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BY REV. C. SIMEO, M. A.
2 Chron. xxxii. 31. God left him tn try him, thai he might
know all that iras in his heart.
THERE is no character so excellent but there is
some blot to be found in it. The most illustrious saints
that ever lived, not only betrayed their M^eakness
and sinfulness, but shewed themselves defective in
those very graces for which they were most eminent.
We must not wonder therefore that Ilezekiah, who was
in some respects as distinguished a character as any
that either preceded or followed him, became at la^t
a monument of human frailty. It is probable that
the peculiar manifestations of the Divine favour to-
wards him had excited an undue degree of self-
complacency in his mind : God therefore saw fit to
try him, and, "in the business of the ambassadors of
the princes of Babylon, who had sent unto him to
inquire of the wonder that was done in the land,"
(even of the shadow of the sun going backward ten
degrees on the sun-dial of Ahaz,) " left him" to the
natural workings of his own heart. The consequence
•was such as might be apprehended ; he gave way
to pride and vanity, and brought on himself the
The words whicli we have read, will naturally
lead us to observe, that,
I. Till we are tried, we have very little idea of the
evil of our hearts —
[Though we feel uodilliculty in admitting that we are sin-
ners, yet we can by no means acknowledge the truth of the
representations given of us in the Scriptures, if we were told
that we are all by nature haters both of God'' and man'', we
shoiiltl consider it as a libel upon human nature. Wlicn we read
the hibtory of the Jew5,.\ye. e^re rpady.tq tjiink that they were
' '" ",, incomparably
* Rom. i. 30. & viii. 7. ' Tit. iii. 3-
29L} WEAKESS AD DEPRAVITY OF MAX. 2^1'
incomparably more perverse than we should ever be : though if
we had been in their situation, there is no reaspn at all to believe
that we should have shewn ourselves in any respect more obedient
than they. If we have never fallen into anv gross sin, we ima-
gine that our moral conduct has arisen from the superior goodness
of our hearts ; and we suppose that we have no disposition to
those* iniquities which are practised by others. We are not
aware, that, if we had been subjected to the same trials as others,
we should probably have fallen like them. How was Hazael
shocked when he was told what enormities lie would commit !
*' Is thy servant a dog, that he should commit this thing*'?"
Yet, no sooner was he tried, than he did commit all the enor-
mities that had been foretold. And we, if told, that one of us
would become a thief, another an adulterer, and another a
murderer, should revolt at the idea, as though we were not
capable of such atrocious wickedness : but the more we know
of our own hearts, the more we shall be ready to sav with
David, " My heart sheweth me the wickedness of the un-
godly ''," yea, it is an epitome of all the wickedness that is
committed upon earth.]
It becomes us to deprecate temptation ; since,
II. If left to ourselves, we shall soon give some
awful proof of our depravity —
[That any persons are preserved from great enormities is
owing to the providence and the grace of God. It has pleased
God to encompass them, so that they should be screened from
any violent temptation ; or else he has endued them with a
more abundant measure of his grace, whereby they have been
enabled to withstand the tempter. Who that sees how others
have fallen, will ascribe his own stedfastness to an arm of flesh ?
We need only set before us those deplorable monuments of human
depravity, David, Sclomon, and Peter, and we shall need nothing
more to enforce that admonition, " Let him that thinketh he
standeth, take heed lest he fall®" We perhaps may
have maintained a good conduct for a considerable time : but
can we not look back to some moment wherein we have been
left to follow the bent of our own corrupt hearts ? We must be
lamentably ignorant of what lias passed within us, if we have
not long since learned our need to use that prayer, " Hold thou
me up, and I shall be safe."}
Yet we must not view such proofs of depravity
merely as insulated and detached acts: for
" " 2Kin. viii. 12, 13. ,,•,-/
*Ps. xxxvi. 1. The Prayer-book Translation. See also Mark vii.
21 — 23. & Jer. xvii. 9.
* These instances should be opened separately, and at some length.
332 1 CHROICLES, XXXII. 31. [291.
in. One single act of wickedness, if duly consi-
dered, will serve as a clue to find out all the
iniquity of our hearts —
[God did not design to shew Hezekiah one imperfection
only, but " all that was in his heart ^'':" and his fall was well
calculated to give him this knowledge ; for in it he might see,
not only his pride and creature-conhdence, but his ingratitude
for the mercies he had received, his unconcern about the souls of
those who came to visit him, his indifference about the honour of
his God, and innumerable other evils which were comprehended
in his sin^ Thus, if we will take any one sin of our lives, and
make use of it as a light to search the dark corners of our
hearts, we shall find out a most astonishing mass of wickedness
that has hitherto escaped our observation. Take, for instance,
any single act of pride, wrath, lewdness, covetousness, or even
deadness in prayer, what a scene will it open to our view ! what
unmindfulness of the Divine presence ! what unconcern about
our own souls ! what preferring of carnal ease or worldly vani-
ties to the happiness and glory of heaven ! what contempt of
that adorable Saviour who shed his blood for us ! Alas ! alas !
we should never come to an end, if we should attempt to declare
all the evil which by such a scrutiny we might discover.
This then we would most earnestly recommend as the means
of becoming acquainted with our hearts : let us not consider any
sin as though it were unconnected with any other ; but rather
regard every sin as a fruit of an immense tree, or as a little stream
flowing from an inexhaustible fountain.]
From this dereliction of Hezekiah, and his fall
consequent upon it, we may further learn,
1. Thankfulness to God for the preservation we
have experienced —
[one of us have perpetrated one thousandth part of the
iniquity which we should hiive been guilty of, if God had not
restrained us by his providence and grace. Let us not then
** sacrifice to our own net, or burn incense to our own drag."
Let us rather acknowledge, that by the grace of God we are what
we are, and say, " ot unto us, not unto us, but unto thy name
be the praise." And let our dependence be altogether on God,
•* The text may mean, that God left Hezekiah in order that he,
namely God, might know all that was in his heart. See Deut. viii.2.
& xiii. 2, 3. But the sense given to the words seems preferable.
•^ If, as is thought, the Babylonians who came to inquire into the
miracle of the sun's retrograde motion were worshippers of the sun,
what an opportunity had Hezekiah to tell them about Jehovah, who
created tliat sun, and could continue or after its course at hi» pleasure !
292.] manasseh's repentance. 333
that he who has kept us hitherto, will " preserve us unto his
2. Tenderness and compassion towards those who
have fallen —
[We are apt to look on a fallen brother with indignation
and contempt : but if we considered more attentively our own
extreme binlulness, and how often we should have fallen if out-
ward temptations had concurred sufficiently with our inward dis-
positions, we shall find less readine>s to cast a stone at others :
we shall rather see our own picture in their depravity, and extend
that compassion to them which in similar circumstances we should
desire to meet with at their hands.]
3. Vigilance against the assaults of our great ad-
[Satan combines in himself the subtlety of a serpent, and
the strength of a lion. Well therefore does the Apostle say to
us, " Be sober, be vigilant." If we watch not against his as-
saults, we, in fact, tempt him to tempt us. Beside'*, we cannot
expect that God should preserve us, if we do not endeavour to
preserve ourselves. It will be to little purpose to pray that God
will not lead us into temptation, if we presumptuouslv rush into
it of our own accord. Let us then shun the occasions of sin :
let us avoid the company, the amusements, the books, yea the
very sights that may administer to sin. Let us commit ourselves
continually to God's care and protection ; and beg of him never to
leave us or forsake us. In this wav we may hope to experience
his unremitting care, and to be " kept by his power through
faith unto everlasting salvation."]
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