Veiw of the Hebrews
by Ethan Smith
[p.253]1. It becomes us to be deeply affected with the excommunication of the ancient people of God. In the temporary rejection of those two branches of the Hebrew nation, the truth is solemnly enforced, that the God of Zion is a God of government; and that he will be known by the judgments that he executeth. The casting out of the ten tribes for their impious idolatries, is full of instruction. The wonders God had done for them, and all their privileges in the land of promise, could not save, when they rejected the stated place of his worship, and united in the abominations of the open enemies of God. They should be excommunicated from the covenant, hurled from the promised land, and abandoned to a state of savage wretchedness, for two and a half millenaries. Their sin in those dark ages of the old dispensation was no trifle. Its consequence is held up as an awful warning to the world. It impresses the following language: “Know thou and see that it is an evil thing and bitter that thou best forsaken the Lord.” To that event people under evangelical privileges ought to turn their eye, and take the solemn warning. The God of Abraham is a God of judgment; while blessed are all they that put their trust in him.
The judgements of Heaven on the Jews were still more dreadful. The Lord of that vineyard did indeed come in the day when they looked not for him, [p.254]and in an hour when they were not aware; and did cut them asunder. He came and miserably destroyed those husbandmen, and burned up their cities, as he foretold. Upon their turning him off with hypocrisy and will-worship, and rejecting the Saviour, the denunciation, “Cut it down; why cumbereth it the ground?” was fulfilled with unprecedented decision. Let all rejectors of Christ, behold and tremble. The Jews were confident in a fancied security, to the last. But an impious confidence can never save. It is but a dead calm before a fatal catastrophe. Such presumptuous leaning upon the Lord, and saying, “Is not the Lord among us? no evil shall come upon us;” was so far from saving, that it was a sure precursor of perdition, and of the coming of wrath upon them to the uttermost. Let gospel rejectors beware. “Behold, ye dispisers, and wonder, and perish.” “Let him that thinketh he standeth, take heed lest he fall.”
2. How evident and rich is the entail of the covenant which will recover the two branches of the house of Israel! Truly they are “a nation of line, line;” (Isa). xviii. 2. in the Hebrew, and margin of the great Bible.) Though they be infidels, and rejected, and as touching the gospel are enemies for our sakes; yet as touching the election, (the entail of the covenant,) they are beloved for the fathers’ sakes; Rom. xi. 28.—This entail insures their ingrafting again into their own olive tree, which shall be as life from the dead to the nations. This is the infallible hold upon them, which shall finally recover them again to Palestine, and to the covenant of their God. It is upon this covenant hold upon them, that the God of Abraham promises to take away their stony heart out of their flesh, and give them a heart of flesh; to sprinkle them with clean water, and to make them clean; to put his spirit within them and cause them to walk in his statutes, and make them keep his judgements and do them; Ezek.xxxvi. 24-27. It is upon this entail, that God thus engages to bring them in under his new covenant, or the Christian dispensation; that their children shall be as aforetimes, and their congregations established before him; and “that [p.255]all who see them acknowledge they are the seed which the Lord hath blessed;” “that they are the seed of the blessed of the Lord, and their offspring with them.” It will then be understood, that though blindness in part had happened to Israel, it was that the gentiles might take their place, and only till the fulness of the gentiles be come in; and then all Israel shall be saved. The Jewish church will thence be a kind of capital and model of the Christian world; see Isai. lx. and many other promises of the same tenor.
The entail of the covenant may be expected thenceforth to have its proper and perfect effect in the fulfillment of such promises as the following, which relate to that period; “I will pour my Spirit upon thy seed, and my blessings upon shine offspring; and they shall spring up as among the grass, as willows by the water courses;” Isai. xliv. 3, 4. “As for me, this is my covenant with them, saith the Lord. My Spirit that is upon thee, and my words which I have put in thy mouth, shall not depart out of thy mouth, nor out of the mouth of thy seed, nor out of the mouth of thy seed’s seed, saith the Lord, from henceforth and forever;” Isai. lix. 21. This will indeed bring a season of salvation to man.
3. On reading the prophetic scriptures relative to the restoration of the Hebrews, and the calls of Heaven to aid in the event; the question becomes interesting. What is the first to be done relative to this restoration? The first object, no doubt, must be, to Christianize them, and wait the leadings of Providence relative to any further event. God will in due time, be (to all who are willing to wait on him) his own interpreter; and to such he will make the path of duty plain. In his own time and way, after his ancient people shall be duly instructed, and taught the Christian religion. God will open the door for the fulfillment of his designs relative to any local restoration; and will bring that part of them, whom he designs, to their ancient home. All the Jews did not return to Palestine from their seventy years captivity. Many chose to continue where they were planted in the east. Something of the same may be realized in the final restoration of Judah and Israel. [p.256]A remnant only of the ten tribes is to return. This is clearly taught. Isai. x. 20-22: “And it shall come to pass in that day that the remnant of Israel, and such as are escaped of the house of Jacob, shall no more again stay upon him that smote them; but shall stay upon the Lord, the Holy One of Israel, in truth. The remnant shall return, even the remnant of Jacob, unto the Mighty God. For though the people of Israel be as the sand of the sea; yet a remnant of them shall return.” Here the number restored is comparatively small; as Jer. iii. 14, upon the same event; “Turn, O backsliding children, saith the Lord; for I am married unto you; and I will take you one of a city (village) and two of a family, (tribe) and will bring you to Zion.” One from an Indian village, and two from a tribe, would indeed be a small remnant. This proportion may here be proverbial; but certainly indicates that but a small number compared with the whole will return. A proportion of that nation will in due time be offered, to return to the land of their fathers, where they may form a kind of centre or capital to the cause of Christ on earth. Relative to many particulars of the event, the holy oracles are not express. They have strongly marked the outlines or leading facts of the restoration; and the unrevealed particulars, the events of Providence must unfold. That great numbers will return, there seems [p.200]not room to doubt. But the actual proportion to return, will doubtless be a free-will offering of those hearts God shall incline. The first duty must be to recover them to the visible kingdom of Christ. To this our prayers, alms, and all due exertions must be devoutly tend.
4. Viewing the aborigines of America as the outcast tribes of Israel; an interesting view is given of some prophetic passages, which appear nearly connected with their restoration.
In Isai. xl. 3, relative to this restoration of the ancient people of God, we read; “The voice of him that crieth in the wilderness; Prepare ye the way of the Lord; make straight in the desert a highway for our God.” This received a primary and typical fulfillment in the [p.257]ministry of John the Baptist, in the wilderness of Judea, to introduce Christ. Hence the passage was applied to him. But it was to receive its ultimate and most interesting fulfillment at a period connected with the commencement of the Millennium, when “the glory of the Lord shall be revealed, and all flesh shall see it together;” as the subsequent text decides. It is intimately connected with the restoration of the Hebrews; as appears in its context. “Comfort ye, comfort ye, my people, saith your God. Speak ye comfortably to Jerusalem, (a name here put for all the Hebrew family, as it was their capital in the days of David and Solomon,) and cry unto her that her warfare is accomplished, that her iniquity is pardoned; for she hath received of the Lord’s hand double for all her sins.” Here is the final Hebrew restoration, after the time of their doubly long corrective rejection for their sins shall have expired. The voice in the wilderness then follows, as the great means of this restoration.
A wilderness has justly been considered as a symbol of a region of moral darkness and spiritual death. It has been considered as a symbol of the heathen world; and it is a striking emblem of it. And the emblem receives strength from the consideration, that it is in a sense literally true. The voice, which restores Israel, is heard in the vast wilderness of America, a literal wilderness of thousands of miles, where the dry bones of the outcasts of Israel have for thousands of years been scattered. The voice crying in the wilderness has a special appropriation to these Hebrews. As it had a kind of literal fulfillment in the preaching of the forerunner John, for a short time in the wilderness of Judea; so it is to have a kind of literal fulfillment, upon a much greater scale, in the missions, which shall recover the ten tribes from the vast wilderness of America.
Of the same period and event, the same evangelical prophet says, Isai. xxxv. 1. “The wilderness and the solitary place shall be glad for them; and the desert shall rejoice and blossom as the rose; it shall blossom abundantly and rejoice even with joy and singing. The glory of Lebanon shall be given unto it, and the [p.258]excellency of Carmel and Sharon; they shall see the glory of the Lord and the excellency of our God.” In such passages, while the perdiction is to have its mystical and full accomplishment in the conversion of the heathen world to God, the prophetic eye evidently rested with signal pleasure, on a literal restoration of his long lost brethren, as involved in the event, and as furnishing the ground of the figure. They will be literally, and the fulness of the Gentiles mystically, restored and brought to Zion. It is not an uncommon thing for prophetic passages to receive a kind of literal fulfillment; while yet the passage most clearly looks in its ultimate and most important sense to mystical fulfillment. Take the following instances for illustration. In Isai. xxxv. 5—predicting the blessed effects of the mission of Christ on earth—the prophet says; “Then the eyes of the blind shall be opened, and the ears of the deaf shall be unstopped, then shall the lame man leap as an hart, and the tongue of the dumb shall sing.” This had a literal fulfillment in the miracles wrought by our Lord on earth. And yet its mystical import upon the souls of men is infinitely more interesting, and will be extensively fulfilled in the introduction of the Millennium. This stands connected with the wilderness and the solitary place being glad; and the desert rejoicing and blossoming as the rose; and is followed by the clause; “For in the wilderness shall waters break out, and streams in the desert.” And as the one was prefaced by a literal fulfillment; the other may be accompanied with a kind of literal fulfillment.
Again; Zech. ix. 9; “Rejoice greatly, O daughter of Zion; shout, O daughter of Jerusalem; behold thy king cometh unto thee; he is just, and having salvation; lowly, and riding upon an ass, and upon a colt the foal of an ass.” This stands connected with the time, “when (verse 1) the eyes of men, as all tribes of Israel, shall be toward the Lord;” and when (verse 10) the battle bow shall be cut off; and he shall speak peace unto the heathen; and his dominion shall be from sea to sea, and from the river even to the ends of the earth.” It stands connected with the [p.259]battle of the great day, and the introduction of the Millennium; and is a striking emblem of the means used by Christ, (in the estimation of the scoffing infidel world,) to introduce his [p.202]kingdom—; by the foolishness of preaching”—”not by might, nor by power; but by my spirit, saith the Lord of hosts.” Yet even this must be preluded by a literal fulfilment, in the riding of Christ into Jerusalem. See Matt. xxi. 1—Zech. xi. 1. “Open thy doors, O Lebanon, that the fire may devour thy cedars.” This is to have its ultimate accomplishment in the battle of the great day of God Almighty,” of which the destruction of the temple and of Jerusalem was but a type. But this too must be prefaced with a literal accomplishment. Josephus, assuring us of the miraculous portents of the destruction of Jerusalem, says; “About the sixth hour of the night, the eastern gate of the temple was found to open without human assistance.” “It was secured (he adds) by iron bolts and bars that were let down into a large threshold consisting of one entire stone.” The Jews considered this as a manifestation that their divine protection was fled. “M. Johanan, directing his speech to the temple said; I know thy destruction is at hand according to the prophecy of Zechariah,” “Open thy doors, O Lebanon, &c.” (Scott.)
Thus mystical texts often have a kind of literal fulfillment. And accordingly the predictions of the restoration of Israel, in the last days, while they deliver them from a mystical wilderness of spiritual wretchedness, of ignorance and mortal death;—may at the same time redeem them from vast literal wilderness! And the prediction of the former may be phrased from this very circumstance.
As the wilderness of Judea in a small degree rejoiced and blossomed as the rose, when John the Baptist performed his ministry in it; so the wilderness and solitary place of our vast continent, containing the lost tribes of the house of Israel, will, on a most enlarged scale, rejoice and blossom as the rose, when the long lost tribes shall be found there, and shall be gathered to Zion. The event in relation to these ancient heirs of the covenant, stated in the last verse of this chapter, will [p.260]then receive a signal fulfilment; “And the redeemed of the Lord shall return and come to Zion with songs and everlasting joy upon their heads; they shall obtain joy and gladness, and sorrow and sighing shall flee away.” Upon this final restoration of his brethren, this prophet exalts in lofty strains. Several of the many of these strains shall be here inserted. Isai. xlix. “Listen, O isles, unto me; (or ye lands away over the sea) hearken ye people from afar. I will make all my mountains a way; and my highways shall be exalted. Behold, these shall come from far; and lo, these from the north, and from the west; and these from the land of Sinim.—Sing, O heavens; and be joyful, O earth; and break forth into singing, O mountains; for the Lord hath comforted his people, and will have mercy upon his afflicted.” Such texts have a special allusion to the lost tribes of the house of Israel. And their being called over mountains, and over seas, from the west, and from afar, receives an emphasis from the consideration of their being gathered from the vast wilds of America.
With the prophet Hosea, the rejection and recovery of the ten tribes are a great object. In chapter 2d, their rejection, and the cause of it, are stated, and also a promise of their return. God threatens to strip them naked, and “make them as a wilderness.” “And I will visit upon her the days of Baalim, wherein she burned incense to them;” i. e. to Baalim, her false gods. This visiting upon her her idolatries, was to be done in her subsequent outcast state, in which God there says; “she is not my wife, neither am I her husband.” But he says, v. 14—”Therefore behold, I will allure her, and bring her into the wilderness, and speak comfortably unto her. —And I will give her her vineyards from thence, and the valley of Achor for a door of hope; and she shall sing there as in the days of her youth, and as in the days she came up out of the land of Egypt.” Here is Israel’s restoration; and it is from the wilderness, where long they had been planted during the period of their outcast state. In this wilderness God eventually speaks comfortably to them, and restores them, as he restored from Egypt. Here [p.261]God gives them “the valley of Achor for a door of hope.” The first encampment of the Hebrews in the valley of Achor, was to them a pledge in their eventual possession of the promised land, after the Lord had there turned from the fierceness of his wrath; Josh. vii. 26.
Upon the same event God says; Isai. xlii. 19, 20; “Behold, I will do a new thing; now it shall spring forth; shall ye not know it? I will even make a way in the wilderness and rivers in the desert. The beasts of the field shall honour me; the dragons and the owls; because I give water in the wilderness, and rivers in the desert, to give drink to my people, to my chosen.” If such texts have a glorious, general, mystical fulfillment in the conversion of pagan lands; yet this does not preclude, but rather implies the fact, that the people whose restoration is in them particularly foretold, shall be recovered from a vast wilderness; and their conversion shall be almost like a conversion of dragons and owls of the desert. Rivers of knowledge and grace shall in such wilds be open for God’s chosen. It will then truly be fulfilled that God in comforting Zion, will “make her wilderness like Eden, and her desert like the garden of the Lord;” Isai. li. 3. Such passage will have a degree of both literal and mystical fulfillment.
A signal beauty will then be discovered in such passages as the following; Isai. xli. 14. “Fear not, thou worm Jacob, and ye men of Israel; I will help thee, saith the Lord God, thy Redeemer, the Holy One of Israel. I will open rivers in the high places, and fountains in the midst of vallies: I will make the wilderness a pool of water, and the dry land springs of water. I will plant in the wilderness the cedar, the shittah tree, and the myrtle, and the oil tree; and I will set in the desert the fir tree, the pine, and the box tree together, that they may see and know and understand together, that the hand of the Lord hath done this, and the Holy One of Israel hath created it.” The view given of the place of the long banishment of the ten tribes, gives a lustre to such predictions of their restoration.—These will have a striking fulfillment in the vast wilds of our [p.262]continent, when the glad tidings of salvation shall be carried to the natives of these extensive dreary forests and those regions of wretchedness and death shall become vocal with the high praises of God, sung by his ancient Israel.
In Micah vii. is a prediction relative to Israel’s restoration. Micah, as well as Isaiah, lived in the days of Israel’s dispersion. He began his ministry about eighteen years before this event; and continued it about twenty-five years after the event. Though he was of Judah, Scott says, “He addressed his messages both to Judah and Israel.” Of the passage, verse 11-13, Bp. Lowth says, “The general restoration of the Jews shall not be brought to pass till after their land hath lain desolate for many ages.” Bp. Newcomb says, of verses 14-17; “They may likewise have a reference to the times of the future restitution.” Scott says of the verses following, “They evidently related to Christ, and the success of the gospel to the end of time; and the future restoration of Israel.” In verse 12 the application for this restoration is made to them “from sea to sea; and from mountain to mountain.” The prophet then prays for them, verse 14; that God would feed his people, “the flock of his heritage, which dwell solitarily in the wood;” that he would feed them in the midst of Carmel, Bashan and Gilead, as in the days of old. Where are this people to be found “from sea to sea; from mountain to mountain; and in the wood?” This answers to nothing of ancient date. But to the situation of Israel of modern date, (if they be in the wilds of America) it well accords. Here [p205]they must indeed be sought “from sea to sea; from mountain to mountain;” and “in the wood.” And this event is to be, verse 13, “after that their land hath been desolate;” as Scott renders it from the original. And this is to be in fulfillment of “the truth to Jacob, and the mercy to Abraham, which God had sworn from the days of old;” verse 20. God then, as in verses 18, 19, pardons the transgression of the remnant of his heritage, retains not his anger forever, but turns again and has compassion on them, and casts all their sins into the depth of the sea. All these expressions seem to [p.263]apply perfectly to the final restoration of Israel; but not to anything antecedent to that event. This branch of Israel are to be found then, “dwelling solitarily in the wood;” and are to be sought “from sea to sea; and from mountain to mountain.”
5. If it be a fact that the native Americans are the tribes of Israel, new evidence is hence furnished of the divinity of our holy scriptures. A new field of evidence is here opened from a race of men, “outcast” from all civil society for a long course of centuries. Impressed on these wild tenants of the forest, (these children of nature, without books or letters, or any thing but savage tradition,) striking characters are found of the truth of ancient revelation.
The intelligent vindicator of the word of God has never feared to meet the infidel on fair ground. His triumph has not been less certain than that of David against Goliah [Goliath]. But in the view taken of the natives of our continent, the believer will find additional arguments, in which to triumph. He will find more than “five smooth stones taken out of the brook,” (1 Sam. xvi. 40,) each one of which is sufficient to sink into the head of an impious Goliah [sic], challenging the God of Israel.
Let the unbeliever in revelations undertake to answer the following questions.
Whence have the greater part of the American natives been taught the being of one and only one God; when all other heathen nations have lost all such knowledge, and believe in many false gods?
Whence have the Indians, or most of them, been kept from gross idolatry, which has covered the rest of the heathen world? and to which all men have been so prone?
Whence have many of them been taught that the name of the one God, the Great Spirit above, is Yohewah, Ale, Yah, (Hebrew names of God,) who made all things, and to whom alone worship is due?
Who taught any of them that God, at first, made one man from earth; formed him well; and breathed him into life? and that God made good and bad spirits; the latter of whom have a prince over them?
Whence came the idea among the untutored savages, that Yohewah was once the covenant God of their nation; and the rest of the world were out of covenant with him,—the accursed people? God was the God of Israel, and no other nation during their commonwealth. “I entered into covenant with thee, and thou becamest mine.”
Whence their ideas that their ancestors once had the book of God; and then were happy; but that they lost it; and then became miserable; but that they will have this book again at some time?
Whence their notion that their fathers once had the spirit of God to work miracles, and to fortel future events? Whence the general Indian tradition of offering their first ripe fruits. See Exod. xxii. 29; and xxiii. 19. Lev. ii. 14; and xxiii. 10, 11.
Who taught the untutored savages to have a temple of Yohewah; a holy of holies in it, into which no common people may enter, or look?
Who taught him a succession of high priests? that this priest must be inducted into office by purifications, and anointing? that he must appear in an appropriate habiliment, the form of which descended from their fathers of remote antiquity?
Whence their custom of this priest’s making a yearly atonement, in or near the holy apartment of their temple? Lev. xxiii. 27, and vi. 30.
Whence their three annual feasts, which well accord to the three great feasts in Israel? Exod. xxiii. 14 and on.
Whence came their peculiar feast, in which a bone of the sacrifice may not be broken; and all that is prepared must be eaten; or burned before the next morning sun? and eaten with bitter vegetables. Exod. xii. 8, 10, 46.
Whence a custom of their males appearing three times annually before God at the temple? Exod. xxiii. 17, Deut. xvi. 16.
Who taught wild savages of the desert to maintain places of refuge from the avenger of blood; “old, beloved, white towns?” Joshua chap. xx.
[p.265]Who taught them to keep and venerate a sacred ark, containing their most sacred things; to be borne against their enemies by one purified by strict rites?—That no one but the sanctified keeper might look into this ark; and the enemy feeling the same reverence for it, as the friends? Exod. xxv. 10, and on. 1 Sam. vi. 19. 2 Sam. xi. 11.
Whence came the deep and extensive impression among these savage tribes, that the hollow of the thigh of no animal may be eaten? Gen. xxxii. 32.
Let the infidel inform how these savages (so long excluded from all intercourse with the religious or civilized world) came by the right of circumcision? and some idea of them an idea of a Jubilee?
Whence their idea of an old divine speech; that they must imitate their virtuous ancestors, enforced by “flourishing upon a land flowing with milk and honey?”
Whence their notion of the ancient flood? and of the longevity of the ancients? also of the confusion of the language of man at building a high place? evidently meaning the scene of Babel.
How came these wild human herds of the desert by various Hebrew words and phrases; and such phrases as accord with no other language on earth? See the table furnished, page 90.
Who taught them to sing, Halleluyah, Yohewah, Yah, Shilu Yohewah; and to make the sacred use they do of the syllables, which compose the names of God? singing them in their religious dances, and in their customs; thus ascribing all the praise to Yohewah? I ask not, who taught them the spirit of holiness of such religious forms? For probably they have little or no intelligent meaning. But whence have they brought down these traditional forms?
How came their reckoning of time so well to accord with that of ancient Israel?
Whence their tradition of twelve men, in preparing for a feast similar to the ancient feast of tabernacles; taking twelve poles, forming their booths; and their altar of twelve stones, on which no tool may pass; and here offering their twelve sacrifices? and some tribes [p.267]proceeding by the number ten instead of twelve? indicating their tradition of the twelve tribes; and their subsequent ten, after the revolt.
Whence came their tradition of purifying themselves with bitter vegetables? also fasting, and purifying themselves when going to war, as did Israel.
Who taught them that at death their beloved people sleep, and go to their fathers?
Whence their custom of washing and anointing their dead; and some of them of hiring mourners to bewail them; and of singing round the corpse (before they bury it) the syllables of Yah, Yohewah?
[p.208]How came they by their tradition answering to the ancient Jewish separations of women? Lev. xii. 1-6, also a tradition of taking their shoes from their feet, on solemn occasions? Exod. iii. 5. Deut. xxv. 9.
Whence were some of them taught in deep mourning to lay their hands on their mouth, and their mouth in the dust?
And whence came their tradition of their ancient father with his twelve sons, ruling over others? and the mal-conduct of these twelve sons, till they lost their pre-eminence?
Let it be remembered, it is not pretended that all the savages are in the practice of all these traditions. They are not. But it is contended that the whole of these things have been found among their different tribes in our continent, within a hundred years. A fragment of these Hebrew traditions has been found among one tribe; and another fragment among another; and some of the most striking of these traditions have been found among various and very distant tribes; as has appeared in the recital from various authors, traders and travellers [sic].
Let the unbeliever in revelation set himself to account for these events. No account can be given of them, but that they were derived from ancient revelation in Israel. And hence in the outcast state of the ten tribes of Israel, (in their huge valley of dry bones, in this vast new world,) we find presented a volume of new evidence of the divinity of the Old Testament; [p.267]and hence of the New; for the latter rests on the former, as a building rests on its foundation. If the one is divine, the other is divine; for both form a perfect whole.
We are assured by the chief apostle to the Gentiles, that the restoration of the ancient people of God in the last days, when “all Israel shall be saved,” shall be to the nations “as life from the dead;” Rom. xi. 15. Its new and demonstrative evidence of the glorious truth of revelation, will confound infidelity itself; and fill the world with light and glory. These Indian traditions may be viewed as beginning to exhibit to the world their quota of this new evidence.
In our subject, we find a powerful evidence of the truth of revelation, extending through a wild continent, in savage traditions; which traditions must have been brought down from 725 years before the Christian era.
The preservation of the Jews, as a distinct people, for eighteen centuries, has been justly viewed as a kind of standing miracle in support of the truth of revelation. But the arguments furnished from [p.209]the preservation and traditions of the ten tribes, in the wilds of America from a much longer period, must be viewed as furnishing, if possible, a more commanding testimony. And it is precisely such evidence as must have been expected in the long outcast tribes of Israel, whenever they should come to light; and just such evidence as must rationality be expected to bring them to the knowledge of the civilized world.
6. The people addressed by the prophet Isaiah, (be they America or Britain, or who they may,) are highly honoured of God. They are a “land shadowing with wings.” God is abundantly represented as shadowing his people with his wings. “Hide me under the shadow of thy wings.” “The children of men put their trust under the shadow of thy wings.” To Israel as brought from Egypt, God said; “I bare you on eagles’ wings, and brought you unto myself.” Wings, and especially eagles’ wings, are much used in the holy oracles, to denote special aid, and that of the most dignified kind. Of the children of God it is said; “They that [p.268]wait on the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run and not weary; they shall walk and not faint.”
And if the ancient tribes of the Lord are to be recovered at last by an agency well denoted by a “land shadowing with wings;” this prophetic imagery is certainly very honourable to the nation addressed; as the business assigned them is also very honourable. And probably no other nation on earth can, from its national character, the excellency of its government, and its local situation, lay so good a claim to this inspired characteristic. The American Eagle is a term well known in the civilized world. And no other nation has so good a right to this honour.
7. May the people addressed by the prophet Isaiah, awake to a diligent performance of the duty assigned them. Here is a rich opportunity of being workers together with God in a business, which will excite the attention of heaven and earth. “All the inhabitants of the earth, see ye when he lifteth up the ensign on the mountains; and when he bloweth the trumpet, hear ye.” The ancient restorations of Israel were remarkable. Nations that stood in their way sank, as under a deluge;—as Egypt, Babylon, Amalek, and many others could testify. The Ammonites and Moabites were branded with infamy, “because they met not Israel with bread and water when they came forth out of Egypt.”
And the final restoration of Israel is to exceed all antecedent restorations. “It shall no more be said, The Lord liveth who brought up Israel from Egypt; but, The Lord liveth who brought them from all the countries whither I have driven them.” Divine judgements then, may be proportionately greater against all who withstand the final restoration. “I will undo all that afflict thee.” Wo will be to them, who shall have the unbelief or temerity to place themselves before the wheels of divine providence when Christ shall ride forth in the chariot of salvation to bring the dispersed Jews, and outcast Israel to himself. God will arise, and his enemies will be scattered. As smoke is driven [p.269]away; and as the wax melteth before the fire; so God will drive away and melt the enemies of his ancient people. He will ride in the heavens by the name Jah. And while his friends rejoice, his enemies shall tremble at his presence. God will go before his people, and march through the wilderness. The earth, it is said, shall shake; and the heavens shall drop at his presence. Though his long banished people have lain among the pots; yet now shall they be as the wings of a dove covered with silver, and her feathers with yellow gold. The mountains and hills shall leap at the presence of the Lord, at the presence of the God of Jacob. And God will wound the head of his enemies, and the hairy scalp of them that oppose his march, when he shall again bring from Bashan, and recover his banished again from the depth of the sea. Their foot shall be dipped in the blood of their enemies; and men shall again see the stately march of the God of Zion; and shall bless the Lord, even the Lord from the fountains of Israel. Little Benjamin, and his ruler (or chief) shall be there, with the princes of Judah and their counsel. God will command his strength. He will rebuke the armies of the spearmen, with the bulls and calves of their mighty coalition. He will scatter those who delight in war, till every one shall submit himself with pieces of silver.
May the suppliants of God in the west, in the land shadowing with wings, be hid in that day of the Lord’s anger. May they be found in the chambers of his protection, until the indignation be overpast; faithfully obeying the direction to bring his present of the people scattered and peeled, to the place of the name of the Lord of hosts, the Mount Zion.