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His conduct and character.' The government of the universe is evidentry directed by the same Almighty hand^ and is under the guidance of thje same perfect wisdom, which gave existence to and formed the im-* mwasity of spacer wherein he has placed the innumerable masses of separate worlds with which he has dignified his power and magnified the glory of his majesty,- and which he has made to perform their various and constant evolutions, separately, but in unison, on die great theatre where he exhibits those wonderful works which display so much of his infinite might, grandeur, and indescribable greatness. When such evidences of his infinite splendour and excellence are presented to the creatures of finite capacity, inhabiting this earthly globe,^ what conception can we form of the magnificence of his own peculiar residence I Yet though these struc* 8c2 .
388 JEHU A OI TED KI G. tures are brought into being by and at bis pleasure, balanced and put in motion at his command, supported by the word of his power, and checked and controlled by the breath of his nostrils, he demonstrates to all his rational creatures, that every portion of his handy-work is cared for by him, even every particle of the dust of this globe and blade of its grass, and he reasons upon that very ground with man, his earthly favourite, as furnishing an incontestible evidence that much more must be his attachment to and affection for him, as & rational being, proving that his Providence extends universally over all that he has made, and, consequently, that what he has endued with immortality and reason, he makes res-
ponsible for every movement and operation of his intellectual faculties as well as bodily action, for which purpose he has afforded him all necessary information, with laws adapted to his state and his relationship witli the Creator, as the common Father of his creation. As a Spirit, the Creator is continually in action, and he proves, by the whole of his works, that he has i])fused into all, a portion of active principle, suited to their respective purposes ; but man, as an immortal in spirit, he has fitted with the necessary powers and instructions, either to become a member of tlie family of heaven, or that of the evil ^irit which deceived and betrayed him into a breach of his allegiance, according as the tenor of his conduct in this life m&y be conformed or in opposition to the divine precepts revealed to, and set before him in the oracles of grace. According to this principle, man, as a rational and an immortal being, is mode answerable for the manner in which he disposes of that portion of time which his heavenly Father assigns to him in this his state of probation, in working out hb reconcilidtion with his offended God, and rendering to him that filial reverence and gratitude which he owes to the author of his ezis*
JEHU A OI TED KI G* 389 tence, and the glory and obedience to which he has an indisputaUe daim, or squanders it in the luats of his carnal afiFections, and in the service of the destroyer of his peace. In this respect, man is not left to wander in ignorance, for God has directed him by special revelation, both as to his conduct and the consequences which must necessarily result from itp though he has generally chosen to disregard these divine instructions, and to follow the course of his own wilful and con«ceited imaginations. In all his ways, and in the execution of his orders and go** venmient, the Deity appears in great state, dignity, and majesty, and is attended with myriads of spirits of various dis-
tinctions, ranks, and degrees, corresponding to the magnificence with which he makes himself known to his intelligent creatures. His throne is approached with the most humble reverence, yet not with dread, but filial affection — awe, not fear — ^respect, not terror — ^and love, not apprehension. Gratitude and sensibility of his goodness, impress the servants and attendants of his court and presence. He evidently executes the acts of his government by means of instrumentality, but yet it is obvious, that he who creates at his pleasure, needs neither servant nor instrument, or creature of his own forming; but the beings of immortality receive their exis* tence for the very purpose of activity and employment, in the service of their divine master. In enjoying his presence and performing his orders, consist their own happiness and felicity, and, by the same means, he tries their fidelity and gratitude. The corporeal state of man, originally, removed him vastly from the bliss of those spirits whp are the immediate servants of heaven, whose constitution knows no wearisomeness or fatigue, nor feels inclination to rest in sleep or in slothiulness, but incessantly participate of the Creator's happiness, in attending upon and obeying his commands;
390 JEHU A 9I TED KI G. and muck more is tbe creature of the dust now removed, since his fall, by the fatal consequences which aj>e annexed lo his corrupted faculties. Yet, though mankind in general cofttinQes in his n^bellioif and opposition to the service of God, as do the revolted spirits who are banished from the celestial mansions, neither are suffered to do as they list^ or to become unserviceable to htm^ notwithstaaiding they have withdrawn from him their fiddity and voluntary duties, but are made his direct instruments in the affiurs and prosecution of his government, though their actions are corrupted and ever evil disposed, and brought forward of their own motive, in which they unknowii^ly and unwittingly execute his pleasure, by his turning to lus own purposes the
deeds of their perverse inclinations, thdr innate dispositions being directed to every act of wickedness, cruelty, ambition, and mischief. The Scriptures give abundance of proo6 of the evil spirits, by sufferance, promoting, when they suppose they are only forwarding their own purposes in their deeds of inherent guiltiness, the designs of Providence^ which, in many cases, add to their own curse and misery, as is demonstrated, among other instances, in their instigating Judas and the priests and rulers of his nation, to cut off our Saviour. In like manner, man, in acting for and studying only his own intended interest and evil designs, is, in reality, frequeody made the instrument of advancing the cause of religion and the honour and glory of the Deity, who converts his ctU purposes to the ultimate good of society, and makes them conduce to the welfeire of his servants and prosperity of his people, as well as te the correction and punishment of their enemies and persecutors. The Almighty, as the Scriptures show, has ofiten commissioned man, as well as devil, specially to execute vengeance oipon sinners and the reprobate of human kind ; but when
JEHU A OI TED KI G. 391 sum is so employed, it is^no eyidence that such instrument is one .whit better than die immediate object of wrath ; and accordingly we find, that the evil doer of mankind is and has been made, from the period of the fall, the instrument of correotioa of his species, either by sufferance or direct command, and indeed the wicked are best fitted for snch inflictions, as such acts are more consonant to the characteristic qualities of their hearts, than those of the disciples of humanity and holiness, though occasionally the latter have had also special missions for such purposes, as we observe in the divine orders to Moses and Joshua, but then this was for a very particular desi^, and lypical in its execution and accomplishment, of a much higher and more glorious event Accordingly, we discover that Jehu, the sufagect of our present
Esftiy, was brought forward firom a private ci^acity into a very conspicuous point of view, upon the public stage of life, and in a character which we have heard not a little extolled, as being, in point of pious principle as well as execution of the divine commands, an eminently pious servant of the Deity, an enemy of idolatry and infidel!^, zealously disposed to put down and root out the promoters and votaries of false worship, and ardently animated, as from principle, to restore and set up the religion, and support the interests of the true God Ahab, the idcdatrous and reprobate king of Israel, and his profligately wicked and heathen wife, Jezebel, are personages much noticed in Scripture, fi>r their atrocious murders, profimity of conduct, and persecuting spirit toward the wcnrshqppers of God* Elijah,* the prophet, had denounced the severest vengeance of heaven against both, and Ahab had jdready undergone its efiect. Jezebel yet survived, and their •1 KiogiZiiL ss.
392 JEHU A OI TED KI G. son Joram was oo the throne, who, as might be expected, had been bred up in a notoriously idolatrous court, under his mother's influence, and having followed their footsteps, filled np the iniquity of that house, which involved in the denunciation against it, man, woman, and child* Jehu, a man of singular rapidity, Resolution, and dispatch in aU his movements, and in the execution of orders, was already &dkmi8 for expedition and quickness of determination. He was a military officer in the king's service,, and s fit instrament for the enterprise of revolutionizing and seizing the government^ and perpetrating the bloody scenes which attended it. The Omniscient when determined on vengeance, generally reserves for such characters the execution of his purposes, as supreme Lord and sovereign Ruler of his creation.
By the divine directions^ Jehu' was anointed privately,* by one of the prophets, while his master was absent at Jezreel, where Ahaziah, king of Jodah, who had married into the fimiily, was with him on a visit Jehu had special directions for the destruction of Ahab's house, and if obedience akme^ without consideration of motive, was to secure the divine &• vour, he would have stood as high in pre-eminence for piety and religious virtue, as he certainly does for the part he performed, actuated by a prmciple completely foreign to a spirit of reverence for the honour of the divine Majesty. As the instrument of vengeance, he was faithful, most zealously so, but the principle of action most obviously was not thte avenge ing of, and the restoradon of the true worship, but for promoting his own personal aggrandizement and views of ambi«> tion. This was what spurred him on to execute the divine order, which, widiout the loss of a moment, he did, ao that in the course of a few days, the kings of Israel and Jodah, •aKiDgltk.
JEHU A OI T£]> KI O. 39S with Jezebel and all the branches of the fiunity, so far as come at m Israel, were exterminated^ u^ completion of EHijah's denunciation. When. God avowedly raises up (»ie to take vengeance on transgressors, be seldom lets him go unrewarded. Though the instrument, as in the case before us, is not influenced by any principle of godliness, yet, if he employs, he pays him, and liberally too, as we find here and in the cases of eba«< chadnezzar, C3rrus, and others. otwithstanding, therefore, that the conduct of Jehu sufficiently showed that his heart was callous to blood, and that his main object was 6i& pos* session of Joram's throne, yet the execution c^ the order given him against that idolatrous and wicked house, obtained him a promise of the kingdom for four generations of his offipring. The fulfilment of that order, however, is one
thing, and the manner thereof and motive whence it proceed* ed^ are another. So far as the latter do not appear to con*' respond with the principle upon which the divine command issued, and with the spirit of his own exaltation, we are at liberty to examine a little, the moving spring of his actions. Except the cutting off of Ahab's fiunily, and its very rela* lives of the house of Judah, as far as he could reach them, and even all whom he suspected of being partisans of Ahab's, or at least unfiivourable to his own authority, together with the priests of Baal, we discover nothing) either before or after his usurpation, of piety and reverence to God in his character, and his whole zeal, in all these executions, seems rather to have been incited in order to secure his own elevation to the throne, armed by the divine authority, than any regard to the honour and service of the Deity. This is plainly gadiered fi*om the scriptural history of him, which denotes him to have been, as to religion, either a hypocritical professor, or, at best, quite indifferent as to any VOL. I. , 3 n
994t JEHU A OI TED KI a tenet or profession, or in heart inclined to paganism, a» is evident firom the reference.* In bdy he neither himself worshipped, nor restored the service of God, and his whole fiunilj and the successors of his line were brought up in,* and openlj avowed the principles of idcdatry and heathenism;! and it is observable, that though the kingdom was pven to and considerably confirmed in his fitmily, yet it was not as adherents to the worship and service of God, but merely because he had executed the divine vengeance upon Ahab's house. As to the execution of the divine mission, the means he used for the destruction of Ahab*s seventy children, do not appear to us justifiable, in ordering those who had charge of them in Samaria, to bring him their heads, as a proof of their subjection to his authority and a test of their renounc-
ing their allegiance to Joram's house. They did so, their own lives depending upon it, and having brought him the heads, he, with the sight, glutted a heart steeled against humanity. We do not by any means intimate that he was, in the most distant degree, to spare. He was dnreeted to cut them ofi*, and it was his duty to execute that command without mere}', whatever might be his own natural repugnance or feelings, in ordinary cases, to the shedding of human blood; but we apprehend, and it is for that reason we tax him with a nK>st wantonly cruel disposition, that there was no necessity for sporting with the principles or feelings of those upon whom he forced the execution of that massacre. As having the divine mandate, be ou^ to have proceeded avowedly upon it in directing the execution, in place <^ which he did it upon quite a different principle,-*his own authority as a conspirator. Holding a cemnussion of the highest degree, why keep it back, and act in the character and upon the • 3 Kings X. 8»— 31. f 2 Kmst z. Sa
JEHU A190I TED KI O. SQS footing of a mere usurper ? This altered the case extremely ; for, as mandatory, he had not only a right to order, but to compel the execution of it, and to place all who might dare to disobey, in the situation of rebels : but using his own pri«yate mandate, without divulging the special one committed to him, and sancuoned by the express author!^ of God, he reduced those who obeyed him in that capacity, to the state of assassins, traitors, and murderers. Where was the necessity of this ? The govemor of, and others having command in Samaria, the capital, surely would not have been more backward or averse from the deed, under the divine order, enforced by his own, than under his own alone. He had dared them to oppose what they certainly did reckon his usurpation, and, under the effect of terror for their own safety, they completely submitted and beheaded these children.
Assuredly, then, their dread of him would not have been less, nor their submission, by his assuming the character of the heavenly commissioner. We think, on the contrary, by acting then, as he seemed to do at first setting out, and partly, but affectedly, afterward, on that warrant, he might rationally have considered it as a shelter to his ambition, and the secret desire he had of removing those who stood in his way, while it would have screened the governor and those under iiim from the crimes of treachery and murder — the base murder of infants and youth.^ We express ourselves here concern* ing them and the deed, according to the motives which induced them and actuated Jehu, and the circumstances of the case as it appears recorded of his conduct The massacre being so committed by mere private authority, the authority of power usurped, too, at least so far as appeared to them; and the motive in him ambition, — ^in them fear, affixed, we think, to the deed, the stamp of murder, and upon the actors, that of treachery and the guilt of assassination. The 3d2
396 J£HU A OI TED KI O. actors of murder comprehead the devisers as well as amimitters of it ; the constituent as well as the f^ent ; him that directs with those who obey ; him that, with the intent, fur^ nishes the instrument of destruction, as him that uses it; but the degree of guilt in each may be different In the case before us, power and apparent usurpation issued the order, and weakness and ^^prehension executed it. Keefung from view and the information of diose amoemed, the divinfe commbsion, Jehu, opealj and as fiur as the adherents of Ahab's house were given to understand, acted in his iodividyal capacity, and uncontndled; but the otliers were under the influence oi fear, — the fear of losing their own lives, and ignorant of the superior authority with which he was invested. Though, under such fear, they were not the
less assassins, yet, as their lives were in hazard, we certainly conceive a very strong difference of shade to be observable in die colouring. Jehu, unnecessarily, made them murderers, — ^murderers, too, under trust, when he could, by issuing his orders fixnn and upon the authority given him, have kept diem free of the guilt; and he appeared to make a mock of the execution when accomplished, and to deride the execu* tioners who acted under his own peremptory orders. Thb was' making game of the whole business, evidencing a most wanton and brutal barbarity ; and though, after the mockery, he assumed somewhat more of dignity, and imputed the de^ struction as in fulfilment of God's denunciation, we cinnot but term it hypocrisy, and consider him as the man of ambition, cruelty, courage, determination, and quickness in eze* cudon, but [irosecuting all these measures of destruction under a mere mask of aeal for God, while, at bottom, be was a murderer, a wholesale dealer in blood, and a baae kypocxiucal villain, prosecuting only his own ambitious measures of aggrandiBement and views of selfnuifterest
JEHU A OI TED KI G. S97 *^ Come," said he to Jonadabf " come and see my zeal for the Lord I" Did Jonadab, after the death of his master and Jeasebeiy and of the king of Judah, need to be told of zeal in Jeha ? o ! bat Jehu wished to impress upon him, that zeal (or God was his only motiye of action. He was desirous to hide under it, his ambition and his thirst for the blood of idl who might be an obstacle to it, or dangerous either as rivals or arengers. How else are we to account for the ski^hter of Afaaziah, king of Judah, and his forty brethren, with the same fi^ inhumanity as he showed in the destruction of Ahab's fiimily and relatives ? Zeal, if we may so eiqiress it, is an anunated fidelity. If untempered with discretion and prudence, it becomes mere fixry and madness, — ^a sappression of judgment and reason. An over-heated zeal is like an overheated furnace : its action is too violent for the purpose intended. Jehu's orders were for the destruction of Ahab's
house, and they were, indeed, extended to every branch of it. But what was to be redconed Ahab's bouse? Surely, in plain common sense, the family and relatives in blood, throughout and subjects of his own kingdom. His domimons were trans* ferred to his subject Jehu, on condition of his destroying that fiimily ; but he was not to ransack the earth for, and hunt down what branches might have sprung fix)m it, by marriage or other alliance or foreign naturalization, so fiu: as these were fixed and had residence and settlement beyond his own bounds. This would or might have occasioned most exten* sive wars indeed, as the neighbouring kingdoms would not» very likely, haime delivered voluntarily the objects of his ven* geance into his power, much less suffered him to enter their territories fereibly for such puipose. If thb be^ as we tfamk, the &ir constroction of his orders, how came he to cut off Ahu^ ^p h and hi^ brethren who had
S9S J1£HU A OI TED KI G. gone down unarmed) as mere visitants to Joram and hb &miiy ? The king of Judah had indeed married a daughter of the house ot Ahab, but he was a foreigner and an independent sovereign, and only upon a visit of friendship^ as con* nected and a neighbour, and as upon a good understanding with Jonun. These were his only connexions with the latter, together with the abomination <^ following after the same superstitious rites and idols of worship; but these did not constitute a right in Jehu to molest him, further than ordering him and his brethren out of his dominions. Had Ahaziah accompanied Joram in a hostile state when they went out of Jezreel to meet Jehu, it might have given a colourable pretext for the latter's conduct toward himself, but would even this have warranted the taking<^away the lives of his brethren ? Protection was due to them upon eveiy principle acknowledged by nations emerged from a state of barbarism, and it was as much due to them, a sufferance to depart unmolested. The wife of Ahaziah was of the house of Ahab,
and Sarmed the family alliance or connexion with Joram. Did Jehu attempt to enter Judah in order to cut her ofl^ together with any other blood relatives of Ahab's fiimily settled there? o, and yet we think he would not have been less justifiable in this than the other— indeed the other was the most base, unmanly, and dishonourable of the two. The very circumstance of his confining the vengeance to the limits of his own jurisdiction and states, clearly shows his own understanding of the extent of the divine injunctions. Although we have, with severity, exposed Jehu's actions and motives, yet we ocmceive that severity to consist with candour, and we shall with equal freedom acknowledge that T^ hflgjahj by his wickedness and idolatry, and most likely his brethren also, deserved the &te they met with.
JEHU A OI TED KI G. S99 A criminal condemned to be hanged, and assured that no pardon will be granted, is not substantially injured by being privately strangled, so as the time allowed be not cut short for his existence : nay, for the most part, such would choose . the private execution. But would this change of mode by die executioner or officer legally authorised to see to and direct the public execution of sentences, without a special warrant, allowing by law it could be given, exempt him from the crime and punishment of murder? Certainly not, even if. he could produce the strongest evidence of its being the criminal's own request. The executioner acts upon a com* mission and an authority not his own, and if he should knowingly deviate as to the appointed place, but particularly as to time or manner, and although he procures another to do the deed of execution, he clearly tramples upon his commission, or rather proceeds without one, and acts upon his own authori^ : nor would it alter the guilt by his assent or tid given to, or witnessing or knowingly suffering the culprit's taking himself away with his own hands. It would be murder both in him and the person that performed the deed. We apply this to Jehu, in so &r as he ordered, in the
private style, character, and authority of an usurper, the go.vemor and rulers of Samaria, to cut off and send him the heads of Joram's children. Upon this ground, as having exceeded, at least not having promulgated, and so acted upon his commission, and satiated his eyes with the riew of the massacred carcases (the exhibition of which, and the satanic expressions of Jehu over them, could be no honour to the divine Majesty) — ^massacred by his own individual directions, in the character of an usurper, and contaminating so many others with the same crime, as well as in tiie cutting off and slaughtering Ahaziah and his brethr^, we have set Jehu
400 JBHU A OI TED KI G. down clothed with the execrable character we have giveii him. We have now done with him, and return to the two kings of Israel and Judah. More than once we have taken occasion to notice the feebleness of the mind, whai man is Idk to follow his own judgment, and we have again presented to us another, in the conduct of these two sovereigns, in their imprudently going out of the city to meet Jehu. Joram hav* ing sent one messenger who was not suffered -to return, had sufficient cause of suspicion and alarm ; but, when a second in like manner was detained, and Jehu ascertained on hb nearer approach, by the fury in which he drove, where wasroom left for doubt? A subject hurrying fijrward with an armed force, and detaining two special messengers of his master, characterised his intent and proclaimed rebdlion aloud. Its standard was c^nly erected, and bearded him in the foce: it braved him in the teeth. In place of shutting' the gates and preparing for the worst, these two sovereigns, vnth suspicion strongly marked in their countenances, and the question put by Joram to Jehu, went out to him unarmed and without an escort or defence, and foolishly exposed their persons to, and within the immediate reach of a rebel.
That man should, in so many flagrant instances, show an imbecility of understanding almost bordering upon an entire loss of his rational faculties, affords to his vanity very little cause to boast of the portion of perceptibility and discemmeDt which he thinks he is possessed of. Why then will he bring forward, we speak to the nominal Christian, his reason to ai^ gue himself into the utmost absurdity, in the midst of so great a danger, even upon the very precipice to eternity, by combating the most distinct information and plain rules of du^ laid down in the Scriptures, as if they were the dictates of
JEHU A OI TED KI G. 401 gloomy superstition ? Admitting, for the sake of argument, they were so, where would be his loss by conforming to, and believing in that record ? Most obvious is it, that he could not sustain any injury ; but is it not as evident, that if he suffers himself to continue deceived, his destruction is as irremediable fts it is unspeakably great ? Is he, or these two contemptibly imprudent and idolatrous monarchs, the most unwise in conduct, or the most absurd in principles?
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