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Pride That Went Before A Fall

( Originally Published 1902 )

AS Xerxes was undertaking an expedition into Greece for revenge and conquest, he asked the advice of some of his leaders as to the wisdom and possible result of his expedition, thinking, of course, that they would agree with him in his intention, and in his contemptuous estimate of the Greeks. Artabanus, his uncle, discouraged the expedition, telling them how powerful the Greeks were, and intimating very strongly that the gods might frown upon the haughty attempt to subjugate them. In his speech to the king, he says, " Seest thou how God with his lightning smites always the bigger animals, and will not suffer them to wax insolent, while those of lesser bulk chafe him not. How likewise his bolts fall ever on the highest houses and the tallest trees? So plainly does he have to bring down everything that exalts itself. Thus often-times a mighty host is discomfited by a few men, when God sends fear or storm from heaven, and they perish in a way unworthy of them." Xerxes, angry with Artabanus, said that if he were not related to him he would kill him. As it was, he punished him for his intimation that failure might attend the war with the Greeks. According to Herodotus, the king crossed the Hellespont with more than five million men, and having a fleet of over twelve hundred ships, and after an unsuccessful war he returned to Persia with his army crushed and scattered and wasted by weapons and disease. In his humiliation he gave himself up to a life of debauchery, and was put out of the world in disgrace by the hand of one of his officers. The prophecy of Artabanus was literally fulfilled that God smites haughty heads to the dust, illustrating the word of Scripture, " Every one that is proud in heart is an abomination to the Lord : though hand join in hand he shall not be unpunished," and the teaching of our Lord, " Whosoever exalteth himself shall be abased."

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