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"outer darkness: there shall be weeping "and gnashing of teeth."

With what shame, with what anguish and dismay, will this dreadful sentence overwhelm you! Bless God! then, that you may yet escape it! Bless God! my brethren, that his mercy is not yet exhausted towards you! Still Christ invites you to come to him, and holds out the golden sceptre of his love. Still there is in him a sufficiency of Grace for all your wants. Continue not the weak and helpless slaves of sin, when you may become strong in the Lord, and in the power of his might. Let him not have occasion at of you, All day long have I stretched out my hands unto a disobedient and gainsaying people.





Howbeit in the business of the ambassadors of the princes of Babylon, who sent unto him to enquire of the wonder, that was done in the land, God left him to try him, that he might know all that was in his heart.

AMONG the examples of singular and exalted piety recorded in the Scriptures, Hezekiah, king of Judah, occupies a distinguished place. Remarkably decisive are the attestations in his favour. He did that which was right in the sight of the Lord, according to all that David his father did. He trusted in the Lord God of Israel, so that after him was none like him among all the kings of Judah, nor any that were before him. For he clave to the Lord, and departed not from following him, but kept his commandments, which the Lord commanded Moses*. But while such

* 2 Kings, xviii. 3, 5, 7.

are the declarations respecting this pious and exemplary king; he is not therefore represented as free from imperfection. A veil is not studiously drawn over those parts of his character which are less capable of bearing examination. With an impartial regard to truth, the inspired penmen report one instance of grievous declension in this eminent servant of God: they specify one occasion, on which Hezekiah rendered not again according to the benefit done unto him; for his heart was lifted up. It is this occasion, to which the text refers: when, in the business of the ambassadors of the princes of Babylon, who sent unto him to enquire of the wonder, that was done in the land, God left him to try him, that he might know all that was in his heart. Of this humiliating event in Hezekiah's life, the particulars are recorded in three different places of Scripture: but I have selected the account here given, because of the peculiar insight which it affords into this extraordinary transaction. While the other relations, with greater exactness, describe the nature and the aggravation of his sin, this passage admits us into the interior of this mysterious affair; discloses the secret springs of action; and thus lays open a much wider field for useful and instructive application. I shall however so far avail myself of the circumstances, which

are stated in other places, as may be necessary for illustrating the subject. After having first briefly shewn the nature and the aggravation of Hezekiah's Fall, I shall lead you to contemplate the particular view of it exhibited in the text.

I. All sin originates in the heart. Out of the evil treasure of his heart, an evil man bringeth forth evil things.-Out of the heart proceed evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, fornications, thefts, false witness, blasphemies. The multiplied wickedness of men's lives results from the corrupt and carnal principle in their hearts. At the same time, this principle does not on all occasions equally manifest itself in the outward conduct. Some of its evil effects are more immediately confined to the heart: effects, however, which are not on that account less offensive and malignant in their nature. Such was the sin of Hezekiah. It did not, like that of David, break forth into gross and external violations of the divine law; but it betrayed itself in the indulgence of secret pride, in the gratification of a vain-glorious spirit, in an idolatrous exaltation of the creature above the Creator. Hezekiah's heart was lifted up*.

But the particular nature of his sin will be

* 2 Chron. xxxii. 25.

more clearly discerned, if we advert to the occasion of his Fall. Berodach Baladan, king of Babylon, having heard of Hezekiah's sickness, and of the remarkable circumstances attending it, sent ambassadors to Jerusalem with letters and a present, to congratulate him on his recovery, and to enquire concerning the wonder that had been done in the land. Pleased with these flattering expressions of attention and respect from so great a monarch, and elated with a sense of his own importance, Hezekiah received the ambassadors with the most studied magnificence; and, in the fulness of his heart, ostentatiously displayed to them the whole wealth and power of his kingdom. He hearkened unto them, and shewed them all the house of his precious things, the silver and the gold, and the spices, and the precious ointment, and all the house of his armour, and all that was found in his treasures: there was nothing in his house, nor in all his dominion, that Hezekiah shewed them not*. Such an unreserved disclosure of his riches and resources to the ministers of a foreign court, might probably be an impolitic proceeding, prejudicial to the interests of his kingdom a proceeding, therefore, which in itself was highly culpable. But it was the

† 2 Kings, xx. 13.

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