« ΠροηγούμενηΣυνέχεια »
should have been more impressed with the vanity of earthly grandeur
And should have seen the folly and wickedness of priding himself in things so empty, so worthless, so transient-]
2. He sought his own glory in preference to God's honour
(He had now a happy opportunity of magnifying the God of Israel
He might have told the ambassadors, what God had done for his nation in former times
He might have recited the wonderful restoration which God had at this time afforded to himself in particular, together with the stupendous miracle with which the promise of that recovery had been confirmedd
He might have commended Jehovah as an answerer of prayer
And in this way have exalted him above all the gods of the heathen
And surely the mercies that had been vouchsafed unto him, demanded such a tribute
But he was pitifully occupied about self-
3. He sought his own glory before the good of his friends
[The ambassadors were shewing great kindness to him He should therefore have recompensed them in the best way
He should have instructed them in the knowledge of the God of Israel
And have told them how willing he was to become their God
Thus perhaps he might have converted and saved their souls
And have spread the knowledge of the true God in Babylon
Yea, eventually, he might have been instrumental to the salvation of thousands
But he utterly forgot the necessities of their souls
And was offering incense to his own vanity, when he should have been promoting their eternal welfare-)
This was his sin; and God denounced a heavy judgment against him on account of it
[His riches were all to be taken away by the Chaldeans His own children were to be made eunuchs in the king of Babylon's palace
• 2 Kings xx. 11.
e Ib. ver. 4, 5.
And the whole nation to be led into a miserable captivity
But, if his offence was great, his humiliation also was remarkable
[He heard with trembling the judgments which God threatened to execute
Instead of palliating his sin, he acknowledged at once the justice of the Deity in inflicting such a punishment on account of it
In concert with all his subjects, he implored forgiveness at God's hands
And, having obtained a respite of the sentence, thankfully acquiesced in the determinations of heaven -]
While we see in him much to shun, and much to imitate, let us II. Enquire whether we also have not similar grounds
for humiliation? Pride is deeply rooted in the heart of fallen man We are prone to be lifted up on every occasion
[We are vain of any natural endowments of body or mind
The strong displays his strength; the beautiful, her beauty A penetrating mind, or tenacious memory, are made grounds of self-admiration, and self-preference
Any acquired distinctions also become food for our vanity
The man of wealth, of honour, or of power, assumes a consequence from his elevation, and demands from others a homage as his due
The proficient in any art or science courts applause, and delights to have his talents admired
Even the gifts of grace, through the depravity of our nature, become occasions of pride
Not only an ability to speak or pray with fluency, but even an insight into the corruption of the heart, is often exhibited more for the purpose of attracting admiration than of doing good
Whatever we have that elevates us a little above our fellowcreatures, our proud hearts are fond of displaying it, and pleased with the flattering attentions which it procures for us
We indulge the disposition too to the neglect of God's honour, and of the eternal welfare of those around us
[How many glorious opportunities have we of speaking for God!
f Isai. xxxix, 8.
What grounds of praising him might we find in the sacred records!
How many too might we find in our own experience!
And what unspeakable benefit might arise to mankind, if we carefully improved these opportunities!
But how rarely is our intercourse with each other made subservient to these ends
We waste our time in flattering attentions and unprofitable civilities
We are as intent on gratifying the vanity of ourselves or others, as if our social converse were capable of no better improvement-]
How much then do we need to imitate Hezekiah's humiliation!
[However innocent we may think such conduct, it is highly criminal in the sight of God
It renders us justly obnoxious to God's heaviest judgments
Should we not then humble ourselves before him in dust and ashes!
Should not the forbearance he has exercised call forth our devoutest acknowledgments!
And should we not adore his goodness even if he only delay to execute his threatened vengeance? —
Let us not attempt to palliate this common, but vile, iniquity
But rather unite in deprecating the wrath we have deserved) INFER 1. What dreadful evils arise from small beginnings!
[Hezekiah at first probably intended only to shew civility to his friends
But through inattention to the motions of his heart, he fell into grievous sin, and brought on the whole nation the heaviest judgments
And what enormities have not the motions of pride, of lewdness, of covetousness, or revenge, produced amongst ourselves, when, if they had been checked at first, they might have been easily subdued!
Let us learn then to mark the first risings of sin in our hearts
Let us remember, that God notices and abhors sin in the heart, no less than when it is brought forth into open act
Let us intreat him to sanctify our inward man"-
& Mati. xii. 36, 37.
hi Thess. v. 23.
2. How great is the efficacy of fervent prayer and intercession!
[The judgment denounced against Hezekiah was to have been speedily inflicted
But he and Judah sought the Lord by humble and fervent prayer
And the Lord deferred the evil till the next generation-
If we turned to him as a nation, he would prolong our national prosperity
— And would blot out for ever the personal guilt of every true penitent,
Let us then humble ourselves for our abominations both of heart and life
So shall we find God as gracious unto us, as he was to his people of old-]
DLXXXVII. PAUL'S SPIRITUAL CONFLICTS.
Rom. vii. 24, 25. O wretched man that I am! who shall de
liver me from the body of this death? I thank God, through Jesus Christ our Lord.
THE Epistle to the Romans, as a clear, full, argumentative, and convincing statement of the gospel sal. vation, far exceeds every other part of holy writ. And the seventh chapter of that Epistle equally excels every other part of scripture, as a complete delineation of Christian experience. The Psalms contain the breathings of a devout soul, both in seasons of trouble and under the impressions of joy. But in the passage before us the Apostle states the operation of the two principles which were within him, and shews how divine grace and his corrupt nature counteracted each other. The good principle did indeed liberate him from all allowed subjection to sin: but the corrupt principle within him yet exerted such power, that, in spite of all his chůtavours. to resist it, he could not utterly overcome it. Having opened thus all the secret motions of his heart, he gives vent to the feelings which had been alternately excited by a review of his own experience, and of the provision which was made for him in Jesus Christ.
In discoursing upon his words we shall shew I. The apostle's experience
We shall not enter into the general contents of this chapter, but confine ourselves to the workings of the apostle's mind 1. In the views of his sin
[He considered sin as the most loathsome of all objects. In calling his indwelling corruption “ a body of death,” he seems to allude to the practice of some tyrants, who fastened a dead body to a captive whom they had doomed to death, and compelled him to bear it about with him till he was killed by the offensive smell. Such a nauseous and hateful thing was sin in the apostle's estimation. He felt that he could not get loose from it, but was constrained to bear it about with him whereever he went: and it was more loathsome to him than a dead body, more intolerable than a putrid carcass.
The bearing of this about with him was an occasion of the deepest sorrow. Whatever other tribulations he was called to endure, he could rejoice and glory in them, yea, and thank God who had counted him worthy to bear them. But under the burthen of his indwelling corruptions he cried, “Owretched man that I am!”
Nor was there any thing he so much desired as to be delivered from it. When he had been unjustly imprisoned by the magis-trates, he was in no haste to get rid of his confinement; instead of availing himself of the discharge they had sent him, he said, “Nay, but let them come themselves and fetch me out.” But from his indwelling sin he was impatient to be released; and cried, “Who shall deliver me from the body of this death Not that he was at a loss where to look for deliverance; but he spake as one impatient to obtain it.] 2. In the views of his Saviour
[If his afflictions abounded, so did his consolations abound also. He knew that there was a sufficiency in Christ both of merit to justify the guilty, and of grace to sanctify the polluted. He knew, moreover, that God for Christ's sake had engaged to pardon all his sins, and to subdue all his iniquities. Hence with an emotion of gratitude, more easy to be conceived than expressed, he breaks off from his desponding strains, and exclaims, “I thank God through Jesus Christ our Lord;" I thank him for Christ, as an all-sufficient Saviour; and I thank him through Christ, as my all-prevailing Advocate and Mediator. While he saw in himself nothing but what tended to humble him in the dust, he beheld in Christ, and in God a6 reconciled to him through Christ, enough to turn his sore row into joy, and his desponding complaints into triumphant exultation.]