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Let us remember, that the day of the Loid, in which we are intimately concerned, is also at hand: the Judge ffandeth before the door; and, ere long, he will render tribulation and wrath to every soul of man that doth evil, and eternal life to them who, by patient continuance in well-doing, seek for glory, honour, and immortality.
It Jhal I come as a de/lruclion from the Almighty. The title which is here given to the great God, imports, that the divine power is employed, not only in creating, preserving, and saving men, but in punishing Transgressors. It intimates, that as God graciously manifests himself able to quicken the dead, and to save them that are lost, both in the common and spiritual sense of the words, he also gloriously reveals himself as the righteous Governor of the world, who can easily destroy the obstinately and impenitently wicked. In this character, God is pleased to exhibit himself to mankind in two different points of view; as propitious to the penitent, whom he can deliver from sin, misery, and death; and as the powerful avenger of sin, who can punish it in the incorrigible workers of iniquity. In these opposite, though perfectly consistent views, he spake of himself to Moses, when he said, 'I kill, and I make alive V In the New Testament, the apostle James declares, that he is 'the One Lawgiver, who is able to save and to 'destroys.' The Lord, to whom belongeth the issues from death, is not only the God of salvation to the righteous, whom he delivers from all evil, but he is the God who fends destruction upon the wicked and ungodly, who, like Antichrist, are sons of perdition, in as much as they destroy both themselves and others. Destruction, in the words under consideration, denotes those desolating calamities whereby Jehovah gives convincing demonstration of his dread displeasure against sin,. and proves a consuming sire to
* Deut. xxxii. 39. f James iv. 1 z.
the the workers of iniquity. This destruction, which cometh from the Almighty, announces, in an awful manner, his omniscience, holiness, justice, and power: it proclaims his wrath, his jealousy, and righteous Tengeance; and punishes the folly, ingratitude, and wickedness of those on whom it is inslicted. It calls aloud to the inhabitants of the world to learn righteousness: it inculcates the important lessons of fearing God, whom we, as well as others, have forgotten in prosperity; of being humble and charitable, and cf making restitution to those whom we have injured. The day of the Lord was foretold to come upon Babylon, as a destruction from the Almighty, which comes with irresistible violence, and oft-times when little expected.—This prediction was fulfilled, when Cyrus, king of Persia, marched with his powerful army against Babylon, and, contrary to the expectation of the inhabitants, in a short time, entered it in
triumph. Were we properly influenced by steady
views of the approaching day of the Lord, did we rightly attend to the useful instructions which arise from this subject, we would not so frequently transgress, as we do, the rules of piety toward God, and equity toward man. .
7 Therefore shall all hands be faint, and . every man's heart shall melt.
The esfects produced upon the Babylonians, by the above-predicted expedition, are described in this and
the following verse. All hands Jhall be faint, or
shall fall down, as the Hebrew word is translated in the margin. The expression is metaphorical; and seems to allude to the effects arising from a paralytical disorder, through a relaxation of the nerves, or a stoppage of the blood. In such circumstances, persons become unfit for action, their hands hang down, and they are unable to use them. In like manner, at the season here referred to, such should be the consternation sternation and distress which was to seize upon the inhabitants of Babylon, that it should be accompanied with a total cessation from labour and business, in which the citizens were commonly occupied. With this description the words of the prophet Jeremiah perfectly agree: * The king of Babylon hath heard 'the report of them, and his hands waxed feeble: 'anguish took hold of him, and pangs as of a woman
* in travail *.' And every man's heart Jhall melt.
This is another effect of the fear and dread with which the men of Babylon were to be seized, in the immediate prospect of the terrible calamities foretold by our prophet. The heart of every one, even of the stoutest and most courageous, was to be deprived of its wonted firmness and fortitude; and, through dismaying fears, should melt within them, as wax before the fire, or as snow before the beams of the fun. Divine judgments awaken men from fatal security: they often fill them with amazement, and put them into sright. The hearts of the people in Jericho did melt, neither did there remain any more courage in any man, because of the children of Israel, when they heard what they did unto the two kings of the Amorites, Sihon and Og, whom they utterly destroyed. Similar effects were to be experienced by the men of • Babylon, on the appearance of the judgments above threatened, as here plainly declared.
8 And they shall be afraid: pangs and sorrows shall take hold of them, they shall be in pain as a woman that travaileth: they shall be amazed one at another, their faces JJjall be as flames.
They were to be filled with amazement and consternation, by viewing their perilous condition; and their terror was to increase as their ruin drew near.
Fear, my brethren, is a strong passion: so dreadful did it appear to the Grecians, that, to appease its terrors, they worshipped-it a6 a god. In times of great danger, all men have felt its powerful influence. When the hand of God was stretched out to deliver the Israelites from the land of Egypt, ' the dukes of 'Edom were amazed, and the mighty men of Moab 'trembled V 'When Saul beheld the army of the 'Philistine*, he was afraid, and his heart greatly * trembled f.' When Nebuchadnezzar marched into Judea, * the heart of the king, and of the princes, 'did perish: the priests were astonished, and the 'prophets wondered \.r And when the day of the Lord was at hand, the inhabitants of Babylon were
afraid. Pangs and sorrows Jhall take hold of themt
they Jhall be in pain as d woman that travaileth. Their fears were to be accompanied with inexpressible anguish and sorrow, which are compared to those of a woman in travail, on account of the suddenness and extreme violence of the pain and agony with which
they were to be afflicted. They Jhall be amazed one
at another. This expression intimates, that their powers and faculties were to be so disturbed and debilitated, that they would have neither understanding, nor ability, to take proper measures to secure their safety or retreat. They should look upon one another like persons who are surprised and confounded, who are unable to speak or act in a manner suited to
their circumstances. Their faces Jhall be as flames;
thus giving proof of their shame and confusion, and of the wrath, indignation, and anguish, which they felt. These passions are often attended with violent agitation, by which the blood is expelled from the heart to the exterior parts, and particularly to the face, which, being inflamed, appears, in colour, like flames of fire. These two verses, taken together, contain a natural and beautiful desciiption of the timid,
perplexed, and distressed condition of the inhabitants *>f Babylon, at the time the calamities above threatened were to be inflicted upon them by the Medes and Persians. Had we an accurate history of what then happened at that great city, there is every reason to believe we should be informed of the exact accomplishment of every one of our prophet's predictions
delivered on this subject. If the day of the Lord
produced such dismay and consternation at Babylon, what effects ought the approach of a far more awful day of the Lord to have upon us? You know perfectly, that the day of the Lord cometh as a thief in the night; and that he will surprise, with a dreadful alarm, those who are asleep in security. When they shall say, Peace and safety, then sudden destruction shall seize upon them, as travail upon a woman with child, and they shall not escape. Therefore let us not sleep as do others; but let us watch and be sober, putting on the breast-plate of faith and love, and for an helmet the hope of salvation *.
9 Beholcj, the day of the Lord eometh, cruel both with wrath, and fierce anger, to lay the land desolate; and he shall destroy the sinners thereof out of it.
Our prophet proceeds more fully to delineate the terrible destruction which should be brought upon
Babylon by her enemies. The day of the Lord
here denotes, as in the sixth verse, the particular period wherein God had determined to exhibit himself present to the inhabitants of that city, by the awful judgments he would inflict, upon them, by means of those whom he employed to punish their wickedness. In the following words, the season alluded
to is described by some of its peculiar characteristics. A ii cruel. Cruelty consists in with-holding mercy
* 1 Thess. v. I. etseq.