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plied to the reign of the Meffiah, to which it belongs; importing, in a moral fenfe, that all obftacles, impeding, the establishment of his kingdom, fhall be removed; and that, when the Gofpel fhall have its due influence upon the tempers and manners of men, it will be productive of much improvement in them-that the humble fhall be exalted by it, and the proud debafed; the perverfe reduced to a better temper, and the rude and favage civilized. This prophecy is in fubftance repeated by Ifaiah himself. I will make wafte mountains and hills*, I will make crooked things Straight, I will make all my mountains away, and my highways fhall be exalted‡.
Though thefe predictions, and fome others that fhall be taken notice of hereafter, are 407
* Ifa. xlii. 15.
+ Ver. 16.
Ch. xlix. 11. Dr. Lowth would tranflate this laft place, My causeways fhall be exalted; implying a road raised with ftone, in low and marfhy grounds. But this cannot be better expreffed, than in the common' term of high way; which fignifies a way raised above the level of the ground every where.
principally to be understood, in a moral fenfe, of the bleffings of the Gospel, and the happy effects of Chrift's kingdom, when he shall reign in the hearts and lives of men, meliorating their tempers, and foftening and refining their manners: Yet it is not impoffible, but that they may have their accomplishment in the literal meaning likewife; how fingular and paradoxical foever this notion may feem to be-That even
inanimate nature fhall be meliorated under the reign of the Meffiah-that the outward face of the earth fhall be improved-the mountains gradually lowered; and the vallies raifed; and the furface of the earth reduced nearer to a level; and laid out in a more regular and beautiful manner, than it before appeared in.
There are fome appearances in nature, that feem to favour this notion; and which have a tendency, a remote one at least, towards this end; and a gradual, however flow, working, towards the accomplishment of the prophecy in this fenfe.
Naturalifts are generally agreed, that the mountains are lowering, and do fubfide ; for which a concurrence of various causes may be assigned.
1. By the clouds breaking upon them, the rain falling, and mift drizzling down their fides, the foil is washed away; every shower carrying down fome part of it.
2. The fprings, working their way through the veins of the earth and clefts of the rocks; and, collecting themselves into brooks and rivers, are conftantly bringing down new, acceffion of matter into the vallies; by which they are raised, as the hills are lowered.
3. Large collections of water, contained in the caverns of hills, are known to have fo loosened the foundations of them, as to occafion their falling; of which we shall see feveral inftances prefently: And fire generated in their bowels, and difcharging the contents of them in Volcanoes, muft neceffarily confume even those mountains which they have raised; and in time cause the finking
finking of them, though not instantaneoufly, yet by imperceptible degrees.
4. Large heaps of stones, and fragments of rocks, are in many places thrown down by ftorms, hurricanes, and earthquakes; and fometimes, without any additional caufe, tumble down by their own weight. Veftiges of this kind may be seen in many places at the bottom of hills; in the Alps, Switzerland, Wales, and other mountainous countries. Inftances of this fort are given us by feveral writers of travels, and natural history.
Bishop Burnet informs us, that about 500 years ago, the town of Chavennes in Italy was quite buried by a flice of the Alps, which came down upon it; and occafioned the building of a new town fouth of the former.
He acquaints us likewise, that the town of Pleurs, about a league from Chavennes, met with the fame fate, in the year 1618; the mountain having been obferved to cleave, at length fell down, and buried the town,
and all the inhabitants, confifting of about 2200 perfons, not one efcaping; though forewarned of the deftruction impending over them. Chavennes was twice as large as Pleurs. He farther fays, that the flices from the hills frequently fall down, and extremely fatten the ground which they cover; fo that it becomes fruitful beyond expreffion *,
In June 1714, part of the mountain of Diablere in Valais, fell fuddenly, about two or three o'clock in the afternoon, when the fky was very clear: It was of a conical figure. It deftroyed fifty-five cottages; killed fifteen perfons, above a hundred head of cattle; a great number of fheep, and covered with its rubbish a full fquare league. Its duft greatly darkened the air; and the heap of ftones which fell from it was thirty perches, of ten foot each in height; which pounded up the water to that degree, as to
*Bishop Burnet's fecond letter from Italy.
+ This is the figure of thofe mountains, which Sir IV. Hamilton decides to have been raifed by eruptions" of fire. Obf, on Vefuvius, &c. p. 77.