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worse by his being infornied, that the hand of death is upon him. Without repentance there is no remission for sins, and though it is dangerous to defer the work of repentance to a death bed, it affords the only chance of procuring pardon for those who have before neglected it. Surely then it is cruelty to exclude any one from this opportunity of making his peace with his offended GOD. Divine mercy is infinite, and the example of the penitent thief on the cross affords encouragement to hope, that sincere contrition will never supplicate in vain.
The only objection that can reasonably be made to the measure here recommended is, that the agitation of mind such dreadful tidings will naturally produce may aggravate the disease. It should be remembered, that diseases come from GoD, whose mercy may humbly be expected to co-operate in such a case with the pious intentions of the friend. It may be proper also to reflect on the consternation which a soul unprepared must unavoidably experience immediately on its separation from the body, when no kind friend can administer the balm of consolation; when the day of grace is gone for ever! Great caution, however, should be used in mentioning a circumstance which cannot fail of striking the mind, even of the best of men, with awe and apprehension, and where there is great timidity of mind and weakness of body, and the person has lived a good life, it may we think with safety be omitted, trusting to the all-sufficient atonement and intercession of the Redeemer,
HEZEKIAH'S CONFIDENCE IN THE LORD.
From 2 Chron. Chap. xxxii.
AND when Hezekiah saw that Sennacherib was come, and that he was purposed to fight against Jerusalem, he took counsel with his princes and his mighty men, to stop
the waters of the fountains which were without the city. And they did help him.
So there was gathered much people together, who stopped all the fountains, and the brook that than through the midst of the land, saying, Why should the kings of Assyria come and find much water?
Also he strengthened himself, and built up all the wall that was broken, and raised it, up to the towers, and another wall without, and repaired Millo in the city of David, and made darts and shields in abundance.
And he set captains of war over the people, and gathered them together to him in the street of the gate of the city, and spake comfortably to them, saying, Be strong and courageous, be not afraid nor dismayed for the king of Assyria, nor for all the multitude that is with him for there be more with us than with him.
With him is an arm of flesh; but with us is the LORD our GoD, to help us, and to fight our battles. And the people rested themselves upon the words of Hezekiah king of Judah.
ANNOTATIONS AND REFLECTIONS.
Awakened to a proper sense of his duty, by the reflections which he had made in his illness, Hezekiah was no sooner recovered than he made all possible preparations for a brave defence of his kingdom; he fortified Jerusalem, laid in great store of arms and provisions for the siege, and cut off, as much as possible, all supply of water from the enemy.
By the exhortations which the good king gave to his officers, we may understand, that his mind was full of faith and confidence in the power of the LORD.
THE CONTINUATION OF THE REIGN OF HEZEKIAH KING OF JUDAH.
From 2 Kings, Chap. xviii.
AND the king of Assyria sent Tartan, and Rabsaris, and Rab-shakeh, from Lachish to king Hezekiah, with a great host against Jerusalem. And they went up and came to Jerusalem. And when they were come up, they came and stood by the conduit of the upper pool, which is in the high way of the fuller's field.
And when they had called to the king, there came out to them Eliakim the son of Hilkiah, which was over the houshold, and Shebna the scribe, and Joah the son of Asaph the recorder.
And Rab-shakeh said unto them, Speak ye now to Hezekiah, thus saith the great king, the king of Assyria, What confidence is this wherein thou trustest?
Thou sayest (but they are but vain words) I have counsel and strength for the war. Now on whom dost thou trust, that thou rebellest against me? Now, behold, thou trustest upon the staff of this bruised reed, even upon Egypt, on which if a man lean, it will go into his hand and pierce it: so is Pharaoh king of Egypt unto all that trust on him.
But if ye say unto me, we trust in the LORD our GOD: is not that he whose high places, and whose altars, Hezekiah hath taken away, and hath said Judah and Jerusalem, Ye shall worship before this altar in Jerusalem ? Now therefore, I pray thee, give pledges to my lord the king of Assyria, and I will deliver thee two thousand horses, if thou be able on thy part to set riders upon them. How then wilt thou turn away the face of one captain
of the least of my master's servants, and put thy trust in Egypt for chariots and for horsemen? Am I now come up without the LORD against this place to destroy it? the LORD said to me, Go up against this land, and destroy it.
Then said Eliakim the son of Hilkiah, and Shebna, and Joah, unto Rab-shakeh, Speak, I pray thee, to thy servants in the Syrian language; for we understand it; and talk not with us in the Jews language, in the ears of the people that are on the wall.
'But Rab-shakeh said unto them, Hath my master sent me to thy master, and to thee, to speak these words? hath he not sent me to the men which set on the wall, that they may be punished with you? Then Rab-shakeh stood and cried with a loud voice in the Jews language, and spake, saying, Hear the word of the great king, the king of Assyria: Thus saith the king, Let not Hezekiah deceive you: for he shall not be able to deliver you out of his hand.
Neither let Hezekiah make you trust in the LORD, say- ́ ing, The LORD will surely deliver us, and this city shall not be delivered into the hand of the king of Assyria.
Hearken not unto Hezekiah. For thus saith the king of Assyria, Make an agreement with me by a present, and come out to me, and then eat ye every man of his gown vine, and every one of his fig-tree, and drink ye every one the waters of his cistern? Until I come and take you away to a land like your own land, a land of corn and wine, a land of bread and vineyards, a land of oil-olive and of honey, that ye may live, and not die: and hearken not unto Hezekiah, when he persuadeth you, saying the LORD will deliver us.
Hath any of the gods of the nations delivered at all his land out of the hand of the king of Assyria? Where are the gods of Hamath, and of Arpad? where are the gods VOL. III.
of Sepharvaim, Hena, and Ivah? have they delivered Samaria out of mine hand? Who are they among all the gods of the countries that have delivered their country out of mine hand, that the LORD should deliver Jerusalem out of mine hand? But the people held their peace, and answered him not a word. For the king's commandment was, saying, Answer him not.
ANNOTATIONS AND REFLECTIONS.
It seems that Sennacherib, after he had laid the plan for the siege of Jerusalem, went back to Lachish, and sent three of his generals with a very great army to conduct it. The speech, which Rab-shakeh made to Hezekiah's ministers, was an open insult to the LORD GOD of Israel.
It does not appear that Hezekiah had any intention of seeking succours from Egypt; but as the king of Israel had formed an alliance with that nation, Rab-shakeh supposed the king of Judah would do the same.
It is very remarkable, that notwithstanding Rab shakeh affected to despise the LORD, he pretended to have been sent by Him to destroy His land. This circumstance seems to indicate, that Isaiah's prophecy, which foretold that the Assyrian power should be the scourge both of Israel and Judah, had been delivered so publicly, that Rab-shakeh had heard of it; and though he had no faith in the LORD, he might think proper to refer to the prophecy, in order to intimidate the king and people of Judah.
Rab-shakeh was a very eloquent than, and Eliakim had great reason to dread the effect of his plausible arguments, especially as the people of Judah had on so many occasions been persuaded to forsake the LORD and join with idolaters; and were in particular danger of being seduced at a time when such misfortunes threatened them as they could not by human means avert: but the