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The denunciation of Ahijah was accomplished during the reign of the son of Jeroboam ; but it had not the effect of deterring the next successor from the indulgence of the grossest depravity. All the admonitions and threatenings of the prophets, accompanied by the performance of miracles, proved ineffectual. In consequence, the king of Assyria was at length suffered to carry away captive many of the subjects of the kingdom of Israel; and nineteen years afterwards, upon repeated provocations, Shalmaneser, by the capture of Samaria, put an end to the kingdom of Israel, which had subsisted only about 250 years.
As a contrast to this, we have seen, that for the uprightness and integrity of the good king Hezekiah, Jerusalem was defended; his enemies were destroyed by the rebuke of the Lord, and at the blast of the breath of his nostrils.--A preservation so remarkable, ought 10 have excited in all his posterity, the deepest humility, gratitude, and obedience, to the God of Israel. But, instead of these fruits being produced, Manasseh, his son, built again the high places which his father had broken down ; caused bis children to pass through the fire in the valley of Hinnom; used inchantments and witchcrafts; dealt with familiar spirits and wizzards ; and made the inhabitants of Judah and Jerusalem do-worse than the Heathens, whom the Lord had destroyed before the children of Israel.
The Lord, for the sins of Manasseh, brought upon him the captain of the host of the king of Assyria, who took Manasseh, and bound him with fetters, and carried him to Babylon. But when in his affliction he besought the Lord, and humbled himself before the God of his father; when he prayed unto the Lord, He was entreated of him, heard his supplication, and brought him back to Jerusalem, and into his kingdom. “Then Manasseh knew that the Lord he was God."
His grandson Josiah turned to the Lord with all his heart, so that after him there was not any like him; yet the Lord turned not from the fierceness of his great wrath, wherewith his anger was kindled against Judah: “For the Lord said, I will remove Judah out of my sight, as I have removed Israel ; and I will cast off this city Jerusalem.” Surely at the command of the Lord, came this upon Judah, for the sins of Manasseh, and also for the innocent blood which he shed : " For he filled Jerusalem with innocent blood, which the Lord would not pardon.” II Kings xxiv. 4.
Jehoahaz, the successor of Josiah, was put in chains by Pharaoh Necho, and sent prisoner to Egypt. Jehoiachin succeeded him, a wicked prince, like his predecessor. In the third year of his reign, Nebuchadnezzar took Jerusalem, and carried away part of the vessels of the house of God, and many of the people into captivity. Particularly he gave orders to Ashpenaz, the master of the eunuchs, to make choice out of the children of the royal family, and out of the nobility of the land, of such as he found to be of the fairest countenance, and of the quickest parts, to be carried to Babylon, and there to be made eunuchs in his palace; whereby was ful. filled the predictions of Isaiah, written above a hundred years before. Isaiah, xxxix. 7. Among these youths were Daniel, Ananiah, Mishael, and Azariah.
Moreover, the kingdom was made tributary, and the whole land reduced to vassalage under the Babylonians. A severe visitation! but even this had not the proper effect upon Jehoiachin, the next king, who was as corrupt as his father. He had been but three months upon the throne, when Nebuchadnezzar again besieged and took Jerusalem, with the king and all the royal family; all the most valuable things of the temple and of the king's treasures, with all the mighty men of valour; all the craftsmen and smiths, he
took away, leaving none in the land but the poorest sort. Among the rest, Ezekiel and Mordecai were now carried captives.
Notwithstanding these chastisements, there was no amendment in the religion or morals of the nation. Zedekiah, the next and last king, was as bad as his predecessors. “Moreover, all the chief of the priests and the people, transgressed very much, after all the abominations of the heathens, and polluted the house of the Lord which he had hallowed in Jerusalem. And the Lord God of their fathers sent to them by his messengers, rising up betimes, and sending, because he had compassion on his people, and on bis dwelling place." But they mocked the messengers, despised his words, and misused the prophets. They even suffered themselves to be shamefully infatuated by their false prophets, who had prophesied to them in Baal, as by the most infallible oracle; Jer. ii. 8.
* The Jews, in general, rose very early in the morning ; hence, in their style, it signifies to do a thing sedulously, and with a good will ; thus it is frequently said, that God rose up early to send the prophets to his people. Jer. vii. 13.-si. 7. The Greeks and Romans followed the same custom; they rose very early, and worked till night. They bathed, supped, and went to bed in good time. (FLEURY's Hist. of the Israelites, p. 49. VOL. II.
For their perpetual transgressions, “the wrath of the Lord rose against his people, till there was no remedy Therefore He brought, upon them the king of the Chaldeans, who slew their young men with the sword, in the house of their sanctuary, and had no compassion upon young man, or maiden, old man, or him that stooped for age; gave them all into his band. And all the vessels of the house of God, great and small, and the treasures of the house of the Lord, and the treasures of the king, and of his princes ; all these he brought to Babylon. And they burned the house of God, and brake down the wall of Jerusalem, and burned all the palaces thereof with fire, and destroyed all the goodly vessels thereof." 11. Chron. xxxvi. 16-19.
Divine lenity was apparent in bringing this calamity upon them gradually, and after such a succession of judgments from less to greater, for the space of twenty-two years. This should have been a warning to them, as well as convinced them that the threatenings denounced by the prophets, though seemingly delayed, would certainly be fulfilled. Thus it was manifested, that the long suffering of God waited till the iniquity of the men of Judal was full.
The prophets of Baal assured the Jews, that they were still the beloved people of God, in