صور الصفحة
النشر الإلكتروني

divided. Although the ten tribes had revolted from the house of David, it was not their intention to depart from the religion of their fathers. But Jerusalem was the place, where alone its holy mysteries might be celebrated ; and thither the subjects of Jeroboam must repair three times in every year: this necessity was full of danger to the new king. The glories of the holy city might revive the affections of his people for the pious founders of the temple; and, uniting with their brethren at the solemn feasts, might excite some regret for their rash separation. To prevent, therefore, these serious consequences, after having repaired Shechem, the city which Abimelech had destroyed, in the days of Gideon, and fixed his court at Tirzah, near to Shechem, Jeroboam set up two golden calves, the one at Bethel, and the other at Dan, the two extremities of his kingdom, and proclaimed them “the gods of Israel, which brought them out of Egypt !" Altars were erected for their service-priests, from the lowest orders of the people, were appointed, instead of the consecrated levites, who had all, perhaps, left his territories and gone down into Judah-and sacred festivals were ordained, at seasons differing from those selected by the Mosaic Law.

FANNY. I suppose they derived their propensity to worship a calf from the Egyptians, who stupidly worshipped an ox.

MRS. M. No doubt it was so, since we find the first idol which their ancestors erected when they came out of Egypt was in thảt form. They were then punished by a miracle: and now another reproved their impiety, and was accompanied by one of the most remarkable prophecies recorded in sacred writ. Whilst Jeroboam, sacrilegiously burnt incense on the altar at Bethel, a prophet from Judah appeared before him, and in these awful words denounced the vengeance of the offended Deity : “ O altar, altar, thus saith the Lord : Behold a child shall be born unto the house of David, Josiah by name, and upon thee shall he offer the priests of the high places that burn incense upon thee, and men's bones shall be burnt upon thee. And this is the sign which the Lord hath spoken : Behold, the altar shall be rent, and the ashes that are upon it shall be poured out." The insolent monarch, now lost in the giddy maze of his destructive ambition, instantly put forth his own hand to seize the bold monitor—when, to the astonishment of the spectators, it was palsied in the attempt —and in the same moment the altar, dividing in the midst, “ the ashes were poured out.” The power and veracity of Jehovah were now acknowledged, and his messenger implored to intercede for a restoration of the king's hand: but although the mercy was accorded, Jeroboam neither repented of his sin, nor returned to his duty. Yet, he evidently knew better than to put any confidence in his graven images, or his unballowed priesthood : for when a favourite child soon afterwards fell sick, and he felt the want of genuine consolation, he sent his wife in disguise to Shiloh, to consult Abijah the prophet, who, being previously informed of the quality of his visitor, was commanded to take this opportunity of informing the reprobate king, not only that his child would die of this sickness, but that he alone of all his house, should die a natural death-because some good was found in him: but. for the ingratitude of Jeroboam, and the wickedness of his 'family, they should be cut off, every soul, by violeut hands!


As for the king of Judah, although he seemed to show a promising disposition, by acquiesing in the determination of the Supreme Governor of Israel, to deprive him of a large proportion of his dominions, yet his allegiance continued but three years : after which, during a reign of seventeen, the worship of images prevailed throughout Judah.

These provoking transgressions were visited by an invasion from Shishak, king of Egypt, who came with an immense army, took several of the strong cities of Judah, and plundered both the palace and the temple of Jerusalem, of the splendid furniture with which Solomon had enriched them. Further punishment was suspended, on their repentance-yet they became tributary to Egypt, Abijah, the son of Rehoboam, having a martial disposition, made a spirited effort in his short reign of three years, to bring back the Israelites to the house of David; and, although disappointed in his ultimate design, some of their best cities were reduced, and five hundred thousand of their chosen troops fell in battle. Asa, his successor, pursued a more promising way to the welfare of the state, by forbidding the abominable rites of the heathens to be seen in any part of his dominions, and resolutely destroying every symbol of their superstitions : not even sparing his own mother, who refused to concur in the pious work ; but

; cutting her idol in pieces, with more than common marks of indignation, he deposed her from the royal station she held, that none of inferior note might hope to disobey with impunity.

Asa reigned forty-one years, respected by his subjects; and was embalmed and buried with great pomp in a sepulchre which in his life-time he had prepared and probably in one of those immense structures which are shown at this day near the fallen city of Jerusalem, and still bear the name of “ the sepulchres of the kings.” We see, too, by the instance of Asa, that the custom of embalming the bodies of great men, which the Israelites brought with them from Egypt, still prevailed. Jehoshaphat, the son of Asa, went still further in the work of reformation, for he not only discountenanced idolatry, but sent out Levites to instruct the people in the laws of Moses; and commanded the governors of the provinces to aid them by their authority. Nor did he rest here; but went himself throughout Judah, exhorting the judges by every honourable and religious consideration, to be firm in the impartial adminis. tration of justice. His kingdom was highly prosperous during his whole reign. The adjacent nations feared him, and again brought their presents and their tributes, so that he became exceedingly rich. Yet he, too, erred: for he united with the degenerate king of Israel, in building a navy at Ezion-geber, to trade to the wealthy port of Tarshish for gold ; but his fault was reproyed, by the destruction of all their ships in a storm.

The history of the Israelites, from the revolt of Jeroboam, is a history of alternate crime and calamity. Though repulsive, it is full of instruction, because it marks the steps by which they travelled to their own destruction, Continually embroiled with their neighbours, and with the sister state of Judah, the story is somewhat intricate; I shall not, therefore, be very particular in the detail, but endeavour to lead you through the most prominent and entertaining events, to the natural result of their apostacythe fulfilment of the prophecies against them.

The royal line of Israel, as contra-distinguished from that of Judah, did not produce one righteous prince, but every succeeding one plunged more deeply than his predecessor, in vices the most inveterate!

CATHERINE. In such a state of things, were they not wholly abandoned by the great Supreme, whom they thus ungratefully deserted ?

Mrs. M. Though God is just, my dear, he is long suffering. He bore long with his apostate children, before he cast them off.visiting them with threatening and exhortation by his prophets, and deferring their final sentence whilst there appeared the smallest prospect of their return; for there were yet faithful individuals in the reprobate land, and, for their sakes, occasional mercies were bestowed. The celebrated prophet, Elijah, and Elisha, were commissioned to this division of Israel, and performed their miracles amongst them!

Nadab, the son of Jeroboam, succeeded his father to the throne of Israel, and following his evil example, was slain by Baasha, a man of Issachar, who put the crown on his own head, and afterwards fulfilled the judgment that had been pronounced against the house of Jeroboam, by putting them to death!

These atrocities, however, did not secure the succession to his family; for his wickedness was so offensive to heayen, that a sentence of extermination, complete as bad been that of Jeroboam, was passed upon him. His son Elah was slain whilst he was revelling in his palace at Tirzah, by Zimri, a " captain of his chariots,” and the whole house of Baasha was destroyed. When the news of Zimri's having cut off the royal house, and set himself on the throne, reached the army, which at that time was besieging the Philistines in Gibbethon, they proclaimed Omri, one

« السابقةمتابعة »