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Lecture Forty-fourth

Yesterday the Prophet spake of the northern enemy, and said that it was in God’s power to drive him far away, that he might not hurt the people, that his vast army would not prevent the dispersion of his power and enterprises. Now he adds this, which we could not finish yesterday, Ascend will his ill savor, and ascend will his rottenness; for highly has he borne or exalted himself to do his purpose The Prophet expresses here more than in the former sentence, and that is, that God would turn to reproach the whole power of the Assyrian. The reason he subjoins deserves to be noticed, ‘He has highly exalted himself in his doings,’ which means, that he was elated with great pride, thinking he could do anything; therefore he says, ‘Ascend will his rottenness and ill savor.’ This contains a very striking allusion; for when men deliberate about great things, it is the game as if they were to raise up themselves on high; and we also observe that hither tend their designs, who are engaged in difficult and arduous undertakings; for they are not content with their lots but try to climb above the clouds. Since then the design of all mortals is to rise aloft, when they seek for themselves more than what is just, the Prophet, deriding this folly, says, “Ascend will the ill savor of the Assyrian, as a bad smell ascends from a putrid carcass. He thinks,” he says, “that he can do what he pleases, as though heaven and earth were under his control: his power, enterprises forces and splendor, shall not ascend; but his ill savor only shall ascend as from a dead carcass.” Why so? “He has mightily exalted himself,” he says, “to do his purpose.”

He now understand the design of the Prophet: and hence this useful instruction may be gathered, that God so checks the foolish confidence of those who pride themselves on their own strength, that he not only casts them down, but also turns their glory into shame, so that nothing ascends from them but ill savor and the smell of rottenness. Now follows what is of an opposite character: —

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