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as related by Herodotus and Xenophon, the thoughtful observer will not fail to discover how “ the purpose of the Lord against Babylon was performed.”
The unexpectedness of the event to both king and people is deserving a moment's notice. “ I have laid a spare for thee, and thou art also taken, 0 Babylon, and thou wast not aware : thou art found, and also caught." “In their heat I will make their feasts, and I will make them drunken, that they may sleep a perpetual sleep and not wake, saith the Lord.” “And I will make drunk her princes, and her wise men, her captains, and her rulers, and her mighty men; and they shall sleep a perpetual sleep, saith the King, whose name is the Lord of hosts.” In fulfilment of these predictions, Herodotus informs us in his history, that the Persians came upon the city by surprise. “ It is related,” he says, “ by the people who inhabited the city that, by reason of its great extent, when they who were at the extremities were taken, those who inhabited the interior knew nothing of the capture (for it happened to be a festival); but they were dancing at the time, and enjoying themselves till they received certain information of the truth.” The fact thus recorded explains also another remarkable prediction. “One post, it is said, “shall run to meet another, and one messenger to meet another, to show the king of Babylon that his city is taken at one end; and that the passages are stopped, and that the men of war are affrighted.” It is not difficult to understand how, under such circumstances, the king was in the city, and yet had to be told that it was taken-how that messengers should run in different and opposite directions to convey to the same place tidings of the same event. The entrance of the Persian army at both ends of the city was nearly simultaneous, betwixt which the space of at least eight miles would intervene. In attempting, therefore, to convey with all expedition the disastrous tidings to the palace, messengers from each end would necessarily so run as to meet each other, unconscious that the same message was alike borne by both. And thus literally would “one post run to meet another, and one messenger to meet another, to show unto the king that his city was taken at one end.”
"In that night was Belshazzar the King of the Chaldeans slain, and Darius the Median took the kingdom.” Such is the sacred record relating to the capture of the city and the fall of the Chaldean empire. How few are the words made use of to describe these events, and yet the facts communicated are of overwhelming importance! The death of a powerful monarch, and the conquest of a kingdom almost unequalled for its greatness and magnificence, are here disposed of with a brevity which is truly astonishing. How different would have been the record, had the events referred to been described by the mere historian. He would have dwelt on the character of Belshazzar-his magnificence and unrivalled power-he would have described the high walls of Babylon and her hundred brazen gatesthe temple of Belus towering towards heaven—the palace whose walls were eight miles in circumference—the hanging gardens, and the embankments that kept out the waters of the Euphrates. He would have recorded the number of the inhabitants—the approach of the Median conqueror—the sacking of the city and the number of the
slain. This he would have done and more; but he would never have been content to sum up all the mighty events connected with the fall of Babylon in the simple though sublime record, “In that night was Belshazzar the king of the Chaldeans slain, and Darius the Median took the kingdom."
The fulness and simplicity of Holy Scripture in thus recording the facts of history, is calculated to impress a thinking mind more deeply than the littleness visible in the inflated records of mere mortal men. The unadorned truth is less doubted, more unreservedly depended upon, than it is when dressed up in the needless ornaments of human eloquence. The record is felt to be true, and we receive it as an unquestioned reality.
Having said thus much, it may be necessary, before we bring our paper to a close, to reply to an objection which has been started as to the historical accuracy of this simple yet sublime record. Berosus, a Chaldean priest, has said that Belshazzar was not the last king of Babylon; also, that he was not in the city on the night referred to, when the Persian army took possession ; that Belshazzar was subsequently taken by Cyrus, having been defeated in battle, and that he was treated by him with great clemency. Loud and exultant had been the yell of infidel triumph over these counter-statements ; for now it was evident, they said, that the Bible was little better than a myth-that it was not historically true; and for years the two statements, so manifestly contradictory, have proved a source of considerable embarrassment with Biblical critics. But recent discoveries in Assyria have supplied us with the information necessary to reconcile these apparently counter-statements; for Sir Henry Rawlinson has obtained from the ruins of Babylon certain inscriptions which, now that they have been deciphered, supply the information which beautifully harmonizes the two statements. The last king of Babylon was undoubtedly the one referred to by Berosus; but the inscriptions obtained from the ruins of Babylon disclose to us the fact that this king had a son called Belshazzar, who was made joint king with his father, and that this son was the king who perished in the city when the siege took place. Thus again is infidelity put to the blush, and the two testimonies, which, twelve years ago, were regarded as irreconcilable, when read in the light of modern archæological discovery, are found perfectly to harmonize.
There is another passage in the book of Daniel which, until now, we could never tell the meaning of. When Daniel read the mystic handwriting on the wall, Belshazzar said he would make him the third ruler of the kingdom. But why the third ? Why not the second, the same as Joseph was made in Egypt? The fact just referred to at once clears up the difficulty, and beautifully illustrates the historical accuracy of the Bible record. Belshazzar could not make him second ruler in the kingdom-he was only second himself.
Such, then, is the story of ancient Babylon—the “lady of kingdoms"-the “golden city"—the “beauty of the Chaldees' excellency.” How wonderful are the predictions relating to it, uttered more than a century before, as compared with the actual facts of its history as recorded by credible historians ! What more convincing evidence can be afforded to the truth and divinity of Sacred Scripture than this? To the sceptic and the infidel the whole case is abundantly monitory. Well would it be for such to consider with becoming seriousness the evidences of that Divine system which they scornfully reject, with the difficulties and cheerlessness of their own; and to turn from the hollow dogmas of mere human devising to the reception of its verities, while yet an insulted but merciful God is waiting to be gracious.
Miscellaneous Articles, Inecdotes, fc.
A BIRD'S-EYE VIEW OF heavy blows, both against the PASSING EVENTS.
bishops and the whole of the
ritualistic party. The whole subject The ritualistic superstition has be- must be taken up in earnest, and we come the leading topic of the day. think it not improbable that the The periodical press teems with letters, agitation will result either in a and reports of speeches, lectures, and second reformation, so far as the sermons upon it from the pulpit and Church of England is concerned, or the platform. The more infatuated of in the separation of the Church from the ritualists are in raptures at the the State. large amount of attention their Father Ignatius, the Rev. J. L. practices are attracting. The Pope, Lyne, has become curate of St. were it not for his own heavy Bartholomew's, Cripplegate, in the troubles, might laugh in his sleeve diocese of London. The services are at what is going on in the Church said to be High Church, without of England, in connection with being “ritualistic," and Mr. Lyne “clerical millinery," incense burning, has abandoned his monkish habit. the burning of candles on the altar There is something in this business in broad daylight, confession, abso- that does not appear on the surface. lution, transubstantiation, &c. &c. We have no confidence in “Father We hardly think, however, that his Ignatius." We should have thought Holiness will just now be in a laugh- the Bishop of London would neither ing mood. Dr. Manning is confident have sanctioned nor permitted such that he and the late Cardinal Wise- a thing. man are about to be proved true The “ Liberation Society” is prophets by England going over to putting forth vigorous efforts this the Papacy. We fancy, however, he winter. Lectures are being delivered is mistaken. We believe England and meetings held in many places in to be still soundly Protestant at the provinces, and with considerable heart, notwithstanding the present success. The present aspects of the movements in the Established Church, times are regarded as favourable to and the apparent increase of Popery. the objects contemplated by the But this is no time for silence Society, and as inviting the vigorous or inertness. The truth must be prosecution of its labours. The Society manfully maintained, and by the has already effected much good, and blessing of God it shall prevail and we trust a successful futureis beforeit. triumph. We have hope even with The Rev. C. H. Spurgeon has respect to the Church Establish
been among the Quakers. The meetment. The Bishop of Salisbury has ing was a most interesting one, and snubbed “S. G. 0." for writing we hope will bear good fruit. It had against Popery in the Church, but been in Mr. Spurgeon's heart for the latter returns to the charge with some time to seek an opportunity of redoubled vigour, and deals out addressing the Society of Friends, or as many of them as could be reached, the Almighty were at last coining first by the actua) voice, and then out of his place, and all nature were by means of the press. Painfully moved to meet him.” impressed with the notorious and During the last month the rainundeniable fact that ceremonial fall, especially in Lancashire and worship was setting in against Yorkshire, was very heavy, and spiritual devotion, it occurred to him most disastrous floods were the that the Friends, from their avowed result. According to a statement in and cherished principles, were those the Leeds Mercury, thirty lives were who ought to be among the leaders lost, while the damage to property of the van in resisting the threatened may be estimated at half a million deluge. He longed to tell them so. sterling. The loss in the Vale of He acknowledged that their testi- Calder is put down at £200,000; in mony against evils of the class he Wakefield and neighbourhood, at wished to be assailed was “clear as £100,000; and in Dewsbury and its a bell," but he wanted it also to be vicinity, at £50,000. In Salford "shrill as a clarion.” The wished- 2,685 houses were inundated, and for opportunity occurred, and Mr. 3,124 persons thrown out of emSpurgeon said what was in his heart ployment. What uncertainty and in a Lecture on George Fox, which insecurity attach to all mundane has since been published.
affairs ! The year 1866 has in various We regret to have to record a respects been a remarkable one. revival of the Fenian conspiracy, “War and pestilence, the fall of which has of late presented a somedynasties and changes of Govern- what menacing aspect. The Goment, would alone have sufficed,” vernment has, however, adopted observes Evangelical Christendom, such precautionary measures as are " to stamp its character as one of deemed requisite to meet the case, the most memorable periods of our and we do not think that anything time. But this was not enough. in the shape of serious alarm need be We have had signs in the heaven felt by Her Majesty's loyal subjects. above, as well as wonders on the The Emperor of the French is earth beneath. The meteoric dis- spoken of as being a good deal display on the morning of the 14th of quieted in mind just now. There is last month impressed itself on all little doubt that he was disappointed who witnessed it as the sublimest as with the result of the late war in well as the most awe-inspiring Germany; he will also be somewhat spectacle they ever beheld. It mortified at the failure of the seemed as if the stars of heaven were Mexican enterprise ; and there is a in sympathy with the tottering great ferment among the French thrones and princedoms of the earth, Ultramontanes with respect to the and, to use the magnificent language withdrawal of the French garrison of Scripture, were shaken out of from Rome. On the latter subject their places as the leaves of a fig- the Pope's myrmidons will be sure tree are shaken by an untimely to give Napoleon all the trouble they wind. It is true, the advancement can, but we trust he will be firm, of science had enabled astronomers and faithfully carry out the terms of to foretell the phenomenon, and to the treaty. prepare men for its coming; but no In Italy all eyes are turned towards preparation of that kind could steel Rome, and the events that will the beart against the solemnity of occur on the 15th of the present the spectacle, nor deaden the im- month. There is naturally much pression that here indeed was the excitement. The Pope gives no finger of God. And though it would sign of a disposition to be reconbe superstitious to connect those ciled to the King of Italy, but the fiery sħowers with terrestrial revolu- contrary. We shall probably have tions in the way of cause and effect, more to write about in relation to yet even the coincidence is strange Italy a month bence. and striking. It would seem as if The King of Prussia has been guilty of an act of great folly, and The largest number of ordained something worse. He has issued a missionaries are employed by the proclamation calling upon the people London Missionary Society, which to set apart a day for giving thanks has fourteen, and the American to God for the restoration of peace, Presbyterian Mission, which has and the great accessions to the Prussian twelve, of this class of agents. The territory; and this form of thanks- following table gives the total giving is rigorously enjoined on the number of missionaries in China in annexed provinces. This is too June last, and the number of native bad. Had the thanksgiving been converts at the close of the year :simply for the restoration of peace, Ordained missionaries, 97; lay misit would probably have been uni- sionaries, 14; missionary ladies, 93; versally accepted.
whole number of missionarits, 204; Austria is not in the best con- number of native helpers, 206; dition. She is at present inun- number of members received in 1865, dated with a host of Jesuits and 282; whole number of native memmonks from Venetia, to the great bers, 3,142. These statistics are discomfort and dissatisfaction of the given in the “Directory of Propeople.
testant Missions in China." From Spain is very unsettled. Some- the same source we learn that there thing like a reign of terror has are six missionaries, and four wives been established, and an insurrec- of missionaries in Japan, and twentytion is confidently spoken of. The two missionaries (including ladies), Queen seems to be infatuated. in Siam. These all represent Ame
Matters are regarded as somewhat rican societies. more hopeful in the States of The following is from the report of America. The elections have gone two agents of the London mission at against the President, yet he holds Amoy, published in the “ London to his policy in resisting the Con- Missionary Society's Magazine." The gress. What the issue will be is un- date is July last :-"Since the becertain.
ginning of January, when our last The accounts of the famine in letter was written, eleven India are
more favourable, and members have been added to the harvest prospects are said to be Church. Three of these, two young cheering, but much distress still pre- women and one young man, were vails.
baptized by us in their infancy. We Our friends the Wesleyans are trust they are now truly the children having a new missionary ship built, to of God, by faith in Christ Jesus. replace the John Wesley, wrtcked last Since January last, five of our year. The vessel will be a larger and Church members have been called more commodious one than the John from our midst to join, we trust, Wesley, and so arranged as to secure the large and blessed host of the rapid sailing and easy movement. It spirits of the just made perfect, who is expected to be ready to sail in together enjoy the presence of the April next. May it be the bearer of Lord in heaven." Unhappily, the many “heralds of salvation" to
same report contains an account of heathen lands, who shall be the several expulsions from the church honoured instruments of bringing a for improper conduct. multitude of souls to Christ Jesus! In the November number of
There is much foreign intelligence Christian Work, there is, we of an interesting character as to the glad to say, honourable mention work of God.
made of the Rev. W. N. Hall, one Twenty-five Protestant mission- of our own missionaries in China, ary societies are represented by about and an extract given from one of his 200 agents in China.
letters, showing the progress of our also some few labourers at work mission at Tien-tsin, especially in the independent of any organization. “awakened and sustained interest Of the societies, twelve are British, of so many native women in the ine American, and four German. truths of our blessed religion."