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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, O 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 atteinpting, 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 uuadorned 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, &c.
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 bis 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 first by the actual voice, and then by means of the press. Painfully impressed with the notorious and undeniable fact that ceremonial worship was setting in against spiritual devotion, it occurred to him that the Friends, from their avowed and cherished principles, were those who ought to be among the leaders of the van in resisting the threatened deluge. He longed to tell them so. He acknowledged that their testi. mony against evils of the class he wished to be assailed was “ clear as a bell," but he wanted it also to be *shrill as a clarion." The wishedfor opportunity occurred, and Mr. Spurgeon said what was in his heart in a Lecture on George Fox, which has since been published.
The year 1866 has in various respects been a remarkable one.
War and pestilence, the fall of dynasties and changes of Government, would alone have sufficed," observes Evangelical Christendom, " to stamp its character as one of the most memorable periods of our time. But this was not enough. We have had signs in the heaven above, as well as wonders on the earth beneath. The meteoric display on the morning of the 14th of last month impressed itself on all who witnessed it as the sublimest as well as the most awe-inspiring spectacle they ever beheld. It seemed as if the stars of heaven were in sympathy with the tottering thrones and princedoms of the earth, and, to use the magnificent language of Scripture, were shaken out of their places as the leaves of a figtree are shaken by an untimely wind. It is true, the advancement of science had enabled astronomers to foretell the phenomenon, and to prepare men for its coming; but no preparation of that kind could steel the beart against the solemnity of the spectacle, nor deaden the impression that here indeed was the finger of God. And though it would be superstitious to connect those fiery showers with terrestrial revolutions in the way of cause and effect, yet even the coincidence is strange and striking. It would seem as if
the Almighty were at last coining out of his place, and all nature were moved to meet him."
During the last month the rainfall, especially in Lancashire and Yorkshire, was very heavy, and most disastrous floods were the result. According to a statement in the Leeds Mercury, thirty lives were lost, while the damage to property may be estimated at half a million sterling. The loss in the Vale of Calder is put down at £200,000; in Wakefield and neighbourhood, at £100,000; and in Dewsbury and its vicinity, at £50,000. In Salford 2,685 houses were inundated, and 3,124 persons thrown out of employment. What uncertainty and insecurity attach to all mundane affairs !
We regret to have to record a revival of the Fenian conspiracy, which has of late presented a somewhat menacing aspect. The Government has, however, adopted such precautionary measures as are deemed requisite to meet the case, and we do not think that anything in the shape of serious alarm need be felt by Her Majesty's loyal subjects.
The Emperor of the French is spoken of as being a good deal disquieted in mind just now. There is little doubt that he was disappointed with the result of the late war in Germany; he will also be somewhat mortified at the failure of the Mexican enterprise ; and there is a great ferment among the French Ultramontanes with respect to the withdrawal of the French garrison from Rome. On the latter subject the Pope's myrmidons will be sure to give Napoleon all the trouble they can, but we trust he will be firm, and faithfully carry out the terms of
In Italy all eyes are turned towards Rome, and the events that will occur on the 15th of the present month. There is naturally much excitement. The Pope gives no sign of a disposition to be reconciled to the King of Italy, but the contrary. We shall probably have more to write about in relation to Italy a month hence.
The King of Prussia has been guilty of an act of great folly, and something worse. He has issued a proclamation calling upon the people to set apart a day for giving thanks to God for the restoration of peace, and the great accessions to the Prussian territory; and this form of thanksgiving is rigorously enjoined on the annexed provinces. This is too bad. Had the thanksgiving been simply for the restoration of peace, it would probably have been universally accepted.
Austria is not in the best condition. She is at present inundated with a host of Jesuits and monks from Venetia, to the great discomfort and dissatisfaction of the people.
Spain is very unsettled. Something like a reign of terror has been established, and an insurrection is confidently spoken of. The Queen seems to be infatuated.
Matters are regarded as somewhat more hopeful in the States of America. The elections have gone against the President, yet he holds to his policy in resisting the Congress. What the issue will be is uncertain.
The accounts of the famine in India are more favourable, and harvest prospects are said to be cheering, but much distress still prevails.
Our friends the Wesleyans are having a new missionary ship built, to replace the John Wesley, wrecked last year. The vessel will be a larger and more commodious one than the John Wesley, and so arranged as to secure rapid sailing and easy movement. It is expected to be ready to sail in April next. May it be the bearer of many “heralds of salvation" to heathen lands, who shall be the honoured instruments of bringing a multitude of souls to Christ Jesus!
There is much foreign intelligence of an interesting character as to the work of God.
Twenty-five Protestant mission ary societies are represented by about 200 agents in China. There are also some few labourers at work independent of any organization. Of the societies, twelve are British, ine American, and four German.
The largest number of ordained missionaries are employed by the London Missionary Society, which has fourteen, and the American Presbyterian Mission, which has twelve, of this class of agents. The following table gives the total number of missionaries in China in June last, and tbe number of native converts at the close of the year: Ordained missionaries, 97; lay missionaries, 14; missionary ladies, 93; whole number of missionaries, 204; number of native belpers, 206; number of members received in 1865, 282; whole number of native members, 3,142. These statistics are given in the “Directory of Protestant Missions in China." From the same source we learn that there are six missionaries, and four wives of missionaries in Japan, and twentytwo missionaries (including ladies), in Siam. These all represent American societies.
The following is from the report of two agents of the London mission at Amoy, published in the “ London Missionary Society's Magazine." The date is July last :-"Since the beginning of January, when our last letter was written, eleven new members have been added to the Church. Three of these, two young women and one young man, were baptized by us in their infancy. We trust they are now truly the children of God, by faith in Christ Jesus. Since January last, five of our Church members have been called from our midst to join, we trust, the large and blessed host of the spirits of the just made perfect,' who together enjoy the presence of the Lord in heaven." Unhappily, the same report contains an account of several expulsions from the church for improper conduct.
In the November number of Christian Work, there is, we are glad to say, honourable mention made of the Rev. W. N. Hall, one of our own missionaries in China, and an extract given from one of his letters, showing the progress of our mission at Tien-tsin, especially in the "awakened and sustained interest of so many native women in the truths of our blessed religion."