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tions in any place, the people of God should not despair of a reformation. If they prepare the way by their prayers, their exhortations, and their godly example, the Holy Spirit may suddenly work a change in the community which shall cause their tongues to break forth in singing, “The Lord hath done great things for us, whereof we are glad.” Such scenes have often occurred since the days of Hezekiah. When impiety is bold, and iniquity abounds, and truth is trodden in the dust, the day of reformation is frequently near. From the past course of Providence, the church in such a period may look to God and exclaim with the psalmist, “It is time for thee, Lord, to work; for they have made void thy law.” When all other help is felt to be vain, we may expect that God will regard the humble, earnest cries of his people, and come forth in majesty to vindicate his own honor and put his enemies to shame.

The example of Hezekiah in making nant with the Lord God of Israel," when about to enter on the work of purifying the temple, may suggest to Christians the propriety of renewing their covenant with God, when earnestly seeking the return of the Spirit to revive the church and convert the impenitent.

We may learn, too, the duty of praying to have rulers who, by judicious zeal for the honor of God, and by a consistent holy life, shall encourage the

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people to walk in the ways of piety. Though in our own country rulers have not authority, as Hezekiah had, to make changes in the worship of God-still, if they show respect for his name, his word, his day, and his ordinances, if they devoutly worship in his courts, they will exert an influence on the cause of religion which few can adequately appreciate. If, on the other hand, like Ahaz, they neither fear God nor regard his worship_if they profane his name in their conversation and his day in business or amusements, thousands will follow their pernicious example, and corruption and infidelity soon spread a blight over the land.

CHAPTER III.

THE PASSOVER CELEBRATED.

AFTER Hezekiah had taken counsel with “his princes and all the congregation in Jerusalem," they determined to keep the passover in the second month, as they had been prevented from keeping it at the appointed time. The law granted such a permission in similar cases. Num. 9:10, 11. The other tribes were as much bound as Judah and Benjamin to celebrate this institution, for God had not released them from the covenant made with the whole nation. There were some pious persons still in those tribes who might desire to keep this feast at Jerusalem, and Hezekiah wished to give them an opportunity. Something, however, ought to be done on his part to assure them of a cordial welcome from their brethren, after the late bitter wars between the two kingdoms. Hezekiah therefore sent messengers throughout the ten tribes of Israel, as well as through all Judah, with an invitation to the feast from the king and his princes. While avoiding topics which might needlessly excite prejudice, and not even intimating that obedience was due from the whole nation to the family of David, the message attending the invitation was earnest, faithful, and direct in its appeals. “Ye

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children of Israel, return again unto the Lord God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, and he will return to the remnant of you that are escaped out of the hand of the king of Assyria. Now be ye not stiffnecked, as your fathers were, but yield yourselves unto the Lord, and enter into his sanctuary, which he hath sanctified for ever; and serve the Lord your God, that the fierceness of his wrath may turn away from you. For the Lord your God is gracious and merciful, and will not turn his face away from you,

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return unto him.” Hosea, who at this time was exercising the prophetic office in the kingdom of Israel, would urge the people in tones of impressive entreaty, to accept the invitation : 0 Israel, return unto the Lord thy God; for thou hast fallen by thine iniquity. Take with you words, and turn to the Lord : say unto him, Take away all iniquity and receive us graciously; so will we render thee the calves of our lips. Neither will we say any more to the work of our hands, Ye are our gods; for in thee the fatherless findeth mercy.”

As the posts passed from city to city of the ten tribes with the kind and affectionate address of Hezekiah and his princes, it was met by the mass of the people with scorn. This is just what might have been expected. There is no mockery of religion like that of an apostate—no sneer like his at the admonitions of good men.

Some would accuse 3

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Hezekiah of attempting covertly to undermine the independence of the nation. Others would ridicule the superstition of Hezekiah in suggesting that their troubles were caused by revolting from the national God of Judah. Others still, would smile at his simplicity in supposing they were to be alarmed by the wrath of Jehovah, or allured by his mercy. And a few, in their fancied superior discernment, might speak slightly of Hezekiah's disregard of progress, in reforming after past models, when the advanced state of the world called for new things.

But the message was not thus treated by all. “ Divers of Asher and Manasseh and Zebulon hum. bled themselves and came to Jerusalem.' The tribe of Ephraim had long been a rival of the tribe of Judah, and the neighborhood of Bethel would feel a local interest in the worship of the golden calves which did not extend to more distant places. Hence few from that region appear to have come to the feast.

The invitation to attend the passover so evidently sprung from religious zeal and not from state policy, that Hoshea the king of Israel seems to have been willing that his people should accept it. Possibly he was glad, in the critical condition of his affairs, to cultivate a closer intimacy with the kingdom of Judah. Hezekiah may also have thought the time near for uniting the whole nation again under one religion. During the siege of Jerusalem already

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