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were accustomed to return to gather in their grain. At the time of the passover kept by Hezekiah, the wheat was probably ripe; yet such was the zeal and gladness of the people, that none of them seem to have thought of going home to harvest it. Even when the seven days were ended, they were not willing to return to their secular business. Many of them were ignorant, and needed to be taught; many were weak, and needed to be confirmed in the purpose to abandon idolatry; but on the distant hills and along the secluded valleys there would be few to instruct them or to encourage them by their sympathy. So with one 'consent they determined to continue together seven days longer. The king and princes contributed freely for the additional sacrifices upon which the people feasted, and the period was spent in the same concord and joy. Jerusalem had not presented such a scene of solemnity and sacred mirth since the days of Solomon; and sadness filled the heart of many an inhabitant of the holy city, as company after company took their departure with the music of cymbals and the voice of praise.
The paschal lamb was a type of Christ, whom the apostle terms “our passover sacrificed for us.” Through his blood we are saved from the wrath of God against sin, as the Israelites, by sprinkling the blood of the paschal lamb on their door-posts, were saved from the judgments inflicted on the Egyptians.
In him the Christian finds peace, gladness, and salvation. On his flesh he feeds by faith, and is nourished in the divine life. Like Hezekiah, too, he is not satisfied to sit down alone at the feast. By conversation with one, by correspondence with another, he invites them to participate in his own blessedness. The latter mode of address he often finds the most efficient, and it is sometimes the only one he can employ with propriety. In some cases he can thus express himself more freely and fully than conversation will permit; nor is there room for the devices so often employed to efface impressions made by reproof from the lips. A note silently placed in the hand of a friend, or sent to him at a distance, will often be received with gratitude not only for the admonition or advice itself, but for the delicate manner in which it is given. Persons of limited talents and education, who would shrink from writing an essay or a sermon, may win souls to Christ by letters, plain indeed in language, but powerful from the warm impulses of a pious heart.
HEZEKIAH SUPPRESSES IDOLATRY.
Men at first worshipped in groves and elevated places. Thus Noah built an altar on Ararat, where the ark rested ; and Abraham, on entering the promised land, built an altar on a mountain between Bethel and Ai. He planted a grove also in Beer-sheba, and called on the name of the Lord. Groves, hills, and mountains, especially in warm climates, seem well adapted for worship, as they are cool, retired, and favorable to devotional feeling; but as idolatry with its abominations prevailed among the heathen, it became needful to prohibit the Israelites from offering sacrifices anywhere but on the altar at the tabernacle or temple. Such, however, was the attachment of the nation to the forbidden worship, that even pious kings did not venture to abolish the high places. The people at a distance from Jerusalem disliked to be confined to the worship at the temple; and if they were prevented from having places for offerings to the Lord in their own neighborhoods, they would be tempted to resort to the altars of the heathen who still dwelt in the land. The united reigns of the four kings who preceded Ahaz, the father of Hezekiah, included a period of 137 years. The history com
mends each of these kings for doing what “ right in the sight of the Lord ;" yet shades its approbation by the additional remark, that “the high places were not taken away.” If they were numerous when Ahaz began to reign, they would be greatly multiplied by his influence, and the suppression of worship in the temple.
To overturn these altars, which were planted in almost every neighborhood, defended as they were by superstition, by the connivance of former kings, and by local interest, was a work requiring courage and uncompromising determination. Fit instruments for its accomplishment were prepared during the joyful weeks of the festival. The teachings of the Levites had not fallen on ears dull of hearing, or on minds surfeited with knowledge. As many of the dense crowd listened with awe to the command, “Thou shalt not make unto thee any graven image, or any likeness of any thing that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth: thou shalt not bow down thyself to them, nor serve them”—their hearts were filled with penitence and shame. From day to day the impression was deepened. At length the feeling became so intense, that when the people were dismissed from the temple, they rushed forth in detached parties to exterminate idolatry from the land, as in later times the myriads of Europe precipitated themselves into Palestine to recover
the holy city and sepulchre from the possession of infidels. Before their unsparing hands, the altars and groves disappeared from the cities and villages and hill-tops of Judah. More difficulty might have been anticipated among the ten tribes; but either Hoshea was inclined to favor the work, or the idolatrous Israelites quailed before the determined spirit of the reformers. Throughout the whole country the ensigns of idolatry were soon swept away, and Israel was once more externally a people holy to the Lord. Nothing is said of the destruction of the golden calves. The Jews have a tradition that the golden calf in Dan had been carried away, a few years before, by the victorious Assyrians; and that a few years later, Salmaneser carried off the golden calf from Bethel. Having thoroughly accomplished their work, the children of Israel returned in triumph, “every man to his own possession, into their own cities.” The events connected with that meeting, recounted with glowing lips, would kindle its spirit in the remotest dwellings of the land, and the name of the God of Jacob be magnified.
When the Comforter revives the hearts of his people, the enemies of religion are often amazed at the manifestations of his power ; but they soon re'cover their hardihood, and frequently become more violent from the temporary restraint of their hostility. The best time to remove evils which mar the peace or the purity of a community, is when Chris