Page images

These were of a square form, every side of which was four hundred feet long. They were carried up into the air, in the manner of several large terraces, one above another, till they equalled the height of the walls of the city. The ascent was from terrace to terrace, by stairs ten feet wide. The whole pile was sustained by vast arches, raised upon other arches, one above another, and strengthened by a wall surrounding it, twenty-two feet thick. On the top of these arches were laid large flat stones, sixteen feet long, and four feetbroad. These were lined with bricks, closely cemented together with plaster, and that covered with sheets of lead, upon which lay the mould of the gardens." Such were the astonishing effects of art, which have long rendered Babylon so famous in history; a great part of which has been attributed to that truly enterprising woman, Semiramis.

[ocr errors]

But attend to what is to follow. How shortlived is all terrestrial glory! What a reverse of fortune has this once splendid city experienced! Long before it happened, the downfall of Babylon was predicted; and the event exactly corresponded to the prediction. Repeatedly, and in terms the most explicit, does the prophet Isaiah foretell it. Thus he speaks-The burden of Ba


bylon-Howl ye; for the day of the Lord is at hand; it shall come as a destruction from the Almighty. Therefore shall all hands be faint, and every man's heart shall melt. And they shall be afraid; pangs and sorrows shall take hold of them; they shall be in pain as a woman that travaileth; they shall be enraged one at another; their faces shall be as flames. Behold, the day of the Lord cometh, cruel both with wrath and fierce anger, to lay the land desolate; and he shall destroy the sinners thereof out of it. For the stars of heaven, and the constellations thereof, shall not give their light: the sun shall be darkened in his going forth, and the moon shall not cause her light to shine. And I will punish the world for their evil, and the wicked for their iniquity; and I will cause the arrogancy of the proud to cease, and Iwill lay low the haughtiness of the terrible. Behold, I will stir up the Medes against them, who shall not regard silver; and, as for gold, they shall not delight in it. And Babylon, the glory of kingdoms, the beauty of the Chaldeans' excellency, shall be as when God overthrew Sodom and Gomorrah. It shall never be inhabited, neither shall it be dwelt in from generation to generation: neither shall the Arabian pitch his tent there; neither shall the shepherds make their fold there. But wild beasts of the desart shall lie there; and their houses shall be full of doleful creatures; and the


owls shall dwell there; and satyrs shall dance there. And the wild beasts of the island shall cry in their desolate houses, and dragons in their pleasant places: and her time is near to come, and her days shall not be prolonged. The repetitions and amplifications of this awful prediction, which occur in the subsequent part of the prophecy, brevity forbids me to transcribe. For a series of years was the completion of the prediction delayed. To judgment God usually proceeds by slow steps, and with apparent reluctance. But the execution of the threatning, against impenitent nations as well as individuals, though slow, is certain. The downfall of Babylon, on account of its impiety, was determined, and, in a gradual manner, accomplished. From the Assyrians, that noble city passed into the hands of the Persians, and from the Persians to the Macedonians. Here Alexander the Great died. Almost immediately after his death, the city began to decline. Seleucus Nicanor built a new city forty miles above it; and to perpetuate his name, called it Selucia; and, to people it, he drew no less than five hundred thousand persons out of Babylon. In the time of Curtius, the historian, Babylon was reduced to three-fourths of its former magnitude. In the days of Pliny, it was reduced to desolation. And, when Jerom lived, it was turned

turned into a forest or park, in which the kings of Persia hunted.


According to some modern travellers, all that remains of it, is only one tower, called the tower of Daniel; from which may be viewed the ruins of this ancient city; which, for regularity and other astonishing works of art, certainly was the most magnificent in our world. But how unstable is all earthly glory! How transitory all terrestrial grandeur! Of this great city, in its meridian glory, we have had a circumstantial acLet us now view it in its present fallen and ruinous state. What a contrast! A gentlemen who visited it in 1574, gives us the following melancholy account of it. "The village of Elugo is situated where Babylon of Chaldea formerly stood. The harbour, where people go ashore, in order to travel, by land, to the city of Bagdad, is a quarter of a league from it. The soil is so dry and barren, that they cannot till it. and so naked, that I could never have believed, that this powerful city, once the most stately and renowned in all the world, and situated in the fruitful country of Shinar, could have stood there, had I not seen, by the situation of the place, by many antiquities of great beauty, which are to be seen round about, and especially by the

old bridge over the Euphrates, whereof some piles, and arches of incredible strength, are still remaining, that it certainly stood there. The front of the village Elugo occupies the eminence on which the castle stood, and the ruins of its fortifications are still visible. Behind, and some little way beyond, is the tower of Babylon, which is half a league in diameter; but so ruinous, so low, and full of venomous creatures, that lodge in the holes, which they have made in the rubbish, that no one durst approach nearer to it, than half a league, except during two months in the winter, when those animals never stir from their holes." Melancholly account! Between the prophetical description and the traveller's narrative, how striking is the agreement!

On what account, for what cause did this direful calamity befal Babylon? what was her crime? Her crimes were many and aggravated. One thing, in particular, the prophet, who foretold it, specifies; her cruelty to the Jews, whom she made, for long seventy years, her captives and slaves. I, saith God, was wroth with my people; I have polluted mine inheritance, and given them into thine hand; thou didst shew them no mercy; upon the ancients hast thou very heavily laid thy yoke. Therefore, Come down and sit in the dust,

« PreviousContinue »