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of the Jews at this period without paying attention to those of the surrounding nations, the successive revolutions of which had so considerable an influence on the events that took place in Judea.
Daniel, in his interpretation of Nebuchadnezzar's dream, describes the four great empires generally distinguished under the appellation of the Chaldean, the Medo-Persian, the Grecian, and the Roman. That prophecy was in part fulfilled in the destruction of the first of these empires by Cyrus, who founded that of the Persian; the period of which we are about to write exhibits a farther accomplishment of those predictions in the subversion of the Persian empire by Alexander the Great; we will, therefore, enter a little into his history. At the age of twenty, he succeeded his father, Philip, king of Macedon, who, during his whole reign, had been engaged in wars, and left his son surrounded with dangers.
Alexander soon reduced to subjection the revolted nations contiguous to Macedon. He then went into Greece, to dissolve an alliance formed against him, in which he succeeded. Soon after this he undertook an expedition against Darius, king of Persia, whose army he routed with great slaughter; the whole camp fell into the hands of the conqueror, in which were his mother, wife, and children, whom Alexander treated with great respect. The rapidity of his conquests spread universal terror. He seized Damascus, where Darius had deposited his treasures. He likewise took Sidon, and then advanced to Tyre, which city, Rollin observes, was justly entitled the Queen of the Sea, that element bringing to it the tribute of all nations;" its inhabitants were extremely courteous to strangers.
On Alexander's approach, the Tyrians sent an
embassy with presents and refreshments for his army, but would not admit him into their city; Alexander intended to invade Egypt; but this could not be easily done, while the Persians were masters of the sea; nor could he pursue Darius with safety, if he left behind him so large an extent of country whose inhabitants were not subject to him: he therefore determined on the conquest of Tyre, and the Tyrians were as much determined to defend it. The obstacles he had to encounter, and the amazing difficulties he overcame, are not to be paralleled in history.
But God had foretold the destruction of this proud city; and the arm of the Lord was revealed, in girding Alexander with power and might. When God arises, what city, what empire can stand? By comparing the history and the prophecy together we see how wonderfully they accord. Alexander was only in pursuit of his own honour and fame, but God was making use of him, as an instrument, to punish the wickedness of the Tyrians. (See Isaiah xxiii.; Ezek. xxvi.—xxviii.)* While Alexander was besieging Tyre, he sent commissaries to summon the inhabitants of Galilee, Samaria, and Judea to submit to him, and furnish his army with provisions. The Jews excused themselves by acknowledging Darius as their Sovereign. But the haughty Alexander, not being able to brook such an answer, determined to march against and punish them severely. After a siege of seven months, Alexander took Tyre by storm, burnt and destroyed the whole city, and put the inhabitants to the sword. He then prepared to
The terrible blows of the divine hand upon the ancient nations it is believed by some Christians do only in measure fulfil the predictions of Scripture respecting them, and that much remains to be fulfilled when "the Lord cometh out of His place to punish the inhabitants of the earth for their iniquity.”—ED.
march to Jerusalem, which caused great consternation in that city. (Year of the world, 3672.)
In this emergency, Jaddua, the high priest, sought to the Lord by supplication and prayer. The night following, God appeared to Jaddua in a dream, and ordered him to go forth in his pontifical robes, with all the priests dressed in their vestments, and the people clothed in white, to meet Alexander.
This august procession marched out the very next day, and waited for the king on an eminence not far from the city. The enraged victor, instead of ordering his soldiers to destroy them, as might have been expected, went himself up to the high-priest with profound respect, and, bowing his body, adored the Holy Name upon his front, and saluted him who wore it, with a religious veneration.
Alexander's troops could scarcely believe what they saw; they knew not that the hearts of all are in the hands of the Lord. One of the king's attendants asked him how it was that he, who was adored by every one, adored the high-priest of the Jews? "I do not," replied the king, "adore the priest, but the God whose minister he is: for, while I was planning this expedition at Dia, in Macedon, I saw this very person, in this habit, inviting me to come into Asia, with an assurance that God would give me the victory over the Persians." He then embraced the high-priest, and walking in the midst of the procession, entered Jerusalem, where it is sad to say he offered sacrifices to God, though contrary to the law, in the temple. His confidence of success in his undertaking was abundantly confirmed when he was shown those passages in Daniel, written long before he was born, which gave such a clear descrip
tion of himself, and the conquest he was to make. Alexander was so pleased with the reception he met with, that he promised the Jews they should live according to their own laws, and be exempt the seventh year from paying tribute, as their law forbade them on that year to sow their fields.
The Jews were the only people who in that age acknowledged the true God; hence we see that those who honour God, He will honour.
Alexander next marched into Egypt without opposition. He treated the people with humanity and kindness, and built a city, which he called Alexandria, to which he transplanted many of the Jews.
Two years after the battle with Darius, Alexander gained other important victories over that foe, till at last Darius was compelled to flee for his life. He was found in a solitary place, lying in a chariot, his body run through with spears, having been betrayed and slain by Bessus, one of his own court. Alexander ordered him to be embalmed, and his coffin to be adorned with royal magnificence and sent to his mother, that he might be interred with the honours paid to the Persian monarchs. Thus ended the Persian Empire, after having existed 206 years, from the time of Cyrus, the founder of it.
Alexander, after he had endured many hardships, and encountered amazing difficulties, to be master of the world, fell a victim to intemperance, at the age of thirty-two, having reigned twelve years. He left an infant son, who for a time had the name of king; but his dominions were at length divided among four of the captains or generals of the army. This partition had been predicted above two hundred years before, by the prophet Daniel (xi. 3, 4), and no efforts of human wisdom could frustrate the divine decree.
THE BOY MARTYR.
IT was at Antioch, about three hundred years after the birth of Christ, that the deacon of the Church of Cæsarea, the place from whence the devout centurion of the Roman army sent for St. Peter, was tortured in order to try his faith and force him to deny the Lord who bought him with His own precious blood, The martyr, amidst his agonies, persisted in declaring his belief that there is but 66 one God, and one Mediator between God and man, the Man Christ Jesus." His flesh was almost torn to pieces, the Roman emperor, Galerius, himself looking on. At length, weary of answering their taunting demands that he should acknowledge the many gods of the heathen, he told his tormentor to refer the question to any little child whose simple understanding could decide, whether it were better to worship one God, the Maker of heaven and earth, and one Saviour, who was able to bring us to God, or to worship the gods many and lords many, whom the Romans served.
Now it happened that a Roman mother had approached the scene of the martyr's sufferings, holding by the hand a little boy of eight or nine years old. Pity, or the desire of helping the sufferer, had probably brought her there, but the Providence of God had ordained for her an unexpected trial. The judge no sooner heard the martyr's words than his eye rested on the child, and, pointing to the boy from his tribunal, he desired the Christian to put the question to him.
The question was asked, and, to the surprise of most of those who heard it, the little boy replied, "God is one, and Jesus Christ is one with the Father."