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consistent with that vision of utter ruin which rose up a moment ago before us? Brethren, we shall not know the heart of the Jewish prophet—we shall not know our owntill we learn to see not only how these things are compatible, but why they are inseparable. Amos would not have left his sheepfolds to denounce the idolatries of Israel if he had not felt that men, that his own countrymen, were maintaining a fearful fight against a Will which had a right to govern them, and which could alone govern them for their good. He could not have been sustained in the witness which he bore if an ever brightening revelation of the Perfect Goodness,—of that Goodness, active, energetic, converting all powers and influences to its own righteous and gracious purposes,-had not accompanied revelations that became every moment more awful of the selfishness and disorder to which men were yielding themselves. From the observation of this strife, as history and experience present it to the mind of a man, earnestly loving his fellowcreatures, there come forth only the most fearful and despairing auguries. It is precisely because he has not only experience and history to guide him but the certainty of an Eternal God, present in all the convulsions of society, never ceasing to act upon the individual heart when it is most wrapped in the folds of its pride and selfishness; it is precisely because he finds this to be true whatever else is false, that he must hope. And oftentimes when his hope for himself is well nigh gone, it is renewed as he thinks of what God has done for his race, and is doing for it. This is no solitary experience of a single herdsman or prophet. Through the whole Epistle to the Romans St. Paul had been tracing out the sin of his countrymen; their rejection of the perfect Deliverer for themselves, their
refusal of Him to the Heathens; their desire to wrap themselves in a righteousness which would prove itself to be the very contrary of God's righteousness. He had seen and declared that the fruit of these sins would be the utter excision of his kinsmen after the flesh from God's covenant. And yet he winds up all he has been saying in these words. “For God hath concluded all in unbelief that he might have mercy upon all. Oh the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God. How unsearchable are His judgments and His ways past finding out. For who hath known the mind of the Lord and who hath been His counsellor? For of Him and through Him and to Him are all things. To whom be glory for ever. Amen."
SERMON X I.
THE VALLEY OF DECISION.
LINCOLN'S INN, QUINQUAGESIMA SUNDAY.-FEB. 22, 1852.
JOEL, II. 32. " In Mount Zion and in Jerusalem shall be deliverance, as
the Lord hath said, and in the remnant whom the Lord shall call."
JOEL is probably an earlier prophet than Amos: I spoke of the latter first, because his message related to the revolted kingdom of Israel and threw great light upon the history of it. Joel is strictly a prophet of Judah. He does not merely belong to the south as Amos did; his words touch less upon the peculiar sins of the northern tribes than those of any other of the prophets previous to the Assyrian captivity. His book therefore recals us to Mount Zion and to Jerusalem.
The broad and obvious distinction between the history of the two tribes and that of the ten, is that the hereditary succession which was so continually violated in the one, is rigidly preserved in the other. Abijam succeeds Rehoboam; Asa Abijam, Jehoshaphat Asa. Jehoram, the son of Jehoshaphat, becomes connected with the house of Ahab. His son, Ahaziah, is destroyed with the rest of that house
XI.] ORDERLY CONDITION OF THE TWO TRIBES. 177 by Jehu. A usurpation by the queen-mother for six years follows; the child Joash, the son of Ahaziah, is preserved and becomes king. Amaziah, Uzziah, Jotham and Ahaz succeed each other in strict order, though Joash and Amaziah both died by conspiracy, and Ahaziah became a leper.
If the regularity of royal succession is a point of difference, the regularity of the priestly succession and of the divine services is quite as remarkable a one. The feasts might be sometimes intermitted; the rights of the year of jubilee violated. But the temple which Solomon had dedicated was continually in sight of the people. The daily sacrifices went on there; it was the perpetual resort of seers who desired to know the innermost meaning of the covenant; to acquaint themselves with Him who had promised to fill the house with His presence.
An inference might be drawn from this outward regularity as to the inward state of the people which would lead us astray. We are told that in the days of Rehoboam “ Judah did evil in the sight of the Lord above all that their fathers had done, for they built them high places and images and groves on every high hill and under every green tree. And they did according to all the abominations of the nations which the Lord cast out before the children of Israel.” Punishment followed directly upon their sins. “ Shishak, the king of Egypt, to whom Jeroboam had fled, came up against Jerusalem, and took away the treasures of the house of the Lord and the treasures of the king's house; he even took away all.” Still “ Abijam walked in the sins of his father which he had done before him.” Asa is a reformer; he removes all the idols which his father had made, puts his mother away from being queen, because
she had made an idol in a grove, burns the idol and casts it into the brook Kidron. During these reigns the ten tribes are in continual war with the two: in Asa's time we even hear of a strange league between Judah and Syria to oppose Baasha, king of Israel, who had built Ramah that he might not suffer any to go out or come in to the king of Judah. All this is changed in the time of Jehoshaphat. He makes peace with Ahab and goes down with him against the Syrians to Ramoth Gilead. Jehoshaphat seems to have made Solomon his model. We are told that he built ships at Tarshish to go to Ophir for gold. He might hope to restore union to the tribes if he could not bring them again under his yoke. In spite of his connexion with the idolatrous house we are taught that he did that which was right in the sight of the Lord. In the book of Chronicles he is stated “to have set judges in all the land, throughout all the fenced cities, city by city, and to have said to them, "Take heed what ye do, for ye judge not for man, but for the Lord, and he is with you in the judgment.'” In the same record is a description of a great battle of his with the children of Moab and the children of Ammon and of others beside, and how they were smitten before a small host which trusted in the Lord. But the intermarriages with the house of Ahab led to two ignominious and idolatrous reigns, to the destruction of Jehosaphat's grandson, and the tyranny of Athaliah. She first seems to have established the Baal worship in Jerusalem. It was Jehoiada the priest who delivered the land from that worship and from her, and who restored and educated Joash.
Some writers assign the prophecy of Joel to the time of Joash. There is no sufficient evidence for that date ex