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BELSHAZZAR & HIS FAVORITE;

OR,

THE FALL OF BABYLON.

BY JANE STRICKLAND.

THE children of the captivity of Judah repented of their sins; and turned their weeping eyes towards the distant, but unforgotten, land of their fathers. They had wept in the day when they "hanged their harps upon the willows," of Babel; they had mingled their tears with its heathen streams. They wept when they beheld the magnificent towers of Babylon, and thought of the low-laid and silent city of David; the vanished glories of her who had been named "the joy of the whole earth." Their holy and beautiful house was burnt up with fire; and weeds and briars had overspread the altar of the Lord of Hosts yet they still turned their faces

towards the desolate shrine; still clung to the remembrance of Jerusalem. The voice of prophecy was not then mute : the words of Ezekiel " were like the words of a very lovely song," in the ears of the children of the captivity; and the eyes of Daniel saw distinctly the mighty events of unborn ages. From the lips of these holy and inspired men the captives learned that the day of their redemption was near at hand; for the desolate land of Judah had nearly fulfilled her sabbaths, and the time of the promised return was about to be accomcomplished. Some, indeed, doubted; some scoffed; but the pious worshippers of Jehovah trusted in his promises, and awaited their verification in trembling hope.

Among those who relied upon the promises of God, and most confidently expected their fulfilment, was Eleazar; one of the grandsons of the captive Jehoiachin, that

king of Judah," whose head Evilmerodach had lifted up, and set his throne above the thrones of all the kings that were with him in Babylon." Educated in the voluptuous court of Nebuchadnezzar, Eleazar had preserved the simplicity of his manners untainted, the integrity of his heart uncorrupted, his faith unshaken; and while his character claimed respect from all, his amiable disposition and shining qualities were the love and admiration of many. Brought up with Belshazzar from his infancy, that young prince formed a tender friendship with the royal captive, and promised to restore his family to their throne, and his people to their desolate land, when he should sway the sceptre of Babylon.

Eleazar loved the Babylonian prince too devotedly to suffer him to remain ignorant of the light of revelation. He made the one true and everlasting God of Israel

known to his friend, and left none of his mighty deliverances and chastisements untold; he would often dwell upon the hope of that return, which was dearer to the heart of the expatriated children of the captivity than all the pomp and magnificence of Babylon. This wondrous record of triumph and woe would melt the heart of Belshazzar; and in those better moments of his life he vowed to worship none of the idols of Chaldea, but to serve the God of Eleazar with a holy worship.

Many of the princes of Babylon beheld the influence which Eleazar had gained over the mind of Belshazzar with jealousy and alarm. Hamar, the grandson of Rabsaris, in particular, eyed the friendship of the youthful pair with envious discontent. Subtle and insinuating in his manners, and utterly unprincipled in his heart, this wily Babylonian studied the character of Bel

shazzar, and easily made himself master of all his weak points, which consisted in a love of pleasure, and an inordinate fondness for flattery. Hamar knew that Eleazar was too upright to flatter, and too strict in his morals and religion to make use of any other arts to maintain his influence over his master than those which virtue had pointed out; and the designing young noble spared no pains to gain the key of his bosom, and paid his court so success fully, that before the death of Evilmerodach he had greatly weakened his successor's love for the Judean prince.

No sooner was Belshazzar seated on the throne of his ancestors, than he forgot all the lessons of piety and moderation he had learned from his friend; and, dreading to receive reproof from his lips, he rarely sent for him to court; and very seldom, when he did command his attendance,

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