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that such a man, the moment he fell into pores ty, should have occasion to cry out for quarter Have mercy upon me, O my friends! for the hand of God has touched me. -Gentleness and huma nity, (one would think) would melt the hardest heart, and charm the fiercest spirit; bind up the most violent hand, and still the most abusive fongue :—But the experiment failed, in a stronger instance, of Him, whose meat and drink it was to do us good, and, in pursuit of which, whose whole life was a continued scene of kindness and of insults, for which we must go back to the same explanation with which we set out,-and that is, the scandal of poverty.
"This fellow, we know not whence he is,"—was the popular cry of one part; and with those who seemed to know better, the query did not lessen the disgrace :-Is not this the carpenter, the son of Mary Of Mary! great God of Israel! What!
of the meanest of thy people? (for he had not regarded the low estate of his handmaiden)-and of the poorest too! (for she had not a lamb to offer, but was purified, as Moses directed in such a case, by the oblation of a turtle dove).
That the SAVICUR of their nation could be poor, and not have where to lay his head,- was a crime never to be forgiven; and tho' the purity of his doctrine, and the works which he had done in its support, were stronger arguments on its side, than his humiliation could be against it, yet the offence still remained ;--they looked for the redemption of Israel; but they would have it only in those dreams of power which filled their ima gination.
Ye, who weigh the worth of all things only in the goldsmith's balance, was this religion for you?a religion whose appearance was not great and splendid, but looked thin and meagre, and whose principles and promises showed more like
the curses of the law, than its blessings! -for they called for suffering, and promised little but persecutions.
In truth, it is not easy for tribulation or distress, for nakedness or famine, to make many converts out of pride : Or reconcile a worldly heart to the scorn and reproaches, which were sure to be the portion of every one who believed a mystery so discredited by the world, and so unpalatable to all its passions and pleasures.
But, to bring this sermon to its proper conclusion:
If Astrea, or Justice, never finally took her leave of the world, till the day that poverty first became ridiculous, it is matter of consolation, that the GoD of Justice is ever over us :-That, whatever outrages the lowness of our condition may be exposed to, from a mean and undiscerning world, that we walk in the presence of the greatest and most generous of Beings, who is infinitely removed from cruelty and straitness of mind, and all those little and illiberal passions, with which we hourly insult each other.
The worst part of mankind, are not always to be conquered ;-but, if they are—it is by the imitation of those qualities, which must do it :-It is true-as i have shown-they may fail; but still, all is not lost; for if we conquer not the world -in the very attempts to do it, we shall, at least, conquer ourselves, and lay the foundation of our peace (where it ought to be) within our own hearts.
The Case of Hezekiah and the Messengers,
PREACHED BEFORE HIS EXCELLENCY THE EARL OF HERTFORD, AT PARIS, 1763.
KINGS, XX. 15.
And he said, What have they seen in thine house ? And Hezekiah answered, All the things that are in mine house, have they seen: There is nothing among all my treasures that I have not shown them.
AND where was the harm, you will say
in all this?
An eastern prince, the son of Baladine, had sent messengers, with presents, as far as from Babylon, to congratulate Hezekiah upon the recovery from his sickness; and Hezekiah, who was a good prince, acted consistently with himself;-he received and entertained the men, and hearkened unto them; and before he sent them away, he courteously showed them all that was worth a stranger's curiosity, in his house, and in his kingdom-and, in this, seemed only to have discharged himself of what urbanity, or the etiquette of courts might require. Notwithstanding this, in the verse which immediately follows the text, we find he had done amiss; and, as a punishment for it, that all his riches, which his forefathers had laid up in store unto that day, were threatened to be carried away in triumph to Babylon,-the very place from whence the messengers had come.
A hard return! and what his behavior does not seem to have deserved. To set this matter in a clear light, it will be necessary to enlarge upon the whole story; the reflections which will arise out of it, as we go along, may help us—at least, I hope they will be of use on their own account.
After the miraculous defeat of the Assyrians, we read, in the beginning of this chapter, that Hezekiah was sick, even unto death; and that GoD sends the prophet Isaiah, with the unwelcome message, That he should set his house in order, for that he should die, and not live.
There are many instances of men, who have received such news with the greatest ease of mind, and even entertained the thoughts of it with smiles upon their countenances,—and this, either from strength of spirits, and the natural cheerfulness of their temper,-or, that they knew the world, -and cared not for it, or expected a better ;--yet, thousands of good men, with all the helps of philosophy, and against all the assurances of a well-spent life, that the change must be to their accounts- -upon the approach of death, have still leaned towards this world, and wanted spirits and resolution to bear the shock of a separation from it for ever.
This, in some measure, seemed to have been Hezekiah's case ;-for though he walked before GOD in truth, and with a perfect heart, and had done that which was good in his sight,-yet we find that the hasty summons afflicted him greatlythat, upon the delivery of the message, he wept sore-that he turned his face towards the wall, -perhaps for the greater secrecy of his devotion, and, that, by withdrawing himself thus from all external objects, he might offer up his prayer unto his GOD with greater and more fervent attention.
-And he prayed, and said, O LORD! I beseech thee remember-O Hezekiah! how couldst thou fear that God had forgotten thee? or how couldst thou doubt of his remembrance of thy integrity, when he called thee to receive its recompense?
But here it appears of what materials man is
made:He pursues happiness-and yet, is so content with misery, that he would wander for ever in this dark vale of it and say, "It is good, Lord! to be here, and to build tabernacles of rest;" and so long as we are clothed with flesh,& nature has so great a share within us, it is no wonder if that part claims its right, and pleads for the sweetness of life, notwithstanding all its care and disappointments.
This natural wickedness, no doubt, had its weight in Hezekiah's earnest prayer for life:And yet from the success it met with, and the immediate change of God's purpose thereupon, it is hard to imagine, but that it must have been accompanied with some meritorious and more generous motive: And, if we suppose, as some have done, that he turned his face towards the wall, because that part of his chamber looked towards the temple, the care of whose preservation lay next his heart, we may, consistently enough, give this sense to his prayer.
"O GOD! remember how I have walked be "fore thee in truth;-how much I have done "to rescue thy religion from error and falsehood: Thou knowest that the eyes of the world "( are fixed upon me, as one that hath forsaken "their idolatry, and restored thy worship; "that I stand in the midst of a crooked and cor
rupt generation, which looks through all my ac❝tions, and watches all events which happen to "me-if now they shall see me snatched away, "in the midst of my days and service, how will "thy great name suffer in my extinction ?-Will "not the heathen say, Thus it is to serve the GOD "of Israel!-How faithfully did Hezekiah walk "before him?-what enemies did he bring upon "himself, in too warmly promoting his worship? "and now when the hour of sickness and distress "came upon him, and he most wanted the aid