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66 saying, Surely as I have thought, so shall it come to pass ; "and as I have purposed, so shall it stand."
IV. CYRUS CALLED TO DESTROY BABYLON, AND TO DELIVER THE JEWS.
Cyrus, whom the Divine Providence was to make use of, as an instrument for the executing of his designs of goodness and mercy towards his people, was mentioned in the Scripture by his name, above two hundred years before he was born. And, that the world might not be surprised at the prodigious rapidity of his conquests, God was pleased to declare, in very sublime and remarkable terms, that he himself would be his guide; and that in all his expeditions he would lead him by the hand, and would subdue all the princes of the earth before him. " Thus saith the Lord to his anointed, to Cyrus, "whose right-hand I have holden to subdue nations before "him ; and I will loose the loins of kings, to open before him "the two-leaved gates, and the gates shall not be shut. I "will go before thee, and make the crooked places straight. I will break in pieces the gates of brass, and cut in sunder "the bars of iron. And I will give thee the treasures of darkness, and hidden riches of secret places, that thou "mayest know, that I the Lord, which call thee by thy name. am the God of Israel: for Jacob my servant's sake, and "Israel mine elect, I have even called thee by thy name: I "have surnamed thee, though thou hast not known me."
V. God gives the Signal to the Commanders, and to the Troops, to march against Babylon.
"Lift ye up a banner," saith the Lord, " upon the high "mountain," that it may be seen afar off, and that all they who are to obey me may know my orders. "Exalt the "voice unto them" that are able to hear you. "Shake the
hand," and make a sign to hasten the march of those that are too far off to distinguish another sort of command. Let the officers of the troops "go into the gates of the nobles," into the pavilions of their kings. Let the people of each nation range themselves around their sovereign, and make haste to offer him their service, and to go unto his tent, which is already set up.
"I have commanded my sanctified ones;" I have given my orders to those whom I have sanctified for the execution of my designs; and these kings are already marching to obey me, though they know me not. It is I that have placed them upon the throne, that have made divers nations subject to them, in order to accomplish my designs by their ministration. "I have called my mighty
a Isa. xlv. 1-4.
b Id. xiii. 2.
c Id. xiii. 3,
66 ones a for mine anger." I have caused the mighty warriors to come up, to be the ministers and executioners of my wrath and vengeance. From me they derive their courage, their martial abilities, their patience, their wisdom, and the success of their enterprises. If they are invincible, it is because they serve me: every thing gives way, and trembles before them, because they are the ministers of my wrath and indignation. They joyfully labour for my glory,
they rejoice in my highness." The honour they have of being under my command, and of being sent to deliver a people that I love, inspires them with ardour and cheerfulness: Behold! they triumph already in a certain assurance of victory.
The prophet, a witness in spirit of the orders that are just given, is astonished at the swiftness with which they are executed by the princes and the people. I hear already, he cries out, "The noise of a multitude in the mountains, “like as of a great people; a tumultuous noise of the king"doms of nations gathered together. The Lord of hosts "mustereth the host of the battle: they come from a far country, from the end of heaven," where the voice of God, their master and sovereign, has reached their ears.
But it is not with the sight of a formidable army, nor of the kings of the earth, that I am now struck; it is God himself that I behold; all the rest are but his retinue, and the ministers of his justice. "It is even the Lord and the weapons of his indignation, to destroy the whole land." d" A grievous vision is declared unto me:" the e impious Belshazzar, king of Babylon, continues to act impiously; "the treacherous dealer dealeth treacherously and the spoiler spoileth." To put an end to these excesses, go up, thou prince of Persia; "go up, O Elam :" and thou prince of the Medes, besiege thou Babylon: “ Besiege, "O Media; all the sighing, which she was the cause of, "have I made to cease." That wicked city is taken and pillaged; her power is at an end, and my people is delivered.
6. PARTICULAR CIRCUMSTANCES SET DOWN RELATING TO THE SIEGE AND THE TAKING OF BABYLON.
There is nothing, methinks, that can be more proper to raise in us a profound reverence for religion, and to give us a great idea of the Deity, than to observe with what exactness he reveals to his prophets the principal circumstances of the besieging and taking of Babylon, not only many years, but several ages, before it happened.
a Lat. vers. in ira mea. Heb. in iram meam.
b Isa. xiii. 4.
c Ibid. ver, 5. d Isa. xxi, 2. e This is the sense of the Hebrew word.
1. We have already seen, that the army, by which Babylon will be taken, is to consist of Medes and Persians, and to be commanded by Cyrus.
2. The city shall be attacked after a very extraordinary manner, in a way which she did not at all expect: "There"fore shall evil come upon thee: thou shalt not know from "whence it riseth." She shall be all on a sudden and in an instant overwhelmed with calamities, which she was not able to foresee: "Desolation shall come upon thee suddenly, which" thou shalt not know." In a word, she shall be taken, as it were, in a net or a gin, before she perceiveth that. any snares have been laid for her: "I have laid a snare for "thee and thou art also taken, O Babylon, and thou wast "not aware."
3. Babylon reckoned the Euphrates alone was sufficient to render her impregnable, and triumphed in her being so advantageously situated and defended by so deep a river: "O thou that dwellest upon many waters:" It is God himself who points out Babylon under that description. And yet that very river Euphrates shall be the cause of her ruin. Cyrus, by a stratagem (of which there never had been any example before, nor has there been any thing like It since) shall turn the course of that river, shall lay its channel dry, and by that means open himself a passage into the city: · e "I will dry up her sea, and make her springs dry. "A drought is upon her waters and they shall be dried up." Cyrus shall take possession of the quays of the river; and the waters, which rendered Babylon inaccessible, shall be dried up, as if they had been consumed by fire: "The passages are stopped, and the reeds they have burnt with "fire,"
4. She shall be taken in the night-time, upon a day of feasting and rejoicing, even whilst her inhabitants are at table, and think upon nothing but eating and drinking: 8 “In "their heat I will make their feasts, and I will make them "drunken, that they may rejoice, and sleep a perpetual "sleep, and not wake, saith the Lord." It is remarkable, that it is God who does all this, who lays a snare for Babylon; h I have laid a snare for thee;" who drieth up the waters, of the river; "I will dry up her sea ;" and who brings that drunkenness and drowsiness upon her princes; "I will make drunk her princes."
5. The king shall be seized in an instant with an incredible terror and perturbation of mind: "My loins are filled "with pain; pangs have taken hold upon me as the pangs
a Isa. xlvii. 11.
c Jer. 1. 24. f'ld li. 32. ¿ Jer, l. 57.
d Id. li. 13. g ld li. 39.
Lan, xxi, 3, 4
"of a woman that travaileth: I was bowed down at the hearing of it; I was dismayed at the seeing of it: my "heart panted, fearfulness affrighted me. The night of my "pleasure hath he turned into fear unto me." This is the condition Belshazzar was in, when in the middle of the entertainment he saw a hand come out of the wall, which wrote such characters upon it as none of his diviners could either explain or read; but more especially when Daniel declared to him, that those characters imported the sentence of his death. "Then," says the Scripture, "the king's countenance was changed, and his thoughts troubled him, so that "the joints of his loins were loosed, and his knees smote one 46 against another." The terror, astonishment, fainting, and trembling of Belshazzar are here described and expressed in the same manner by the prophet who was an eye-witness of them, as they were by the prophet who foretold them 200 years before.
But Isaiah must have had an extraordinary measure of divine illumination to be able to add, immediately after the description of Belshazzar's consternation, the following words: Prepare the table, watch in the watch-tower; eat, drink." The prophet foresees, that Belshazzar, though terribly dismayed and confounded at first, shall recover his courage and spirits again, through the exhortations of his courtiers; but more particularly through the persuasion of the queen, his mother, who represented to him the unreasonableness of being affected with such unmanly fears, and unnecessary alarms. e " Let not thy thoughts trouble thee, nor let thy countenance be changed." They will exhort him therefore to make himself easy, to satisfy himself with giving proper orders, and with the assurance of being advertised of every thing by the vigilance of the centinels; to order the rest of the supper to be served, as if nothing had happened; and to recall that gaiety and joy, which his excessive fears had banished from the table; 66 Prepare the table; watch in the "watch-tower; eat, drink."
6. But at the same time that men are giving their orders, God on his part is likewise giving his; "Arise, ye princes, 'and anoint the shield." It is God himself that commands the princes to advance, to take their arms, and to enter boldly into a city drowned in wine, and buried in sleep.
7. Isaiah acquaints us with two material and important circumstances concerning the taking of Babylon. The first is, that the troops with which it is filled, shall not keep their ground, or stand firm any where, neither at the palace nor the citadel, nor any other public place whatsoever; that
c Dan. v. 10.
d Isa. xxi. 14.
a Dan. v. 6. ¿ Isa. xxi. 5. VOL. II,
they shall desert and leave one another, without thinking of any thing but making their escape; that in running away they shall disperse themselves, and take different roads, just as a flock of deer, or of sheep is dispersed and scattered, when they are affrighted: a "And it shall be as a chased
roe, and as a sheep that no man taketh up." The second circumstance is, that the greatest part of those troops, though they were in the Babylonian service and pay, were not Babylonians; and that they shall return into the provinces from whence they came, without being pursued by the conquerors: because the divine vengeance was chiefly to fall upon the citizens of Babylon: "They shall every man turn to "his own people, and flee every one into his own land."
8. Lastly, not to mention the dreadful slaughter which is to be made of the inhabitants of Babylon, where no mercy will be shown either to old men, women or children, or even to the child that is still within its mother's womb, as has been already taken notice of; the last circumstance, I say, which the prophet foretels, is the death of the king himself, whose body is to have no burial, and the entire extinction of the royal family; both which calamities are described in the Scripture, after a manner equally terrible and instructive to all princes. "But thou art cast out of thy grave, like an abominable branch. Thou shalt not be joined with them "(thy ancestors) in burial, because thou hast destroyed thy land, and slain thy people." That king is justly forgotten, who has never remembered, that he ought to be the protec-. tor and father of his people. He that has lived only to ruin and destroy his country, is unworthy of the common privilege of burial. As he has been an enemy to mankind, living or dead, he ought to have no place amongst them. He was like unto the wild beasts of the field, and like them he shall be buried; and since he had no sentiments of humanity himself, he deserves to meet with no humanity from others. This is the sentence which God himself pronounceth against Belshazzar: and the malediction extends itself to his children, who were looked upon as his associates in the throne, and as the source of a long posterity and succession of kings, and were entertained with nothing by the flattering courtiers but the pleasing prospects and ideas of their future grandeur. "Prepare slaughter for his children, for the iniquity of their "fathers; that they do not rise nor possess the land. For I "will rise up against them, saith the Lord of hosts, and cut "off from Babylon the name and remnant, and son and ne'phew, saith the Lord."
o Isa. xii. 14.
cIsa. xiv. 19. 20. d Isa, xiv. 21, 92