« PrécédentContinuer »
“I am car
ful charge! Yet it is as true as it is dreadful, not only concerning Ahab, but concerning every unconverted man. nal," saith St. Paul, in reference to his natural condition; “sold under sin ; for what I would, that do I not; but what I hate, that do I." Try, my brethren, an experiment only for one day, with the law of God; labour to keep fully any one single command of God; and however it may grieve you, depend on it that, before evening, you will be obliged to take up for yourself the same humiliating confession with the great apostle.
It is a common proverb that “ Every man has lis price;" that there is something for which every one will be found willing to sell himself. These are words of very awful import, and yet they are but too true concerning every natural man. The children of this world, proud as they are of themselves, may always be bought with one temptation or another: honours, profits, pleasures of one class or another, will induce them to debase themselves more and more. The idol to which Ahab sacrificed was his affection for Jezebel. His own will, his honour, his
peace of conscience, the salvation of his soul, the favour of God—all that he had or hoped for, was laid at this idol's feet. Would that he were singular in such infatuation; or only one of a few! But alas, it is common in every age.
Let ask himself, why he is an unbeliever ; why he despises the people of God; why he serves the world and the devil, and endeavours to stifle every good conviction. By what influence is he constrained thus to act ? Ask him, and he will tell you
that he feels the influence of custom and example, and of his own natural inclinations; that his connexions, the favour of men, or the attachment by which he is bound to other persons and other things, are the causes which indispose him to the serious care of his immortal soul. But what impious constraints are these ! What an accursed alliance, though it be under the sacred name of friendship itself, must that be, which is connected with enmity against God! Whoever of us has hitherto walked in these human chains, let him extricate or rend himself from them without delay. “If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him.” “ He that loveth father, or mother, or son, or daughter, more than me, is not worthy of me.” Forget not the blessing of Moses upon Levi: “Who said unto his father and to his mother, I have not seen him; neither did he acknowledge his brethren, nor knew his own children: for they have observed thy word, and kept thy covenant: they shall teach Jacob thy judgments, and Israel thy law; they shall put inçense before thee, and whole burnt-sacrifices upon thine altar,” Deut. xxxiii.
any one 9, 10.
“Ye are bought with a price,” says the apostle ; “therefore be ye not the servants of men !”.
The heavy accusations which Elijah, in Jehovah's name, brought against the king of Israel in the vineyard of Naboth, inust have been the more terrific on account of those dreadful denunciations with which they were followed. The first of these was, “. In the place where dogs licked the blood of Naboth shall dogs lick thy blood, even thine !” And so it came to pass, as is most strikingly shown in the subsequent history. For soon afterwards Ahab proclaimed a war against the syrians, contrary to the express command of the Lord and in spite of the warning of the prophet Micaiah : “ If thou return at all in peace, the Lord hath not spoken by me.” And he returned not. For in the
first battle he was slain. “ A certain man drew a bow at a venture, and smote the king of Israel between the joints of the harness. Wherefore he said unto the driver of his chariot, Turn thine hand and carry me out of the host ; for I am wounded.” And so it was done ;—and the king died at even; and the blood of his wound ran into the midst of the royal chariot, which was afterwards washed in the pool of Samaria, the
very place were Naboth was murdered; and there they washed his armour, and the dogs licked up his blood. Verily there is a God that judgeth! Have mercy upon us, O Lord Jesus ! The next 66 curse of the Lord” was
“ upon the house of" Ahab. “Behold, I will bring evil upon thee, and will take away thy posterity, and will cut off from Ahab every male, and him that is shut
and left in Israel, and will make thine house like the house of Jeroboam the son of Nebat, and like the house of Baasha the son of Ahijah. Him that dieth of Ahab in the city the dogs shall eat ; and him that dieth in the field the fowls of the air shall eat.' How awful is it, when the iniquities of fathers are visited upon their children to the third and fourth generation ! Nor did any part of the threatening fail of its accomplishment, as you may see by consulting the 9th and 10th chapters of the 2nd book of Kings. Jehu was raised up by Providence to put the Divine sentence in execution. Him God caused, by a prophet, to be anointed king over Israel, and Jehu lost no time in bringing the kingdom under his authority, but directed his first march to Jezreel, where king Joram the son of Ahab resided. Joram, perceiving his approach, went out in his chariot to meet him ; and, having met him in the portion of Naboth the jezreelite, he asked, “ Is it peace ?”. To whom Jehu replied, “What peace, so long as the whoredoms of thy mother Jezebel and her witchcrafts are so many ?” Joram,
hearing this, endeavoured to escape ; but Jehu drew a bow with all his strength, and smote Joram between his arms, so that the arrow went out at his heart, and he sank down in his chariot. Then said Jehu to Bidkar his captain, “ Take him
and cast him in the portion of the field of Naboth the jezreelite, according to the word of the Lord.” And it was done. There Ahab's blood flowed, according to the letter of the Divine threatening, from the veins of his son, upon the same ground which had been polluted by the blood of the innocent Naboth. In the same manner were Joram's sons and all the relatives of Ahab extirpated by the sword, so that neither root nor branch remained of that idolatrous house. The idol priests met with the same fate. In one day they were all slain by the sword; the images, together with the temple of Baal in Samaria, were broken to pieces, and idolatry, for a season, was banished out of Israel. The third judgment which Elijah announced to Ahab was upon
Jezebel. “ The dogs,” said he, “shall eat Jezebel by the wall of Jezreel.” And so it came to pass. For when Jehu entered the city Jezreel, the queen, having “painted her face, and tired her head, looked out at a window.” But the infamous woman did not succeed this time with her meretricious arts; the heart of the rude captain remained unmoved and impenetrable as a rock. He lifted
and called to the chamberlains who stood near her, to throw her down; and they threw her down, so that the wall and the horses were besprinkled with her blood, and she was trodden under foot, like the mire in the street. And it was not till after Jehu had gone into the city, and had eaten and drunk, that he said,
Go, see now this cursed woman, and bury her : for she is a king's daughter. And they went to bury her, but they found no more of her than the skull, and the feet, and the palms of her hands." And they that were sent returned to Jehu, and told him; then said he, “ This is the word of the Lord which he spake by his servant Elijah the Tishbite, saying, In the suburbs of Jezreel shall dogs eat the flesh of Jezebel : and the carcase of Jezebel shall be as dung upon the face of the field in the suburbs of Jezreel ; so that they shall not say, This is Jezebel!”
Behold, my brethren, how the Lord fulfils his word ! How ought this thought to strike all impenitent sinners with horror : for he who denounces against them everlasting punishment, is the same God whose name is FAITHFUL AND TRUE; and it is easier for heaven and earth to pass, than for one tittle of his word to fail.
II. The thunder of Elijah's denunciation produced on this occasion some effect. Ahab knew whom he had before him, and that it was not this man's custom to beat the air, and to utter vain words. The idolatrous monarch is astonished, and deeply affected. He feels the load of guilt which lies upon him. His conscience is alarmed, and his past iniquities rise up in terrific array before him. Doubtless it must have seemed to him as if he saw the spirit of the murdered Naboth standing before him; as if he heard from the graves of the massacred saints a thousandfold cry ascending to heaven for vengeance against him; as if the lightnings of God's fiery jealousy already flashed over his guilty head ; and as if he heard behind him the howling of the dogs of Jezreel panting for his blood. The feeling which overpowered him at the fiery sign on Carmel revives in all its liveliness, with a thousand horrors. He is now but too assuredly convinced that Jehovah is God, and that Elijah is his messenger. The poor powerless wretch feels as if he were already at the judgment-seat of the Almighty ; as if the thunder of the Divine rebuke was rolling over his head; as if the angels of justice were about to drag him to the place of torment. He forgets his crown and his purple, conscious that he is an enormous sinner, and is not ashamed to express
this consciousness before God and man. He descends into the dust, rends his clothes in token of the distress and wretchedness of his soul, puts on sackcloth, and falls down before the God of Elijah; appoints a fast, unconcerned whether it may please his heathen consort or not; even during the nights, his penitential exercises are continued ; he goes softly and sorrowfully for a time, like a real subject of penitential grief. Joy is mute in the palace, which was ordinarily so full of merriment; the pipe and the viol no longer resound through the glittering saloons; the royal residence is like a house of mourning and death; and the gloom of the king spreads itself like a black cloud over all his attendants.
This mourning of the king of Samaria was real as far as it went. The wretched outward dress in which he appeared was a true expression of his inward temper and state of mind. Still, much was wanting in his repentance to render it a repentance unto life and salvation. It was not a mourning like that of the woman that was a sinner, at the feet of Jesus, like that of the thief on the cross, or that of the poor publican. Ahab's repentance was utterly destitute of LOVE; and it is love which hallows all our acts and deeds, and gives them a real value.
Let us take occasion, from this conduct of Ahab, to learn what is a real and godly repentance. St. Paul describes it, when, in Gal. ii. 19, he says, “ For I through the law am dead to the law, that I might live unto God.” By the law to which he is dead, is to be understood here, the sum of the Divine demands on man, together with the threatenings and curses attached to it. Now, the apostle here tells us, not that he has escaped like a truant from this schoolmaster, or deserted the law like others; but that he is dead to it, lawfully delivered from it, even as a woman is no longer bound to her husband, but may contract a new marriage when her first marriage is terminated by the death of her husband. Every man, whether he knows it or not, is thus, by nature, bound to the covenant of the law. That is to say, if he obey the law perfectly, the law will reward him; if he disobey it, which he always does, he becomes liable to the penalty of its curse.
As soon then as the law vindicates its injured majesty in the conscience of any one, the bondage of that curse is felt. Consequently the terrified individual generally undertakes to satisfy the law in the way of obedience, by his own good works ; and he thinks he has ability sufficient for the purpose. But here he sets his feet upon a path, from which no one ever brought any thing back, but broken bones, a wounded heart, and a troubled conscience. Alas, what does he now experience! Instead of coming forth from the mire of sin, he daily sinks deeper into it; and instead of proceeding forwards, he hourly retrogrades. His best resolutions are rendered fruitless by his inability; and the mournful consciousness that he is a thousand times more corrupt than he had ever supposed, and the vexation, anger, trouble, and chagrin, which the law is wont to cause in every one who ventures to cope with it in his own strength--these are the only and the bitter fruit which he derives from his labour. What then is to be done? Perfect obedience can be thought of no more; he gives up the idea of it, and seeks to come to an agreement with the law in another manner. But how ? He tries to flee from the law-he turns deserter. Why,” thinks he, “ should I torment myself any longer upon a path where my
sincerest endeavours are perpetually defeated !” And with this desponding thought he returns to his former vain conve
versation, gives the reins to his flesh, and indulges freely the desires of his heart. But though he forsakes the law, the law does not forsake him. It pursues him, and disturbs him, from time to time, with its awful denunciations; for these are within him, and he cannot flee from them. What is he now to do? One