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employment to root up and tread' under foot, in the shortest
possible time, the seed sown by his pious father. No sooner had he buried his royal parent, and taken lawful possession of his throne at Jerusalem, than he threw off all disguise ; and a horrible massacre opens the black catalogue of his crimes, followed by iniquity after iniquity. His brothers, who were all of them better than he, seemed to stand in his
appears have lusted for their wealth, but more especially to have feared the reproach which his heathenish course of life would occasion him in their eyes ; hence he hated them, and caused them to be massacred without mercy. Six of them thus died, and one of them only escaped. Many of the great men of the kingdom participated in their dreadful fate, as if the blood of his own brothers did not cry loud enough to Heaven.
Jehoram, under the influence of his wife Athaliah, the daughter of Ahab, was initiated in all the vices and abominations of heathenism. The long-suffering of Jehovah omitted not to send him serious warnings. The edomites invade the country, and the city of Libna revolts from him. But Jehoram perseveres in sin and wickedness, and openly renouncing the God of his fathers, introduces the idolatry of Sidon, which had been expelled by Asa and Jehoshaphat, recalls the banished priests of Baal, erects altars, consecrates groves, invites his people to idolatrous festivals of licentiousness, and even compels Judah thereto with despotic intolerance. To this the words in this awful writing from Elijah refer : “ Thou hast made Judah and the inhabitants of Jerusalem to go a whoring, like to the whoredoms of the house of Ahab.” Do not be offended at this mode of expression. The Scriptures of Divine truth cannot employ such equivocal expressions as are used in modern days; its appellations strike always at the root of things; hence we are not surprised that its searching language and plain dealing should have always offended the hypocrite, the worldling, and the debauchee. When men depart from the living God and cleave to any idol of their heart, whatever name it may bear, whether that of superior light, philosophy, talent, or liberalism, the Scripture calls it whoredom, because it is nothing else; and, indeed, it is the worst and the vilest. The “ Maker” of the church is the husband of the church : its innumerable members are collectively his betrothed wife. This mystical union between Christ and his church is insisted on in Scripture throughout; and when any member of the visible church acts not according to it, but idolizes the honours, gains, or pleasures of this world, the Scripture calls his conduct adultery, and pronounces judgment upon it as a thing
of Divine abhorrence. How awful then is the provocation of those who are not only guilty of this conduct themselves, but by influence or example, in word or in writing, pour the intoxicating wine of their spiritual fornication into the cup of others ! How awful, when parents or tutors do this with respect to those committed to their care! How awful, when ministers of Christ's religion teach, under the name of morals and philosophy, “another gospel which is not another,” corrupting and denying the plain and express word of God! How awful, when poets, journalists, and other popular writers endeavour, by every means, to seduce the people from the way of truth into deistical or atheistical sophistry! Awful indeed are the denunciations of Scripture against all such companions of Balaam! such murderers of souls! In the Divine displeasure against Jehoram, they may behold the same against themselves. The
sins and crimes of Jehoram having been thus reproved, the writing next announces to him the sentence of God. hold, with a great plague the Lord will smite thee. He will punish thy atrocities in thy people, thy children, thy wives, and all that thou hast, and finally, in thine own person.
For thou shalt have great sickness by disease of thy bowels, until thy bowels fall out by reason of the sickness from day to day !” Oh, fearful manifestation of the just judgment of Him who clothes himself with zeal as with a cloak, and repays his enemies to their face! Lo, smoke goeth forth from his nostrils, and consuming fire from his mouth ! How fearful a thing thus to fall into the hands of the living God !
Jehoram reads the tremendous announcement; but, instead of repenting, he makes his face harder than a rock, and his neck as an iron sinew. Verily, men become hardened and obdurate through the deceitfulness of sin, and nothing but the Omnipotence of
is able to overcome this monster of man's corrupt nature. Without this grace the law is but as stubble in the fire, and the Divine judgments serve only to harden the sinner's heart. Jehoram affords a dreadful confirmation of this truth. Well might he shudder at reading such a writing. But it did not end in humiliation : and whatever will not bend must break. The Divine curse, like a growing storm, soon discharges itself
. First, a hostile force of philistines and arabians suddenly attack the borders of his kingdom. Jehoram sends his armies against them, but are defeated by the invaders. The blessing of God no longer attends the armies of Israel. With the faith of their fathers, their fathers’ strength in war is departed. The enemy pours into the kingdom like a desolating flood. This was the first plague : the king was punished in his deluded and idolatrously revolted people. But this is only the beginning of his troubles ; for his ears are too dull of hearing to discern the voice of the rod and him that had appointed it. The enemy advances to the capital, and Jehoram's host is vanquished wherever it shows itself
. In a few days the conquering army of the heathen are under the walls of Jerusalem. The city is taken, and the remnant of the jewish army scattered; the king's palace is stormed and taken, his treasure plundered, and all his wives, except Athaliah, who was reserved for a more tragical end, are carried away captive. Even his sons are obliged to leave their native land. Only one remains behind—Jehoahaz the youngest ; for the Lord remembered his word, “ David shall never want a man to sit on the throne of the house of Israel.”
All the rest go into miserable captivity. Woful example of the righteous judgment of God! Here is indeed “
and tooth for tooth.” The destroyer of the people becomes accursed of the people. The avaricious robber sees himself stripped of his family and treasures. The denier of Jehovah and his word, is denied by him in return, and given up to his own way. The voluptuary and fratricide is visited with the loss of his own wives and children. But his plagues do not end here. Lest his impenitent heart should soon devise a false peace for itself, he is condemned to suffer also in his own person. The horrible disease in his bowels soon appears, and continues for two years together, baffling all the skill and wisdom of his physicians ; so that “it came to pass, after the end of two years, that his bowels fell out by reason of his sickness; and he died. His people made no burning for him, like the burning of his fathers. Howbeit they buried him in the city of David, but not in the sepulchres of the kings."
Thus was every word of the Divine denunciation accomplished, and not a syllable of it remained unfulfilled. Let all who care not for God be admonished by it! A writing like that prophetic one lies at their very door. It begins, “ Woe unto them that call evil good, and good evil; that put darkness for light, and light for darkness ; that put bitter for sweet, and sweet for bitter ! Woe to them that are wise in their own eyes, and pure in their own sight!” And again, “ He that believeth not the Son, shall not see life; but the wrath of God abideth on him.” It continues, “ The lamp of the wicked shall be put out, and their feet hasten to destruction !” It concludes, “ It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God !” So speaks the true and faithful Witness. Well may ye tremble, all ye
of iniquity, for not one of these words shall fall to the ground. Nevertheless they do not threaten unconditionally. There is appended to them the words, “ Except they repent and be converted, that their sins may be blotted out.” Rejoice at this. You may escape the curse which threatens you. Flee into the arms of Jesus. Hear the voice of the Good Shepherd ; begin to follow him, and believe in him, and then you shall obtain, through him, the forgiveness of all sins. But " there is no peace, saith my God, to the wicked.”
XXIX.–THE MOUNT OF TRANS
THERE is perhaps none of the sons of fallen Adam to whom such a superabundance of honour has been granted, as to that man upon
whose eventful history we have for some time been dwelling with delight. After having been received up of God in a singular manner, without passing through the gate of death and the grave, and this at the close of a career of incomparably splendid deeds and wonders, and after having shone for several ages in the firmament of sacred history—new lustre is all at once thrown upon his character, some hundreds of years after his departure from the earth, by his being introduced in one of the transporting scenes of that happy period, in the anticipation of which Abraham rejoiced, and which many prophets and kings had desired to see.
Malachi, the prophet of God, thus spoke to Israel, in the name of Jehovah, “ Behold, I will send you Elijah the prophet before the coming of the great and dreadful day of the Lord : and he shall turn the heart of the fathers to the children, and the heart of the children to their fathers, lest I come and smite the earth with a curse,” Mal. iv. 5, 6. Hence the return of Elijah became, from the time of Malachi, one of the endeared objects of Israel's expectation. The saints, thenceforth, in faith beheld him, in the dawn of futurity, approaching as the harbinger of the day-spring from on high. At length, just before this day-spring began to visit the benighted earth, the people of Israel had their attention drawn to a voice crying in the wilderness, “ Prepare ye the way of the Lord;” and announcing that “ the kingdom of heaven was at hand.” The Lord and Saviour of the world shortly afterwards appeared, and in reference to the coming of John the Baptist, he declared, “ If ye will receive it, this is Elias who was for to come!” Malachi's prophecy was therefore now fulfilled-yet only figuratively, and by way of prelude. That the whole meaning of the prediction was not yet exhausted, is intimated in our Lord's saying, “ If ye will receive it ;” and is still more expressly shown by the words of John