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2 Chronicles 26:1-23 - Homiletics

The reign of fifty-two years spoiled in an hour.

Many a reign, indeed, was a spoiled reign which had begun well, promised well, and continued well for some length, of time. But the reign of Uzziah, of all the reigns of Judah and of Israel the longest with the one exception of that of Manasseh, and particularly full of prosperity, and remarkably varied prosperity within, of success in just foreign wars, and of that which led to these things, viz. the most gracious tokens of the Divine approval and help—was all to be wrecked in an hour apparently, so far as King Uzziah was concerned. His people, indeed, were not stricken for his sin. Nor were his priests, whose loyal fidelity to their high office and sacred charge and whose faithful courage shone out to great advantage; but for the king himself, whenever his defection occurred, all the harvest of many years of a well-spent and hitherto glorious reign was "blown quite away" by—surely only such it can have been—"one cunning bosom sin"! The preacher may fix close and detailed attention on—

I. THE VARIED BENEFICENCE AND SUCCESS OF MANY YEARS OF UZZIAH 'S REIGN . All this left little to Uzziah to desire, and little to be desired for him. They should have paved the way for an honourable, peaceful, restful old age, with the blessings of a nation and a nation's God upon him.

II. THE PLACE IN THE KING WHERE THIS SIN LODGED . It was not a sin of the world, nor a sin of the flesh, and though undoubtedly it was a sin of the devil, it must rather be written, the sin of the devil. It was akin to the sin of Korah, Dathan, and Abiram ( Numbers 16:1-35 ). It was akin to the turning sin of the life of the first king, Saul. It was, we may perhaps say, akin to the sin of those "angels who lost their first estate." It was a sin particularly legislated against ( Numbers 18:1-7 ). It is one, probably in our own days, and through all Christendom's past ages of history, more largely at work and more malignant, and of more dire disaster to priests even and people, than may be generally imagined. It harbours itself, not in the flesh, and not in the heart, but in the spirit. It is ambition ecclesiastical, and unbridled ! It is a snatching at spiritual function, domination, and claim of authority, unauthorized ! It is a zeal of self-exaltation and self-display, where self's very vesture should be the vesture of purity and of obedience! With Uzziah it was technical sacrilege. It none the less surely covered real sacrilege, which his spirit desired, sought, and defiantly dared. The opportunity here may be well utilized by the preacher for dwelling on and explaining the scripturally described triple designation of human nature, "body, soul, and spirit."

III. THE CUNNINGNESS AND SUBTLENESS OF THIS SIN OF THE SPIRIT . We do not, indeed, know the birth of this sin in Uzziah at all—when it was, what favoured it, when or how it peeped out first to view. Though it seems, as we read it, as though it were absolutely the evil suggestion of an hour in Uzziah, yet the preparation so easily matured by Azariah, when he followed "into the temple after Uzziah, and with him fourscore priests of the Lord, valiant men," seems to indicate that those true ministers of the temple were to some degree forewarned and apprised of what was going to be attempted. The cunningness was that this particular disposition and impulse to sin had lain dormant for many a year of useful, good, and perhaps holy work. And the subtleness of it ranges with the truth that higher intellects and higher intelligences are exposed to higher, finer, and more refined forms of temptation, the highest to the highest, Let men say what they wilt in derogation and superficial disparagement of the inviolable sacredness of the offices and services and sacraments of the Church—differencing them from the older typical dispensation, when they differ not at all, except in demand of higher reverence and more spiritual unfeigned observance—it is indisputable that the most solemn warnings of apostles and Epistles point in this same direction of protest against all the offspring and widespread family of sacrilege. It is, indeed, in and of the very genius of Christianity to hallow intentions, vows, determinations, and works of religion with a sacredness all their own. The rush and rage of modern national life may overwhelm and sweep away many an old and many a sacred boundary, but the might is not the right. And the might that seems to usurp successfully, as Uzziah's was not given to do, is inflicting only the deadlier blow and more inly wound.

IV. THE CONDIGN PUNISHMENT OF UZZIAH . The disease of leprosy meant, marked, sin's last, typical chastisement for the body. And sin's last daring attempt of the spirit is stricken down with this loathsome stroke and scourge. It made the sinner hasten away to make if he could his escape; it makes the sinner loathe himself; it is the dread earnest of his shut-off, "let-alone," solitary condemnation. And one thing only—the blood of Jesus Christ—has efficacy to cleanse that leper. Though the principle cannot safely be applied either by Job's comforters or any modern successors of them, yet the nature and severity of a punishment roughly measure the significance of the sin, the steps of which it tracks. And Uzziah's sin and punishment, startling as they are in their own connection, have been also written as admonition that might be greatly needed as the wayward ages should flow onward, even to our own, and perhaps to the end.

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