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prevented; to how many victims does the tyranny and pride of some few extend; and how many have perished in the flower of age, for the wickedness of a single conqueror !
But this is not the only, nor the most frightful death, to which sin conducts her subjects. The eye of faith, which pierces beyond the grave, may there behold, in flames and never-ending agonies, the bitter wages which Satan has to bestow, the sad return which only he is able to make, for all which, on earth, we do or suffer in obedience to his commands. "The wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life, through Jesus Christ our Lord!" And shall we not labour now as hard to purchase Heaven, as we have formerly toiled to earn disgrace and fear, and an untimely grave, and fires which never shall be quenched? Or will not the recollection of such a deliverance as, by the free grace of God, we have received, such a reward as, by the same free grace, we are instructed to anticipate, will not this aweful recollection, this blessed and comfortable hope, awake in our hearts so strong a love for Him, to whom we owe our all, as that we shall scorn to be more slack in His service and warfare, than we have formerly been in the service of His adversary?
O Lord, Thou hast bought us with Thy blood; therefore will we be Thine for evermore.
Lord, Thou hast opened the gates of life, and immortality to us, who were Thine enemies; and the souls which Thou hast rescued from everlasting death, and the bodies which, but for Thee, would have writhed in tortures unspeakable, are all but too little to express our devotion and gratitude; - all but too poor an offering, in return for the favour, which has been shown us. "What shall we give unto the Lord, for all the benefits which He hath done unto us?" Sacrifice and burnt offering He hath ceased to require: but lo! we come, to do Thy will, O Lord; and to offer up at Thy Mercy-seat, ourselves, our souls, and bodies, as a reasonable, holy, and living sacrifice to Thee, O Father, by whom we are forgiven; to Thee, O Blessed Son, by whose blood we are redeemed; and to Thee, thou pure and eternal Spirit, through whose blessed inspiration alone we can think, or do, what is pleasing in the sight of our Divine Benefactor! Enter then, O God, into our bosom thus prepared; and may Thy grace and comfortable presence dwell therein for evermore, in this world where we are strangers and pilgrims; and, in the world to come, where we shall live, and reign, with Thee: Amen, and Amen!
1 Psalm cxvi. 12.
EIGHTH SUNDAY AFTER TRINITY.
1 KINGS, xiii. 6.
And the king answered and said unto the man of God, Entreat now the face of the LORD thy God, and pray for me, that my hand may be restored me again.
THE Occasion of these words has been read to you in the proper Lesson for this morning's service; the history contained in which you may understand more clearly, from the following remarks on its different circumstances.
A short time before the events, which it records, took place, the kingdom of David had been divided, by the rebellion of ten of the tribes under Jeroboam; who established a rival monarchy at Samaria, in opposition to that at Jerusalem. The account of this revolution may be found in the 11th and 12th chapters of the same book of Kings;—where you will read, how King Solomon's compliance with his heathen wives and concubines entailed on his children the loss of the greater part of his kingdom: how the folly of his son Rehoboam was the im
mediate cause of the calamity; and, more particularly, with what a wicked artifice Jeroboam, the son of Nebat, endeavoured to make a religious, as well as a political, breach between the two great families of Israel and Judah. It had been, till then, the custom of all the nation, -a custom enjoined in the most solemn manner by God Himself, - that no sacrifice or burnt-offering should be offered to Him in any other place, than the temple which was on Mount Sion: and that all the males of every tribe should come up thither, three times in the year, to worship in the presence of God. But this custom, as Jeroboam apprehended, might be dangerous to the political greatness of himself and his successors. "If this people go up
to do sacrifice in the house of the LORD at Jerusalem, then shall the heart of this people turn again unto their lord, even unto Rehoboam, king of Judah, and they shall kill me, and go again unto Rehoboam king of Judah. Whereupon the king took counsel, and made two calves of gold, and said unto them, "It is too much for you to go up to Jerusalem: Behold thy gods, O Israel, which brought thee up out of the land of Egypt!' And he set the one in Beth-el, the other put he in Dan: and this thing became a sin, for the people went to worship before the one, even unto Dan. And hẻ made an house of high-places, and made
priests of the lowest of the people, which were not of the sons of Levi."1
The folly, as well as the wickedness, of such a proceeding, it is hardly necessary to point out to you. The exaltation of Jeroboam and his family to the throne of Samaria had been brought about, as we have seen, by the providence of God; and had been expressly foretold by Him, through the mouth of His prophet Abijah. Jeroboam, then, might well have trusted, that the same Almighty power, which had made him King, could keep the crown on the heads of himself and his children, without the help of any such crooked policy. Jeroboam might well have feared, that the same sin of idolatry, which, in the case of King Solomon, had been so offensive to God, would be required with still greater severity at his own hands, and those of his descendants: nor can we conceive a greater proof of unthankfulness, than that a king, on being promoted to the throne, should employ the first moments of his reign, in debasing the glory, and in transgressing the laws, of that Heavenly King, who had placed him there. Under such circumstances of folly and unthankfulness, it might have been, perhaps, in the first instance expected, that God would, at once, destroy the work of His hands; and would sentence to severe and unexampled pu1 1 Kings, xii. 27—31.