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a In the time of Alexander the Great, the river had quitted its ordinary channel, by reason of the outlets and canals which Cyrus had made, and of which we have already given an account; these outlets, being badly stopped up, had occasioned a great inundation in the country. Alexander, designing to fix the seat of his empire at Babylon, projected the bringing back of the Euphrates into its natural and former channel, and had actually set his men to work. But the Almighty, who watched over the fulfilling of his prophecy, and who had declared he would destroy even to the very remains and foot-steps of Babylon, ["I will cut off from Babylon the name and remnant."] defeated this enterprise by the death of Alexander, which happened soon after. It is easy to comprehend how, after this, Babylon being neglected to such a degree as we have seen, its river was converted into an inaccessible pool, which covered the very place where that impious city had stood, as Isaiah had foretold: "I will make it pools of water." And this was necessary, lest the place where Babylon had stood should be discovered hereafter by the course of the Euphrates.
VII. By means of all these changes, Babylon became an utter desert, and all the country round fell into the same state of desolation and horror; so that the most abled geographers at this day cannot determine the place where it stood. In this manner God's prediction was literally fulfilled: "I "will make it a possession for the bittern, and pools of wa"ter; and I will sweep it with the besom of destruction, "saith the Lord of Hosts." I myself, saith the Lord, will examine with a jealous eye, to see if there be any remains of that city, which was an enemy to my name and to Jerusalem. I will thoroughly sweep the place where it stood, and will clear it so effectually, by defacing every trace of the city, that no person shall be able to preserve the memory of the place chosen by Nimrod, and which I, the Lord have abolished. "I will sweep it with the besom of destruction, saith the Lord of Hosts."
VIII. God was not satisfied with causing all these alterations to be foretold, but, to give the greater assurance of their certainty, thought fit to seal the prediction of them by an oath. The Lord of Hosts hath sworn, saying, Surely as "I have thought, so shall it come to pass; and as I have "purposed, so shall it stand." But if we would take this dreadful oath in its full latitude, we must not confine it either to Babylon, or to its inhabitants, or to the princes that reigned therein. The malediction relates to the whole world; it
b Isa xiv. 22.
c Id. xiv. 23.
a Arrian. de exped. Alex. 1. viii.
is the general anathema pronounced against the wicked; it is the terrible decree, by which the two cities of Babylon and Jerusalem shall be separated for ever, and an eternal divorce be put between the saints and the reprobate. The Scriptures, that have foretold it, shall subsist till the day of its execution. The sentence is written therein, and deposited, as it were, in the public archives of religion. "The Lord of "Hosts hath sworn, saying, as I have thought, so shall it come to pass; and as I have purposed, so shall it stand.” What have said of this prophecy concerning Babylon is almost entirely taken out of an excellent treatise upon Isaiah, which is still in manuscript.
SECT. IV. What followed upon the Taking of Babylon.
Cyrus a having entered the city in the manner we have described, put all to the sword that were found in the streets; then commanded the citizens to bring him all their arms, and afterwards to shut themselves up in their houses. The next morning by break of day, the garrison, which kept the citadel, being apprised that the city was taken, and their king killed, surrendered themselves to Cyrus. Thus did this prince, almost without striking a blow, and without any resistance, find himself in peaceable possession of the strongest place in the world."
The first thing he did, was to thank the gods for the success they had given him: and then having assembled his principal officers, he publicly applauded their courage and prudence, their zeal and attachment to his person, and distributed rewards to his whole army. After which he represented to them, that the only means of preserving what they had acquired was to persevere in their ancient virtue; that the proper end of victory was not to give themselves up to idleness and pleasure; that, after having conquered their enemies by force of arms, it would be shameful to suffer themselves to be overcome by the allurements of pleasure; that, in order to maintain their ancient glory, it behoved them to keep up amongst the Persians at Babylon the same discipline they had observed in their own country, and, as a means thereto to take a particular care to give their children a good education. This, says he, will necessarily engage us daily to make further advances in virtue, as it will oblige us to be diligent and careful in setting them good examples: nor will it be easy for them to be corrupted, when they shall neither hear nor see any thing amongst us, but what excites them to virtue, and shall be continually employed in honourable and laudable exercises.
a Cyrop. l. vii. p. 192.
b Pag. 197, 200.
a Cyrus committed the different parts and offices of his government to different persons, according to their various talents and qualifications: but the care of forming and appointing general officers, governors of provinces, ministers and ambassadors, he reserved to himself, looking upon that as the proper duty and employment of a king, upon which depended his glory, the success of his affairs, and the happiness and tranquillity of his kingdom. His great talent was, to study the particular character of men, in order to place every one in his proper sphere, to give them authority in proportion to their merit, to make their private advancement concur with the public good, and to make the whole machine of the state move in so regular a manner, that every part should have a dependence upon, and mutually contribute to support each other; and that the strength of one should not exert itself but for the benefit and advantage of the rest. Each person had his district, and his particular sphere of business, of which he gave an account to another above him, and he again to a third, and so on, till by these different degrees aud regular subordination, the cognizance of affairs came to the king himself, who did not remain idle in the midst of all this motion, but was, as it were, the soul to the body of the state; which by this means he governed with as much ease as a father governs his private family.
When he afterwards sent governors, called Satrapa, into the provinces under his subjection, he would not suffer the particular governors of places, nor the commanding officers of the troops, maintained for the security of the country, to be dependent upon those provincial governors, or to be subject to any one but him; in order that if any of the Satrapa, elate with his power or riches, made an ill use of his authority, there might be found witnesses and censors of his mal-administration within his own government: for there was nothing he so carefully avoided, as the trusting of any one man with an absolute power, well knowing that a prince will quickly have reason to repent his having exalted one person so high, that all others are thereby abased and kept under.
Thus Cyrus established a wonderful order with respect to his military affairs, his treasury, and civil government. In all the provinces he had persons of approved integrity, who gave him an account of every thing that passed. He made it his principle care to honour and reward all such as distinguished themselves by their merit, or were eminent in any respect whatever. He infinitely preferred clemency to martial courage, because the latter is often the cause of
ia Cyrop. I. vii. p. 202.
b Id. 1. viii. 229.
c Id. l. viii. p. 209.
ruin and desolation to whole nations, whereas the former is always beneficent and useful. He was sensible that good laws contribute very much to the forming and preserving of good manners, but in his opinion, the prince by his example was to be a living law to his people: nor did he think a man worthy to reign over others, unless he was more wise and virtuous than those he governed. He was also persuaded, that the surest means for a prince to gain the respect of his courtiers, and of such as approached his person, was to have so much regard for them, as never to do or to say any thing before them contrary to the rules of decency and good
d Liberality he looked upon as a virtue truly royal, nor did he think there was any thing great or valuable in riches, but the pleasure of distributing them to others. “I have prodigious riches," says he to his courtiers," I own, and I am glad the world knows it; but you may assure yourselves, they are as much yours as mine: for to what end "should I heap up wealth? for my own use, and to consume "it myself? that would be impossible, if I desired it. No: "the chief end I aim at is to have it in my power to reward "those who serve the public faithfully, and to succour and "relieve those that will accquaint me with their wants and "necessities."
fCræsus one day represented to him, that by continual largesses he would at last make himself poor, whereas he might have amassed infinite treasures, and have been the richest prince in the world. "And to what sum,” replied Cyrus," do you think those treasures might have amount“ed?" Crœsus named a certain sum, which was immensely great. Cyrus thereupon ordered a short note to be written to the lords of his court, in which it was signified to them, that he had occasion for money. Immediately a much larger sum was brought to him than Croesus had mentioned. "Look here," says Cyrus to him, " here are my treasures; "the chests I keep my riches in are the hearts and affection of my subjects."
But as much as he esteemed liberality, he laid a still greater stress upon kindness and condescension, affability and humanity, which are qualities still more engaging, and more apt to acquire the affection of a people, which is properly to reign. For a prince to be more generous than others in giving, when he is infinitely more rich than they, has nothing in it so surprising or extraordinary, as to descend in a manner from the throne, and to put himself upon a level with his subjects.
a P. 204.
d Cyrop. l. viii, p. 209,
b P 205,
e P. 225.
€ P. 204. JP.210.
"But what Cyrus preferred to all other things was the worship of the gods, and a respect for religion. Upon this therefore he thought himself obliged to bestow his first and principal care, as soon as he became more at leisure, and more master of his time, by the conquest of Babylon. He began by establishing a number of Magi, to sing daily a morning service of praise to the honour of the gods, and to offer sacrifices, which was always practised amongst them in succeeding ages.
The prince's disposition quickly became, as is usual, the prevailing disposition among his people; and his example became the rule of their conduct. The Persians, who saw that Cyrus's reign had been but one continued chain and series of prosperity and success, believed, that, by serving the gods as he did, they should be blessed with the like happiness and prosperity: besides they were sensible, it was the surest way to please their prince, and to make their court to him successfully. Cyrus, on the other hand, was extremely glad to find them have such sentiments of religion, being convinced, that whosoever sincerely fears and worships God, will at the same time be faithful to his king, and preserve an inviolable attachment to his person, and to the welfare of the state. All this is excellent, but is only true and real in the true religion.
Cyrus being resolved to settle his chief residence at Babylon, a powerful city, which could not be very well affected to him, thought it necessary to be more cautious, than he had been hitherto, in regard to the safety of his person. The most dangerous hours for princes within their palaces, and the most likely for treasonable attempts upon their lives, are those of bathing, eating, and sleeping. He determined therefore to suffer nobody to be near him at those times, but such persons on whose fidelity he could absolutely rely and on this account he thought eunuchs preferable to all others; because, as they had neither wives, children, nor families, and besides were generally despised on account of the meanness of their birth, and the ignominy of their condition, they were engaged by all sorts of reasons to an entire attachment to their master, on whose life their whole fortune depended, and on whose account alone it was that they were of any consideration. Cyrus therefore filled all the offices of his household with eunuchs; and as this had been the practice before his time, from thenceforth it became the general custom of all the eastern countries.
It is well known, that in after-times this usage prevailed also amongst the Roman emperors, with whom the eunuchs
a Cyrop. 1. viii. p. 204.
b Id. 1. vii. p. 196.