Look out there Jehu the son of Jehoshaphat.
I. A REVOLTING EXHIBITION OF HUMAN DEPRAVITY. He was ruthlessly and craftily cruel. He shot Jehoram dead in his chariot. He commanded Jezebel, who was looking out of a window as he passed by, to be thrown down, and in her fall she was smashed to destruction (2 Kings 9:30.) He then proceeded to exterminate the family of Ahab.
II. A DISTRESSING MYSTERY IN THE GOVERNMENT OF GOD. That the merciful Father should permit men to be murderers one of another confounds us with amazement.
III. A MIGHTY ARGUMENT FOR FUTURE RETRIBUTION. Were we to believe that this state of things is to continue for ever, religion, which is supreme love to God, would be out of the question. "We must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ."
IV. A PROOF OF THE SUPREME NEED OF A MORAL REGENERATOR. What can alter the character of such men as this Jehu, and put an end to all the cruelties, tyrannies, frauds, and violence, that turn the world into a pandemonium? Philosophy, literature, civilisation, legislative enactments, ceremonial religions? No, nothing short of a Power which can change the moral heart. The Gospel is this regenerating power. Thank God One has come into this world who will "create a new heaven and a new earth wherein dwelleth righteousness."
(David Thomas, D. D.)
1. In these words we are presented with a picture of the way in which the Lord acts when He is about to call His servants to do His work. In the first place, there is the "anointing" — the Holy Spirit. Elisha commands the "box of oil" to be taken. Nothing can be done without this. In all true consecration to God's service the work must be, from beginning to end, the work of the Holy Spirit. Jehu can have no commission without the "oil." He can put no energy to work till the "oil" is "poured" upon him. It is this "anointing" that gives him his authority, his power, his perseverance, and his success. So it must be with the one who is devoted to the Lord's service.
2. In the next place, Jehu is made to "rise up from among his brethren." Here is separation. The work of God the Holy Ghost at once separates a man from everything around him. It is a personal call, an individual work. It is the direct action of that Holy Spirit on a man's own soul. He is drawn from every association and influence, and brought into "an inner chamber" — alone with God. There he is taught of God and trained for His work. There he obtains strength to fulfil it. Thus it is with all God's chosen ones. The more of this personal dealing of the Holy Spirit there is with the soul, the more of this work of the "inner chamber" going on, the more effectual will be the work we undertake for God. One marvels to see what one man could do! All the royal family, the prophets and priests, the worshippers and the idols — all fell down before this man at one stroke! What was the cause, what the secret source of this mighty energy and strength and success? It was the "off," the "separation," and the "inner chamber."
3. How little the world can understand or appreciate this Divine work is seen here. The messenger of the Lord is looked upon as a "mad fellow." This anointing is a secret into which none can enter but those who are subjects of it. Nor can he who is the subject ever sacrifice truth for the sake of peace. Three times the question is put to Jehu, "Is it peace?" But what peace can there be while God is dishonoured, sin loved and cherished, and the truth of God trampled in the dust! First purity, then peace — this is God's order. Peace at any price — this is man's. The world cries out for peace, and there is ready for it "the peace of God which passeth all understanding." But this peace springs from "the sword" which, first piercing man's heart for sin, breaks him from sin. Then follows the peace of God. There could be no peace to Joram, King of Israel, so long as God's truth was despised and set at nought. Put the sin away, every jot of it, then you can have God's peace in your soul! But who will maintain this standard? Who will carry it out at all seasons and under all circumstances? Only the consecrated Christian. Such high ground must entail the cross at every step, and none but a consecrated Christian can bear the cross "in season and out of season." None will take this ground unless there has been much of the "oil," the "separation," and the "inner chamber."
4. And mark the clear and unhesitating way in which every spiritual foe must be met, everything that stands between the soul and God dealt with. Jehu says, with regard to Ahaziah and Jezebel, "Smite him also," "throw her down"; with regard to Ahab's seventy sons, "Take ye the heads of the men, and bring them to me to Jezreel by to-morrow; with regard to the brethren of Ahaziah, "Take them alive"; with regard to the prophets, and priests, and worshippers, he says, "If any of the men escape, he that letteth him go his life shall be for the life of him." What uncompromising faithfulness! What an unreserved cutting-off of every evil one! Kings, nor queens, nor worshippers, are spared! All are swept away without a moment's hesitation! Ah, this is "faithfulness unto death!" This is consecration to God. This is what St. Paul meant when he said — "I am determined to know nothing among you but Jesus Christ and Him crucified"; "to me to live is Christ." It is clear from all I have said, that the difference between a just-saved Christian and one who is thus consecrated, is almost as great as between the former and an unbeliever. And this is the reason there is among Christians so little of the joy of the Lord.
5. Mark the hindrances, and the taunts and sneers such devotion to God has to endure: "Wherefore came this mad fellow," said one; "Had Zimri peace, who slew his master?" was the bitter taunt of Ahab's queen; "we are exceedingly afraid," was the cowardly reply of the rulers of Jezreel. To all these taunts and sneers Jehu has but one reply, "Who is on my side? Is thine heart right with my heart?" His was an eye looking right on, an arm ever uplifted, a course that saw nothing before him but the carrying out of God's word. Here the faithful one is crowned. Glory rests upon him and, through him, on his descendants. "I will give thee a crown of life"; "Him that overcometh will I grant to sit with Me on My throne, even as I also overcame and am set down with My Father in His throne." See the glory that awaits the consecrated life! Is this life thine? Art thou aiming at it, wrestling in prayer for it, keeping it ever before thee? Christian, nothing but this will bring joy and gladness to thy heart now, and "a crown of glory " hereafter. This is life — the life of God. This is testimony — testimony to Christ. This is heaven enjoyed on earth — but only enjoyed through the Cross. Christian, again I ask, Is this life thine?
6. But here the curtain falls. A dark shadow crosses our path. Jehu falls. Thank God for the spiritual picture we have been enabled to draw from his life of what a Christian should be. Thank God for the warning his life presents in its fall. "But Jehu took no heed to walk in the law of the Lord God of Israel with all his heart: for he departed not from the sins of Jeroboam, who made Israel to sin." Draw the picture of every earthly servant of God as bright as we may, there is a shadow somewhere. It is well. The eye should fix itself only on Him. "Looking off unto Jesus." Jehu falls.Let us mark how he fell, and the solemn warning that fall presents.
1. I have been describing the whole-heartedness which characterises every consecrated Christian. But to be whole-hearted, and to maintain it, from day to day, amid influences on every side destructive of it, "needs that we take heed." Jehu "took no heed." Here is our first warning,
2. Secondly, "to walk." This is where the "heed" is to be directed. Talk there is, plenty, and "the talk of the lips tendeth to penury." Profession there is — it is the garment of the many. Just-saved ones there are — the Church has multitudes of them. what we need is "to walk" — "walk in the light," "walk before Me," "walk as becometh saints." This is where we have to "take heed." "Jehu took no heed to walk."
3. Thirdly, "to Walk in the law of the Lord God of Israel." It is to walk in the truth, to "have His commandments and keep them," to ask at every step, "what would the Lord have me to do?" It is to "set the Lord always before me." This is "to walk in the law of the Lord God of Israel." This Jehu "took no heed" to do.
4. And lastly, "to walk in the law of the Lord God of Israel with all his heart." Here is whole-heartedness, consecration to God. Some Christians give half a heart. Others give their heart just when it is convenient — just when the Lord's claims involve no sacrifice. Jehu fell just here. Christians all around fall just here. The Church of Christ is full of fallen Johns! Fallen Jehus, on whose brows will rest a deep brand of shame when the Lord comes! Fallen Jehus, the heavy drags on the wheels of every chariot that would run a faster race to heaven!
(F. Whitefield, M. A.)
(J. Parker, D. D.)
(J. Parker, D. D.)
Wherefore came this mad fellow to thee?
Homilist.The man who was spoken of in this contemptuous manner was a prophet of God, sent by another prophet to a fellow-subject, with the present of a kingdom in his hand. Before night (so it appears) that kingdom had been secured; two con. federate kings had been swept out of the way; and a queen-mother, stronger than either, had been literally cast to the dogs. Such was the brief history of this message from heaven. No one called the prophet a madman at the close of that day. Many another true message from heaven has had a similar fate; and all such messages may expect it. They may expect a similar reproach in the first instance; and a similar vindication in the end.
I. CONCERNING THE REPROACH. God hath spoken at "sundry times and in divers manners" to the world; but the messengers by whom He has spoken have seldom been recognised as such at the first. From the days of Noah to those of St. Paul, experience testifies this. Wherever God sends a special message to men, it clearly must be because a special message is required; in other words, because the knowledge and wisdom of man are not sufficient in his then existing circumstances to guide him. God sends him counsel because his own counsel is worthless, or worse. But this is just the thing which man's pride is unwilling to allow. Again, God's counsel, like Himself, is certain to be holy; and man's natural purposes, on the other hand, are sure to be ungodly and sinful. Further yet, God's wisdom is sure to be far-sighted and profound, while the faculties which attempt to scan it are always short-sighted and shallow. On all these grounds, therefore, the message, when it comes, will be something unwelcome and perplexing at the first. Its pretensions will be humiliating to man's pride; its tendency will be offensive to his nature; its contents will be confounding to his mind. "I know you that ye have not the love of God in you." It is an aggravated illustration of the same principle which causes frivolity to despise enthusiasm; selfishness, generosity; the savage, mercy and truth; and the clown, the highest efforts of literature, science, and art. Men hate to believe in anything superior to themselves.
II. CONCERNING THE VINDICATION. "Wisdom is justified of all her children." Where a message is really from God, it compels belief at the last. This may be easily seen in all the cases already referred to. The flood of waters justified Noah; the fire from heaven justified Lot; the Exodus justified Moses; and the victory over the Philistines justified David. Exactly in proportion to the original contempt was the final honour in each case. It was the same with the apparently habitual scorn of all true prophecy in old days; true prophecy has long been fully revenged. Similar justice, also, has long been measured out to the once despised evangelists and apostles, and to that equally despised Master whom they obeyed. In proof of this you have only to consider that no greater praise can now be given to any man, than to say his conduct is truly apostolical, or his character really Christian. It is nothing that, in short, but the old proverb, "Magna est veritas, et praevalebit." A true message from heaven has heavenly resources behind it. It is like a bank with very large liabilities, but with assets much larger still. Consequently, whatever it dares, it can do; whatever the doubts, and surmises, and panic, it can meet them all with a smile. We may apply this as an excellent test of the various religions of the world. There are some that make no pretensions, that do not oppose men's desires, nor perplex their minds, nor offend their prejudices. That is condemnation enough by itself. God would hardly have sent us a message which we could have devised for ourselves. There are other religions which are all pretensions; which go on shouting for centuries that the Diana they worship is very great; and which are perpetually singing in chorus, We are right, and you are wrong, we are saved, and you are lost; but without any real proof of it all. Such religions offer no reason, and so require no reply. They are simply gigantic systems of self-praise; and it is no recommendation to them. These are not the marks of the true message — "If I honour myself, my honour is nothing."
The driving is like the driving of Jehu.
Homilist.Jehu was a religious fanatic; his whole nature was on fire with indignation against the idolatry in his country under the reign of King Joram. We may take this man's history to illustrate some of the worst features of fanaticism.
I. IT "DRIVETH FURIOUSLY," WITH A HEARTLESS DISREGARD TO THE LIVES OF ALL WHO DIFFER FROM IT. What eared Jehu for the lives of those who differed from him in religious opinion? Nothing. What do your religious fanatics, who often assemble in thousands to hoot Out their impious crudities, care for the bodily interests, health, or life of those who differ from them? Religious fanaticism is essentially cruel.
II. IT "DRIVETH FURIOUSLY," WITH AN OSTENTATIOUS SPIRIT. "Come with me, and see my zeal for the Lord" (2 Kings 10:16). Jehu really did not care "for the Lord " or for true theology. He cared only for himself — self-display, self-glory. Fanaticism is essentially ostentations. It creates a morbid hunger for the applause of men. It will itinerate the country, have preachments every day of the week, prayer-meetings all the day, and drive "furiously" on; but it will take good care to have the whole set forth in puffing advertisements and paraded in all the prints of the so-called "Christian world." "Come with me, and see my zeal for the Lord." How unlike the true ministry of heaven, which does not cause its voice to be heard in the street, which does its world silently as the sunbeam.
III. IT "DRIVETH FURIOUSLY" UNDER THE COVER OF PRETENCE. This Jehu resolved to destroy all the worshippers of Baal; but how did he set to work in order to accomplish this end? Not in a straightforward way. Inspiration tells us, "Jehu did it in subtilty." There is a somewhat popular impression, that. fanaticism is always sincere. This is a mistake; as a rule, it is a lying thing. As it works by falsehood, so it works under its cover. "Fanaticism," says Professor Lange, "dissolves all the bonds of life and love, but imputes the blame of it to faith. It leads a man to acts of betrayal, of rebellion, and of murder, while he imagines that he is offering sacrifices acceptable to God. It institutes a community of hatred, in opposition to the community of love, and treats the fire of hell as if it were sacred. It appears in the guise of religion, but for the purpose of banishing Christ and His Gospel from the earth." Conclusion: — Infer not that because a minister, a community, or a Church are driving furiously in religious work, that they are religious. Genuine religion is a life, not a passion; it is a river, silent and constant as the stars, not a flood rushing and roaring for the hour.
I. FIRST, PULL UP. I have read somewhere, of a horse rushing down a country village, with nostrils distended, and with fire flashing from his heels, yet without driver or hand to guide him. He was dragging behind him a cart, in which was a child, who clung to its side in pale terror. A woman, as it passed, shot from her doorway, like an arrow from its bowstring, and followed in full pursuit, crying, "Save that child! save that child!" Why did she run and cry thus? Oh, you say, "It was her child." No, it was not. She had left her own little ones all safe around her hearth; but she had a heart above that selfishness which would care only for its own. That child had a mother, but she was not there, the good woman would take her place — one of her children might want help some day. Imbued, I trust, with the unselfish spirit of this woman, we seek to-night to check the speed of those fiery passions which are dragging some of you to death. You are probably unknown to us; but have you not a mother who loves you, a mother who prays for you? You have been going ahead bravely of late, you think. You rightly judge life to be short, and you feel that if you are to enjoy life, you had better be quick about it; if you are to get a fortune you had better keep a sharp lookout. Yes, this is all very well, but where will this pleasure-seeking lead you? It may be, in your haste to get money, you do not scruple to be a little dishonest. "Anyhow, by hook or by crook," you say, "I mean to go ahead." Yes, but where will this furious driving lead you? Perhaps you have never thought of this. You don't know where you are going. I believe more young men are ruined for the want of thought, than aught else.
II. NOW I WANT YOU TO TURN ROUND. You feel to-night you have been going ahead on the wrong road. You have determined, as God shall help you, to pull up. But remember, pulling up is only part of the business. You have been on the wrong road; you now want the right. The first thing you need is a new heart. You need the power of the Holy Spirit to convert you. I shall have no faith in your fine resolutions to give up evil habits, evil companions, and pleasure-seeking, unless you have implanted within you new principles. Wind and tide will be against you. In your own strength you may pull until your veins stand like whipcord upon your brow, and you will go down the stream still: And even suppose you should be able to give up the grosset forms of sin, yet, without religion, you must feel when you come to die that, after all, your life has been a failure. Let me urge you, therefore, to seek salvation through Christ.
III. NOW, GO AHEAD. I must now assume that you have decided for Christ, united yourself with Christian companions and a Christian Church. At any rate, many young men here have done that; so that the advice I am about to give cannot be deemed impracticable. In common sense, Christian young men, this go-ahead spirit is very desirable; desirable even from a business point of view. We are commanded to "be diligent in business." If you are in business for yourself, seek, in every true and honest way, to augment your income. In doing so, you will have God's blessing upon you. Do not be miserly, do not be covetous; but do seek, by dint of plodding perseverance, and constant attention to business, to rise in the world.
(L. A. Banks, D. D.)
Is it peace?
I. THAT THERE IS NO PEACE TO BE FOUND IN THE WAYS OF SIN. In prosecution of the inquiry in our text, ask —
1. The open sinner. Sinner, hast thou peace? Ask Adam and Eve, when they had eaten of the forbidden fruit. Look at Achan who saw among the spoils of the enemy a goodly Babylonish garment, and two hundred shekels of silver, and a wedge of gold of fifty shekels weight, and coveted them, and took them, and hid them in the earth in the midst of his tent and the silver under it. "Is it peace, Achan?" When Zimri slew Elah the son of Baasha, King of Israel, and usurped his throne, had Zimri "peace" who slew this master? (1 Kings 15:10). Look at Belshazzar at his impious feast (Daniel 5:9); here was the very height of human enjoyment; but a guilty conscience spoiled all. Look at aul, King of Israel; hear his bitter cry, "I am sore distresed; for the Philistines make war against me, and God is departed from me, and answereth me no more" (1 Samuel 28:15). Had he peace? Peace had fled from him.
2. Ask the formalist — resting in a round of duties, having the form of godliness, but destitute of its power. There may be a pharisaical spirit — a self-satisfaction "God, I thank thee, that I am not as other men" (Luke 18:11), but "is it peace?"
3. Ask the unconverted, under his most favourable circumstances; and though we do not deny that there may be a momentary gratification, — what are termed by the apostle, The pleasures of sin for a season, Is there peace? Some, indeed, have a false peace, are "at ease in their sins" — but this is carelessness and indifference rather than "peace."
4. But this question may be asked of many, who have even sought peace for their souls, but sought it in the wrong way, by unhallowed means. Many are the ingenious devices of Satan, for blinding the minds of his captives, and keeping his goods "in peace." Hence his ministers are said to "daub with untempered mortar," and to "cry, Peace, peace; when there is no peace" (Jeremiah 6:14; Ezekiel 13:10). Is peace then banished from the earth? far from it; the Holy Scriptures make known unto us "the way of peace," which unconverted men have never known (Romans 8:17). "Christ is our peace" (Micah 5:5; Ephesians 2:1; Isaiah 9:6). And though peace is only to be found in Him, here is solid, abiding, soul-satisfying peace. And this leads me to
II. SHOW THAT TRUE, PERMANENT PEACE is to be obtained only through an experimental knowledge of God in Christ Jesus, through the Spirit, "Preaching peace by Jesus Christ, who is described in the Word of inspiration as the Prince of Peace" (Isaiah 9:6). And here we may remark, that the believer has —
1. Peace with God.
2. The believer has peace of conscience — peace of mind, — rest for his soul.
3. He enjoys peace with others, for when a man's ways please the Lord, He maketh even His enemies to be at peace with Him. And what are the properties of this peace? Let the Scriptures declare (Romans 14:17, 18). "A peace of God, which passeth all understanding," which "the world can neither give, nor take away"; which is perfectly independent of all the vicissitudes of this changing world. And this peace is enjoyed through faith in the Redeemer. It is peace and joy "in believing." Thou wilt keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on Thee, because he trusteth in Thee (Isaiah 26:3). Peace under all circumstances; — "Say ye to the righteous it shall be well with him" (Isaiah 3:16), in sickness and health; in prosperity and adversity; in poverty and riches; in life, in death, and through all eternity.
(R. Simpson, M. A.)
And Jehu drew a bow with his full strength.
Homiletic Review.The frivolous, purposeless lives of this world are like ships at the mercy of the wind and tide. Hail one of them, and ask, "Whither are you bound?" and the answer will be, "I don't know." "What cargo do you carry?" "Nothing." "Well, what are you doing out here on the ocean of life?" "Only drifting." "Ah! but you don't know what a sorry spectacle you make only drifting when there is so much to be done." It is said that Carlyle, on one of his daily walks, met a young man, and, falling into conversation with him, inquired about his purpose in life. "I haven't any particular purpose," came the reply. "Then get one," exclaimed the stern old man, striking his cane on the pavement — "get one quick."
Had Zimri peace, who slew his master?
I. BY MANY FACTS IN HUMAN HISTORY.
1. Look at facts in the history of nations.
2. Look at facts in the history of individuals.There is Jacob concerning whose relation to Esau the prophecy stands that "the elder shall serve the younger"; yet how utterly detestable the means; — the lies, the trickery, the fraud, by which the end is attained, for the purposes of God I have respect, and I know that they shall stand, but for the means used by Jacob and his mother, I have the utmost abhorrence and contempt.
II. IN THE GREAT CENTRAL FACT OF CHRISTIANITY. I mean the Crucifixion of the Lord. Here, the divinest purpose works itself out by the most satanic agency. The noblest deed of love ever wrought by the great God of love Himself, combines with the meanest, foulest, deed of hatred, ever wrought by man, in the great agony of the Cross. "Him," says Peter, "being delivered by the determinate counsel and foreknowledge of God, ye by wicked hands have crucified and slain." And yet one step further — "I wot that through ignorance ye did it." So that here the chosen channels through which Divine wisdom and Divine love pour themselves upon us are human ignorance and wickedness! "O the depth of the riches," etc. And here, I merely remark, that to the sentence,which states the principle we are discussing, I might add another member: — namely, That if those wicked agents who, consciously or unconsciously carry out Divine purposes, repent of their sin, they are not excluded from participation in the good they have been instrumentally, and sinfully, accomplishing.
III. IN THE DISSEMINATION OF THE GOSPEL. Means in themselves inconsistent with the spirit of the Gospel, are in the order of Divine providence, indirectly employed.
(J. W. Lance.)
And the carcase of Jezebel shall be as dung upon the face of the field.1. Jezebel's is the character of one complete in evil. She enters the stage of human events in the fulness of her wickedness. She does not come before our notice till she has passed through all the stages of early conviction, strife with conscience, and sometimes of the warnings of a better nature. She is one whom savages would pronounce wicked, and from whom they would start as a dangerous member of even their social body. There are some who are brought before us in this way in life, as if the curtain were suddenly drawn up, and they were presented to the eye for the first time in their full development. We have been allowed to see none of the inward workings, none of the early struggle and strife. All this has gone on between themselves and God alone. His eye only has noticed, and His hand recorded the gages, challenges, and contests between the tempter and the sinner. We see but the end of the conflict. We perceive only the conqueror standing forward flushed with his success, and the ranks of the vanquished receding into the far distance on either side, like the forms of beautiful dreams scared by the breaking in of morning light. In the great portrait gallery of Holy Scripture no one is found exactly like her. She stands individually distinctive and terrible.
2. Here is her history. Ahab is mentioned as coming to the throne of Samaria nine hundred and eighteen years before Christ. The marriage with Jezebel is mentioned as a decided step in evil in Ahab, and is clearly connected with his idolatry. The next mention of her is her desire and effort to kill all the prophets of the Lord, and Obadiah's success in saving them. Then came the denunciation of God upon Jezebel, and the prophecy of her being eaten of dogs in the portion of Jezreel There is a pause in her history, and we hear no more of the queen-mother during the reign of Ahab's successor. The wicked king had sunk to his doomed grave. But she, the author and abettor of his sinfulness, lived on. Her end is the next and last circumstance of her life; very terrible. She comes out again with her old characteristic. The long pause in which she has been withdrawn from observation has made no change in her character save to stereotype all old failings, and gnarl into her form the sins of her earlier days. Shameless and barefaced in her iniquity, she looked out for admiration from the very man who was returning as a conqueror over her husband's race.
3. There are certain features which belong to the thoroughly wicked person, and the approach to those characteristics may always excite alarm and anxiety. The principal points about Jezebel are these. A woman holding an evil influence over her husband, and turning her pertinacity and vigour of practical energy and power into the pursuit of the line in which the man hesitated. The wicked woman has an energy of evil which makes her far worse than the man. Her persecution of God and good men. Her casting in her lot with the wicked and the profligate. Her unflinching and unhesitating profligacy in the destruction of Naboth. Her raillery of the king. Her vanity overcoming in the end of life all other feelings, natural or not.(1) I mentioned the first which was visible in Jezebel. Her decided and unhesitating influence over Ahab. A firm grasp over the conduct of another shows a finish in the character of the person who uses it; still more so when it is complete in evil. No one can take a very decided course unless he have an unwavering trust in his own opinions, or have given himself over to utter indifference. Either a man must have a conscience void of offence, or no conscience at all, to proceed in a very vigorous manner to the attainment of a certain end. "A double-minded man is unstable in all his ways." Most men are to a certain degree hesitating. An indecision with regard to faith in some one article or detail: an undetermined mind as to serving God or no; a state of sin or indulged infirmity still hindering the moral advances; all these make men oscillate in as many degrees and with as many variations as there are shades of character and distinctions between dispositions. Now he that can guide another fairly must necessarily have a firm and steady line himself. It is harder to gain this entire ascendancy over another individual mind, than it is to have it over the aim or end of a long course of action. The hesitating eye looks up to the guide either for good or evil. If it see a single swerve discouragements at once ensue: if it meet a firm, steady, unwavering gaze, reassurance comes, and a steady step is the consequence. It is a fearful thing to settle the swerving mind when that swerve is on the sand-bar which crosses the entrance to the harbour, and when the settled action given is to drive the vessel out again into the wide though easy deep. Better be among the rocks than float for ever away from shore and harbour. It is a tremendous thing for any one to influence another's will, so that when he hesitates as to a doubtful step, the other with a cheering cry induces him to take it; it is a fearful thing to bid the poor trembler, who shuddered on the edge of the leap, to rush on, and to spring oneself across the chasm to give him encouragement. Fearful is it at any time, but far more so when the steady gaze is only assumed, when the firm tone of voice belies the condemning conscience, and when the daring act of final decision is even to him who takes the step taken in the dark. And yet how common a case, how common a character? The very fact of encouraging or urging on another tends to urge on self, and the voice which cheers on a companion in an evil way, or to take a false step, too often hushes the inward whisper of our own remonstrating conscience. We gain firmness by making others firm, and become determined moral speculators by the mere fact of endorsing another's speculation. Few signs are more certain of far advance in evil than when a man commits himself to urge on another to a doubtful, sinful, or an uncertain course of moral action.(2) But, again, Jezebel openly persecuted the good, killed the prophets of the Lord, and strove to get Elijah within her grasp. This, too, is a sign of advance in evil. Men do not persecute boldly till they have gone on far in their own sinful course. Persecution infers in the persecutor not so much the love of vengeance and the wish to inflict pain, as the desire to get rid if possible of the testimony and witness of the good. The object of the wicked is to suppress good; to show it to be an unreality, an imposition, a sham; to proclaim it false to its professed principles; to discover some flaw in the motive, or some failure in the act. "He hath a devil, and is mad." "He casteth out devils through the prince of the devils." This is the persecutor's aim. Not so much revenge and simple hate for its own sake. The foundation of this feeling is the deep conviction in the persecutor himself, that he has no ground to stand on, save one of sin; has nothing in common with the good, and comes not into the congregation of the righteous. Yet he feels the truth of that ground, its power, its reality. He acknowledges its reality, but he dare not occupy it. He has forfeited his standing. Consequently, the more wicked a man is, the more he longs to drive the good from his ground and the more he persecutes.(3) But more than this, Jezebel made the wicked her companions; the Baal prophets ate at her table. There is ever a step between persecuting the good and fraternising with the wicked. The latter is a step further in advance. It is positive, the other negative. To love wickedness is in one sense worse than to hate goodness. It is a harder transition for hate to blend into love, than for love to melt off into hate. We often see men not good, not holy, living without God, still hating sin and despising the wicked when brought before them, shrinking from what is mean and vile, shunning the false motive, yet not themselves holy. Positive goodness is a step further than the negative evil.(4) But the next feature of Jezebel's character is that of intrigue and calumny for the purpose of gaining her designs. No man ever stands still in the path of his moral nature. He advances or recedes, but he is in motion. When once the mind is steadily fixed upon evil, the next condition is sure to be one of tact, intrigue, and management to obtain the guilty object. Lies, untruthfulness, slander, meanness, and every kind of duplicity, crowd in and fill up the vacuum between the settled intention to do wrong, and the sinful object itself.(5) Her end is significant. A long interval elapses in which we hear but one thing of her, that her whoredoms were many; and we are led up to that moment to imagine that either in seclusion she had become penitent, or that the sinful heart had exhausted its fire, and the inward volcano become extinct. But she appears again the very wreck of what she had been — an old woman, painted on the face and tired in the hair, leaning from the upper window to gaze down upon and attract the notice of the returning conqueror, whose sword was yet red with the blood of her husband's family. What a picture! Lost to every sense and touch of even natural feeling, the wretch is wrapped up in self; without God, and without an ultimate object. But such is the symptom of finished sin, it quenches the last spark of even natural feeling; it gnaws downwards from the bloom and stem of religion and morality, and eats away the very root of the original creation. It is a symptom of finished evil when surrounded by desolating calamity, brought on by their own wickedness, men compelled to withdraw for a little while from the stage of human action peer forth again from time to time spectral anatomies of what they were, and caricatures of even the monstrous features they originally presented. Such was Jezebel, and the incidents of her life suggest no insignificant tests of a character that is rapidly approximating to a condition of finished and hopeless iniquity.