« AnteriorContinuar »
from those who are in our power, and in acting toward them with severity and rigour. The day of the Lord is said to be cruel, because the exercise of pity and compassion was then to be restrained, and the most dreadful calamities were to be inflicted with the greatest severity. The Babylonians were ' a cruel 'people, who had no mercy * therefore the Lord, as he threatened by his servant Jeremiah, 'was to
* fend against them a great nation, and many kings,
* who were cruel, and would not shew morcy \.'
With wrath, and fierce anger.'' 'Wrath (faith the
* wife man) is cruel, and anger is outrageous When leffer judgments effect not the purposes intended by them, and when they are not accompanied with a speedy reformation, the wrath and fierce anger of the Lord is kindled. • This remark was verified to the Babylonians, concerning whom Jeremiah thus speaks: 'We would have healed them, but they 'are not healed—for their judgment reacheth unto.
I heaven, and is lifted up even to the skies ||.' To
lay the land desolate; i.e. to deprive it of its inhabitants, to spoil it of its beauty, to divest it of its riches, to ravage its cities, and to spread general devastation through the whole country. As the scorching heat of the fun dries up the pools and brooks of water in. the drought of summer, so the wrath of the Almighty was to consume the inhabitants, the riches, and all the glory os Babylon.
And he Jhall destroy the sinners thereof out of it. Though all men are sinners, having transgressed the law, and come short of the glory of God, yet there are various degrees of sin, and different kinds of sinners. Even the holiest and best of men come under this description, in as much as they often offend God, and do not uniformly act for the advancement of the
* Jer. vi. 23. f Jcr. 1. 41, 42. % Prov. xxvii. 4.
II J«. li- 9.
divine glory. There is another very numerous class of sinners, who deliberately transgress the commandments of the Lord, who presumptuously go on in their trespasses, and take pleasure in committing iniquity. There are also sinners of a still greater magnitude, who are continually projecting and executing all manner of wickedness, and daily employed in perpetrating the most enormous crimes. Persons of this lad description, no doubt, greatly abounded in Babylon; and were especially intended in this prediction, which declares, that they should be destroyed out of if, by the aw ful judgments to be inflicted upon them
in the day of the Lord's anger. What hath been
foid of time is also true of sin, it consumeth all things. Sin hath even destroyed those creatures which lime could never have wasted. It divested angels of their original dignity, and cast them down from heaven, which time alone could never have done. Sin is the cause of all the destruction and misery which the desola ting judgments of war, famine, and pestilence, hath spread over the face of the earth. Nay more, sinners bring upon themselves greater destruction than can proceed from any of these calamities. They ruin their reputation, they wound their conscience, they destroy their own souls, and deprive themselves of those comforts which the sword, famine, and pestilence, cannot withhold. Let us then take heed lest by our trespasses, we expose ourselves to similar judgments with those here threatened against the sinners of Babylon.
io For the stars of heaven, and the constellations thereof shall not give their light: the sun shall be darkened in his going forth, and the moon shall not cause her light to shine.
By the terrible calamities threatened to be inflicted upon this great city, the inhabitants were to be deprived of their prosperity and joy: instead of which,
they they were to experience darkness, sorrow, and an?
guish. The prosperity and felicity of states and
kingdoms is often represented, in the prophecies, by images taken from the luminaries of heaven, which are represented, for this purpose, as mining with increasing splendor, and uninterrupted continuance.' The overthrow and destruction of empires and nations is also represented by opposite images: the stars are obscured, the moon withdraws her light, and the fun ceases to shine. This remark may assist us in understanding the import of the figurative expressions contained in this verse, which I now proceed to explain, and apply to the subject before us. The
stars of heaven may here denote the princes and nobles of Babylon, who made a very splendid and brilliant appearance in the eyes of the people, the priests, and those who with them presided in the worship of their gods, whom they would consider as luminaries in their horizon. The constellations of
heaven are literally numbers of fixed stars, which appear in the form of some creature, by whose name they are called; and seem here intended to signify the counsellors and statesmen, whose abilities were
united in directing the affairs of that great city.
By the heavens in which they were wont to give light, may be meant the whole superior part, civil
and religious, of the nation. By the fun, the king
of Babylon might be particularly intended, under whose influence the kingdom enjoyed great prosperity, light, and happiness. The moon significantly
represents the less principal and subordinate power of the state, which derived authority and influence. from the chief ruler in the empire.
Concerning these stars and constellations the prophet declares, that they Jhall not give their light. Being themselves involved in obscurity, they mall not be able to communicate the least ray of light and prosperity 4o those on whom they formerly shined with a cheering, refreshing light. The sun Jhall be darkened ened in his going forth. As light is a symbol of wisdom, joy, and comfort, so darkness, when opposed to it, signifies perplexity, misery, and sorrow. The darkness here ascribed to the sun, may denote the insufficiency of the supreme power in Babylon for the exercise of government, and his inability to convey the advantages which he formerly imparted to those
who were under his influence. And the moonJhall
not cause her light to Jhine. The ^agreeable and useful direction afforded by the seasonable exercise of subordinate authority, was to be wish-held from those by whom it was enjoyed. The bright splendor of the sun, the fainter light of the moon, and even the glimmering light of the stars, were to be extinguished in the Babylonish hemisphere. By these various images, in which the beautiful order of nature appears inverted, our prophet siguratively describes the great public calamities wherewith Babylon was to be visited. Deprived of her former privileges and prosperity, by which she became conspicuous among the nations, she was to sink into obscurity, meanness, and misery, and become as contemptible as ever she had
been admired. The flourishing and prosperous
condition of states and cities is altogether uncertain. By their sins they often provoke God, as did the men of Babylon, to fend upon them desolating judgments, which terminate in their destruction, or at least, in many respects, reverse their former circumstances. Firmly convinced that sin is the reproach and the ruin of a people, let us beware of incurring the divine displeasure, and exposing ourselves to the righteous vengeance of heaven.
11 And I will punish the world for their evil, and the wicked for their iniquity; and I will cause the arrogancy of the proud to cease, and will lay low the haughtiness of the terrible.
These words farther describe the great esfects which were to be produced in the day of the Lord, and explain the figurative language which our prophet had
used in delineating this subject. The world, which
God declares that he would punish, must be understood in a limited sense, as in many other prophecies; to signify the large portion of the inhabited earth which was subject to the Babylonian empire, whose territories were very extensive. In the same manner, the Roman empire is called the whole world in the New Testament *. The wicked, who are here intended, are the fame with the sinners threatened with destruction in the ninth verse. The most atrocious wickedness, of almost every fort, abounded among the men of Babylon, who indulged themselves in perpetrating the most enormous crimes, as we learn from many passages of the prophetic writings. Like other great cities, who enjoy opulence and prosperity, they were remarkable for pride, luxury, and wantonness. Hence these words of the prophet Jeremiah, 'Be
* hold, I am against thee, O most proud! faith the 'Lord God of hosts: for thy day is come, the time
* that I will visit theef.' Cruelty and oppression in treating the people of God, when reduced to their subjection, was another evil that prevailed among them; and therefore the prophet, just mentioned, thus exclaimed, when speaking of their destruction: 'How is the hammer of the whole earth cut asunder 'and broken \!' In idolatry and superstition they exceeded most other nations; and therefore the fame inspired writer calls their country, ' a land of graven 'images, where they were mad upon their idols [|.' To this list of crimes may be added, unbounded ambition and avarice, gross profanity with respect to the worship and sanctuary of the true God, and the most insulting blasphemy as to his power and providence. These were some of the evils and iniquities for which
* Luke ii. I. f Jcr. 1. 31. t J". I. 23. || Jer. 1. 38.