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the kingdom of Chaldea was first in the scale of nations. In earthly pomp and grandeur it surpassed all other states. The land of Judea was then in its possession, and her people, its captives. Its capital, the mighty Babylon, was, from the solidity of its walls, the strength of its fortifications, and its gates of brass, considered impregnable ; but, agreeably to scripture prophecy,* the city was taken by Cyrus: he entered it by the channel of the river Euphrates, whose waters he had directed into another course ; and during a night of riotous festivity, in which the Babylonians had forgotten to shut their brasen gates, the city was taken by Cyrus, whom the Lord, at least one hundred and seventy years before, named as his servant to destroy the kingdom of Chaldea for their cruel treatment of his captive Israel. Cyrus, the conqueror of Babylon (who issued a proclamation for the Jews to return to their beloved Jerusalem after seventy years captivity) was heir to the throne of Persia; and succeeded to that of Media, by virtue of his marriage with the daughter of Cyaxares (otherwise Darius) his uncle. The kingdoms of Media and Persia thus united under Cyrus (after the overthrow of Babylon) obtained the supremacy
* Isaiah xlv. 1-4.
of the world, and preserved that pre-eminence two hundred and six years, when it was subdued by Alexander, styled the great, whose dissatisfaction amidst the shouts of victory, and the dazzling accompaniments of power, strikingly show the fallacy of seeking true happiness from sublunary objects. Alexander founded the Grecian empire, which continued one hundred and seventy seven years, when it was compelled to submit to Rome's conquering legions, to whom all nations bowed, and, by tribute, acknowledged as their superior. In the days of these kings, did the God of heaven set up a kingdom, which shall never be destroyed : yes, in the reign of Augustus, did the mighty King Jesus first openly declare and set up his great spiritual kingdom. Its beginning, to human appearance, was small and unpromising. Yet, this stone which was cut out without hands, (i. e.) without human power or worldly policy, shall becoine a great mountain, and fill the whole earth. It is true, the Jewish nation expected the Messiah to come, surrounded by all the splendours of eastern magnificence; that he would deliver them from the Roman power, and, after a reign more glorious than Solomon's, establish a kingdom which should remain unshaken till time shall be no more. But, shall the unchangeable Jehovah alter his purposes or mould his plans, to meet the idle fancies or short-sighted schemes of the children of men? No, the Messiah has appeared, not in the style they had anticipated, but in the manner most agreeable to the mind of infinite Wisdom. Yet, because he did not assume the gaudy trappings of earthly state, the Jews reject him, and vainly look for another, although he appeared at the time predicted. The Roman power is now laid low, and according to all their prophecies, the period is passed when he, of whom Moses and the prophets did write, should appear. Jesus far exceeds in real excellence, even their own highly coloured portrait, for the blessings of his reign extend to ages yet unborn. They expected a temporal king, but no; the land of Canaan, although the glory of all lands, was far too insignificant for him to accept as the sphere of his government. He shall sway his kingly sceptre, not only over Judea's fruitful land; but his dominions extend from sea to sea, and from the river even to the ends of the earth. The mightiest monarchies are often swept away, as by the besom of destruction, and all are compelled to submit to the iron hand of time; yet his, is an everlasting kingdom, which cannot be moved by the revolutions of nations, but shall continue firm and unshaken even amidst the crash of worlds. It was expected the
Messiah would deliver them from the Roman power ; but mark, it was said, his name shall be called Jesus, for he shall save his people (not from their temporal oppressor but) from their sins.*
Surely it must be . confessed, that earth's greatest conqueror, is far below bim who delivers from the bondage of sin and satan, which is the worst of slavery. Yes, Jesus saves his people, the true Israel of God, from the consequences and power of sin; from the former, by bearing the punishment himself, and from the latter, by his Spirit implanted in their hearts. The kingdom shall not be left to other people, but he will constantly direct and order all its affairs, and he shall reign and rule for ever.
When Israel was a child, then I loved him, and called my son out of Egypt.-Hosea xi. 1.
We cannot entertain a doubt that this verse alludes to the call of the children of Israel from Egypt, yet we are not to suppose it refers exclusively to that event, but we are to behold it pointing to Israel's Lord. Christ is said to be the husband of his Church, and they are both called by the name of Israel ;t and this
* Matt. i 21.
+ Isaiah xliv. 21., xlix. 3.
verse is only one amongst the many instances which occur in the Old Testament. The patriarch Jacob, or (as he was surnamed by God) Israel, went with his descendants into Egypt, for shelter and sustenance in the days of famine, but they were afterwards cruelly entreated four hundred years; from which state of oppression and bondage, the Lord called and delivered them. In after
Jesus, God's beloved son, our Israel, was taken into Egypt, to avoid the persecution of Herod; and when that tyrant was dead, God called the holy child Jesus from that land of heathens, by the ministration of an angel. In Egypt, Israel was first formed into a church; and thither did the great head of the Church also go; and the Holy Ghost, by the evangelist Matthew, has stated, that it was on purpose to fulfil this prediction. That Jesus was as much the beloved of the Father, when tabernacling here below, as when he lay in the Father's bosom, cannot be doubted ;* indeed, all the honours of his mediatorial kingdom, are the fruits of his humiliation and suffering. We hear him saying, “ for this cause doth my Father love me, because I lay down my life, that I might take it again."
* Matt. iii., 17. xvii. 5. Mark i. 11., ix. 7.