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volous to dispute. Thus much in brief we ought to believe, 'that Nabuchodonosor made an absolute conquest of Egypt; that he was not so foolish as to give it away, any man may guess; that he appointed one to rule the country, it is consequent unto the former, and hath authority of Josephus ; that this governor (or some successor of his) was afterwards taken and slain by Amasis, I see probability enough to persuade myself; and yet can well be content, that others use their liberty, and believe what they list. As for the army which this Egyptian king Apries is supposed to have kept of Ionians and Carians, I hold them to be none other than the garrisons of mercenary soldiers which were left by the Assyrian for the guard of his viceroy, and custody of the new subdued province; as likewise the company returning from Cyrene and Barce, who together with the friends of such as were slain in that expedition, remembered before out of the Greek historians, deposed and slew Apries, I take them to have been the Egyptian fugitives which then recovered their own country. Sure it is that this prophecy of Ezekiel was verified; At the end of forty years will I gather the Egyptians from the people where they were scattered : and I will bring again the captivity of Egypt, and will cause them to return into the land of Pathros, into the land of their habitation; and they shall be there a small kingdom. If the Egyptian priests alluded hereunto in the tale which they made of Amasis's obtaining the kingdom, then are they to be helped with this or the like interpreta- tion; if they devised matter that had no shadow of truth, only to keep the Greeks from knowledge of their country's disgrace, then are they little to be regarded, since we know the truth with them.
SECT. X. Of the sundry accounts drawn from sundry acts of Nebuchadnezzar,
and of the destruction of Nineveh by him; the time of which action is uncertain.
THESE victories brought the greatness of the Assyrian empire to the full, and from them was reckoned the time of
Ezek. xxix. 13, 14.
Nebuchadnezzar's reign in sundry places of scripture. To speak any more of the questions arising about the supputation of Nebuchadnezzar's times might seem to be the overhandling of one argument; yet thus much I will note, that whereas u Daniel was carried captive in the third year of Jehoiakim's reign, (which ran along with some part of Nebuchadnezzar's first year,) and was kept in diet three
years more, before he was brought into the king's presence; it could not be the second of Nebuchadnezzar's kingdom wherein he interpreted the forgotten dream of the great image, foreshewing the succession of monarchies, but the second of his empire. The same or the like may be said of divers places which refer sundry matters unto their set years; as that of Ezekiel before cited, where he foretells that Egypt should be given in reward for the service done before Tyrus, dating his prophecy in the twenty-seventh year; and that of Daniel, placing the erection of the golden image in the eighteenth year: for these years held no dependance upon either the beginning of Nebuchadnezzar's kingdom or of his empire, nor yet upon any of the captivities, but had reference to some memorable action omitted in scripture, and therefore not easy to be found, nor worth the labour of uncertain search.
Of any war made by Nebuchadnezzar after such time as he returned from the conquest of Egypt, I do not read ; excepting that against Nineveh, the destruction whereof was foretold by the prophet Nahum. Nineveh had long before been taken by Merodach, (as in due place hath been shewed,) and together with the rest of Assyria made subject to Babylon. Yet was it left under a peculiar king, who rebelling against the Chaldean, as Jehoiakim and Zedekias, tributary kings of Judah, had done, tasted likewise of the same fortune. That the destruction of Nineveh followed the conquest of Egypt, it appeareth by the comparison which « Nahum the prophet made between this city, that was to fall, and the city of No in Egypt, that was fallen already. But how long after, this came to pass, it is, methinks, unpossible
u Daniel i. 2.
* Nahum iii. 8.
to find out. For whereas it is found in an Hebrew chronology, that it was in the first of Nebuchadnezzar's reign, the place of Nahum last cited is enough to disprove it. Whereas it is referred by some unto the first of his monarchy, which began at the end of the Egyptian wars, the whole prophecy of Nahum, which went between the one and the other, argueth strongly, that there was a longer space of time intercurrent. So that to inquire into the very year of this destruction, or other circumstances of the war, whether managed by Nabuchodonosor in person, or by his lieutenants, were somewhat like unto the vain curiosity of Tiberius Cæsar, inquiring who was the mother of Hecuba; or to the like idle pains which he should take, who would seek to learn what woman that Huzzab queen of Nineveh was, whose woful captivity the same prophet Nahum likewise did foretell.
SECT. XI. Of the later time of Nebuchadnezzar ; his buildings, madness, and
death. OF the time which this great monarch spent in quiet, I think there are no monuments extant, save those which we find among the prophecies of Daniel. Among these we may reckon his great works at Babylon, wherewith he pleased himself so well, that he brake out into these glorious words: y Is not this great Babel, that I have built for the house of the kingdom by the might of my power, and for the honour of my majesty? Surely if those things be true that are by Josephus rehearsed of him out of Berosus and Megasthenes, he might well delight himself with the contemplation of such goodly and magnificent buildings. For it is said, that he fortified Babylon with a triple wall; that, besides other stately works, he raised those huge arches wherewith were borne up the high orchards, hanging as it were in the air, and equalling the tops of mountains, which most sumptuous frame, that outlasted all the remainder of the Assyrian, and all the Persian empire, is said to have been reared and finished in fifteen days. But of all this, and other his magnificence, we find little
y Daniel iv. 30.
else recorded, than that (which indeed is most profitable for us to consider) his overvaluing of his own greatness abased him unto a condition inferior to the poorest of men. And not undeservedly fell these judgments of God upon him. For whereas God had honoured him, not only with many victories and much happiness in his own life, but with a discovery of things to come after him, yea, and had approved the certainty of bis dream, by the miraculous reducing of it into his memory, and interpretation thereof by Daniel the prophet; he nevertheless became so forgetful of God, whose wonderful power he had seen and acknowledged, that he caused a golden image to be set up and worshipped; ordaining a cruel death as reward unto them that should dare to disobey his kingly will and pleasure, which was utterly repugnant to the law of him that is the King of kings. Hereof St. Jerome bath well noted, Velox oblivio veritatis, ut qui dudum servum Dei quasi Deum adoraverat, nunc statuam sibi fieri jubeat, ut ipse quasi Deus in statua adoraretur; “ A hasty forgetfulness of the truth, that he who so “ lately had worshipped (Daniel) the servant of God, as if he “ bad been God himself, should now command a statua to “ be erected unto himself, wherein himself might be wor“ shipped as God.” From this impiety it pleased God to reclaim him, by the strange and wonderful delivery of those blessed saints out of the fiery furnace, who being thrown into it bound, for refusing to commit idolatry, were assisted by an angel, preserved from all harm of the fire, loosened from their bands, and finally called out with gracious words, and restored to their former honour, by the king; who, amazed at the miracle, made a decree tending to the honour of God, which by erection of his image he had violated. Yet this devotion of Nebuchadnezzar was not so rooted in him that it could bring forth fruit answerable to his hasty zeal: therefore was he forewarned by God in a dream of the terrible judgment hanging over his head, which Daniel expounding, advised him to break off his sin by righteousness, and his iniquity by mercy towards the poor, that there might be an healing of his error. Hereby it seems that injustice and cruelty were the faults for which he was threatened; but this threatening sufficed not unto his reformation. For that so great a monarch should be driven from among men, (according to the tenor of the dream and interpretation,) yea compelled to dwell with the beasts of the field, and made to eat grass as the oxen, was a thing so incredible in man's judgment, that easily it might be thought an idle dream, and much more easily be forgotten at the year's end. One whole year's leisure to repent was given to this haughty prince; which respite of the execution may seem to have bred in him a forgetfulness of God's sentence. For at the end of twelve months, walking in the royal palace of Babel, he was so overjoyed and transported with a vain contemplation of his own seeming happiness, that, without all fear of God's heavy judgment pronounced against him, he uttered those lofty words before rehearsed, in vaunting of the majestical works which he had reared, as well beseeming his majestical person. But his high speeches were not fully ended, when a voice from heaven, telling him that his kingdom was departed from him, rehearsed over unto him the sentence again, which was fulfilled upon him the very same hour.
That Salomon and many other princes and great ones have taken delight in their own buildings, it cannot any way be doubted; yet I do not remember that ever I have read of any that were punished for rejoicing in works of this kind, (though it is hard in joy, or any passion of the mind, to keep a just measure,) excepting only this Nebuchadnezzar.
The like may be said of David : for other (and some very godly) kings have mustered all their forces to the very last man; but few or none have been known to have been punished as David was. Surely I not only hold it lawful to rejoice in those good things wherewith God hath blessed us, but a note of much unthankfulness to entertain them with a sullen and unfeeling disposition. Yet as all human affections, wherein due reference to God is wanting, are no better than obscure clouds, hindering the influence of that blessed light which clarifies the soul of man, and predisposeth it unto the brightness of eternal felicity; so that in