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NO.1, ON ISAIAH 20th.

BROTHER BEEBE: - On reading the 20th chapter of Isaiah, several months since, I was forcibly impressed with the idea that this passage of Scripture had reference to these times; in a word, that here we had declared the result of the struggle which is at present going on between the Catholics and the Benevolent Societies of the day, for preeminence in the valley of the Mississippi. On some reflection upon the passage, and it has been repeatedly on my mind since, and on comparing it with certain other passages of Scripture which I shall have occasion to notice in the following remarks, I feel more confirmed in the conclusion, that this portion of prophecy is yet to have its fulfillment, and that in this country in part at least. If correct in my present views of this prophecy, I may have been mistaken in the supposition I gave in my “Letters on the Image of the Beast,” relative to the Witnesses being killed by the influence of the Image, or of the reformed churches through that Image, rather than by Popery.

This and the preceding chapter of Isaiah had no doubt a primary reference to events which in part have already transpired relative to national Egypt, though I doubt whether that part of the prophecy contained in the 19th chapter, from the 18th to the 25th verse, has as yet had its primary fulfillment, or will have, until the time of national Israel’s being brought under the power of the gospel; when there will be no longer an Assyrian or Babylonish captivity, Egyptian bondage or Israelitish infidelity to oppose the Church of Christ.

That Egypt was typical of, or represents a spiritual interest which is to exist in opposition to the church of Christ in the latter days of her wilderness state, is evident from Rev.11:8, where it is said of the Two Witnesses that, “their dead bodies shall lie in the street of the great city, which spiritually is called Sodom and Egypt,” &c., as Babylon also, the capital of Assyria and Chaldea, is made to represent another opposing interest; namely, the Church of Rome. See Rev.17:5, 14:8, 16:19, and 18:21. That Egypt and Babylon or Assyria cannot with propriety, be considered as designed to represent the same thing spiritually, is evident from the fact that in Scriptural history and prophecy they are represented as entirely distinct nations and often opposing powers, whilst both are brought to view as distinct from Israel, and often its oppressors. Having made these preliminary remarks, I will now present some of my thoughts relative to the spiritual import of this 20th chapter of Isaiah. Not that I will presume to give a full illustration of the proper application of the whole passage.

Assyria being synonymous with Babylon, evidently represents spiritually the Church of Rome. Egypt as has already been noticed, being uniformly presented, in the Scriptures, as distinct from Babylon or Assyria, must refer to something other than that interest in the prophecy under consideration. If we can determine what is intended by that “great city which spiritually is called Sodom and Egypt, where also our Lord was crucified,” Rev.11:8, we shall undoubtedly get at the true application of the name in the prophecy. The name Egypt signifies bondage, and Egypt in the Scriptures is called the house of bondage, having been such to Israel. Israel soon passed into the house of bondage after being distinguished as Israel, or as having power with God, the import of that name. The church of Christ, after being manifested as the true Israel, or as having power with God; that is, as having boldness to enter into the holiest by the blood of Jesus, by a new and living way, &c., {Heb.10:19-20,} soon passed into a house of bondage, under the introduction of Judaism and a multiplication of ceremonies, or that mystery of iniquity which began to work even in the Apostles days. It was under the influence of a religion of this kind among the Jews, a religion which made void the law of God by the traditions of men that our Lord was crucified. As in Egypt literally, so in this case, the task masters, which bound heavy burdens and grievous to be borne, and laid them on men’s shoulders, would not move them with one of their fingers. And all their works they did to be seen of men, as the Egyptians kept Israel making bricks with which to build their Pyramids, those standing monuments of their ostentatious folly to this day. See Matt.23:4 & 5. So the Apostles say in reference to the binding of the burden of circumcision upon the disciples, that “our fathers, nor we are able to bear;” again, “as many as wish to make a fair show in the flesh constrain you to be circumcised,” &c., it is added, “For neither they themselves who are circumcised keep the law, but desire to have you circumcised that they may glory in your flesh.” Acts 15:10, Gal.6:12,13. Thus the house of bondage is clearly traced down from ancient Egypt, to New Testament times. And are not the bondage and the glorying in the flesh above noticed fully copied out in the popular religion of this day? With all their benevolence, are not the managers, the modern task masters binding heavy burdens upon those under their influence, in their proposed conditions of salvation, in their multiplication of ceremonies and plans of benevolence, and in their tithing or taxing all the increase from the farm, the purse, the servant girls weekly wages, &c., down to the rag-bag? And is not the same external show, and glorying in the flesh, manifested now as anciently? How often are we informed of their persuading persons to sign their Temperance pledges, for the sake only of the influence of their names, or their inducing persons to head a subscription with a round sum with the understanding that it was not to be paid; of their obtaining the passage of resolutions recommending the benevolent schemes, in Associations where they expect nothing further? Of the flaming reports of Agents and of Missionaries, who like the Missionary within the bounds of the Abington or Bridgewater Association, Penn., that reported through the American Baptist, 400 baptized, but who on being questioned about it, acknowledged an error, and on being questioned further, had to reduce the 400, considerably? And do the managers in these schemes manifest any greater disposition than the Scribes of old, to share the burdens? No; but rather thereby to increase their own means of worldly grandeur and show.

But this is called a Great City. And truly it is; men in all ages have manifested a fondness for a conditional salvation and a showy religion. In all ages the priests, the task-masters in the humanly contrived religions have been disposed to gratify the public whim, by loading their religion, with ceremonies and parade, and the more they have burdened the people with these things, the more popular they have been, and the more they have fattened on the spoils. This city has many streets. There is Mission street, which has Presbyterian Mission Alley, Baptist Mission Alley, &c., running out from it; there Bible Society Street, and many others. But there is one Main street or thoroughfare, where all the citizens intermingle, and where the “dead bodies of the Witnesses are to lie.”

But this is also called Sodom, spiritually – not literally – remember. The sin of Sodom therefore, practiced here is in a spiritual or religious sense. And can this sin be found in the city we are describing? Yes; as the Prophet says of Jerusalem, “The shame of their countenance doth witness against them, and they declare their sin as Sodom, they hide it not.” Isa.3:9. Look at the whole mission and moneyed concern; is there any intercourse with the bride the Lamb’s wife, or with her daughters, the individual gospel churches, as such in these things? Any consultation of pastor and church in managing those society plans? Not at all. The Boards of the various Societies, composed mostly of preachers, have all the intercourse among themselves. They send out the Agents and Missionaries, appoint their fields of labor, finger the money, what is not swallowed up by the Agents in the collection, and manage the whole business; it is altogether a male concern; Sodomy to the full! Yea, more. For as the Apostle speaks {Romans, chapter 1,} of a sin which was not even mentioned in Sodom; so in this great city we find female Tract Societies, female Mite Societies, female prayer meetings, &c., in which females religiously associate together, not as in churches, nor as churches, where “there is neither males, nor females, but all one in Christ Jesus;” but as females by themselves.

Having thus pointed out spiritual Egypt as exemplified in this great city, I am, I think, safe in supposing the same intended by Egypt in this 20th chapter of Isaiah. I would here make a passing remark; that the view here taken of Rev.11:8, if correct, goes to confirm the position I took in my “Letters on the Image of the Beast,” relative to the place where the Witnesses are to be killed.

But there is another character connected with the Egyptians in the passage under consideration; namely, the Ethiopians. These were a nation bordering upon Egypt, situated above it, on the same troubled and muddy River, the Nile; the waters of which both drank.

Ethiopia and Egypt are repeatedly connected together in Scripture prophecy. I however find no direct figurative application in the Scriptures, of Ethiopia, or the Ethiopians, except in Jer.11:23, “Can the Ethiopian change his skin, or the Leopard his spots? Then may ye also do good that are accustomed to do evil?” This was addressed to that adulterous generation of the Jews who were about to be carried captive to Babylon, and corresponds in idea with the prophecy of Daniel, concerning the Egyptians of our day; namely, that “the wicked shall do wickedly; and none of the wicked shall understand.” Dan.12:10. Amos 9:7, also may be considered a figurative application of the term, where speaking of Israel as being rejected of God and about to be driven from their land, the prophet says, “Are ye not as children of the Ethiopians unto me, saith the Lord?”

The Ethiopians in the passage we have under consideration, may refer to a distinct class from the Egyptians, but I am inclined to the belief that they are designed to prefigure the same people, and to designate them as being of the same character, having the same blackness and depravity of heart, now they have floated down the broad stream of their troubled and muddy systems, till they have got into Egypt, and near the great Sea of Babylonish corruption, and of destruction which awaits the whole mass of the Man of sin, as when they started at the source of this over-flowing river. The term may also show, that notwithstanding the white washing they may have put on, and their great pretensions to the peculiar favor of heaven, they, instead of being recognized of God as his free-born sons, are to him, as the children of the Ethiopians, and destined to be subject to perpetual bondage.

Having thus arranged the several characters brought to view in this prophecy, I will leave further consideration of the subject for another opportunity.

Yours, as ever,
Fairfax County, Va., Sept.26, 1836.