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thoughts into his rankling heart, and to stir him up to a greater wickedness—Dost thou not govern the kingdom of Israel? Arise, and eat bread, and let thine heart be merry, I will give thee the vineyard of Naboth the Jezreelite !
You all remember how she kept her promise—by what treacherous and bloody means she gave the vineyard to Abab-even by procuring the death of the innocent owner on a false charge of blaspheming God and the king.
Ahab, it would seem, took no active part in the murder. Jezebel wrote the death letter, and sealed it with the king's seal. We hear no more of Ahab, till the moment when, the crime accomplished, Jezebel accosts him in accents of triumph-Arise, take possession of the vineyard of Naboth the Jezreelite, which he refused to give thee for money: for Naboth is not alive, but dead.
Then, indeed, there was no backwardness in Ahab. He had not dared to have a hand in the deed of violence, but he has no scruple in profiting by it, when it is done —so he rose up to go down to the vineyard of Naboth, to take possession of it.
And now God's justice finds him out. Now, in the moment of his guilty success, the prophet stands before him, sets in clear light the enormity of his sin, and pronounces the sentence of God upon him. Hast thou killed and also taken possession ? Thus saith the Lord, In the place where dogs licked the blood of Naboth, shall dogs lick thy blood even thine!
Yes, blood for blood !-Ahab's life for Naboth's lifeand not only Ahab's, but Jehoram's life as well.–And that too with some incidents of terrible resemblance. There, where the king's victim had died, on that same spot should the retribution be made—there both in son and father, the words were fulfilled—Where dogs licked the blood of Naboth, shall they lick thy blood even thine!
In Ahab's own case, we read in the afternoon lesson, (1 Kings xxii.) how this was accomplished and what a proof have we in it of a directing, controlling Providence ! Ahab went out to battle with the Syrians, at RamothGilead ; and though he disguised himself, and sought safety by laying aside his kingly robes, yet the arrow shot at a venture found its appointed mark, and smote the king of Israel between the joints of his harness.At even Ahab died of his wound, and was brought to Samaria to be buried—and one washed the chariot in the pool of Samaria ; and the dogs licked up his blood, according unto the word of the Lord which He spake!
So ends one of the most striking and instructive histories in the whole Bible.—The lesson which it reads us ; which it enforces with a power that must, I think, come home to all who hear it, is, the very lesson of the text, BEWARE OF COVETOUSNESS, for a man's life consisteth not in the abundance of the things which he possesseth !
It is a lesson, I'said, for us all. There is no man, be he poor or rich, that is not tempted at times to covetousness—tempted to be selfish and grasping, and to forget other people's rights, in the pursuit of his own supposed interests.
To all, then, does the Lord's warning speak-Take heed and beware of covetousness. Beware of such an evil, unneighbourly temper getting possession of your hearts. For once allowed to enter in, covetousness is an inmate
not easy to dislodge. And most unhappy, surely, is the man, with whom such a temper dwells. He may have wealth, he may have rank, he may have power, but while he covets another man's goods, he can have no peace, no enjoyment of the things he already possesses.
Besides, see in Ahab's history what covetousness leads to, see how it brings with it, as it were, seven other evil spirits—see how it stifles and destroys all sentiments of honour, or charity, or common humanity, and fills a man with malice, envy, deceit, malignity! see how it takes from him his rest, and changes all his life to bitterness, and drives him step by step into perdition!
Beware we then of covetousness-pray we to God that having, as we all have, food and raiment we may be therewith content!. Pray we to be delivered from a passion, which if it is once master over us, will make our life miserable, and pierce us through with many sorrows! Yes, and pray we for another thing--pray we for-as the best antidote to covetousness—a large share of the mind that was in Jesus! Pray we to that Blessed Saviour in Whose Name, and in Whose Presence we are here met, that He would dwell in us by His Spirit, and transform us into His own likeness ! Pray we that as Christ was, so we may be in this world—seekers of wealth, not for ourselves but for others—followers of Him in doing good, striving our utmost, at all times, and in all places, to lessen sorrow, and to lighten burdens, and to soothe suffering, and to take away causes of offence from among our brethren. Pray we, in a word, to be actuated ever in all our dealings with one another, by that master principle of the Gospel-self-sacrifice that principle by which our redemption has been wrought out—for He gave Himself a ransom for all—by which all good and noble deeds on earth are done—and which is best expressed in that sentence of His, not in the Gospel, but preserved to us on the lips of His Apostles, It is more blessed to give than to receive /
ELEVENTH SUNDAY AFTER TRINITY.
THE PHARISEE AND THE PUBLICAN.
1 ST LUKE XVIII. 10.
Two men went up into the temple to pray; the one a Pharisee and the
other a Publican.
Our Lord, it would appear, had observed in some of His followers a temper of self-righteousness. He had seen in them a disposition to exalt themselves before God because of the strictness and holiness of their lives; and at the same time, a disposition to think and speak slightingly of others—to draw comparisons between what they themselves did, and what others about them left undone, -between their obedience, and the other's disobedience. -And this temper He sought to check by the parable which follows—a parable which, as we are expressly told, He spake unto certain which trusted in themselves that they were righteous, and despised others.
Let us occupy ourselves with this great parable this morning. The cause that first gave rise to it exists still
-it was spoken, if ever a word of Christ's was, for the learning of men throughout all time.