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God threatened to punish the people of Babylon: these were the sources of their calamities, on account of which the wrath of God was revealed from heaven against them.
And I zvill cause the arrogancy of the proud to cease, and will lay low the haughtiness of the terrible. God is the declared enemy of the proud and arrogant, but the friend of the humble, the modest, and self-denied. He sesisteth the proud, but he giveth grace to the humble. He beholdeth mischief, spite, and arrogancy, to requite them with his hand,' and to check fheir progress, by the interposition of his providence, Arrogancy and haughtiness are discovered, by a proud disdain of those who occupy the lower stations in society, and enjoy few external advantages. They are frequently the source of contentions, emulations, and strifes, among those who are in similar circumstances. They excite malevolence, discontent, and envy, toward those who ought to be acknowleged. our superiors, and impatience of admonition and reproof. This arrogancy of the proud, God declares that he would make to cease; this haughtiness of those who made themselves to appear terrible to others, he would lay low, by the awful judgments which were to be executed upon Babylon. . Though wicked men may be little sensible that they are the authors of their own ruin, yet nothing is more certain than that they contribute, not only meritoriouily, but likewise instrumentally, to their own destruction. Their prosperity is not a steady progressive light, like that of the fun\ but uncertain and perishing, like that of a candle, which, by burning, consumeth itself. To repress that pride and arrogance, to which we are all too prone, let us remember, that we have nothing but what we have received; and that the Lord of hosts hath purposed to stain the pride of all human glory.
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. 12 I will make a man more precious than fine gold; even a man than the golden wedge of Ophir.
What is here said plainly intimates, that the slaughter should be very great that was to be made among the people of Babylon, at the remarkable period to which this prediction referred. By the awful judgments above mentioned, such vast numbers were to be slain, that few men were left remaining. Such was the savage cruelty of the Medes and Persians, employed in this business, that they would not be induced to spare the Babylonians by the promise of gold, even a considerable quantity of the best sort. So great was the slaughter in the day of the Lord, that very few people should be left alive: a man would be as scarce, and difficult to be found, as a golden wedge of Ophir. To this place sailed the fleet of Solomon and Hiram, from whence they imported large quantities of the best gold. I stay not to inquire, whether this celebrated port, from which was brought abundance of the finest gold in ancient times, was an African ifland, or Peru in America? It is susficient for our purpose at present to know, that there was in that country plenty of the most excellent gold, from whence it was brought in bars or wedges, of considerable weight and value. Such however was the unrelenting fury of the enemies of Babylon, and their contempt of this precious metal, that they would not spare a man's life for a wedge of the best gold, which was eafier to be got, and in greater numbers, than men, at the time this prediction was fulfilled. This circumstance gives a most affecting view of the very small number of people which were to remain at Babylon.
13 Therefore I will shake the heavens, and the earth shall remove out of her place in the
wrath of the Lord of hosts, and in the day of his fierce anger.
In this and the following verses, the subject of which our prophet treated, is illustrated and amplified. The words now to be considered expressly foretel, that the whole great empire of Babylon, at the time referred to, should be shaken -to its very foundations, and entirely overthrown. They strongly intimate, in very emphatical language, that it should receive a violent concussion, by the storm of divine wrath that was to fall upon its metropolis:—that their gods, their kings, princes, and nobles, who are signified by the heavens, were to be shaken;—and that the nations subject to their government, who are intended by the earth, should suffer a very great change, equivalent to their being removed out of their place. Kingdoms and empires were to be overthrown, and buried in ruins. In the wrath of the
Lord of hosts, and in the day of his fierce anger. The
wrath and hot displeasure of the Almighty, were the
powerful causes whereby these astonishing effects were
to be produced. Like a mighty tempest, they were
to spread universal desolation where-ever they came.
Such is the irresistible power of God's anger, and the
righteous judgments which he executes, that the
greatest empires cannot withstand them. In the land
of Egypt were strong cities, great rivers, and vast
multitudes of inhabitants: but, through the fierce
anger of the Lord, her cities were destroyed, her
rivers were dried up, and her people were cut off.
The kingdom of Israel and Judah, which subsisted,
through various fortunes, about five hundred years,
from the days of Saul to the time of Zedekiah, was
abolished in the wrath of the Lord. The Babylonian
empire was laid waste by the fame wrath, and fierce
anger of Jehovah.
"14 And it shall be as the chased roe, and as a Cheep that no man taketh up: they shall every man turn to his own people, and flee every one into his own land.
The affecting consequences of the terrible tempest; of divine wrath, which catne down upon Babylon, are elegantly described in this verse. The inhabitants were struck with a pnnic, and betook themselves to flight, which is illustrated by two beautiful similitudes. The roe is a very timid creature; and, when chased by the hunter, runs exceeding swiftly: and, in these respects, it affords a lively image of the timorous men of Babylon, who had recourse to a precipitate flight, when they beheld the approach of a powerful enemy. Sheep are weak, defenceless creatures, intimidated by every appearance of danger: they are exceedingly apt to wander, and to become a prey to rapacious animals. In these respects the Babylonians were to resemble them. Unable to defend themselves, they would have recourse to flight, and wander into divers places, where they were to be dispersed as sheep depiived of the care of their keeper,
reduced to a sorlorn and dangerous condition.
They Jhall every man turn to his own people, and Jlea every one into his own land. In Babylon, as in all great cities, and especially in the flourishing metropolis of an extensive empire, there was a large conflux of people which belonged to different nations. These were called, ' the mingled people (by the pro-, * phet Jeremiah) that were in the midst of her*.' People of this description, who either had their fixed residence in the city, or were there only occasionally, dreading the approach of a hostile army, immediately deserted Babylon, with intention to return to their native country, and their own people. Hence the prophet above mentioned, in the particular descrip.i
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tion which he gives of the judgment of Babylon, speaks of the voice of them that flee, and escape out
of the land *. In seasons of calamity and danger,
people are often scattered like sheep, and obliged to flee like the roe, leaving behind them their mod valuable effects, that they may escape from the hands of the enemy. Blessed be God that we have not been reduced to these disagreeable circumstances; and that, through divine mercy, we are allowed comfortably to enjoy the inestimable blessings of tranquillity and plenty, with which for a long time this happy country hath been favoured i
15 Every one that is found shall be thrust through: and every one that is joined unto them, shall fall by the sword.
16 Their children also shall be dashed to pieces before their eyes, their houses shall be spoiled, and their wives ravished.
These verses contain a farther description of the dreadful calamities which the inhabitants of Babylon were to suffer from their powerful, barbarous enemies, inflamed by the rage of war, and desire of conquest. Every one whom they found, endeavouring to escape by flight, or trying to hide themselves, or unable, through disease or weakness, to make resistance, without exception, and without mercy, was
to be slain with the sword. And every one that is
joined unto them Jhall fall by the sword. So general was to be the slaughter, that those who, from other countries or nations, endeavoured to afford the Babylonians assistance, and to repel the force of the
enemy, should likewise perish by the sword. Their
children also Jhall be deified in pieces before their eyes. According to the law of retaliation, and the predictions of ancient prophecy, the men of Babylon were
• Jer. 1. 28.