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The Bringer of good News
for a better country. Without this affliction thou too mightes easily have waxed presumptuous and been lost. In God's true country thou wilt comprehend what the troubles of thine exile meant. Not a blow, not a fetter, but was a token of love, a favour from thy King, 14. And the Lord hath given a commandment concerning thee, that no more of thy name be sown: out of the house of thy gods will I cut off the graven image and the molten image: I will make thy grave ; for thou art vile. A dynasty of might, a hierarchy of wealth, a worship rich and beau
tiful, a name far-reaching. All these are soon to be as nothing. The Lord remains, but His enemies are nothing, are mere vanity. What can I do, in the universal crash and speedy oblivion of time, to preserve a lasting seed, a living name? Let me cling to the eternal and unchanging One Who knit Himself with my frail nature that He might exalt it into immortal life. O Divine Truth, Thy words abide, Thy love never fails. What care I if all earth's glory and renown pass?
15. Behold upon the mountains the feet of him that bringeth good tidings, that publisheth peace? O Judah, keep thy solemn feasts, perform thy vows: for the wicked shall no more pass through thee; he is utterly cut off Let thanks and praise here be the beginning of the eternal song.
The Church on earth has tears as well as songs. Christians praise their conquering King for victory over Satan ; and then again, in their own downfall, they feel the effects of Satan's power. But peace and truth will prevail at last. Pharaoh will at last be overwhelmed in the Red Sea and never rise thence to enslave again God's redeemed people.
E that dasheth in pieces is come up before thy face : keep
the munition, watch the way, make thy loins strong, fortify thy power mightily. 2. For the Lord hath turned away the excellency of Jacob, as the excellency of Israel: for the emptiers have emptied them out, and marred their vine branches. Observe the fortunes of two cities. On the one side, the world's great
empire; on the other, the City of God. The latter has already
The Median Foe
been spoiled, been chastened, been afflicted. Now comes the turn of the enemy. The destroyer draws near to whom commission has been given to pull down all earth's glory. The world tries in vain to renew her strength, to use her wonted weapons. These eloquent chapters paint the impending ruin of a mighty empire ; but I see in them a warning of that dread hour when the heavens shall pass away with a great noise, and the elements shall melt with fervent heat, the earth also, and the works that are therein, shall be burned up' (2 Peter iii. 10). In the presence of death and judgment, what will mortal strength or courage avail ?
3. The shield of his mighty men is made red, the valiant men are in scarlet : the chariots shall be with flaming torches in the day of his preparation, and the fir trees shall be terribly shaken. 4. The chariots shall rage in the streets, they shall justle one against another in the broad ways: they shall seem like torches, they shall run like the lightnings. 5. He shall recount his worthies : they shall stumble in their walk; they shall make haste to the wall thereof, and the defence shall be prepared. The glowing shields, the scarlet uniforms, the flashing chariots, the
whirling spears of the assailants; the faint-hearted, distracted defence ; all this is vividly revived for me here out of the dust of long-buried ages. But I know that there is another
besides that which human eyes see. “Principalities and powers,' 'spiritual wickedness in high places,' assail a Christian. He has need of a shield, a spear, a cuirass, that are not of earth. The warfare goes on fiercely round him ; souls are the prize. But on his side are heavenly hosts, with a Divine Captain at their head.
6. The gates of the rivers shall be opened, and the palace shall be dissolved. 7. And Huzzab shall be led away captive, she shall be brought up, and her maids shall lead her as with the voice of doves, tabering upon their breasts. The mighty palace wall melts in the fierce stream, the gates are
opened, the captives come forth with lamentations, or seek in vain for a shelter. All the might of Nineveh is brought to desolation. Just as these pictured walls, these rich temples, these well-filled treasuries of the imperial city were laid low, so will all that I trust in here below be laid waste by death. How quickly the flood
rises, the foe prevails, the glory ends ! 8. But Nineveh is of old like a pool of water : yet they shall flee away. Stand, stand, shall they cry; but none shall VER. 13.]
The Lion's Den spoiled
look back. 9. Take ye the spoil of silver, take the spoil of gold: for there is none end of the store and glory out of all the pleasant furniture. 10. She is empty, and void, and waste : and the heart melteth, and the knees mite together, and much pain is in all loins, and the faces of them all gather blackness. Here was a reservoir into which all earth's riches poured. Hither
was brought the plunder of all lands. Here was confidence resting on invincible strength, on the imperial renown of many centuries. In our own time explorers from far-off regions painfully dig up the fragments of this buried glory and try to imagine what it was like. Do not marvel that God's Prophets view the fall of Nineveh and of Babylon with joy. They knew the injustice and cruelty on which that splendour rested." They breathed more freely when it was gone. They discerned in its fall no mere chance, but the
avenging Hand of God. 11. Where is the dwelling of the lions, and the feeding-place of the young lions, where the lion, even the old lion, walked, and the lion's whelp, and none made them afraid? 12. The lion did tear in pieces enough for his whelps, and strangled for his lionesses, and filled his holes with prey, and his dens with ravin. This is, to faith's eye, a den full of bones and blood. This glorious
city is strewn with the wrecks of purity, of uprightness, of honesty. Innumerable souls enter it only to be ruined. The invisible adversary dwells there'as a roaring lion seeking whom he may devour. Lord, in the crowded streets, the workshops, the playing fields of our own land, may Thy warriors be brave to combat this lion and rescue souls from him !
13. Behold, I am against thee, saith the Lord of hosts, and I will burn her chariots in the smoke, and the sword shall devour thy young lions : and I will cut off thy prey from the earth, and the voice of thy messengers shall no more be heard. As the cruel oppressor, with his swift chariots, his devouring jaws,
his insolent messengers, passes out of sight, the City of God comes into view, the messengers of good tidings are heard. It is through distress and affliction that prophecy begins to have more light as to the character and office of the Deliverer. The Saviour of men, the bringer of a universal Gospel, a spiritual religion, an inward freedom, was sought for and waited for by those first of all whose earthly hopes had been disappointed. When earth cheated them, they learned to walk in the way of the Cross and look toward the blessed end of it.
The false Enchantress shamed
TOE to the bloody city! it is all full of lies and robbery;
the prey departeth not ; Not only a lion's den, but a robber's cave. Its glory is usurped, its
wealth wrongly gained; nothing honest finds encouragement there. O Lord, grant me to belong to Truth's City, where /e rules Who is 'faithful and true,' to which every one belongs who is of the truth' and heareth Truth's Voice. Let me no longer seek to be praised for excellences and talents which I do not possess. Let me put aside my haunting love for false flattery. Who am I that I should steal praise that is due to my Master alone ?
2. The noise of a whip, and the noise of the rattling of the wheels, and of the pransing horses, and of the jumping chariots. 3. The horseman lifteth up both the bright sword and the glittering spear : and there is a multitude of slain, and a great number of carcases ; and there is none end of their corpses; they stumble upon their corpses : Cracking whips, rumbling wheels, prancing steeds, rattling chariots,
headlong riders, flashing swords, glittering spears. This is the assailing force, irresistible in might. The Prophet sees and hears it as it passes. Then he looks behind it and sees the gr loaded with the bodies of the defeated. Where once the world's great city stood is nothing but ruin ; its defenders are mute in death. I know well that I and mine shall one day sleep the sleep of death; our bodies will rot and turn to dust as did those warriors of old time. Our end may be by gentle decay, but it comes as surely as did theirs
'In the lost battle, borne down by the flying. What good works shall I leave behind me then? What prayers will accompany me into the unseen world ?
4. Because of the multitude of the whoredoms of the wellfavoured harlot, the mistress of witchcrafts, that selleth nations through her whoredoms, and families through her witchcrafts. 5. Behold, I am against thee, saith the Lord of hosts; and I will discover thy skirts upon thy face, and I will shew the nations thy nakedness, and the kingdoms thy shame. 6. And VER. 10.]
Warnings from the Fate of Thebes
I will cast abominable filth upon thee, and make thee vile, and will set thee as a gazingstock. This queen, beautiful and glorious, full of charm, clothed with
honour, is but a foul harlot, a false enchantress. The time is come for her adornments to be stripped off and her true character made known. I remark with some surprise that the Prophet Jeremiah borrows this very passage (Jerem. xiii. 26, 27) to describe the iniquity of God's own City and the punishment that should fall on it. If the Holy Jerusalem fell so far as to incur the same blame and doom that fell on the oppressor, is it not possible that a regenerate soul, a child of God, consecrated and chosen to be His, adorned with gifts of grace, may become false and foul, a slave of Satan, a source of harm to others ? From this passage, too, I gather that beauty and grace, apart from goodness, have an ensnaring power, a spell for evil. They are strong to win us away from God.
7. And it shall come to pass, that all they that look upon thee shall flee from thee, and say, Nineveh is laid waste : who will bemoan her? whence shall I seek comforters for thee? 8. Art thou better than populous No, that was situate among the rivers, that had the waters round about it, whose rampart was the sea, and her wall was from the sea ? 9. Ethiopia and Egypt were her strength, and it was infinite; Put and Lubim were thy helpers. 10. Yet was she carried away, she went into captivity: her young children also were dashed in pieces at the top of all the streets : and they cast lots for her honourable men, and all her great men were bound in chains. This tale of woe that should be told of Nineveh has been told of
other cities, other empires, 'great and fair.' Here it is told of Egyptian Thebes, the city of a hundred gates, famous in ancient song, protected by the breadth of Nile, strong in chariots and horses innumerable, able to summon swarms of African auxiliaries. That great city was taken and plundered by the Assyrians in the time of Esar-haddon's successor, about the year 660 B.C., and it seems to be this calamity which the Prophet refers to as a warning to Nineveh. In the downfall of Thebes I see pictured my own. When temptation or death draws near, my fancied strength is but weakness, my resources nought. As the stout walls and brazen gates of Thebes fell before destroyers, strong men laid down their arms, great men petitioned in vain for life or liberty, so comes down all earth's glory. I know how frail is my own defence in the presence of strong temptation. Be Thou, O Lord, my Shield, my Rock, my Refuge !