« VorigeDoorgaan »
f his name
father or mother more than me, is not worthy of me.” Dear and respected as are those sacred ties of relationship, we are not bound even by them, we are loosed from the law of a father or a mother, if they command us any thing wicked or irreligious, or attempt to shake the children's faith, and trust in God. And this is the meaning of our Saviour's rule.
Hezekiah, however, notwithstanding these acts of piety, like every other true servant of God, and like David, his predecessor in goodness and in suffering, had his troubles ; for he had also his weaknesses. His heart was on one or two occasions lifted up with pride, and dazzled with the appearance of regal pomp and splendour. God therefore raised him up enemies, as well to punish the wickedness of his people, as to try what was in his heart, and to discover to him its treachery and sin. Happy, yea blessed trials, if they produce their intended effects; if they bring us back to God, our duty, and ourselves! And such was their effect on Hezekiah.
In the chapter before us we witness the excel. lency of his conduct, the strength of his faith and piety, on a very trying occasion. Israel was already in captivity; and he also and his people are threatened with the same evil. His very
walls are surrounded by the immense army who had carried away Israel. The same enemy whom he had before bought off with great trea. sures, and, (what was harder still to his pious mind,) with all the silver that was found in the house of the Lord, is at his gates. And, con. trary to all faith, and to the agreement subsisting between them, Sennacherib sends to him to demand the surrender of himself and his people.
Nothing is so unreasonable as man. If, like this good Hezekiah, we comply with their demands, especially if we have gone so far as to give up to them (what ought ever to be dearer to us than life itself,) some of our religious principles and opinions, demands will soon increase upon us. For there are always some persons, quick-sighted enough to perceive, whether we are of a firm spirit, or on the contrary, are made but of yielding materials ; and they will accord. ingly either relinquish their hold upon us, or else follow up the blow, and be content with nothing less than a total surrender of ourselves, our judgment, our consciences ; yea, more of our religion and our God. Look to it, therefore, my Christian brethren, well. Be firm. « Be strong in the Lord, and in the power of his might." Let no man take thy crown! Let no man rob you of your God!
J who enemy trea.
For this, I repeat, will ever be the danger of those who, in the midst of surrounding impiety, and degenerating morals, dare to be singular, in the cause of religion. It was the situation of Hezekiah. Yet though he before yielded too far, he now saw his error and retrieved it. He trusted in the Lord God and clave to him. This the Assyrian saw was his strong hold, and therefore he tries him in this point, by endeavouring to undermine his trust and faith in God, and then he well knew all besides would prove an easy conquest.
But, to give a colour to his injustice, as well as to facilitate his designs upon Hezekiah, he pretends a divine commission for invading him. “ Am I now come up without the Lord against this place to destroy it? The Lord said to me, go up against this land, and destroy it." Had this indeed been the case, Hezekiah might with too much reason have trembled. For how should he stand out against his God? “ But he lied to him.” He had no such commission. And thus it is, that Satan himself, by transforming himself into an angel of light, beguiles unstable souls. Thus, with the words of Scripture in his mouth, having war in his heart, he assailed, he conquered, he ruined our first parent. And thus he every day, and every
where goes about as a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour. There are too many in this, our day, who like the arch-enemy of souls lie in wait to deceive—who come to you in sheeps’-clothing, but inwardly are raving wolves. But by their fruits, not their words, ye shall know them.
If men, my brethren, do but pretend religion for the advice they give us, and under the garb of sanctity, and the words of Scripture, slip in their dangerous insinuations into our minds, with the secret design and hope of loosening our hold upon the rock of ages, and of getting us finally to renounce the Lord that bought us and redeemed us, and the Holy Ghost the Comforter, who sanctifies us; we are in far greater danger of being caught in the snare so artfully laid for our souls, and of giving up the sacred cause of God, than if such persons made no pretensions to religion at all. Boldly and at once to avow their disbelief of the great truths of the Gospel, they well know would shock us and put us on our guard. They therefore pretend, as I said, religion. And it must be confessed, that religion was never, perhaps, more in people's mouths than it is at the present day, (would that its effects upon the heart and life were but as general and visible !) but never, notwithstanding, were plots more deeply laid for the unwary and ignorant, or baits more artfully concealed than at present. Infidelity sculks about our streets and lanes in disguise. * And where it is not actually avowed (and many I am persuaded would be shocked to avow it, and on the contrary profess 'to be Christians and believers in God's word,) yet do not the lives and actions of too many boldly proclaim, at least that they practically deny the Lord that bought them, liv. ing as they do without hope, and without God in the world ? And in case our land were in the same situation as Hezekiah's, would not the lives of such, thus too visibly conformable with the designs and principles of avowed infidels, seem to cry aloud in the words of Sennacherib's idol. atrous messengers, “ let not thy God in whom thou trustest deceive thee, saying Jerusalem shall not be delivered into the hand of the kings of Assyria. Behold thou hast heard what the kings of Assyria have done to all landsby destroying them utterly, and shalt thou be delivered?” This is a species of blasphemy and practical infidelity, which, if it be not avowed in words nor secretly instilled into the mind of the