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Ways [1]

in Scripture, means conduct: for example: "Make your paths straight." The paths of the wicked are crooked. To forsake the ways of the Lord, is to forsake his laws. Ways also signifies custom, manners, and way of life: "All flesh had corrupted his way upon the earth,"  Genesis 6:12;  Genesis 19:31;  Jeremiah 32:19 . The way of the Lord expresses his conduct to us: "My thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, saith the Lord,"  Isaiah 55:8 . We find through the whole of Scripture this kind of expressions: The way of peace, of justice, of iniquity, of truth, of darkness. To go the way of all the earth,  Joshua 23:14 , signifies dying and the grave. A hard way represents the way of sinners, a way of impiety,  Judges 2:19 . Jesus Christ is called the Way,  John 14:6 , because it is by him alone that believers obtain eternal life, and an entrance into heaven. The psalmist says, "Thou wilt show me the path of life,"

 Psalms 16:11 : that is, Thou wilt raise my body from death to life, and conduct me to the place and state of everlasting happiness. When a great prince in the east sets out on a journey, it is usual to send a party of men before him, to clear the way. The state of those countries in every age, where roads are almost unknown, and, from the want of cultivation, in many parts overgrown with brambles, and other thorny plants, which renders travelling, especially with a large retinue, very incommodious, requires this precaution. The emperor of Hindostan, in his progress through his dominions, as described in the narrative of Sir Thomas Roe's embassy to the court of Delhi, was preceded by a very great company, sent before him to cut up the trees and bushes, to level and smooth the road, and prepare their place of encampment. Balin, who swayed the imperial sceptre of India, had five hundred chosen men, in rich livery, with their drawn sabres, who ran before him, proclaiming his approach, and clearing the way. Nor was this honour reserved exclusively for the reigning emperor; it was often shown to persons of royal birth. When an Indian princess made a visit to her father, the roads were directed to be repaired, and made clear for her journey; fruit trees were planted, water vessels placed in the road side, and great illuminations prepared for the occasion. Mr. Bruce gives nearly the same account of a journey, which the king of Abyssinia made through a part of his dominions. The chief magistrate of every district through which he had to pass was, by his office, obliged to have the roads cleared, levelled, and smoothed; and he mentions, that a magistrate of one of the districts, having failed in this part of his duty, was, together with his son, immediately put to death on the spot, where a thorn happened to catch the garment, and interrupt for a moment the progress of his majesty. This custom is easily recognized in that beautiful prediction: "The voice of him that crieth in the wilderness, Prepare ye the way of the Lord, make straight in the desert, a highway for our God. Every valley shall be exalted, and every mountain and hill shall be brought low; and the crooked shall be made straight, and the rough places plain; and the glory of the Lord shall be revealed, and all flesh shall see it together, for the mouth of the Lord hath spoken it,"  Isaiah 40:3-5 . We shall be able, perhaps, to form a more clear and precise idea, from the account which Diodorus gives of the marches of Semiramis, the celebrated queen of Babylon, into Media and Persia. In her march to Ecbatane, says the historian, she came to the Zarcean mountain, which, extending many furlongs, and being full of craggy precipices and deep hollows, could not be passed without taking a great compass. Being therefore desirous of leaving an everlasting memorial of herself, as well as of shortening the way, she ordered the precipices to be digged down, and the hollows to be filled up; and at great expense she made a shorter and more expeditious road; which to this day is called, from her, the road of Semiramis. Afterward she went into Persia, and all the other countries of Asia subject to her dominion; and wherever she went, she ordered the mountains and the precipices to be levelled, and raised causeways in the plain country, and at a great expense made the ways passable. Whatever may be in this story, the following statement is entitled to the fullest credit: "All eastern potentates have their precursors and a number of pioneers to clear the road, by removing obstacles, and filling up the ravines and the hollow ways in their route. In the days of Mogul splendour, the emperor caused the hills and mountains to be levelled, and the valleys to be filled up for his convenience. This beautifully illustrates the figurative language in the approach of the Prince of Peace, when every valley shall be exalted, and every mountain and hill shall be made low, and the crooked shall be made straight, and the rough places plain."