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faid the prophet Ezekiel, his anger fhall be accomplifhed, and he will caufe his fury to reft upon them.A ftriking defcription is next given of the dreadful concomitants of the divine difpleasure. It was to be attended with
The flame of a devouring fire. The words may be understood literally, fignifying the terrible flashes of lightning which were to accompany the execution of the awful judgments here threatened, and to be the means of confuming the haughty adverfaries of the kingdom of God; or they may be interpreted figuratively, denoting the dreadful judgments which were to be inflicted upon the Affyrians, at the time referred to. Like the flames of devouring fire, they were to break forth fuddenly and unexpectedly, and to fpread with amazing rapidity, confuming all that came within their reach. Adopt either of the expofitions that you think best, and most suited to the connection and defign of the prophecy.With Scattering; probably the effect of a prodigious ftormy wind, that dispersed and carried away every thing moveable upon which it lighted.--And with tempeft: which may either fignify, a violent commotion in the air, accompanied with a fierce ftormy wind; fome fudden impetuous irrefiftible calamity, or a combination of defolating judgments.- And hailstones, from those treasures which God hath referved against the time of trouble, against the day of battle and war, when he fometimes showers them down of a large fize, in vaft quantities. The army of the five confederate kings, which were discomfited in the days of Joshua, fuffered much more from the great hailflones that fell upon them, than from the fword of the Ifraelites t. Of this fort, were the hailstones by which the army of the proud Affyrian monarch was in part to be over thrown. O Lord, how great are thy works! how unfearchable are thy judgments! We contemplate the
* Ezek. v. 13.
+ See Joshua x. II.
operation of thy omnipotent arm, not only in the immeafurable expanfe of heaven, and in this well-furnifhed world; but in the wind, the rain, the hail, the thunder, the lightning, and the tempeft, which thou fendest upon fome places, to execute those purpofes of mercy, or righteoufnefs, which thou haft in view to accomplish, O Lord! be not a terror to us in the day of evil.
31 For through the voice of the LORD fhall the Affyrian be beaten down, which fmote with a rod.
Though the deftruction of the Affyrians was to be executed by the ministry of an angel, yet it was not to be accomplished in profound filence; it was to be accompanied with an amazing tempeft, with thunder, lightning, and hail; at least, with fuch confufion and terror as is excited by fome dreadful hurricane. There seems to be an allufion, in this verfe, to the defolation produced by the thunder of God's power, which beats down all that stands in its way, and does great things that we cannot comprehend. By this tremendous voice of Jehovah, the Affyrians, who had fmitten with a rod, and feverely punished the people of God for their fins, were to be laid proftrate on the ground.Indelible impreffions of the majefty, power, and glory of God, may be difcerned, not only in the creatures he hath made, but in the difpenfations of his providence, which we never contemplate aright, unless we fee God in them. A nice judge looks with a critical eye on a fine picture, not fo much to obferve the different fhades in the colouring, as to discover the exquifite skill of the painter, that, in the beauty of the workmanship, he may admire the abilities, and read the name of the artist. Thus ought we, my brethren, to behold the wonderful works of the Moft High, and particularly his works of judgment, which are admirably adjusted in
all their circumftances; and clearly announce his name, and his voice, from whence they proceed.
32 And in every place where the grounded staff shall pafs, which the LORD fhall lay upon him, it shall be with tabrets and harps: and in battles of shaking will he fight with it.
These words feem defigned to confirm and illustrate the certainty of the divine judgment, which was to be executed upon the proud adverfaries of God's people.The king of Affyria, with his army, was the grounded staff, or the rod of correction, as the Hebrew word fignifies, intended in this prediction; of whom the prophet Habakkuk thus fpeaks: 0 • Lord, thou haft ordained them for judgment; and,
O mighty God, thou haft founded them for cor• *.' rection The Affyrian empire was the rod or ftaff wherewith God corrected the nations, and particularly his own people; the inftrument whereby he inflicted righteous judgment upon them for their fins. In every place in the land of Canaan, through which this ftaff, the Affyrian monarch and his army, paffed, i. e. had occupied and desolated— which the Lord shall lay upon him; i. e. upon which place the Lord fhall caufe his rod of correction to reft, according to the marginal reading; it, the rod or staff, fhall pass away with tabrets and harps. The metaphor is taken from oxen put into the yoke, or beasts of burden which carry heavy loads, that are goaded and ftruck with a rod, by those who have the management of them. In a condition fimilar to these animals, were the people reduced to fervitude by the Affyrians, who greatly diftrefled them by heavy taxes, oppreffive edicts, and fervile labours. All thofe places which were still inhabited, that had felt the oppreffive weight of this grounded staff, after their
* Hab. i. 12.
miraculous deliverance from the power of an infulting foe, by the flaughter of the Affyrian army, were to celebrate this great event with the inftruments of mufic which were then in ufe.And in battles of fhaking will be fight with it. Those places in Judea, which had been spoiled and defolated, were greatly to rejoice, when the remains of the vast Affyrian army paffed along; becaufe God himself had, from heaven, fought against their enemies, and by his strong hand, and ftretched-out arm, had fhaken and torn them to pieces. The thunder, lightning, and hail, with other plagues, ftruck them with terror, made them tremble and fhake, whilst they were entirely defeated, and all their hoftile defigns difconcerted. Sennacherib, having confpired against the Jewish people, and taken the defenced cities of Judah, laid fiege to Jerufalem, fully determined to spoil and deftroy that city: but almighty God was pleafed ta fruftrate his purpose, to fight against his army in battles of fhaking, to humble that haughty monarch, and to cut down the thickets of his forest.-The judgments of God are a great deep, which we cannot explore. We are unable to explain their nature, to investigate the caufes of their fuddennefs and feve rity, of their frequency, extent, and continuance. Thefe fubjects, which far tranfcend the most penetrating understanding, we ought to contemplate with awe, veneration, and profound fubmiffion, deeply fenfible, that, in this manner, it is our indifpenfable duty to give glory to the Lord our God.
33 For Tophet is ordained of old; yea, for the king it is prepared: he hath made it deep and large the pile thereof is fire and much wood; the breath of the LORD, like a stream of brimstone, doth kindle it.
This verfe, which concludes the fubject of which our prophet hath been treating, contains an important
argument whereby the foregoing predictions are established, and a forcible defcription of their entire completion. Confidering the words in relation to the Affyrians, to whom they primarily referred, they must be literally explained: viewing them as having refpect to the inveterate enemies and perfecutors of the church of God in every age, to them they may be figuratively applied. Let us fhortly confider them in both fenfes.The Hebrew word Tophet fignifies, fuch a martial inftrument as we call a Drum. It was the name of a valley, fituated near to the city Jerufalem, on the fouth-eaft; which was alfo called, the Valley of Hinnom. In this place, the Canaanites, and afterward the Ifraelites, notwithstanding they were strictly prohibited, facrificed their children, burning them in the fire, in honour of the idol named Moloch. It was a hollow image, made of brafs, placed in this valley, into which its votaries having put fire, they threw in the children alive, that were offered to this idol. To prevent their la mentable shrieks and cries from being heard, perfons were appointed to beat upon drums, or inftruments fomewhat fimilar to them. Hence it had the name of Tophet. Several things are related concerning this infamous place in the Old Teftament, which fhew, that it exhibited a striking emblem of the place of torment, the lake of fire and brimstone, wherein the wicked are punifhed. Situated without the walls of Jerufalem, it was deftined to be the theatre on which the moft excruciating anguifh was fuffered the most bitter fcreams of the tortured children were every where heard. In these, and in other respects, it afforded an affecting representation of the infernal regions, which are feparated from the New Jerufalem by an impaffable gulf; where the worm dieth not, and the fire is not quenched; where the voice of their torment afcendeth up for ever and ever, who worship the beat and his image. It is therefore used for a place of punishment by fire.