Page images
PDF
EPUB

You may indulge your joyous feelings from another consideration. This occasion affords every one of you an opportunity to do something toward establishing the worship of God in this place. You all rejoice in seeing the cause of the Redeemer advanced--and you all feel glad that a house is about to be erected in which the ark of God might rest —and you look forward, with peculiar interest, to the time when this house shall be completed and dedicated to the Lord ; and if a kind Providence should spare your lives, you contemplate taking part in the dedication services. Surely you do not intend to offer to the Lord your God that which cost you nothing; and you cannot but reflect, that, although this house is to be built for the glory of God, it is not for his benefit, but for yours. He dwelleth in the high and holy place, and needeth not for himself temples made with hands. If the Lord hath chosen Zion, and desired it for his habitation : if he hath said, This is my rest for ever ; here will I dwell, for I have desired it; it is only that he might abundantly bless her provision, and satisfy her poor with bread—that he might clothe her priests with salvation, and cause her saints to shout aloud for joy. Psa. cxxxii, 13–16. By the erection of this temple you, as it were, lay the Deity under obligation to confer unspeakable advantages upon you. So that what is an act of piety is in very deed one of self-interest ; and in the highest sense you may realize the truth of our Lord's assertion, “ It is more blessed to give than to receive." Methinks the joyous feelings of your hearts will constrain you to cast your offerings so liberally into the Lord's treasury that, when this house shall be consecrated, it shall be emphati. cally and exclusively, THE HOUSE OF THE LORD!

REVIEW.

[ocr errors]

For the Methodist Magazine and Quarterly Review.
INCIDENTS OF TRAVEL IN EGYPT, ARABIA PETREA, &c.

BY REV. R. W. ALLEN, OF THE N. E. CONFERENCE.

Incidents of Travel in Egypt, Arabia Petrea, and the Holy Land. By an Ame.

rican. With a map and engravings. Eighih edition, with additions. In two volumes. New.York: Harper & Brothers, 82 Cliff-street, 1838.

As to books of " Travels,” we have many. The press teems with productions of this character. So numerous have they become, that they have almost literally covered the land. In this department, it may be said truly, “ to the making of books there is no end." It is sometimes said that men cannot sufficiently bring themselves into public notice until they make a tour into a foreign land, and publish the result of their researches. On the character of this remark we shall not decide. As to the motives of different travelers we have nothing to say. They must answer to a competent and righteous tribunal. It is, however, apparent to all, that the idea that a man has traveled in a distant and foreign land, and has told things as they ac. tually came under his own observation_whether the things related be true or false, worthy public attention or not-is altogether suffi. cient to excite a general interest in the public mind in reference to his work. This might have led some to seek for notoriety, or something else, rather than the public good, by becoming a foreign traveler. This remark, we apprehend, can apply only to a few—the large pro. portion have unquestionably sought the good of mankind.

The eagerness with which such publications are sought, and the greediness with which their contents are devoured, demonstrate the lively interest felt by the generality of readers in the incidents which they narrate. But it is to be seriously regretted that all the books of travels will not justify the eagerness with which they are sought. Of this class, we will only name Mrs. Trollop's, and leave the reader to guess at the rest. Fisk's, Humphrey's, &c., are of real utility, and

may be read with interest and great profit. Such works are ex. cellent and valuable, and should find a place, if practicable, in the library of every family. But, passing such publications, as most of them have received merited attention by able reviewers, we wish to call the reader's attention to those travelers who, by much labor, toil, and sacrifice, have explored the land of God's “ancient people ;" a land still endeared to every intelligent Christian by a thousand asso. ciations.

What a profoundly interesting chapter is added to the history of man by the various incidents and facts collected by modern travelers in a country still held enchantingly sacred as being the residence of God's peculiar and highly favored people, and as having been most singularly honored with the most important revelations of God to man. This rich collection of facts is doubly valuable when we consider that it greatly illustrates and confirms the truth of the sacred volume. In reference to this, it should be sought and obtained. Whatever illustrates, and serves to enable us the better to understand the word of God, demands our highest attention. Every oriental, traveler has, whether designedly or not, furnished a mass of demonstration that the writings of the prophets were from God; nor is it the least effectual way of removing skepticism on this subject to give an extensive circu. lation to the writings of such travelers.

It should be remembered, that the Bible is throughout an oriental book. “ It was all penned, with the exception, perhaps, of a few of the epistles, in Asia. It was conceived and published under an orien. tal sky, by an oriental people, amid oriental habits and customs. It depicts oriental scenery ; draws its illustrations from oriental cus. toms; and speaks of people that were entirely unlike our own in habits and in laws. To illustrate it, therefore, it is obvious that we should have an intimate knowledge of the habits and the customs of the east.” Says Prof. Bush, “ In order to appreciate fully the truth of its descriptions, and the accuracy, force, and beauty of its various allusions, it is indispensable that the reader, as far as possible, separate himself from his ordinary associations, and put himself by a kind of mental transmutation into the very circumstances of the writers. He must set himself down in the midst of oriental scenery-gaze upon the sun, sky, mountains, and rivers of Asia-go forth with the nomade tribes of the desert-follow their flocks--travel with their caravansrest in their tents-lodge in their khans-load and unload their ca

mels-drink at their watering places pause during the heat of the day under their palms-cultivate the fields with their own rude imple. inentsgather in, or glean, after their harvest--beat out and ventilate 4 their grain, in their open thrashing-floors_dress in their costumes note their proverbial or idiomatic forms of speech-and listen to the strain of song or story, with which they beguile the vacant hours." But in what way can we so effectually obtain so intimate knowledge of the customs and habits of the east as by perusing the writings of modern travelers. Here we seem to be introduced amid the very habits, customs, scenery, and tribes of ancient tiines. Thus we are materially assisted in understanding the numerous allusions and de.. scriptions of the sacred volume. The more knowledge we have of the customs of the age in which the Bible was written; of the speech and intercourse of the people; of their religious ceremonies and rites; of: their manners and habits; of the places and localities that are often mentioned and referred to--the better prepared we shall be to under.. stand its meaning. Who can doubt but that very valuable light has been thrown upon the word of God, by the modern elucidations and descriptions of the customs and rites of the people of the east ?

But it may be objected, that such have been the changes in the cus. toms and habits of the people of the east since the patriarchal times. that but very little light can be thrown on the subject by the researches of modern travelers. If there should be such an objector, he must labor under a great mistake. Travelers have universally testi. fied of the uniform and permanent character of the usages and customs of the east. They are not so liable to change as in Europe or America. To a great extent, their habits of life; their manner of conversation, living, and dress; their manner of cultivating the soil, of building towns and villages, and their course of warfare, remain the same as in the days of the patriarchs. Says the intelligent traveler in the east, Sir John Chardin, " It is not in Asia as it is in Europe, where there are frequent changes, more or less, in the form of things, as the habits, buildings, gardens, and the like. In the east they are constant in all things. The habits are at this day in the same manner as in the preceding ages ; so that one may reasonably believe, that in that part of the world the exterior forins of things, as in their manners and customs, are the same now as they were two thousand years since, except in such changes as have been introduced by religion, which are nevertheless very inconsiderable.” Says another eastern traveler, Morier, “ The manners of the east, amid all the changes of government and religion, are still the same: they are living impres. sions from an original mold; and at every step some object, some idiom, some dress, or some custom of common life, reminds the traveler of ancient times; and confirms, above all, the beauties, the accuracy and the propriety of the language of the Bible.” Thus have the ha. bits, customs, manner of intercourse, modes of living, style of building, &c., of the patriarchal times, been handed down through successive Ages to the present day. Consequently the present state of things in the east, as it respects customs, habits, &c., as exhibited by modern travelers, is a living demonstration of the truth of the sacred volume.

Among the great list of oriental travelers, whose writings contain almost boundless sources of elucidation of the sacred Scriptures, we Vol. XI.-January, 1840.

7

will mention the names of Chardin, Pococke, Pitts, Maundrell, Shaw, Volney, Russell, Clarke, Chateaubriand, Porter, Buckingham, Burck. hardt, Morier, Laborde, and an American, the author of a work, the title of which stands at the head of this article. It is of the work of the last named author we wish here particularly to speak, though we may occasionally refer to other writers for a more full elucidation of several points which may be introduced.

The popularity of the work may be inferred from the fact, that the eighth edition now lies before us. Only about two years have elapsed since the first edition was published. It is one of those recent publi. cations which is sought for, and perused with great interest. Those who have secured the gratification attendant upon a careful examina. tion of these volumes of travels will not, we presume, wonder at the rapidity with which they passed through the several editions. Those who have not secured this gratification will, we hope, do it without delay. The fact, that the author traveled through one of the most interesting portions of the earth, and that a part of his route was entirely new, through the land of Edom, is sufficient to recommend it to the attention of all.

It may, perhaps, be questioned by some whether any thing new can be said respecting a country explored by so many distinguished tra. velers, who have published to the world the result of their researches. But, claiming nothing new for the author where he has followed others in his travels, still the work is full of interest. Every thing that relates, by way of authentic description, to a country replete with so many hallowed associations as is that of the residence of the ancient Jews, cannot be void of interest or utility. Farther, many of the writings of oriental travelers are beyond the reach of most readers. Take the work of Laborde, for instance. One copy, as it is not published in this country, would cost not less than eighty dollars. Again : most modern travelers in the east have been foreigners, hence their writings would not be perused with that interest as the production of our own countryman. Here is not only a work more recent than any other of the kind, but one by an American.

The author has not gone so much into detail as it regards the ruins of ancient cities as have other eastern travelers; but, to use his own language in the preface," he has presented things as they struck his mind, without perplexing himself with any deep speculations upon the rise and fall of empires. His object has been principally, as the title of the book imports, to give a narrative of the every-day incidents that occur to a traveler in the east ; and to present to his countrymen, in the midst of the hurry, and bustle, and life, and energy, and daily. developing strength and resources of the new, a picture of widely dif. ferent scenes, that are now passing in the faded and worn-out kingdoms of the old world.”

We do not purpose in this review to follow the author through his entire journeyings, as it will be perceived that he traveled somewhat extensively in Egypt; but, recommending the whole work to the careful perusal of the reader, we wish here more particularly to direct bin attention to that part which refers to Arabia Petræa and the Holy Land. After visiting Egypt, the author pursues his way to the land of Edom, and from thence to Jerusalem. Edom, a land once opulent and inhabited, but now utterly desolate, is often referred to in the prophecies; and in consequence of the exact fulfilment of the prophe. cies respecting this country, it has, in some measure, attracted the attention of the civilized world.

Edom, a province of Arabia, derived its name from Esau, who was also called Edom, and who was the son of Isaac, and the twin brother of Jacob, being the elder of the two. Esau settled in this country in the mountains of Seir, which had been occupied by the Horites ; but they were removed by the children of Esau, who took possession of the country, and made it their own, Deut. ii, 12. His descendants afterward became quite numerous, and extended themselves through. out Arabia Petræa, and south of Palestine, between the Dead Sea and the Mediterranean. During the Babylonish captivity they seized the south of Judah, and advanced to Hebron. This tract of Judea which they inhabited was called subsequently Idumea ; a name given by the Greeks to the land of Edom, which name it retained in the time of our Saviour, Mark iii, 8. This land was divided into two parts. One part was called East Edom, of which Bozrah was the capital; the other was called South Edom, of which Petra, or Jectael was capital. The Edomites, the posterity of Esau, had kings long before the Jews. They were first governed by dukes or princes, and afterward by kings, Gen. xxxvi, 31. They continued independent until the time of David, who subdued them, in completion of Isaac's prophecy that Jacob should rule Esau, Gen. xxvii, 29, 30. They bore this subjection with great impatience; and at the end of Solomon's reign, Hadad, the Edomite, who had been carried into Egypt during his childhood, returned into his own country, where he procured himself to be acknowledged king, 1 Kings xi, 22. It is probable, however, that he reigned only in East Edom; for Edom south of Judea continued subject to the kings of Judah till the reign of Jehoram, son of Jehostaphat, against whom it rebelled, 2 Chron. xxi; 8.

Jehoram attacked Edom, but did not subdue it. Amaziah, king of Judah, took Petra, killed a thousand men, anū compelled ten thousand more to leap from the rock upon which stood the city of Petra, 2 Chron. xxv, 11, 12. These conquests were only temporary. Uzziah tools Elath on the Red Sea, 2 Kings xiv, 22; but Rezin, king of Syria, retook it. It is generally supposed that Esarbaddon, king of Syria, ravaged this country, Isa. xxi, 11-17; xxxiv, 6. Holofernes subdued it, as well as other nations around Judea, Judith iii, 14. When Ne buchadnezzar besieged Jerusalem, the Edomites or Idumeans joined him, and encouraged him to raze the very foundations of that city, This cruelty did not long continue unpunished. Five years after the taking of Jerusalem Nebuchadnezzar humbled all the states around Judea, particularly Idumea. John Hyrcanus entirely conquered the Idumeans, whom he obliged to receive circumcision and the law. They continued subject to the kings of Judea till the destruction of Jerusalem by the Romans. They even came to assist that city when besieged, and entered it in order to defend it. However, they did not continue there until it was taken, but returned loaded with booty into Idungea. The Idumeans soon ceased to be a separate people in their own land, for they mingled with the other descendants of Ishmael's and those of them in Judea became, under John Hyrcanus, converts

« PreviousContinue »