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and his faction. " l'ain men, the children of Belial Irengthened themselves against Rehoboam, when be, being young and tender-hearted, could not withitand them .” If this apology in Gouated inexperience or & defeat of intelle&ual vigour, it was improper, and scarcely consistent with decorum and filial regard : if literally to be understood of premature age, the censure was apposite and pointed. This notation is more decisive than the other, and both, fuperadded to the former remarks, induce the opinion, that Rehoboam's age was not 41 at the death of his father.
Time of Solomon's Defection. His connexion with Atrange women, and the birth of a son by an Ammonitess before the expiration of his 19th year, are, if admitted, incontrovertible proofs of early depravity. But this presumption vanishes, when it is considered that the divine approbation, subsequent to the dream and vision at Gibeon, juftifies the infer. ence, that his licart was then pure from every babit of licentiousncés, and from the pride of life. “ Froward thoughts separate from God; for into a malicious sou} WISDOM shall not enter, neither dwell in a body enflaved unto sin. The holy spirit of discipline will flee from deceit, and remove from thoughts without underlanding t.” A sudden transition from the vigour of good principles and habits, especially if they be the acquisition of early life, to the lowest sink of sensuality,
• 2 Chron. xii. 6.4.
+ Wisdom of Solomon, i. 305.. is scarcely conceivable. This sublime model of human excellence, like many inferior characters, degenerated, by flow imperceptible degrees, into folly and vice : and this immoral familiarity with the Ammonitess might have been the very firft step towards apostacy. At whatever time he arrived at the last stage of his fatal career in wickedness, the birth of Rehoboam cannot be supposed prior to the dedication of the temple. Nei. ther can its date be brought much lower. If he were 31 years old at his accession, his nativity will coincide with the gth of his father's reign, the very year of the dedication ; but this arrangement is at variance with the gracious communications and promises vouchsafed, when the Lord appeared to him the second time, as at Gibeon formerly *. On that occafion motives to ftability were enforced, without the least reference to paft misconduct. It must however be granted, that no time much later can, consistently with the subsequent series of genealogy, be assigned for Rehoboam's birth. If it be brought forward to the 24th of the father's reign, when he had finished the temple and his own palace; the fon must have fucceeded to the crown in his 16th year, which early age seems to accord with those accounts, already quoted, of his youth and tendernefs of heart. But the arguments on the opposite side preponderate.
1. REHOBOAM must have died in his 33d year :-a conclusion incongruous with the few years and nu
*, Kings, ix. 2-9.
merous family of his son Abijah. Asa too must have been born in the infancy of Abijah, and Jehofhaphat in the infancy of Ala ; in like manner Jehoram in the infancy of Jeholhaphat, and Ahaziah in the infancy of Jehoram. These natural reasons are insurmountable, while those of the moral kind subsist in their invariable nature and full force; for
2. THE 24th of Solomon was that very year in which he had finished the Lord's house and his own house. The same was the date of the second appearance, like unto the first at Gibeon. In both, the testimony of the divine acceptance was absolute; in both the stability of the kingdom was the condition of stability in obedience. No admonitions to reformation are implied, because no instances of past provocation are expressed. Yet certainly Solomon's connexion with the Ammonitess, (whether by wedlock or by concubinage, it matters not, for both were ftrially forbidden), was of a prior date. Here is a horned argument, which pushes both ways, and both ways with equal force.
· Except the idea above suggested, of a gradually slow progress in degeneracy, no other expedient for eluding the whole result of the objection occurs. As apostacy, no less than advances to perfection, has its imperceptible flages, so the distinction between immoral acts in an individual, and those which affect the functions of a public character, seems not improper. David, in his private capacity, derived an indelible stain from his conduct towards a private family. This is the sole exception to the glorious character given after his
death : “ He did that which was right in the eyes of the Lord, and turned not aside from any thing which the Lord commanded him all the days of his life, save only in the matter of Uriah *.” One honourable ingredient in his regal department is, an invariable attachment to purity of worship, and uniform opposition to all idolatrous rites. In this view David was always set forth as the pattern of Solomon's imitation. “ If thou wilt walk in my ways, to keep my statutes and commandments, as thy father David did walk, &c. t" In the event of provocations in private conduct, personal chastisements were denounced; but should the sovereign, or his children, turn aside and serve other gods, the kingdom was to be divided, and Israel to be cut off out of the land.
ADMIT that Solomon had begun his fatal intercourse with strange women about the time the temple was finished, or even a little before, yet was he on the verge of senility before his many wives turned away his heart after other gods $ : and his reign had nearly expired before the prophet was sent to announce the division of the kingdom, after his decease g. This message, with a brief account of his seeking to kill Jeroboam, concludes the hisory of Solomon's life and reign.
In some intermediate period muft Rehoboam have been born, neither so early as the exit of David, nor long after the dedication of the temple ; for at his ac
• 1 Kings, xv. 5.
1 Kings, xii. 4.
+ 1 Kings, iii. 14. and ix, 4--10.
§ 1 Kings, xi. 31. 40. Q4
cession, such a number of years must be allowed as may be sufficient to regulate the ensuing genealogies by the course of nature. For this end 27 years are fully adequate, On the highest probability, therefore, may the nativity of Rehoboam be put in connexion with the 33d year of his father's life, the 13th of his reign, the roth from the foundation of the temple, and the very year after it was dedicated *.
EVERY judicious reader, who accurately compares all circumstances recorded in the sacred history concerning this yery mixed character, will be convinced, that the observations both of Whiston and his author, are incapable of a full confirmation. For, 1. Each proceeds on the romantic hypothesis that Solomon reigned 80, and lived 94 years. 2. That Hadad began
* This is a proper place for inserting a strange reverie of Whiston in two notes on Josephus. “ Since the beginning of Solomon's evil and wicked life, and adversity, was at the time when Hadad, or Ader, who was born at least 20 or 30 years before Solomon came to the crown, in the days of David, began to give him disturbance; this implies that Solomon's evil life began carly and continued very long, which the multitude of his wives and concubines does plainly imply also : I suppose when he was not so years of age.---The youth of Jeroboam, when Solomon built the walls of Jerusalem, not very long after he had finished his 20 years in building the temple, and his own palace, or not very long after the 24th of his reign, and his youth still here mentioned, when Solomon's wickedness was become intolerable, fully confirm my former observation, that Cuch his wickedness began early, and continued very long." Whilton's Josephus, Ant. viii. 7.6---8.