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Bible Commentaries

Simeon's Horae Homileticae

2 Chronicles 28

Verse 10

DISCOURSE: 419
A SENSE OF SINFULNESS A GOOD CORRECTIVE OF EVIL PASSIONS

2 Chronicles 28:10. Are there not with you, even with you, sins against the Lord your God?

IN viewing the various dispensations of Providence, we should regard the Supreme Disposer of all events not merely as a mighty Sovereign ordering every thing according to his own will, but rather as a moral Governor, who has respect to the welfare of his creatures, and consults the best interests of the universe. Towards individuals indeed his dealings may not accord with our ideas of retributive justice, because there is another world wherein the seeming inequalities of his present conduct towards them will all be rectified: but towards nations, as this is the only time when they can be dealt with in their national capacity, he conducts himself more visibly according to their moral habits, rewarding them when they walk agreeably to his will, and punishing them when their violations of his commands are general and flagrant. We must not however imagine, that the persons whom he makes use of as instruments of his displeasure, are more righteous than those whom he sends them to correct; for he may, and does, use what instruments he pleases: but the persons corrected, will always be found to have brought upon themselves his judgments by their own wilful and obstinate impiety. This is a truth so obvious and incontrovertible, that even idolaters themselves receive it with the greatest facility, and are sometimes influenced by it to a great extent. The Israelites, at the time that the Prophet Oded was sent to them, were sunk in the grossest idolatry; yet, when informed by him that their victory over Judith was the result of a divine appointment on account of Judah’s sins, and that the excessive cruelty with which that victory had been accompanied would bring the divine displeasure upon them also, they instantly sacrificed both their interests and their resentments, and yielded obedience to the prophet’s admonitions. The expostulation in our text came home with power to their consciences; “Are there not with you, even with you, sins against the Lord your God?” May we also feel its force, whilst we,

I.

Urge you to institute the proposed inquiry—

The circumstances under which this inquiry was proposed naturally lead us to consider it,

1.

In reference to the nation at large—

[Doubtless there are great enormities in other lands: the grossest superstitions and the most flagrant impieties testify against the great majority of those who bear the Christian name. But whilst we of this land boast of our superior light and morals, what abominations are found amongst us! Let us not think that because the evils once perpetrated in the slave-trade have been in a measure suppressed, the blood of thousands and tens of thousands does not yet cry to God against us for our insatiable avarice, and our cruel injustice. For centuries yet to come, we need bewail the guilt that has been contracted by our impious traffic in human blood. Besides, the light with which we have been favoured beyond other nations, only renders our misimprovement of it the more criminal: for though certainly there are many in the land who highly value and adorn the Gospel, there is with the generality a neglect and contempt of serious religion; so that real piety is branded with infamy amongst us, more than infidelity or ungodliness itself. Truly, on a view of all ranks and orders amongst us, we have as much reason to be ashamed and confounded before God, as any who may have experienced his heaviest judgments.]

2.

In reference to ourselves in particular—

[We are all ready enough to mark what is amiss in others, and even to ascribe the calamities of others to the intervention of an offended Providence. But it would be well for all to search out and examine their own faults, rather than to be uncharitably condemning the faults of others. The self-righteous, self-applauding moralist can spy out the failings and infirmities of those who profess a stricter system of religion; but let me ask such an one, are there not in thee, even in thee, sins against the Lord thy God? Hast thou not a beam in thine own eye, whilst thou art noticing with such severity the mote in thy brother’s eye? Look and see whether thy religion of which thou thinkest so highly be not a mere form of godliness without the power of it? See whether the Bible be dearer to thee than gold and silver, and be relished by thee more than thy necessary food? See whether thy heart be broken and contrite before God, so that thou often weepest before God on account of the sins thou hast committed against him? See whether Christ be precious in thy sight, so that all thy hope, all thy desire, all thy delight are centered in him alone? In a word, see whether all thy faculties and powers are consecrated to the service of Him who lived and died for thee? Verily, if thou wouldest consult the records of thy conscience in relation to these things, thou wouldest see little reason, and feel little inclination too, to cast stones at others.
On the other hand, professors of religion also are but too often guilty of this same fault, being filled with an overweening conceit of their own excellencies, and a contemptuous disregard of their less spiritual neighbours. But I would ask the professed follower of Christ, are there not sins with thee too, as well as with the Pharisaic formalist? Are there not great and crying evils in the religious world, which prove a stumbling-block to those around them? Are not a vain conceit, an obtrusive talkativeness, an inattention to relative duties, and a disregard of just authority, often indulged under the cloak of religion? Are there not often found amongst professors of religion the same covetous desires, the same fraudulent practices, the same deviations from truth and honour, as are found in persons who make no profession? Are there not many whose tempers are so unsubdued, that they make their whole families a scene of contention and misery? Yes; though the accusations which are brought against the whole body of religious people as hypocrites are a gross calumny, there is but too much ground for them in the conduct of many.
But where these observations do not at all apply, we must still renew the question, even to the most exemplary amongst us, “Are there not sins with thee also,” even such as would justify God in taking vengeance upon thee? Think of thy manifold short comings and defects; yea, think of “the iniquity even of thy holiest things;” and, instead of exalting thyself above others, thou wilt call thyself “less than the least of all saints,” or rather “the chief of sinners.”]
But, that the inquiry may be suitably improved, we will,

II.

Point out the ends for which it should be made—

There is not any part of Christian experience which would not be deeply affected by the knowledge of our own hearts: but, as our observations on this subject must of necessity be few, we shall con fine ourselves to those which arise from the passage under our consideration.
We should inquire then into our own sins,

1.

To make us estimate aright the distinguished mercies vouchsafed unto us—

[Let us reflect on the peaceful state of this nation during the whole period in which we have been engaged in war, whilst every nation in Europe has in its turn sustained the heaviest calamities [Note: March 1814, when the North of Germany was 10 desolated and distressed.]; and how shall we adore that Providence that has protected us!

Let us contemplate also the numbers who have from time to time been cut off in their sins, though they had neither attained to our age, nor committed our iniquities: O what reason have we to adore the mercy that has spared us, and that still waits to be gracious to us! May we not well be astonished, that whilst so many have been taken, we are left; and that whilst they are gone beyond redemption, we are yet on praying ground? If we know little of ourselves, we shall feel but little gratitude for this mercy: but, if we are duly sensible of our own extreme vileness, we shall be overwhelmed with a view of his goodness to us, and shall sink, as it were, under a sense of our unbounded obligations.]

2.

To moderate our resentments to our offending brethren—

[The former idea was implied in the prophet’s address to Israel; but this was plainly expressed. The cruelty exercised by them was extreme: and, to deter them from prosecuting their inhuman projects, was this suggestion made: for how could they proceed with such rigour towards others, when they who deserved so much heavier judgments had experienced such lenity from the hands of God?

Certain it is, that we feel keenly for the most part the injuries that are done to us; and that we are but too apt to indulge a vindictive spirit. But the evils that a fellow-creature can do to us are nothing in comparison of those which we ourselves have committed against God: how then can we proceed with severity against a fellow-servant for a few pence, when a debt of ten thousand talents has been remitted unto us? Surely we shall be afraid lest God should mete to us the measure which we have dealt out to others, and that, we “having shewn no mercy to others, should have judgment without mercy ourselves [Note: James 2:13.].”]

3.

To stir us up to imitate the compassion of our God—

[What a marvellous exercise of compassion was that which arose from the prophet’s admonition! The princes of the congregation were led to protest against the measures now about to be adopted by the victorious army; and that army, with the spoils and captives in their hands, renounced immediately all their views of interest and resentment, and made use of the very spoils, whereby they had expected to be enriched, to feed the hungry, and clothe the naked, and comfort the distressed, and honour those whom they had so deeply degraded [Note: “Anointing them.”]: they even put on asses the sick and feeble; and themselves took them back to the borders of their own country. This was what they now saw to have been the conduct of God towards them, and they desired to tread in his steps.

And what has God done for us? Even when we were enemies, he gave his only dear Son to die for us: yea, and notwithstanding all our continued impieties, he stretches out his hands to us all the day long, and importunes us to accept his proffered salvation. Thus, if we know how contrary to our deserts these mercies are, we shall be ready to act towards our brethren: instead of rendering evil for evil, we shall “feed our enemy, or give him drink,” in hopes of melting him into love by heaping kindness upon him, just as the workman fuses his metals by an accumulation of fire upon them [Note: Romans 12:14; Romans 12:17; Romans 12:19-20. There is in this last verse an astonishing beauty in the word ψώμιζε, which imports the feeding him as a helpless infant; and corresponds exactly with the tender and respectful care exercised by the Israelites on this occasion, ver. 15.]: he will not “be overcome of evil, but will overcome evil with good [Note: Romans 12:21.].”]

Let this subject teach us,
1.

To cultivate the knowledge of our own hearts—

[It is that, and that alone, which will bring us to act aright in any part of our duty. Without a sense of sin we can never be humbled before God; and without humility we can never exercise a just measure of forbearance and of kindness to man. Then only, when we are sensible of having “been forgiven much, shall we love much.”]

2.

To keep our minds open to conviction—

[It is surprising how soon this whole multitude was convinced of sin. Let us learn from them not to dispute with our reprovers, or to vindicate ourselves at the expense of truth: let us rather desire to find out our errors, that they may be rectified, than to cloke them, and hold them fast.]

3.

To follow instantly the convictions of our own minds—

[The Israelites fulfilled to the uttermost what they apprehended to be the mind and will of God: they did not plead for their interest, on the one hand, nor were they deterred by a fear of shame, on the other: they saw their duty, and performed it instantly without reserve. O that our reproofs might thus meet always an obedient ear! This ready obedience was their highest honour: let us regard it as ours also: and let us beware, lest this host of benevolent idolaters rise up in judgment against us, to our utter confusion, and our eternal condemnation.]


Verse 22

DISCOURSE: 420
THE CONDUCT OF AHAZ IN HIS DISTRESS

2 Chronicles 28:22. In the time of his distress did he trespass yet more against the Lord: this is that king Ahaz.

IT is a common sentiment with men in health, that they will repent and turn to God in a time of sickness: they imagine that trouble will of course dispose their minds for the exercises of religion, and that they may therefore safely postpone all serious attention to their eternal interests, till that hour shall arrive. But there is no necessary connexion between affliction and true piety: “the sorrow of the world worketh death;” and consequently must rather be adverse to, than productive of, “godly sorrow, which alone worketh repentance to salvation, not to be repented of [Note: 2 Corinthians 7:10.].” If indeed trouble be accompanied with the grace of God, it then operates like the ploughing up of fallow ground for the reception of the seed: but of itself it only hardens the heart against God, and calls forth into activity the most malignant passions of the soul. This cannot be more strikingly illustrated than in the conduct of Ahaz; in speaking of which we shall notice,

I.

The evil imputed to him—

This was doubtless exceeding great. Ahaz having provoked God by his great and multiplied iniquities, was given up by God into the hands of the Edomites first, and then of the Philistines, as the just punishment of his sins. The Assyrians too, whom he had hired as his allies, eventually, “instead of strengthening him, helped forward his distress [Note: ver. 16–20.].”

And what was the effect of these troubles on his mind? Did he humble himself before his God, and implore mercy at his hands? No; but renounced his God altogether, setting up the gods of Syria in opposition to him, and shutting up the doors of his temple, and destroying the vessels that had been consecrated to his service, and building altars in every corner of Jerusalem, and, in every city of Judah, making high places, to burn incense unto other gods [Note: ver. 23–25.].

We must confess that such impiety far exceeds what is commonly found in the world at this day; but in lower degrees it is found to obtain amongst us also. All of us have a measure of trouble inflicted on us by God on account of sin; and in a variety of ways have we misimproved the divine chastisements. The very evil imputed to Ahaz of trespassing yet more in his distress, may be committed by us in our troubles,

1.

By indifference—

[Nothing is more common than to overlook the hand of God in our trials, ascribing them either to chance, or to second causes only, and regarding them as merely the usual events of life. In such a state of mind we meet them with a kind of stoical apathy, making the best of existing circumstances, and trying, by the expedients of pleasure, business, company, or occupation of some kind, to divert our thoughts, and alleviate our pains [Note: Isaiah 22:12-13.]. This is, as the Scripture expresses it, to “despise the chastening of the Lord [Note: Proverbs 3:11.].” And how offensive must such conduct be! When he speaks, and we will not hear [Note: Job 33:14.]; when HIS hand is lifted up, and we will not see it [Note: Isaiah 26:11.]; what is this but, in effect, to say, “The Lord doth neither good nor evil [Note: Zephaniah 1:12.]!” This indifference is well described by the prophet, in relation to Israel of old: “It (God’s anger) hath set him on fire round about, yet he knew it not; and it burned him, yet he kid it not to heart [Note: Isaiah 42:25.].” But, however such conduct may be countenanced by an ungodly world, it will surely be visited with God’s heavy displeasure [Note: Psalms 28:5.].]

2.

By obstinacy—

[Some, whilst they are not altogether unconscious from whence their afflictions proceed, are yet determined to go on in their own way: “they refuse to receive correction, and make their faces harder than a rock, and refuse to return to God [Note: Jeremiah 5:3.Isaiah 57:17; Isaiah 57:17.].” Thus it was with the Jews of old; “The people turneth not unto him that smiteth him; neither do they seek the Lord of Hosts [Note: Isaiah 9:13.]. And on this ground it was that the prophet uttered that heavy complaint against them; “Ah, sinful nation, a people laden with iniquity, a seed of evil-doers! Why should ye be stricken any more? ye will revolt more and more [Note: Isaiah 1:4-5.].” Happy would it be if this rebellious spirit had been confined to them: but it is no less prevalent amongst us: there are many for whose reformation successive strokes have proved ineffectual; and who are yet as far from God as if no such means had ever been used to bring them to repentance: yea, like Pharaoh, they seem only to have been hardened by the plagues inflicted on them. The Lord grant that they may see their error, ere they be given over to judicial blindness and final impenitence!]

3.

By murmuring—

[How often do we hear people complaining of their lot, as if their sufferings were intolerable and undeserved! However clearly God marks their sin in their punishment, they reflect not on themselves as the sinful causes of their misery, but on him as the severe and unprovoked author of them [Note: Exodus 16:35, 41.Ezekiel 18:25; Ezekiel 18:25; Ezekiel 18:29.]. Thus Isaiah, foretelling the effect of God’s chastisements on the Jews, says, “They shall pass through the land hardly bestead and hungry: and it shall come to pass, that, when they shall be hungry, they shall fret themselves, and curse their God and their king [Note: Isaiah 8:21.].” And what shall we say of such a disposition? what shall we say of him who by “his own foolishness perverteth his way, and then in heart fretteth against the Lord [Note: Proverbs 19:3.]?” This we must say, that he manifests the very dispositions of hell itself: for of the unhappy spirits that are there confined, we are told, that “they gnaw their tongues for pain, and blaspheme the God of heaven because of their pains and their sores, and they repent not of their deeds [Note: Revelation 16:9-11.].”]

4.

By despondency—

[As on the one hand we are apt to “despise the chastening of the Lord,” so, on the other hand, we are ready to “faint when we are rebuked of him [Note: Hebrews 12:5.].” We have no idea of chastisements proceeding from love; and, beholding nothing but wrath in them, we conclude, that it is in vain to call upon God, and that he will never be entreated of us. Thus even from despondency we derive arguments for continuance in sin: “There is no hope: no; for I have loved strangers, and after them will I go [Note: Jeremiah 2:25.].” Of this God himself complains [Note: Jeremiah 18:12-13.]; and well he may, since it is a limiting of his power, as though he were not able to deliver [Note: Isaiah 1:2.]; or a denial of his mercy, as though he had “forgotten to be gracious, and his mercy were clean gone for ever [Note: Psalms 77:7-9.].” True it is, that despondency is often indulged under an idea that it is an expression of humility: but it is as offensive to God as any of the dispositions before specified, and tends, even more strongly than any of them, to bind our sins upon us.]

That we may be the more afraid of following the steps of Ahaz, let us consider,

II.

The stigma fixed upon him—

There is an extraordinary force and emphasis in the expression, “This is that king Ahaz”—
[It is as though God intended to point him out to the whole world as a prodigy of folly and wickedness: this is that infatuated man, who presumes to “strive with his Maker, like the clay quarrelling with the potter [Note: Isaiah 45:9.],” or “briers and thorns setting themselves in battle array against the devouring fire [Note: Isaiah 27:4.].” This is that ungrateful man, who, when I have been chastening him with parental tenderness in order to prevent the necessity of executing my everlasting judgments upon him, has only multiplied his transgressions against me; breaking through every hedge which I made to restrain him, and throwing down every wall which I erected to impede his course [Note: Hosea 2:6.]. This is that impious man, who, in the madness of his heart, has determined to banish me from the world, and to blot out the remembrance of me from the earth.]

As the expression is emphatical with respect to him, so it is most instructive with respect to us—
[It clearly shews us thatsin is a reproach to any people [Note: Proverbs 14:34.].” We may vindicate it, and applaud it; but we only “glory in our shame [Note: Philippians 3:19.];” for it makes a man as loathsome “as a sepulchre that is full of all uncleanness [Note: Matthew 23:27.].” Sin is fitly characterized as “filthiness of the flesh and spirit [Note: 2 Corinthians 7:1.]:” and in that light it is viewed, not by God only, but by all who are taught of God. Examine the fore-mentioned sins, of indifference, of obstinacy, of murmuring, and despondency, and they will all be found odious in the extreme; so that a man under the dominion of them may well be pointed out as an object of universal abhorrence: “This is that king Ahaz [Note: Psalms 52:7.].” It is possible indeed that an ungodly man may pass through life without any such stigma fixed upon him: but he will not escape it in the last day, when all the most secret sins shall be revealed: then will that declaration of Solomon be fully verified, “The wicked man is loathsome, and cometh to shame [Note: Proverbs 13:5.]:” however cautiously he may have veiled his wickedness from the eyes of men, or even obtained the applause of man for his pretended virtues, he will “awake to shame and everlasting contempt [Note: Daniel 12:2.].”]

From this subject we may learn,
1.

The great design of God in our troubles—

[God does not willingly afflict the children of men. He is a tender Parent, who seeks the welfare of his children, and “chastens them for their profit,” to humble them, and to prove them, and to make them “partakers of his holiness [Note: Isaiah 27:9. Hebrews 12:10.].” Hence it is said, “Blessed is the man whom thou chastenest, O Lord [Note: Psalms 94:10.].” Let us then contemplate our trials in this view. From whatever quarter they may come, let us acknowledge the hand of God in them; and bless his name, as well when he takes away, as when he gives [Note: Job 1:21.].]

2.

Our duty under them—

[Every rod has a voice to us, which we should endeavour to understand [Note: Micah 6:9.]: and, if we cannot immediately discern its true import, we should go to God, and say, “Shew me wherefore thou contendest with me [Note: Job 10:2.].” And, when we have found out “the accursed thing that troubleth our camp [Note: Joshua 7:11.],” then we should “humble ourselves under the mighty hand of our God [Note: James 4:10.],” and with meek submission say, “I will bear the indignation of the Lord, because I have sinned against him [Note: Micah 7:9.].” We should even be thankful for the fire that purgeth away our dross, and not so much as wish to be delivered from it till we can come out of it purified as gold.]


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Bibliographical Information
Simeon, Charles. "Commentary on 2 Chronicles 28". Simeon's Horae Homileticae. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/shh/2-chronicles-28.html. 1832.