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good for any thing, would apply, not only against God's dispensations as revealed to us in Scripture, but against the ordinary course of His providence; not only against the law of Moses, but against the religion of nature. But, in the particular instance of those nations, to whom the law of Moses was given, as the promises and threats which God thought proper to make to them were all of a temporal nature, so was there a peculiar propriety in thus strengthening their motives to virtue, by making the good or evil fortune of those, most dear to every man, depend on every man's good or evil conduct. Since, indeed, the great object of all punishment is either the amendment of the offender himself, or the terrifying others from the commission of similar offences, it is plain that these ends were answered, in a very remarkable manner, by such an aweful sentence as that which was passed on the family of Ahab. To Ahab, himself, it might be expected to operate, and really did, as a serious and dreadful warning to humble himself betimes under the chastening hand of God, and to suffer his sentence in patience, lest a worse thing should be denounced against him. On his sons, the foreknowledge of those misfortunes, which impended over his family, might be reasonably expected to produce a deep and favourable, though, doubtless, a melancholy impression. The expectation of an early death

has a natural tendency to wean a youthful mind from the excesses, to which youth is most liable; and he, over whom the sentence of approaching adversity impends, is likely, for the most part, to make a better use of prosperity. We know not but the same curse which doomed Ahab and his sons to exemplary destruction in this life, may have been the means of saving many of their number from a worse destruction in the

life to come. And as it was not man, but God, by whom the curse was both pronounced and accomplished, we may be sure that He knew how so to strike, as to make all due distinctions in His anger; and to temper His blow to the criminality or innocence of each among their number.

But, to the Israelites, who heard the sentence, and beheld its fulfilment, no more aweful proof could be given that the Most High ruleth in the kingdom of men- no stronger lesson to their kings, to beware of violence or tyranny; or to the people in general, to respect the words of their prophets; seeing that "there fell unto the ground nothing of the word, which the LORD spake by His servant Elijah."

From the history, then, of Ahab and Jehu, we may derive the following lessons. First, We may cease to wonder at the exaltation of worldly and wicked men to situations of great power and outward prosperity; seeing, that, by such

instruments as these, the work of Heaven is often best brought to pass: and seeing, that the power, which is conferred on them, is, for the most part, precisely of that nature, which a really good man should, one should think, be least disposed to desire or emulate.

Secondly, We may learn the great advantage of holiness, and the great misery of vice, in their immediate and worldly consequences: since these consequences are, often, not confined to the offender himself, but extend to his children and connections.

Thirdly, What has been said may confirm our trust in God; that (even in those dispensations, which are, at first sight, most perplexing to human feelings) His ways are always righteous; and His judgments done in truth and equity.

And, lastly, Since so many causes, [independent of ourselves, our own actions, or even merits, if merits we could have to plead,] may operate to produce our worldly prosperity or adversity, it behoves us then to set our affections, where every man must stand or fall by himself, or according to his own actions only applying ourselves chiefly to make such an use of God's dispensations in this present life, as that both our prosperity and adversity may be sanctified to His praise, and be the means of laying up for ourselves a more exceeding weight of future and eternal glory; when He, whom we serve, and in

whom our hope is fixed, shall return to wipe away every tear from our eyes, and to render back to us in abundant and everlasting blessedness the short affliction which we have, for His sake, suffered patiently.



ST. MATTHEW, xxv. 29.

Unto every one that hath shall be given, and he shall have abundance; but from him that hath not, shall be taken away even that which he hath.

WITH this aweful declaration our Saviour ends the parable of the talents, in which, as it is told by St. Matthew, He describes Himself as a master who, on leaving His family for a time, gives to his different servants their different tasks to perform; and who, on His return, examines into their behaviour during His absence, rewarding the diligence of some, and punishing the neglect of others. "The kingdom of Heaven," He tells us, "is as a man travelling into a far country, who called his own servants, and delivered unto them his goods. And unto one he gave five talents; unto another, two; and unto another, one; to every man according unto his several ability; and straightway took his journey. Then he, that had received the five talents, went and traded with the same; and

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