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unstable and thoughtless, yet is not the less appalling: inasmuch as the professing to know and believe the truths of Christianity, and so fearfully to contradict them in practice, is to call down the vengeance of an offended God upon the land.
But to return to Hezekiah. In what manner does he receive the blasphemous words of the idolatrous Assyrian ? Like a true son of God, deeply concerned for his honour; yea, even wounded to the quick, and fearful of the effects, he sends to the prophet of the Lord to bespeak his intercession with heaven; with this afflicting message: “ This is a day of trouble, and of rebuke, and blasphemy. It may be the Lord our God will hear all the words of Rabshakeh, with which he has reproached the living God; and will reprove the words which the Lord our God hath heard. Wherefore lift up thy prayer for the remnant that is left."
Thus piously does he commend the affair to the prayers, as it were, of the Church. For him. self, we are told, “ and Hezekiah received the letter of the hand of the messengers, and read it; and Hezekiah went up into the house of the Lord, and spread it before the Lord.” He might have summoned a council of state, and gathered the elders of the people together to deliberate
what was best to be done in so great an exigency. But no, a greater than himself, the King of Kings, the God of the armies of the earth had been insulted, and his glorious name abused. His honour is at stake. He repairs, therefore, to the house of the Lord, and with the obnoxious letter open before him, he gives vent to his feelings in prayer. “Bow down thine ear and hear : open Lord, thine eyes and see: and hear the words of Sennacherib, which hath sent him to reproach the living God.” Would, my brethren, that not only kings of the earth, but all people, each in his several and individual capacity, would thus “conspire to praise the name of the Lord," to vindicate his ways, and to maintain his honour in the world! That each and all of us, not only would make religion his own personal concern, his ground of comfort in life, and of hope in death ; but would lend some portion of his time, his talent, his influence, and above all, his example, towards checking that torrent of sin and profligacy which threatens to overflow our Israel. For too true it is, that notwithstanding all that is said, (and I would fain hope, truly said,) of the rapid increase of light and knowledge; iniquity abounds, and vice and crime of every description also increase to a fearful extent; so that hell seems to be enlarging her borders. O then for the spirit of Hezekiah : yea for a double portion of his spirit that we of this Christian land may spread the matter before the Lord, and implore him to look down from heaven, and behold and visit this vine.. “ Now therefore, O Lord our God, we beseech thee, to save thou us out of the hand of Infidelity, the bane of thy Church, and from sin, the disease and disgrace of thy people!"
I have thus far considered the example of Hezekiah with reference to his public character. But to public character private must ever be subsidiary, Hezekiah had not shone with such lustre as a king, had he not laid the foundation in private religion. This was the secret supply which rendered him so burning and shining a light. And would we, my brethren, let our light shine effectually before men, to the glory of God and the benefit of the community, private religion the religion of the heart; the religion of the closet; the religion of the family, must feed the flame and keep it burning. We cannot even attempt to check sin in others unless we lay the axe to the root of our own vices. We cannot recommend religion to others unless we cultivate it ourselves. We cannot “contend earnestly for the faith once delivered unto the saints,” unless it produce in our own lives the peaceable fruits of righteousness. Unless religion be our own governing principle-unless our own lives be such, in every respect, as we recommend to others, they will give our words and public actions the lie: there will appear to be more of worldly policy and craft in all we say or do for religion, than a real zeal for the glory of God, and a sincere interest in the welfare of our fellow creatures. · Private religion and personal holiness are what men will look to : not to how we preach or how we talk, but how we live : not to what we are outwardly in the sight of men, but inwardly and before God. And the most effectual means of promoting holiness is unquestionably prayer. “Pray to thy Father who is in secret, and thy Father, who seeth in secret, shall reward thee openly." I would in this place, and from the subject I am treating of in this discourse, more particularly be understood by prayer to mean, a habit of referring, not only public, but every private event to God. To a truly pious mind, nothing is without its importance; nothing can happen to us which has even the smallest reference to our conduct as Christians, and as candidates for immortality, which may not, which ought not, to be made the subject of prayer. We have already seen in what manner this pious king referred the public concerns of himself and people to God. He spread the letter before the Lord in prayer.
The prevailing habit of Hezekiah's mind appears also remarkably in a matter of an entirely private nature between God and his own soul. The prophet Isaiah has recorded his divine composition on the occasion.--" The writing of He. zekiah, king of Judah, when he had been sick, and was recovered from his sickness : " I said in the cutting off of my days, I shall go to the gates of the grave: I am deprived of the residue of my years. I said, I shall not see the Lord, even the Lord, in the land of the living: I shall behold man no more, with the inhabitants of the world. Mine age is departed and is removed from me, as a shepherd's tent: I have cut off like a weaver my life: he will cut me off with pining sickness : , from day even to night wilt thou make an end of me. What shall I say? He hath both spoken unto me, and himself hath done it : I shall go softly all my days in the bitterness of my soul. Behold, for peace I had great bitterness : but thou hast, in love to my soul, delivered it from the pit of corruption: for thou hast cast all my sins behind Thy back. For the grave cannot praise Thee, death cannot celebrate Thee: they that go down into the pit cannot hope for Thy