« ForrigeFortsæt »
rise up against the hand and understanding that employ it? Yet thus did the king of Assyria think and act.
II. THE GREAT MEN APPLY TO THE KINGS OF
ETHIOPIA AND EGYPT.
We see here how dangerous it is to prefer the views of human prudence to those of faith. God had promised to deliver Jerusalem, provided the inhabitants would keep themselves quiet, and place their sole confidence in him. Here they were to fix.
But the assistance of God wasinvisible, and seemed at a distance. The danger was present and augmenting daily. The succours of Egypt were nigh at hand, and seemed certain. According to all the rules of human policy, nothing ought to have been omitted towards obtaining the protection of two such powerful kings, as those of Egypt and Ethiopia. Besides, would it not be tempting God, to expect a miracle? And in the extreme danger they were, would it not be folly to continue unactive? The event will shew, whether these politicians or Hezekiah reasoned most justly. III. TIE IMPIOUS SPEECHES, AND BLASPHEMING
LETTER OF SENNACHERIB.  The Speeches and Letter of Sennacherib with reason appear impious, senseless, and detestableinthe mouth of a worn against the majesty of heaven. This prince, blinded by his success, and not knowing whence itarose, entertained the same notions of the GodofJudah, as of all the other gods, whose power, in his opinion, was confined to certain regions, and some particular effects, and were capable of being entirelyoverthrown, notwithstanding their divinity. He saw nothing in the God of Israel to distinguish him from the multitude of gods he had conquered. His empire was inclosed within the narrow limits of a small country, and confined to the mountains. His name
[b] 2 Kings xix.
was scarce known among the neighbouring nations. This God had already suffered the ten tribes to be carried away by the kings of Nineveh. He had just lost all the fortified places of the tribe of Judah, which alone was left hiin; and all his dominions, all his people, all his worshippers, and his whole religion were reduced to a single city, in all outward appearance without any power to secure itself from the destruction, which Sennacherib looked upon as inevitable.
It is admirable to see in what manner God is pleased to confound the insolent pride of this prince, who caused himself to be called the great king, the king by way of excellence; who considered himself as an invincible conqueror, as the lord of the earth, and the subduer of men and gods. This prince, so proud and haughty, the God of Israel will treat as a wild beast; he will put a hook in his nose, and a bridle in his mouth, and turn him back with disgrace and infamy by the same way that he came triumphant and glorious. Such is the fate of human pride. IV. THE DEFEAT OF THE KING OF ETHIOPIA.
It is easy to discern in the punishment of the king of Ethiopia the jealousy of the Lord of hosts against whomever pretends to be his rival, or to share with him in glory, by presuming to assist him in the preservation of his inheritance, or in freeing it from difficulties wherein his promises had too far engaged it; and in the sad fate of the Israelites, who had recourse to Egypt, we may plainly see the condemnation of all such, as either doubt of the promises made to the church, whereof Jerusalemn is certainly the figure, or who think that, under certain difficult and dangerous circumstances, they stand in need of human strength and wisdom.
V. THE ARMY OF THE ASSYRIANS CUT OFF BY
THE DESTROYING ANGEL, The short and plain manner, in which this wonderful event is related in the historical books, is truly Dili VOL. II.
worthy of the grandeur of God. And it came to pass that night, that the angel of the Lord went out, and smote in the camp of the Assyrians an hundred fourscore and five thousand. With what ease can God bring down the pride of an haughry prince, destroy so many brave officers, and exterminate so numerous and formidable an army? It costs him but a blast : I will send, said he, a blast upon him, and he shall return into his own land.
But the sublimity that appears in the prophet's style, who foretold all the circumstances of this great event, is no less worthy the Divine Majesty, who here displayed his omnipotence in so wonderful a manner. With what noble ideas do the expressions of Isaiah present us? [c] When all seemed desperate, I will change the face of affairs in a moment, said the Lord, it shall be at an instant, suddenly. When the enemies of Jerusalem, who know not that they act by my commission, shall think themselves masters
, I will make them as small as the dust in one night. I will scatter them as a whirlwind. They shall find no general in the morning, not one officer with his company; and the confidence they had that Jerusalem was theirs, shall be like the imagination of an hungry man in his dream, who thinks that he eats, but wakes and finds himself empty. It shall even be as when a hungry man dreameth, and behold he eateth; and he awaketh, and his soul is empty.
The senseless pride of Sennacherib, his impious blasphemies, awaken the Lord, who seemed as though he were asleep. And then they understand the full force and energy of those words, [d] Now will I arise, now will I be exalted, now will I lift up myself
. From his throne and sanctuary upon mount Sion God sends forth thunder and lightning; from his altar in Jerusalem, the sacred furnace, where a perpetual fire burns to his glory, proceed avenging flames to devour (c) Isa. xxix. 5, 8.
peating the word now. "Je me [d] Chap. xxxiii. 10 's leverai maintenant, je signalerai French translation loses a great part “ ma grandeur, je ferai éclater ma of the beauty of this, by not re-:" puissance.
his enemies. [e] Thus saith the Lord, whose fire is in Sion, and whose furnace is in Jerusalem.
In effect; [f] Isaiah describes the surprising destruction of a whole army, offered up to the just vengeance of a jealous God so unworthily insulted, as a public and solemn sacrifice. The hand of the Lord, says the prophet, shall smite and scatter, and universally destroy. The terrible noise of his thunder shall be to him and his servants, whom he undertakes to defend, as an agreeable concert of tabrets, and harps, and other instruments of music, which upon great feasts accompany the offering of sacrifice; and the Assyrians sacrificed to his vengeance shall be to him as a solemn victim.
VI. REASONS of God's PATIENCE IN BEARING
WITH SENNACHERIB, AND HIS SLOWNESS IN
No one knows the designs of God before they are executed; and whilst they are accomplishing, it is impossible to point out where numberless events will end, whereof we can neither perceive the connexion, the uses, nor motives, and which seem to induce the necessity of universal ruin.
When the public evils began to shew themselves in the time of Hezekiah, they seemed to be extreme. When all the country was ruined, and the cities destroyed, those misfortunes were believed without resource, and incapable of remedy. But when Jerusalem saw the formidable army of the Assyrians at their gates, the famine and the pestilence raging within, and all human hope cut off by the defeat of the Ethiopians, who were coming up to their relief; it then seemed folly to expect a miraculous protection, since God had opposed all outward means of help, and declared in favour of the enemy.
A weak faith was incapable of supporting so long a trial, and those who had the strongest and most per[<] Isa. xxxi. 8, 9. [f] Ibid. xxx. 30, 32. 2 2
severing, were astonished at the slowness wherewith
It was thus God dealt with Sennacherib: he used
TER OF HEZEKIAH.