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194 A PLEDGE OF BLESSINGS TO THE WORLD. [Serm. XI.
thee. Every church, every prayer, every season of the year is testifying of it and reminding thee of it. These are visible things, established upon earth, powerless in themselves; but signs of a Kingdom of Heaven; signs of a power which can transform thee and transform the world. When thou yieldest thyself to its transforming energy, thou wilt not bear to see the earth lying crushed under the weight of its sins and oppressions. Thou wilt believe in thy heart and declare with thy lips that in Mount Zion and in Jerusalem, in the Church which God has set up, in the people who believe in His love, there is a prophecy of deliverance for the universe.'
THE UNFAITHFUL WIFE.
LINCOLN's Inn, 1st SUNDAY IN LENT.—FEB. 29, 1852.
HOSEA, II. 8. For she did not know that I gave her corn, and wine, and
oil, and multiplied her silver and gold which they prepared for Baal.
THE history of the ten tribes after the death of Jeroboam II., explains and confirms the terrible warnings of Amos. “Zechariah, the son of Jeroboam, reigned over Israel for six months. And Shallum the son of Joash conspired against him and smote him before the people and slew him, and reigned in his stead. Shallum reigned a full month in Samaria, for Menahem the son of Gadi went up from Tirzah and came to Samaria and reigned in his stead.” This reign lasted ten years. It is very memorable in the history, for in the course of it, Pul the king of Assyria came against the land. “And Menahem gave Pul a thousand talents of silver that his hand might be with him to confirm the kingdom in his hand. And he exacted the money of Israel, even of all the mighty men of wealth, of each man fifty shekels of silver, to give to the king of Assyria. So that he turned back, and stayed not there in the land.”—2 Kings, c. xv. Thus
the first appearance of this great empire in connexion with the Palestine people, is a sure witness of all that is to follow. The king becomes at once the tributary; he trusts to Assyria to keep him on the throne ; he incurs the hatred of his most powerful subjects to obtain this protection. His son reigns for two years, " Then Pekah the son of Remaliah a captain of his, smote him in Samaria in the palace of the king's house with fifty men of the Gileadites, and he killed him and reigned in his room.” Possibly the Assyrian tendencies of Menahem and his son were the cause of this insurrection ; Pekah may have been the head of a national or of an Egyptian party. He had certainly ambitious projects, for he conspired with Rezin the king of Syria against Jerusalem and its king with the deliberate purpose of overthrowing the house of David.
The kings of that house after Joash, viz., Amaziah, Uzziah, and Jotham, are all spoken of with respect; "they did that which was right in the sight of the Lord,” but Amaziah vain-gloriously “defied the king of Israel to look him in the face, and Judah was put to the worst before Israel, and Jehoash took Amaziah king of Judah, and came to Jerusalem, and brake down the wall of Jerusalem, and took all the gold and silver, and all the vessels that were found in the House of the Lord, and the treasures of the king's house, and hostages, and returned to Samaria." This was the greatest humiliation which Judah had suffered, just at a time when it probably hoped to conquer the tribes that inflicted it. In Amaziah's reign and in that of his son and grandson we are told that the high-places were not taken away, that the people did sacrifice and burnt incense in them. There must have been therefore a continual growth of superstition and idolatrous worship during the period be
fore the reign of Ahaz. All the open and latent corruptions and unbelief of the people, embodied themselves in this king. His predecessors had not tried to extirpate the evil, though they were personally pure from it. “He walked in the way of the kings of Israel, yea and made his son to pass through the fire, according to the abominations of the heathen whom the Lord cast out before the children of Israel. And he sacrificed and burnt incense on the high places and on the hills, and under every green tree.” One can understand how such a man would feel and act when he heard that two neighbouring kings were conspiring against him. The heart of him and of his people, we are told, was moved by the news of it, as the trees are moved by the wind. He could think only of the immediate danger, and how to avert that." So he sent messengers to Tiglath Pileser king of Assyria, saying, 'I am thy servant and thy son. Come up and save me out of the hand of the king of Syria and out of the hand of the king of Israel which rise up against me. And the king of Assyria hearkened unto him; for he went up against Damascus and took it, and carried the people of it captive to Kir, and slew Rezin.'—2 Kings, c. xvi., v. 7. We are told before, c. XV., v. 29, that “he took Ijon, and Kedesh, and Hazor, and Gilead, and Galilee, all the land of Napthali, and carried them captive to Assyria.”
By far the most profound commentary upon these records, as they bear upon Judah, upon Israel, upon the surrounding nations, upon the Asiatic Monarchies, upon the future condition of God's kingdom and of mankind, is to be found in the prophecies of Isaiah, which I propose hereafter to consider. But there is an earlier prophet who is the proper preparation for Isaiah ; a prophet from whom one learns 198 HOSEA BORN IN THE NORTH. [Serm. more perhaps than from any other, the intensely individual and intensely national character of that work to which prophets were called; the actual meaning of the divine covenant; the state and the sins of a people living under one; the reason and method of the divine punishments; the ground upon which a seer, crushed under the sense of his nation's sins, could hope for its restoration.
Those who have studied the words of Hosea the son of Beeri most carefully, are convinced that the greater part of his life must have been passed in the kingdom of Israel. He speaks, they say, of its hills and valleys, of its villages and fenced cities, in a way which shews that he had been brought up among them; that they had worked themselves into his heart, as only that scenery can, which is dear from the associations of childhood and home. He dwells upon the special corruptions of the ten tribes, of their kings and priests, like one who was in direct contact with them; who knew what was going on in the land, and had looked into the inmost heart of it. On the other hand it is observed that when he turns to Judah he exhibits the sympathy and affection of a child of Abraham; but still of a comparative stranger. He has at first well-grounded hopes of it, such as he could not cherish for his own soil ; but as time advances, and his knowledge becomes greater, these hopes are united with the saddest forebodings. One sister he finds is scarcely less treacherous than the other, nay, the treachery of Judah if less flagrant seems to him more deep; there is a falsehood in both which terrible fires must burn out. These remarks are of great use, because they show how real the diction of every true prophet is; how directly it is drawn from actual nature : how much of what we call oriental extravagance and hyperbole is supplied by our