, when, from accidential suggestion, he constructed his golden eagle.

The latter part of these remarks may be somewhat forced, but in general much less might have been said on this part of the verse. It has a peculiar fitness as a figure for the North American States; for it not only stands as a representation of the American Eagle, with wings outspread, but se'ns tsaltsal stands in Hebrew as a figure for shelter and protection. America is truly the coun ry which shelters and protects under the wings of its Eagle the oppressed of all nations : it is the asylum of the oppressed.

That lies beyond the rivers of Cush.) This part of the description ascertains the situation and distance of the country addressed. Cush was the eldest son of Ham. His descendants appear in the tenth chapter of Genesis, to have occupied the regions

round ancient Babylon, on the streams of the Euphrates, and soon after the flood, became numerous and powerful. At a very early period not recorded in history, a colony of this family emigrated, and settled on the shores of the Arabian Gulf, and on the waters of the Upper Nile, and were known in scripture by the appellation of Cushites; but by the Greeks and Romans, they were called Ethiopians.

Meroe, surrounded by the waters of the Nile, the Atapas and the Astobaros, their capital city, lay south-west of Jerusalem, and in the days of Isaiah, terminated on the west the geographical knowledge of the Jews, and by them was accounted the ends of the earth.

On passing these rivers, the most extensive and frightful desert in the world commences, and continues without intermission for nearly three thousand miles, till it reaches the shores of the Atlantic. In that immense ocean of sand, no civilized na. tion, no commercial streams, ever did, or can exist. Beyond this, in the same direction then, this winged nation must be sought.

Guided by the prospective view of the prophet, we pass the wide Atlantic wave. On reaching its western shore, a new and then unknown world is discovered.

Our author will never make out America to be the country while he talks of Meroe, Nile, Atapas, and the Astobaros, and south-west of Jerusalem. He has already led us so far south that we are near the line, and must make considerable north before we' can reach even the great desert, which he will have us cross before we can be permitted to embark on the Atlantic for America. Ethiopia, if Cush means Ethiopia the country so called, he will leave the whole continent of America to the northward; for a direct line from Jerusalem, through the northernmost part of Ethiopia on Mercator's map will pass our hemisphere south of Cape Horn. He must come back and take a new start from Jerusalem westward. I will lead him a more direct route. Cushem is a general name, and not only means Ethiopians, but Moors also ; and the Jews were better acquainted with the Africans of Barbary, than with the Ethiopians proper. We will therefore embark at Jaffa, pun down the Mediterranean due -west, land in Algiers; and from thence westward to the town of Fez, on the Atlantic, where some vessels, (but I shall not agree to trust a vessel made of reeds or bulrushes) may take us a due west course, and land us at Charleston in South-Carolina. There were no doubt rivers in Barbary which the Jews were in the habit of visiting in the days of Isaiah.

I am not very learned, but perhaps such a town as ancient Troy was then in being. The advantages of this ronte are several ; first, the prophet with an eye of vision might have seen America

in a direct line without taking such an amazing zig zag course : secondly, it is the direct route to go to America, and is the way vessels must go, through the Straits of Gibraltar, which is itself passing the westernmost bounds of their knowledge of geopraphy, the rivers of Barbary into the Atlantic : thirdly, we shall avoid sailing across the frightful desert of Zaara, and which with all the modern improvements in navigation, has never yet been, neither does it appear likely it ever will be, undertaken. And I would also notice that the word wa Nahar not only means river, but also light, enlightened 177773 lby yoin 581 let got the Light shine, Job iii. 4.; again, 1773, vinaharu, and they were enlightened, Ps. xxxiv. 6. .

In this sense the text may mean a country situated beyond the utmost bounds of the light or knowledge of the African navigators, and should be translated, “ Which is beyond the light or knowledge of Africa.” The Africans near the Straits at this day had the greatest knowledge of navigation : in other language, beyond the pillars of Hercules—the straits of Gibraltar. Another meaning of the word 173 Nahar is to flow; and this is the first form, because from the flowing together of waters is caused rivers, and from the flowing together of nations in trade, causes knowledge or light in science. Examp. D'un ha jobs 197di and allnations shall flow unto it, Is. ii. 2.; again, 'n 310 48997731 and they shall flow together to the goodness of the Lord, Jer. xxxi. 12. In this sense of the word, the translation should stand thus : a country situated beyond the centre of the trading parts of Africa. I ought to mention that the word for Africa, as a general name, is Cush.' Thus I have done all for our author I am able, to lead him in a direct course to the United States. We will now proceed with the work.

Which sendeth Ambassadors by sea.] This is the third descriptive feature in the character of the country, that JEHOVAH addresses. The term ambassador, as Bp. Horsley ohserves, includes commercial as well as political agents. America is distinguished for the number of the agents that she employs in both capacities. Every other nation, ancient or modern, with wbose history or manners we are acquainted, could, and actually did, send their ambassadors by land. The ancient Romans and Carthagenians, the British, the Danes, and others of the same description, furnish no exceptions. They sent ambassadors over narrow arms of the sea only, a passage generally performed in the space of a few hours. Recent attempts of the Britisha and French, to send anrhassa dor; by sea, to Chiga, proved unsuccessful, and had the succeeded, they might have been sent by land,

America is the only nation on earth, which cannot send her ambassadors to any civilized or commercial nation, or state, but by sea. She is constantly despatching ambassadors to various countries, in this channel. She has hardly attained the thirtieth year of her national existence, and in the number of her ambassadors, she is scarcely exceeded by the oldest and most powerful nations of the world.

In this explanation I must acknowledge I willingly agree with our author. America appears to be the country to which the description of the prophet thus far suits.

And in vessels of reeds, on the face of the waters.] This is the fourth and last discriminating characteristic of this distant nation. The preceding respected her commerce with foreign nations; this regards the manner of internal intercourse among her own citizens.

No country in the world is more favoured with navigable waters for light vessels, than America ; and none of equal population, employs them in greater number on the face of their streams. Her rivers with their various ramifications, spread over the face of the whole country, and visit every corner of her extensive territory. In every direction we find the boatman wasting the produce of her soil, to her different emporiums. Her inland seas, sufficiently capacious and deep, to float the larges navies of the globe, are, with their tributary streams, wonderfully extensive, and intimately connected with each other. Majestic as her rivers and lakes are, they are rendered inaccessible in a great measure to every foreigu sail. This will perpetuate and increase her internal navigation, and secure to her the name of the country of the Canoe, through future ages.

Vessels of reeds.) In Egypt, whose canals were shallow and her rivers rapid, vegsels of reeds were constructed to surmount these impediments. Isaiah had probably seen these vessels, or at least had heard them described. In his vision, when he saw the American waters, covered with her bark canoes, and light batteaux, which so much resemble the vessels of the Nile, he calls them by the same name-vessels of Bulrushes.

The whole of the American land, from the St. Lawrence to the Mississippi, and from the ocean to Ontario, and her sister lakes, exhibits her numerous waters, all alive by the number and variety of her swift sailing vessels. This species of communication is in rapid growth, and the time is probably not far distant when her statesmen, her judges, her merchants, and her travellers, shall employ no other vehicle, to convey them to their seats of legislation, of justice, and of commerce.

Of all the nations and states that have risen, and flourished, and sank, for the space of twenty-five hundred years, to none of them can the preceding marks be applied with propriety. All expositors acknowledge this. To the American nation, every one of them may be applied with an aptitude, the most astonishing and exact. The nation addressed must be America. The proof which it furnishes for the truth of prophecy, is new and beautiful. The prescience of God, in events and circumstances the most minute, and apparently the most fortuitous, ought to appal the heart of the most obstinate infidel, and dispose him to yield to evidence so clear;-it ought to confirm the confidence and faith of every pious believer!

This is too much forced. The text requires us to understand, that these ambassadors are sent over the waters of the sea ; and

« PreviousContinue »