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The king appears to have been at first struck with horror and dismay at the thoughts that his life would be cut short, and that he should not live to see the deliverance which he trusted the LORD would effect for Judah. He dreaded the increase of pains and agonies, which were already more than nature could well sustain. He found no relief; but continued to lament his present misery, and approaching dissolution. He repeated his earnest supplication, that the LORD would grant him ease. He considered that it was the Divine will that he should be thus afflicted, and resolved to moderate the excess of his grief, and submit with patience. A ray of Divine consolation immediately darted into his mind. He now regarded this mortal sickness as the harbinger of life and immortality; he considered the death of the body as the birth of the soul; he felt a happy presentiment that he should not lie for ever in the grave. The SPIRIT of the LORD whispered to his spirit, that Divine mercy had redeemed him from that destruction which his repeated crimes deserved, and that the punishment of his sins was remitted. He called to mind the numberless promises which the LORD had made of everlasting blessings; and felt in his heart an ardent desire to praise the LORD for ever. He could not think that this desire, and the hope of immortality, inherent in the mind of man, would be extinguished by death; nor could he believe, when he reflected on the capacity of the human soul, that its existence was limited to this imperfect state: he therefore concluded, that it would survive the death of the body; and that he should in a future state celebrate the praises of the LORD. Hezekiah also appears to have had a prea ge that he should have a son to succeed him.
Had the good king died at this time, there is no doubt but he would have found his hopes respecting immor
tality confirmed; but to shew the efficacy of prayer to reward him as a faithful king, and to do kindness to the people of Judah, his life was prolonged.
From the prophet's advice to Hezekiah, to set his house in order, all persons are admonished to settle their worldly concerns before their death, for the sake of their surviving friends. We may also from the prophet's example consider it as the duty of a friend to acquaint those who are in an irrecoverable state of their danger. How many through a mistaken tenderness are flattered, even to the last moments, into a belief that they shall live and not die! amused with company; nay even tempted to waste those precious moments in cardplaying, which should be employed in imploring Divine mercy for their numberless offences, they launch into eternity, unprepared, to meet their heavenly Judge!
It is probable, that those who have led good lives will at first be affected with the awful tidings, as Hezekiah was; but the consciousness of having endeavoured to perform their duty in an acceptable manner, will en-, courage them to have immediate recourse to prayer. and meditation, which will produce a train of reflec- · tions similar to those of the good king. The sincere and humble christian will enjoy a still higher degree of consolation than Hezekiah could receive, because life and immortality, which were but imperfectly hoped for by the Jews, have been brought to light by the Gospel. So far from regretting that his days are cut short, the christian will resign his soul into the hands of his REDEEMER with joyful expectation; not merely hoping, but well assured, that in love to it his SAVIOUR has delivered it from the pit of corruption, and purchased remission for his sins; and that he shall certainly see the LORD in the land of the living.
Nor will the case of the abandoned sinner be made
worse by his being informed, that the hand of death is upon him. Without repentance there is no remission for sins, and though it is dangerous to defer the work of repentance to a death-bed, it affords the only chance of procuring pardon for those who have before neglected it. Surely then it is cruelty to exclude any one from this opportunity of making his peace with his offended GOD. Divine mercy is infinite, and the example of the penitent thief on the cross affords encouragement to hope, that sincere contrition will never supplicate in vain.
The only objection that can reasonably be made to the measure here recommended is, that the agitation of mind such dreadful tidings will naturally produce may aggravate the disease. It should be remembered, that diseases come from God, whose mercy may humbly be expected to co-operate in such a case with the pious intentions of the friend. It may be proper also to reflect on the consternation which a soul unprepared must unavoidably experience immediately on its separation from the body, when no kind friend can administer the balm of consolation; when the day of grace is gone for ever! Great caution, however, should be used in mentioning a circumstance which cannot fail of striking the mind, even of the best of men, with awe and apprehension, and where there is great timidity of mind and weakness of body, and the person has lived a good life, it may we think with safety be omitted, trusting to the allsufficient atonement and intercession of the Redeemer.
HEZEKIAH'S CONFIDENCE IN THE LORD."
From 2 Chron. Chap. xxxii.
AND when Hezekiah saw that Sennacherib was come, and that he was purposed to fight against Jerusalem,
he took counsel with his princes and his mighty men, to stop the waters of the fountains which were without the city. And they did help him.
So there was gathered much people together, who stopped all the fountains, and the brook that ran through the midst of the land, saying, Why should the kings of Assyria come and find much water?
Also he strengthened himself, and built up all the wall that was broken, and raised it up to the towers, and another wall without, and repaired Millo in the city of David, and made darts and shields in abundance.
And he set captains of war over the people, and ga. thered them together to him in the street of the gate of the city, and spake comfortably to them, saying, Be strong and courageous, be not afraid nor dismayed for the king of Assyria, nor for all the multitude that is with him for there be more with us than with him.
With him is an arm of flesh; but with us is the LORD our God, to help us, and to fight our battles. And the people rested themselves upon the words of Hezekiah、 king of Judah.
ANNOTATIONS AND REFLECTIONS.
Awakened to a proper sense of his duty, by the reflections which he had made in his illness, Hezekiah was no sooner recovered than he made all possible preparations for a brave defence of his kingdom; he fortified Jerusalem, laid in great store of arms and provisions for the siege, and cut off, as much as possible, all supply of water from the enemy.
By the exhortations which the good king gave to his officers, we may understand, that his mind was full of faith and confidence in the power of the LORD.
THE CONTINUATION OF THE REIGN OF HEZEKIAH, KING OF JUDAH.
From 2 Kings, Chap. xviii.
AND the king of Assyria sent Tartan, and Rabsaris, and Rab-shakeh, from Lachish to king Hezekiah, with a great host against Jerusalem. And they went up and came to Jerusalem. And when they were come up, they came and stood by the conduit of the upper pool, which is in the highway of the fuller's field.
And when they had called to the king, there came out to them Eliakim the son of Hilkiah, which was over. the houshold, and Shebna the scribe, and Joah the son: of Asaph the recorder.
And Rab-shakeh said unto them, Speak ye now to Hezekiah, thus saith the great king, the king of Assyria, What confidence is this wherein thou trustest?
Thou sayest (but they are but vain words) I have counsel and strength for the war. Now on whom dost thou trust, that thou rebellest against me? Now, be hold, thou trustest upon the staff of this bruised reed, even upon Egypt, on which if a man lean, it will ge into his hand and pierce it: so is Pharoah king of Egypt unto all that trust on him.
But if ye say unto me, we trust in the LORD our Gov: is not that he whose high places, and whose altars, Hezekiah hath taken away, and hath said Judah and Jerusalem, Ye shall worship before this altar in Jerusalem? Now, therefore, I pray thee, give pledges to my lord the king of Assyria, and I will deliver thee two thousand horses, if thou be able on thy part to set riders upon them.
How then wilt thou turn away the face of one captain