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hast not laboured, neither madest it grow; which came up in a night, and perished in a night: and should not I spare Nineveh, that great city, wherein are more than six score thousand persons that cannot discern between their right hand and their left hand; and also much cattle?"
This story proves to us that the Almighty is slow to be angry with his children; and that when His just displeasure cannot be kept back any longer, even then He will have mercy upon us, if we repent of our sins and pray to be forgiven. But let us not presume too much upon this, nor do what we know to be wrong, because we have a kind Father who pities our weakness; ever bearing in mind that He is also a just Judge: for although the men of Nineveh were spared this once, yet we may suppose they afterwards returned to evil ways, for their once powerful city is levelled to the ground, and nothing now remains to point out the place to which Jonah was sent.
It would not interest you to be told of all the kings who reigned over Judah and Israel, many of whom forsook the Lord their God, and did not remember the mercies which He had shewn to their fathers, but walked in their own evil ways, and did that which was pleasing in their own eyes, forgetting that it was their duty to serve the Lord, and to ask His blessing on all their actions, if they hoped to prosper. There are, however, a few whose names attract our notice, because they did that which was right in the sight of the Lord. There was also a king named Amaziah, whose history we should look upon as a warning not to think too much of ourselves; he began to reign well, and gave promise of much usefulness, but his heart became very proud and lifted up, because he gained a victory over his enemies; he forgot to humble himself before the Lord, and thank Him
for His protection, but turned away from the only God, and bowed himself before idols; from this time his actions never prospered, he was put to flight by the king of Israel, and, some little time after, was slain.
Thus we may see how needful it is for us to be humble and lowly in heart, to think little of ourselves, and place our whole trust in God, who will enable us to do what is most pleasing to Him, if we pray for His help with our whole hearts; we must not be satisfied with doing well for a time, and then grow careless, and begin to think better of ourselves, for if we do, we shall be in danger of forsaking the Lord altogether.
We find mention of Hezekiah, king of Judah, in the book of Kings, where we read, "He did that which was right in the sight of the Lord, according to all David, his father, did;" he took away all the idols of the people, and, by his good example, called upon the whole nation to return unto their God, in whom he placed his trust, and who was with him whereever he went, and gave him power over his enemies. In the fourth year of his reign, the Assyrians came up against Samaria and carried Israel away into
captivity, because they had not obeyed the Lord their God.
When Hezekiah had been king of Judah fourteen years, Sennacherib, king of Assyria, came against him, and Rabshakeh tried to make the people of Judah rebel against their king. When Hezekiah heard this, he rent his clothes, "and went into the house of the Lord;"-he did not go to meet his enemies in his own strength, nor without first seeking help from on high: and he found that he had not trusted in vain, for the prophet Isaiah comforted him and sent word to him not to be afraid at what he had heard, for that the Lord had promised to destroy the Assyrians. And it came to pass that the angel of the Lord went out, and smote, in the camp of the Assyrians, an hundred four score and five thousand; and when they arose early in the morning, behold, they were all dead corpses. So Sennacherib, king of Assyria, departed and went, and returned, and dwelt at Nineveh. And it came to pass that as he was worshipping in the house of Nisroch, his god, that he was slain with the sword by his two sons.
"In those days was Hezekiah sick unto death, and the prophet Isaiah came
and said unto him, Thus saith the Lord, Set thine house in order, for thou shalt die and not live:" but the Lord heard the prayer of his servant, Hezekiah, when he prayed that he might recover, and He granted his request, and sent word by His prophet, that on the third day he should go up to the house of the Lord; God also said, "I will add unto thy days fifteen years: and I will deliver thee and this city out of the hand of the king of Assyria and I will defend this city for mine own sake, and for my servant David's sake." And as a sign that all these things should come to pass, the Lord caused the shadow on the dial to go back ten degrees.
When Hezekiah recovered, the king of Babylon sent letters and a present unto him, for he heard that he had been ill; and the king of Judah shewed the messengers all the treasures that were in his house. We may suppose that Hezekiah was vain of his riches, and that the prophet Isaiah was sent to him with the following message by way of reproof, for he said to the king, "Hear the word of the Lord, Behold, the days come, that all that is in thine house, and that which thy fathers have laid up in store unto thee