This action might not be possible to undo. Are you sure you want to continue?
THE REV. C. SIMEO, M.A.
Isai xxxviii. 17- Behold, for peace I had great hitteriiess : but
thou hast in love to my soul delivered it from the pit of cor"
ruption : for thou hast cast all my sins behind thy back,
I all the Scriptures there is not any thing more
tender and pathetic than this *' writing of Hezekiah
after he had recovered from his sickness." In it he
delineates all his feelings in the view of his ex-
pected dissolution. He could appeal to God that
he had " walked before God in truth and with a
perfect heart "";" and yet in the prospect of death was
more alarmed and agitated than any other person of
whom we read. To account for this. Commentators
have supposed that he had respect only to the wel-
fare of his Church and people, who by his removal
would lose the benefit of all his past exertions for
their good, and of those which he yet contemplated.
But whilst we agree in ascribing much of his grief
to this, we yet think that it by no means sufficiently
accounts for many of his expressions, which evi-
dently refer to his own personal concerns. In our
text he complains that '* for peace he had had great
bitterness ;" though from it he was now mercifully
relieved. His " anguish being now changed''," he
returned thanks to God, saying, '* Thou hast in love
to my soul delivered it from the pit of corruption :
for thou hast cast all my sins behind thy back."
These words of his I shall,
I. Explain —
They may not unfitly be considered as referring to,
1. The recovery of his body —
[Sickness and death were originally introduced by sin :
and in many instances have they been inflicted in token of
God's displeasure on account of sin. The leprosy of Miriam
was a visitation on account of sin, as was that also of Ge-
hazi. And the worms which preyed on the vitals of king
Herod received their commission from an offended God.
' 2 King. XX. 2, 3, ^ So Bp. Lowth translates the fiist clause.
507.] FORGIVEESS KOW AD EJOYED, 323
Even the Christian Church is exposed to the same kind of
correction from the hand of an angry Father : for, on account
of the abuses which obtained among the Corinthians at the
Lord's supper, " many were weak and sickly among them,
and many had fallen asleep ^" ot unfrequently were tem-
poral judgments inflicted with an express view to prevent the
necessity of inflicting far heavier judgments in the world to
ow it seems evident that Hezekiah viewed his sickness in
this light, namely, as a judgment sent from God on account
ot some miqmty which he had committed. As the enemies
ot David said in his sickness, " An evil disease, tliat is, a
disease judicially inflicted, cleaveth fast unto him«;" and as
the eneimes of the Lord Jesus accounted him to be judicially
" stricken, smitten of God, and afflicted ';" so did Hezekiah
judge respecting himself at that time: he thought that God
was now " calling his sins to remembrance"," and ]Hmishin<T
him on account of them. ^
With such views as these, we cannot wonder that durincr
the continuance of the affliction he should " have great bit"^
terness ;" and that in the removal of it he should find sucli
an occasion of joy and gratitude. And it is wortliy of ob-
servation, that the Psalmist speaks of the removal of tempo-
ral judgments from the people of Israel in terms exactly si-
milar to those which Hezekiah u&3s in reference to his re-
covery from sickness : " Lord, thou hast been favourable unto
thy land : thou hast brought back the captivity of Jacob :
thou hast forgiven the iniquity of thy people : thou hast
<5overed all their sin : thou hast taken away all thy wrath :
thou hast turned thyself from the fierceness of thine anger ^"
, This then shews us why the pious Hezekiah so grievously
complained of his sickness, and so earnestly implored a re-
storation to health. This explains those words of his, " Like
a crane or a swallow, so did I twitter; I did mourn as a dove :
mine eyes fail for looking upward: O Lord, I am oppressed;
undertake for me."]
2. The state of his soul —
[When he complains of God having, " like a lion, broken
all his bones," it seems evident, that God had withdrawn
from him for a season his wonted consolations, and that he
was much in the state of David, who, under the pressure of
a dangerous illness, cried, "Thou hast laid me in the lowest
pit, m darkness, in the deeps : thy wrath lieth hard upon me,
and thou hast .afflicted me with all thy waves V Whether
' 1 Cor. xi. 30. ¦* ib. ver.32. as albo 1 Cor. v. 4, 5.
'Ps. xliS. fLsai.lni.4. M Kin.xvii. 18.
" Ps. 1XX.U-. k— 3. ' Fs. Ixxxviii. 3— 7.
324 ISAIAH, XXXVIII. 17. [507.
there was any particular occasion for this dispensation, we are
not informed. We know that Job, who was esteemed by
God himself " a perfect man," was subjected to a similar
trial for his good. And, if this dispensation had no other
end than to counteract that propensity to pride which after-
wards broke forth, and brought down upon Hezekiah the
severest displeasure of the Almighty, it was justly and gra-
For deliverance from a state like this we wonder not that
Hezekiah should bless and magnify the Lord. Who can
think of being delivered from the pit of corruption, and not
rejoice ? Who can contemplate God as having " cast all his
sins behind his back," and not bless him from his inmost
soul''? Consider what is implied in this expression :^ it im-
ports that " God will remember our sins no more." Once
" he set our iniquities before him, and our secret sins in the
light of his countenance';" but now he " hides his face from
them'"," " blots them out"" from the book of his remembrance,
and " casts them into the very depths of the sea°," from whence
they shall never rise to appear against us in judgment. Ve-
rily, if on the receipt of such a mercy as this " he had held
his peace, the very stones would have cried out against him."
We must not omit to notice the source to which Hezekiah
traces this great deliverance : it is to God's sovereign love
and mercy. He does not say, " From a respect to my de-
serts thou hast done thus;" but, " in love to my soul" thou
hast done it. And to this must all spiritual blessings be
traced. Whatever mercy God has vouchsafed to us, it is
the fruit of " his great love wherewith he has loved usp," evea
of that love which knows neither beginning nor end \]
The words thus explained, I shall now proceed to,
II. Improve —
There are two remarks which I will make upon
them. They shew us, in a very forcible way,
1. What should be our chief desire under any
afflictive dispensation —
[Our great concern usually is to get the affliction itself
removed. But judgments may be removed in anger, as well as
sent in anger': and God may cease to smite us, only because
he is determined not to strive with us any longer, but to
give us over to final impenitence'. Our first object should
be, to inquire of God " Wherefore he contendeth with us'?"
and then to seek the removal of that sin which God lias
'' Ps. ciii. 1—4. ' Ps. xc. 8. "" Ps. li. 9- " ^sai. xliii. 25.
'Mic. vii. 18. 19. " Eph. ii. 4. "i Jer. xxxi. 3.
'Hos. xiii. II. • Gen.vi. 3. Isai. i. 5. • Job x. 2.
507.] FORGIVEESS KOW AD EJOYED, 325
visited with his displeasure. If we can fix on no particular
sin, which has provoked God to anger, yet we know that
there is an immense load of guilt upon our souls : and there-
fore we should pray as David did, ^ " The troubles of my
heart are enlarged : O bring thou me out of my distresses !
look upon mine affliction and my pain, and forgive all my
sins^l" Sin, even one single sin, being retained before
God's face, will be the heaviest curse that can befall us : but,
if our sins be " cast behind his back," the most accumu-
lated trials shall only " augment our eternal weight of
2. What exalted happiness we are privileged to
[Hezekiah spoke of the forgiveness of his sins as already
granted, yea, and manifested also with full assurance to his
soul. And this is the common privilege of all Believers. As
Isaiah had a live coal from off the altar applied to his lips,
with this assurance, " Thine iniquity is taken away, and thy
sin purged ;" so have we the promise applied to ovir souls at
this day, " the Holy Spirit of promise sealing them upon our
hearts^," and thereby becoming to us " a Spirit of adoption,
and a witness of our being the children of God '." Doubt-
less there are marks by which these manifestations must be
determined ^ but it is not by the marks alone that we
can attain the consolations here spoken of: these can be im-
parted only by Him who is emphatically called the com-
forter : but the assurance itself is, if not the attainment
of all, yet certainly the privilege of all who truly believe **.
Live not then below your privileges. And, as God gene-
rally makes use of afflictions to prepare us for the enjoyment
of them, learn to welcome any trials which it may please God
Only, if God cast your sins behind his back, be the more
concerned to set them ever before your own face**; that your
own souls may be the more deeply humbled*, and that the
grace of God may be the more abundantly exalted*^ ]
" Ps. XXV. 17, 18. Here a variety of sins may be pointed out, as
subjects of self-examination.
" 2 Cor. iv. 17. ^Eph. i. 13. • Rom. viii. 15, 16.
* 1 John v. 13. & iii. 14. '' 1 John v. 20.
' Rom. v. 3—5. •* Ps. li. 3. ' Ezek. xvi. 63.
^ I Tim. i. 12—14.
1. MY TOPICAL IDEX OF 39 THOUSAD SERMOS
2. 68 FREE BOOKS
3. ALL WRITIGS
This action might not be possible to undo. Are you sure you want to continue?
We've moved you to where you read on your other device.
Get the full title to continue reading from where you left off, or restart the preview.