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names of Bel and Dragon, which were the fa→ vorite deities of Babylon and Nineveh; by which liberality, doubtlefs, he intended to improve his popularity with both nations, and aid the union of both ftates. And his fon improved upon this ftroke of policy, and to the name of Baladan, which he retained, he add ed that of Merodach. Baladan fignifies the fon of death, and Merodach, in the Syriac tongue, is the prince below, or as we fhould fay, the prince of hell.
Ancient idolaters conceived of two principal deities, which they worshipped, viz. a fupernal and an infernal deity; but as fear was the great principle of their religion, like the aborigines of America, they thought it moft to their advantage, and were induced to pay their chief homage to the evil genii. Thus the apoftie obferved, The things which the Gentiles facrifice, they facrifice to devils or demons. 1 Cor. x. 20. The prophet Ifaiah, chap. xxviii. reproving and threatening the people of Ifrael for their alliances with the Alyrian and Babylonian powers, alluded to this ftyle of their kings, faying, Because ye bave faid, We save made a coven. nt with death, and with hell, are we at agreement; when the overflowing Jourge fhall pass through, it shall not come unto us. Therefore thus faith the Lord God, Your covenant with death shall be difannulled, and your agreement with hell shall not fand; when the overflowing scourge shall pass through thenye fhall be trodden down by it And John, if the opening of the feal which denoted the ifing of myftical Babylon, evi
dently alludes to the fame things, when he fays, I looked, and behold a pale horse; and bis name that fat on him was Death, and bell followed with him. And hence all the powers of darkness are called the gates of bell. And when they fhall together receive their final doom, in the fecond death, at the fecond and laft judgment, it is faid, that death and bell were cast into the lake of fire. Merodach-Baladan may be confidered as the motto of the powers of darkness, i. e. death and hell united,
This would be an excellent text for a modern evangelical preacher, as he is juftly de fcribed by William Huntington, minister in London, in his Difcourfes on the Wife and Foolish Virgins. When the devil has influenced, varnished, polifhed, fet forth, and equipped fuch a profeffor as this, he perfuades him that his hearing the word, his receiving it with joy, his fpringing up in zeal, in knowledge, in a profeffion, in a reformation, and in a feparation from the 'world, and joining with God's faints, that this is converfion, it is regeneration, and ⚫ the joy he felt is the power of God, and the confidence that attended it is the work of faith wrought in the heart with power. And he furnishes the world with preachers to confirm fuch in their profeffion. To counterfeit every diftin&t operation of the Spirit of God is the devil's mafter-piece; and to be fet ' down in a falfe hope, and under an infernal influence, is the fool's deepeft cell, the next to that of utter darkness. When the devil fends 'one of his minifters to counterfeit the first
* operation of God's Spirit, the deceiver may * be difcovered by the following appearance; ⚫he comes with a gloomy countenance, and ⚫ commands a folemn awe: his deportment is grave, his voice hollow, his looks decla⚫rative of pensiveness and deep thought; he deals much in morality, death and judg 'ment to come; his eyes ftare, his face is pale, and his accents are weighty; a folemn gloom, difmal fenfations follow, and are 'communicated to all the audience; a cold chill runs thro' the blood, and every thought
of the heart is brought into captivity to the
boufe appointed for all living. This is a fo lemn meeting, and a folemn opportunity; and is called the powerful operations of the Holy Spirit.'
Merodach-Baladan fending his ambassadors to Hezekiah king of Judah, and making his fuit at the Lord's court, was an accomplifhed measure; this was a fair fpecimen of the mystery of iniquity, and deceivablenefst of unrighteousness, which has been fo fatally practifed, in these last days, upon the Chrif tian church. Satan, in this business, began betimes to be transformed into an angel of light; to which character the prophet refers, by calling the king of Babylon Lucifer, Jon of the morning. Ifai. xiv. 12. It was, doubtlefs, in the view of all natural men, a very promising incident, that death and hell fhould propose a truce and lafting league with life and heaven. O the boldness of this fon of darknefs! This propofal was not unlike the very generous' proffer of the devil to Jefus Chrift, that if he
would confent to his being honored and wor-. Thipped as the king of heaven, he should be made king below, and all the kingdoms and glory of this world fhould be given to him for his own; or, in other words, that he would exchange kingdoms with him. The people of Ifrael were altogether an elect people; but the prophets, upon whom came the Holy Spirit, were among them the very elect. This bufinefs deceived Hezekiah, but even this could not deceive Ifaiah.
The authority and miniftrations of the prophets formed a high court of heaven over the kingdoms of the world; by the word of the Lord in their mouth, they planted and plucked up nations, erected and pulled down kingdoms. We have their commiffion, Jer. i. 9, 10. Then the Lord put forth his hand and touched my mouth, and the Lord faid unto me, Behold, I have put my words in thy mouth.See, I have this day fet thee over the nations, and over the kingdoms, to root out, and to pull down, and to deftroy, and to throw down, to build, and to plant. Agreeably to this, Babylon, the glory of kingdoms, was ordained and fet up; and her extenfive dominions, and long ages, were affigned to her by the word of the Lord in the mouth of the prophets; and first, by the prophet Ifaiah, whofe declarations, upon the occafion of the cordial reception by Hezekiah of the ambafladors of the king of Babylon, require particular notice.
Then came Ifaiah the prophet unto king Hezekiah, and faid unto him, What faid thefe men?
and from whence came they unto thee? And Hezekiah Jaid, They came from a far country, even from Babylon. And he faid, What have they feen in thine houfe? And Hezekiah anfwered, All the things that are in mine house, have they feen: there is nothing among my treafures that I have not fhewed them. And Jaiah faid unto Hezekiah, Hear the word of the Lord. Behold, the days come, that all that is in thine houfe, and that which thy fathers have laid up in ftore unto this day, fhall be carried into Babylon: nothing fhall be left, faith the Lord.And of thy fons that fhall iffue from thee, which thou shalt beget, fhall they take away, and they fhall be eunuchs in the palace of the king of Babylon. Thus, upon this most melancholy occafion, the great commiffion of Babylon was taken out, and regiflered in this high court of the prophets; and the children of Zion, and her princes, with all her treasures, were made over by an unalterable decree, for the ufe, enriching, and aggrandizement of this proud city.
The giving forth of this word of the Lord forms a memorable date in the annals of the powers that be. It appears, however, by the answer of Hezekiah, it was understood that this folemn denunciation would not go into effect in his days; but, fometime in the days of his fon, when, as has been obferved, the land of Judah was first invaded by this er, it may be concluded that the long, long reign of Babylon, as by this decree of hea ven, and the great captivity of the fons of Zion, commenced.