Imatges de pàgina
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2. The character and conduct of Jeroboam plainly teaches us what a dreadful scourge wicked rulers may be to their subjects. We can no where find the character of an hypocritical and unprincipled sovereign so fully delineated as in the history of Jeroboam the son of Nebat, who made Israel to sin. He is not only described before he came to the throne, and while he was in the exercise of supreme power, but he is represented as deceiving and destroying multitudes for ages after his death, , And as the inspired historian drew such a large and lively portrait of his character on purpose to instruct, so it is extremely full of instruction. Who would have thought of. ascribing the idolatry of twenty kings, and the degeneracy of a whole kingdom, during twenty reigns, to the conduct of one man, had not God, who perfectly knew the extensive influence of his example, expressly told us that he was the primary cause of such an amazing train of national calamities? How happy were the twelve tribes of Israel when Jeroboam the son of Nebat began to reign? David and Solomon had exerted all their power, wisdom, and piety, to strengthen, enlarge, enrich, refine, and reform the nation. They had been the happy instruments, under God, of rendering the Hebrews the most virtuous, the most religious, and the most happy nation on earth. But how soon did Jeroboam the son of Nebat reverse the scene, and completely blast all their bright and rising prospects! He designedly drave them from

34 following the Lord, and cruelly deprived them of thạt magnificent temple, which they had expended so much labour and treasure to erect. He put a final period to their hearing the publie instructions of their public teachers, and to their observing those religious institutions which God had appointed for their spiritual benefit. He set them an example of that gross idolatry which exposed them to the frowng of God in this life, and to his eyerlasting displeasure in the life to come. He divided the nation, destroyed the peace of his own subjects, and involved them in all the horrors of war.. He dried up the sources of national wealth, and entailed poverty, meanness, and reproach upon the ten tribes to the latest generation. This is a true but shocking pic: ture of a ruler who fears not God, nor regards man. It appears, from fact, that such 'a ruler is capable and disposed to destroy every thing that a nation holds most dear and valuable in this world or the next. And the more happy a people are when they fall under the power of such a depraved and unprincipled tyrant, the more they have to lose, and the more they þave to suffer as long as his authority or his influence shall last.

3. It appears from the intriguing character described in this discourse, how easily any people may be led into civil and religious delusion, by artful and designing politicians. The people of God, one would have supposed, were proof against every species of delusion, especially in the days of Solo



He says,

mon, who instructed, as well as governed, them
with superior wisdom and integrity. Besides
viding them with sacred teachers, he even conde-
scended to give them the best civil and religious
instruction himself. This we learn not merely from
his general character, but from the particular ac-
count which the writer of his life has given us of
his superior talents, and of the extensively useful
purposes to which he applied them.
“ God gave Solomon wisdom and understanding
exceeding much, and largeness of heart, even as
the sand thạt is on the sea shore. And he spake three
thousand proverbs; and his songs were a thousand
and five.”. Though many of his songs and proverbs
are lost, yet those which have come into our hands
we know are full of civil and religious instruction.
Where can we find the duty of rulers and of sub-
jects more clearly exhibited, or more strongly en-
forced, than in his writings? His proverbs contain
the practical wisdom of ages, and convey to per-
sons of all characters and conditions the most use-
ful information, in the most striking and familiar
manner. A great statesman said, “ Let me com-
pose the ballads for a nation; and let who will make
their laws.” His meaning is, that whatever be the
instruction, whether good or bad, which is most
easily and most universally circulated among the
mass of the people, will have the greatest influence in
forming their sentiments and governing their prac-
tice. If this observation be just, then, while Solo-

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mon made the songs and proverbs for the people of God, they enjoyed the best advantages of gaining civil and religious information; and in that respecť were especially guarded against civil and religious delusion. But it appears from the history of Jeroboam, that he could easily seduce this intelligent and well informed people. When he first appeared in public, he had the address to poison the sentiments of Solomon's subjects, and to alienate their affections from him. When he was more advanced in years, and more acquainted with human nature and the arts of intrigue, he so completely blinded and deluded the ten tribes of Israel, that they unanimously made him king, and sacrificed all their political happiness to gratify his avarice and ambi tion. And when he had thus led them into one political error after another, his infidelity pushed him on to throw them into a greater and more fatal delusion. Having easily intrigued them out of their government, he as easily intrigued them out of their religion, and plunged them into the grossest idolatry. But the house of Israel are not the only people who have been made blind to their private and public good by artful politicians. The Romans, at the zenith of their learning and refinement, were equally unable to stand before the arts of seduction. How often did aspiring, eloquent, and designing men, raise popular commotions and insurrections, and take the advantage of political delusions, to seize the reigns of government? Though the Ro


mans viewed themselves as connoisseurs in politics,
yet all their political knowledge was totally insuf-
ficient to guard the weak side of human nature, and
to prevent them from falling into the greatest poli-
tical delusions. There is a natural propensity in
mankind to oppose law and religion, and therefore

and ears, and hearts, are always open to those base politicians, who promise to free them from such painful restraints. What astonishing delusions have prevailed, and are still prevailing in France, and in many of the states and kingdoms of Europe? How have the Jeroboams of the present day succeeded in spreading political and religious delusions among the most enlightened nations? And who can tell when or where these delusions will end? Human nature is the same in America as in all other parts of the world. We are no less exposed to be carried down the current of delusion than others were, who have been overwhelmed and destroyed.

4. It appears from the character and conduct of Jeroboam, that corrupt rulers will always aim to corrupt the faithful ministers of religion. No other men are so intimately connected with the great body of the people, and have such favourable opportunities of pouring instruction into their minds, and of conversing with them under all circumstances of life. And whether it be a favourable or unfavourable aspect upon the public good, it is a certain fact, that wise and faithful ministers have a larger share in th 2

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