« ÎnapoiContinuă »
help, if He sees fit, may make us great and prosperous; without whose blessing, all our labour is but vain; and whose blessing cannot possibly be looked for, by those, who seek to found their prosperity on a defiance of His laws. If Jeroboam had not been too anxious to secure the crown to his children; the same God, who made him king, might have kept it on their heads for evermore: but when he sought to strengthen himself against Judah, by schism and idolatry, the hand of the Lord was turned against his house; and his name became a proverb in Israel, for crime and calamity.
Secondly, We may learn the true use, which should be made of afflictions sent by God; and that, when visited by His correcting hand, we should pray for deliverance, not only from our present calamity, but from the sins, which brought it on; and from the lusts, whereby we shall be again led into the commission of fresh crimes, and into the danger of still heavier punishments. Jeroboam prayed, that his hand might be cured: it was cured; and yet he went on, offending God, till he had sealed the ruin of his family. If he had prayed for true repentance; for a hearty desire to forsake those sins, which had brought down God's anger on him; for strength to fight against the temptations of pride, and of carnal fear; and for grace to worship God, in spirit and in truth;
and to trust, in Him only, for defence and safety; how different would the consequences have been! Remember, then, when you are in sorrow, or in pain, that you should pray to your Maker, not only for present relief, but for future grace, and blessing; knowing, that it is a small thing to be now set free; if we have the same sinful habits about us, which will soon bring down a new judgement upon us: and that, since all our suffering is the fruit of sin, the surest means of obtaining deliverance is to seek, first, the kingdom of God, and His righteousness!
Thirdly, The last which I shall mention of those wholesome lessons, with which the present chapter abounds, is the great necessity of attending to God's warnings, if we hope to escape His punishments. God seldom sends the last, before He has graciously tried the former: but, where His warnings have been slighted, or despised, His punishments are sure to follow. Jeroboam was not brought to himself, by the drying up of his hand, and by the rending of his altar; and the days soon came, in which his children withered away from the face of the earth, as the grass withereth under the burning heat of the sun and his throne, which he had made so strong for himself, was plucked up, and cast down, as the stubble before the whirlwind! Hath God visited us with no calamities? Have no warnings been brought to us, of His anger,
and of our own danger and sinfulness? Have not His judgements been abroad in the world, to bring the nations to repentance? Have not His gracious visitations been brought to our own doors, our own tables, and bed-chambers; when by the sorrows, which He sent into our hearts, He taught us, how weak we were; and admonished us to apply to Him, for help and pardon? O ye, that complain of evil times, why will ye not understand, that "foolish men are plagued, because of their offences!" O ye, whose heads have been bowed down by sickness, or by sorrow, how long will you set your hearts on a world, which ye have found to be nothing else than vanity?-How long will ye suffer God to call, while ye refuse to obey His invitation?— How long will ye not perceive, that every groan, which is drawn from our mortal nature, is, as it were, a passing bell, which warns us of our own approaching funeral; a summons, which bids us make ready for the grave, and for the dreadful sentence which must follow?
These pains and calamities are the messengers of God; which tell us, that He is on His road to judge the earth. On His road, did I say? Even now, perchance, He standeth at the door : and blessed, thrice blessed are they whom, when He cometh, He shall find watching!
There are other very useful topics of instruction afforded in this same chapter; by the history and melancholy end of the prophet, who bore God's message to Jeroboam; but the time forbids me now to enter on their discussion. Hereafter, by His help and blessing, I may again return to the subject.
NINTH SUNDAY AFTER TRINITY.
1 KINGS, xviii. 17, 18.
And it came to pass, when Ahab saw Elijah, that Ahab said
unto him, Art thou he, that troubleth Israel? And he answered, I have not troubled Israel; but thou, and thy father's house, in that ye have forsaken the commandments of the LORD, and thou hast followed Baalim.
FEW names are more remarkable, in the volume of Scripture, nor has any mere man been more conspicuously honoured by the power and protection of the Most High, than Elijah, or Elias, the prophet. Yet it may be observed, in his case, as well as in that of many others of the most eminent servants of God, that the Holy Ghost, as if to reprove the vanity of human curiosity, and to expose the nothingness of human renown, has given us very few particulars of the history, or character of those, in whom God has been most pleased; and those particulars are such, in a great degree, as, in a worldly point of view, would seem most adverse to the passions and prejudices of mankind.