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the Chronicles, which are nothing but a continual exemplification of it. From the numbering of the people by David, down to their final overthrow by the treachery of Zedekiah, every judgment which befel, every deliverance which blessed, Jerusalem, came in consequence of the behaviour of her kings and her princes, her priests and her prophets. And this history of the Jews is not an exception to the general rule of God's government of nations, but the exemplification of it: it is a leaf taken out of the great

a book of Providence, for the purpose of instructing all kings and peoples in the standing laws of the Divine Providence. At the same time, we are not to conclude that God doth not also see the wickedness of the people, and visit for it. “He is of purer eyes than to behold iniquity” in any place or person ; and as the greatness of no one's power can protect him, so the meanness of no one's condition can exempt him, from the judgments which come for iniquity. While the sins of the rulers of a land are punished by national disasters-such as famine and war, invasion and insurrection, dishonour and defeat-the sins of meaner persons are punished in their several places, by adversity, by disaster, by affliction, by disease, and other minor administrations of the providence of God. God hath placed every one in a sphere of his own, for the right administration of which He boldeth him to be responsible: and when he fails to occupy it for the glory of God and for the ends of goodness, God, by the visitation of his providence, doth first chastise; and, if chastisement avail not, doth afterwards sorely afflict; and, when his long-suffering is worn out, doth root that steward out of his place, and set up another in his room: and if a succession of stewards over a city, as Jerusalem or Babylon, do go astray from him, he taketh vengeance upon the place itself, and maketh it to be the abode of misery and the house of desolation. To this sad pass Jerusalem was fast drawing nigh, through the iniquity of the functionaries whom God had planted in her to watch over religion and righteousness; and he is about to bring her through the fire; but first he will set out her sin before her

eyes, her space to repent of her iniquity. “And I said, Hear, I pray you, O heads of Jacob, and ye princes of the house of Israel: Is it not for you to know judgment? who hate the good and love the evil; who pluck off their skin from off them, and their flesh from off their bones: who also eat the flesh of my people, and flay their skin from off them; and they break their bones, and chop them in pieces, as for the pot, and as flesh within the caldron " (Mic.iii. 1,2,3).

First, the Lord by the mouth of his prophet declares unto all kings, princes, and magistrates, what their office and calling is : " Is it not for you to know judgment ?" Their high function is to search into and understand, and cause to be observed by their people, all the ordinances of righteousness, and to judge

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every one who dareth to transgress them. Even nature teacheth this to be the office of a king, and heathens themselves have in all ages both beautifully expressed and well practised it. Witness, for example, the instructions of Artaxerxes to Ezra the priest, whom he sent to restore the city and temple of Jerusalem, after the period of its first desolation : “And thou, Ezra, after the wisdom of thy God that is in thine hand, set magistrates and judges, wbich may judge all the people that are beyond the river, all such as know the laws of thy God; and teach ye them that know them not. And whosoever will not do the law of thy God, and the law of the king, let judgment be executed speedily upon him, whether it be unto death, or to banishment, or to confiscation of goods, or to imprisonment” (Ezra vii. 25, 26). And because the poor and the needy, the widows and the fatherless, always lie most open to oppression, God is especially careful to charge kings and magistrates with their protection and defence and deliverance. Of this the lxxxiid Psalm is a fine example, wherein the godlike name and godlike office of kings is described, and their utter ruin foretold in consequence of their neglect of their sacred trust. The Psalm is altogether so fine a portrait of a good and faithful, of a wise and righteous king, that we deem it meet to transcribe it entire, as the best exposition of these words before us :“God standeth in the congregation of the mighty; he judgeth among the gods. How long will ye judge unjustly, and accept the persons of the wicked ? Defend the poor and fatherless : do justice to the afflicted and needy. Deliver the poor and needy: rid them out of the hand of the wicked. They know not, neither will they understand; they walk on in darkness : all the foundations of the earth are out of course. I have said, Ye are gods; and all of you are children of the Most High. But ye shall die like men, and fall like one of the princes. Arise, o God, judge the earth : for thou shalt inherit all nations." When God constituted the royal office in the person of king David, he was at great pains out of David's own mouth to define the ends and measures of that supreme stewardship. And in the bosom of all such instructions to his vicegerents, he delivereth the certain destruction which abideth those who will use the dignity for any lower or more partial end; and likewise forewarneth the world, that here also the wickedness of man would withstand the goodness of God; until he himself should send his own Son in the form of man, and out of him beget, by regeneration of the Holy Ghost, a royal race of “sons of God," into whose hands the government of all nations and of all worlds might safely be entrusted. And there ever follows a glowing description of the blessedness which in these days of refreshing shall fill the whole world, when the chosen One of

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God, and his generation of spiritual children, shall occupy the thrones of the earth. Take the lxxiid Psalm as a noble example of this; of which I will be permitted to quote a few verses : “ He shall judge thy people with righteousness, and thy poor with judgment. The mountains shall bring peace to the people, and the little hills, by righteousness. He shall judge the poor of the people, he shall save the children of the needy, and shall break in pieces the oppressor. They shall fear thee as long as the sun and moon endure, throughout all generations. He shall come down like rain


the mown grass ; as showers that water the earth. In his days shall the righteous flourish; and abundance of peace so long as the moon endureth. He shall have dominion also froin sea to sea, and from the river unto the ends of the earth” (vers. 1–8). Oh that kings were wise! oh

. that they understood this! then would they live in prosperity, and be a blessing to their people. Woe is me! what misery, while I write, is a neighbour city proving from the faithlessness of her king ! how is the very office and dignity, the honour and stability, of kings, shaken by that first-born son of the Papacy ! Woe to all kings who cleave to that mother of abominations! În like manner shall they be shuffled from their thrones. But God and his church gaineth nothing the while : all the power passeth over into the hands of Infidelity, the beast from the bottomless pit, who makes war against the witnesses and slayeth them. This beast hath, I learn, set up one of his kings, rejecting the words “ By the grace of God” from his escutcheon : and he shall go on till he hath completed the ten. And then shall he levy war against the Lamb, and those that are with him, and be overthrown in his mad career. And if we are to escape, it is by returning to our faithfulness to our God and his Christ. The more need have the few ministers in the land who know any thing, or care any thing, concerning these things, to do their duty stedfastly.

The guilt of these " heads of Jacob and princes of the house of Israel,” for which “ Zion was to be ploughed as a field, and Jerusalem to become heaps, and the mountain of the Lord's house as the high places of the forest,” consisteth, first, in that “hatred of the good and love of the evil,” which never fails to breed in the heart which hath cast off the fear of God and the regard of man. This is the great temptation of princes and magistrates, that, having power over men committed to them, they are apt to look upon themselves as more than men, and to cast off the sympathies of humanity, and put on the attributes of the brutal and ferocious creatures : and hence it is that those prophets who have set forth the succession of governments which were to be upon the earth from their times and for ever, do always image it by a two-fold succession-first, of beasts, until Christ take the

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nations; and of men thereafter-to signify that kings are liable to degenerate into brutes, or into devils; nor can be prevented, save by the continual worship and fear of the living God. For a king ought not to regard the person of any man; and is by his very office placed above the fear of man; and there is none for him to fear but God only. The king who should live in the fear of any man, or body of men, is not fit for the function of a king; but is the king of that faction which overcomes him. If he cast away the fear of God, he must become either a tyrant or a slave. And there is no deliverance. Other men have the check of one another, but he hath not. It is well for him when he hath a constitution to check him ; but nothing availeth to do so effectually, save the remembrance that he is the

vicegerent of God, holding his place till His Son and his Son's sons are all made perfect through sufferings, who shall then come and require of kings an account of their stewardships. By forgetting God and their responsibility to him they forget good; and they come to hate it, and to hate good men, and to surround themselves with evil-doers, and to set vile men high in place; and then the wicked walk on every side. And they love evil men; they love their vices, of which they should be ashamed, and the panders to their vices, whom they should utterly destroy. And the example descends from the throne to the inferior princes, and nobles and magistrates and people of the land; and the court becomes the nestling place of corruption and wickedness; and virtuous people estrange themselves, and are not to be seen, and all things go to wreck and ruin. Behold how Solomon himself was led astray by the temptations which surround a throne: he wanted not wisdom, nor piety, nor the knowledge of God, and yet he fell before sensuality and idolatry, and oppressed the people, and proved how fearful are the trials of a king. Behold also David, how he fell before the passions of the man and the power of the king to gratify them. Men are hardly men when standing before a king their hearts are shorn of their fortitude, and their words lose the information and instruction of truth. Ah me! I desire not that station. Yet is there grace for this also : witness Nathan among the prophets, and Daniel among the counsellors. It is better for me to think of the king's temptations in my closet, and pray for him there.

With the forgetfulness and confusion of good and evil comes oppression of the people, which is nothing but power directed by an evil heart. Nowa king must have power. A king without power is nothing but a puppet; and when such a puppet is set up, then will follow contempt and anarchy, not only about the throne, but in all inferior trusts whatsoever, of magistrate, of father, of master, of friend; and society will become a great system of independence,

! pride, jealousy, suspicion, and selfishness. Did not Holland


exhibit this; and is not America re-producing it? Power, then, must be invested in the head of the state, in order that it may be invested in the several members of it; in order that the principle of trust and responsibility may have a name and a place, a reverence and an authority, in the community. When, therefore, the king's heart is corrupted by wrong education, by dissipated habits, or by evil counsellors, that power must take the form of favouritism, injustice, oppression, or unrighteous

And hence it is that all wise kingdoms have deemed the right education of the heir-apparent to the throne as the principal thing, and provided for it with all their wisdom. I think it was the scandal of this kingdom to have prevented our late monarch from that exercise of his manly functions in stateaffairs which might have realized and substantiated his excellent education, and prevented him from those ruinous courses which eclipsed the maturity of his years, and hung over him to the end.

These princes of Judah had carried their cruelty to a terrible extent: "they plucked off their skin from off the people, by their exactions in the way of tribute. It is a strong figure, which yet I have heard the common people apply to men of a severe, rigorous, and exorbitant character. In the strong and powerful speech of my native place I remember a lawyer who, for his severity in exacting debts, was called Skin-him-alive. But this is nothing equal to our prophet, who exaggerates the figure to the uttermost; representing those rulers to whom he spoke as not only plucking off the skin, but also the flesh of his people; and not only so, but as eating their flesh, and flaying off their skin, and breaking their bones and chopping them in pieces as for the pot, and as flesh within the caldron. This is fearful language, but rest assured it is no exaggeration of the truth. There is no language so exact as that of the prophets. God doth not miss his aim with words any more than with acts. And let us assure ourselves tbat things had indeed come to this fearful pass in Jerusalem before it was given up. The parallel passage of prophecy in the xxix th chapter of Isaiah describes a state of like abandonment: “That make a man an offender for a word, and lay a snare for him that reproveth in the gate, and turn aside the just for a thing of nought” (ver. 21). And behold, in the viith chapter of our prophet, the condition into which the good man was reduced : · The good man is perished out of the earth ; and there is none upright among men: they all lie in wait for blood ; they hunt every man his brother with a net. That they may do evil with both hands earnestly, the prince asketh, and the judge asketh for a reward : and the great man he uttereth his mischievous desire: so they wrap it up" (vers. 2, 3). Oh, it is not so strange or uncommon a thing that “God's people” should be so

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