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The third circumstance is the important blessing that accompanied the announcement of his restoration. He was pressed by the Assyrian force which had entered the country, taken all the strongholds in the way, and was now besieging Jerusalem-What would fifteen years have been had he passed them in personal captivity, or in a subdued and degraded empire, or in a state of constant alarm or suspicion? Yet God perfects the mercy : “And I will deliver thee, and this city, out of the hand of the king of Assyria : and I will defend this city.” What would it be to lengthen out our existence, without our limbs, our senses, our reason, our relative comforts? But God giveth liberally. He giveth us richly all things to enjoy.
The fourth circumstance regards the supernatual confirmation of it" And this shall be a sign unto thee from the Lord, that the Lord will do this thing that he hath spoken: behold, I will bring again the shadow of the degrees, which is gone down in the sun-dial of Ahaz, ten degrees backward. So the sun returned ten degrees, by which degrees it was gone down." Why was this sign given ? Was not the word of a faithful God sufficient? The Lord does nothing in vain. He saw the state of Hezekiah's mind : he knew that there was something ready to faint in his faith and hope: and therefore he passes by the infirmity and indulges his wishes-for he had said, “ What is the sign that I shall go up to the house of the Lord ?" Thus he stoops, and accommodates himself to the imperfections of his people. He does not break the bruised reed, or quench the smoking flax. And shall we despise the day of small things ?
The last circumstance is the employment of means—“For Isaiah had said, Let them take a lump of figs, and lay it for a plaister upon a boil, and he shall recover." It is well known that figs have a virtue to ripen and imposthume, and bring it to a head, that the peculency may be removed : but in the case before us, from the nature and prevalency or the disease no means would have availed without the peculiar agency of God. The fact therefore is very instructive. We see that prayer does not supersede the use of means. We also see that the divine assurance does not supersede the use of them : for no sooner has Isaiah promised his recovery as a prophet, than he prescribes for him as a physician. Yea, the very miraculousness of the cure does not supersede the use of them. Miracles were never a waste of power; never intended to make people wonder only; or to save them the trouble of doing what they are able to do for themselves. Miracles therefore were never needlessly multiplied : and even when they have been performed there was nothing in the degree of them that was unnecessary or superfluous. The manna descended from the clouds ; but the people were to gather it. The angel opened the prison door, and released Peter from his fetters ;-this he could not do himself: but he did not take him up in his arms, and carry him to the house of Mary; but said unto him, Follow me; for he had legs and feet, and why should he not employ them ? It is a great thing to unite activity and dependence: to use means, and not neglect to trust in God; and to trust in God, and not neg.
lect to use means. "I lead,” says Wisdom, “in the midst of the paths of judgment.”
June 30.—“The writing of Hezekiah king of Judah, when he had been sick, and was recovered of his sickness.”—Isaiah xxxviii. 9.
Many persons are afraid of their trials. It would be wiser to fear their mercies. They are in more danger from their friends than from their enemies; from their comforts than from their crosses ; from their health than from their sickness. They often desire our prayers when they come into aßiction : but they need them most when they are coming out of it; and are returning into scenes of danger and temptation again.
Wicked and worldly men are only anxious to escape from their troubles. But it ought to be our concern to inquire whether we “come forth as gold” – whether we are brought nearer to God, or are left farther from him, by the things we suffer. Constantine the Great said, “I marvel that many of my subjects, since they became Christians, are worse than they were when they were Pagans.” Young speahs of some as "worso for mending,” and “washed to fouler stains.” And it is lamentable to think how many, instead of being improved by their recovery from disease, are injured by it. They poured out a prayer when God's chastening hand was upon them, and confessed, and resolved, and vowed unto the Lord ; but when he relieved and released them they turned again to folly. Many think we are severe in our reflections on death-bed changes; and wonder that we think such conversions can never be entirely satisfactory to the subjects of them, or their surviving friends. Y ei of how many ministers have we inquired, all of whom have affirmed, that they never knew such converts, when recovered, living according to their promises; yet had they died they would have entertained a firm hope concerning many of them. And it is probable funeral sermons would have been preached for some of them and how would others have been chronicled in the magazines! Even Jacob forgot the vow his soul made when he was in trouble, till God said unto him, “Arise, go up to Beth-el, and dwell there: and make there an altar unto God, that appeared unto thee when thou tleddest from the face of Esau thy brother." Then, and not before, did the backslider say, “Let us arise, and go up to Beth-el; and I will make there an altar unto God, who answered me in the day of my distress, and was with me in the way which I went.”
Hezekiah did better upon his recovery. He wrote a song, and bad il sung in the temple-service. He might, indeed, for this purpose, have availed himself of one of David's songs; and we read that be appointed persons to sing the songs of his illustrious ancestor in the worship of God. But he composed one himself on this occasion, not from vanity, but from sentiments of fiety. He wrote it in particular for three purposes.
First, to show the importance of the blessing he had experienced.
Read his language, and you will find how much he valued life. This to some may seem strange. To a good man, is it not gain to die ? When a voyager is entering the desired haven, is he so glad > and grateful for a wind that blows him back again to sea ? The fear of death is as much a natural principle as hunger or thirst. Every good man, though always in a state to die, is not in a frame to die. He may not have the light of God's countenance, or the assurance of hope. He may be also influenced by relative considerations. This was the case with Hezekiah. He might have feared for the succession; for he had no offspring at this time: Manasseh was only twelve years old at his death, and therefore could not have been born till three years after his father's recovery. The enemy was also at the gates of the capital. He had also begun a glorious reformation, and wished to see it carried on. Even Paul, though he knew that to depart and to be with Christ was far better, yet was more than willing to abide in the flesh, for the advantage of the Philippians and others.
Secondly, to excite his gratitude. Hence he so vividly recalls all his painful and gloomy feelings in his late danger, that he might be the more affected with the goodness of his deliverer and benefactor -read the whole chapter-Do as he did. Dwell upon every thing that can give a relish, and add an impression to the blessing you have received ; and be ye thankful-and employ your tongues, your pens, your lives, in praise of the God of your mercies. Did the heathen upon their recovery hang up tablets of acknowledgments in the house of their gods? Have Papists built churches and altars to their patron saints? And will you do nothing for the Lord your healer? Yet su it often is! The physician is cheerfully rewarded; the attendants are paid for their trouble ; friends are thanked for their obliging inquiries-only one Being is overlooked— He who gave the physician his skill; he who rendered the means effectual; he who inspired the inquiring friends with all their tenderness.
Thirdly, to insure a sense of his obligation in future. The Jews soon forgot the works of the Lord, and the wonders he had shown them. And we are very liable to the same evil. But we should say, with David, “ Bless the Lord, O my soul, and forget not all his benefits;" and avail ourselves of every assistance that can enable us to recover and preserve the feelings we had at the time when the Lord appeared for us. Thus the Jews established the feast of Purim upon their deliverance from the plot of Haman. Thus Samuel raised a stone after his victory, and called it Ebenezer. Joseph named his sons Ephraim and Manasseh, to remind him of the contrast between his former and present condition. And thus Hezekiah would compose this writing, that he might compare himself with its sentiments, months and years after; and that it might be a pledge of his dedication to God; and a witness against him if his love should ever wax cold
And how was it with him? Can I proceed? So far all is well. He is wise, humble, grateful, resolved. But, alas! how shall we say it? “After this Hezekiah rendered not according to the benefit done him; for his heart was lifted up; therefore wrath came upon him and upon all Judah.” Lord, what is man! Who is beyond
the dånger of falling while in this world? On what can we safely rely? He that trusteth in his own heart is a fool. And he is not much better that trusts in his own grace. It is not our grace, but his giace that is sufficient for us. Let us therefore be strong in the Lord, and in the power of his might. Let us not insult over others when they err in doctrine or in practice; but tremble for ourselves, and pray, Lord, hold thou me up, and I shall be safe. Blessed is the man that feareth always.
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