2^Kings iii. 27. Then he took his eldest son, that should have
reigned in his stead, and offered him for a burnt-offering
upon the wall.
GOD delights to honour prayer ; and often with-
holds the blessings which he has purposed to bestow,
till he shall have been *' inquired of by us concerning
them*." In the preceding context we are informed
* Ezek. x.xxvi. 37.
112 2 KIGS, III. 27. [246.
that Moab had rebelled against Israel, and that the
kings of Israel, of Judah, and of Edoni united their
forces in order to reduce them to their former state
of subjection. In prosecution of this purpose they
were left of God to adopt such measures as nearly-
proved fatal to the confederate armies. They at-
tempted to pass through the wilderness of Edom,
where they were in danger of perishing for want of
water. Then, but not till then, did they think of
making their application to Jehovah. Jehosaphat,
a pious king, proposed it, and the other two from the
pressure of their necessity united in it. Elisha,
doubtless by the gracious appointment of Provi-
dence, was in the camp at the time ; and at the
request of the three kings, undertook to lay their
case before the Lord. The Lord bade him inform
them that he would not only give them a miraculous
supply of water, but would deliver the Moabites
into their hands. The supply of water, without the
intervention of any natural cause, was given ; and
the Moabites mistaking the reflection of the sun
upon the water for blood, supposed that the confe-
derate armies had destroyed each other ; and going
therefore securely to take the spoil, were themselves
destroyed. The remnant of them with their king
taking refuge in a fortress, the king brought forth
his eldest son, and off'ered him for a burnt-offering
in the sight of all his enemies. We shall,
I. Inquire into the reasons of this extraordinary act —
Reduced to the greatest extremity, he resorted
to this expedient,
]. To propitiate his gods —
[The gods of the heathen are supposed to deHght in sacri-
fices, and to regard them in proportion to the worth and estima-
tion of tliem in the minds of the offerers. Hence they are
supposed above all to he pleased with human sacrifices : and
hence their votaries have offered to them even their own sons and
daughters, with the hope of conciliating their favour. Even the
Israelites themselves, when they had departed from their God,
practised these impious and cruel rites''. The king of Moab^
now looking to his gods for help, presented to them as an offering
" Ps. cvi, 37, 38.
his own, his eldest son, as being confessedly of more value,
and dearer to himself, than all that he possessed. Whilst we
lament that Satan should have ever so blinded the eyes of men,
we cannot but be filled with shame when we reflect, how little
we have ever sacrificed to our offended God. We all know that
he has abundant reason to be displeased with us : and we know
that '^ a broken and contrite spirit is a sacrifice which he will
never despise :" but how few of us are willing to offer it ! how
few are at all anxious about his favour, or will exercise any self-
denial in order to obtain it ! Will not that ignorant heathen rise
up in judgment against us ? ]
2 To intimidate his enemies —
[He offered his son " upon the wall" in the sight of all
his enemies. What an idea did that give them of his determi-
nation to sacrifice every thing rather than surrender to his ene-
mies, and to sell his life as dear as possible ! We cannot doubt
but that this act of his was publickly known amongst the be-
siegers as well as the besieged : and, methinks, it must strike
them all with horror to reflect, that they had driven him to
such an awful act of desperation ; and no doubt it tended also
to inflame the hatred of his own subjects against them to the
uttermost. We are told indeed that this effect ensued; for
" they had great indignation against Israel ; who being the
Principals in the war, (whilst the Other two kings were only
allies,) were the more immediate objects of their resentments
And certainly the expedient so far succeeded, that his victorious
enemies " departed from him, and returned to their own land."]
Having seen the reasons of that extraordinary
act, we proceed to,
1 1. Suggest some reflections naturally arising from
' We observe then,
1 . How great are the calamities of war !
[Dreadful indeed were the evils inflicted on the land of Moab:
'' the, cities were beaten down ; every good piece of land was
marred with stones ; the wells were all filled up ; and every good
tree levelled with the ground." True it is that these judgments
' The burning of Moscow by the Russians, to prevent it from being
serviceable to their enemies, was an act somewhat similar, and tended
not a little to convince the French that the complete conquest of
Russia would be no easy matter. In fact, it produced the same effect
as the expedient of the king of Moab did ; it caused his enemies to
depart, without pursuing any further the advantages they had already
114 2 KIGS, III. 27. [246.
were inflicted by the command of God ; and therefore the agents
who inflicted them were blameless: but the warfare which has so
long desolated Europe, and especially that which has recently
been carried on in its more northern states, has partaken much
of the same spirit, and proved almost equally fatal to the happi-
ness of millions. What reason then have we to bless our God,
that, notwithstanding all the menaces of our enemies, this happy
land has not been made the theatre of war ! And with what
alacrity should we contribute for the relief and comfort of our
suffering allies ! Let us learn to sympathize even with
our enemies, and to moderate our joy at the victories we obtain,
by feelings of compassion for the miseries we inflict.]
2. How pitiable is the ignorance of the heathen!
[Who can forbear to pity that afflicted king, who had re-
course to such an unnatural expedient as that of murdering his
own son in order to pacify the deities he adored ? Yet such are the
methods by which the heathen almost universally endeavour to
appease their gods. When once they begin to ask, " Where-
with shall I come before my god ?"' they proceed to say, " IShall
I give my first-born for my transgression ; the fruit of my body
for the sin of my soul''?" Even amongst our fellow-subjects in
India, there are thousands, perhaps many thousands, sacrificed
every year, under the idea that such offerings are pleasing to the
gods whom they worship. Should we hear of such transactions then
with indiircrence? Should not a holy zeal be stirred up within us,
to turn the heathen, if possible, from those vanities, to serve the
living and true God ? O that we felt for the honour of God, and
for the good of man, as we ought to do ; and that they especially
who call themselves Ministers of Christ were more willing to
spend and be spent in the service of their Lord ! Alas ! how few
are those that are willing to forego their carnal ease and worldly
interests, to save their benighted and perishing fellow- creatures !
A call to accept a lucrative situation is soon acknowledged and
easily obeyed : but God may call us long enough to go and labour
among the heathen, and we neither regard his voice, nor listen to
his proposals. If ever there was a time that peculiarly called for
Missionary exertions, mcthinks this is that time : for never was
there such a zeal for disseminating the holy Scriptures as at this
time ; never were so many Societies raised up to consider the
state both of Jews and Gentiles, as at this moment. This alone
is a call from God to contribute, each according to his ability, to
the advancement of our Redeemer's kingdom, and to the salva-
tion of a ruined world.]
3. How rich are the provisions of the Gospel !
[We all, as sinners, have reason to fear, that God is dis-
pleased with us. But we need not sacrifice an eldest son to avert
his wrath : no : blessed be his name ! he himself has given us
*' a Lamb for a burnt- offering," even his only dear Son, the Lord
Jesus Christ. This sacrifice was once offered on Mount Calvary ;
and it was offered, not to intimidate, but encourage us ; not to
menace us with ruin, but to open for us a way of everlasting sal-
vation. With this sacrifice he was well pleased : he smelled a
sweet savour at the very instant it was offered ; and from respect
to it he is reconciled to his most inveterate enemies. What
thanks do we owe to God for such a wonderful provision as this 1
How delightful should it be to us to hear, that " God spared not
his own Son, but delivered him up for us all!" Let us dwell
upon the joyful sound : let us put away all those vain hopes
which we are apt to substitute in the place of this : and let us
look to Christ for all the ends and purposes for which he was
sent. Are we afraid that God is angry with usP let us seek
reconciliation with him through the blood of our adorable Re-
deemer. Are we desirous of repelling all our spiritual enemies?
Let us " be strong in the Lord and in the power of his might :"
let us " resist the devil " in the strength of Christ, and " he will
flee from us." In Christ there is all that we can stand in need
of. We are expressly taught to say, " In the Lord have I right-
eousness and strength." " In him therefore let us rejoice
alway;" for, as *^ in him we shall be justified, so in him we
should glory®."]
* Isai, xlv. 24, 25.

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