Abbildungen der Seite
PDF
EPUB

XXXVI.

JEROBOAM.

THE successor of David now sleeps in the tomb--his wisdoın, his infirmities, his sin, and his repentance no longer awaken the sorrow or the admiration of mankind. Rehoboam, his son, fears no rival; he goes up to Shechem to take undisturbed possession of the vacant throne. Thither assembled the tribes of Israel; and at their head the proud and factious Jeroboam.

“ Thy father made our yoke griev“ ous-make thou it lighter, and we « will serve thee.” How much danger lurked under this specious request! Is it the promise of allegiance, or the threat

of

of fedition? Is it the voice of humility or of treason? How artfully does the parricide hold the olive-branch over his sword! If Rehoboam refuses to gratify the people, he endangers his kingdom. If he yields, he throws disgrace on the memory of his father.

The suggestion itself, was false, as well as undutiful. The warlike reigns of Saul and David had given unavoidable cause for complaint. All was calm when Solomon held the sceptre; the tributes of foreign nations enriched his treafury—his temples and palaces were reared by foreign labour: while the tasks of Israel were easy and ingenuous as free from servility, as from pain. In his reign, Judah and Israel were many as the fand on the sea-shore, rejoicing each man under his vine and under his fig

In his reign, silver was in Jerusalem as stones, and cedars as fycamore trees in the vale for abundance. Did

this

tree.

H 2

this universal plenty and prosperity indicate oppressive exactions? But base and grovelling souls delight in casting censures on departed virtue. The benefits of Solomon's reign are passed over in filence-imaginary grievances are descanted on with clamour. Who shall hope, that his merit or his greatness shall altogether exempt him from obloquy, when the name of Solomon is thus traduced in the very presence of his fon?

The ancient counsellors of the deceased monarch had learnt of their master, that “ a soft answer turneth away wrath.” Wisely, therefore, do they entreat Rehoboam to speak good words unto the people, and attach them to him for ever. It is no hard condition, by meekness and condescension to bind the hearts and secure the allegiance of a mighty nation. Had this fage advice been adopted, the son of Nebat might

[ocr errors]

have Aed again into Egypt-rebellion
would have found an unfruitful soil in
Israel.

Age brings with it experience, and
ripens wisdom-youth is too often rash,
headstrong, seduced by passion, the foe
to reason. Many a kingdom, many a
life, many a soul has been lost by evil
counsellors : such were those, whom
Rehoboam preferred to the grey-headed
servants of his father. He now hears,
how unfit it is for majesty to submit to
any terms and stipulations—how requi-
site it is to deal harshly with this pre-
fumption, and to crush the yet unformed
mischief e'er it break out into rebellion.
They bid him speak the language of
haughty and indignant pride. He glo-
ries in the falsely-alleged tyranny of
Solomon—" My father made your yoke

heavy-I will add to your yokemmy
“ father chastised you with whips~I
us will chastise

you
with scorpions.”

O SENSE

2

H 3

O senseless people, and infatuated prince! Had they complained that in the latter days of Solomon religion had been corrupted, had they besought their new king to begin his reign with God, to demolish the idols, to purify the temple, to restore devotion to its original fimplicity, such requests as these would have done honour to their national character-now they seek for nothing but the gratification of their avarice; and their king, regardless of their reformation, has nothing in view but imperious sovereignty. Let him but accomplish this point, his people may be profligate, or miserable it is a matter of indifference to himself!

Now that Alame bursts out at once, which was never more to be extinguished. The furious multitude, grown desperate by these denunciations of rigour, exclaim with one voice, “ What portion

« have

« ZurückWeiter »