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86

THE REWARD.

[Serm. V.

to be kings and priests in that city which He hath set up, and in which He reigns, a city in which there is no one visible Temple ; for the Lord God Almighty and the Lamb are the Temple of it; a city into which the kings of the earth shall at last bring their glory and honour,

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SERMON VI.

THE RENDING OF THE KINGDOM.

LINCOLN'S INN, 2ND SUNDAY AFTER EPIPHANY.—JAN. 18, 1852.

1 KINGS, XII. 21—25. When Rehoboam was come to Jerusalem, he assembled all

the House of Judah with the Tribe of Benjamin, an hundred and fourscore thousand chosen men which were warriors, to fight against the House of Israel, to bring again the kingdom to Rehoboam the son of Solomon. But the word of God came unto Shemaiah the man of God, saying, Speak unto Rehoboam the son of Solomon, king of Judah, and unto all the House of Judah and Benjamin, and to the remnant of the people, saying, Thus saith the Lord, Ye shall not go up nor fight against your brethren the children of Israel. Return every man to his house, for this thing is from me.

The thing which the prophet declared to be from the Lord was the separation of the tribes of Israel, the revolt of Jeroboam from the house of David, the establishment of a new kingdom. Yet these events, to all appearance, contra

d the very purpose for which the chosen people existed, se their history. Their early records had reminded

they were the descendants of one man. The of Moses had carefully preserved the feeling

88

SEPARATION THE GREAT CALAMITY.

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a

that they were kinsmen, while he had given them the new bond of a common law, and a common tabernacle. To these Joshua added a common country. The portions of land assigned to the different tribes kept them distinct; but the one tribe, whose cities were scattered over the whole country, which had no separate property, which waited upon the tabernacle and offered the sacrifices for the nation and for its individual members, testified that the greatness and security of each tribe stood in its fellowship with the rest and in its relation to the whole society. This community of interests had been imperfectly realised during the time of the judges. One of the great blessings of David's government was, that he asserted it and established new tok of it. After the revolt of Absalom, the other tribes showed an evident jealousy of the one to which the king belonged, and that one exhibited something of the pride of a favoured class. But these differences were softened, if not obliterated, after the restoration of the king. The wisdom of Solomon proved itself, we may believe, in nothing more than in his successful efforts to unite his people by making them feel that they had an equitable and impartial ruler over them. Surely one would have thought, à priori, that the breaking up of such a state of things was not from the Lord.

And this conclusion appears to be strengthened by all subsequent experience of the effects of this revolt. Jeroboam, the author of it, is represented throughout Scripture as the man who made Israel to sin. The history of the ten tribes is a record of continually deepening degeneracy. From this time too all the brilliancy passes away from the house of David. His grand anticipations of what should come to pass in after times, if they had a partial accomplishment in the days of his son, seemed to be

The no

VI.] SHOULD IT BE REFERRED TO A DECREE OF GOD? 89 belied by the history of his son's sons. Prophets mourn over a land devoured by strangers, “whose princes were rebellious and companions of thieves, loving gifts and following after rewards, who judged not the fatherless, neither did the cause of the widow come before them." blest specimens of the royal race were men, the main business of whose reigns was to remove the corruptions of their predecessors. The last and most zealous of all was unable, by his reforms, to avert the downfall and captivity of his people. All these evils are evidently connected in the minds of the prophets with the schism of the tribes. They look upon their division as containing the principle, and illustrating the effects, of all divisions which should happen in all nations in times to come. Their belief that unity would some day be restored to their land, is identified with the hope of peace and righteousness for the whole earth.

We must not suppose that the sentence which affirms that this great calamity was from the Lord is an isolated one, or that it can be explained into some general notion that all men's doings, good or evil, may be attributed to an omnipotent ruler. We shall find presently how little that general notion accords with the language or teaching of Scripture. And the following vivid passage, which occurs in a previous chapter of this book, will prove how consistent the words of the text are with the general tone of the narrative. “And Jeroboam, the son of Nebat, an Ephrathite of Zereda, Solomon's servant, even he lifted up his hand against the King Solomon. And this was the cause why he lifted up his hand against the king. Solomon built Millo, and repaired the breaches of the city of David his father. And the man Jeroboam was a mighty man of valour. And Solomon seeing the young man that

90

JEROBOAM AND AHIJAH.

[Serm.

he was industrious, he made him ruler over all the charge of the house of Joseph. And it came to pass at that time, when Jeroboam went out of Jerusalem, that the prophet Ahijah the Shilonite, found him in the way. And he had clad himself in a new garment. And Ahijah caught the new garment that was on him, and rent it in twelve pieces. And he said to Jeroboam, Take thee ten pieces. For thus saith the Lord, the God of Israel, Behold I will rend the kingdom out of the hand of Solomon, and will give ten tribes to thee. But he shall have one tribe, for my servant David's sake and for Jerusalem's sake, the city which I have chosen out of all the tribes of Israel. Because that they have forsaken me, and have worshipped Ashtoreth the goddess of the Sidonians, Chemosh the god of the Moabites, and Milcom the god of the children of Ammon, and have not walked in my ways to do that which is right in mine eyes, and to keep my statutes and judgments as did David his father. Howbeit I will not take the whole kingdom out of his hand, but I will make him prince all the days of his life, for David my servant's sake, whom I chose because he kept my commandments and my statutes. But I will take the kingdom out of his son's hand and will give it unto thee, even ten tribes. And unto his son will I give one tribe, that David my servant may have a light before me always in Jerusalem, the city which I have chosen to put my name there. And I will take thee, and thou shalt reign according to all that thy soul desireth, and shalt be king over Israel. And it shall be if thou wilt hearken unto all that I command thee, and wilt walk in my ways and do that is right in my sight, to keep my statutes and commandments, as David my servant did, that I will be with thee and build thee a sure house as I

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