« הקודםהמשך »
He has, indeed, commanded us to love all | laid down in the Scriptures, or one that is men, without distinction, because they are oftener repeated and enforced, and by a partakers of the same nature, and have the great variety of motives. “ To do good and same wants and desires, and are expectants to communicate forget not, for with such of the same immortality. He has com- sacrifices the Lord is well pleased.” The manded his disciples to follow peace with strong should help the weak : those who all men, so far as it is possible to be cour- have power and influence should be ready teous and kind in their intercourse with to protect those who want it, and are ex. the world—and to make sacrifices to main-posed to injuries and insults, and should tain good neighbourhood and fellowship. come forward to defend them against their But, in particular, he has laid an injunction oppressors. And the wise should help the upon them to love one another; and they simple: they who have more knowledge ought to love one another, not as men, but and experience should be ready to come as Christians-as persons redeemed with forward, and to direct them in their conthe same blood-as heirs of the same hea- duct. Christians should pray for one anvenly inheritance, and possessed of the other. You will observe that, when our same spirit. And this love is to be shown Lord taught his disciples to pray, he did in a great variety of ways. Christians not direct each man to say, My Father ought to bear with one another's infirmi- who art in heaven, give me my daily bread, ties : nothing can be more unreasonable or but to say, Our Father who art in heaven, absurd than to expect perfect conduct from give us our daily bread: teaching us that our brethren of mankind. We are not to while we pray for ourselves, we should overlook the forlorn of our fellow-men- pray also for our brethren, and in comwe are even called upon to take notice of mon to our God and our Father; and our them, and, in the spirit of meekness, to prayers for one another should ascend beaddress them, in the hope of promoting fore his throne night and morning, in their spiritual improvement. We ought morning and evening sacrifice. It was to bear with them; and we are not to foretold that “the wolf shall dwell with separate from them, to treat them with the lamb, and the leopard shall lie down harshness, to dismiss them from our affec-with the kid, and the calf, and the young tions and cares : we should remember lion, and the fatling together; and a little that we too are imperfect, and that the child shall lead them.” This is a predicallowances we grant to them, it is neces- tion of the happy change which the Gos sary that they should grant in return to us. i pel would produce on the tempers of men ; We are commanded to bear one another's and, in as far as they are partakers of the burdens; and Christians ought to help one grace of God, this change is produced; but another in spiritual and in temporal things, men are still imperfect creatures, and give according to their ability and circumstances. too many instances of unsanctified disposi
They ought to help one another in spiritual tions. Let us, then, cultivate brotherly things, by meeting together, as they have love, and let us lay aside all wrath and opportunity, speaking of the things of God, malice, and let us labour usefully, and be and joining together in the exercises of kind to one another, forbearing one andevotion. They ought to lend their use other, and forgiving one another, even as ful counsel to each other, for the direction God, for Christ's sake, hath forgiven us. of their conduct and the correction of The reverend Doctor then concluded their faults. In temporal things the rich his address, by reading that beautiful should help the poor : out of their abun- description of charity, or love, which is dance they should supply the wants of the contained in 1 Corinthians, chapter xüii. iudigent. There is no duty more expressly !
Glasgow :-w. R. MPHUN, PUBLISHER, 86, TRONGATE,
To whom all Communications should be addressed.
EPWAND KUULL, PRIXTYL TO THE UNIVERSITY.
* The man of God who was disobedient unto the word of the Lord.”—1 Kings xiii. 26.
The true history of man presents us a time, yet, on the first cause for discopwith sad and humiliating proofs of his tent, the smothered flame burst forth, and weakness. The glowing but deceitful the ten tribes established themselves as a pages of a laudatory biography may repre- separate kingdom, under the government sent the matter differently ; but when of the leader of the revolt, Jeroboam the we come to look at facts around us, or son of Nebat. when we have the advantage of consider- This, however, was not the only evil. ing facts and motives as they stand That which is begun ill generally ends recorded in the sure pages of inspiration, worse. It is dangerous to act in any degree, then the truth appears with all its humi- however small, against the will of God; liating force. We read in the true history for, too frequently the man who has been of others the proof and the condemnation guilty of an act of disobedience is tempted of our own weakness, vacillation, and to commit another to maintain his position. inconsistency.
After Jeroboam had established his kingAmong the many interesting narratives dom and built bis capital city, he saw which the sacred Scriptures present to us, that the true worship of God, which had few read us a more solemn lesson than its appointed centre in Jerusalem, was that from which the text is taken, and likely to have a healing influence on this which sets before us the conduct of him unseemly and unnatural schism ; and the whom we know by no other name than ready evil of his ambitious heart suggested the disobedient prophet. His melancholy to him the plan of inventing and adoptfate, recorded in the Word of truth, like a ing a different mode of worship. He took beacon-light upon a dangerous coast, warns counsel on the occasion of whom we are us of the evils of inconsistency. It is my not told-but it was wicked, accursed purpose, therefore, at the present time, to counsel ; and baving made two golden direct your attention to it, with a view to calves, he set these idols in two places of our practical benefit.
bis dominion, in Dan and in Bethel, and We will consider, Ist, The facts of the said, “ Behold thy gods, O Israel, which case ; 2dly, An important question arising brought thee up out of the land of Egypt." out of them; and 3dly, "The practical This was the great sin of Israel, and of reflections suggested by the whole subject. her king. It was the sin of national
1. The facts of the case. At the time apostasy. The writer of the sacred book when this event occurred, a schism had says, " And this thing became a sin," and taken place in the kingdom of Israel. the evil clung especially to the name and After Solomon's death, the conduct of his memory of the ruler of it, for he is always son Rehoboam had irritated the people, and called on account of it, with melancholy ten tribes out of the twelve had revolted propriety of distinction, “Jeroboam the from him. Some symptoms of this sepa- son of Nebat, who made Israel to sin.” ration had appeared in the days of David ; Now, it was in the awful crisis, when and though the wisdom of Solomon and Jeroboam, as the usurping sovereign of the his prosperous reign had prevented it for revolted people of God, was leading their
VOL. II.-No. 47.
impious worship, when he was offering of men. But such being the commission sacrifice to the calves that he had made, of this prophet, observe, in the next and stood by the altar to barn incense, place, that the subject of this narrative appears The restrictions by whicli it was accomfirst upon the scene.
panied. It appears by verse 9, that it Observe the solemnity of his office. was charged upon him by the same divine He came as a sacred messenger of the true authority wbich sent him to prophesy by and the living God, the insulted Jehovah, the Word of the Lord. “Eat no bread to testify against this grievous and abomi- nor drink water, nor turn again by the nable profanation. “Behold,” it is said, same way that thou camest.” This re“there came a man of God out of Judah, striction was most probably twofold in its by the word of the Lord, and cried against object : it regarded the honour of God, the altar in the word of the Lord.” There and the safety of his messenger. is something exceedingly solemn in this It regarded the honour of God. He came duty. Ere the act of apostasy can be to bear an unexpected and unqualified completed, the word of the Lord summons testimony against the new idolatry, against a man of God from that only remaining an impiety which had defiled all Israel, portion of the people that adhered to the and which had especially dishonoured and true faith, and brought him forth from polluted the city in which it was estaJudah, to stand before the idolatrous altar, blished ; for as Jerusalem was especially and to protest against their unwarranted, holy, where the true God was worshipped unmeaning, and impious sacrifices. In according to his will, so was Bethel pecuthe midst of all their pomp and show, he liarly desecrated when that worship was stood forth boldly in the cause of truth, in mimicked and profaned. It became necesthe name of Jehovah, and delivered his sary, therefore, that the messenger of God, message, which foretold the destruction who should go to Bethel on a divine of that worship, and the fulfilment of that errand, should go there in the strength of very event which Jeroboain had loped by Him who sent him, and not defile himself this idolatry to prevent. “A child shall by partaking, in the smallest degree, of the be born unto the house of David, Josiah hospitality of that polluted city. This by name : and upon thee shall he offer the total separation from the people, and his priests of the high places that burn incense refusal of the ordinary sustenance of life upon thee, and men's bones shall be burnt from their hands, was a part of his testiupon thee.”
mony. This was an extraordinary and And the power of the Almighty was extreme case ; but it points out the duty, with this man, constituting him a true in a subordinate degree, of all those who are prophet by revelation from himself, and called even now to testify, by the light of confirming his word by signs following ; sacred Scripture, against the sin, unrightfor, according to his word, the altar was eousness, and profanity of their own genierent in the midst, and the ashes poured ration. If a man that is called a brother out ; and when Jeroboam, irritated at this walk disorderly, we are to withdraw from testimony from heaven against him, put him, we are not to keep company with forth his hand to do him mischief, it dried him—10, not so much as to eat; and cerup so that he could not pull it in again ; | tainly, therefore, if the great body of the and we are told, that it was only when people, forgetful of God and of the holy this man of God besought the Lord, that practices required by the divine Word, the king's hand was restored to him again, devote themselves to this world excluand became as it was before. Here, then, sively, and its vanities, even though a was a man employed in a most sacred and specious argument may make out respectinportant duty : delegated by divine com- ing many of them that they have in them mand, and sanctioned by divine power, no more sin abstractedly than eating broad he was singled out to testify against the and drinking water ; yet, it behooves the national apostasy of Israel, and to pro- Christian to withdraw from them, as nounce the fall of that false worship which badges of a worldly mind and of a dangerJeroboam had set up. It is a most respon- ous state ; and by a steady and constant sible situation to testify thus against the abstinence to testify against them. sins of other men, to stand with intelli- But this injunction had in view also gence, and with sincerity, on the Lord's the prophet's safety. Sin, even the sin side, and to declare his will to the children of idolatry, foolish as it is, is catching.' Witness the poisonous influence of Rome, directly, seemed impracticable. It is and its wretched buffooneries, upon the lamentable how far men will go in order idle English mind. The prophet must not to obtain the sanction of apparently good share in the hospitality of Bethel, lest he men to their own questionable courses. be seduced by the example of the many | This prophet had dwelt at Bethel, and to share with them in their sin ; nor must had not regarded the sin of the worship he return by the same that he came, lest established there with sufficient detestaa snare should be laid for him in the way tion, or he would have left the place by the idolaters whom he had offended. himself, and would neither have eaten bread He came unexpectedly and unknown, and nor drunk water where Jehovah was so therefore he travelled safely; but the palpably dishonoured. But dwelling there, openness and the awfulness of his message assimilated to the habits of the people, had made bim a public character ; and there the delicate tact of conscience injured, and is no character the object of a more bitter the course of unconscientiousness and of hatred than he who publicly impugns the vice begun, he was prepared now, with the inoral and religious habits of a people, vain purpose of obtaining the seeming and protests against them, even in their sanction of a man of God, to dissemble, and holy things. It was probable therefore to profess that he also had received a that the vengeance of the king or of the divine intimation on this point. “He said people might overtake him in his return. unto him, I also am a prophet as thou He must go back another way.
art ; and an angel spake unto me by the Notice, in the next place, hie disobedi word of the Lord, saying, Bring him back ence, From whatever cause, il strict and to thy house that he may eat bread and intelligible prohibitory command had been drink water; but he lied unto him." given to him. This was likewise distinetly Now, it might be argued, that in this admitted by him-" It was said to me statement the man from Judah had thus by the word of the Lord, Eat no bread obtained a direct affirmation of the fact of nor drink water there.” This was a revelation, altering the injunction presufficiently plain to have exacted an un- viously given to him; and that, as he hesitating obedience; the dignity and could not discern between revelation and awfulness of the message should have revelation, therefore he was blameless in given resistless weight to all the accoin- returning. But this will not justify him. panying injunctions, and the man should | The crisis in which he was placed might not have felt himself at liberty to depart be a trying and a difficult one ; but then from his instructions, till the restriction it is our duty to be diligent and accurate under which he came was openly taken in ascertaining truth, just in proportion to off by the same authority by which it was the difficulty of the circumstances. And, imposed. Seeing that the command of unquestionably, there were, in the circumGod has said, “Thou shalt not covet," we stances of this case, features which should ean never regard that or any other distinct have led him to a very different decision. command, such as the keeping of the On the one hand, he had a distinct revelaSabbath, to be abrogated, till we are told tion, made to himself by the word of the by the same divine authority, in some Lord. On the other, the prophet who equally plain and conclusive way, that the came to him could only make a human command ceases, and that covetousness, communication ; and, at the best, he only or Sabbath-breaking is allowable and professed to have been spoken to by an acceptable before the living God. The angel. But, farther than this, who was command of the word of the Lord, even this prophet? He was a man resident in in a subordinate matter, was in full force Bethel, the seat of idolatry-living and with him till it was rescinded by a similar associating in the very town in which it communication.
was declared by God, that he was not to It appears, however, that when this man eat bread or to drink a drop of water, so refused to accept of the king's hospitality, completely had its toleration of this iniquity a prophet who dwelt in Bethel, hoping to laid it under the divine displeasure. if succeed better, followed him ; and when this was the case, and God had sent a he heard the ground of his objection, messenger expressly out of Judah to testify endeavoured to obtain by falsehood that against it, was it likely that he would send, compliance which, when sought more by one of the residents of that town--one of the tacit abettors of the mischief-one that seems a more fearful account of him who, as a prophet, was more especially than if he had been a less marked anu called to have protested, and to have come prominent character ; for there is nothing out from among them-was it likely that, more melancholy than “ an evil heart of
message should have been communicated ? God ;” for “it were better not to have Was not such a message just so far sus- known the way of righteousness, than, picious, as it came by such a messenger ? after they have known it, to turn from We must never, under any circumstances, the holy commandment delivered to them.” take the reasons advanced by rebellious It is true that he began well he went and irreligous worldly men, as the justifi-forth boldly to the resolute performance cation of their doings. They may be very of a difficult duty, and he performed it at plausible and specious, but rest assured the risk of his life. But trials are of that they are unsound. A little calm different kinds, according to the confor. deliberation would have shown this man mation of the mind and while the terrors of God, that he could not be justified for of the monarch might for him have no a moment in deviating from his course. alarm, the amenities of social intercourse He was “ disobedient unto the word of might have many; and he who would be the Lord.” He allowed himself to be led on his guard against the threatening that astray by reasons which ought not to have called on him for a direct and open unhad weight with him. The light that was faithfulness, might be mortally wounded in him would have kept him, but he was amidst the comforts of hospitable indulunwilling to be restricted by its power, gence and the kindness and the flattery of and he was guilty of disobedience-he friends. Evidently, whatever this man went back.
might think of it, Bethel was no place for And then, lastly, notice the consequence him. It was well, indeed, that he was not of this disobedience. After he had eaten permitted to sojourn in it, or, with all his and drank, he departed. And when he boldness, he might have become a worwas gone a lion met him by the way, and shipper of the abominations of Jeroboam. slew him. The event was marked by But again, it may be said, the words of peculiar circumstances. The lion remained the text are only the opinion of the case by the carcass without touching it ; so formed by the old prophet of Bethel. But marking it especially as an event in which we have more than this ; for the word of the hand of the Lord was manifest—as the Lord came to his host in Bethel, before the prophet of Bethel said, “It is the man they separated ; and, under the guidance of God, that was disobedient unto the of divine inspiration, he then charged him word of the Lord, therefore the Lord hath with having disobeyed the mouth of the delivered him unto the lion, which hath Lord, and with not having kept the comtorn him and slain him, according to the mandment which the Lord had commanded word of the Lord.” These are the leading him. And, in fact, the awful termination facts of the case. In the second place, of the man's life appears to speak very
2. There is an important question arising strongly the Lord's displeasure. He went out of them, and that is, the question as out on a message from God-he went on to the religious sincerity of the individual. prosperously through the greater part of Was this man a truly pious and sincere bis course ; but he disobeyed, and, in the servant of the living God? And this is a midst of his journey, his life was cut short very difficult point to determine. Cer- in anger, for an act of wilful disobedience. tainly he was called out and sent forth at How, then, are we to decide the question a very critical time, and on a very difficult as to his religious state? We cannot duty-a duty in which the honour and decide it. We can only remain in doubt. glory of God were immediately concerned. It is just possible that, in the main, the But this is no absolute proof of his sincerity; man's heart might be right with God, and for Judas was called to the apostleship, that his disobedience, in this particular and preached the Word, and sustained it instance, went only so far as to bring a by the working of miracles. Certainly corporal judgment and a premature death he is called “the man of God,” but then upon him. Still it is an awful fact, that it is, “the man of God who was diso- he died suddenly in disobedience died bedient to the word of the Lord;" and I under circumstances strongly indicative