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Lord's house will be established on the top of the mountains, and all nations shall flow into it.
DISASTERS AND MISERABLE DEATH OF JEHORAM.
2 Chron. xxi.
For his sins, “ The Lord stirred up against Je. horam the spirit of the Philistines, and of the Arabians, that were near the Ethiopians. And they came up into Judah, and brake into it, and carried away all the substance that was found in the king's house, and his sons also, and his wives; so that there was never a son left him, save Jehoahaz, the youngest of his sons. And after all this the Lord smote him in his bowels with an incurable disease. And it came to pass, that in process of time, after the end of two years, his bowels fell out by reason of his sickness ; so he died of sore diseases.”
Can the wisdom of man show in what manner the Lord stirred up the Philistines and Arabians against Jehoram ? It was their own work; it was the work of God. In like manner God, in his Providence, in every age stirs up nations to punish those whom his purposes doom to ruin. Yet one son is preserved to the transgressor. Why? God remembered his covenant with David, and an inscrutable Providence preserved Jehoahaz. Even when the dogs of war are let loose, destruction is guided by the finger of Providence. Here, also, in the Providence of God towards this persecutor and en
courager of idolatry, we may learn to ascribe to Providence the singular diseases and deaths of tyrants and persecutors, which the pen of history records. An infidel philosophy, in its affected wisdom, refuses to see the hand of Providence in judg. ment. But the Christian ought not, from fear of ridicule, to hide his eyes against the works of Providence. If God smote Jehoram with an incurable and excruciating disease, why may he not, from time to time, manifest his Providence in punishing signal persecutors of his people? True science has no evidence on which it can lawfully deny or question this doctrine. Science, falsely so called, in its attempts to banish Providence from an immediate concern in the calamities of mankind, is influenced not by scientific evidence, but by enmity to God, and to his ways.
Nothing can be more consoling to the man of God, than the conviction that the Lord who made the world governs the world ; and that every event, great and small, prosperous and adverse, is under the absolute disposal of Him who doth all things well, and who regulates all things for the good of his people. The child had no fear of shipwreck when he knew that his father was at the helm. The Christian will be confident and courageous in duty, in proportion as he views God in his Providence as ruling in the midst of his enemies; and acting for the good of his people, as well as for his own glory, even in the persecution of the gospel.
WICKED PEOPLE-OPPRESSIVE RULERS.
It is an inestimable advantage to a nation to have the right of succession to the throne settled by laws with definite and indisputable precision. This prevents all that mischief which arises from dis. puted succession; and shuts up every avenue from designing men to excite disturbances on the death of a sovereign. An objection apparently strong presents itself to this doctrine. Rulers ought to be the wisest and most just of men. In succession by birth, it cannot be known whether the monarch may be a wise man or a fool, a righteous man or an oppressor of the people. All very true. But the people of the Lord have no reason to be disquieted on this account. Their God rules the world, and appoints the rulers in his Providence. It is an incalculable blessing to have wise and righteous rulers ; but, if it is otherwise, God designs it for his own inscrutable purposes. He never sends a tyrant or an oppressor, when a righteous and merciful ruler would serve the end he has in view for him. When wickedness greatly abounds, it may be necessary that Providence should grind the people by oppressive rulers; and even in countries where tyranny cannot exist, he can baffle the wisdom of statesmen, and increase the burdens of the people, through the very means which policy has devised to lighten them, or effect prosperity. The whole history of the kings of Judah and Israel shows that God sent oppressive rulers to a wicked people. The history of all nations manifests the same Pro. vidence. Christians who waste their time in speculations or attempts to bless a wicked world by a per. fect civil government are as foolish as the man who proposed to regulate the weather by machines constructed on the laws of electricity.
A WAY OF RETURN PROVIDENTIALLY OPENED TO
THE JEWS ON THE OVERTHROW OF THE BABYLONISH EMPIRE BY CYRUS.-Ezra i. l.
The Jews must return from Babylon at the end of seventy years. God has said it. Failure,--de. lay, is impossible. But how shall they be delivered ? If they could not defend themselves with all their resources in their own country, how shall they deliver themselves from captivity in the midst of a mighty empire ? God delivered them, it is true, from the bondage of Egypt; but it was by mighty signs and wonders. From Babylon he delivers them without a single miracle. His Provi. dence, by a long train of events, effected his purpose as fully as if all had been done by a display of power as manifest as that on Sinai.
What a wonderful train of preparation was put into operation to effect this purpose! The birth, genius, talents, education, and character of Cyrus, were all providentially adapted for the office that God assigned him in this business. Follow him through his wars, and be astonished at his enterprise and success. Reflect on the office which the God of Providence assigned hiin, and let your wonder terminate in more exalted views of the power and government of God. Empire was given to Cyrus because he was the anointed of the Lord to deliver his people out of Babylon.
But when Cyrus is in Babylon, what secures the deliverance of the Jews ? Had not the conqueror the same interest with the king of Babylon in keeping them in bondage? Was Cyrus a worshipper of the true God ? No, he was a heathen. What, then, inclines his heart to deliver the people of Jehovah? Was he now made a convert ? No, he continues a worshipper of his own gods. He dies a heathen. Why, then, does Cyrus, rather than the king of Babylon, deliver the people of God? Cyrus was the man appointed by the Lord, and the hour of fulfilment was now come. God has the hearts of all men in his hands, and he turns them as rivers of water. He makes his enemies, as easily as he does his friends, the instruments of effecting what he decrees. God put it into the heart of Cyrus to set the Jews free from captivity. This is clear from the book of Ezra. “ Now in the first year of Cyrus, king of Persia, that the word of the Lord by the mouth of Jeremiah might be fulfilled, the Lord stirred up the spirit of Cyrus, king of Persia, that he made a proclamation throughout all his kingdom, and put it also in writing, saying, Thus saith Cyrus, king of Persia, The Lord God of heaven hath given me all the kingdoms of the