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character, and were committed un- sin also; for it is said that.“ he der circumstances which greatly ag- made Judah and the inhabitants of gravated their enormity. The nar- Jerusalem to err, and to do worse rative mentions several particulars, than the heathen.". The ungodly which shew the fearful extent of his add fearfully to their own offences, offences.
by seducing others to offend. “ If 1. He sinned immediately against a ruler hearken to lies,” says SoGod. Every sin is indeed a trans- lomon, “all his servants are wickgression of the commands of our ed;" and even in the most humble Creator; but some sins seem as it sphere of life “evil communications" were to shew a more than ordinary in like manner corrupt good mancontempt for his Infinite Majesty: ners;" and this not only by the nathey imply a direct denial of his pre- tural effect of bad example, but by sence; they urge him to vindicate the positive efforts which sinners the honour of his name; they practi- employ to lead others into temptacally speak the language of the fool tion. This was the case in regard to who says in his heart, “There is no the first transgression which was God.” Of this kind was the sin of committed in the Garden of Eden; idolatry which Manasseh so flagrant- for satan, having himself sinned ly committed; for he reared up altars against God, tempted Eve to sin also; foran idol or false god, called Baalim; and Eve, having sinned, drew Adam and made groves for the cruel and with her into the transgression; and licentious rites of heathen supersti- it has continued to be the case ever tion: he worshipped the host of since; for which reason, the Scripheaven, the sun, the moon, and the tures frequently warn us, as we vastars, and served them; instead of lue our immortal souls, against the serving Him who made them, and society of the wicked. “Their word rules them in their courses. He will eat as doth a canker:” “The even carried his profaneness and companion of fools shall be desprovocation against God to so great troyed." an extent, that he built altars for 4. Another aggravation of the sinthese pagan idols in the courts of ful conduct of Manasseh was, his inthe house of the Lord, and set up for gratitude for the benefits which he worship a carved image in the tem- had received from that all-merciful ple itself, of “which God had said Being, whom he so daringly offendto David, and to Solomon his son, ed. This is particularly mentionIn this house will I put my name ed in the chapter before us; where, for ever."
in the account given of his sinfulness 2. But not only did Manasseh in introducing idolatry into the city “work much evil in the sight of the and temple of Jerusalem, mention is Lord, to provoke him to anger," but made of the special favours which his sins against God were followed by Jebovah had bestowed upon the peosins against his neighbour. Having ple of Israel, and his promise not to cast off the fear of his Creator, he remove them out of the land which became dangerous to all around him. he had appointed for their fathers, His heart was so greatly hardened provided they would take heed to do by the deceitfulness of sin, that it is all that he had commanded them. said, “he shed innocent blood very The ingratitude therefore of rebelmuch till he had filled Jerusalem ling against so gracious a Being, was from one end to another;" and he equalled only by the folly of makeven caused his own children to passing him an enemy and losing the through the fire, in the valley of the promised rewards of his favour. son of Hinnom.
5. To mention but one aggrava3. To aggravate still more his of- tion more, of the sins of Manasseh, fences, he not only sinned himself, and that which greatly added to their but he delighted in causing others to enormity, they were committed deliberately against knowledge and his iniquities unchecked. Sorrow, warning, against the secret checks we are told, springs not out of the of conscience, and against the early ground: it does not occur by chance, instructions of a pious education. For or without meaning. All affliction Manasseh was the son of king Heze, is the consequence of sin; and it is kiah, of whom it is recorded that well when our troubles in this life « throughout all Judah," and more are made the instruments of leading especially doubtless in his own fa- us to God, that we may not suffer mily, “he wrought that which was that eternal punishment which our good, and right, and truth before the iniquities merit in the world to Lord his God: and in every work come. In the case of Manasseh, that he began in the service of the the hand of God was clearly visible house of God, and in the law, and in in his punishment. It is said, that the commandments, to seek his God, the Lord brought upon him and his he did it with all his heart." And people—for both he and his people though, unhappily for Manasseh, he had sinned—the host of the king of died when that prince was but twelve Assyria, and they took Manasseh, years old, he doubtless both instruct- among the thorns; that is, in some ed him himself in the ways of God, thicket to which he had retreated as long as he lived, and appointed for safety: and bound him with fetothers to assist his endeavours and ters, and carried him to Babylon. to perpetuate them after his decease. A greater temporal calamity than Manasseh therefore could not but this could scarcely befal a man like know what the Lord his God requir- Manasseh, revelling in ease and ed of him: and it could not be with luxury, a despotic sovereign, accusout many severe remonstrances of tomed from his childhood to receive his conscience, that “he did that the most servile homage, and to which was evil in the sight of the give law to his people by the slightLord, like unto the abominations of est intimation of his will. Yet, what the heathen.” He had also the Scrip. was this punishment compared with tures of truth, so far as then reveal- what his sins against God deserved? ed, to direct him; he had besides, as What was it to lose an earthly is expressly mentioned in the second crown compared to the loss which verse of the chapter, the fearful ex. he had voluntarily incurred of a ample of the nations whom the Lord crown eternal in the heavens? or to had cast out for those abominations be bound with fetters in a foreign to warn him; and, to add to the land, exposed for a few short movths whole, an especial revelation had or years to scorn and insult, combeen vouchsafed to prevent his pur- pared with being bound with chains suing his evil courses: "for the Lord of darkness in that awful world spake to Manasseh and to his peo- where there is weeping and wailing ple, but they would not hearken.” and gnashing of teeth to all eternity?
Under all these circumstances, Thirdly. Our text notices his rehighly aggravated was his guilt; and pentance in his affliction. His capequally aggravated and eternal would tivity gave him leisure for serious have been his punishment, had not reflection : and by the blessing of the subsequent part of his history God he was led to avail himself of presented a very different aspect to it. Multitudes of persons never bethat which we have been contemplat- gin to think of their sins, or their ing. The succeeding stages of his need of salvation, till the hour of life remain to be briefly noticed. We pain or sickness, of bereavement or have seen his guilt; let us proceed, death. Thus, Manasseh in his pros
Secondly, to consider the afflic- perity had forgotten his Creator; but tion which in consequence befel in his adversity he could find no him. Happy was it for him that other refuge. His false gods could he was not suffered to proceed in not assist him; and therefore, like the prodigal son, his only refuge was ness of his sins. Worldly prosperity to turn to the merciful Father whom may be either a benefit or a curse he bad forsaken. Our text particu- to its possessor: but to be pardoned larly mentions, that “ he besought and justified; to have our prayer the Lord," and that “ he humbled for mercy answered, and the love of himself before him." Prayer and God, notwithstanding our deep feelrepentance thus went together; beings of humility and contrition, shed was deeply abased in his own esti- abroad in our hearts through faith mation, and he entreated pardon for in Christ Jesus; to enjoy a humble his offences. He had found, ac- hope, that among the mansions of cording to the language of Scrip- blessedness which the Saviour has ture, that “the way of transgressors prepared for his true followers, one is hard:” his iniquities had separated will be found into which we shall at him from the favour of that gracious the last day be admitted beyond the Being who is the only fountain of reach either of sin or sorrow,--this true happiness; and the gratifica- is indeed a blessing of unspeakable tion which he had hoped for from value, and should constrain us with indulging in them, proved to be as earnest gratitude to devote ourshort-lived as it was base and sinful. selves to the service of our God and Thus forsaken and dejected, his Saviour. This leads us to remark, affliction was overruled for his spiri- Fifthly, the subsequent obedience tual benefit. Though his offences of Manasseh. The narrative is brief; had been numerous and aggravated, but it particularly mentions his fuand his remorse was correspondently ture obedience to God, and his zeal deep, he did not plunge, like the for his glory. His heart being reapostate Judas, into utter despair of newed, his course of life changed pardon; he had learned enough of with it. It is said, that he now the attributes of God, to know that 66 knew that the Lord he was God.” he was gracious and merciful, par. He had discovered this both in his doning iniquity, transgression, and power to afflict him and in his power sin; he therefore, in a distant land, to restore him; and now knowing and in the extremity of distress, him to be the only true God he relooks like Jonah, once more towards solved to worship him as such. He God's holy temple. If that refuge had repented, and he brought forth fail him he is lost, and lost for ever; fruits meet for repentance. Much but fail him it did not: for, was forgiven him, and he loved
Fourthly, we are told in our text much. First, he turned from his of his deliverance from his affliction. former sins; for “ he took away the The Lord, it is said, heard his sup- strange gods and the idol out of the plication, and brought him back house of the Lord :" not only this, again to Jerusalem into his kingdom. but he began to practise his long The following verses allude to his neglected duties ; « he repaired the future prosperity; for, by the dis- altar of the Lord, and sacrificed pensation under which Manasseh thereon peace-offerings and thanklived, it pleased the Almighty often offerings, and commanded his people to bestow temporal blessings as a to serve the Lord God of Israel.” mark of his special mercy; and as As his transgressions had been pubthe afflictions which first led Ma- lic, he wished his contrition for them nasseh to repentance and prayer, to be equally so; and as he had led had been of a worldly kind, so when others astray by his authority and exit pleased God to restore him to his ample, he was now urgent to bring favour, he gave him also worldly them back to the right path. But, blessings, life and liberty, and a unhappily, not with equal success; successful issue in the affairs of his for, though the people sacrificed kingdom. But, far above all these only to the Lord their God, they outward blessings was the forgive continued to disobey him in sacrificing in the high places. It is easy circumstances and temptations, we to seduce others into sin ; but God have not also grievously offended only can restore them to newness of God? Is there one of his comlife. Manasseh found that the evil ef- mands which, in heart or in deed, 'fects of the idolatrous customs which according to our Lord's spiritual he had favoured still remained: but application of them, we have not he used his best efforts to prevent violated ? We need then, like Mathem; and thus he proved the sin- nasseh, to humble ourselves before cerity of his repentance, and that him; and we have his example left his turning to God was not merely upon record to encourage us to do the transient effect of affliction, to so, assured that, if we turn to God, be forgotten as soon as the affliction he will turn to us, and, for the sake was over ; but that it was the of his blessed Son, will pardon our settled purpose of his soul, the sins, and renew us by his Holy Spieffect of true conversion," he took rit, after his own Divine image. the testimonies of God as his Let us then earnestly seek this inheritage for ever,” and without estimable blessing; let us neither doubt found them “the rejoicing of slight it on the one hand, nor deshis heart.” God had been “ his pair of obtaining it on the other. It hiding-place and his shield” in his is to be obtained, if only we seek it, adversity; and he could therefore and seek it aright, and seek it before say with David, “ I hope in thy the opportunity for procuring it is word: depart from me, ye evil doers, for ever lost. Who knows how few for I will keep the commandments days or months more may seal up of my God."
the measure of our iniquities, and To follow his example in this res- shut out repentance and pardon. pect, is the most important applica- Among the multitudes who sin like tion which we can make of the above Manasseh, how few repent like him, narrative. We have not indeed shed and turn to their offended God, beblood, or literally sacrificed to idols, fore the door of mercy is closed ! as he did ; neither have we had any Let us then seek the Lord while he inducement to do so, or the oppor- may be found, and call upon him tunity of doing so. But, on the other while he is near ; let us forsake the hand, we have not been exposed to vain idols of this world's estimation, the temptations which he must have and worship the true God, in the met with, left defenceless at the Gospel of his Son; let us study to early age of twelve years, amidst obey his laws; let us devote our the seductions of the world, as a future lives to his glory; and then, sovereign prince, with every facility when this short existence has for for the indulgence of his will and his ever passed away, we shall be adpassions, and meeting perhaps with mitted to his eternal kingdom, to few to controul, and many to foster wear a crown of glory which shall his evil propensities. But shall we never fade. therefore say, that, according to our
Tothe Editorofthe Christian Observer. lent neglect of it. Our national
profanation of this sacred day is the The wisdom and mercy displayed more aggravated, from the evil havin the institution of the Sabbath, ing maintained its ground notwithrender deeply lamentable the preva- standing the warning voice which, from time to time has been lifted up which I now allude to are the traagainst it. How many of the pre- velling of stage-waggons and stagesent generation must well remember coaches on the Lord's day, the the pious endeavours of Bishop Por- printing and dispersing of Sunday teus, to vindicate the honour of the newspapers, the exercise of several Lord's day. His admirable ser- worldly trades and occupations, mon; his interview, near the close of (among which, some public brewhis valuable life, with his present eries have, I am told, been noticed,) Majesty, then Prince of Wales; his and more particularly the practice letter to a lady of fashion; his ad- which has, within the last two or dress to his clergy; all bear ample three years, very much prevailed, of testimony to his exertions in public employing various labourers and and in private in this momentous workmen, such as carpenters, brickcause: and though the following de- layers, painters, &c., in repairing claration, drawn up for the Society for and erecting houses, and other enforcing his Majesty's Proclamation buildings, on Sundays, as on the against Immorality and Profaneness common days of the week."—Alas! (of which he was president), and in that after a lapse of thirty years (for tended as a voluntary resolution, on this letter bears the date of 1797), the part of the higher ranks of socie. we should be found involved in the ty, to observe the Sabbath more re. same guilt! And, oh! that the paligiously, unhappily failed of its ob- triotic appeal with which he conject, it will at least witness, on that cludes, might resound through the day when all must give an account nation, as the voice of the honoured of their stewardships, that the blood dead, and awaken every Briton to a of those over whom he was appoint- due consideration of his duty to the ed a spiritual watchman will not be King of kings ! required at his hands. “We, whose “This kingdom has, from the penames are hereunto subscribed,” riod of the Reformation to this time, says that document, "being deeply been distinguished among the nasensible of the great importance tions of the Christian world, for the of the religious observance of the solemnity, the decency, and the Lord's day, to the interests of Chris- propriety with which the Lord's day tianity and of civil society, do de- has been here usually observed. It clare, that we hold it highly impro- is a distinction which does us credit, per on that day to give or accept in- and is altogether worthy of the first vitations to entertainments or assem. Protestant Church in Europe. I blies, or (except in cases of urgency, am, therefore, very seriously anxious or for purposes of charity) to travel, that we should maintain inviolate or to exercise any worldly occupa- this glorious pre-eminence; being tions, or to employ our domestics or perfectly convinced that the sacred dependants in any thing interfering day which both God and man have with their public or private religious set apart for religious worship and duties and as example, and a pub- rest, is the grand bulwark of Chrislic declaration of the principles of tianity, and that on the due appliour own conduct, more peculiarly at cation of it to those important this time, may tend to influence the purposes depends, in a great meaconduct of others, we do hereby fur- sure, the very existence of that rether declare our resolution to adhere, ligion in these realms." as far as may be practicable, to the It is, however, gratifying to see due observance of the Lord's day that the spirit that animates this according to the preceding declara. excellent prelate is not extinct : eftion."