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Fear affrights itself, rather than it will / What have we done, Oye peers of Israel, want bugs of terror. It is true, two kings that might deserve this bloody measure? fell before Jehu, but two kings unarmed, We are the sons of Ahab, therefore have ye unguarded. Had not the surprisal of Jehu hitherto professed to observe us. What taken advantage of the unsuspicious naked-change is this? why should that which hath ness of these two princes, his victory had hitherto kept you loyal, now make you not been thus successful, thus easy. One cruel? Is this the reward of the long peaceof those two kings, upon advertisement and able government of our father? are these preparation, had abated the fury of that hot the trophies of Ahab's victories against leader. It is the fashion of fear to repre. Benhadad, Jehoram's against Hazael? If sent unto us always the worst, in every we may not reign, yet at least let us live : event, not looking at the inequality of the or, if we must die, why will your hands be advantages, but the misery of the success : imbrued in that blood which ye had wont as, contrarily, it is the guise of faith and to term royal and sacred? why will ye of valour, by the good issue of one enterprise, tutors turn murderers ? All pleas are in vain to raise up the heart to an expectation and to them that are deafened with their own assurance of more.
fears. Perhaps these expostulations might These men's hearts are dead with their have fetched some dews of pity from the king's: neither dare entertain the hope of a eyes, and kisses from the lips of these unsafe and prosperous resistance, but basely | faithful tutors, but cannot prevent the stroke return, “ We are thy servants, and will do | of death. These crocodiles weep upon all that thou shalt bid us : we will not make those whom they must kill; and if their any king; do thou that which is good in own sons had been in the place of Ahab's, thine eyes.'
doubtless they had been sacrificed to the Well may Jehu think, These men, which | will of an usurper, to the parent's safety. are thus disloyal to their charge, cannot be | It is ill relying upon timorous natures: faithful to me: it is their fear that draws upon every occasion, those crazy reeds will them to this observation; were they not break and run into our hands. How worthy cowards, they would not be traitors to their were Ahab and Jezebel of such friends! princes, subjects to me: I may use their | They had been ever false to God, how hands, but I will not trust them. It is a should men be true to them? They had thankless obedience that is grounded upon sold themselves to work wickedness, and fear: there can be no true fidelity without now they are requited with a mercenary love and reverence. Neither is it other be- fidelity : for a few lines have these men sold twixt God and us ; if out of a dread of hell all the heads of Ahab's posterity. Could we be officious, who shall thark us for ever the policy of Jezebel have reached so these respects to ourselves ?
far, as to suspect the possibility of the exAs one that had tasted already the sweet- tirpation of so ample an issue, in one night, ness of a resolute expedition, Jehu writes by the hands of her trustiest subjects ? back instantly, “ If ye be mine, and if ye Now she, that by her letters sent to the will hearken unto my voice, take ye the elders of Jezreel, shed the blood of Naboth heads of the men, your master's sons, and and his sons, hath the blood of all her sons come to me to Jezreel to-morrow this time." shed, by a letter sent from Jezreel to the Valiant Jehu was so well acquainted with elders of Samaria. At last, God will be sure the nature of fear, that he well knew this to come out of the debt of wicked sinners, passion, once grown desperate, would be and will pay them with that coin, which is ready to swallow all conditions : so far, both most proper, and least looked for. therefore, doth his wisdom improve it, as Early in the morning, in that gate of Jezto make these peers his executioners, who reel, where Ahab had passed many an unpresently, upon the receipt of his charge, I just sentence, is presented unto Jehu the turn cruel, and by a joint consent fetch off fearful pledge of his sovereignty, seventy the seventy heads of those princes, whom ghastly heads of the sons of Ahab. they undertook to guard, whom they had | Some carnal eye, that had seen so many flattered with the hopes of greater honour. young and smooth faces besmeared with
No doubt but amongst so many sons of blood, would have melted into compassion, Ahab, some had so demeaned themselves, bemoaning their harmless age, their unthat they had won zealous professions of timely end. It is not for the justice of God to love from their guardians. Except, per- stand at the bar of our corrupted judgment. haps, death stole upon them in sleep, what Except we include some grandchildren of tears, what entreaties, what conjurations, Ahab within this number, none of these must here needs have been !
| died before they were seasoned with hor. rible idolatry; or, if they had, they were in match, by the inoculation of one bud, hath the loins of Ahab, when he sold himself to tainted all the sap of the house of Judah. work wickedness; and now it is just with The two and forty brethren of Ahaziah are God to punish Ahab's wickedness in this therefore sent after the seventy sons of fruit of his loins. The holy severity of God, | Ahab, that they may overtake them in in the revenge of sin, soinetimes goes so death, whom they came to visit: God will far, that our ignorance is ready to mistake much less brook idolatry from the loins of it for cruelty.
a Jehoshaphat. Our entireness with wicked The wonder and horror of those two men feoffs us both in their sins and judg. heaps hath easily drawn together the people | ments. of Jezreel. Jehu meets them in that seat of | Doubtless, many Israelites, that were public judgment, and, finding much amazed devoted to the family and allies of Ahab, ness and passionate confusion in their faces, I looked (what they durst) awry at this com. he clears them, and sends them to the true mon effusion of royal blood; yet, in the original of these sudden and astonishing worst of the depravedness of Israel, there massacres.
were some which both drooped under the However his own conspiracy, and the deplored idolatry of the times, and congra. cowardly treachery of the princes of Israel, tulated to Jehu this severe vindication of had been, not without their heinous sin, God's inheritance: amongst the rest, Jona. the visible means of this judgment, yet he dab the son of Rechab was most eminent. directs their eyes to a higher authority, the | That man was by descent derived from just decree of the Almighty, manifested by Jethro, a Midianite by nation, but incor. his servant Elijah, who, even by the will- porated into Israel; a man whose piety and ing sins of men, can most wisely, most strict conversation did both teach and shame holily fetch about his most righteous and those twelve tribes to which he was joined. blessed purposes.
He was the author of an austere rule of If the peers of Samaria, out of a base civility to his posterity, to whom he defear, if Jehu, out of an ambition of reign- barred the use of wine, cities, possessions. ing, shed the foul blood of Ahab's pos- | This old and rough friend of Jehu, out of terity, the sin is their own; but, in the his moving habitations, meets him, and apmeantime, the act is no other than what plauds his success. He that allowed not the infinite justice of God wonld justly wine to his seed, allows the blood of Ahab's work by their misintentions. Let these Is- seed poured out by the hand of Jelu: he, raelites but look up from earth to heaven, that shunned the city, is carried in Jehu's these tragical changes cannot trouble them: chariot to the palace of Samaria. thither Jehu sends them, wiping off the How easily might Jehu have been deenvy of all this blood, by the warrant of ceived! Many a one professes uprightness, the divine pre-ordination. In obedience who yet is all guile. Jonadab's carriage whereunto, he sends after these heirs of hath been such, that his word merits trust. Ahab all his kinsfolk, favourites, priests, It is a blessing upon the plain-hearted, that that remained in Jezreel. And now, having they can be believed. Honest Jonadab is cleared these coasts, he hastens to Sama- admitted to the honour of Jehu's seat, and ria: whom should he meet with in the way, called, instead of many, to witness the zeal but the brethren of Ahaziah king of Judah? of the new anointed king of Israel. They are going to visit their cousins the While Jehu had to do with kings, bis sons of Ahab. This young troop was think- cunning and his courage held equal pace ing of nothing but jollity and courtly enter- together; but now, that he is to deal with tainment, when they meet with death. So idolatrous priests, his wile goes alone, and suddenly, so secretly, had Jehu despatched prevails : he calls the people together, and, these bold executions, that these princes dissembling his intentions, says, “ Abab could imagine no cause of suspicion. How served Baal a little, but Jehu shall serve could they think it might be dangerous to him much; now therefore call unto me all be known for the brethren of Ahaziah, or the prophets of Baal, all his servants, and friends to the brethren of Jehoram? The just all his priests, let none be wanting; for I providence of the Almighty hath brought have a great sacrifice to do to Baal; wboall this covey under one net. Jehu thinks soever shall be wanting, he shall not live.” it not safe to let go so many avengers of What a dead paleness was there now in Ahaziah's blood, so many co-rivals of his the faces of those few true-hearted Israel. sovereignty. The unhappy atfinity of Je-ites, that looked for a happy restoration of hoshaphat with Ahab is no less guilty of the religion of God! How could they choose this slaughter than Jehu's ambition : this but think, Alas! how are we fallen from
our hopes! is this the change we looked | Nothing wanted now, but the sacrifice, for? was it only ambition that hath set this No doubt whole herds and flocks were ready edge upon the sword of Jehu ? It was not for a pretence of some royal hecatombs, the person of Ahab that we disliked, but the whereof some had now already smoked on sins: if those must still succeed, what have their altars. O Jehu, what means this di. we gained ? Woe be to us, if only the lation? If thou abhorrest Baal, why didst author of our misery be changed, not the thou give way to this last sacrifice? why condition, not the cause of our misery. didst not thou cut off these idolaters, be.
On the other side, what insultations and fore this upshot of their wickedness? Was triumphs sounded everywhere of the joyful it, that thou mightest be sure of their guiltiBaalites! what glorying of the truth of their | ness? was it, that their number, together profession, because of their success! what with their sin, might be complete? What acscorns of their dejected oppositos! what clamations were here to Baal! what joy in exprobrations of the disappointed hopes and the freedom of their revived worship! when predictions of their adverse prophets! what all on the sudden, those that had sacrificed, promises to themselves of a perpetuity of are sacrificed. The soldiers of Jehu, by his Baalism! How did the dispersed priests appointment, rush in with their swords of Baal now flock together, and applaud | drawn, and turn the temple into a slaugh each other's happiness, and magnify the | ter-house. How is the tune now changed! devotion of their new sovereign ! Never what shrieking was here! what outcries! had that idol so glorious a day as this for what running from one sword to the edge the pomp of his service : before, he was of another! what scrambling up the walls adored singly in corners; now solemn sa- and pillars! what climbing into the wincrifices shall be offered to him by all his dows! what vain endeavours to escape that clients, in the great temple of the mother death wbich would not be shunned!" Whecity of Israel. I can commend the zeal of ther running, or kneeling, or prostrate, they Jehu; I cannot commend the fraud of Jehu. must die. We may come to our end, even by crooked The first part of the sacrifice was Baal's; ways. He that bade him to smite for him, the latter is God's : the blood of beasts did not bid him to lie for him. Falsehood, was offered in the one; of men in the other. though it be but tentative, is neither need. The shedding of this was so much the more ed nor approved by the God of truth. If acceptable to God, by how much these men policy have allowed officious untruths, re were more beasts than those they sacrificed. ligion never.
O happy obedience! God was pleased with By this device the house of Baal is well a sacrifice from the house of Baal: the idofurnished, well filled; not one of his Che laters are slain, the idols burnt, the house marim either might or would be absent ; of Baal turned to a draught, though even not one of those which were present might thus less unclean, less noisome, than in the be unrobed. False gods have ever affected former perfumes; and, in one word, Baal to imitate the true : even Baal hath temples, is destroyed out of Israel. altars, priests, vestments : all religions have | Who, that had seen all this zeal for God, allotted peculiar habits to their highest de. would not have said, Jehu is a true Israel. votions. These vestments, which they mis | ite? Yet he, that rooted out Ahab, would called sacred, are brought forth and put on, not be rid of Jeroboam : he, that destroyed for the glory of this service.
Baal, maintained the two calves of Dan and Jehu and Jonadab are first careful that | Bethel. That idolatry was of a lower rank, this separation be exact: they search and as being a mis-worship of the true God : see that no servant of the Lord be crept whereas, the other was a worship of the into that throng. What should a religious false. Even the easier of both is heinous, Israelite do in the temple of Baal? Were and shall rob Jehu of the praise of his upany such there, he had deserved their smart, rightness. who would partake with their worship; | A false heart may laudably quit itself of but if curiosity had drawn any thither, the some one gross sin, and in the meantime mercy of Jehu seeks his rescue. How much hug some lesser evil that may condemn it ; more favourable is the God of mercies, in as a man recovered of a fever may die of not taking advantage of our infirmities ! jaundice or a dropsy: we lose the thank of
Well might this search have bred suspi. | all, if we wilfully fail in one. cion, were it not, that in all those idolatrous | It is an entire goodness that God cares sacrifices, the first care was to avoid the for: perhaps such is the bounty of our God, profane.even Baal would admit no mixture; a partial obedience may be rewarded with how should the true God abide it? | a temporal blessing, as Jehu's severity w
Ahab shall carry the crown to his seed for no other of those loins had seconded his four generations; but we can never have virtues, as to suffer all his seed to be rooted any comfortable assurance of an eternal re- out of the earth? This vengeance was for tribution, if our hearts and ways be not thy father Ahab. The man according to perfect with God. Woe be to us, o God, God's own heart shall have a lineal heir to if we be not all thine! we cannot but ever- succeed in his throne, when thou and thy lastingly depart from thee, if we depart not father's house shall have vanished into for. from every sin. Thou hast purged our getfulness. hearts from the Baal of our gross idolatries; For this purpose hath the wise providence () clear us from the golden calves of our of God ordained a Jehosheba, and matched petty corruptions also, that thou mayest her in the priestly tribe. Such reverence take pleasure in our uprightness, and we did Jehoram king of Judah, though dege. may reap the sweet comforts of thy glorious nerated into the idolatry of his father-in-law remuneration !
Ahab, bear to this sacred function, that he marries his daughter to Jehoiada the priest.
Even princesses did not then scorn the bed CONTEMPLATION IV.-ATHALIAH AND JOASH. of those that served at God's altar. Why
should the Gospel pour contempt upon that Oh the woful ruins of the house of good which the law honoured ? Jehoshaphat! Jehu hath slain two and The good lady had too much of Jeho. forty of his issue; Athaliah hopes to root shaphat in her, to suffer the utter extirpatout the rest. This daughter of Ahab was tion of that royal seed; she could not, not like to be other than fatal to that holy doubtless, without the extreme danger of line; one drop of that wicked blood was her own life, save the life of her nephew enough, both to impure and spill all the Joash : with what a loving boldness doth rest, which affinity had mixed with it. she adventure to steal him from amongst
It is not unlike that Abaziah, betaking those bleeding carcasses in the chamber of himself to the society of Jehoram's wars, death! Her match gave her opportunity committed the sway of his sceptre to his to effect that, which both nature and relimother Athaliah. The daughter of Jeze. gion moved her to attempt: neither know bel cannot but be plotting: when she hears I whether more to wonder at the cunning of the death of Ahaziah and his brethren, of the device, or the courage of the enterinflicted by the heavy hand of Jehu, she prise or the secresy of the concealment, or straight casts for the kingdom of Judah. the happiness of the success. Certainly The true heirs are infants : their minority Athaliah was too cruelly careful to forget gives her both colour of rule, and oppor- this so late born son of Ahazialı; of all the tunity of an easy extirpation. Perhaps her rest, his age would not suffer him to be out ambition was not more guilty than her zeal of her eye. In all likelihood, therefore, she of Baalism: she saw Jehu, out of a detes-must needs have missed so noted a corpse, tation of idolatry, trampling on the blood bad there not been a substitution of some of Jehoram, Jezebel, Ahaziah, the sons of other dead child in his room : in that age, Ahab, the brethren of Ahaziah, the priests the favour is not so distinguishable, espe. and prophets of Baal, and, in one word, cially of a dead face. Without some pious triumphing in the destruction both of Ahab deceit, this work could never have been and his gods out of Israel ; and now she | effected: else had the child been secretly thinks, Why should not I destroy Jehosha- subduced, and missed by his bloody grandphat and his God out of Judah ?
mother: her perpetual jealousy had both Who ever saw an idolater that was not expected a surviving heir, and continued a cruel? Athaliah must needs let out some curious and unavoidable search; both which of her own blood out of the throat of Aha. were now shunned at once, whilst Athaliah ziah's sons ; yet she spares not to shed it reckons him for dead, whom Jehosheba out of a thirst of sovereignty. O God, how hath preserved. Mischief sometimes fails worthy of wonder are thy just and merciful of those appointments, wherein it thinks to dispensations ! in that thou sufferest the have made the surest work: God laughs in seed of good Jehoshaphat to be destroyed heaven at the plots of tyrants, and befools by hier hand, in whose affinity he offended, them in their deepest projects. He had and yet savest one branch of this stock of said to David, “ Of the fruit of thy body Jehoshaphat, for the sake of so faithful a will I set upon thy seat;" in vain shall earth progenitor!
and hell conspire to frustrate it. Wicked Athaliah, couldst thou think God! Six years hath Joash and his nurse been would so far forget his servant David, though | hid in a close cell of the temple. Those
rooms were destired only to the holy tribe, clashing of armour, and the secret mur. yet now rejoice tv harbour such a guest. murs of some military achievement. No cirThe rigour of the ordinary law must yield cumstances, either of place or calling, are to cases of so important necessity.
so punctual, as that public necessity may All this could not possibly be done, and not dispense with their alteration. continued, without the privity of many faith All things are now ready for this solemful priests and Levites, who were as care. nity: each man rejoices to fix upon his own ful to keep this counsel, as hopeful of the | footing, and longs to see the face of their issue of it. It is not hard for many honest long-concealed sovereign,and vows his blood hearts to agree in a religious secresy; needs to the vindication of the common liberty, to must those lips be shut, which God hath the punishment of a cruel intruder. Now sealed up.
Jehoiada brings forth unto them the king's Judah hath not been used to such a yoke: son, and presents him to the peers and long had it groaned under the tyranny, not people: hardly can the multitude contain of a woman only, but of an idolatrous itself from shouting out too soon: one sees Sidonian: if any of that sex might have in his countenance the features of his father claimed that sceptre, none had so much ! Ahaziah, another of his grandfather Jeho. right to it as Jenosheba herself. But good ram; a third professes to discern in hiin Jehoiada the priest, who had rather be some lines and fashion of his great-grand. a loyal guardian to the king, than a hus- father Jehoshaphat: all find in his face the band to a queen, now finds time to set natural impressions of majesty, and read in on foot the just title of Joash, and to put it the hopes, yea, the prophecies, of their him into the misusurped throne of his fa- future happiness. Not with more joy than ther Ahaziah.
speed doth Jehoiada accomplish all the rites In the seventh year, therefore, 'he sends of the coronation. Before that young king for the captains, and the guard; and, hav. could know what was done to him, he is ing sworn them to secresy, by undoubted anointed, crowned, presented with the book witnesses, makes faith unto them of the of the law. Those ceremonies were intruth of their native prince, thus happily structive, and no doubt Jehoiada failed not rescued from the bloody knife of his mers to comment upon them in due time to that ciless grandmother, marshals the great bu. | royal pupil. siness of his inauguration, gives every one. The oil wherewith he was anointed, sighis charge, sets every one his station, and ) nified his designation to that high service; so disposes of his holy forces, as was most and those endowments from heaven that needful for the safety of the king, the re might enable him to so great a function. venge of the usurper, the prevention of tu- The crown wherewith he was adorned, mults, the establishment of the crown upon signified that glory and majesty which should the owner's head in peace and joy. | both encourage and attend his princely
There was none of all these agents, who cares. did not hold the business to be his own: 1 The book of the testimony signified the every true subject of Judah was feelingly divine rules and directions, whereto he must interested in this service; neither was there frame his heart and actions, in the wield. any of them, who was not secretly heart-ing of that crown, in the improvement of burned, all this while, with the hateful go- that oil. vernment of this idolatrous tyranness : and These three, the oil, the crown, the tesnow this inward fire is glad to find a vent. timony, that is, inward powers, ontward How gladly do they address themselves to magnificence, true piety and justice, make this welcome employment! The greatest | up a perfect prince: none of these may be part of this sacred band were Levites, who wanting: if there be not a due calling of might therefore both meet together with God, and abilities meet for that greatness, least suspicion, and be more securely trust the oil faileth; if there be not a majestic ed by Jehoiada, under whom they served. grace and royalty, that may command reEven that holy priest of God, instead of verence, the crown is missing; if there be teaching the law, sets the guard, orders the not a careful respect to the law of God, as captains, ranges the troops of Judah; and, the absolute guide of all counsels and deinstead of a censer, brings forth the spears terminations, the testimony is neglected : and shields of David: the temple is for the all of them concurring, make both king and present a field, or an artillery-yard, and the people happy. ephods are turned into harness. That house, Now it is time for the people to clap their in the rearing whereof not the noise of a hands, and, by their loud acclamations, to hammer might be heard, now admits of the witness their joy, which must needs breas