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stant study. “Study to be quiet, and to mind your own business.” Such a frame of mind and heart can neither be obtained nor preserved, without diligent heed. “Take heed and be quiet.” This short but most important command was addressed originally to Ahaz, king of Judah. At that time his situation was very peculiar, and the dangers that were impending over him and his family were very alarming. “It was told the house of David, saying, Syria is confederate with Ephraim.” The two kings of Syria and of Israel had formed a powerful confederacy against the kingdom of Judah. They had taken evil counsel together against the descendant of David, who was then reigning upon his throne in Jerusalem ; and their design was to enter into his city, and, having dethroned the reigning sovereign, to set up a king of their own making, to sit upon his throne. To the outward eye there was little or nothing to prevent the execution of their plan. It seemed almost as easy to be done as to be formed. We cannot be surprised that the report of this great confederacy should produce the utmost consternation in Jerusalem, and more especially in the king's household. Such an effect it actually had, both upon the king and his people. We are told, “His heart was moved, and the heart of his people, as the trees of the wood are moved with the wind.” Ahaz, it must be remembered, was a wicked man. Of him it is recorded, “In the time of his distress did he trespass yet more against the Lord : this is that king Ahaz.” But because he was the lawful heir of King David, and because God had many gracious purposes to be accomplished in his family, he would not suffer the confederate kings to fulfil their threatenings. He declared concerning their counsel, “It shall not stand, neither shall it come to pass.” In addition to this, he was pleased to send the prophet Isaiah, with this express message to the king of Judah, in the midst of his terror and alarm, "Take heed and be quiet.” He and his people were assured that the adversaries of whom they were afraid were only two smoking firebrands, whose power to do mischief was past, and that they both, within a limited period, should be entirely quenched. Ahaz and his people, in order to have the full benefit of this great deliverance, had only simply to stay themselves upon the sure word of promise by which it was proclaimed. It was told them by the word of the Lord, “If ye will not believe, surely ye shall not be established.”
Let our readers endeavour to receive the soothing mes. sage, which was sent to the inhabitants of Jerusalem in the day of their perplexity, as a message from God to themselves, in these divided and distracted times: “ Take heed and be quiet.”
I. Take heed to your faith, and be quiet from all tormenting
fear, so long as you have, for the ground of your confidence, the faithful promise of the God of truth. You see at once that the fear of Ahaz and his people was not unfounded, when their hearts were moved, as the trees of the wood are moved with the wind. They had no resources of their own either to resist or avoid the powerful confederacy that was formed against them, and ready at any moment to burst upon their unprotected heads. But after they had been expressly told by the God of truth to be quiet and still, that He would undertake their defence, that He would break the league, and defeat the counsel, and extinguish the rage of their adversaries, what had they then to fear? When He assured them so expressly that their strength was to sit still, and that by quietness and simple trust in His promise they should be saved,—what would you have thought of them, if they had either presumptuously gone forth against their enemies in their own strength, or else if, giving way to their unbelieving fears, they had determined to abandon the city, and to seek safety by flight? How could they escape the impending danger,-how could they be established, if they would not believe?
Now, let this thought sink deep into our hearts. The frame of mind, and the part to act, which became these trembling Jews, as soon as they heard the gracious promise of God, points out exactly what is right and proper for the awakened penitent, as soon as he hears the message of reconciliation proclaimed by the Gospel. He is not now the thoughtless trifler that he once was. He has come to himself. His heart has been touched; and his soul is disquieted within him. He knows that Almighty God has a controversy with him, because of his sins. He cannot calmly look death, and judgment, and eternity in the face. The things that are coming upon him fill him with the most painful apprehension. What must he do to be saved? Where must he turn for deliverance? He cannot by any device of his own mind, or any work of his own hand, either escape the condemnation to which he is exposed, or meet the demands which the law of the Lord has against him. What must be do? Here is the answer, the true answer, the answer of God, to his momentous enquiry : “Take heed to your faith," and see that you rely altogether and entirely for pardon, and peace, and eternal life, as the gift of God through Jesus Christ our Lord. Do not go about to establish a righteousness of your own. Put not your trust in anything you have done, or can do, or intend to do. But, confessing and bewailing your utter inability either to atone for your offences that are past, or to render the obedience that is due for the future, put your whole trust and confidence in Him who is the propitiation for our sins, and whose perfect obedience is reckoned for righteousness to all that truly believe in His name. You must be a
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stranger all your life to peace, and rest, and inward quiet, until you embrace by simple faith the promise of life which is in Christ Jesus. If you will not believe, surely you shall not be established.
It is a notorious fact, that, after hearing the gospel a thou. sand times, we are ignorant of its true nature, and blind to its real beauty, until we see clearly, and feel joyfully, that Christ is offered to us unworthy helpless sinners, in all His fulness, and with all the blessings of His great salvation, as the free gift of God. Numbers for a long time deceive themselves, and make themselves miserable every day, through their ignorance of the freeness of the gospel; while they think, verily, that they understand well its gracious character. How many suffer under a painful feeling that they must do something themselves, before God will accept them for Christ's sake. But here is their misery. While the enemy is thus blinding their eyes, they find, by painful experience, that they are wholly unable to do the things which they determined to do. The true gospel is something entirely different. It is free, and full, and wholly of grace. The freeness of the gospel, and its marvellous adaptation to the abject circumstances of those to whom it comes, give it at once both its brightest glory, and its most powerful attraction. Only let your faith be simply fixed on Christon Christ alone-and then you may be quiet from all your painful doubts, and all your swelling fears. You have now the sure promise of the faithful God on which to stay your trembling heart. And will He not keep His promise ? Will He not be as good as His word ? Will He not perform all the mercy, and all the truth, which He is pledged by covenant to show to them that have fled for refuge to the gospel hope? O believer, “ Take heed and be quiet." Fear not, neither be faint-hearted. All your sins are atoned for. Christ has atoned for them all. All your debts are paid. Christ has paid for them all. All your liabilities are answered. Christ has answered them all. All your enemies are conquered. Christ has conquered them all. Your faith in His precious death and merits, in His glorious resurrection, and in His faithful promise, makes His atonement yours, His righteousness yours, His victory yours. Why, then, should you disquiet yourself in vain, when He says to you, “Take heed and be quiet” ?
There is not a single person in the world, however sinful, however sorrowful, however disquieted, who may not in this way obtain pardon, and peace, and a quiet mind. Let him cease at once from all dependence upon his own works and deservings. Let him plead the atonement made by Christ upon the Cross, as the discharge in full for all his sins. Let him present the righteousness of Christ as the payment in full, for
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every demand which the law of God has against him. And let him see if that will not be accepted on his behalf. It has been already accepted. God Himself has accepted it. And, if you plead it in faith, and make mention of this only, He has accepted it for you, O reader, whoever you are, or whatever you have done. Listen to His own most express and unmis. takeable word: “ To him that worketh not, but believeth on Him that justifieth the ungodly, his faith is reckoned for righteousness.”
II. “ Take heed to your tongue,” and be quiet from all grievous words which stir up strife, however great the provocation that is given. We are not told whether Ahaz and his people governed their tongue, when they were directed to take heed and be quiet. But we have a remarkable instance of the meekness of wisdom in the son and successor of Ahaz. Hezekiah was a very different, and far better man. He, too, was placed in circumstances very similar to his predecessor. Sennacherib sent Rabshakeh with a most treasonable message to the inhabitants of Jerusalem, calling upon them to revolt from their lawful sovereign. Nothing could exceed the provocation of his language. He spoke as if it were mere delusion in Hezekiah pretending that the Lord Himself could deliver Jerusalem out of the hand of the king—the great king of Assyria. Because the idols of wood and stone which were worshipped by the nations whom his fathers had subdued, were utterly unable to arrest his conquering course, he wickedly thought that the God of Israel would be equally unable to protect His worshippers. What did he say? (Who are they ainong all the gods of these lands that have delivered their land out of my hand ?" How hard to be quiet, at the hearing of such insulting and provoking language as this! Hezekiah and his subjects might have met scorn with scorn, insult with insult, and railing with railing. But completely different was the part they acted. “They held their peace, and answered him not a word; for the king's commandment was, Answer him not.” Whether or not Hezekiah recollected at the time the injunction which had formerly been given to his father, we cannot say. But however this may be, certain it is that both he and his people carried it out, both as to its ontward letter and inward spirit. They took heed, and were quiet.
Well would it be for us all if we were to act in a similar way under all the provocations and all the disquieting events which may befall us throughout the opening future? “What man is he that desireth life, and would fain see good days? Keep thy tongue from evil, and thy lips that they speak no guile.” Many of our troubles proceed from our own tongue. It is a most unruly member, and nothing but a powerful curb and a strong bridle is sufficient to keep it in subjection. What:
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ever insults or provocations we may receive, this should be our fixed determination: “I will keep my mouth as it were with a bridle.” When our spirit is vexed and irritated, and hasty words and angry feelings are struggling hard for expression, here is the wise and prudent resolution for each one of us to form : “I said, I will take heed to my ways, that I offend not with my tongue.”
True Christians are forbidden to render evil for evil, or rail. ing for railing. They are the disciples of him who, when he was reviled, reviled not again, when he suffered, he threatened not, but committed himself to Him that judgeth righteously. How often do we plunge ourselves into trouble, and trouble others, and spread gloom and discontent on every side, by some hasty, or some unkind or unadvised expression. “Behold, how great a matter a little fire kindleth !” Whenever we feel grieved or provoked with another, we are not in a proper frame to reply to him as we ought, and at such a time it is the language alike both of the highest wisdom and the plainest duty, " Take heed and be quiet.” It is an easy thing, and a natural thing, to pay our accusers and revilers in their own coin, even to pay them with compound interest; but it is a gracious thing, and a glorious triumph, to repress every bitter feeling, and to check every unkind expression, and, instead of being overcome of evil, never to rest or be satisfied until we have overcome evil with good. “The discretion of a man deferreth his anger, and it is his glory to pass by a transgression.” This is the most satisfactory proof that we are the genuine children of our Father which is in Heaven, and the true subjects of the Prince of Peace. When anyone would provoke our spirit, and lead us on to angry contentions, we should recollect that this is the King's commandment, “An. swer him not.” Altercations should always be nipped in the bud. “Leave off contention before it be meddled with.” When once we have meddled with it, it is almost impossible to leave it off, until it has had its course, and extended its violence. A meek submissive spirit, which chooses to be misrepresented and misunderstood, rather than to enter upon hurtful contentions and angry disputes, like the iron conductor which conveys the electric fluid of the thunder-cloud safely to the ground, prevents many a terrible explosion, which otherwise would have been inevitable. “Yielding pacifieth great offences.”
It may also be added, that whenever we give counsel or ad. vice to others, its effect for good will very materially depend upon the meek and quiet spirit in which it is given. If a man quietly refrain his lips, yea, even from good words, because he perceives it is the time to be silent, and then as quietly sug
Vol. 68.–No. 381.