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were of iron and miry clay," designed to intimate that the total dissolution of the ROMAN EMPIRE (in its mixed and debased state) should not happen but by the particular act of God's vengeance upon GREAT BABYLON, for her ancient and modern sins; nor until that period of time assigned in prophecy, and distinguished by so many concurring signs.
Diminutive and unimportant as THE STONE appeared to the undistinguishing eye, when first it rose aloft into the air, yet it fell with the impulse of a mighty rock, and so shook the feeble IMAGE with the tremendous crash, that it stood tottering to its fall. The STONE itself has also, in like manner, received that wonderful increase of its own magnitude,which the prophet upwards of 2400 years ago foretold. It has grown by gradual accretions to an immense and oppressive weight and bulk, and bears against the shattered IMAGE with the over-powering pressure of a rolling mountain. The time cannot now be far distant when it must give way, and fall and be broken in pieces as small as the chaff of the summer threshing
floors, and the STONE become a MOUNTAIN, shall occupy the space on which it stood.
It is worthy of remark, that in this brief account, the prophet gives of the breaking of the IMAGE, by the falling of the STONE upon it, the order of the metals of which it had been originally composed is inverted; and in his enumeration of all the several parts to be destroyed one after another, he begins with the extremities, upon which the first impression of the external violence was made, and proceeds upwards to the HEAD of gold. "Then was the iron, the clay, the brass, the silver, the gold, broken to pieces together,”—(that is, in no long space of time one after another,)—and became like the chaff of the summer threshing floor, and the wind carried them away, that no place was found for them. And the stone became a great MOUNTAIN, and filled all the earth.
The increase of the STONE in magnitude, by the adhesion of the broken fragments, commences from the first stroke; and from the continued operation of the same causes,
and by repeated strokes (with additional weight, and moved by the same invisible power) the STONE is continually augmented, while the IMAGE is dimished. So at least facts seem thus far to have given the expla nation of this hitherto obscure prophecy, and to have exposed to public contemplation, the method by which an instrument, originally of so inconsiderable promise, has been able (in the hands of an almighty Mover) to effect already so great changes in the prodigious fabric of the IMAGE, which portend its speedy and total dissolution.
The prophecy is too concise to attend to minutiæ, but gives only a general idea, as if the destruction of the whole image was the immediate effect of one stroke. But the inverted order of the component parts, clearly points out that it is not to be so understood; but that it will be the work of some (though not a very long) time, and beginning with the feet and toes, the subjection of the ten kingdoms,* (or the WESTERN ROMAN EM
Originally ten, and so continued in prophecy.
PIRE) will form only the first part of this career of victory and destruction: that the scourge will not cease for any long period of honorable or secure tranquility, (for “there is no peace saith God to THE WICKED,") till all has been subdued, and broken to pieces, and so carried away by the wind, that no place is found for them any more, as parts of the original IMAGE, but henceforward only as parts of the STONE.
Rigid precision is not to be expected in prophecy, but a general, though striking and clear resemblance in the principal features of the object described, which yet will leave considerable room for conjecture, and variety of opinion on the particulars of less material importance. The BREAKER is himself compared twice by Jeremiah, and often by other prophets, to a whirlwind, for the violence of the effects produced in the desolated track in which he moves. Scattering the broken fragments to the winds, may either imply that they will be added to his own empire, or divided out in meagre portions of subordinate power,
to the vassal tempests, of which he is himself the Eolus and sovereign despot.
The feet of the image receiving the first shock, the weakness of their texture, and the ill cohesion of their component materials, is thus betrayed, having been never thought of or suspected, till the fated STONE, hurled from the hand of God, touches them; then it appears that the strength and vigour which had been in the legs of iron, no longer remains in the feet and toes. The enfeebling intoxication of the cup of Babylon's poisonous mixture, has robbed them of their strength; and their shame and weakness are exposed to the universal astonishment of the world.— This is evidently the meaning of those often repeated figures in the prophets, in which the idolatrous church is represented as an adulteress punished. "Behold, therefore, I will gather all thy lovers, with whom thou hast taken pleasure, and all them that thou hast loved, with all them that thou hast hated" (the persecuted witnesses):-"I will even ga
ther them round about against thee, and will