« ForrigeFortsæt »
ever the Jews were scattered, these formed the capital object of their hopes: these, under the sharpest calamities, were their prop, which saved them from sinking into despair.
Under these expressions the poet contemplates a series of ages about to begin their course, and primeval happiness to revisit the earth. The ideas introduced are sublime, and couch under them a total revolution of nature. This is a work far transcending human powers, and worthy only of a God. No character, merely mortal, must appear here. His, only can answer it, who controlled the winds and seas; at whose touch, diseases disappeared, who unsealed the tomb and bad the dead come -forth, and who sitting upon his throne, proclaims, “behold I create all things new." Rev. 21.5.
This new run of ages is explained by some of the great Platonic year, which, they say, takes in a space of twenty-five, others, forty-nine thousand years. But we ought to remember, that here Virgil is got amona total strangers to Plató and his reveries. The Jewish nation, through every age, were intent on the event of their antient prophecies. In the diversity of prospects which these presented, was a period termed the year of the redeemed. For the arrival of this they anxiously looked out. “ Great shall be the happiness of these times,” says Maimonides, “because then we shall be deli
vered from the yoke of the evil kingdom which restrains us from the pursuit of all the virtues, and knowledge shall be multiplied. And that King shall be powerful, of whose kingdom the metropolis shall be Zion, whose glorious name shall fill earth's utmost bounds :
a greater and richer than Solomon, with whom nations shall be at peace, and whom provinces shall obey, because of his singular righteousness, and the miracles which by him shall be wrought.”
The death, resurrection, and ascension of Messiah, constitute the most remarkable æra in
the history of the world. “ Him the heavens have Acts 3.21
received until the time of the restitution of all things,” or general replacement, when creation is to regain its freedom, and to return to its original constitution and end. This the Roman poet thus delineates : “ That Astræa or Justice was to return, and Saturnian times roll round again.” In the words of the psalmist it is thus expressed : “ Truth shall spring out of the earth, and righte
ousness look down from Heaven.” So speaks 33. 6 Isaiah: “ Wisdom and knowledge shall be the
stability of thy times.” The mighty effects expected from this glorious time, did not take place during the ages that preceded. Mankind then rapidly descended from the standard of primitive simplicity and innocence. Such was the depression of the human character, that in the symbolic
language of antient times the gold disappeared,
In the ages preceding the deluge, they who rebelled against God, were by the poets termed sons of earth ; but now in this delightful reverse of things, a new race was to come down from heaven, with hearts,'total strangers to every sentiment of rebellion-formed to the will of hea. ven's King, and having engraven in them his laws. This description of antient ages declining in morals, under the image of metals of a different value, is precisely the view given in the book of Daniel, but with this difference, that instead of
the golden age returning, as fitted to answer every wish of man, a kingdom was to be set up which was not to be destroyed, or left to other people, but it was to break in pieces and to consume all these kingdoms, and itself to stand for ever. Dan. ii. 44.
The prediction of the poet, that " under this Boy, the iron was to cease, and the age of gold to arise over all the earth," was actually in an inceptive view fulfilled. In the days of the fourth monarchy, or decline of the Roman empire, the religion of Jesus commenced its successful career, and in overthrowing all opposite power, will have a germinant accomplishment, till every error and every superstition be consumed, and disappear in the brightness of its rays.
Under this reign, says the poet, “ the traces of wickedness being done away, were to free mankind from that terror which perpetually pressed on them.” Now, such ideas as these, except in the Hebrew scriptures, are not to be found through all antiquity. Here is evidently, by the intervention of this Boy, a deliverance from a general evil, for it is not a particular district that labours under it, but the world, What is this evil then but the curse arising from eating “ that forbidden tree which brought death into the world and all our woe?" “ He shall govern the earth, now at peace with
of his Father." This seems to be a
Rapt into future times," the poet addresses this august personage, and under the title of the beloved offspring of the gods, calls upon him to begin the glorious career. What this is, let Messiah himself declare: “ The spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he hath anointed me to preach the gospel to the poor; he hath sent me to heal the broken hearted, to preach deliverance to the captives, and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty them which are bruised, to preach the acceptable year of the Lord.” 15.6642.
In reading the following sublime verses, the poet seems struck. He says, “See !” “Sing, Oye Js.44.23 heavens for the Lord hath done it, shout ye lower parts of the earth, break forth into singing ye mountains, O forest, and every tree therein, for the Lord hath redeemed Jacob, he hath glorified himself in Israel.”_" Let the heavens rejoice; let the earth be glad ; let the sea roar ; let the fields be joyful, then shall all the trees of the wood rejoice before the Lord, for he cometh, for he cometh to judge the earth.” Psal. xcvi. Here, 11-13 B b b 2