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2 Chronicles 32:31

"God left Hezekiah to test him and to know everything that was in his heart!"

There is no character so excellent but there is some "blot" to be found in it. The most illustrious saints that ever lived, not only manifested their weakness and sinfulness, but showed themselves defective in those very graces for which they were most eminent.

We must not wonder therefore that king Hezekiah, who was in some respects as distinguished a character as any that either preceded or followed him, became at last a monument of human frailty! It is probable that the peculiar manifestations of the divine favor towards him had excited an undue degree of self-delight in his mind. God therefore saw fit to test him, and, "in the business of the ambassadors of the princes of Babylon, who had sent unto him to inquire of the wonder that was done in the land," God left him to the natural workings of his own heart. The consequence was such as might be apprehended, he gave way to pride and vanity, and brought on himself the divine displeasure.

The words which we have read, will naturally lead us to observe, that,

I. Until we are tested, we have very little idea of the evil of our hearts!

Though we feel no difficulty in admitting that we are sinners, yet we can by no means acknowledge the truth of the sinful representations given of us in the Scriptures. If we were told that we are all by nature haters both of God and man, Romans 1:30; Romans 8:7; Titus 3:3—we would consider it as a libel upon human nature.

When we read the history of the Jews, we are ready to think that they were incomparably more perverse than we would ever be; though if we had been in their situation, there is no reason at all to believe that we would have shown ourselves in any respect more obedient than they.

If we have never fallen into any gross sin, we imagine that our moral conduct has arisen from the superior goodness of our hearts; and we suppose that we have no disposition to those heinous iniquities which are practiced by others. We are not aware that, if we had been subjected to the same trials as others without the restraining grace of God, we would have fallen like them.

How was king Hazael shocked when he was told what enormities he would commit! "Is your servant a dog, that he should commit this monstrous thing!" Yet no sooner was he tried, than he did commit all the enormities that had been foretold.

Just so, if we were told that one of us would become a thief, another an adulterer, and another a murderer, we would revolt at the idea as though we were not capable of such atrocious wickedness. But the more we know of our own hearts, the more we shall be ready to say with David, "My heart shows me the wickedness of the ungodly." See also Mark 7:21-23 and Jeremiah 17:9. Yes, our heart is a repository of all the wickedness that is committed upon earth!

II. If God left us to ourselves, we would soon give some awful proof of our depravity.

That any are preserved from great enormities, is owing to the providence and the grace of God. It has pleased God to encompass them, so that they should be screened from any violent temptation; or else he has endued them with a more abundant measure of his grace, whereby they have been enabled to withstand the tempter. Who that sees how others have fallen, will ascribe his own steadfastness to his own goodness? We need only set before us those deplorable monuments of human depravity: David, Solomon, and Peter—and we shall need nothing more to enforce that admonition, "Let him who thinks he stands, take heed lest he fall." We perhaps may have maintained a good conduct for a considerable time; but can we not look back to some moment wherein we have been left by God, to follow the bent of our own corrupt hearts? We must be lamentably ignorant of what has passed within us, if we have not long ago learned our need to use that prayer, "Hold me up, and I shall be safe!"

Yet we must not view such proofs of depravity merely as insulated and detached acts,

III. For one single act of wickedness, if duly considered, will serve as a clue to find out all the iniquity of our hearts.

God did not design to show Hezekiah one imperfection only, but "all that was in his heart," and his fall was well calculated to give him this knowledge; for in it he might see, not only his pride and creature-confidence, but:
his ingratitude for the mercies he had received,
his unconcern about the souls of those who came to visit him,
his indifference about the honor of his God,
and innumerable other evils which were comprehended in his sin.

Just so, if we will take any one sin of our lives, and make use of it as a light to search the dark corners of our hearts—we shall find out a most astonishing mass of wickedness that has hitherto escaped our observation!

Take, for instance, any single act of pride, anger, lewdness, covetousness, or even deadness in prayer—what a scene will it open to our view!

What unmindfulness of the divine presence!

What unconcern about our own souls!

What preferring of carnal ease or worldly vanities to the happiness and glory of Heaven!

What contempt of that adorable Savior who shed his blood for us!

Alas! alas! We would never come to an end, if we would attempt to declare all the evil in our hearts which by such a scrutiny we might discover.

This then we would most earnestly recommend as the means of becoming acquainted with our hearts. Let us not consider any sin as though it were unconnected with any other; but rather regard every sin as a fruit of an immense tree, or as a little stream flowing from an inexhaustible fountain!


From this dereliction of Hezekiah, and his fall consequent upon it, we may further learn,

1. Thankfulness to God for the preservation we have experienced.

None of us have perpetrated one thousandth part of the iniquity which we would have committed—if God had not restrained us by his providence and grace! Let us acknowledge that by the grace of God we are what we are, and say, "Not unto us, not unto us, but unto your name be the praise!" And let our dependence be altogether on God, that he who has kept us hitherto, will "preserve us unto his heavenly kingdom."

2. Tenderness and compassion towards those who have fallen.

We are apt to look on a fallen brother with indignation and contempt; but if we considered our own extreme sinfulness more attentively, and how often we would have fallen if outward temptations had sufficiently concurred with our sinful dispositions—we shall find less readiness to cast a stone at others. We should rather see our own picture in their depravity, and extend that compassion to them which in similar circumstances we would desire to meet with at their hands.

3. Vigilance against the assaults of our great adversary.

Satan combines in himself the subtlety of a serpent, and the strength of a lion. Well therefore does the Apostle say to us, "Be sober, be vigilant." If we do not watch against his assaults, we, in fact, tempt him to tempt us! Besides, we cannot expect that God should preserve us, if we do not endeavor to preserve ourselves. It will be to little purpose to pray that God will not lead us into temptation, if we presumptuously rush into it of our own accord! Let us then shun every occasion of sin!

Let us avoid the company, the amusements, the books, yes the very sights that may lead us into sin!

Let us commit ourselves continually to God's care and protection; and beg of him never to leave us or forsake us.

In this way we may hope to experience his unremitting care, and to be "kept by his power through faith unto everlasting salvation!"