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Ezekiel 31:1 . In the eleventh year, in the third month, in the first day, about a month before Jerusalem was taken by storm.
Ezekiel 31:3 ; Ezekiel 31:8 . The Assyrian was a (tall) cedar. The Vulgate reads, none of the cedars in the paradise of God were taller or fairer than he. A fine figure of the Babylonian empire.
As the heights of Lebanon are the soil congenial to the cedar, this text favours the ancient opinion, that paradise was seated on a mountain, which would be the earliest land fit for habitation; and not cold, because the highest mountain had at that time only a small elevation above the seas. This idea relieves geology of the darkness which involves the formation of secondary rocks. They succeed the primitive rocks, which are massive; whereas the secondary are tabular, and often mixed with organic remains; and particularly so in the superior formations. The retirement of the waters from the continuous elevation of the mountains by subterranean crystalization, would give time for the secondary rocks to form in all their genera, species, families, and varieties. In the district from Bristol rocks to Chippenham hills, after a residence of seven years on the ground, I perceive the following order of the larger strata.
(1) The granite at the mouth of the Avon.
(2) The mountain limestone.
(3) The puddingstone.
(4) The oldest red sandstone, and the whiter sandstone.
(5) The oldest marine coal in the deep pits of Clandown.
(6) The recent marine coal of Kingswood to the vicinity of Bath.
(7) The shelly or brown limestone, full of organic remains.
(8) The oolite, or fine stone for masonry, lying in couches, and always approached with rubble.
(9) The chalk.
(10) The red ground with quartzose rocks, and timber coal, and organic remains floated from the torrid zones, as in Dudley, with veins of recent sandstone superposed.
All these formations were effectuated by the Noachial deluge, and subsequent inundations. Of the gradual retirement of the ocean, the whole face of nature is replete with proof. What need then of myriads of ages before the birth of man?
Ezekiel 31:6 . The fowls of heaven made their nests in his boughs. The nations which formed alliances with Babylon are his branches, the long arms of his power.
Ezekiel 31:12 . Strangers, the Medes, have cut him off. The allegory of the fall of Babylon is continued, by the lopping off the branches, and the final fall of this vast cedar.
Ezekiel 31:14 ; Ezekiel 31:18 . Thou shalt be brought down to the nether parts of the earth: thou shalt lie in the midst of the uncircumcised. The prophet returns here from the cedar of Babylon to the king of Egypt, who shall fall with his armies before the Chaldeans; yea, their souls, it would seem, should go to the shades beneath; for when the scriptures speak of the death of a good man, they say that he was gathered to his people. Virgil, in like manner, Æneid 6., represents the wicked who fall in war, as going to Tartarus, the kingdom of Pluto. This idea of the final justice of God operates in deterring men from crimes, and demonstrates the righteousness of the supreme Being. Yet it does not exclude any one from the grace of true repentance.
How dreadfully do the wicked scourge one another. Israel must be the first to fall. Then Egypt her ally, then Babylon, then Persia, then Greece, and lastly, the iron power of Rome. These empires sunk in succession like the mighty swells of the ocean, and but faintly left their traces behind. They fell by the overflowing scourge, which came suddenly upon them, and involved the rich and the poor in one common ruin. But the poor, who may survive, have some resources in the labours of their hands.
Lay not up then, oh my soul, thy treasures in earthly banks; build not thy mansion on the sand. Blessed is the man who has the Lord for his rock, and trusts alone in his salvation.
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Sutcliffe, Joseph. "Commentary on Ezekiel 31". Sutcliffe's Commentary on the Old and New Testaments. https://studylight.org/
the Fourth Sunday after Epiphany