2 Chron. xxv. 16. ^nd it came to pass, as he talked ivith him,
that the king said vnto him, Art thou made of the king's coun-
sel P Forbear; why shoiddest thou he smitten? Then the
prophet forharc, and said, I know that God hath determined
to destroy thee, because thou hast done this, and hast not
hearkened to iny counsel.
WHEREVER " the heart is not perfect with
God," a compliance with the Divine will may be oc-
casional and partial, but it never can be uniform and
unreserved : when circumstances occur that require
the sacrifice of a bosom lust, the heart will rise
against the commandment, and trample under foot
the authority of God himself. Herod would com-
ply in some things with the injunctions of John the
Baptist, but, when a separation from Herodias was
insisted on, he broke through all the restraints of
conscience, and inflicted death on his monitor as
the penalty of his fidelity. ot unlike to Herod
was king Amaziah ; who obeyed the voice of a pro-
phet requiring him to dismiss his hired troops, and
to rely on God to compensate his loss, but was
filled with indignation against one who expostulated
with him on the subject of his idolatry. It should
seem, that in proportion as a man is degraded in
his own eyes by the conduct reproved, he will, if
not truly penitent, swell with resentment against
the person that undertakes to reprove him. The
hiring of troops to augment his army appeared a
prudent and commendable measure : but to take
for his gods those worthless idols, over whom he
himself had prevailed, was folly in the extreme.
Hence, when reproved for it, he burst forth into a
rage, and quickly terminated his conference with
the inspired messenger.
From hence we shall take occasion to shew,
I. What is the conduct of the generality in reference
to the counsels of God —
God still, as formerly, sends his servants to tes-
tify against prevailing iniquities ; and still, as here-
tofore, are his messages rejected. In Amaziah we
see a striking picture of rebellious man —
[othing could be more just than the reproof given him.
To renounce Jehovah, who had interposed so wonderfully in his
behalf, and to substitute in his place those idols which had not
been able to protect their own votaries, was an infatuation, of
which we should scarcely have conceived him capable. Yet be-
hold how he resented the prophet's expostulation! He regarded
the admonition as an insult, and as an interference with his
royal prerogative ; as though God himself was not at liberty to
counsel him. He moreover menaced the prophet, with an evi-
dent reference to Zechariah, whom for a similar offence his father
had put to death". Thus he authoritatively silenced the mes-
senger of Heaven ; and determinately persisted in his impious
o less reasonable than the expostulations made
with him, are those which in God's name we make
with you from time to time —
[They principally relate to two points ; Your rejection of
God as the supreme good; and, your neglect of Christ as the
only Mediator betweeyi God and man.
And is there not ground, abundant ground, for remonstrances
on these points ? Though Jehovah is acknowledged in words as
the true God, is he loved, and served, and honoured, as God P
Do we give liim our whole hearts, and " cast all our idols to
the moles and to the bats ?" Say whether " the lust of the
flesh, the lust of the eye, and the pride of life" be not in reality
preferred before him, and whether we do not provoke him to
jealousy by these, and other " idols which we set up in our
hearts '? " And though we confess Christ to be the Sa-
viour of the world, say whether we seek him, and rely upon
him, and plead his merits at the throne of grace, and renounce
with abhorrence all dependence on our own wisdom, strength,
or righteousness ? Alas ! it is manifest, that the regard paid to
bim amongst us, is by no means what it ought to be, and that
all his love to us is repaid for the most part with cold indifference
and mere formal acknowledgments
We ask then, Whether, as servants of the Most High God, we
have not reason to complain, reprove, expostulate ? and whether
our most earnest representations ought not to be taken in good
part ?]
Yet is our testimony, like that of the prophet, too
often rejected with disdain — •
» Ch. xxiv. 20,21.
300 2 CHROICLES, XXV. i6. [283.
[In public indeed we are permitted to speak with some
degree of plainness : yet even there a faithful discharge of our
duty is sure to bring upon us no little measure of odium and
reproach. If we exhort, reprove, rebuke, with all authority, as
we are commanded to do, many, especially of the higher ranks,
will consider themselves as insulted ', and will either endeavour to
silence us, or, if unable to effect that, will withdraw from a Minis-
try that is so offensive to them. Their advice to us is like that of
the Jews of old ; " Prophesy not unto us right things ; prophesy
unto us smootli things, prophesy deceits ; make the Holy One
of Israel to cease from before us," or, at least, do not set him
before us in his real character ^. And, when they cannot prevail,
they tell us plainly, if not in words, yet more strongly in deed,
" As for the word that thou hast spoken unto us in the name of
the Lord, we will not hearken unto thee^"
And what if we presume to speak to men in private? What
indignation do we then excite! If there we should say to them,
" I have a message unto thee from the Lord ;" and should then
proceed to add, in reference to their contempt of God as their
chief good, '^ Wherefore do ye spend your money for that which
is not bread, and your labour for that which satisfieth not"*?" and.
then, in reference to their contempt of Christ as their Saviour,
*^ How shall ye escape, if he neglect so great salvation*?" we
should soon find whether the spirit of Amaziah does not prevail
at this day, as much as ever. It is worthy of observation, that
those very persons who will take the most indecent liberties with
lis, decrying to our face all ozir views and conduct as the grossest
absurihty, will not suifer us to speak in ever so gentle terms to
them against their views and conduct : and, if we presume to bear
a faithful testimony against the inicjuities that prevail around us,
we are instantly silenced by reproaches, and are cast out as the
very pests of society ^]
That we may be the better able to appreciate such
conduct, we now proceed to shew,
II. In what light it is to be viewed —
The world themselves uphold one another in this
conduct, as innocent at least, if not also highly lau-
dable : but, wheresoever it is found, it must be re-
1 . As a symptom of obduracy —
[The prophet needed no other evidence than this to con-
vmce him, that Amaziah was a hardened sinner before God.
We do not say that every neglect of divine warnings argues the
^ leal. XXX. 8—11. ' Jer. xliv. \6. "^ Isai. Iv. 2,
• Heb. ii. 3. ' Sec Jer. xxix. 34—27.
same degree of obduracy; but, in proportion as such neglect is
wilful, deliberate, and persevering, it betrays a spirit of rebel-
lion, and a determined hostility against the God of heaven. And
here let us ask ourselves, whether we have not throughout the
course of our whole lives set God at defiance, neglecting daily what
we knew to be right, and practising habitually what we knew
to be contrary to the Divine commands ? Let each of us enter
into the secret recesses of his own heart, and say. Whether
his own will, rather than God's, have not been the deter-
mining principle of all his actions, and whether self have not
been the rule, the measure, and the end even of those things
wherein he has professed to serve his God? Verily, if to
*' tremble at God's word" be that which characterizes the first
beginnings of grace in the soul, the state of those who can live so
carelessly in a wilful opposition to it must be awful indeed.]
2. As a ground of dereliction —
[God's secret " determination " to withdraw from Amaziah
all further communications of his grace, was justly inferred from
the measure of obduracy now visible in his conduct. And though
we cannot cerlainly dive into the secrets of the Almighty, we may
often form a very probable judgment respecting them from what
we see with our eyes. We know how God has acted in former
times, and how he has told us that he will act : " My people
would not hearken to my voice, and Israel would none of me,"
says he; " so I gave them up unto their own hearts' lust^." Re-
peatedly is the same awful truth declared respecting the heathen
world, notwithstanding their sins were far less aggravated than
those committed by persons enjoying the light of revelation ^.
What then must lue expect, who dwell under the meridian light
of his Gospel ? Have not we reason to fear that he will say,
" Ephraim is joined to idols ; let him alone'?" Yes, indeed: "His
Spirit will not always strive with man "^ :" and if we continue to
*^ rebel and vex his Holy Spirit, he will turn to be our enemy,
and fight against us^" If once we prevail to quench the motions
of his Spirit, our state will be awful beyond all fexpression :
" Woe to them," says God, " when I depart from them" !"]
3. As a prelude to destruction—
[Trace the conduct of Amaziah from this moment, and
behold his end ! He would not listen to the counsels of God,
and he is instantly given over to other counsellors". He sends
a challenge to the king of Israel, who dissuades him from en-
tering into an unnecessary and destructive war. The parable
used on this occasion intimated to him his insufficiency to cope
with Israel, and the certain issue of so unequal a contest": but
f Ps. Ixxxi. 11,12. " Rom. i. 24, 26, 28. * Hos. iv. 17.
^ Gen, vi. 3. ' Isai. Ixiii. 10. " Hos. ix. 12.
¦ ver. 17. • ver. 18, 19.
302 2 CHROICLES, XXV. i6. [283.
^' he would not hear; for it came of God, that he might deliver
them into the hand of their enemies, because they sought after the
gods of Edam p." To battle he went, and was defeated, and taken ;
and his capital became an easy prey to the con{|ueror, who plundered
it of all its wealth, and broke down a portion of the wall which
had been erected for its defence''. From that time he lost all the
affection and confidence of his subjects, who at last conspired
against him; and, when he "had fled to Lachish for safety, sent
after him and slew him there." The whole of this is traced to
God as its author, on account of his impious rejection of the
Divine counsels ^
And what may not be expected by us also, if we " reject the
counsel of God against ourselves?" Surely we shall be left to
follow the infatuated devices of others, or of our own hearts, till
we bring upon ourselves the destruction we have merited. Hear,
how awfully this is declared by God himself: " If we receive not
the love of the truth that we may be saved, God will send us a
strong delusion, that we may believe a lie, and finally be damned,
because we believed not the truth, but had pleasure in unrigbte-
ousnes5^" And by us is this sentence more especially to be ex-
pected, because of the many and faithful warnings which we
have despised ; for '^ he that, being often reproved, hardeneth his
neck, shall suddenly be destroyed, and that without remedy'."
The gathering of clouds does not more certainly portend rain,
than a contempt of God's messages gives reason to expect his
everlasting displeasure.]
Learn then,
1 . In what manner we should attend the ordmances
of rehgion —
[We should " be doers of the word, and not hearers only,
if we would not deceive our own souls"" ]
2. What obligations we owe to God for his long-
suffering towards us —
[Long has " he stood at the door of our hearts, knocking","
and has been refused admission^ O let us bless his name,
that he has not yet given us over to judicial blindness, and final
impenitence^. Still has our Great Advocate, the Lord Jesus
Christ, interceded for us*; and still does our " God wait to be
gracious unto us." O that " to-day, while it is called to-day,
we might hear the voice" that yet soundeth in our ears, and that
" the long-suffering of our God might lead us to repentance'' !"]
"^ ver. 20. n ver. 21 — 24.
¦¦ ver. '17 . • 2 Thess. ii. 10—12.
' Prov. xxix. 1. " Jam. i. 21— 24.
' Rev. iii. 20. ? Cnnt. v. 2, 3.
* Acts xxviii. 25—2;. » Luke xiii, 6— p. ^ Rom. ii. 4.

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