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certain our own condition is; and so to number our days, that we may seriously apply our hearts to that holy and heavenly wisdom, whilst we live here, which may in the end bring us to life everlasting, through the merits of Jesus Christ our Lord.”
WARNING SUPPLIED BY THE CONDUCT OF JEROBOAM,
AND OF THE PROPHET FROM JUDAH.
1 KINGS, XIII. 1.
AND, BEHOLD, THERE CAME A MAN OF GOD OUT OF JUDAH
BY THE WORD OF THE LORD UNTO
ROBOAM STOOD BY THE ALTAR TO BURN INCENSE.
We have now before us one of the most remarkable chapters in that portion of the sacred annals, which traces the progress of Jewish history under the regal government. It claims our notice from the singular, as well as interesting, nature of the circumstances which are detailed ; and it will reward our attention by the valuable, as well as awakening, lessons which it inculcates. Some parts of the narrative indeed present an appearance of difficulty; yet, throughout the whole, a striking display is made of Divine Providence, visibly superintending the concerns of a chosen people, and marking its own interposition by incontestable acts of supernatural power and of knowledge far beyond the reach of man.
For these reasons ; for the ample field of observation, which will be supplied for the confirmation of our faith and the regulation of our conduct; I
propose to make it the subject of this Discourse.
The events themselves, first, will naturally engage our attention ; next, the various reflections to which they give rise in every serious mind.
In the declining years of Solomon's life, he most unhappily turned aside from the allegiance, which he owed to that God, who had showered down such signal benefits upon himself and upon his father David. The infatuated monarch had allowed himself to be plunged into the corruptions of idolatry. Not only did he permit others to pay honours to such as were no gods, but himself joined in their abominable rites. The anger of the Lord was therefore kindled against him ; and even in his life-time it was authoritatively announced by a holy Prophet that the kingdom, which he and his father had so prosperously governed, should be divided in the reign of his son Rehoboam ; that ten of the twelve tribes should revolt and place themselves under the sway
of Jeroboam the son of Nebat; while two only, those of Judah and Benjamin, should adhere to the descendant of Solomon. The prediction was too surely verified. When Rehoboam succeeded to his father's throne, he foolishly listened to the counsel of young and thoughtless men; disregarding the sage remonstrances of those more experienced counsellors, in whom his father was wont to confide. Ten tribes revolted in consequence of his arbitrary and capricious threats of misrule; and Jeroboam, according to the prophecy, became king of Israel. He however, like too many princes of those times, and too many unthinking persons of private stations in our own, forgot the great and good Author of the manifold blessings which he enjoyed. He forgot the debt of gratitude that he owed for his elevation from an humble condition to the sovereignty over a great people. He thought only in what manner he might best preserve the power, which had thus been bestowed upon him.
him. Heedless of the fact, that He, who had made him king, could best maintain him on his throne, he thought of devising some worldly expedient, some political scheme, for ensuring the fidelity of his newly-acquired subjects. According to the directions of Moses, all the descendants of Israel were bound to go up and offer sacrifice at the one appointed place of national worship. The place, appointed at that time, was Jerusalem, the capital of that smaller portion of the Israelitish people, which adhered to Rehoboam. “ And Jeroboam said in his heart, Now shall the kingdom return to the house of David. If this people go up to do sacrifice in the house of the Lord at Jerusalem, then shall the heart of this people turn again unto their lord, even unto Rehoboam king of Judah, and they shall kill me, and go again to Rehoboam king of Judah. Whereupon the king took counsel, and made calves of gold, and said unto them, It is too much for you to go up to Jerusalem: behold thy gods, O Israel, which brought thee up out of the land of Egypt. And he set the one in Beth-el, and the other put he in Dan”; these being the extreme points of the kingdom of Israel on the south and on the north.
It is scarcely necessary to remind you, that this species of idolatrous worship was borrowed from that unhappy compliance of Aaron with the rebellious demands of the people, when Moses had been detained
so long in Mount Sinai. But it may be desirable to make the proper distinction between this offence, and that yet more revolting worship which was offered to Baalim, or to some of the numerous objects of polytheistic devotion. The calf set up in Horeb was professed to be in honour of their own God; of whom their gross and carnal minds desired to have a representation instead of the cloud, which had hitherto been with them under the ministration of Moses, as a visible emblem of Jehovah. But impatience caused an apprehension, that Moses would not again return; they therefore imagined that symbol, as it were, of the Divine presence would also cease to appear. That the intention was still to adhere to the worship of their own God, though under the idolatrous image, is evident from the thirty-second chapter of Exodus, fifth verse, “when Aaron saw it, he built an altar before it; and Aaron made proclamation, and said, To-morrow is a feast to the Lord”; i. e. in the original, to Jehovah.
Now, however specious might be the professed object in thus consecrating the image of an animal to the worship of the one true God, yet was there a positive prohibition against “any graven image, or any likeness of any thing that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth.” The great Searcher of hearts, who “understandeth the thoughts long before,” well knew what fatal hold any tendency to idolatry took upon the human heart; how surely it debased the
a See Dodd on Exod. xxxii. 1.
b Ps. cxxxix. 1. Prayer Book.