« PreviousContinue »
For, lo, I will raise
Jer. I. 8-10. 26. 37. u O thou that dwellest upon many waters, abundant in treasures,
Thine end is come, and the measure of thy covetousness.”—Jer. li. 13. When Cyrus captured Babylon, he became possessed of
" The treasures of darkness,
And hidden riches of secret places.”—Isa. xlv. 3. But he did not retain them in his own hands. Instead of heaping up his wealth uselessly, his great object was to relieve those who made their wants known to him. So great was his liberality, that Cræsus remarked to him, that he would make himself poor, though he might have been the richest prince in the world. After Cyrus, Alexander, that "mighty robber," spoiled Babylon; and he, also, distributed its wealth to his followers. To every Macedonian horseman he presented six minæ, about 15l. sterling; and to every Macedonian soldier and foreign horseman two minæ, about 51.; and to every other man in his army a donation equal to two months' pay. Successive ages brought successive spoliators. Many nations came from afar, and none returned to their own land in vain. It was the prey of the Persians and the Greeks for nearly two centuries; then of the Parthians from the north, for an equal period; till a greater nation, the Romans, came from the distant parts of the earth, to rob the land of its treasures. “ A hundred thousand captives,” says Gibbon, “and a rich booty, rewarded the fatigues of the Roman soldiers, when Ctesiphon was taken, in the second century, by the generals of Marcus.” Nor did Julian, who, in the fourth century, was forced to raise the siege of Ctesiphon, go in vain to the land of Chaldea. He also failed not to take of it a spoil, and, though an apostate, he verified by his acts the truth of the Scriptures which he denied. After
devoting Perisabor to the flames, the magazines of corn, arms, and splendid furniture were partly distributed among the troops, and partly reserved for the public service; the useless stores were destroyed by fire, or thrown into the Euphrates. At this time, also, he rewarded his army with a hundred pieces of silver, and when the enemy were afterwards conquered, the spoil, says Gibbon, was such as might be expected from the riches and luxury of an oriental camp: large quantities of silver and gold, splendid arms and trappings, and beds and tables of precious metal fell into the hands of the
A more emphatic illustration of the prediction, that “A sword is upon her treasures," took place when the Mohammedan, Omar, destroyed Ctesiphon. This city was taken by assault, and the disorderly resistance of the people gave a keener edge to the sabres of the Moslems, who shouted with religious transport, "This is the white palace of the Chosroes; this is the promise of the apostle of God." These naked robbers were suddenly enriched beyond all expectation. Each chamber revealed a new treasure, secreted with art, or ostentatiously displayed. The gold and silver, the various wardrobes, and precious furniture, surpassed the estimate of fancy or numbers. An ancient historian defines the untold and vast mass, by the fabulous computation of three thousand of thousands of thousands of pieces of gold. One of the apartments of the palace was decorated with a carpet of silk sixty cubits in length, and as many in breadth. A paradise, or garden, was depicted on the ground of this carpet; the flowers, fruits, and shrubs, were imitated by the figures of gold embroidery, and the colours of precious stones, while the ample square was enriched by a varigated and verdant border. Omar divided this prize among his brethren of Medina, and the picture was destroyed; but such was the value thereof, that the share of Ali alone was sold for 20,000 drachms, or nearly 7007. sterling.
This prophecy receives an accomplishment at the present day. A sword may still be said to be upon her treasures. Malte Brun, in his geography says: "On the west of Hillah there are two towns, which, in the eyes of the Persians, and all the Shiites, are rendered sacred by the memory of two of the greatest martyrs of that sect. These are Meshid Ali and Meshed Housein, lately filled with riches, accumulated by the devotion of the Persians, but carried off by the ferocious Wahabees to the middle of their deserts."
more recent proof that the treasures of Chaldea are still ought after, is found in Captain Mignan's travels : “Amidst he ruins of Ctesiphon," he says, "the natives often pick up coins of gold, silver, and copper, for which they always find 1 ready sale in Bagdad. Indeed, some of the wealthy Turks and Armenians, who are collecting for several French and German consuls, hire people to go and search for coins, medals, and antique gems; and, I am assured, they never return to their employers empty-handed."
The predictions against the fertility of the land of Chaldea have no less been verified than those against her treasures and her cities. " Behold, the hindermost of the nations shall be
A wilderness, a dry land, and a desert.
And him that handleth the sickle in the time of harvest."-Jer. I. 12, 16.
The accounts of the Babylonian lands yielding crops of grain two and three hundred fold, compared with the present aspect of the country, afford a remarkable proof of the desolation to which it has been subjected. And its ancient cities, where are they? The site of many cannot now be discovered, and those that can, embrace the dust. Even the more modern cities, which flourished under the empire of the khalifs, are "all in ruins." Desolation prevails over the breadth and length of the whole country. The site of Babylon, and of all the other towns in this region, and the level plain itself, are marked by an appearance of utter barrenness and blast, as if from the curse of God; which gives an intense and mournful corroboration to the denunciations of Scripture.
And let us be assured, that if they were thus verified to the letter, as the desolation of proud and wicked nations, they will not be less truly marked as to their fulfillment in the case of the unbelieving and sinful rejector of the offers of the gospel
of Christ. Such shall assuredly die in his sins; and having slighted mercy, shall feel the rod of offended justice.
Thus, with the progressive decline of Chaldea, Babylon the Great sunk into utter ruin, so that now her habitations are not to be found; and the worm is spread over her. When it became wholly deserted, however is not satisfactorily determined. Strabo says, that in his time a great part of it was a mere desert; that the Persians had partially destroyed it; and that time and the neglect of the Macedonians had nearly completed its destruction. Pliny, who wrote in the reigns of the emperors Vespasian and Titus, describes its site as a desert, and the city as "dead." A few years after, Pausanius writes: "Of Babylon, a greater city than which the sun did not formerly behold, all that now remains is the Temple of Belus, and the walls of the city;" and Jerome, in the fourth century, informs us, that Babylon was then in ruins, and that the walls served only for the enclosure of a park, for the pleasures of the chase; and that it was used as such by the Persian court.
Reader, adore the omniscience and omnipotence of the Creator of the universe. He marked the crimes of the inhabitants of Chaldea, and long before he struck the blow, foretold by his prophets their destruction; and when the "set time" was come, he called forth his armies and destroyed them, their cities, and their lands. But whilst thou admirest the workings of his providence in the wonderful events, let a solemn fear pervade thy breast, least thou also provoke his righteous indignation. Think not that the crimes of an individual escape his notice, while he marks those of a nation. "Nothing is secret, that shall not be made manifest; neither any thing hid, that shall not be made known and come abroad," Luke viii. 17. He marks thy crimes; and unless thou hidest thyself in the clefts of the "Rock of ages, or, in other words, unless thou takest refuge in Christ, unless thou believest in Him who died to save sinners, thou also must perish, and that everlastingly. As it was said of Babylon, so the whole tenor of the the word of God, pronounces to the world at large,
"And he shall destroy the sinners thereof out of it.”—Isa. xiii. 9. Oh, then, flee from the wrath to come!
It has been well observed, that, though Babylon should be vast as the whole world, yet being a wicked world, it shall
not go unpunished; and sin brings desolation on the world of the ungodly.
Like Babylon, the celebrated city of Nineveh could boast of very remote antiquity. Who founded it does not appear to be clearly ascertained. The sacred historian relates ; “Out of that land went forth Asshur, and builded Nineveh, and the city Rehoboth, and Calah, and Resen between Nineveh and and Calah; the same is a great city," Gen. x. 11, 12. The marginal reading, however, runs thus, “Out of that land he [Nimrod] went forth into Assyria," etc.; and as the form of expression in the Hebrew gives equal authority to the marginal as to the textual reading, opinions are equally divided as to which of the senses is to be preferred. But there is one consideration in favour of the latter, which seems to be more weighty than all the arguments adduced in favour of the former by the learned. There can be no doubt that Assur, or Assyria, derived its name from Asshur, the son of Shem; hence, it is reasonable to suppose, that he (Asshur) went forth out of that land, (Shinar,) and builded Nineveh. Nothing, indeed, can be more natural than to understand the text of Asshur's migration; and therefore none is so likely to have founded Nineveh as Asshur himself, except it be supposed that Nimrod conquered the country of Assyria, before Asshur had firmly settled himself therein. But this is not probable, for the land would then, we may suppose, have been denominated Nimrodia, from Nimrod, rather than Assyria, from
Asshur. In the prophecies of Isaiah, moreover, we read that • Asshur founded Babel, Isa. xxiii. 13; but in no part of · Scripture is it intimated that Nimrod went into Assyria and built Nineveh.
But whether Nimrod or Asshur founded this city, it does aot appear to have been of much importance for many cencuries afterward. The passage pointed out indeed, would lead us to conclude that Řesen was in its origin a more important city than Nineveh. Like other cities in the east, and like our own mighty metropolis, it rose gradually to the enormous magnitude recorded by historians, when the empire of which it was the capital attained to its highest state of prosperity. Perhaps the commencement of its greatness may
be dated about 1230 B. C., when it was enlarged by Ninus, its a second founder, and became the greatest city of the world,
and mistress of the east. wide