« PředchozíPokračovat »
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 re“ garded the low estate of his hand-maiden,”—and of the poorest, tno! 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 Saviour of their nation could be poor, and not have where to lay his head,was a crime never to be forgiven : and though 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 imagination.
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 shewed more like the curses of the law than its blessings :—for they called for sufferings, 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 conclu.. sion :
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 froin 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,—'tis by the imitation of these qualities which niust do it:-'tis true mas I've shewny--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.
And he said, What have they seen in thine house ? and Hezekiah
answered, All the things that are in my house have they seen ; there is nothing amongst all my treasures that I have not shewn them,
And where was the harm, you'll 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 re“ceived and entertained the men, and hearkened “ unto them ;' and before he sent them away, he
courteously shewed them all that was worth a stranger's curiosity in his house and his king• dom ;-and in this, seemed only to have discharge
ed 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 carri
* Preached before his Excellency the Earl of Hertford, at Paris, 1763.
ed away in triumph to Babylon :—the very place from whence the messengers had come.
A hard return! and what his behaviour 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 Hezeki. ah 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 5 he should die, and not live."
There are many instances of men, 'who have re. ceived 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 its-or expected a better ;-yet thou. sands 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 account,-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 forever.
This, in some measure, seemed to have been Hezekiah's case ; for though he had 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 greatly ;-that 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 forever 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, and 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 cares and disappointments.
This natural weakness, 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:
( 0 God! remember how I have walked before 6 thee in truth ;-how much I have done to rescue thy religion from error and falsehood ;-thou know