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Daniel *. They were a strong and valiant, a fierce and courageous people, a great and ancient nation. Their martial character is thus described by the prophet Habakkuk: * For lo, I raise up the Chaldeans, 'that bitter and hasty nation—they are terrible and
* dreadful—their horses also are swifter than the 'leopards, and are more fierce than the evening
* wolves—they shall fly as the eagle that hasteth to 'eat f.' The country inhabited by this people, was called ' the land of Shinar J,' ' the land of Nimrod ||,' the ' land of Mesopotamia.' From thence the Lord brought out Abram, the Father of the faithful, that he might give him, and his posterity, the land of Canaan to inherit. The excellency of the Chaldees consisted in their riches, wisdom, strength, valour, extent of dominion, with other things of a similar nature. Of all these things which are esteemed excellent among men, the city of Babylon, comprehending its palaces, temples, fortifications, and public buildings, was the chief ornament. It was one of the most beautiful and most elegant cities that was ever formed by human wisdom and power. How astonishing, that a city of such exquisite beauty, strength, and excellence, should have been utterly destroyed! This overthrow is illustrated by a very striking similitude, in the following words:
It Jhall be as when God overthrew Sodom and Gomorrah. Truly memorable was the destruction of these cities, which proceeded immediately from God, who rained down fire and brimstone from heaven upon them, whereby not only they, but all their inhabitants, all the neighbouring plains, and all that grew upon the ground, were laid waste §. Their overthrow was sudden and unexpected to the inhabitants, who were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage. Their destruction was universal and irre
• Daniel ii. 3. f Hah. i. 6, 7, 8. % Gen. x. 10.
U Micah v. 6 § See Gen. xix. 24, 25.
coverable,. coverable, according to the prediction of the prophet Jeremiah: ' As God overthrew Sodom and Gomor
* rah, and the neighbouring cities thereof, faith the
* Lord: so shall no man. abide there j neither snail
* any son of man dwell therein *.' In like manner, the destruction of Babylon was to proceed fiom God: it was to come suddenly and unexpectedly, when its inhabitants were employed in festivity and mirth ; and its perdition was to be complete and irreversible,
20 It shall never be inhabited, neither shalt it be dwelt in from generation to generation-1 neither shall the Arabian pitch tent there, neither shall the shepherds make their fold there.
The subject introduced in the preceding verse, is here amplified and illustrated. According to this prediction, Babylon was to be entirely desolated, and deprived of its inhabitants, so as to become an unfrequented desert. Lest it should still be imagined, that, though reduced to a wilderness for some time, it might again rife into its former splendor, our prophet declares, that it shall not be inhabited for ever. The desolation shall be perpetual, without any hope of its restoration. To give greater solemnity and certainty to what is foretold, the prediction is repeated with little variation, and the strongest assurance is given of
the perpetuity of its desolate condition. And lest:
it might be supposed, that, notwithstanding the city was to be divested of its inhabitants, it might nevertheless afford a place of retreat to Arabians wandering through the deserts, and to shepherds employed in feeding their flocks, it is expressly affirmed, that it should serve none of these purposes, but be wholly abandoned by every human creature.
21 But wild beasts of the desert shall lie there!, and their houses shall be full of doleful creatures,
* Jcr. I. 40.
and; and owls shall dwell there, and satyrs shall dance there.
22 And the wild beasts of the islands shall cry in their desolate houses, and dragons in their pleasant palaces: and her time is near to come, and her days shall not be prolonged.
The wild beasts of the desert, and of the islands, here intended, might be lions, bears, tigers, and other rapacious animals, which frequent the wilderness. The doleful creatures with which their houses should be filled, might be those nocturnal birds, the lesser heron, the night-raven, and bittern, which frequent old ruins, and howl and shriek with very dismal cries. And owls Jhall dwell there. Owls commonly choose for their residence, places which are deserted by men, where they may escape the notice of other birds, which are said to attack them, and strip them of their feathers. The owls are seldom heard to cry, except in the night-time, when, at intervals,
they raise their melancholy, frightful voice. And
satyrs Jhall dance there. Satyrs were anciently described as a kind of monstrous creatures: in their upper part, resembling the human form, with the addition of horns; and in the lower part, in shape lika a goat. These hideous animals were to friik and dance, in the dreary solitude of that place where
Babylon once stood. And the wild beasts of the
islands Jhall cry in their desolate houses, and dragons in. their pleasant palaces. Dragons, which are wild, mischievous creatures, make a horrible, mournful noise, and resort to solitary places, were likewise to take up their residence in the sumptuous palaces of Babylon, which had been the feats of luxury, debauchery, and wickedness. And her time is near
to come, and her days Jhall not be prolonged. The period fixed, in the divine decree, for the total overthrow of this great city, speedily approached, at the time in which this prophecy was delivered j and the
season season of her prosperity and grandeur was not long to continue.
History records the exact accomplishment of the foregoing predictions, which may be summed up in the few following particulars: That Babylon should be entirely desolated, without hope of restoration:— that the Medes, with their auxiliaries, were to be the instruments by whom,God was to execute this judgment:—and that the woik was to be done with great ferocity and cruelty toward the Babylonians. Accordingly, Cyrus, with his army, consisting of Medes and Persians, suddenly entered the city, and. took possession of its palaces and fortresses with little opposition. This great and unexpected event put an end so the Babylonian empire.. The kings of Media not choosing to reside in Babylon, it ceased to be a royal city. The few remaining inhabitants, which survived the capture of the city, were soon induced to leave their old habitation in solitude and ruins, nothing almost of this great city being left but the walls, which the Persian princes used for the purpose of an enclosure, wherein wild beasts were kept for being hunted. At length the walls fell down, which were never repaired: the animals, which were kepc within them, abandoned the place; and were succeeded by those mentioned in the two last verses of this chapter. At the taking of this very populous city, Cyrus, with his army, made a terrible slaughter among the inhabitants and soldiers: they put all to* the sword that were found in the streets, besides the king, and all his attendants, which would make a dreadful carnage. So entirely destroyed is great Babylon, that even the place where this wonder of the world once stood, cannot with certainty be determined. Thus were the prophecies, which we have
been considering, literally accomplished. Let us
diligently attend to the instructive lessons inculcated repeatedly in this and the following chapters; namely, the omniscience and providence of God, the
wickedness wickedness and instability of kingdoms and empires. We are here taught, in the most convincing manner, that the true God knoweth all things; that he can reveal secret things, and shew the things that are to come hereafter, however improbable and distant they may appear to human view:—That divine Providence is intimately concerned in bringing about all the changes which happen among the nations; that he serdeth the boundaries of kingdoms and states, fixes the period of their duration, and determines the instruments by which they are overturned:—That the wickedness of empires and cities is the fewel which kindles the sire of God's wrath among their pleasant things, which consumes their finest buildings, and their strongest fortresses:—That the sins of idolatry, injustice, cruelty, pride, oppression, covetousness, lewdness, and luxury, when they abound in a city, nation, or family, if persisted in, never fail to bring down upon them divine judgments, which often terminate in their total overthrow:—That the most powerful kingdoms upon earth are subject to revolution and change, and cease to exist, after they have flourished for a while. The whole world is mutable, and liable to decay; and all things in it are continually changing, and tending toward dissolution: even the greatest empires and cities perish as do their princes and governors. The world is only a figure, fashion, or form, that passeth atfay. Wherefore, my brethren, let us give diligence that we may obtain a kingdom that cannot be moved; and, in this hope, let us hold fast that grace whereby we may serve God acceptably with reverence and godly sear.