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66 His own

M. You are right, myson; he had no sooner heard the words of the prophet, who now for the first time was the messenger of evil tidings to him, than he saw all his sin and folly, and was ashamed of it. He began immediately to humble himself before God; he acknowledged his fault, and returned thanks to God for not sending the punishinent in his own days. He blessed the goodness which had spared him when he deserved punishment; and he submitted patiently to the severe affliction which must have filled his heart when he was told of the evil which he had brought upon his people. conscience struck him no less than the word of the prophet; meekly, therefore, and patiently does he yield to the Divine correction ; he says to the prophet; • Good is the word of the Lord which thou hast spoken.' Thou hast spoken the word, but from the Lord. It is not thine but His; and being his, it must needs be like himself, good : good because it is just ; for I have deserved more and worse ; good, because it is merciful, for I suffer not according to my deserts."*

E. Then, mother, the evils, which the prophet had foretold did not happen in the lifetime of king Hezekiah?

M. No; my son; God spared him the sight of such dreadful calamities; his country enjoyed undisturbed tranquillity during the rest of his life, and he was allowed to die in peace.

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M. After the death of Hezekiah, Edward, the destruction of the kingdom of Judah, which had been foretold by Isaiah, was hurried on rapidly by the wickedness of Manasseh, son of Hezekiah, and of the other kings which succeeded him. Manasseh even went so far in provoking the anger of the Almighty, as to set up a graven image in the. temple of the Lord, and he and the other wicked men who came after, seemed only to try how they could outdo each other in sin; sacrificing even their children to idols, and filling the streets of Jerusalem with the blood of innocent persons. The only good king in Judah, after the death of Hezekiah, was Josiah, who did all he could to save his country by restoring the true religion, and causing the law of God to be constantly read and explained to the people by the priests. The words of the book of the law written by Moses had been long forgotten among the people of Judah, and when the priests, by the command of their pious king, read to them from it some of the dreadful threatenings which Moses had declared against them if they forsook the Lord God of their fathers, the king himself was greatly afflicted by the awful words which

were written in this book, and he rent his clothes in his grief, for he felt that the wrath of the Lord was poured out upon his people on account of the disobedience of themselves and their fathers.

And the king was so anxious about what he had read, to know whether the dreadful things which Moses had spoken of were to come to pass immediately, that he sent to inquire respecting them of Huldah, who was a servant of God, and a prophetess, who was dwelling in Jerusalem. When this holy woman received the message of the king, she was directed by God in what way to answer it. “ And she said to them, thus saith the Lord God of Israel, behold, I will bring evil upon this place, and upon the inhabitants thereof, even all the words of the book which the king of Judah hath read. But to the king who sent you to inquire, say to him, thus saith the Lord, because thine heart was tender, and thou hast humbled thyself before the Lord when thou heardest what I spake against this place, and against the inhabitants thereof, that they should become a desolation and a curse, and hast rent thy clothes and wept before me; I also have heard thee, saith the Lord, and thou shalt be gathered into the grave

peace, and thine


shall not see all the evil which I will bring upon this place.”

Here were comfortable tidings for the pious Josiah. See, my child, what favour God is ever ready to show to the righteous ! What a difference he is often pleased to put between them and the wicked, even in this world.

They are never overlooked by God. No, if there be but one righteous person in a city or a country, that one shall be res membered, and shall find mercy. Surely the destruction of Jerusalem would have come on much faster had it not been for the piety of Hezekiah and Josiah. For their sakes this guilty country was borne with for many years, because the Lord would spare their eyes the dreadful sight of the miseries that must happen to Jerusalem. The righteous are often taken away

from the evil to come.

What encouragement have we here to serve God sincerely. See how gracious he is to his faithful servants. Hezekiah and Josiah must both be laid down in their quiet graves before the prophecies pronounced against a rebellious people can be brought to pass.

E. Did Josiah live long after God sent him this message?

M. No, he died about a year afterward. Several more wicked kings succeeded him, and the whole people fell back again into sin, till at length the Lord brought upon

them all the calamities which he had threatened.

E. Who was king, then, mother?

M. Nebuchadnezzar, king of Babylon, came up against Jerusalem, first in the reign of Jehoiakim, whom he subdued and made his servant. Again in the reign of his son Jeconiah he came and besieged the city, and carried him away with all his family to Babylon, and carried away all the princes of Judah and mighty men of valour, ten thousand captains altogether; leaving only the poorest sort of people in the land. Nebuchadnezzar took from

Jerusalem also all the treasures of the house of the Lord, and the treasures of the king's house, as Isaiah, you know, had foretold to Hezekiah. Still Nebuchadnezzar did not utterly destroy either the city or the people at this time; he contented himself with carrying away all the great people and the riches of the country, and all the vessels which were found in the house of the Lord; and he appointed Zedekiah, the uncle of Jeconiah, to be king in his place, over the remainder of the people.

These were but the beginnings of troubles to this rebellious people, and had they taken warning by these, had they but seen the hand of God bringing upon them the evils of which their prophets many years back had spoken; or had they but believed the prophet Jeremiah, who was at this very time daily telling them what the Almighty meant to do with them, they might yet have found some mercy with God. But they hardened their hearts, they would not listen to his words,

nor believe that he told them, but hearkened instead to their own false prophets, who constantly prophesied falsely to them, and led them on to their ruin.

Jeremiah, by the command of the Lord, told their king Zedekiah plainly that it was the will of the Almighty that he should submit to the king of Babylon, and serve him, for that he had raised him up for a time to reign over all the surrounding kingdoms and nations, and that he would punish any country or people that refused to submit to him. He promised also, at the same time, that if they would serve the king of Babylon as he intended

any thing

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