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one another daily, while it is called to day; lest any of you be hardened through the deceitfulness of sin. For we are made partakers of Christ, if we hold the beginning of our confidence steadfast unto the end ; while it is said, To-day if ye will hear his voice, harden not you hearts, as in the provocation."
Reader, how stand matters between thee and God? Art thou reconciled to God by the blood of the cross ? If not, seek at once to be reconciled. If thou art, carefully guard against a departure from God. If thou hast forsaken Him, “remember whence thou art fallen and repent;" return unto Him from whom thou hast deeply revolted, lest God should sware in his wrath, thou shalt not enter into his rest.
MANASSEH, OR ABOUNDING SIN AND
A BOUNDING GRACE.
It is no uncommon thing for a wicked man to have a pious son. Ahaz, the wicked king of Judah, had a son, Hezekiah, who was one of the best of men, and the best of kings. Hence it may be remarked, that if any good thing is found in man towards the Lord God of Israel, it is not the effect of nature, but of free, sovereign grace, which converts what is naturally wild and unfruitful into a good olive-tree.
On the contrary, it is no uncommon thing for a pious father to have a wicked son. The pious Hezekiah had a son, Manasseh, who was one of the worst of men, and the worst of kings. Hence it may be remarked, that piety does not run in the blood, and that no advantages of birth, no force of authority or example, can supersede the necessity of divine grace.
The Apostle Paul says, “But where sin abounded, grace did much more abound.” We have in Scripture numerous examples which serve to illustrate this truth. Perhaps, however, there is scarcely any example on record which more strikingly illustrates it than that which the life of Manasseh presents.
How wonderfully did sin abound in Manasseh! Though he was the son of a pious father, yet we read of him that he sinned after the similitude of the heathen. “He did that which was evil in the sight of the Lord, like unto the abomination of the heathen, whom the Lord cast out before the children of Israel." The ancient inhabitants of this land were idolators : they worshipped the hosts of heaven, held familiar intercourse with devils, observed times and used enchantments, and practised sorcery, witchcraft, and every hellish rite. By their abominations they brought upon themselves the vengeance of God, who, with the besom of destruction, swept them from off the face of the land. Precisely as these heathens had acted, so did Manasseh act, and with the warning of their ruin before his eyes. Nay, he did not merely imitate their conduct, but he did worse than they. It is expressly stated of him, that he did worse than the heathen whom the Lord cast out before the children of Israel."
The children of pious parents, if wicked, generally wicked indeed, generally exceed in vileness the worst of the profane.
Solomon says, “One sinner destroyeth much good.” Manasseh soon undid all the good which his pious father had done. Hezekiah had abolished the worship of idols, and in its room had introduced that of the true God. “ He did that which was right in the sight of the Lord, according to all that David his father had done; he removed the high places, and brake the images, and cut down the groves, and brake in pieces the brazen serpent which Moses had made.” Not more zealous, however, was Hezekiah to advance the cause of God than was Manasseh to crush it. Like Saul of Tarsus, he made havoc of the church ; and thus impiously trampled on the dust, and insulted the memory of his pious father. As if he had been sent into the world purposely to ruin the cause of heaven, and as if it had been his only felicity to oppose his father's deeds, he resolutely set himself to abolish the worship of God, and to establish that of the devil in its room : 6. For he built again the high places which Hezekiah his father had broken down, and he reared up altars for Baalim, and made groves, and worshipped all the host of heaven, and served them.
Also he built altars in the house of the Lord, whereof the Lord had said, In Jerusalem shall my name be for ever. And he built altars for all the host of heaven in the two courts of the house of the Lord.” The zeal of men in a bad cause always equals, and generally exceeds, that of men in a good one. It would be well if Christians were as zealous for God as wicked men are for the devil.
The prophet Jeremiah teaches, that “the heart is deceitful above all things and desperately wicked.” To mark the desperate wickedness of his nature, and his zeal in the cause of hell, Manasseh solemnly dedicated his children to devils : “he caused his children to pass through the fire in the valley of the son of Hinnom.” This valley was on the east side of Jerusalem : in it was the high place and image of the god Molech, in honour of whom the heathen aforetime, and now the Jews, caused their children to pass through the fire ;* i.e. devoted them to
Respecting the phrase, “and he caused his children to pass through the fire in the valley of the son of Hinnom,” there are two opinions. One is, that Manasseh actually offered them in sacrifice to Molech : the other is, that he dedicated them to the worship of Molech. The writer of the 'History of Religion' says, “The meaning of the expression “passing through the fire unto Molech' is passing them before a fire burning on his altar, as a sign that they were received into his church.” The author has adopted this latter opinion, though he will not