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a possession for the bittern, and pools of water, and be swept with the besom of destruction. And how has the fact corresponded with these predictions? Its destruction has been advancing in every age, from the time of the capture of it by Cyrus, to the present hour. In the fourth century it was reduced to a great desert, its walls forming an enclosure for wild beasts. Its actual state, as described by the latest travellers, answers to the very words of the prophets delivered two thousand five hundred years ago. It is one heap of ruins, the most conspicuous of which is called, Monjelibeé, or The overturned : whilst the lakes of stagnant water amidst its masses of dilapidated buildings, and the arid sun-burnt mounds which arise above them, exactly fulfil the apparently irreconcileable predictions, that it should become pools of water; and yet be a wilderness, a dry land, and a desert.
2. But from single cities, however remarkable, I turn to nations, and ask you to look at the graphical description given of the descendants of Ishmael by the pen of prophecy. His descendants, the Arabs, have been in every age, and are still, what it was foretold they should be, a wild and unsubdued people, an uncivilized and independent nation, whose trade is plunder, who retain their habits of hostility
towards all the rest of the human race, though for three hundred years the greatest part of the whole temperate zone was included within the limits of the Mahometan conquests. He shall be a wild man, says the word of prophecy, his hand shall be against every man, and every man's hand against him ; and he shall dwell in the presence of all his brethren. And yet, adds the same prophetic spirit, I will make him fruitful, and multiply him exceedingly, and I will make him a great nation. Well may a sensible writer observe, that the continuance of this acute and active people, in their pristine fierceness, though surrounded for ages by polished and luxurious nations—the Arabian still found, from his earliest to his latest time, a wild man, unsubdued and unchangeable, and dwelling in the presence of all his brethren, as we may well call the nations around him-is indeed a standing miracle.10
But doth the present state of the Egyptians less distinctly confirm the ancient prophecies? It shall be the basest of kingdoms, neither shall it exalt itself any more among the nations; there shall be no prince of the land of Egypt; the sceptre of Egypt shall pass away. Such was the voice of the divine oracle, uttered at a time when Egypt was one of the mightiest of the
10 Porter ap. Keith.
kingdoms of the globe, and no more likely to be a degraded nation, than the loftiest of the present powers of the earth. No nation ever erected such durable monuments of the arts. No country numbered so long a catalogue of kings. Its learning was proverbial. The population of its cities and of its country, as recorded by ancient historians, almost surpass belief. It was the granary of the world, the cradle of science. But now for more than two thousand years has it been sinking into degradation. During all that time, every endeavour to emancipate it, and fix a prince in it, has failed. Of a late attempt all Europe was witness. It is thus that in the silent march of events, unnoticed perhaps by politicians and philosophers, the hand of Providence accomplishes its own purposes."
3. From nations, let us pass on to those surprising sketches of the vast divisions of the world, as connected with the church, which the pen of inspiration has drawn, and which the history of all ages has been filling up. I select two, one in the patriarchal age, the other in the time of the captivity.
11 Gibbon and Volney speak without reserve of the degradation of Egypt. I need not say that I allude in the above sentence, to the attempt of the French under Napoleon Bonaparté to conquer Egypt, and erect it into a great nation.
Cursed be Canuan, said the patriarch; a servant of servants shall he be unto his brethren Blessed be the Lord God of Shem, and Canaan shall be his servant-God shall enlarge Japheth, and he shall dwell in the tents of Shem, and Canaan shall be his servant.
Into what history can we look without seeing traces of the fulfilment of this prophecy? I see the guilty Canaanites yielding their country to Joshua. I see the Phænicians first, and then the Carthaginians, subdued by the Greeks and Romans, the hosts of Japheth. I sigh over the ills of Africa, peopled with the descendants of Canaan, which has been desolated for so many ages by the Romans, Saracens, and Turks, and for the last two hundred years, by the abhorred traffic in human flesh.12
But I turn from this scene, to bless the Lord God of Shem, who gave the promises to Abraham and his seed, and through him to the world; who made his land and descendants the seat of religion, the nursery of the church, the spot where the Saviour was born, and whence the gospel was first promulgated.
12 Undoubtedly so long as any remains of this trade are unlawfully and unjustly cherished in the West Indies, it will continue to be the foulest disgrace to Christendom, and to the British nation, that ever marked the enlightened countries of Europe.
Still I see that God has enlarged Japheth beyond either Canaan or Shem. Above half of the human race has descended from his loins. For centuries, arts and science and civilization and religion have taken up their abode amongst his posterity. He has dwelt in the tents of Shem-receiving the gospel from his race, is obtaining that dominion, under the Greek and Roman empires, which the descendants of Shem for a long time chiefly possessed-and holding in these later times the largest and most valuable countries of the east, as colonists and merchants, abiding in the tents of another people.
But I must advert, for a moment, to that more detailed geographical and chronological chart of the empires of the world, traced out by the hand of the prophet Daniel almost eighteen hundred years after the prediction of Noah. You know the portentous image which the inspired prophet describes. You know the head of gold, representing the empire then existing, the Babylonian–the breast and arms of silver, the Medo-Persian, which succeeded it, on that conquest of Babylon under Cyrus, to which we hare just adrerted—the belly and
15 The principal success of the gospel, in the calling of the Gentiles, has hitherto been amongst the descendants of Japheth.