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vested with all the distinguishing privileges of his church and peculiar people, and secure under his protection. But now they found all their so. phistry to be lying words, and could no longer take assurance from their peculiar. privileges, when their temple and city were both destroyed, and themselves cast out into a foreign land, where they were so long, and so shamefully stripped of all their honours. The law of God, written by Moses as the rule of their conduct in all affairs, civil and religious, and the ground of their happiness, had been so far neglected, that once it was almost unknown, and lost among them. II Kings xxii. 8. 12.
This is the more extraordinary, because that in every seventh or sabbatical year, the land had rest, and they had been exempt from ordinary labour and employment, that they might have nothing to distract their attention from reading, examining, and meditating on the law. With this view, the produce of their land in the sixth year was double, as was the manna in the wilderness on the sixth day, that they might rest, and keep holy the sabbath.
In their captive, disconsolate state, they had time for consideration; and their calamities had a natural tendency to induce them to reflect upon the long series of iniquity and perverseness, which had brought upon them judgments so beavy.
“Now their own wickedness corrected them, their own backslidings reproved them. Now they saw it was an evil thing, and bitter, that they had forsaken the Lord their God, and that his fear had not been in them.” Jer. ii. 19.
Their bemoaning of themselves is pathetically set forth in the 137th Psalm: “By the rivers of Babilon, there we sat down, yea, we wept, when we remembered Zion. We hanged our harps upon the willows in the midst thereof. For they that carried us away captive, required of us a song; and they that wasted us, required of us mirth; saying, Sing us one of the songs of Zion. How shall we sing the Lord's song in a strange land? If I forget thee, Oh Jerusalem ! let my right hand forget its cunning. If I do not remember thee, let my tongue cleave to the roof of my mouth; if I prefer not Jerusalem above my chief joy."
The prophecies which have been recited, prepare us for a luminous display of the wonderful working of Him, who seeth the end from the beginning. His omnipotence cannot be more incontrovertibly established, than in the instances of his overruling the purposes of men in such a manner, as that even their wickedness shall be
made subservient to the gracious designs of his Providence.
The destruction of the kingdom of Samaria, cured the Israelites of the contagion of idolatry; and the colonists sent by Esarhaddon to inhabit Samaria, were taught by them the worship of the true God; and united in the building of a temple on mount Gerizim, like unto that at Jerusalem.
The dreadful overthrow of the Jewish nation and temple, proved the most effectual means of working their reformation. No method could have been devised more proper to give then a fixed detestation of idolatry, and of the vile arts by which they were seduced into it. Their contempt of the Divine law, the true prophets bad frequently and strongly protested against, and publicly declared it would be their ruin. This must be remembered by them, and they must be made sensible that a due regard to the law of God, was the only way to recover his favour and their own prosperity; and it had the effect designed: for they never more fell into idolatry; but they retain the greatest abhorrence of it to this day.
After their return from Babylon, Ezra had not any dilliculty in introducing the law-the people called for it. And though before the cap
tivity they had no synagogue for public worship, except the temple at Jerusalem; nor any places of resort for instruction, but the cities of the Levites; yet now synagogues were erected among them in every city, where the law was read every sabbath, and other acts of devotion performed. This was an effectual method of bringing them to the knowledge of their duty in all matters, both civil and religious.
The nations that vexed and oppressed the Israelites, were not sensible that they were but the rod of the Lord's anger. They meditated only the advancement of their own power; but it as certainly tended to their own destruction. "The prophet Isaiah was commissioned to declare: “ It shall come to pass when the Lord hath performed his whole work upon mount Zi. on, and on Jerusalem, I will punish the fruit of the stout heart of the king of Assyria, and the glory of his high looks." There was little prose pect of such an event when the Assyrians were in the midst of their successes and triumph, but still the word of the Lord prevailed; and it was not long after the calanıities brought upon the Jews, that the Assyrian empire, properly so called, was overthrown, and Nineveh destroyed. We have seen in the thirty-second chapter of this work, that the propbet Nahum
not only foretold the total and utter destruction of this city, but pointed out the particular man. ner in wbich it should be accomplished.
Another city that was an enemy to the Jews, and another instance of the truth of prophecy, was Tyre, whose fall was predicted, both by Isaiah and Ezekiel. Tyre became the most celebrated place in the world, for its trade and navigation; the seat of riches, and the centre of cominerce.
Of its traffic with foreign nations, its multiplied branches and channels of trade, Ezekiel, in his 28th chapter, gives a splendid description.
The portrait he has drawn of the prince of Tyrus, exceeds in colouring all the paintings which have been transmitted by the ancients : “ Thou sealest up the sum, full of wisdom, and perfect in beauty. Thou hast been in Eden, the garden of God; every precious stone was thy covering, the Sardius, Topaz, and the Diamond, Thou art the anointed Cherub that covereth, and I have set thee so. Thou wast upon the holy mountain of God. Thou hast walked up and down in the midst of the stones of fire. Thy heart was lifted up, because of thy beauty; thou hast corrupted thy wisdom, by reason of thy brightness. I will cast thee to the ground, F