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views beyond that event, to what can it extend them except the final and general restoration of the house of Jacob? And, if it extend its views to this final restoration, as it plainly must do, then both Babylon and her king must be understood mystically. For it is said, that, in the day of that very restoration and deliverance which the prophet had been so fully describing, the people of the Lord shall take up their parable against the king of Babylon. But the literal Babylon has long since been blotted out of the list of nations. Therefore the Babylon, which is to be destroyed at the era of the yet future restoration of Isreal, can only be a mystical Babylon: and consequently its king can only be a mystical king of Babylon*.
The accurate completion of the prophecy, particularly that part of it which is contained in the 13th chapter, in the downfal and present state of the literal Babylon, I shall pass over as being foreign to my subject: observing only, that the day of its overthrow is styled the day of the Lord, as being typical of the great day of the second advent; that is represented as being attended with signs in the sun, the moon, and the stars, the usual prophetic imagery to describe political revolutions † ; and that the prediction, respecting the present desolate state of Babylon, has been manifestly copied and transferred by St. John to the future state of the mystical Babylon. ‡e.
the description of those glorious times which should come to pass in the latter days, the prophet foretells the destruction of God's enemies, and begins with Babylon, whither God's people were to be carried captive, and therefore was a type or figure of Antichrist the great oppressor of God's Church in after times. And whoever carefully considers several particulars in this and the next chapter (Isaiah xiii xiv.), and compares them with the former part of chap. xxi. with chap. xlvii. and Jerem. 1. and li. which treat of the same subject, will easily find that these prophecies have an aspect beyond the taking of Babylon by Cyrus, inasmuch as the prophets describe this judgment as a decisive stroke, that should thoroughly vindicate the cause of oppressed truth and innocence, and put a final period to idolatry and to all the miseries and oppressions of God's people." Argument to Comment. on Isaiah xiii.
* Mr. Lowth remarks, that Isaiah xiv. is "a continuation of the same subject" as that treated of in the three preceding chapters, "containing a prediction of the utter downfal of the Babylonian empire and extirpation of the royal family there, under which description is figuratively represented the destruction of the powers of Antichrist; the consequence of which would be the deliverance and restoration of the Jewish nation in particular, and of the Church in general." Argument to Comment. on Isaiah xiv.
† See Mr. Lowth on Isaiah xiii. 10.
Compare Isaiah xiii. 19---22 with Rev. xviii. 2, 22, 23. Mr. Lowth remarks, that from the tenor of ver. 19" we may conclude that this prophecy
I have observed, that the mystical Babylon is the whole papal Roman empire, both temporal and spiritual; which, at the era of the final restoration of Judah, will have coalesced into a grand confederacy of the beast under his last or Carlovingian 'head, the false prophet or the Romish hierarchy, and the vassal federal kings of the Latin earth. Such being the case, it may be a matter of some doubt, whether by the king of Babylon we are to understand the temporal, or the spiritual, chief of the Roman empire; the Carlovingian head (which recent events apparently teach us to identify with the infidel Antichristian king), or the false prophet. There are certainly many points of resemblance in the predicted character of this mystical king of Babylon, which might lead us to conceive him to be the apostate bishop of Rome; and there is undoubtedly no small similarity between his character and that of the prince of Tyre, as exhibited to us by Ezekiel, who teaches us like Isaiah to refer the overthrow of this prince to the days of the final restoration of Israel*. Now the prince of Tyre, as I shall hereafter shew at large, can only, from the description which is given of him, be the papal man of sin: whence we might suppose, that the king of Babylon, who is to perish at the very same era with the mystical prince of Tyre, must be the papal man of sin likewise, or the spiritual sovereign of the Roman empire. This however, I apprehend, is not the case; for there is a sufficient degree of difference between the two portraits to shew that they cannot both have been intended for the same person.
The prince of Tyre is represented as having once been perfect, and as afterwards corrupting himself; as having long been in the holy mountain of God, whence he is at length cast out on account of his sins; and as defiling his sanctuaries by the iniquity of his traffic. Whereas the king of Babylon is depicted as having been uniformly corrupt; as oppressing the nations with armed violence,
looks further to another Babylon, mentioned in the Revelation. This is pregnant instance among many others, that the mystical sense of several prophecies, that is, the sense which is more remotely intended, comes nearer to the letter of the prophecies than that which some call the literal sense, and think to have been immediately designed by the prophet."
* See Ezek. xxviii.
rather than seducing them by iniquitous blandishments; and as meditating, only at the time of the completion of the prophecy, to sit upon the mount of the divine presence, on the sides of the north. In other respects there is a considerable resemblance between their characters. There is in short much the same difference and much the same resemblance between them, that there is between Daniel's infidel king and St. Paul's man of sin: and I am strongly inclined to believe, that the two portraits are altogether distinct, and were drawn by Isaiah and Ezekiel for the two sovereigns, temporal and spiritual, of the Latin empire; in other words, the Carlovingian head of the beast when united with Antichrist, and the false Romish prophet.
But let us examine, how far the character of the tical king of Babylon will answer to that of the infidel king.
They are both to be oppressors: they are both to be notorious exactors of gold: they are both to smite the peoples with unremitting strokes, and to rule the nations in their fury. If the king of Babylon is to sit in the mount of the divine presence; the infidel king is to pitch the curtains of his pavilions in the glorious holy mountain between the seas: and, if the king of Babylon is to be crushed in the land of God, and to be trampled down in his mountains; the infidel king is, in the very same region and at the very period, namely that of the final restoration of Judah, to come to his end, none being able to help him*. The prince of Tyre indeed is said to be cast out of the holy mountain: but, in his case, the holy mountain must be understood, not of the literal mount Zion, but of the Christian Church; because he is described as having long been in it, even during his perfect or uncorrupted statef. Whereas, in the case of the king of Babylon, the mount of the divine presence must, like the holy mountain between the seas mentioned by Daniel, be understood literally : both because the king is not said
* Mr. Lowth, like myself, supposes Isaiah xiv. 13. and Dan. xi. 45 to be parallel passages. Comment on Dan. xi. 45
† Compare Isaiah xiv. 13. with Ezek. xxviii. 14, 15, 16. The whole context of this latter passage shews, that it can only be understood figuratively. But it will be discussed at large hereafter in its proper place.
like the prince of Tyre, to have sat there in a perfect staté, but only in the course of those events which terminate in his destruction; and because it is afterwards literally predicted that his overthrow shall take place in Palestine. Hence we must, I think, as in the parallel prophecy of Daniel, understand the king's sitting in the mountain of the divine presence, and his afterwards perishing in the holy land, as absolutely literal matters of fact. And here I may remark, that the region, assigned for the destruction of the king of Babylon, namely, Palestine *, sufficiently shews, that Isaiah meant to describe a mystical character, and not to confine his prophecy merely to the literal king of Babylon. The literal sovereign of Assyria was assuredly never crushed in the mountain of God's land; but his empire, as it is well known, was broken by the Medo-Persians in the very midst of his capital city. Bp. Lowth accordingly observes, that "the circumstance of this judgment's being to be executed on God's mountains is of importance †." He refers us indeed primarily to the destruction of Sennacherib's army near Jerusalem; but supposes that the prophecy may have a still further view to the overthrow of Gog and Magog, as predicted by Ezekiel . In thus stating the matter, I certainly think him altogether mistaken, except in his opinion that the prophecy yet remains to be fulfilled: for the destruction of Sennacherib was not at all connected even with the return of Judah from the Babylonian captivity; and the overthrow of Gog and Magog, as we shall hereafter see, will not take place at the era of the final restoration of Israel, but at the close of the Millennium.
If in some points the character of the mystical king of Babylon resemble that of the infidel king, in others it no less resembles that of the Roman beast under his Carlovingian head, when organizing a confederacy of vassal
"Surely, as I have devised, so shall it be; and, as I have purposed, that thing shall stand: to crush the Assyrian in my land, and to trample him on my mountains." Isaiah xiv. 24, 25.
Mr. Lowth has much the same observation. "To make this part of the verse (ver. 25.) agree better with what follows, then shall the yoke depart from thy neck, which words imply the final deliverance of God's people; I am apt to think, that by the Assyrian may be meant some remarkable enemies of God's Church." Comment. in loc.
Ezek. xxxix. 4.
kings, and planning an expedition against Palestine. In the symbolical language of prophecy, he is styled the bright morning star, pre-eminent in lustre above all the other stars or sovereign princes of the political firmament: and he is represented, as proudly saying in his heart, I will ascend the heavens; my empire shall be an universal one, extending over the whole heaven of royalty; above the stars of God, above all the anointed vice-gerents of the Lord, I will exalt my throne; subject to my federal influence, and owing their very existence to me, they shall be mere vassals of my empire; I will be a king of kings; I will be the sole effective head of a vast body politic; I will ascend above the heights of the clouds; I will be like the Most High. Do we not in this description recognize the beast under his last head, aiming at universal empire, possessing an unbounded sway over many vassal princes, and daring in the last stage of his mad impiety to contend even with God himself?
The sum of the whole matter is this. We have here exhibited to us, under the mystic name of the king of Babylon, a power destined to perish, at the yet future era of the restoration of Judah, in the land of Palestine; after it has exercised a most merciless tyranny over the surrounding nations, and after it has seated itself in the mount of the divine presence. We learn from Daniel, that a certain power, which should begin to manifest itself subsequent to the reformation, and which for reasons both circumstantial and chronological can only be infidel France*, will perform the very same actions, and will afterwards perish, at the very same time, and in the very same country. We further learn from St. John, that the power, which is to do and suffer all this, will be the last head of the Roman beast, contriving and influencing a confederacy of the Pope and the Popish sovereigns of the Latin empiret. Now, upon turning from prophecy to facts, we find all these predictions, at once harmonizing together, and wonderfully according with existing circumstances. The republic of France, after running the mad career by which the first stage of the infidel king's existence is so
* See my Dissertation on the 1260 days, Chap. 6.
See my Dissert, on the 1260 days. Vol. ii. p. 363 (2d edit. p. 404.)