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to receive the just retribution of those acts of unnatural cruelty, which they had perpetrated among those nations who had been obliged to yield to their oppressive power. They were to be recompensed according to the works of their hands, and to be rewarded as they served Israel in the time of their conquests. The young men of Israel they had slain with the sword, in the house of their sanctuary; and had no compassion on young man or maiden, old man, or him that stooped for age #. * They ravished the
* women in Zion, and the maids in the cities of Ju
* dah f.' The prophet David therefore had foretold, 'He was to go on and prosper, who took and dashed 'their little ones against the stones J.' To aggravate this calamity, this was nos to be done secretly, or in a corner; but publicly, in the sight of those who, if not lost to the feelings of humanity, must have siiud
dered at such terrible barbarity. Their houses,
which were richly and elegantly furnished, were to be pillaged of their treasures, by a fierce and unrelenting enemy, who would not be restrained from the most shocking crimes. In few words, the destruction, of this great city was to be universal: neither age nor sex should be exempted from the common calamity. The atrocious sins of Babylon brought
upon them these complicated miseries, and provoked the Almighty to visit it with utter desolation, thereby giving warning to all succeeding ages to beware of her sins, that they partake not with her in her.judgments.
17 Behold, I will stir up the Medes against them, which shall not regard silver, and as for gold, they shall not delight in it.
In this and the following verse, the prophet delineates the character of the people whom God was to
* 2 Chron. xxxvi. 17. f Lam. v. 11. % Psal. cxxxvii. 9.
employ, as the instruments of inflicting the abovementioned calamities upon Babylon. The Almighty himself was to take the supreme direction of this great enterprise; and to this important circumstance our attention is repeatedly called in this prophecy. The divine agency, in this arduous work, ought not to be overlooked, but seriously considered, and humbly acknowledged. The providence of God so orders the counsels and actions of men, that whilst they accomplish their designs, the Most High fulfils the good pleasure of his goodness, and executes his righteous judgments. He over-rules all their projects and contrivances, for accomplishing his wife purposes: none can defeat, nor even retard his work: individuals and nations are all subservient to promote his designs, and to advance his glory. Though this is a subject by far too profound for our investigation, yet the truth is certain, and demonstrated by innumerable instances. Rehoboam, king of Israel, voluntarily rejected the advice of the old men, and preferred the counsel of the young men: yet this matter was from. the Lord. The Assyrians marched against Judah, to take the spoil, and to tread them down like the mire of the streets, whilst, at the fame time, they executed the purpose and work of God. The Medes acted in hostility against Babylon, to gratify their ambition, or to avenge some of their own quarrels: but the Lord stirred them up to perform his will.
The Medes were the people whom the. Lord of hosts declares, that he would fend against Babylon. After the ancient Assyrian empire had flourished for several ages, it began to decline, by the revolt of various nations from their former subjection to its dominion: the Medes were the first who threw off theyoke; and maintained, by their valour, the liberty which they had acquired. They were divided into tribes, and dwelt in villages, destitute for some time of any regular form of government. Pejoices, a man who had great reputation among his countrymen, for
prudence, prudence, equity, and good conduct, was exalted, by common consent, to the royal dignity, which he enjoyed, with considerable renown, for the long period of fifty-three years; and was succeeded by Ahafuerus, and other kings, mentioned in scripture. His successor, not contented with the kingdom of Media, which devolved to him at the death of his father, attacked the Persians, and obtaining a decisive victory over them in battle, united them to his empire. Strengthened by this accession of power, he fell upon the neighbouring nations one after another, until he acquired the sovereign dominion of almost the whole of Upper Asia. To this united, great empire, the reno'-vned Cyrus, of whom I may hereafter have occasion to speak, did afterward succeed.— A very remarkable feature, in the character of the Medes, is here mentioned:
Which Jhall not regardsilver; and at for gold, they Jhall not delight in it. Silver and gold are generally much esteemed by mankind, especially by commercial nations, who set a high value upon them, as the means of acquiring the necessaries and comforts of life. As the riches of the Medes, who were unacquainted with trade, consisted in corn and cattle, they had little or no occasion for money; and therefore they were indifferent about it, in comparison of other people. That they had some regard for filver and gold, is evident from their seizing the treasures of Babylon: at the fame time, so moderate was their delight in these things, that they would not be thereby prevailed upon to spare the lives of their possessors. This character of the Medes is acknowledged in the speech that Cyrus addressed to his'army, in which were these memorable words: 'O ye Medes! and all 'present, I truly know that not for want of money
'are ye come out with me*,' &c. Were the
Heathen people of Media thus indifferent to silver
* Cyropœdia, lib. v. sect. 3.
and and gold, let us, who profess to be Christians, take heed that we do not over-value them, and too eagerly endeavour to attain them, as if they were essential to our happiness. Permit me to seize this opportunity, of ' charging them that are rich in this world, that * they be not high-minded, nor trust in uncertain 'riches, but in the living God, who giveth us richly 'all things to enjoy *.'
18 Their bows also shall dash the young men to pieces, and they shall have no pity on the fruit of the womb; their eye shall not spare children.
The savage cruelty of the Medes was to be strongly marked by their very inhuman treatment of the younger inhabitants of Babylon. Persons of this fort were to be killed, not only by arrows shot from their bows; but such was to be the wild ferocity and barbarity of the enemy, that they would strike dead with their large bows, the young people who came in their way. Tender infants, little children, and young men, who are often objects of compassion, and allowed to escape, when others suffer the most direful calamities, the Medes were neither to pity nor spare. They would not shew mercy to the most feeble and helpless, nor to those for whom the dictates of humanity most powerfully plead. Instigated by fierce and violent passions, through the whole of this arduous enterprise, they would not, on any account, discover the least favour toward persons of any description.— In the course of providence, God often recompenses men according to their doings: as they have done to others, so others have done to them. They are made to feel the burden of their iniquities, and to inherit the fruit of their own doings, according to what is written, Obad. ver. 15. 'As thou hast done, it shall
* 1 Tim. vi. 17.
Vol. II. E * be * be done unto thee: thy reward shall return upon .' thine own head.' Babylon had greatly afflicted and spoiled the people of God; and therefore she, in like manner, mould be afflicted and spoiled. 'As thou 'didst rejoice at the inheritance of the house of Israel, 'because it was desolated; so will 1 do unto thee,
* thou shalt be desolate.'
• 19 H And Babylon the glory of kingdoms, the beauty of the Chaldees excellency, shall be as when God overthrew Sodom and Gomorrah.
In this and the following verses, to the end of the chapter, the prophet describes the success which was to attend the expedition of the powerful and cruel enemies whom God would stir up against Babylon.— That great city was to be laid entirely in ruins, and to become a perpetual desolation, which should never be restored to its ancient splendor and glory. To embellish his representation, he extols its former magnificence and grandeur in the time of its prosperity, that, by contrasting its flourishing condition with the deplorable state to which it was to be reduced, he might draw the more moving picture of its overthrow. Babylon was once the richest and the most elegant city in Asia; and, at the time in which it was overwhelmed with destruction, it was the greatest and most powerful. It was the metropolis and royal feat of a mighty empire: 'it was the Lady of king
* doms,' to whom many states and nations yielded
homage and obedience. It was the beauty of the
Chaldees excellency. The Chaldees were a people highly celebrated for learning, for their acquaintance with philosophy, astronomy, and the sacred rites performed in honour of the gods. They were greatly addicted to divination, soothsaying, and astrology* Hence those who professed these magical arts, are called Chaldees, or Chaldeans, in the book of