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This event occurred about nineteen centuries before the Christian era. It was on the part of the eastern king a war of wrong, of conquest, and on that of Abraham, of defence of a kinsman, family, and friends, and the blessing of heaven was with him. The victor lost by the sword what he had acquired by it; a striking emblem of all conquests for thirty-seven centuries.
The hostile acts of Egypt towards the Hebrews are next in order. Having received this chosen people of God, in the days of the patriarch Jacob, to her hospitality, the Pharaohs, after a little more than a century, reduced the Hebrews to slavery, regardless of the national faith pledged to their venerable chief. The king of Egypt inhumanly ordered the murder of their male children, lest becoming strong they should rise upon their oppressors. Moses, in the providence of God, was raised up to be their leader, lawgiver, and deliverer. After God had smitten the first-born of the Egyptians, and severely scourged them for their national sins, he led his people forth. The protection of heaven was over them, and its light led them. In order to obtain payment for their servile toil, the Hebrews borrowed property of their oppressors, and departed towards the wilderness. They fled before their pursuers through a narrow part of the upper extremity of the Red Sea, from which the winds obeying the Almighty will, had driven back the waters, and the Egyptian chariots and horsemen essaying to follow, were overwhelmed by the returning waves. This divine chastisement of Egypt for her national offences against the descendants of Abraham, occurred about fifteen centuries before Christ. The successive conquests of Egypt by a Persian king, by Alexander the Great, by Rome, by the Saracens and Turks, and by Napoleon, instructively teach us how unjust wars and servitude are visited upon nations that have practised them on other States. Her canal from the Nile to the Red Sea filled up, her desolated fields, her depopulated country, and her ruined cities—these, with the servitude of the remnant of her mighty people—all proclaim the moral law, that with what measure ye mete, it shall be measured to you again. The pyramids are the sepulchral monuments of buried Egypt—fit emblems of her departed greatness and glory. The Assyrian empire presents us with another example of the fleeting character of military sway. By arms she extended her dominion over Babylonia, Media, Judea, Samaria, and other regions. At times she levied heavy taxes on the kingdom of Judea, to which the silver and gold of the Lord's temple contributed. While Judah was tributary to the king of Assyria, he came up against Jerusalem, but the Lord heard the cry of his repentant people, and the proud defiance of the God of Sabaoth by the Assyrian. The angel breathed upon his armed hosts, and they perished,
“Like the leaves of the forest when summer is green,
And there lay the steed with his nostril all wide,
And the widows of Ashur are loud in their wail,
Such was the direct infliction of punishment upon Assyria by the hand of God.
When Judea's sins had finally deprived her of heavenly aid, at a later period, Jerusalem was taken, the temple plundered, and the people were carried to the east as slaves. Thus the captivity of the kingdom of Judah was completed, as the reward of her sins against the King of kings.
At length a rebellion of Media and Babylonia destroyed by force the Assyrian empire. Babylon then rose by the sword, and became the inheritor of the Hebrew slaves, and the golden vessels of the temple. Confident in her power, her king gave a feast, and sent for the sacred vessels for sacrilegous use. While he raised a consecrated golden vessel to his impious lips, a heavenly hand wrote on the wall, Mene, mene, Tekel, Upharsin, and the dominion, the spoils, and the captives of Assyria passed to the Persian conqueror Cyrus. “Belshazzar's grave is made, His kingdom pass'd away,
He, in his balance weigh’d,
The shroud his robe of state, His canopy the stone ; The Mede is at his gate, The Persian on his throne.” Who knoweth the place of Babylon 7 Where are her gates of brass—her lofty walls—her towering battlements, and glittering domes? Where are her embattled hosts and her gold clad kings 2 All are gone. War has been there, and desolation in her desert reigns alone. In their entire history, the Jews present a striking illustration of national suffering for national sin. In their severe calamities and multiplied afflictions, the hand of heaven is apparent. They teach us the existence of general moral laws—the violations of which, have called down upon this offending people the just punishments of the Almighty.
We come to the examination of Roman history,
which fully confirms our doctrine. The Roman and the eastern or Byzantine empires, cover twenty-two centuries; and this iron commonwealth, when Augustus assumed the royal purple, ruled one hundred and twenty millions of people, sixty millions of whom were slaves, captured by force or fraud in war—and a large portion of the residue were composed of conquered and tributary nations. The extent of the Roman empire was about three thousand miles by two thousand, and included Britain, Gaul, Spain, Germany, Macedonia, Greece, Egypt, Numidia, Carthage, Sicily and various other countries. In solidity, extent, and duration, the Roman dominion surpassed all ancient states and empires. The prophet might well have proclaimed an iron rule, when the image of that power passed before the eye of the holy man. From a small city, the Romans extended their authority, by aggression and violence, over the Italian nations, and in a few centuries, all Italy became subject to Rome. As their territory
was extended by conquest, one portion of the lands
of the enemy were seized for public use, and ano
ther portion was assigned by law to, and divided
among the Plebeians. The Patricians, forming a
hereditary Senate, first of one hundred, and at a
later period, of three hundred, held after the ex