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altogether intoxicates us worms of the earth, and makes us forget that we are meno) But God brought him down in a most awful manner
[In one single night was his power broken by the sword of a destroying angel, who slew 185,000 of his troops : and, not very long after, was he himself assassinated by two of his sons, whilst worshipping in the house of Nisroch his gode. And thus it is that God has often humbled his proud blaspheming creaturesf:
and more such instances of vengeance yet remain to be accomplished 8.]
This subject, so interesting of itself, is yet far more interesting, II. As illustrated at this time
The resemblance between Sennacherib, and that powerful enemy with whom we have been contending now so many years, is very striking. We will point it out in a few particulars : 1. His unconscious agency-.
[The great object of Sennacherib's ambition was, to subdue as many nations as he could, and bring them under subjection to himself
. This was his object in warring against Judah. But God had another object in view. God raised him up to punish his offending people the Jews, and thereby to bring them to repentance. No such thought as this entered into the mind of Sennacherib. He went on with a view to his own aggrandizement; but God made use of him as “the rod of his anger, and the staff of his indignation'."
Thus it has been with him who has for so long a period desolated every part of Europek. He has been instigated only by his own ambition, and a desire after universal empire: but God has been using him to punish the nations, who, though “naming the name of Christ, had scarcely any thing of Christianity except the name!" As God's instrument he has effected a very great change in Europe: he has given a death-blow to Popery, and has liberated the minds of men from those shackles with which they were held in a worse than Egyptian bondage. He has also, though quite unintentionally on his part, rooted out those principles of infidelity towards God, and of insubordination towards man, which were the means of placing him on his high eminence, and which he himself laboured as much as by the
d Ezek. xxviii. 2. and 2 Thess. ii. 3, 4.
e 2 Kings xix. 35—37.
any one to disseminate. Nay more, very
miseries which he has inflicted on the human race, he has occasioned a spirit of humiliation and of piety, which, unless at the Reformation and in the apostolic age, never before obtained in Europe to the extent it now does. True it is, “ he never meant these things, nor did they ever enter into his mind;" but still he has been an instrument in God's hand of effecting them.] 2. His great success
[Nothing could stand before Sennacherib?: and till lately, nothing has been able to withstand this proud oppressor, whom we are comparing with him. Nation after nation has he subjugated; so that what Sennacherib said may be justly said by him also, “ Are not my princes altogether kingsm?” Whilst he raised his generals to the rank of kings, he made the old established kings his vassals. And truly one part of Sennacherib's commission he executed to perfection: if he had believed himself “charged by God, to take the spoil, and to take the prey, and to tread men down like mire in the streets”,” he could not have fulfilled his mission with more fidelity or with less remorse. He truly regarded the wealth of all the countries which he invaded, as “eggs found in a nest;" and he transported to his own capital every thing that was valuable, that the seat of his empire might become the centre of all that was great and glorious in the
world. Yea, not content with acting thus towards the nations that opposed him, he exercised the same rapacity towards neutral and unoffending states"; and, whilst he was "gathering all the earth, there was none that moved the wing, or opened the mouth, or peepedP," or dared even to remonstrate with him, and much less to oppose by force, his tyrannical proceedings. In a word, he“ removed the bounds of nations," apportioning them according to his own pleasure, and “ robbed their treasures?," compelling all of them to augment and support his armies; and, with the exception of our favoured land, he exercised in every country a most despotic sway; and, if he could but have placed any bounds to his tyranny, and been content with consolidating instead of extending his dominions, he would have been the uncontrolled governor of Europe at this hour.] 3. His atheistic pride
[The Assyrian monarch took to himself all the glory of his conquests : "By the strength of my hand I have done it, and by my wisdom; for I am prudent?” And how astonishingly striking is the resemblance between our great enemy
m ver. 8. o The Hanse Towns especially. 9 ver. 13.
r ver. 13.
and him in this particular! His official reports have been one continued boast from beginning to end. Never once has God been acknowledged by him as the disposer of the different events. We wonder not that a heathen should vaunt himself in this manner: but that a man professing himself a Christian should do it, and that too in the face of the whole Christian world, only shews to what a height his pride and impiety have risen. Well is the folly, as well as the impiety of such conduct exposed in our text: it is, in fact, " the axe boasting itself against him that heweth with it; and the saw magnifying itself against him that shaketh it: it is the rod shaking itself against him that lifts it up, and the staff lifting itself up against its Masters" Presumptuous man ! “ Know that the Lord is greater than all gods; and that whereinsoever they deal proudly, he is, and will be, above them t."] His sudden fall
[In one single night was Sennacherib overthrown. So completely was that prediction verified, “ The Light of Israel shall be for a fire, and his Holy One for a flame; and it shall burn and devour his thorns and his briers in one day.” And taking the day for a prophetic day, it has been almost as literally accomplished in our great adversary. It was very little more than a year, between the time when he was in the plenitude of his power, and the time when he was reduced to his present state of weakness and degradation. There is a remarkable correspondence too in the very terms in which the destruction of the Assyrian monarch was foretold, and the means by which the destruction of the modern Sennacherib was effected. “God himself was for a fire and a flame,” to burn him out of that city, where he had hoped to rest his army during the winter season. God put it into the heart of the people themselves to reduce their own houses to ashes, rather than to let them prove an asylum to their barbarous invader. This it was that necessitated him to measure back his steps by the way he had come ";" and this retreat was attended with the loss of all his army. Another desperate effort has he made to retrieve his fortunes; but that also was defeated in one single battle; which has left him more naked and destitute than Sennacherib himself; his own more immediate territory, which he had proudly deemed inviolable, being now invaded on every side, and his regal power being probably near the close of its existence. We pretend not ourselves to prophesy: but the time is probably very near at hand, when Ezekiel's description of the character and end of the Tyrian monarch will be accomplished in him in all its parts: “Will he then say before him that slayeth him, I am God? No: he will be a man, and not God, in the hand of him that slayeth him *."]
$ ver. 15.
t Exod. xviii. 11.
u 2 Kings xviii. 28, 33.
Our text is yet further worthy of attention, III. As speaking to men in all ages
Divested of all those particular circumstances which give it more than ordinary interest at this time, it suggests many lessons of great, and general, and perpetual utility.
It teaches us, 1. To receive afflictions as from the hand of God
[The Jews probably ascribed their troubles to the insatiable ambition of the Assyrian monarch; as we also have traced ours to the ruler of France. But God has told us, that, in the triumphs of Sennacherib, he himself was “performing a gracious work upon Mount Zion, and on Jerusalem :" and we know that Nebuchadnezzar also, and Cyrus, in their victories, were nothing more than “God's sword” and “ battle-axey.” In this light then we should view all our public calamities. By whomsoever they may be occasioned, they come from God himself, and are sent by him for our good. As the Jews were sent by him into captivity in Babylon " for their good ?,” so are our severest losses and defeats intended to humble us, and to bring us to the footstool of our God. The same may be said also of our personal afflictions. When the Chaldeans and Sabeans plundered all the property of Job, and the elements conspired to augment and complete his misery, Job saw in every part of his trials the hand of God: “ The Lord gave, and the Lord hath taken away: blessed be the name of the Lorda." And afterwards he prayed, " Shew me wherefore thou contendest with meb." This is precisely what the text teaches us also to do in every affliction. We should receive it as from God; and, having done so, we should " hear the rod, and him that appointed it." Were we but attentive to God's voice in afflictive dispensations, we should say to the instruments of our trouble, as Joseph did to his brethren, “It was not you that sent me hither, but God:" and, instead of quarrelling with second causes, we should kiss the hand that smote us, and say, “ I will bear the indignation of the Lord, because I have sinned against him."] 2. To acknowledge God in our successes
[Certainly the interposition of God in the destruction of Sennacherib could admit of no doubt: it was as clear as that of Pharaoh, who was brought into the Red Sea for that very purpose. And scarcely less visible was his agency in the destruction of our great adversary, God allured him into the heart of the Russian empire, and inclined him to continue there, till his retreat was become impracticable: and to a still further infatuation did he give him up; for, instead of retreating with his forces entire to the confines of his own kingdom, where he might, humanly speaking, have defied all the efforts of the allies, he madly retained an untenable position, till he was reduced to the necessity of risking all upon a single battle. In these errors of his we see him given up to judicial blindness in order to his destruction, preeisely as the enemies of Zion were in the days of old: “Many nations," says the prophet Micah,
* Ezek. xxviii. 3—10.
b Job x. 2.
are gathered against thee, that say, Let her be defiled, and let our eye look upon Zion. But they know not the thoughts of the Lord, neither understand they his counsel: for he shall GATHER THEM AS SHEAVES INTO THE FLOOR. Arise and thresh, O daughter of Ziond!” Indeed, notwithstanding the backwardness of men to “consider the operation of God's hands,” there is scarcely a thoughtful person to be found, who does not see it, and acknowledge in the present instance, that he gathered them together in both those places as sheaves into the floor.
But we must not think that God interposes only in great concerns, such as the fate of empires : he equally interests himself in all the events that are daily and hourly occurring : and from him does our success flow, even in the most trivial matters. Have we succeeded in business? It is " he that has given us power to get wealth.” Have our agricultural labours been followed with an abundant increase? Not the abundance only, but the skill we exercised, was altogether from “God, who is wonderful in counsel and excellent in working?." Have we prospered in our spiritual course, and gained the victory over our spiritual adversaries? We must say with Paul, “He that hath wrought us to the self-same thing is Gods:" “ Thanks be to God, who giveth us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christh!" Whatever evil we escape, or whatever good we enjoy, God must be regarded as the true, the only source of all.“ In him are all our fresh springsi;” and “of him is our fruit foundk:” and all the glory must be his alone!.] 3. To look to the final issue of every thing
[Who that saw the issue of Sennacherib's invasion, would not prefer the salutary trials of Jerusalem before the shortlived triumphs of the proud Assyrian? and who that considers
c ver. 24. with Exod. xiv. 17.
d Mic. iv. 11–13. e Deut. viii. 17, 18. f Isai. xxviii. 23-29. 8 2 Cor. v. 5.
h 1 Cor. xv. 57. and 2 Cor. ii. 14. i Ps. lxxxvii. 7. k Hos, xiv. 8. 1 Isai. xlv. 5—7.