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there shall be a high-way for the remnant of his people that shall be left from Assyria : in the present, he similarly foretells, that, notwithstanding the success of the Antichristian tyrant, God will deliver Egypt by the hand of a mighty Saviour, convert it to the profession of real religion, and cause a, high-way to be made between it and Assyria through the land of Israel, so that there shall be a free religious intercourse between the three countries. And this, according to both prophecies, is to be effected by the drying up of the mystical Nile ; and, according to the former prophecy, by the drying up both of the Euphrates and the Nile*.
As for the manner in which Isaiah describes the religious state of Egypt at the period when it will be invaded by Antichrist, he seems in this, as in other instancest, to exhibit it to us, rather according to what it was in his own days, than what it probably will be in the age of the accomplishment of the prophecy : yet it is worthy of notice, that the prophecy is not incapable of receiving even a literal accomplishment. By the intermixture of the corrupt Christians of the Greek church with the professors of Mohammedism, much idolatry still prevails in Egypt; which we cannot conceive to be more acceptable to God, than either its kindred papal idolatry, or the ancient pagan idolatry: and it is worthy of notice, that even some of the Mohammedans themselves, according to Niebuhr, are tainted with the superstitious veneration of images, which disgraces the worship of their Christian fellow-citizens f. But I am more inclined to adopt the other interpretation of this part of the prophecy, and to suppose that Isaiah describes Egypt agreeably to what it was in his own age.
* Let the reader compare together Isaiah xi. 15, 16, and Isaiah xix. 5, 23, 24; and he must, I think, be convinced that both these predictions relate to the same events. In this case, since Isaiah xi. 15, 16, must plainly be referred to the era of the restoration of Judah, the whole of Isaiah xix must like. wise be referred to the same era. The propriety of such a conclusion will be the more evident, if he further compare both these prophecies with Zechar. x. 10, 11, 12 ; which, like Isaiah xi. 15, 16, will clearly not be accomplished till the Jews are brought back into the land of their fathers.
+ Such an instance occurs indeed even in the course of the very prophecy concerning which I am now treating. " And the Lord shall be known to Egypt; and the Egyptians shall know the Lord in that day, and shall do sacrifice and oblation ; yea, they shall vow a vow unto the Lord, and perform it.” (Isaiah xix. 21.) Upon which Bp. Newton justly remarks, that “ the prophet describes the worship of future times, according to the rites and ceremonies of his own time.” Dissert. xii. 3.
See Niebuhr's Travels, Vol. 1. pp. 35, 47, 103, 195. In Skinner's Eccles, Hist. of Scotland, Vol. 11. p. 634-639, there is a curious account of an at. tempt that was made, between the years 1716 and 1725, to effect an union between the non-juring prelates and those of the Greek church. The attempt failed from the resolute adherence of the Orientals to image-worship and other superstitious vanities.
The exhaustion of the river, which he dwells upon with so much minuteness, is plainly, according to the usual phraseology of Symbols, nothing more than the overthrow of the Egyptian government with its concomitants. These concomitants, as in the case of the exhaustion of the great river Euphrates under the sixth apocalyptic vial*, seem to be a diminution of the population of Egypt, and an emigration of its inhabitants ; for such is the most natural exposition that can be given of the drying up of its river, and the diversion of its streams into other channels.
It is worthy of notice, that the population of Egypt has already begun to diminish, much in the same manner as the population of Turkey, which must, almost undoubtedly I think, be considered as symbolized by the mystical Euphrates of the sixth vial.
“ Alexandria,” says Mr. Niebuhr, “ has fallen by degrees from its grandeur, population, and wealth—This city might be in a more fourishing condition, did not disadvantages of all sorts concur to depress it. Its inhabitants appear to have a natural genius for commerce, were it not checked by the malignant influence of the government—The trade of Alexandria is notwithstanding very trifling; although almost all the nations of Egyptt have consuls heret-Ancient historians and geographers enumerate such a multitude of cities in Egypt, that it seems to be at present quite a desert in comparison with what it was in the day of antiquity. New cities have indeed arisen, but these are mere trifles, compared with the number, the extent, and the magnificence, of the ancient. All the remains of monuments, referable to the most remote antiquity, bespeak the hand of a numerous and opulent people, who have entirely disappeared. When however we reflect on the revolutions which this country has undergone, and the length of time during which it has been under the dominion, of strangers, we can no longer be surprized at the decline of its wealth and population. It has been successively subdued by the Persians, the Greeks, the Romans, the Arabians, and the Turks; has enjoyed no interval of tranquillity and freedom ; but has been constantly oppressed and pillaged by the lieutenants of a distant lord. Those usurpers and their servants, having no other views but to draw as large a revenue as possible from an opulent province, scarce left the people bare means of subsistence. Agriculture was ruined by the miseries of the husbandman ; and the cities decayed with its decline. Even at present, the population is decreasing; and the peasant, although in a fertile country, is miserably poor: for the exactions of government and its officers leave him nothing to lay out in the improvement and culture of his lands; while the cities are falling into ruins, because the same unhappy restraints render it impossible for the citizens to engage in any lucrative undertaking*-If an ancient origin and illustrious ancestors could confer merit, the Copts would be a highly estimable people. They are descended from the ancient Egyptians; and the Turks, upon this account, call them, in derision, the posterity of Pharaoh. But : their uncouth figure, their stupidity, ignorance, and wretchedness, do little credit to the sovereigns of ancient Egypt. They have lived for 2000 years under the dominion of different foreign conquerors, and have experienced many vicissitudes of fortune. They have lost their manners, their language, their religion, and almost their existence. They are reduced to a small number in comparison to the Arabs, who have poured like a flood over this country. Of the diminution of the numbers of the Copts some idea may be formed from the reduction of the number of their bishops. They were seventy
* See my Dissert. on the 1260 years, Vol. 11. p. 345–349. (2d Edit. p. 383–387.)
+ So the passage stands in my edition of Niebuhr, and therefore I have not ventured to alter it; but for Egypt I think we ought surely to read Europe. As this variation is not noticed in the errata, it is possible that this little mistake (for so I cannot help considering it may be an uncorrected oversight of the author himself.
# Travels, Vol. 1. p. 36, 37.
tri number, at the period of the Arabian conquest. They are now only twelve, and most of these settled in upper Egypt, to which the ancient inhabitants seem to have retired from the centre of the conquest *.”
The prophet declares in a most pointed manner, that, previous to the conquest of Egypt by the fierce king, it should be torn to pieces by internal dissention and civil discord. Here again we may; as it were with our own eyes, begin to see this prediction receive its accomplishment. “ The Turks,” says Mr. Niebuhr, “as is generally known, conquered Egypt, in the beginning of the sixteenth century, from the Mamelukes; a mercenary militia, who had, for some centuries, usurped the government of this province, which they administered by an elective chief, with the title of Sultan. This species of government seems still to subsist, just as much as before the Turkish conquest; and, with all their despotic pride, they have never attempted to change it. A form of government, that has prevailed so long, and which a haughty and powerful conqueror durst not abolish, must have within itself some principle of stability to maintain it against revolution. It might deserve to be better known and explained by some intelligent person, who should study it in a long residence in the country. A traveller like me, who has had only a transient view of these ob. jects, can neither discern nor describe all the parts of so complete a machine. I have learned enough however to enable me to distinguish, that this government is at present an aristocracy, partly civil, partly military, but chiefly military. Under the protection, rather than under the authority, of the Sultan of Constantinople, a divan, or sovereign council, exercises the supreme authority, both executive and legislative. Even the revenue of the Sultan is rather a tribute paid to a protector, than a tax levied by a sovereign-Such a government must be frequently disturbed by factious insurrections. Cairo is constantly convulsed by cruel dissention ; parties are continually jarring ; and the great retain troops to decide their differences by force of arms. The mutual jealousies of the
* Travels, Vol. 1. P. 103, 104.
chiefs seem to be the only causes, which still preserve to the Porte the shadow of authority over this country. The members of the aristocracy are all afraid of losing their influence under a residing sovereign; and therefore agree in opposing the elvation of any of their own body to the supreme dignity. In our own days, Ali-Bey has found how difficult it is to ascend the throne of Egypt, or to maintan one's self upon it. The grand signior sends al. ways a pacha of three tails to exercise his precarious authority in Egypt, in the character of governor. But the pacha of Cairo, far from enjoying the same authority as the other pachas of the Turkish empire, is entirely dependent on the Egyptian divan. That aristocratical body, regarding the pacha as their tyrant, frequently depose him, unless he have the address to support himself by provoking and fomenting the contentions of the different parties, favouring each by turns. During my stay at Alexandria, the inhabitants of Cairo expelled their pacha. Mustapha pacha was at the same time in Egypt, who had been already twice grand vizir, and rose afterwards a third time to that dignity. Having been sent by the Sultan to Djidda, he had remained in Egypt, on pretence of illness. The inhabitants chose Mustapha their pacha, and found means to oblige the Sultan, however dissatisfied with the electors and the person whom they had elected, to confirm their choice. But the new pacha kept his place only seven months, and was then obliged to yield it to another from Constantinople. The latter died suddenly, upon the arrival of a Kapigi-Bachi, who was sent after him by the Sultan. Thus, in the short time while I was in Egypt, three governors succeeded each other rapidly in the government of that province*In a city, like Cairo, inhabited by a number of petty tyrants, who are ever at variance among themselves, and seeking each other's ruin, and who often proceed to open violence in determining their quarrels, private persons can never consider themselves as in absolute security. The narrowness of the streets, and the crowds which are constantly pressing through them, are favourable to
* Travels, Vol. 1. P. 73–76.
onfirm their months, antinople. Bachi, who electe his place on her from all of a Kapus, in the shaped
to yield it to ma upon the arrivaltan.