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Nature wrought in Jeroboam, not grace: ance; as, contrarily, deceit doth both argue he is enough troubled with his son's disease, and make a bankrupt. Who can trust where no whit bettered. I would have heard him he is disappointed? O God! so oft, so ever sav, God follows me with his afflictions ; it have we found thee true in all thy promises, is for mine impiety: what other measure in all thy performances, that, if we do not can I expect from his justice? while mine seek thee, if we do not trust thee in the idols stand, how can I look that my house sequel, we are worthy of our loss, worthy should prosper? I will turn from my wicked. of thy desertions. ness : () God, turn thou from thy wrathi. Yet I do not see that Jeroboam sends to These thoughts were too good for that ob- the prophet for his aid, but for intelligence. durate heari: his son is sick, he is sorrow. Curiosity is guilty of this message, and not ful: but, as an amazed man seeks to go devotion; he calls not for the prayers, nor forth at the wrong door, his distraction for the benediction of that holy man, but sends him to a false help: lie thinks not of for mere information of the event. He well God, he thinks of his prophet; he thinks saw what the prayers of a prophet could of the prophet that had foretold him he do: that which cured his hand. miglit it should be a kiny; he thinks ljot of the God not have cured his son? yet lie that said to of that prophet who made him a king. It a man of God, “ Entreat the face of the is the property of a carnal heart to con- Lord thy God, that he may restore my fine boih his obligations and his hopes to hand,” says not now, in his message to Abis the means, neglecting the duthor of good. jah, Entreat thy God to restore my son. Vain is the respect that is given to the ser- Sin makes such a strangeness bel wixt God vant, where the master is contemned. and man, that the guilty heart either thinks
Extremity draws Jeroboam's thoughts to not of suing to God, or fears it. What a the prophet, whom else he had not cared poor contentment it was to foreknow that to remember. The king of Israel had di. evil which he could not avoid, and whose vines enow of his own, else he must needs norice could but hasten his misery! Yet have thought them miserable gods that were thus fond is our restless curiosity, that it not worth a prophet: and, besides, there seeks ease in the drawing on of torment: was an old prophet, if he yet survived, he is worthy of sorrow, that will not stay till dwelling within the smoke of his palace, it comes to him, but goes to fetch it. whose visions had been too well approved: Whom doth Jeroboam send on this mes. why should Jeroboam send so far, to an sage but his wife and how, but disguised? Alijah?
why her, and why thus ? Neither durst he Certainly his heart despised those base trust this errand with another, nor with her priests of his high places ; neither could he in her own form : it was a secret that Je. trust either to the gods or the clergy of his roboam sends to a prophet of God; none own making : his conscience rests upon might know it but his own bosom, and slie the fidelity of that man whose doctrine he that lay in it: it this had been noised in had forsaken. How did this idolater strive | Israel, the example had been dangerous : against his own heart, whilst he inwardly who would not have said, The king is glad despised those whom he professed to how to leave his counterfeit deities, and seek to nour, and inwardly honoured them whom the true? why sliould we adhiere to them he professed to despise! Wicked breasts wl:om he forsakes? As the message must are false to themselves, neither trusting to not be known to the people, so slie that their own choice, nor making choice of that bears it must i.ot be known to the prophet: which they may dare to trust. They will her name, her habit, must be changed; she 'set a good face upon their secretly unpleas-must put off her robes, and put on a russet ing sins, and had rather be self-condemned coat; she must put off the queen, and put than wise and penitent. As for that old on the peasant; instead of a sceptre, slie seer, it is like Jeroboam knew his skill, but | muust take up a basket, and go a masked doubted of his sincerity : that man was too pilgrimage to Shiloh. O the fondness of much his neighbour to be good; Abijali's vain nen, that think to jugule with the Altruth had been tried in a case of his own. mighty, and to hide their counsels from that He, wliose word was found just in the pre-all-seeing eye! If this change of habit were diction of his kingdom, was well worthy of necessary at Bethel, yet what needs it at credit in the news of his son. Experience Shiloh? though she would hide her face is a great encouragement of our trust. lc from her subjects, yet why should she not is a good matter to be faithful : this load- pull off her muffler, and show herself to stone of our fidelity shall draw to us even the prophet? Certainly, what policy began, hearts of iron, and hold them to our reli-guiltiness must continue. Well miglit she think, there can be no good answer ex- | perhaps her chastity might be in danger: pected of the wife of Jeroboam; my pre- an unguarded solitariness in the weaker sex sence will do no less than solicit a reproof: might be a provocation to some forced un. no prophet can speak well to the consort cleanness. She casts off all these shifting of a founder of idolatry; I may perhaps projections of fear; according to the will hear good as another, though, as for my of her husband, she changes her raiment, self, I can look for nothing but tidings of she sets upon the journey, and overcomes evil. Wicked hearts know thev deserve it. What needed this disguise to an old ill at God's hands, and therefore they do prophet, whose dim eyes were set with age? all they can to avoid the eyes of his dis. all clothes, all faces, were alike to a blind pleased justice, and if they cannot do it by seer. The visions of Abijah were in ward, colours of dissimulation, they will do it by neither was his bodily sight more dusky, imploration of shelter; they shall say to than the eyes of his mind were clear and the rocks, “ Fall on is, and cover us." piercing. It was not the common light of
But the gross folly mixt with the craft men whereby he saw, but divine illumina. of wickedness! Could Jeroboam think that tion : things absent, things future, were no the prophet could know the event of his less obvious to those spiritual beams, than son's disease, and did he think he could present things are to us. Ere the quick not know the disguise of his wife? The one eyes of that great lady can discern him, he was present, the other future: this was but hath espied her; and, so soon as he hears wrapt in a clout; that event was wrapt in the sound of her feet, she hears from him the counsel of God: yet this politic head the sound of her name: “ Come in, thou presumes that the greater shall be revealed, wife of Jeroboam.” How God laughs in where the lesser shall be hid. There was heaven at the frivolous fetches of crafty ponever a wicked man that was not infatuate, liticians, and, when they think themselves and in nothing more than in those things | most sure, shames them with a detection, wherein he hoped most to transcend the with a defeat! What an idleness it is for reach of others.
foolish hypocrites to hope they can dance Abijalı, shunning the iniquity of the in a net, unseen of heaven! times, was retired to a solitary corner of Never before was this queen troubled to Shiloh. No place could be too private for an hear of herself, now she is; her very name honest prophet, in so extreme depraved-strikes her with astonishment, and prepares ness ; yet even there doth the king of Israel | her for the assured horror of following judg. take notice of bis seclusion, and sends his ments : “ I am sent to thee with heavy wife to that poor cell laden with presents, tidings; go, tell Jeroboam, thus saith the presents that dissembled their bearer: had | Lord God of Israel.” Could this lady less she offered jewels, or gold, her greatness wonder at the mercy of this style of God, had been suspected; now she brings loaves, than tremble at the sequel of his justice ? and cracknels, and honey; her hand an Lo, Israel hath forsaken God, yet God still swers her back; she gives as she seems, owns Israel. Israel hath gone a-whoring, not as she is. Something she must give, yet God hath not divorced her. O the ineven when she acts the poorest client. finite goodness of our long-suffering God,
The prophets of God were not wont to whom our foulest sins cannot rob of his have empty visitations; they who hated compassions! bribes, yet refused not tokens of gratitude. By how much dearer Israel was to God, Yea, the God of heaven, who neither needs so much more odious is Jeroboam that hath our goods, nor is capable of our gratifica- marred Israel. Terrible is that vengeance tions, yet would have no man to come to which God thunders against him by his procome to him giftless. Woe to those sacri- | phet, whose passionate message upbraids legious hands, that instead of bringing to him with his promotions, chargeth him with the prophets, carry from them!
| his sins, and, lastly, denounceth his judgJeroboam was a bad man, yet, as he had ments. No mouth was fitter to cast this a towardly son, so he had an obedient wife, royalty in the teeth of Jeroboam, than that else she had not wanted excuses to turn off by which it was foretold, fore-promised: both the journey and the disguise: against every circumstance of the advancement agthe disguise, she had pleaded the unbe- gravates the sin: “ I exalted thee;" thou seemingness of her person and state ; a- | couldst not rise to honour alone. “I exgainst the journey, the perils of so long and alted thee from among the people,” not solitary a walk. Perhaps a lion might be from the peers ; thy rank was but common in the way, the lion that tore the prophet before this rise. “I exalted thee from in pieces ; perhaps robbers; or, if not they, among the people to be a prince:" subordinate height was not enough for thee; no l he shall not enjoy an Abijah: Abijah hath seat would serve thee but a throne; “ yea, some good things, therefore he shall be re. to be a prince of my people Israel." No moved from the danger of the depravation nation was for thee but my chosen one; of Jeroboam. Sometimes God strikes in none but my royal inheritance: neither did favour, but more often forbears out of seveI raise thee into a vacant throne: a forlornrity. The best are fittest for heaven, the and forsaken principality might be thank earth is fittest for the worst; this is the reless, but “ I rent the kingdom away from gion of sin and misery, that of immortality. another for thy sake." Yea, from what It is no argument of disfavour to be taken other but the grandchild of David ? Out of early from a well-led life, as not of approhis hands did I wrest the sceptre, to give it bation to age in sin. into thine. O what high favours doth God As the soul of Abijah is favoured in the sometimes cast away upon unworthy sub. removal, so is his body with a burial. He jects! How do his abused bounties double shall have alone both tears and tomb; all both their sin and judgment !
the rest of his brethren shall have no grave The sins of this prince were no less emi. but dogs and fowls, no sorrow but for their nent than his obligations; therefore his judg.life. Though the carcass be insensible of ments shall be no less eminent than his sins. any position, yet honest sepulture is a blessHow bitterly doth God express that, which ing. It is fit the body should be duly reshall be more bitter in the execution! “ Be- spected on earth, whose soul is glorious in hold, I will bring evil upon the house of heaven. Jeroboam, and will cut off from Jeroboam him that pisseth against the wall, and him that is shut up and left in Israel, and will
CONTEMPLATION V. - OF ASA. take away the remnant of the house of Je. roboam, as a man taketh away dung, till it The two houses of Judah and Israel grow be all gone. Him that dieth of Jeroboam up now together in an ambitious rivalry : in the city shall the dogs eat, and him that this splitted plant branches out so severaldieth in the field shall the fowls of the air ly, as if it had forgotten that ever it was eat." O heavy load that this disguised joined in the root. The throne of David princess must carry to her husband! But oft changeth the possessors, and more combecause these evils, though grievous, yet plaineth of their iniquitv than their remove. might be remote, therefore, for a present | Abijam inherits the sins of his father Re. hansel of vengeance, she is dismissed with hoboam, no less than his crownı; and so the sad tidings of the death of her son : spends his three years, as if he had been no “When thy feet enter into the city, the child whit of kin to his grandfather's virtues. It shall die." It is heavy news for a mother, is no news that grace is not traduced, while that she must lose her son; but worse yet, vice is; therefore is his reign short, because that she may not see him. In these cases it was wicked. It was a sad case, when both of our final departures, our presence gives the kings of Judah and Israel, though enesome mitigation to our grief. Might she but mies, yet conspired in sin. Rehoboam, like have closed the eyes, and have received the his father Solomon, began graciously, but last breath of her dying son, the loss been fell to idolatry; as he followed his father, more tolerable. I know not how our per. so his son, so his people, followed him. O sonal farewell eases our heart, even while what a face of a church was here, when it increases our passion; but now she shall Israel worshipped Jeroboam's calves, when no more see, nor be seen of, her Abijah: | Judah built them high places, and images she shall no sooner be in the city, than and groves on every high hill, and under he shall be out of the world. Yet more, every green tree! On both hands God is to perfect her sorrow, she hears, that in forsaken, bis temple neglected, his worship him alone there is found some good; the adulterate; and this not for some short rest of her issue are graceless : she must / brunt, but during the succession of two lose the good, and hold the graceless : he | kings; for, after the first three years, Reshall die to afflict her, they shall live to hoboam changed his father's religion, as his afflict her.
shields, from gold to brass ; the rest of his Yet what a mixture is here of severity seventeen years were led in impiety. His and favour in one act! favour to the son, son Abijam trode in the same miry steps, severity to the father: severity to the father, and Judah with them both. If there were that he must lose such a son; favour to the any (and doubtless there were some) faithson, that he shall be taken from such a fa. ful hearts yet remaining in both kingdoms ther. Jeroboam is wicked, and therefore during these heavy times, what a corrosive
it must needs have been to them, to see so / dotage in religion ; bodily pollution with deplored and miserable a depravation ! spiritual. How should the soul care to be
There was no visible church upon earth chaste, that keeps a stew in the body ? but here ; and this, what a one! O God, | Asa begins with the banishment of both, how low dost thou sometimes suffer thine scouring Judah of this double uncleanness. own flock to be driven! what woful wanes In vain should he have hoped to restore God and eclipses hast thou ordained for this to his kingdom, while these abominations heavenly body! Yet, at last, an Asa shall inhabited it. It is justly the main care of rise from the loins, from the grave of Abi-worthy and religious princes to clear their jam; he shall revive David and reform Ju- coasts of the foulest sins. O the impartial dah. The gloomy times of corruption shall | zeal of Asa! There were idols that chalnot last always; the light of truth and peace lenged a prerogative of favour, the idols that shall at length break out, and bless the sad his father had made; all these he defaces: hearts of the righteous.
the name of a father cannot protect an idol; It is a wonder how Asa should be good, the duty to his parent cannot win him to a of the seed of Abijam, of the soil of Maa- | liking, to a forbearance, of his misdevotion: chah, both wicked, both idolatrous. God yea, so much the more doth the heart of would have us see that grace is from heaven; Asa rise against these puppets, for that they neither needs the help of these earthly con- were the sin, the shame of his father. Did veyances. Should not the children of good there want, think we, some courtier of his parents sometimes be evil, and the children father's retinue, to say, Sir, favour the me. of evil parents good, virtue would seem na-mory of him that begot you; you cannot tural, and the giver would lose his thanks. demolish these statues, without the dis
Thus we have seen a fair flower spring out honour of their erector; hide your dislike of dung, and a well-fruited tree rise out of at the least; it will be your glory to lay a sour stock: education hath no less power your finger upon this blot of your father's to corrupt, than nature. It is therefore the reputation; if you list not to allow his act, just praise of Asa, that, being trained up yet wink at it. The godly zeal of Asa turns under an idolatrous Maachah, he main the deaf ear to these monitors, and lets tained his piety; as, contrarily, it is a shame them see, that he doth not more honour a for those that have been bred up in the father, than hate an idol : no dearness of precepts and examples of virtue and godli-person should take off the edge of our deness, to fall off to lewdness or superstition. testation of the sin. Nature is worthy of There are four principal monuments of forgetfulness and contempt, in opposition to Asa's virtue, as so many rich stones in his the God of nature; upon the same ground diadem : be took away sodomy and idols as he removed the idols of his father Abi. out of Judah. Who cannot wonder more jam, so for idols he removed his grand. that he found them there, than that he remother Maachah: she would not be removed them? What a strange incongruity moved from her obscene idols; she is is this! Sodom in Jerusalem! idols in Judah! therefore removed from the station of her Surely debauched profession proves des- honour. That princess had aged, both in perate : admit the idols; ye cannot doubt her regency and superstition. Under her of the sodomy. If they have changed the rod was Asa brought up, and schooled in glory of the uncorruptible God into an image the rudiments of her idolatry: whom she made like to corruptible man, and to birds, could not infect, she hoped to overawe; so and four-footed beasts, and creeping things, as if Asa will not follow her gods, yet she it is no marvel if God give them up to un presumes that she may retain her own. cleanness, through the lusts of their own Doubtless, no means were neglected for her hearts, to dishonour their own bodies be- reclamation; none would prevail. Religious tween themselves. If they changed the Asa gathers up himself, and begins to retruth of God into a lie, and worshipped member that he is a king, though a son ; and served the creature more than the that she, though a mother, yet is a subject; Creator, who is blessed for ever, no mar- that her eminence could not but countevel if God give them to vile affections, to nance idolatry; that her greatness sup. change the natural use into that which is pressed religion, which he should in vain against nature, burning in lust one towards hope to reform while her superstition swayanother, men with men working that which ed: forgetting, therefore, the challenges of is unseemly.
nature, the awe of infancy, the custom of Contrarily, admit the sodomy, ye cannot reverence, he strips her of that command doubt of the idols : unnatural beastliness in which he saw prejudicial to his Maker. All manners is punished justly with a sottish respects of flesh and blood must be trampled
on for God. Could that long settled idolatry | the extirpation of sodomy, the demolition want abettors ? Questionless, some or other of idols, the removal of Maachah, the boun. would say, This was the religion of your teous contribution to the temple; but that father Abijam, this of your grandfather which gives true life unto all these, is a Rehoboam, this of the latter days of your sound root : “ Asa's heart was perfect with wise and great-grandfather Solomon, this the Lord all his days." No less laudable of your grandmother. Maachah, this of your works than these have proceeded from great-grandmother Naamah; why should hypocrisy, which, while they have carried it not be yours? wliy should you suspect away applause from men, have lost their either the wisdom, or piety, or salvation thanks with God. All Asa's gold was but of so many predecessors ? Good Asa had dross to his pure intentions. learned to contemn prescription against a But O what great and many infirmities direct law; he had the grace to know it may consist with uprightness! what allows was no measuring truth by so modern an- of imperfection will there be found in the tiquity : his eyes scorning to look so low, most refined soul! Four no small faults are raise up themselves to the uncorrupt times found in true-hearted Asa: First, the high of Solomon, to David, to Samuel, to the places stood still, unremoved; what high Judges, to Joshua, to Moses, to the pa- places? There were some dedicated to the triarchs, to Noah, to the religious founders worship of false gods; these A sa took away: of the first world, to the first father of man- there were some misdevoted to the wor. kind, to paradise, to heaven. In comparison ship of the true God; these he lets stand. of these, Maachah's god cannot overlook There was gross idolatry in the former; yesterday : the ancientest error is but as a there was a weak will-worship in the latter: novice to truth; and if never any example while he opposes impiety, he winks at mis. could be pleaded for purity of religion, it is takings: yet even the variety of altars was enough that the precept is express. He forbidden by an express charge from God, knew what God said in Sinai, and wrote who had confined his service to the temple. in the tables : “ Thou shalt not make to With one breath doth God report both these: thyself any graven image, nor any simili- “ The high places were not removed, yet, tude ; thou shalt not bow down to them, nevertheless, Asa's heart was perfect." God nor worship them." If all the world had will not see weaknesses where he sees truth, been an idolater, ever since that word was How pleasing a thing is sincerity, that, in given, he knew how little that precedent | favour thereof, the mercy of our just God could avail for disobedience. Practice must digests many an error! O God, let our hearts be corrected by law, and not the law yield go upright, though our feet slide; the fall to practice: Maachah, therefore, goes down cannot, through thy grace, be deadly, howfrom her seat, her idols from their grove; ever it may shame or pain us. she to retiredness, they to the fire, and Besides, to confront his rival of Israel, from thence to the water: woful deities, Baasha, this religious king of Judah fetches that could both burn and drown!
in Benhadad, the king of Syria, into God's Neither doth the zeal of Asa more mag- inheritance, upon too dear a rate, - the nify itself in these private weedings out of breach of his league, the expilation of the the corruptions of religion, than in the po- | temple. All the wealth wherewith Asa had sitive acts of a holy plantation. In the endowed the house of the Lord, was little falling down of those idolatrous shrines, the enough to hire an Edomite to betray his temple of God flourishes; that doth he fur-fidelity, and to invade Israel. Leagues may nish with those sacred treasures which were be made with infidels; not at such a price, dedicated by himself, by his progenitors: / upon such terms: there can be no warrant like the true son of David, he would not for a wilful subornation of perfidiousness. serve God cost free : Rehoboam turned | In these cases of outward things, the mercy Solomon's gold into brass ; Asa turns Re- of God dispenseth with our true necessities, hoboam's brass into gold. Some of these not with the affected. ( Asa! where was vessels, it seems, Abijam, Asa's father, had thy piety, while thou robbedst God, to cordedicated to God; but, after his vow, in- rupt an infidel, for the slaughter of Israelquired, yea, withheld them. Asa, like a ites? O princes' where is your piety, while good son, pays his father's debts, and his ye hire Turks to the slaughter of Christians, own. It is a good sign of a well-meant de- to the spoil of God's church? votion, when we can abide it chargeable; as, Yet, which was worse, Asa doth not only contrarily, in the affairs of God, a niggardly employ the Syrian, but relies on him; relies band argues a cold and hollow heart. not on God: a confidence less sinful cost
All these were noble and excellent acts : his grandfather David dear; and wlien Ha.