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looks upon bad' men as only the rod with SERMON which the Almighty chastens ; like the same pestilence, the earthquake or the storm. In the midst of their injustice and violence he can pity their blindness; and imitate our blessed Lord in praying, Father, forgive them ; for they know not what they do.
2 Kings, viii. 12, 13, And Hazael said, why Weepeth my Lord ?
And he answered, Because I know the evil that thou wilt do unto the children of Israel, Their strong bolds wilt thou set on fire, and their young men wilt thou slay with the sward, and wilt dash their children, and rip up their women with child. And Hazael said, But what, is thy servant a dog, that he should do this great thing? And Elisha answered, the Lord bath shewed me that thou shalt be king over
Syria, SERMON IN the days of Joram, king of Israel, flou.
rished the prophet Elisha. His character was so eminent, and his fame so widely spread, that Benhadad the king of Syria, though an idolater, sent to consult him con
cerning the issue of a distemper which SERMON
XII. threatened his life. The messenger em- * ployed on this occasion was Hazael, who appears to have been one of the princes, or chief men, of the Syrian court. Charged with rich gifts from the king, he presents himself before the Prophet, and accosts him in terms of the highest respect. During the conference which they held together, Elisha fixed his eye stedfastly on the countenance of Hazael ; and discerning, by a prophetic spirit, his future tyranny and cruelty, he could not contain himself from bursting into a flood of tears. When Hazael, in surprise inquired into the cause of this sudden emotion, the Prophet plainly informs him of the crimes and barbarities which he foresaw that hereafter he should commit. The soul of Hazael abhorred, at this time, the thoughts of cruelty. Uucorrupted, as yet by am, bition or greatness, his indignation arose at being thought capable of such savage actions as the Prophet had mentioned ; and, with much warmth, he replies, But what, is tby servant a dog, that he should do this great thing ? Elisha makes no return but to point out a remarkable change which was to take
SERMON place in his condition ; The Lord hath XII. , shewed me that thou shalt be king over Syria.
In course of time, all that had been predicted came to pass. Hazael ascended the throne; and ambition took possession of his heart. He smote the children of Israel in all their coasts. He oppressed them during all the days of king Jeboabaz *; and, from what is left on record of his actions, plainly appears to have proved what the Prophet foresaw him to be, a man of violence, cruelty, and blood..
In this passage of history, an object is presented which deserves our serious attention. We behold a man who, in one state of life, could not look upon certain crimes without surprise and horrour ; who knew so little of himself, as to believe it impossible for him ever to be concerned in committing them; that same man, by a change of condition, transformed in all his sentiments, and, as he rose in greatness rising also in guilt ; till at last he completed that whole character of iniquity which he once detested. Hence the following observations piaturally arise. 1. That to a mind not entirely corrupted, sentiments of abhorrence at SERMON guilt are natural. II. That; notwithstanding those sentiments, the mind may be brought under the dominion of the vices which it had most abhorred. III. That this unhappy revolution is frequently owing to a change of men's external circumstances and condition in the world. These observations are to make the subject of the present Discourse ; and will lead us to such a view of human nature, as, it is hoped, may be of general use. .
* 2 Kings, xiii 32. of 6
" I. Sentiments of abhorrence at guilt are natural to the human niind. Hazael's reply to the Prophet, shews how strongly he felt them. Is thy servant a dog, that be should do this great thing? Is he, or can he ever be so base and wretched, as to perpetrate crimes which would render him unworthy of bearing the name of a man? This is the voice of human nature, while it is not as yet hårdened in iniquity. Some vices are indeed more odious to the mind than others. Providence has wisely pointed the sharpest edge of this natural aversion against the crimes which are of most perni