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Resuming the thread of the history; this alliance which the Jews had contracted with Egypt, augmented their confidence at a time when every consideration should have abated it; it elevated them with the presumptuous notion of being adequate to frustrate the designs of Nebuchadnezzar, or rather those of God himself, who had declared that he would subjugate all the east to this potentate. He presently retook from Pharaoh Nechoh, Carchemish, and the other cities conquered by that prince. He did more; he transferred the war into Egypt, after having associated Nebuchadnezzar, his son, in the empire; and after various advantages in that kingdom, he entered on the expedition against Judea, recorded in the
This induced Pharaoh Nechoh, king of Egypt, who, of all the potentates of the east, was the best qualified to resist those conque-37th chapter of the Second Book of Chronicles; he accomplished what Isaiah had foretold to Hezekiah, that the Chaldeans "should take his sons, and make them eunuchs in Babylon," Isa. xxxix. 7. He plundered Jerusalem; he put Jehoiakim in chains, and placed his brother Jehoiachin on the throne, who is sometimes called Jeconiah, and sometimes Coniah; and who availed himself of the grace he had received, to rebel against his benefactor. This prince quickly revenged the perfidy; he besieged Jerusalem, which he had always kept blockaded since the death of Jehoiakim, and he led away a very great number of captives into Babylon, among whom was the prophet Ezekiel.
rors, to march at the head of a great army,
the marriage of Nebuchadnezzar, son of Nabopolassar, with Amytis, daughter of Astyages, united their forces against the Assyrians, then the most ancient and formidable power, took Nineveh, their capital, and thus, by a peculiar dispensation of Providence, they accomplished, and without thinking so to do, the prophecies of Jonah, Nahum, and Zephaniah, against that celebrated empire.
From that period the empire of Nineveh and of Babylon formed [again] but one, the terror of all their neighbours, who had just grounds of apprehension soon to experience a lot like that of Nineveh.
Ezekiel was raised up of God to prophesy to the captive Jews, who constantly indulged the reverie of returning to Jerusalem, while Jeremiah prophesied to those who were yet in their country, on whom awaited the same destiny. They laboured unanimously to persuade their countrymen to place no confidence in their connexion with Egypt; to make no more unavailing efforts to throw off the yoke of NeJe-buchadnezzar; and to obey the commands of that prince, or rather the commands of God, who was wishful, by his ministry, to punish the crimes of all the east.
Pharaoh Nechoh defeated the Babylonians near the Euphrates, took Carchemish, the capital of Mesopotamia, and, augmenting the pleasure of victory by that of revenge, he led his victorious army through Judea, deposed Jehoahaz, son of Josiah, and placed Eliakim, his brother, on the throne, whom he surnamed hoiakim, 2 Kings xxiii.
From that period Jehoiakim regarded the king of Egypt as his benefactor, to whom he was indebted for his throne and his crown. He believed that Pharaoh Nechoh, whose sole authority had conferred the crown, was the only prince that could preserve it. The Jews at once followed the example of their king; they espoused the hatred which subsisted in Egypt against the king of Babylon, and renewed with Nechoh an alliance the most firm which had ever subsisted between the two powers.
Were it requisite to support here what the sacred history says on this subject, I would illustrate at large a passage of Herodotus, who, when speaking of the triumph of Pharaoh Nechoh, affirms, that after this prince had obtained a glorious victory in the fields of Megiddo, he took a great city of Palestine, surrounded with hills, which is called Cadytis: there is not the smallest doubt but this city was Jerusalem, which in the Scriptures is of ten called holy by way of excellence; and it was anciently designated by this glorious title. Now, the word holy, in Hebrew, is Keduscha, and in Syriac Kedulha. To this name Herodotus affixed a Greek termination, and called Kadytis the city that the Syrians or the Arabs call Kedutha, which, correspondent to my assertion, was the appellation given to Jerusalem.
Our prophet was transported into Jerusalem; he there saw those Jews, who, at the very time while they continued to flatter them with averting the total ruin of Judea, hastened the event, not only by continuing, but by redoubling their cruelties, and their idolatrous worship. At the very crisis while he beheld the infamous conduct of his countrymen in Jerusalem, he heard God himself announce the punishments with which they were about to be overwhelmed; and saying to his ministers of vengeance, “Go through the city; strike, let not your eye spare, neither have ye pity: Slay utterly old and young, both maids and little children; and women.-Defile my house, and fill the courts with the slain," ix. 5-7. But while God delivered a commission so terrible with regard to the abominable Jews, he cast a consoling regard on others; he said to a mysterious person,
Go through the midst of the city, and set a mark on the foreheads of the men that sigh, and that cry for the abominations committed in the midst thereof." I am grieved for the honour of our critics, who have followed the Vulgate version in a reading which disfigures the text; "set the letter thau on the foreheads of those that sigh." To how many puerilities
has this reading given birth? What mysteries have they not sought in the letter thau? But the Vulgate is the only version which has thus read the passage. The word thau, in Hebrew, implies a sign; to write this letter on the forehead of any one, is to make a mark; and to imprint a mark on the forehead of a man, is, in the style of prophecy, to distinguish him by some special favour. So the Seventy, the Arabic, and Syriac, have rendered this expression. You will find the same figures employed by St. John, in the Revelation.
The words of my text have the same import as the above passage; they may be restricted to the Jews already in captivity; I extend them, however, to the Jews who groaned for the enormities committed by their countrymen in Jerusalem. The past, the present, and the future time, are sometimes undistinguished in the holy tongue; especially by the prophets, to whom the certainty of the future predicted events, occasioned them to be contemplated, as present, or as already past. Consonant to this style, "I have cast them far off among the heathen," may imply, I will cast them far off; I will disperse them among the nations, &c.
To both those bodies of Jews, of whom I have spoken, I would say, those already captivated in Babylon when Ezekiel received this vision, and those who were led away after the total ruin of Jerusalem, that however afflictive their situation might appear, God would meliorate it by constant marks of the protection he would afford. Though I may or have cast them far off among the heathen; and among the countries; though I may disperse them among strange nations; yet I will be to them as a little sanctuary in the countries where they are come."
This is the general scope of the words we have read. Wishful to apply them to the design of this day, we shall proceed to draw a parallel between the state of the Jews in Babylon, and that in which it has pleased God to place the churches whose ruin we have now deplored for forty years. The dispersion of the Jews had three distinguished characters.
I. A character of horror;
II. A character of justice; III. A character of mercy.
A character of horror; this people were dispersed among the nations; they were compelled to abandon Jerusalem, and to wander in divers countries. A character of justice; God himself, the God who makes "judgment and justice the habitation of his throne," Ps. lxxxix. 15, was the author of those calamities; "I have cast them far off among the heathen; and dispersed them among the countries." In fine, a character of mercy: "though I have cast them far off among the heathen, I have been," as we may read, "I will be to them as a little sanctuary in the countries where they are come." These are the three similarities between the dispersed Jews, and the reformed, to whom these provinces have extended a compassionate arm.
I. The dispersion of the Jews, connected with all the calamities which preceded and followed, had a character of horror: let us judge of it by the lamentations of Jeremiah, who attested, as well as predicted the awful scenes.
1. He deplores the carnage which stained Judea with blood: "The priests and the prophets have been slain in the sanctuary of the Lord. The young and the old lie on the ground in the streets; my virgins and the young men are fallen by the sword: thou hast slain; thou hast killed, and hast not pitied them in the day of thine anger. Thou hast convened my terrors, as to a solemn day," chap. ii. 20-22.
2. He deplores the horrors of the famine which induced the living to envy the lot of those that had fallen in war: The children and the sucklings swoon in the streets; they say to their mothers, when expiring in their bosom, where is the corn and the wine? They that be slain with the sword are happier than they that be slain with hunger. Have not the women eaten the children that they suckled? Naturally pitiful, have they not baked their children to supply them with food?" chap. ii. 11, 12. 20; iv. 9, 10.
3. He deplores the insults of their enemies: "All that pass by clap their hands at thee; they hiss and shake their heads at the daughter of Jerusalem, saying, Is this the city called the perfection of beauty, the joy of the whole earth?" chap. ii. 15.
4. He deplores the insensibility of God himself, who formerly was moved with their calamities, and ever accessible to their prayers: "Thou hast covered thyself with a cloud that our prayers should not pass through: and when I cry and shout, he rejecteth my supplication," chap. iii. 44. 8.
5. He deplores the favours God had conferred, the recollection of which served but to render their grief the more poignant, and their fall the more insupportable: "Jerusalem in the days of her affliction remembered all her pleasant things that she had in the days of old. How doth the city sit in solitude that was full of people? How is she that was great among the nations become a widow, and she that was princess among the provinces become tributary?" chap. i. 7. 1.
6. Above all, he deplores the strokes levelled against religion: "The ways of Zion do mourn because none come to the solemn feasts: all her gates are desolate: her priests sigh; her virgins are afflicted. The heathen have entered into her sanctuary; the heathen concerning whom thou didst say, that they should not enter into thy sanctuary," chap. i. 4. 10.
These are the tints with which Jeremiah paints the calamities of the Jews, and making those awful objects an inexhaustible source of tears; he exclaims in the eloquence of grief; "Is it nothing to you, all ye that pass by? Behold, and see, if there be any sorrow like unto my sorrow which is done unto me, wherewith the Lord hath afflicted me in the day of his fierce anger. For this cause I weep, mine eye, mine eye runneth down with tears, because the Comforter that should relieve my soul is far from me. Zion spreadeth her hands, and there is none to comfort her. Mine eyes fail with tears: whom shall I take to witness for thee; to whom shall I liken thee, O daughter of Jerusalem; to whom shall I equal thee to console thee, O daughter of Zion, for thy breach is great?-O wall of the daughter of
Zion, let tears run down like a river day and night: give thyself no rest, let not the apple of thine eye cease. Arise, cry out in the night: in the beginning of the watches pour out thine heart like water before the Lord," chap. i. 12. 16, 17; ii. 11. 13. 18, 19.
But is all this a mere portrait of past ages, or did the Spirit of God designate it as a figure of ages that were to come! Are those the calamities of the Jews that Jeremiah has endeavoured to describe, or are they those which for so many years have ravaged our churches! Our eyes, accustomed to contemplate so many awful objects, have become incapable of impression. Our hearts, habituated to anguish, are become insensible. Do not expect me to open the wounds that time has already closed; but in recalling the recollection of those terrific scenes which have stained our churches with blood, I would inquire whether the desolations of Jerusalem properly so called, or those of the mystic Jerusalem be most entitled to our tears? May the sight of the calamities into which we have been plunged excite in the bosom of a compassionate God, emotions of mercy! May he in crowning the martyrs, extend mercy to those that occasioned their death.
confirming those in the truth who we had in-
II. That public miseries originate in the crimes of a chastened people, is a proposition that scarcely any one will presume to deny when proposed in a vague and general way; but perhaps it is one of those whose evidence is less perceived when applied to certain private cases, and when we would draw the consequences resulting from it in a necessary and immediate manner: propose it in a pulpit, and each will acquiesce. But propose it in the cabinet; say, that the equipment of fleets, the levy of armies, and contraction of alliances, are feeble barriers of the state, unless we endeavour to eradicate the crimes which have enkindled the wrath of Heaven, and you would be put in the abject class of those good and weak sort of folks that are in the world. I do not come to renew the controversy, and to investigate what is the influence of crimes on the destiny of nations, and the rank it holds in the plans of Providence. Neither do I appear at the bar of philosophy the most scrupulous and severe, and at the bench of policy the most refined and profound, to prove that it is
I am impelled to the objects which the solemnities of this day recall to your minds, though I should even endeavour to dissipate the ideas; I would say, to the destruction of our churches, and to the strokes which have been levelled against our religion. The colours Jeremiah employed to trace the calamities of Jews, cannot be too vivid to paint those which have fallen on us. One scourge has followed another for a long series of years, "One deep has called unto another deep at the noise of his water-spouts," Ps. xlii. 7. A thousand and a thousand strokes were aimed at our unhappy churches prior to that which rased them to the ground! and if we may so speak, one would have said, that those armed against us were not content with being spectators of our ruin; they were emulous to effectuate it.
Sometimes they published edicts against those who foreseeing the impending calamities of the church, and unable to avert them, sought the sad consolation of not attesting the scenes.* .* Sometimes against those who having had the baseness to deny their religion, and unable to bear the remorse of their conscience, had recovered from their fall. Sometimes they prohibited pastors from exercising their discipline on those of their flock who had abjured the truth. Sometimes they permitted children at the age of seven years to embrace a doctrine, in the discussion of which they affirm, that even adults were inadequate to the task. At one time they suppressed a college, at another they interdicted a church. Sometimes they envied us the glory of converting infidels and idolaters; and required that those unhappy people should not renounce one kind of idolatry but to embrace another, far less excusable, as it dared to show its front amid the light of the gospel. They envied us the glory also of
not possible for a state long to subsist in splen- | says, "healed the hurt of his people slightly, dour which presumes to derive its prosperity saying, peace, peace, when there was no peace;" from the practice of crimes. For, Who is he that will dare to exclaim against the licentiousness of the wicked, as to make it vi. 14; and who were so far from suppressing a proposition so reasonable, and so closely con- their glory to surpass them! It would be renected with the grand doctrines of religion; quisite to describe the awful security which in and which cannot be renounced without a the midst of the most tremendous visitations stroke at the being of a God, and the superin- infatuated them to say, tendence of a Providence? a man admitting venant with death, and with hell we are at "We have made a cothose two grand principles, and presuming to agreement," Isa. xxviii. 15. It would be remake crimes subservient to the support of so- quisite to trace those sanguinary deeds, which ciety, should digest the following propositions. occasioned that just rebuke, "In the skirts of There is indeed a God in heaven, who has thy robe is found the blood of the innocent constituted society to practise equity; to main- poor," Jer. ii. 34. It would be requisite to extain order; and to cherish religion; he has con-hibit those scenes of idolatry, which made a nected its prosperity with these duties; but by prophet say, the secrets of my policy, by the depths of my places, and see where thou hast been lien with. "Lift up thine eyes on the high counsels, by the refinement of my wisdom, IO Juda, thy gods are as many as thy cities," know how to elude his designs, and avert his ii. 28; iii. 2. It would be requisite to speak of denunciations. God is indeed an Almighty that paucity of righteous men, which occasionBeing whose pleasure has a necessary connex- ed God himself to say, "Run ye to and fro ion with its execution; he has but to blow with through the streets of Jerusalem, and see now his wind on a nation, and behold it vanishes and know, and seek ye in the broad places away; but I will oppose power to power; I will thereof, if ye can find a man, if there be any force his strength;* and by my fleets, my armies, that executeth judgment, that seeketh truth, my fortress, I will elude all those ministers of and I will pardon it," v. i. vengeance. God has indeed declared, that he is jealous of his glory; that soon or late he will exterminate incorrigible nations; and that if from the nature of their vices there proceed not a sufficiency of calamities to extirpate them from the earth, he will superadd those unrelenting strokes of vengeance which shall justify his Providence; but the state, over which I preside, shall be too small, or perhaps too great to be absorbed in the vortex of his commanding sway. It shall be reserved of Providence as an exception to this general rule, and made to subsist in favour of those very vices, which have occasioned the sackage of other nations. My brethren, there is, if I may presume so to speak, but a front of iron and brass that can digest propositions so daring, and prefer the system of Hobbs and of Machiavel to that of David and of Solomon.
lections, and deducing from them the just But instead of retracing those awful recolapplication of which they are susceptible, it would be better to comprise them in that general confession, and to acknowledge when speaking of your calamities what the Jews confessed when speaking of theirs: "The Lord is righteous, for I have rebelled against him. Certainly thou art righteous in all the things that have happened, for thou hast acted in truth, but we have done wickedly. Neither have our kings, our princes, our priests, nor our fathers, kept thy law, nor hearkened unto thy commandments, and to thy testimonies wherewith thou didst testify against them," Lam. i. 18; Neh. ix. 34.
But what awful objects should we present to your view, were we wishful to enter on a detail of the proofs concerning the equity of the strokes with which God afflicted the Jews; and especially were we wishful to illustrate the conformity found in this second head, between the desolations of those ancient people, and those of our own churches?
To justify what we have advanced on the first head, it would be requisite to investigate many of their kings, who were monsters rather than men; it would be requisite to describe the hardness of the people who were wishful that the ministers of the living God, sent to rebuke their crimes, might contribute to confirm them therein; and who, according to the expression of Isaiah, "said to the seer, see not; and to those who had visions, see no more visions of uprightness; speak unto us smooth things, prophecy deceit. Get you out of the way, turn aside out of the path, cause the Holy One of Israel to cease from before us," xxx. 10, 11. It would be requisite to exhibit the connivance of many of their pastors, who, as Jeremiah
*The versions vary very much in reading; Isaiah xxvii. 5. Vide Poh Synopsis Crit. in loc.
jects more attractive and assortable with the III. But it is time to present you with obfell upon the Jews, and those which have fallen solemnities of this day. The calamities which on us; those calamities which had a character of justice; yea, even a character of horror, had also a character of mercy; and this is what is promised the Jews in the words of my text: heathen, and among the countries; yet I will "Although I have cast them far off among the where they are come." be to them as a little sanctuary in the countries these words, "as a little sanctuary," a vague, Whether you give or a limited signification, all resolves to the port, they refer to the temple of Jerusalem, same sense. If you give them a limited imwhich the Chaldeans had destroyed, and which was the emblem of God's presence in the midst of his people. "I have dispersed them among the heathen;" I have deprived them of their temple, but I will grant them supernaturally the favours I accorded to their prayers have been deprived. In this sense St. John once offered up in the house, of which they said, that he "saw no temple in the new Jerusalem, because God and the Lamb were the temple thereof," Rev. xxi. 22. If you give these words an extended import, they allude to the dispersion. “Although I have cast them off among the heathen, and put them far
away" from the place of their habitation; yet | Scripture seems to favour this notion; and I will be myself their refuge. Much the same though Tertullian and Eusebius presume to is said by the author of the xcth psalm; Lord, say that Esdras had retained the sacred books "thou hast been our retreat, or refuge, from in memory, and wrote them in the order in one generation to another." But without a which they now stand; notwithstanding all minute scrutiny of the words, let us justify the this, we think ourselves able to prove that the thing. sacred trust never was out of their hands. It appears that Daniel read the prophets. The end of the second book of Chronicles, which has induced some to conclude that Cyrus was a proselyte, leaves not a doubt that this prince must have read the xlivth and xlvth chapters of Isaiah, where he is expressly named, and to this knowledge alone we can attribute the extraordinary expressions of his first edict. "The Lord God of heaven hath given me all the kingdoms of the earth; and he has charged me to build him a temple in Jerusalem,” 2 Chron. xxxvi. 23.
1. Even amid the carnage which ensued on the taking of Jerusalem, many of the principal people were spared. It appears from the sacred history, that Jeremiah was allowed to choose what retreat he pleased, either to remain in Babylon, or to return to his country. He chose the latter; he loved the foundations of Jerusalem, and of his temple, more than the superb city; and it was at the sight of those mournful ruins, that he composed those Lamentations, from which we have made many extracts, and in which he has painted in the deepest tints, and described in the most pathetic manner, the miseries of his nation.
2. While some of the Jewish captives had liberty to return to their country, others were promoted in Babylon to the most eminent of fices in the empire. The author of the second Book of Kings says, that Evil-merodach "lifted up the head of Jehoiachin out of prison-and set his throne above the throne of the kings that were with him in Babylon." Jeremiah repeats the same expression of this author, 2 Kings xxv. 28; Jer. lii. 32; and learned men have thence concluded, "that Jehoiachin reigned in Babylon over his own dispersed subjects." Of Daniel we may say the same; he was made governor of the province of Babylon by Nebuchadnezzar, "and chief of the governors over all the wise men," Dan. ii. 48. Darius conferred many years afterward the same dignities on this prophet; and Nehemiah was cupbearer to Artaxerxes.
3. How dark, how impenetrable soever the history of the seventy years may be, during which time the Jews were captive in Babylon, it is extremely obvious, that they had during that period some form of government. We have explained ourselves elsewhere concerning what is meant by the Achmalotarks; that is, the chiefs or princes of the captivity. We ought also to pay some attention to the book of Susanna: I know that this work bears various marks of reprobation, and that St. Jerome, in particular, regarded it with so much contempt as to assure us, in some sort, that it would never have been put in the sacred canon had it not been to gratify a brutish people. Meanwhile, we ought not to slight what this book records concerning the general history of the Jews: now we there see, that during the captivity, they had elders, judges, and senators; and if we may credit Origen, too much prejudiced in favour of the book of Susanna, it was solely to hide the shame of the princes of their nation that the Jews had suppressed it. 4. God always preserved among them the ministry, and the ministers. It is indubitable that there were always prophets during the captivity; though some of the learned have maintained, that the sacred books were lost during the captivity; though one text of
It appears, below, that Saurin thought Jeremiah and others returned from Babylon!
5. God wrought prodigies for the Jews, which made them venerable in the eyes of their greatest enemies. Though exiles; though captives; though slaves of the Chaldeans, they were distinguished as the favourites of the Sovereign of the universe. They made the God of Abraham to triumph even in the midst of idols; and aided by the prophetic Spirit, they pronounced the destiny of those very kingdoms in the midst of which they were dispersed. Like the captive Ark, they hallowed the humiliations of their captivity by symbols of terror. Witness the flames which consumed their executioners. Witness the dreams of Nebuchadnezzar, and of Belshazzar interpreted by Daniel, and realized by Providence: witness the praises rendered to God by idolatrous kings: witness the preservation of Daniel from the fury of the lions; and his enemies thrown to assuage the appetites of those fero
6. In a word, the mercy of God appeared so distinguished in the deliverance accorded to these same Jews, as to convince the most incredulous, that the same God who had determined their captivity, was he also who had prescribed its bounds. He moved in their behalf the hearts of pagan princes! We see Darius, and Cyrus, and Artaxerxes, become, by the sovereignty of Heaven over the heart of kings, the restorers of Jerusalem, and the builders of its temple! Xenophon reports, that when Cyrus took Babylon, he commanded his soldiers to spare all who spake the Syrian tongue; that is to say, the Hebrew nation; and no one can be ignorant of the edicts issued in favour of this people.
Now, my brethren, nothing but an excess of blindness and ingratitude can prevent the seeing and feeling in our own dispersion those marks of mercy, which shone so bright in the dispersion of the Jews. How else could we have eluded the troops stationed on the frontiers of our country, to retain us in it by force, and to make us either martyrs or apostates?
What else could excite the zeal of some Protestant countries, whose inhabitants you saw going to meet your fugitives, guiding them in the private roads, and disputing with one another who should entertain them; and saying, "Come, come into our houses, ye blessed of the Lord?" Gen. xxiv. 31.
Whence proceeds so much success in our