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Temple. The Babylonians were marked by blind fuperftition, practised various magical arts, and confided in the pretended discoveries of judicial astrology. Their vices far exceeded their credulity and their folly. They indulged in excessive luxury, were avaricious and arrogant, and oppressed the surrounding nations with excessive tyranny. Their cruelty was in a peculiar manner directed against the Jews. In their invasion of Judea, they laid the country waste, put both old and young to the sword, profaned the Temple, and detained all whom they led away captives in a state of the most rigid bondage. For these reasons, the denunciations of Divine vengeance were pronounced with particular fer verity against them.
· We have seen the city of Babylon taken, and the “ chosen people of God” delivered from bondage by Cyrus, “ according to the sure word of Prophecy." We shall now survey this Metropolis of the World as it stood at the summit of its greatness, and follow it to the gulph of oblivion, from whence Prophecy and History recall its existence,
According to the most authentic accounts that have come down to us, Babylon con
tained the astonishing space of fixty miles, and was adorned in every part with gardens, palaces, and temples. Around it were extended walls of stupendous height and thickness, composed of large bricks cemented with bitumen, that by time acquired a solidity harder than stone. One hundred gates of solid brass commanded the approaches to the city ; two hundred and fifty towers of vast dimensions and elevation were placed at equal distances along the walls. The buildings most remarkable for size and magnificence were, the bridge erected over the Euphrates, the spacious palaces of the Kings, and the ancient temple of Belus, composed of eight towers, rising one above another, and diminishing in proportion to their prodigious elevation. Such were the majestic edifices of this extensive and populous capital of the Assyrian Empire'; which, at a distance, to use the comparison of ancient writers, had the appearance of lofty mountains. . They were calculated to brave the fiercest attacks of hostile power, and to withstand the ravages of remote ages.
The lofty terms in which Babylon is described in Scripture, correspond with the account of profane writers. It is called by
Ifaiah, Jeremiah, and Daniel, “ the golden city,” “ the glory of kingdoms,” “ abundant in treasures," and " the praise of the whole earth.” Berosus, Herodotus, Strabo, and Diodorus Siculus, some of the most antient and most authentic writers, represent it as “ the most glorious metropolis upon which the fun ever shone, and rank it high among the wonders of the antient world.” At the precise time when it was rising to this state of grandeur, when the dominion of its fovereigns was spreading over all the surrounding provinces, and power, opulence, and prosperity combined to ensure the long continuance of its empire and glory, Isaiah thus pronounced its total ruin.
• Ifaiah xlvii. 5. xiv. 4. Jer. li. 41, &c. Goguet's Origin of Laws. Prideaux, vol. i. p. 75. Newton on the Prophecies, vol. i. p. 276, &c.
Isaiah xiii. 19, 20, 21, 22. xiv. 23. For a more full anticipation of the destruction of Babylon, see Isaiah xiii, xiv, xxi, xlvii. In chap. xiii. the Medes, then an inconsiderable people, are brought forward as the great agents in the overthrow of the Assyrian Monarchy. Chap. xiv. contains the triumph of the various nations of the earth over the fallen King of Babylon. This description, consisting of the most bold and striking images, is truly sublime. See Lowth on Isaiah, xxi, xlvii.
And Babylon, the glory of kingitoms, the beauty of the Chaldees excellency, hall be as when God overthrew Sodom and Gomorrah. It shall never be inhabited, neither Mall it be dwelt in from generation to generation: neither Shall the Arabian pitch his tent there, neither Shall the shepherds make their fold there. But wild beasts of the desert fall lie there, and their houses shall be full of doleful creatures, and owls Mall dwell there, and Jatyrs Mall dance there. 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 ber days shall not be prolonged. I will also make it a palession for the bittern, and pools of water; and I will feecep it with the befom of destruction, faith the Lord of Hofts.
A series of ages was necessary to give this Prophecy its full accomplishment. And if we carefully follow the stream of history, we shall find that a series of ages has completely verified the awful menace of the Prophet.
The conquests of Cyrus extinguished the glory of the Assyrian empire, and the fplendor of Babylon was eclipsed by the removal
of the feat of government to Susa in Persia. The waters of the Euphrates were never restored to their proper channel, from the new course which Cyrus had given them to facilitate his entrance into the city. A drought was upon her waters, and they were dried up By their stagnation the whole country became unwholesome, and assumed the form, and communicated the effects, of an extensive and peftilential morass. The fea came up upon Babylon ; Nie was covered with the multitude of the waves thereofd. The immense slaughter of the inhabitants of the city was an additional cause of its decline and ruin. All ber men of war were cut off. To punish the inhabitants for an insurrection; Darius Hystaspes, King of Persia, demolished the gates, reduced the height of the walls, and lessened the number of the citizens. Alexander the Great, indeed, formed the de
Jerem. I. 38, &c. • .Jerem. li. 42. The facred writers frequently uft the word sea in a limited sense ; they give it to great rivers, which, in consequence of their inundations, appear like seas. The country around Babylon which was watered by the Euphrates, is called the desert of the fea, Isaiah xxi. 1. Jer. li. 36. The same name is given to a lake. The Sea of Galilee is ftritly the Lake of Galilee. Compare Matt. iv. 18. viii. 32. with John vi, 1, 18.