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fortlı with so much more force, by how | termeddle. Now, being both the priest of much it was longer, upon fears and policy, God, and uncle and protector to the lawful suppressed.
king. he doth that out of the necessity of The court and temple were near together: the state, which his infant sovereign, if he however it was with Athaliah, and the late | could have been capable of those thoughts, revolted princes of Judah, according to the would have desired. common word, the nearer to the church, | Violent hands are laid upon Athaliah, the farther from God: their religious pre-whom, no doubt, a proud and furious dis. decessors held it the greatest commodity of dain of so quick a charge, and of so rough a their house, that it neighboured upon the usage, made miserably impatient. Now she house of God. From her palace might frowns and calls, and shrieks and commands, Athaliah easily hear the joyful shouts of the and threatens and reviles, and entreats in multitude, the loud noise of the trumpets, vain, and dies with as much ill-will from and, as astonished with this new tumult of herself, as she lived with the ill-will of her public gratulations, she comes running into | repining subjects. the temple. Never had her foot trod upon I see not any one man, of all her late that holy pavement till now, that she came flatterers, that follows her, either for pity or to fetch a just revenge from that God whose rescue. Every man willingly gives her up worship she had contemned.
to justice ; not one sword is drawn in her It fell out well, that her sudden amazed-defence, not one eye laments her. Such is ness called her forth, without the attendance the issue of a tyrannical misgovernment; of any strong guard, whose side - taking that which is obeyed not without secret might have made that quarrel mutually hate, is lost not without public jov. bloody. She soon hears and sees what she How like is Athaliah to her mother Jeze. likes not: her ear meets with, God save the bell as in conditions and carriage, so eren king; her eye meets with the unlooked-for in death: both killed violently, both killed heir of the kingdom, sitting on his throne, under their own walls, both slain with crowned and robed in the royal fashion, treason in their mouths, both slain in the guarded with the captains and soldiers, pro- entrance of a changed government; one claimed by the trumpeters, acclaimed and trode on by the horses, the other slain in applauded by the people.
the horse-gate; both paid their own blood · Who can say whether this sight drove for the innocent blood of others. her more near to frenzy or death? How | How suddenly, how easily, is Judah recould it be otherwise, when those great stored to itself, after so long and so fearful spirits of hers, that had been so long used a deprivation! The people scarce believe to an uncontrolled sovereignty, find them- their own eyes, for the wonder of this selves so unexpectedly suppressed ?
happy change: neither know I whether they She now rends her clothes, and cries, be more joyed in the sight of their new Treason! treason! as if that voice of hers | king thus strangely preserved, or in the sight could still command all hearts, all hands; of Jehoiada that had preserved him. as if one breath of hers were powerful No man can envy the protection of the enough to blow away all these new designs. | young king unto him by whose means he O Athaliah! to whom dost thou complain | lives and reigns. That holy man cares only thyself? They are thy just executioners to improve his authority to the common wherewith thou art encompassed : if it be good : “ He makes a covenant between the treason to set up the true heir of Ahaziah, Lord, and the king, and the people ;" and, thou appealest to thy traitors : the treason after so long and dangerous a disjunction, was thine; theirs is justice. The time is re-unites them to each other. Their renow come of thy reckonings for all the royal | vived zeal bestirs itself, and breaks down blood of Judah, which thine ambition shed; the temples, and altars, and images of Baal, wonder ratlier at the patience of this long and sacrifices his idolatrous priests. Shortly forbearance, than the rigour of this exe- both Ahab and Baal are destroyed out of cution.
Judah. There needs no formal seat of justice in The sceptre of Judah is changed from a so apparent offence. Jehoiada passes the woman to a child; but a child trained up sentence of death upon her: “ Have her and tutored by Jehoiada. This minority, forth of the ranges, let her not be slain in so guided, was not inferior to the mature the house of the Lord ; and him that fol- age of many predecessors. Happy is that loweth her, kill with the sword.”
| land, the nonage of whose princes falls into Had not this usurpation been palpable, holy and just hands; yet, even these holy Jehoiada would not have presumed to in- and just hands came short of what they might have done. The high places remained | vants ? O Joash! what eyes can pity the still; those altars were erected to the true fearful destruction of thee and thy Judah ? God, but in a wrong place. It is marvel! If ye have forgotten the kindness of Jeif there be not some blemishes found in the hoiada, your unkindness to Jehoiada shall best government: I doubt Jehoiada shall not be forgotten: “An army of Syrians shall once buy it dear, that he did not his ut- come up against Judah and Jerusalem, and most.
destroy all the princes of the people, and But for the main, all was well with Ju- send all the spoil of them to Damascus." dah, in all the days of Jehoiada, even after Now Hazael revenges this quarrel of God that Joash was grown past his pupilage. and his anointed, and plagues that people He that was the tutor to his infancy, was which made themselves unworthy to be the counsellor of his ripe age, and was the Lord's inheritance equally happy in both. How pleasing was And what becomes of Joash? He is left it to that good high priest, to be command- in great diseases, when his own servants ed by that charge of his in the business of conspired against him “for the blood of the God! The young king gives order to the sons of Jehoiada, and slew him on his bed, priests, for the collection of large sums, to and he died; and they buried him not in the repairing of the breaches of God's house. the sepulchre of the kings.” Dying ZeIt becomes him well to take care of that chariah had said, in the bitterness of his which was the nursery of his infancy: and departing soul, “ The Lord look upon it, now, after three and twenty years, he ex and require it." I confess, I had rather postulates with his late guardian, Jehoiada, to have heard him say, “ The Lord pass it and the rest of his court, “Why repair ye over, and remit it.” So said Stephen : such not the breaches ?"
difference there is between a martyr of the O gracious and happy vicissitude! Je. law and of the Gospel; although I will hoiada the priest had ruled the infancy of hope the zeal of justice, not the unchariking Joash in matters of state, and now table heat of revenge, drew forth this word: Joash the king commands aged Jehoiada God hears it, and now gives an account of the priest in matters of devotion. In the his notice. Thus doth the Lord require affairs of God, the action is the priest's, the the blood of Jehoiada's son, even by the like oversight and coaction is the prince's : by unthankful hand of the obliged servants of the careful endeavour of both, God's house Joash. He that was guilty of abominable is repaired, his service flourisheth.
idolatry, yet, as if God meant to wave that But alas ! that it may too well appear, challenge, is called to reckoning for his cruel that the ground of this devotion was not unthankfulness to Jehoiada: this crime shall altogether inward, no sooner doth the life make him odious alive, and shall abandon of Jehoiada cease, than the devotion of him dead from the sepulchre of his faJoash begins to languish ; and, after some thers; as if this last royalty were too good languor, dies.
for him, who had forgotten the law of hu. The benefit of a truly religious prelate, manity. Some vices are such, as nature or statesman, is not known till bis loss. I smiles upon, though frowned at by divine
Now, some idolatrous peers of Judah justice. Others are such, as even nature have soon miscarried the king, from the itself abhors; such is this of ingratitude, house of the Lord God of their fathers, to which, therefore carries so much more deserve groves, and idols. Yea, whither gotestation from God, as it is more odious we wretched men, if we be left by our even to them that have blotted out the Maker? King Joash is turned, not idolater | image of God. only, but persecutor; yea, which is yet more horrible to consider, persecutor of the son of that Jehoiada to whom he owes his CONTEMPLATION V.-JOASH WITH ELISHA own life. Zecharialı, his cousin-german,
DYING. his foster-brother, the holy issue of those parents by whom Joash lives and reigns, The two kingdoms of Judah and Israel, for the conscionable rebuke of the idolatry | however divided both in government and of prince and people, is unjustly and cruelly affection, yet loved to interchange the names murdered by that unthankful hand. How of their kings : even Israel had their Joash, possible is it for fair and saint-like begin- no better than that of Judah; he was nings to shut up in monstrous impieties! not more the father of the latter JeroLet him that thinks he stands, take heed boam, than, in respect of mis worship, be lest ne fall. When did God ever put up was the son of the first Jeroboam, who so foul ingratitude to himself, to his ser. I made Israel to sin. Those calves of Dan
and Bethel, out of a politic misdevotion, be- / gates of death, ere he be aware! Happy is sotted all the succession of the ten usurped he, that, by the holy use of long sickness, tribes. Yet even this idolatrous king of is taught to see the gates of death afar off, Israel comes down to visit the sick bed of and addressed for a resolute passage: the Elisha, and weeps upon his face.
one dies like Elijah, the other like Elisha, That holy prophet was never any flat- both blessedly. terer of princes, neither spared be in vectives The time was when a great king sent to against their most plausible sins : yet king Elisha, to know if he should recover: now Joash, that was beaten by his reproofs, the king of Israel, as knowing that Elisha washes that face with the tears of love and shall not recover, so had his consumption sorrow, which had often frowned upon his spent him, comes to visit the dying prophet; wickedness.
and, when his tears would give him leave, How much difference there was betwixt | breaks forth into a passionate exclamation: the Joash of Israel, and the Joash of Ju- “ ( my father! my father! the chariots of dah! That of Judah, having been preserved | Israel, and the horsemen thereof!" Yet and nurtured by Jehoiada the priest, af- the calves of Dan and Bethel have left some ter all professions of dearness, shuts up in goodness in Joash: as the best man hat! the unkind murder of his son, and that something in him worthy of reproof, so merely for the just reproof of bis own ido. the faultiest hath something commendable. latry; this of Israel, having been estranged Had not the Spirit of God himself told us, froin the prophet Elisha, and sharply re- that Joash did that which was evil in the buked for the like offence, makes love to sight of the Lord, we had admired this piety, his dying reprover, and bedews his pale face this reverent respect to the prophet : the with his tears. Both were bad enough; but holiest man could not have said more. It this of Israel was, however vicious, yet is possible for the clients of a false worship good-natured : that of Judah added to his to honour, out of another regard, the prowickedness an ill disposition, a dogged fessors of truth. From the hand of Elisha humour. There are varieties even of evil had Jehu, the grandfather of Joash, re. men: some are worse at the root, others at ceived his unction to the kingdom; this the branch; some more civilly harmless, favour might not be forgotten. others fouler in morality. According to the Visitation of the sick is a duty required exercise of the restraining grace, natural both by the law of humanity, and of relimen do either rise or fall in their ill. gion. Bodily infirmity is sad and comfort
The longest day must have its evening. | less; and therefore needs the presence and Good Elisha, that had lived some ninety counsel of friends to relieve it; although, vears, a wonder of prophets, and had out- / when we draw the curtains of those that worn many successions in the thrones of are eminently gracious, we do rather fetch, Israel and Judah, is now cast upon the with Joash, than bring, a blessing. bed of his sickness, yea, of his death. That How sensible should we be of the loss very age night seem a disease, which yet of holy men, when a Joash spends his tears is seconded with a languishing distemper. upon Elisha! If we be more affected with It is not in the power of any holiness to the foregoing of a natural friend, or kinsprivilege us from infirmity of body, from man, than of a noted and useful prophet, final dissolution. He that stretched him- it argues more love to ourselves, than to the self upon his bed, over the dead carcass of church of God, than to God himself. the Shunamite's son, and revived it, must What use there was of chariots and horse. now stretch out his own limbs upon his sick men in those wars of the ancients, all hisbed, and die, He saw his master Elijah torjes can tell us; all the strength of the rapt up suddenly from the earth, and fetched battle stood in these; there could be neiby a fiery chariot from this vale of mor-ther defence nor offence but by them : such tality; himself must leisurely wait for his was Elisha unto Israel. The greatest safelast pangs, in a lingering passage to the guard to any nation is the sanctity and faithsame glory. There is not one way ap- | fulness of their prophets, without which pointed to us by the divine Providence, the church and state lie open to utter deunto one common blessedness: one hath solation. more pain, another hath more speed: vio. The same words that Elisha said of his lence snatcheth away one; another, by an master Elijalı, when he saw him taken up insensible pace, draws every day nearer to from the earth, doth Joash now speak of his term: the wisdom and goodness of God | Elisha, near his dissolution: “O my father! magnifies itself in both. Happy is he, that, my father! the chariots of Israel, and the d. ter due preparation, is passed through the horsemen thereof!" The words were good, tive tears were pious; but where are the the public enemies of the church, neither actions? O Joash! if the prophet were can he content himself with a single predic. thy father, where was thy filial obedience ? tion of their ruin. He bids Joash to take he cried down thy calves, thou upheldest the arrows, and smite upon the ground; he them; he counselled thee to good, thou sets no number of those strokes, as supdidst evil in the sight of the Lord.
posing the frequence of those blows, which If the prophet was the chariot and horse Joash might well, upon this former parabo. men of Israel, why didst thou fight against lical act, understand to be significant. The his holy doctrine ? if thou weepedst for his slack hand of the king smites but thrice : loss, why didst thou not weep for those sins so apt we are to be wanting to ourselves ; of thine that procured it :
so coldly do we execute the commands of Had thine hand answered thy tongue, God. The sick prophet is not more grieved Israel had been happy in Elisha, Elisha had than angry at this dull negligence. Doubtbeen happy in Israel and thee. Words are less, God had revealed to him, for his last no good trial of profession: the worst men gratification, that, upon his fervent prayers, may speak well. Actions have only the so often as Joash should voluntarily, after power to descry hypocrites.
his general charge, smite the earth, so oft Yet even a Joash, thus complying, shall should Israel smite Syria. Elisha's zeal not go away unblessed. This outward doth not languish with his body: with a kindness shall receive an outward retribu- fatherly authority, he chides him who had tion. These few drops of warm water, styled him father, not fearing to spend some shed upon the face of a prophet, shall not of his last breath in a mild reproof: “ Thou lose their reward. The spirit of prophecy shouldst have smitten five or six times, forsakes not the deathbed of Elisha: he then thou hadst smitten Syria till thou calls for bow and arrows, and puts them hadst consumed it ; whereas now thou shalt into the hand of Joash, and, putting his smite Syria but thrice.” Not that the un. hands upon the king's hand, he bids to changeable decree of the Almighty meant shoot eastward, and while the shaft flies, to suspend itself upon the uncertain issue and lights, he says, “ The arrow of the of Joash's will; but he, that puts this word Lord's deliverance from Syria; for thou into the mouth of his prophet, puts this shalt smite the Syrians in Aphek, till thou motion into the hand of the king, which have consumed them." If the weak and did not more willingly stay, than neceswithered hand of the prophet had not been sarily obey the providence whereby it was upon the youthful and vigorous hand of the stirred. Even while we have the freest king, this bow had been drawn in vain : the choice, we fall upon those actions and cirstrength was from the hind of the king, the cumstances, whereby the just and holy will blessing from the hand of the prophet. He, of our God is brougtit about. Our very newhose real parable hath made the earth glects, our ignorances, shall fulfil his eternal to be Syria, the arrow revenge, the archer | counsels. Joash, hath obtained for his last boon from | Elisha dies, and is buried: his miracles God to Israel, that this archer shall shoot do not cease with his life. Who can marvel this arrow of revenge into the heart of Sy- that his living prayers raised the son of the ria, and wound it to death. When, then, Shunamite, when his dead bones raise the the hand of the king and of the prophet carcass that touched them! God will be draw together, there cannot choose but | free in his works; he that must die himself, success must follow.
yet shall revive another : the same power How readily doth Elisha now make good might have continued life to him, that gave the words of Joash! how truly is he the it by his bones. Israel shall well see that chariots and horsemen of Israel! Israel had he lives, by whose virtue Elisha was both not fought without him, much less had in life and death miraculous. While the been victorious ; if theirs be the endeavour, prophet was alive, the impetration might the success is his. Even the dying prophet seem to be his, though the power were puts life and speed into the forces of Israel; God's. Now that he is dead, the bones and, while he is digging his own grave, is can challenge nothing, but send the wander, raising trophies to God's people.
ing Israelite to that Almighty agent, to He had received kindness from the Sy- whom it is all one to work by the quick or rians : amongst them was he harboured in dead. Were not the men of Israel more the dearth, and from some of their nobles dead than the carcass thus buried, how was presented with rich gifts; but their could they choose but see, in this revived enmity to Israel drowns all his private re. corpse, an emblem of their own condition: spects. He cannot but profess hostility to how could they choose but think, If we adhere to the God of Elisha, he shall raise put the right, whether of inheritance or our decayed estates, and restore our nation honour, to the decision of the sword, when to the former glory?
it is no news for the better to miscarry by The Sadducees had as yet no being in the hand of the worse! Israel. With what face could that heresy / The race is not to the swift, the battle ever after look into the world, when before is not to the strong, no, not to the good. the birth of it, it was so palpably convinced, Perhaps God will correct his own by a foil; with an example of the resurrection? In perhaps he will plague his enemy by a victermission of time, and degrees of corrup-tory. They are only our spiritual combats tion, add nothing to the impossibility of our wherein our faithful courage is sure of a rising. The body that is once cold in death, crown. hath no more aptitude to a re-animation, than that which is mouldered into dust; only the divine power of the Maker must CONTEMPLATION VI. — UZZIAH LEPROUS. restore either, can restore both. When we are dead, and buried in the grave of our sin, Even the throne of David passed many it is only the touch of God's prophets, ap- changes of good and evil. Good Jehosha. plying unto us the death and resurrection phat was followed with three successions of the Son of God, that can put new life of wicked princes, and those three were into us. No less true, though spiritual, is again succeeded with three others godly the miracle of our rising up from an estate and virtuous. Amaziah for a long time of inward corruption, to a life of grace. shone fair, but at the last, shut up in a
Yet all this prevails not with Israel. No cloud : the gods of the Edomites marred bones of Elisha could raise them from their him. His rebellion against God stirred up wicked idolatry; and, not withstanding their his people's rebellion against him. The gross sins, Joash their king prospers. Whe same hands that slew him, crowned his son ther it were for the sake of Jehu, whose Uzziah; so as the young king might imagine, grandchild he was, or for the sake of Elisha, it was not their spite that drew violence whose face he wept upon, his hand is upon his father, but his own wickedness. notably successful, not only against the son | Both early did this prince reign, and late : of Hazael king of Syria, whom he beats out | he began at sixteen, and sat fifty-two years of the cities of Israel, but against Amaziah in the throne of Judah. They, that muking of Judah, whom he took prisoner, tinied in the declining age of Amaziah the beating down the very walls of Jerusalem, | father, are obsequious to the childhood of and returning laden with the sacred and the son, as if they professed to adore so. rich spoil, both of the temple and court, to vereignty, while they hated lewdness. The his Samaria.
unchanged government of good princes is O the depth of Divine justice and wis. the happiness no less of the subjects, than dom in these outward administrations! The of themselves. The hand knows best to best cause, the best man, doth not ever guide those reins to which it hath been fare best. Amaziah did that which was inured ; and even mean hackneys go right in the sight of the Lord, Joash evil; on cheerfully in their wonted road. Cus. Amaziah follows David, though not with | tom, as it makes evils more supportable, equal paces; Joash follows Jeroboam ; yet so, where it meets with constant minds, is Amaziah shamefully foiled by Joash. makes good things the more pleasing and Whether God yet meant to visit, upon this beneficial. king of Judah, the still odious unthankful. The wise and holy Zechariah was a ness of his father Jehoiada, or to plague happy tutor to the minority of king Uzziah. Judah for their share in the blood of Ze- | That vessel can hardly miscarry, where a chariah, and their late revolt to idolatry; skilful steersman sits at the helm. The or, whether Amaziah's too much confidence first praise of a good prince is to be judi. in his own strength, which moved his bold cious and just, and pious in himself: the challenge to Joash, were thought fit toobe next is, to give ear and way to them that thus taken down; or whatever other secret | are such. While Zechariah bath the visions ground of God's judgment there might be, of God, and Uzziah takes the counsels of it is not for our presumption to inquire. Zechariah, it is hard to say, whether the Whioso by the event shall judge of love or prophet, or the king, or the state, be haphatred, shall be sure to run upon that woe, pier. which helongs to them that call good evil, God will be in no man's debt. So long und evil good.
as Uzziah sought the Lord, “ God made What a savage piece of justice it is, to him to prosper." Even what we do out of