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this, disappointed in every effect you might na- men from want, nor care and industry always turally have looked for from them! Every step make men rich, nor art and skill infallibly he takes towards his advancement, something make men high in the world, that there is some invisible shall pull him back, some unforeseen other cause which mingles itself in human obstacle shall rise up perpetually in his way, and affairs, and governs and turns them as it keep him there. In every application he makes, pleases; which cause can be no other than the some untoward circumstance shall blast it. He First Cause of all things, and the secret and shall rise early-late take rest—and eat the overruling providence of that Almighty God bread of carefulness; yet some happier man who, though his dwelling is so high, yet he shall still rise up, and ever step in before him, humbleth himself to behold the things that are and leave him struggling, to the end of his done on earth, raising up the poor out of the life, in the very same place in which he first dust, and lifting the beggar from the dunghill, began it.
and, contrary to all hopes, putting him with The history of a second shall in all respects princes, even with the princes of his people ; be the contrast to this. He shall come into the which, by the way, was the case of David, who world with the most unpromising appearance, - makes the acknowledgment. And, no doubt, shall set forwards without fortune, without one reason why God has selected to his own friends, without talents to procure him either disposal so many instances as this, where events the one or the other; nevertheless, you will have run counter to all probabilities, was to see this clouded prospect brighten up insensibly, give testimony to his providence in governing unaccountably, before him; everything pre- the world, and to engage us to a consideration sented in his way shall turn out beyond his and dependence upon it, for the event and expectations; in spite of that chain of unsur- success of our undertakings.' For, undoubtedly, mountable difficulties which first threatened as I said, it should seem but suitable to nature's him, time and chance shall open him a way; laws that the race should ever be to the swift, a series of successful occurrences shall lead him and the battle to the strong; it is reasonable by the hand to the summit of honour and for that the best contrivances and means should tune, and, in a word, without giving him the have best success; and since it often falls out pains of thinking, or the credit of projecting it, otherwise in the case of man, where the wisest shall place him in safe possession of all that projects are overthrown, and the most hopeful ambition could wish for.
means are blasted, and time and chance happen The histories of the lives and fortunes of men to all, you must call on the Deity to untie this are full of instances of this nature,—where knot: for though, at sundry times, sundry favourable times and lucky accidents have done events fall out which we, who look no further for them what wisdom or skill could not; and than the events themselves, call chance, bethere is scarce any one who has lived long in cause they fall out quite contrary both to our the world, who, upon looking backwards, will intentions and our hopes, yet, at the same time, not discover such a mixture of these in the in respect of God's providence overruling in many successful turns which have happened in these events, it were profane to call them this life, as to leave him very little reason to chance, for they are pure designation, and, dispute against the fact, and, I should hope, as though invisible, are still the regular dispensalittle upon the conclusions to be drawn from it. tions of the superintending power of that
Some, indeed, from a superficial view of this Almighty Being from whom all the laws and representation of things, have atheistically in powers of nature are derived, who, as he has ferred that, because there was so much of appointed, so holds them as instruments in his lottery in this life, and mere casualty socmed hand, and, without invading the liberty and to have such a share in the disposal of our free-will of his creatures, can turn the passions affairs, that the providence of God stood neuter and desires of their hearts to fulfil his own and unconcerned in their several workings, righteousness, and work such effects in human leaving them to the mercy of time and chance affairs, which to us seem merely casual, but to to be furthered or disappointed as such blind | him certain and determined, and what his agents directed; whereas, in truth, the very infinite wisdom sees necessary to be brought opposite conclusion follows: for, consider, if a about for the government and preservation of superior intelligent Power did not sometimes the world, over which Providence perpetually cross and overrule events in this world, then presides. our policies and designs in it would always When the sons of Jacob had cast their brother answer according to the wisdom and stratagem Joseph into the pit for his destruction, one in which they were laid, and every cause, in would think, if ever any incident which conthe course of things, would produce its natural cerned the life of man deserved to be called effect without variation. Now, as this is not chance, it was this, that the company of the the case, it necessarily follows, from Solomon's Ishmaelites should happen to pass by, in that reasoning, that if the race is not to the swift, if knowledge and learning do not always secure i Vide Tillotson's Sermon on this subject.
open country, at that very place, at that time answer, let him go one step higher, and consider too, when this barbarity was committed. After whose power it is that enables these causes to he was rescued by so favourable a contingency, work; whose knowledge it is that foresees his life and future fortune still depended upon what will be their effects; whose goodness it is a series of contingencies equally improbable. that is invisibly conducting them forwards to For instance, had the business of the Ishmaelites the best and greatest ends, for the happiness of who bought him carried them from Gilead to his creatures. any other part of the world besides Egypt; or, So that, as a great reasoner justly distinwhen they arrived there, had they sold their guishes upon this point,- It is not only relibond-slave to any other man but Potiphar, giously speaking, but with the strictest and throughout the whole empire; or, after that most philosophical truth of expression, that the disposal, had the unjust accusations of his Scripture tells us that God commandeth the master's wife cast the youth into any other ravens ; that they are his directions which the dungeon than that where the king's prisoners winds and the seas obey. If his servant hides were kept; or, had it fallen out at any other himself by the brook, such an order of causes crisis than when Pharaoh's chief butler was and effects shall be laid, that the fowls of the cast there too ;-had this or any other of these air shall minister to his support. When this events fallen out otherwise than it did, a series resource fails, and his prophet is directed to go of unmerited misfortunes had overwhelmed to Zarcphath, for that he has commanded a him, and, in consequence, the whole land of widow woman there to sustain him, the same Egypt and Canaan. From the first opening to hand which leads the prophet to the gate of the the conclusion of this long and interesting city shall lead forth the distressed widow to transaction, the providence of God suffered the same place, to take him under her roof, everything to take its course : the malice and and though upon the impulse of a different cruelty of Joseph's brethren wrought their occasion, shall nevertheless be made to fulfil worst mischief against him-banished him from his promise and intention of their mutual prehis country and the protection of his parent. servation.' The lust and baseness of a disappointed woman Thus much for the truth and illustration of sunk him still deeper ; loaded his character this great and fundamental doctrine of a Provi with an unjust reproach ; and, to complete his dence; the belief of which is of such conse ruin, doomed him, friendless, to the miseries of quence to us, as to be the great support and a hopeless prison, where he lay neglected. comfort of our lives. Providence, though it did not cross these Justly, therefore, might the Psalmist, upon events, yet bent them to the most merciful this declaration that the Lord is King, conclude ends. When the whole drama was opened, that the earth may be glad therefor; yea, the then the wisdom and contrivance of every part multitude of the isles may be glad thereof. of it was displayed. Then it appeared it was May God grant the persuasion may make us not they (as the Patriarch inferred in consola- as virtuous as it has reason to make us joyful ! tion of his brethren)-it was not they that sold and that it may bring forth in us the fruits of him, but God; 'twas he sent him thither good living, to his praise and glory! to whom before them; his superintending power availed be all might, majesty, and dominion, now and itself of their passions, directed the operations for evermore! Amen. of them, held the chain in his hand, and turned and wound it to his own purpose. “Ye verily
IX.-THE CHARACTER OF HEROD.' thought evil against me, but God meant it for good ; ye had the guilt of a bad intention, * Then was fulfilled that which was spoken by Jeremy his providence the glory of accomplishing a the prophet, saying, In Ramah was there a voice good one, by preserving you a posterity upon heard, lamentation, and weeping, and great mournthe earth, and bringing to pass as it is this day,
ing, Rachael weeping for her children, and would to save much people alive.' All history is full
not be comforted, because they are not.'-JATT. II. of such testimonies; which, though they may
17, 19. convince those who look no deeper than the The words which St. Matthew cites here, as surface of things, that time and chance happen fulfilled by the cruelty and ambition of Herod, to all, yet to those who look deeper they mani- are in the 31st chapter of Jeremiah, the 15th fest, at the same time, that there is a hand
In the foregoing chapter, the prophet, much busier in human affairs than what we having declared God's intention of turning the vainly calculate ; which, though the projectors mourning of his people into joy, by the restoraof this world overlook, or at least make notion of the tribes which had been led away capallowance for, in the formation of their plans, tive into Babylon, proceeds, in the beginning they generally find in the execution of them. of this chapter, which contains this prophecy, And though the fatalist may urge that every to give a more particular description of the event in this life is brought about by the ministry and chain of natural causes, yet, in
1 Preached on Innocents day.
great joy and festivity of that promised day, dants, the distressed mothers of the tribes of when they were to return once more to their Benjamin and Ephraim, who might accompany own land, to enter upon their ancient pos- their children led into captivity as far as Rama, sessions, and enjoy again all the privileges they in their way to Babylon, who wept and wailed had lost; and, amongst others, and what was upon this sad occasion, and, as the prophet deabove them all, the favour and protection of scribes them in the person of Rachael, refusing God, and the continuation of his mercies to to be comforted for the loss of her children; them and their posterity.
looking upon their departure without hope or To make, therefore, the impression of his prospect of ever beholding a return. change the stronger upon their minds, he gives Whichever of the two senses you give the a very pathetic representation of the preceding words of the prophet, the application of them sorrow on that day when they were first led by the evangelist is equally just and faithful ; away captive.
for, as the former scene he relates was transThus saith the Lord, A voice was heard in acted upon the very same stage, in the same Rama, lamentation and bitter weeping ; Rachael district of Bethlehem, near Rama, where so weeping for her children, refusing to be com- many mothers of the same tribe now suffered forted, because they were not.
this second most affecting blow,--the words of To enter into the full sense and beauty of Jeremiah, as the evangelist observes, were this description, it is to be remembered that literally accomplished ; and no doubt in that the tomb of Rachael, Jacob's beloved wife, as horrid day a voice was heard again in Rama, we read in the 35th of Genesis, was situated lamentation and bitter weeping, Rachael weepnear Rama, and betwixt that place and Beth-ing for her children, and refusing to be comlehem. Upon which circumstance, the prophet forted, -every Bethlehemitish mother involved raises one of the most affecting scenes that in this calamity, beholding it with hopeless could be conceived ; for as the tribes, in their sorrow, gave vent to it,-each one bewailing sorrowful journey betwixt Rama and Beth- her children, and lamenting the hardness of lehem, in their way to Babylon, were supposed their lot, with the anguish of a heart as incapto pass by this monumental pillar of their an- able of consolation as they were of redress. cestor Rachael, Jacob's wife, the prophet, by a Monster! could no consideration of all this common liberty in rhetoric, introduces her as tender sorrow stay thy hands? Could no rerising up out of her sepulchre, and as the com- flection upon so much bitter lamentation mon mother of two of their tribes, weeping for throughout the coasts of Bethlehem, interpose her children, bewailing the sad catastrophe of and plead in behalf of so many wretched objects her posterity led away into a strange land, - as this tragedy would make? Was there no refusing to be comforted because they were way open to ambition, but that thou must not; lost, and cut off from their country, and, trample upon the affections of nature? Could in all likelihood, never to be restored back to no pity for the innocence of childhood, no her again.
sympathy for the yearnings of parental love, The Jewish interpreters say, upon this, that incline thee to some other measures for thy the patriarch Jacob buried Rachael in this very security, but thou must thus pitilessly rush in, place, foreseeing, by the spirit of prophecy, take the victim by violence, tear it from the that his posterity should that way be
cap- embraces of the mo offer it up before her tive, that she might, as they passed her, inter- | eyes, leave her disconsolate for ever, brokencede for them.
hearted with a loss, so affecting in itself, so But this fanciful superstructure upon the circumstanced with horror, that no time, how passage seems to be little else than a mere friendly soever to the mournful, should ever be dream of some of the Jewish doctors; and, able to wear out the impression? indeed, had they not dreamt it when they did, There is nothing in which the mind of man is 'tis great odds but some of the Romish dreamers more divided than in accounts of this horrid would have hit upon it before now. For, as it nature. For, when we consider man as fashioned favours the doctrine of intercessions, if there by his Maker,-innocent and upright, full of had not been undeniable vouchers for the real the tenderest dispositions, with a heart ininventors of the conceit, one should much sooner clining him to kindness and the love and prohave sought for it amongst the oral traditions of tection of his species,-this idea of him would this church, than in the Talmud, where it is. almost shake the credit of such accounts ; so
But this by the bye. There is still another that, to clear them, we are forced to take a interpretation of the words here cited by St. second view of man, very different from this Matthew, which altogether excludes this sceni- favourable one, in which we insensibly reprecal representation I have given of them. By sent him to our imaginations,--that is, we are which, 'tis thought that the lamentation of obliged to consider him, not as he was made, Rachael, here described, has no immediate but as he is,-a creature, by the violence and reference to Rachael, Jacob's wife, but that it irregularity of his passions, capable of being simply alludes to the sorrows of her descen. perverted from all these friendly and benevolent
propensities, and sometimes hurried into ex- world, rapacious, implacable in his temper, cesses so opposite to them as to render the most without sense of religion or feeling of humanity. unnatural and horrid accounts of what he docs Now, in all such complex characters as this, but too probable. The truth of this observation the way the world usually judges is, to sum up will be exemplified in the case before us. For, the good and the bad against each other, denext to the faith and character of the historian duct the lesser of these articles from the greater, who reports such facts, the particular character and (as we do in passing other accounts) give of the person who committed them is to be con- credit to the man for what remains upon the sidered as a voucher for their truth and credi-balance. Now, though this seems a fair, yet I bility; and if, upon inquiry, it appears that fear it is often a fallacious reckoning, which, the man acted but consistently with himself, though it may serve in many ordinary cases of and just as you would have expected from his private life, yet will not hold good in the more principles, the credit of the historian is re- notorious instances of men's lives, especially stored, and the fact related stands incontestable, when so complicated with good and bad as to from so strong and concurring an evidence on exceed all common bounds and proportions. its side.
Not to be deceived in such cases, we must work With this view, it may not be an unaccept- by a different rule; which, though it may apable application of the remaining part of a dis- pear less candid, yet, to make amends, I am course upon this day, to give you a sketch of persuaded will bring us in general much nearer the character of Herod, not as drawn from to the thing we want, -which is truth : the way Scripture, for, in general, it furnishes us with to which is, in all judgments of this kind, to few materials for such descriptions : the sacred distinguish and carry in your eye the principal Scripture cuts off in few words the history of and ruling passion which leads the character, the ungodly, how great soever they were in the and separate that from the other parts of it; eyes of the world ; and, on the other hand, and then take notice how far his other qualities, dwells largely upon the smallest actions of the good and bad, are brought to serve and support righteous. We find all the circumstances of that. For want of this distinction, we often the lives of Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, and Joseph, think ourselves inconsistent creatures when we recorded in the minutest manner. The wicked are the furthest from it; and all the variety of seem only mentioned with regret; just brought shapes and contradictory appearances we put on upon the stage, on purpose to be condemned. are in truth but so inany different attempts to The use and advantage of which conduct is, I gratify the same governing appetite. suppose, the reason,-as in general it enlarges With this clue, let us endeavour to unravel on no character but what is worthy of imitation. this character of Herod as here given. "Tis, however, undeniable that the lives of bad The first thing which strikes one in it is ambimen are not without use; and whenever such tion,-an immoderate thirst as well as jealousy a one is drawn, not with a corrupt view to be of power. How inconsistent soever in other admired, but on purpose to be detested, it parts, his character appears invariable in this; must excite such a horror against vice as will and every action of his life was true to it. strike indirectly the same good impression. Hence we may venture to conclude that this was And though it is painful in the last degree to his ruling passion; and that most, if not all, paint a man in the shades which his vices have the other wheels, were put in motion by this cast upon him, yet when it serves this end, first spring. Now let us consider how far this and at the same time illustrates a point in was the case in fact. sacred history, it carries its own excuse with it. To begin with the worst part of him, I said he
This Herod, therefore, of whom the evan- was a man of no sense or religion, or, at least, gelist speaks, if you take a superficial view of no other sense of it but that which served his his life, you would say was a compound of good turn; for he is recorded to have built temples and evil; that though he was certainly a bad in Judea, and erected images in them for idolaman, yet you would think the mass was trous worship,-not from a persuasion of doing tempered at the same time with a mixture of right, for he was bred a Jew, and consequently good qualities; so that in course, as is not un- taught to abhor all idolatry ; but he was in common, he would appear with two characters, truth sacrificing all this time to a greater idol of very different from each other. If you looked his own-his ruling passion; for, if we may on the more favourable side, you would see a trust Josephus, his sole view in so gross a comman of great address, popular in his behaviour, pliance was to ingratiate himself with Augustus generous, prince-like in his entertainments and and the great men of Rome, from whom he held expenses,-and, in a word, set off with all his power. With this he was greedy and rapasuch virtues and showy properties as bid high cious. How could he be otherwise, with so for the countenance and approbation of the devouring an appetite as ambition to provide world.
for? He was jealous in his nature, and sus. View him in another light, he was an am- picious of all the world. Show me an ambitious bitious, designing man, suspicious of all the man that is not so: for as such a man's hand, like Ishmael's, is against every man, he con- apparent generosity of his behaviour, he entirely cludes that every man's hand, in course, is confuted the whole charge ; and so ingratiated against him.
himself with the Roman senate, and won the Few men were ever guilty of more astonish- heart of Augustus (as he had that of Anihony ing acts of cruelty; and yet the particular before) that he ever after had his favour and instances of them in Herod were such as he was kindness, -- which I cannot mention without hurried into by the alarms this waking passion adding, that it is an eternal stain upon the perpetually gave him. He put the whole San- character and memory of Augustus that he sold hedrim to the sword, sparing neither age, wis- his countenance and protection to so bad a man, dom, nor merit ! One cannot suppose simply for so mean and base a consideration. from an inclination to cruelty. No; they had From this point of view, if we look back upon opposed the establishment of his power at Herod, his best qualities will shrink into little Jerusalem.
room ; and how glittering soever in appearance, His own sons, two hopeful youths, he cut off when brought to this balance, are found wantby a public execution! The worst men have ing. And, in truth, if we would not willingly natural affection ;-and such a stroke as this be deceived in the value of any virtue, or set of would run so contrary to the natural workings virtues, in so complex a character, we must call of it, that you are forced to suppose the impulse them to this very account; examine whom they of some more violent inclination to overrule serve, what passion and what principle they and conquer it. And so it was; for the Jewish have for their master. When this is understood, historian tells us 'twas jealousy of power, his the whole clue is unravelled at once, and the darling object, ---of which he feared they would character of Herod, complicated as it is given us one day or other dispossess him : sufficient in history, when thus analysed, is summed up inducement to transport a man of such a temper in three words,— . That he was a man of uninto the bloodiest excesses.
bounded ambition, who stuck at nothing to Thus far this one fatal and extravagant passion gratify it;' so that not only his vices wero accounts for the dark side of Herod's character. ministerial to his ruling passion, but his virtues This governing principle being first laid open, too (if they deserve the name) were drawn in all his other bad actions follow in course, like
and listed into the same service. so many symptomatic complaints from the same Thus much for the character of Herod,-the distemper.
critical review of which has many obvious uses, Let us see if this was not the case even of his to which I may trust you, having time but to virtues too.
mention that particular one which first led me At first sight it seems a mystery how a man into this examination,-namely, that all objecso black as Herod has been thus far described, tions against the evangelist's account of this should be able to support himself in the favour day's slaughter of the Bethlehemitish infants, and friendship of so wise and penetrating a body from the incredibility of so horrid an account, of men as the Roman senate, of whom he held are silenced by this account of the man; since his power. To counterbalance the weight of so in this he acted but like himself, and just as bad and detested a character, and be able to you would expect, in the same circumstances, bear it up, as Herod did, one would think he from every man of so ambitious a head and so must have been master of some great secret, bad a heart. Consider what havoc ambition has worth inquiring after. He was so. But that made ! how often the same tragedy has been secret was no other than what appears on this acted upon larger theatres ; where not only the reverse of his character. Ile was a person of innocence of childhood or the grey hairs of the great address,-popular in his outward be aged have found no protection, but whole haviour. He was generous, prince-like in his countries, without distinction, have been put to entertainments and expenses. The world was the sword ! or, what is ás cruel, have been then as corrupt at least as now, and Herod driven forth to nakedness and famine, to make understood it,-knew at what price it was to be way for new ones, under the guidance of this bought, and what qualities would bid the highest passion. For a specimen of this, reflect upon for its good word and approbation.
the story related by Plutarch, when, by the And, in truth, he judged this matter so well, order of the Roman senate, seventy populous that, notwithstanding the general odium and cities were unawares sacked and destroyed, at prepossession which arose against so hateful a one prefixed hour, by P. Æmilius, by whom one character,-in spite of all the impressions from hundred and fifty thousand unhappy people so many repeated complaints of his cruelties and were driven in one day into captivity, to be sold oppressions, --yet he stemmed the torrent, and, to the highest bidder, to end their days in cruel by the specious display of these popular virtues, labour and anguish ! Astonishing as the account bore himself up against it all his life; so that before us is, it vanishes into nothing from such at length, when he was summoned to Rome to views, since it is plain, from all history, that answer for his crimes, Josephus tells us that, by there is no wickedness too great for so unthe mere magnificence of his expenses, and the bounded a cause ; and that the most horrid