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JEREMIAH XXXV. 19.
Therefore thus saith the Lord of hosts, the God of Israel, Jonadab, the son of Rechab, shall not want a man to stand before me forever.
ISRAEL were greatly depraved before the days of this prophet, who was fent to reprove and call them to repentance. The prophet faithfully dif charged his truft; but labored to very little effect. The chiefs of the nation were offended at its warnings and predictions-rofe up against him-fhut him up in prifon; yea in a dark dungeon, where he fank in the mire; and even fought his life! He was not, however difcouraged. He continued "to warn the wicked from his way, that he fhould turn from it. None of these things moved him."
THIS was not the only meffenger fent of God to warn that people-he fent to them all his fervants, the prophets; but they would not hear. The Jews of age flattered themselves, that God would nev
er enter into judgment with them. "He might pour his fury on the heathen; but they should escape-their place and nation would never feel the effects of his wrath, or become the theatre of his judgments-they were his people-necessary to his honor-he was their God; and would con tinue their God, whatever their character, or condu&t."
THE prophets warned them of their mistaketold them that the judgments of heaven hung over them that their city and fanctuary would be de ftroyed, many of them perish in the war, and the refidue be removed into ftrange lands, there to ferve their enemies-" but they feemed to that degenerate people as those who mocked, and they be lieved them not."
THERE is a certain grade of depravity which fcoffs at warnings and laughs at the fhakings of God's fpear! When this hath become the general character of a people, defolating judgments are near. Those who conceive mercy to be the only attribute of Deity; or the only attribute which he can exercise towards them, are commonly deaf to warnings. Sure evidence that they are given up of God that his spirit hath ceased to strive with them. Rarely are thofe brought to repentance who entertain fuch views of God. Perhaps never, unless their views of him are changed. They have no fear of God before their eyes. If mercy abforbed every other attribute, there could be no place for fear. And of what enormity are those incapable who have loft the fear of God? Such
corruption of principle is the bane of practice, and prelude of ruin and wretchedness. The hiftory of the Hebrews, and the hiftory of mankind, confirm the truth of this remark.
THIS prophet having long warned his charge to no purpose, is here directed to apply to them in another manner-to try to fhame them into contrition, by setting before them the part acted by a particular family which dwelt among them-the Rechabites, who had for ages religiously obeyed the injunctions of one of their ancestors, left prob ably as his dying charge.
SOME of that progenitor's requirements feemed rigorous, but being the order of a refpected anceftor the family confidered them as obligatory; nor could they be perfuaded to violate them in any particular, though publicly invited to it by a prophet.
Ir may be proper here to make fome inquiries rela tive to thefe Rechabites-to the perfon whofe charge they conceived fo binding; and the nature and defign of the charge.
THE Rechabites are faid to have been a branch of the Kenites, and to have defcended from Hobab, the fon of Jethro, Mofes' father in law.*
WHILE Ifrael were encamped at the foot of Mount Sinai, that Midianitifh prieft, or prince, vifited Mofes, bringing with him, Zipporah, the wife of Mofes and her children, who had been fent to her father's as a place of fafety, during the troubles in Egypt. Not long after, Hobab, the fon * Vide Henry and Brown's Dictionary, 1
of Jethro, appears to have been with Ifrael in the wilderness; and he was invited to go with them to the land of promise, and take his lot among them, and was promised an equal fhare of bleffings with the feed of Jacob-" If thou wilt go with us, it fhall be, that what goodness the Lord fhall do unto us, the fame will we do unto thee." At first Ho bab declined, but he eventually complied; as his defcendants were among the Hebrews after their fettlement in Canaan, and they continued among them, and remained a diftin&t family, down to the captivity.
ONE branch of thefe Kenites was denominated from Rechab, an illuftrious chief of the house of Hobab; who had a fon, or defcendant, named Jonadab, or Jehonadab, as his name is fometimes written. Jonadab was renowned for wisdom and piety. He flourished in the days of Jehu, almoft three centuries before the Babylonifh captivity; and was fo famed for fanctity and attachment to true religion, that only being feen in his company was a recommendation to the regard of its friends. Therefore was he treated with refpect by Jehu, while he pretended a regard for the true Godtherefore was he taken up by that prince into his chariot, and made his partner in the deftruction of idolatry. Such was the man who left this charge to his defcendants, which was fo facredly regarded by them, for fo long a term.
THIS was a remarkable family. Another who have paid equal attention to the orders of a departed progenitor, and in which none of the members
appear to have degenerated from his virtue, is not perhaps to be found in the annals of mankind! But our surprise will increase if we attend to the nature of the charge.
THE prophet was directed to gather the whole family of the Rechabites-bring them into the houfe of the Lord-fet wine before them and invite them to drink. He obeyed; offering them a treat, as a family known and refpected in Ifrael.
THIS was not done to tempt them, but to reprove the Jews, who reforted in great numbers to the temple; though they had caft off the fear of the God there worshipped. God knew, and had probably informed the prophet, that the wine would be refused. It was refused, and the reason affigned-"We will drink no wine; for Jonadab, the son of Rechab, our father commanded us, faying, Ye shall drink no wine, ye, nor your fons forever. Neither shall ye build house, nor fow feed, nor have any: But all your days ye fhall dwell in tents; that ye may live many days, in the land where ye be ftrangers."
SOME of these may seem to be strange restrictions; but they speak the piety of him who laid them, and his regard to the eternal, if not to the temporal interefts, of his pofterity. The prohibition feems to have been the fame with the law of the Nazerites. Wine is doubtlefs here used in a large fenfe, for every kind of ftrong drink. "Wine was given to make glad the heart of man." He is allowed to ufe it with temperance and fobriety: But fo many abufe it to their own hurt, and to the injury of fo