A Sermon Preached By Mr. John Hazelton At Mount Zion Chapel, Chadwell Street, Clerkenwell, On Thursday Evening, 1st April 1875
“Incline, thine ear, O Lord, and hear: open thine eyes, O Lord, and see: and hear all the words of Sennacherib, which hath sent to reproach the living God.”—Isaiah 37:17
Satan goeth about as a roaring lion, “seeking whom he may devour; and the Holy Ghost has said, “resist him, stedfast in the faith.” Though Satan devours thousands or millions of our fellow men, he has never yet been permitted to devour the saints of the everlasting God. But he has in all ages of the world tempted and tormented them. Sometimes the temptations of the devil relate to the genuineness of one’s religion and profession, and to the filial character of one’s connection with the great God of heaven and earth. At other times they relate to the divine inspiration of the Scriptures. Sometimes Satan suggests a doubt to the mind concerning the divinity of the gospel; and when a question arises in the mind in relation to this fact, the devil’s purpose is, to a very considerable extent, fulfilled; for well does he know there can be neither comfort, nor holy or spiritual strength in the believer at the time his heart is tossed and distressed by doubtings and anxieties respecting the perfect genuineness of God’s holy Word. It is, however, a fact, that the Spirit which dwells in the heart of a saint is breathed, so to speak, through the whole of the gospel of our God; and hence the heart of a child of God is, notwithstanding Satan’s temptations, in sympathy with the gospel. There is that in the gospel which can and does coalesce or unite with the mind of a sanctified man or woman; and since both the heart and the Word of God are inspired by the same Spirit, when the Word is brought to bear upon the heart of a saint, a holy and sympathetic connection or heavenly union is formed, and divine comfort, consolation, and vigour are sure to result. Now, if we always believed, firmly and deeply, in the inspiration of the Word of God, and could always firmly and deeply believe in our own personal salvation and interest in the facts and promises recorded therein, I hardly know how we could hang down our heads, or what circumstances could arise to induce us to despond and almost despair; for no fact is more clearly revealed than this, that God is a prayer-hearing and a prayer-answering God. And this fact is not only abundantly stated, it is abundantly attested and verified in God’s holy Word, that God has always heard and answered prayer; and that his throne has been frequented by his dear children of all ages, and that successfully, are facts which are everywhere declared in this Book which is divine. God is the same in all generations, and, therefore, having always heard and answered prayer, he will hear the petitions of faith and necessity as long as faith and necessity are in existence, or as long as his Holy Spirit shall indite prayer in the hearts of his people.
We have in the text before us, and in the connection in which it stands, a very interesting and instructive narrative in relation to the reign of Hezekiah, king of Judah, and Sennacherib, the proud monarch of Assyria. You are aware (for we No. 12.—April 15, 1875 read this chapter at the commencement of the service tonight) that Sennacherib could not fulfill his design to take Jerusalem at the time when he had resolved to do so, for he heard that Tirhakah, king of the Ethiopians, was come out against him, and therefore he was for a time diverted from his purpose. It was his intention to come down all at once upon Jerusalem and destroy the city and people of God. God, however, knows how to frustrate the purposes of men, and he sent Tirhakah into the way (if I may so speak) of Sennacherib, and he and Rabshakeh and his whole army were obliged to leave Jerusalem for a time; but before they left the place, the general wrote a blasphemous letter, assuring Hezekiah that in a very short time he would return to the city, destroy, or subject the people, and swallow up Jerusalem and Judah altogether. The letter was blasphemous, and Hezekiah did the only good thing that could have been done with it. We are told that, having received it, “he went up into the house of the Lord, and spread it before the Lord.” I suppose he literally took the letter into the house of God, that is, into the temple, and that he opened it, and laid it before the holy place, or before the veil which separated the holy from the most holy place. Having laid the open letter beneath God’s eye, he prayed to the Lord, saying, “O Lord of hosts, God of Israel, that dwellest between the cherubims, thou art the God, even thou alone, of all the kingdoms of the earth; thou hast made heaven and earth. Incline thine ear, O Lord, and hear; open thine eyes, O Lord, and see; and hear all the words of Sennacherib, which hath sent to reproach the living God.”
I shall, in making a few remarks upon this subject tonight, depart a little from the usual form or order, and gather up a few important and instructive lessons from the course taken by Hezekiah as indicated in the text and its connexion. The subject suggests to us several sweet facts, and I hope we shall be able to give a little holy attention to them, for they are good and profitable. The text suggests the fact that every child of God has unlimited liberty in prayer, unlimited liberty before the throne of grace. Does that appear in the text? Well, there was the message, the blasphemous letter lying before God, lying between God and Hezekiah; and Hezekiah mentions the name of Sennacherib, and presents the whole of the affliction of himself and the children of Israel as a nation before that great God who dwelt between the cherubims. We do not find that on this particular occasion he prayed for an application of blood to his own conscience, or to the consciences of the people. Something else on this occasion oppressed his spirit and weighed down his mind, and he was permitted and enabled to take that circumstance and that sorrow into the presence of the Lord his God. Now I learn from this that we are not limited in prayer, that our God has imposed no restrictions whatever upon us. He has not said, you may make this and that and the other, half a dozen or half a score things the matter of prayer before me. He has been pleased to say, “Ask what ye will, and it shall be done unto thee; ask what ye will, and it shall be given unto thee.” We are not therefore limited in prayer. We may take all our concerns and all our affairs all our enemies and all our friends, all our nights and all our days, all our fears and all our faith, all our pleasures and all our pains into the presence of the Lord our God. We have unlimited liberty as to the privilege itself, although there are times when our hearts do not experience holy freedom, when we are before the footstool of divine favour. In that prayer which is usually called “The Lord’s Prayer,” we find we may be very comprehensive and free before the throne of our Father, God. That prayer is brief; and you observe it was presented to the disciples by the Lord Jesus Christ himself, and that it embraces everything we need. “Thy kingdom come: Thy will be done on the earth as it is done in heaven: Give us this day our daily bread.” We may pray for our daily bread as well as for the coming of God’s kingdom; and pray for our daily bread as well as for the accomplishment of God’s will. “Forgive us our sins.” We may pray for the forgiveness of sin, and for the application of a Saviour’s blood, just as we may pray for our daily bread, and pray for our daily bread just as we are permitted to pray for an application of the Saviour’s blood. We may take the tempter and all evil into the presence of God, that is to say, looking at that short prayer, we may take the devil and his temptations before God in prayer. “Lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil.” Now you have, you see, in that prayer almost all the favours, blessings, and mercies mentioned, or at least, comprehended that you stand in need of; all that you need as a creature, all that you need as a sinner, all that you need as a saint, all that you need as a son of God, and all that you need as a soldier of the cross of Jesus Christ. Why, that prayer comprehends all the different aspects of our character, and all the various forms of grace and pity, power and mercy, that circumstances seem to render it necessary we should be visited with; and, therefore, upon the knee of prayer we have unlimited liberty. When our hearts are favoured with the spirit of prayer and the grace of supplication, we are enabled to take advantage of this fact, and to avail ourselves of this vast and most extensive privilege of making known all our requests unto our heavenly Father. “In all things by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known unto God.” Now, dear friends, the ground of this unlimited liberty appears to be the following fact or facts. In the first place, the great Object of prayer is our heavenly Father, and he is as a Father divinely and eternally perfect. Your little child feels that he has perfect liberty to tell you all his pains and all his wants, and to mention to you the names of all his enemies and all his friends; he feels that he is free to tell you what his hopes and expectations are, and to ask you for what he believes he stands in need of. And this extensiveness of privilege on the part of your little child arises out of the fact that you are his father, and that he is your own dear child; and your heavenly Father has been pleased to say, “Ask what ye will, and it shall be given unto you, or done for you.” You see our privilege is vast, and its ground divine; and not only divine, but soft, attractive, and fragrant; for how blessed it is to kneel before God, believing the great fact, that he that sits upon the throne as our covenant God and Father. If we might not mention all our feelings before God, we should be miserable; if we might not take all our affairs into his presence, prayer would hardly be (I had almost said) a sufficiently extensive privilege; but,
“In trouble what a hiding place
Have they that know the throne of grace.”
We are permitted to take all our mental sorrows and afflictions, all our bodily pains, and all our social circumstances into the presence of the Lord our God; there is no limit laid down by him in connexion with heartfelt prayer. We are not restricted by God at all in relation to this holy exercise, while we desire the accomplishment of his will, and the glory of his name. If the devil tempts, if the world ensnares, if troubles press, if sins rage, and if afflictions are numerous and deep; or if on the other hand we have pleasures, and joys, and hopes, and happy aspirations, we may take them all if we can—only we cannot always do so—into the presence of our Father; and like Hezekiah, we may spread them out before the throne of Divine grace, for there is no one near the throne, and no one upon it to say, Sinner, or child, hold your peace; you are not permitted to go any farther. This, and that, and the other, are not to be made subjects of prayer to God. No such words are ever heard at the mercy-seat; on the contrary, it is “Call upon me,” in relation to all your wants and all your enemies. “Call upon me in the day of trouble: I will hear thee, and thou shalt glorify me.” Now, the universality, or the extensiveness of this privilege, comes farther, out of the fact that our Father is the great Ruler of all, the universal Monarch. If our God did not manage all things—if he did not rule over, guide, control and govern all, what would be the use of the believer’s presenting all his circumstances before his throne? But, first of all, he that sits on the throne is my Father, and I may be very free with him, and tell him what I cannot tell my fellow-creature; and secondly, my Father on the throne is Universal Monarch, he guides and governs and controls all, and therefore if a Sennacherib rises up against me, I know that my God can well control him; and if a hundred foes, human or otherwise, meet me, I know they are all under his almighty hand. I may therefore be bold before God, and present before him all the affairs and circumstances of my life. And not only so, all the circumstances and changes of our pilgrimage have an influence upon our life and progress from day to day through this world to a better. Indeed, I believe, my Christian friends, that the conflicts of life, and the vicissitudes and changes which we experience, are in a great measure intended by God to promote intercourse between the Christian and himself. I do not know how it would be with most of us, if the path were continually smooth, and the sun continually shone; if circumstances were never interrupted or ruffled, and our wishes were always fulfilled; if we had no pressing wants, and everything were perfectly agreeable to our nature and feelings. In such a state of things there might not be much intercourse between God and the believer. But there are nights as well as days, and there are days as well as nights, there are foes as well friends, and bitters as well as sweets; and these are intended by God, as I understand the matter, to promote intercourse between himself and his family on the earth. The storm drives us to the throne. The temptation induces and obliges us to creep under our great Protector’s wings, and a daily sense of sin in minds that love holiness, and would be pure, compels them to have recourse to the sacrifice of Christ and his most precious blood. If you did not feel your blackness, when would you pray, “Wash me! wash me! Lord?” If you did not feel your weakness, when would you say, “O Thou Strength of Israel, strengthen me, I pray thee?” If you met no enemy, when would God hear you present this petition, “Be thou my Shield and the lifter-up of my head?” Therefore, Christian friends, those trials which are so bitter, and those difficulties through which you press, are permitted and appointed by your heavenly Father to develop your spiritual life, and strengthen and intensify prayer and supplication within. Hence Hezekiah, being helpless and in great distress, took the letter and spread it before God, for he was at liberty so to do.
In the second place we learn from the text that prayer is a marvelous and mighty weapon; and hence one old writer speaks of “the weapon of all prayer,” according to the Apostle Paul, who says, when describing the Christian’s armour, “Praying always, with all prayer and supplication.” Hezekiah was fighting a great battle on his knees, and perhaps the Christian always fights best in that posture. Indeed, the Christian warfare is carried on most successfully by earnest wrestling prayer before the throne of Divine mercy. He fights courageously and victoriously when he fights prayerfully. Hezekiah used the weapon of prayer! There were a hundred and eighty-five thousand men against Jerusalem; those soldiers together with Sennacherib and Rabshakeh threatened Hezekiah and Judah with destruction. It is not said that the king of Judah called his soldiers together and set his army in battle array; yet he went forth against Sennacherib and the well-trained army of the Assyrian Empire, and fought against them by presenting himself before the Lord of hosts, the God whose people were threatened, and whose name the enemy had blasphemed. Perhaps I ought to say he went in against them, for he went into the house and presence of God, and thus he went alone against a hundred and eighty-five thousand soldiers and fought against them with the weapon of fervent and acceptable prayer. “Incline thine ear, O Lord; open thine eyes, O Lord and see; and hear all the words of Sennacherib which hath sent to reproach the living God.” Here, then, behold Hezekiah fighting! And now let me observe on this point that prayer is a divine weapon; and therefore, excellent, sharp, and mighty; and must be effectual when used by one whose heart has been sanctified and saved by the God of salvation. There may be a threat deal of carnal policy, a great deal of persecution, and much infernal power brought to bear upon and against you: mighty men, kings, princes, magistrates, popes, and friends may all bear hard upon and fight against a weak and feeble child of God; yet, if that child is favoured with the spirit of prayer and the grace of supplication, he is more than a match for all of them. Let me say concerning the weapon of prayer, it is frequently used most effectually by the believer when he is faint and almost exhausted. The more faint, the more feeble, the more exhausted the petitioner is, the more effectually he fights his enemies by deep heartfelt supplication. He says, “O Lord, I am oppressed; undertake for me.” Or like poor sinking Peter—“Lord, save;”—I am helpless and hopeless without thee, “Lord, save; or I perish.” Prayer is a weapon made by God; for the Spirit indites prayer in the heart, and enables the petitioner to appear with acceptance before Jehovah; and, therefore, it is frequently most powerful when the tried saint does nothing but seek the Lord mid sigh and groan before him. There were times when he sang very loud, and prayed very fluently, and his devotions lasted for three quarters of an hour, it may be; but then he did not fight half so well, nor strike half so many terrible blows, nor wore his conquests half so great as when he fell down faint and wounded; and presented a short and pithy, but comprehensive, heartfelt prayer before the footstool of his heavenly Father. David says, “The sorrows of death compassed me, and the pains of hell gat hold upon me. I found trouble and sorrow. Then called I on the name of the Lord.” Well, what did David say? Say? He had not time to say much. He was very weak and feeble; but he aimed at the powers of hell and darkness once, and through Divine favour he smote them. What weapon did he use? “O Lord, I beseech thee, deliver my soul.” That was the weapon he wielded, and one blow was all that David dealt; that is to say, he offered prayer to God; and he heard, hell was defeated, the snare was broken, and the poor, feeble petitioner was released and escaped; therefore, prayer is a marvelous weapon. My beloved friends, humanly speaking, our circumstances or our experience would sometimes be different from what they are if we had more prayerfulness of heart. I do not know how it is with you—but is there not a backwardness to pray? at least, let me limit my observations to myself, for I will not wrong you if I can help it. There is a backwardness in myself to prayer. Do we always when the temptation comes upon us run away to the Throne? Is there not some hesitation, some parleying, a delaying for a few minutes or a few hours? Do we not always betake ourselves to the Throne, and flee away to the Lord our God when the trouble first reaches us? O our God—we talk about revivals! we need reviving in this respect. O that the Lord would give us larger measures of the Spirit of prayer and the grace of supplication! Whenever we shake and shiver because of a cold and contrary wind, the best thing we can do is to flee to the Throne of mercy; and whenever the arrows of the devil reach us, the moment we are pierced, sure I am the best thing we can do is to repair to the Lord our deliverer; therefore, may the Lord be pleased to give us a larger portion of the spirit of prayer. Incline thine ear and hear, not only my groans but the threatenings of the enemy. Open thine eyes and see, not only the wounds, but the enemy that inflicted them upon me. Look on me thy child, and look on Sennacherib by whom I am hated and who hath reproached thy great and glorious name. “I fear,” said Mary, Queen of Scots (I have mentioned this before,) “the prayers of old John Knox more than a whole army of soldiers.” She did not know much about prayer, or God, or the throne of grace; yet she had an idea (and it was tolerably correct) that prayer was a terrible and powerful thing in the mouth of, and as coming from the heart of a good man; dangerous to the enemies of religion and dangerous to those persons against whom it might be offered. Yes; prayer is a weapon, and that man shall be victorious over all the powers of darkness who possesses its spirit, and can say—“A glorious high throne from the beginning is the place of my sanctuary, and there I hide in trouble. Why, you see the child of God in prayer, when his heart is really prayerful, creeps beneath the wings of Almightiness and takes all his valuables with him. Hezekiah on this occasion trembled and shook, being afraid of Sennacherib and the Assyrian army,—and having no power whatever against his enemies. He immediately gathered together all his valuables, ran into the presence of God and crept under his protecting wings. Then he might have defied, and eventually he did defy, Sennacherib and all the powers that were against him. And if you and I are helped to take our all and creep under God’s almighty shadow, we may rest assured that we shall be safe, and shall look down upon and defy all hostile powers: for “He that abideth under the shadow, of the Almighty” shall be safe from all the dangers by which he is surrounded and threatened.
Then in the third place, I learn from the text that names may be mentioned in prayer to God. Now I should like to make one or two remarks on this. Incline thine ear and hear; and open thine eyes and see; and hear all the words of Sennacherib. Hezekiah might have said, “The king of Assyria—or “that mighty monarch”—or, “that potent king”—or, “that great warrior.” He might have gone a roundabout way for the purpose of presenting that man, that royal personage before God; but there was a directness in his prayer; and, my dear friends, saints cannot be too direct in their petitions. “Hear all the words of Sennacherib, Lord.” And I find my friends, especially in the Old Testament that names both of men and places were literally mentioned by petitioners before God’s throne. “O God of Abraham, of Isaac, and of Jacob.” Why didn’t they say, “Thou art the God of the father of the faithful and the God of his meek and unobtrusive son,” and so on? We use a deal of circumlocution in prayer. We go round about when we want to mention a place or an individual before God. Such was not the case under the Old Testament dispensation. It was—“Lord, bless David,” “Remember David, Lord, and all his afflictions,” not merely “The king of Israel”—“that royal personage”—“that great man,” but “Lord, remember David and all his afflictions.” And here Hezekiah says, “Hear the words of Sennacherib, Lord and it seems to me that we too should mention names, and that prayer would sometimes, perhaps, be more acceptable;”—at any rate in public it would be more acceptable to congregations generally if the names of persons and places were mentioned. I am guilty! Yes, I am guilty here. Oftentimes, friends have said to me at the close of a service—“To whom did you refer in prayer? You prayed for someone who had been bereaved, or someone in deep trouble and we tried to think who it could be and could not give much attention to the rest of your prayer, recalling as we did this friend or that friend, and the other friend, and their probable circumstances to our minds.” How much better it would have been and would always be to say, “Bless brother Hazelton, Lord,” (if he should be the subject of prayer,) “Brother so-and-so” or “Sister so-and-so,” as a friend praying for me once in this place said, the day before I preached at High Wycombe, in Buckinghamshire, as had been announced— “Bless our brother Hazelton tomorrow, Lord, in the town of High Wycombe.” Everybody present knew all about it then; and the Lord would have known had not my name been mentioned, and had not the name of the place been stated; but the people would not have known; and if the congregation does not know to whom the minister refers, it cannot unite in prayer at the moment with him for the particular individual whose case is laid before God. When Sennacherib’s or any other name is plainly spoken in prayer, all that hear may respond—“Amen, Lord, Amen. Hear all the words of Sennacherib which that hath sent to reproach the living God.” My brethren, let us aim at directness in our petitions. Let us aim our thoughts straight at the Throne, and not go a roundabout way in expressing ourselves before our heavenly Father. We want something let us say at once what it is, and remember, we are before God who requires not many words but the heart If we remember an individual in prayer, let us tell God his name and thus resolve to be direct and reach the point quickly. If you are pleading for or against an individual, do as Hezekiah did—mention his name. Hear the words of Sennacherib which hath sent to reproach the living God.
Fourthly, I learn from the text that circumstances and facts have always given a particular form to prayer. Now there is much talk in the day in which we live, about forms of prayer; and some that are called Nonconformists have written papers, preached sermons, delivered addresses, and expressed their opinions on the question of the necessity, or otherwise, of the use of forms of prayer in public worship; and a few Nonconformists have adopted set forms of prayer, and believe that they are better calculated to promote devotional feeling than extemporaneous addresses to God. I do not know, but I cannot think there would be much prayer in my heart if I adopted that system, and stood or knelt in the pulpit and read three or four forms of prayer. I do not think it is possible for a human creature to compose a form or forms of prayer that will meet all the requirements of God’s children in this changing and dying world. And then there is in set forms another awkward thing—at least it is so to my mind and it is this—The Spirit of God is a Free Spirit, and will not, I am sure, be limited to any set and human form; and when the heart is influenced by divine grace, one’s prayerful thoughts will not run in the old grooves which even good men may have made, but will flow just as they are directed and guided by the Spirit of God. I do not know what forms of prayer may have been in existence in the days of Hezekiah; but here was a new trouble! Here were Sennacherib and a hundred and eighty five thousand men, and here was the trembling city of Jerusalem apparently about to be swallowed up. I suppose there could not have been an appropriate form of prayer in existence for these distressing circumstances; and Hezekiah, therefore, had to pray in accordance with the exigencies of the time; and the Spirit of the Lord helping him, he said, “Incline thine ear, and hear: open thine eyes, O Lord, and see: and hear all the words of Sennacherib, O Lord, which hath sent to reproach the living God.” Ah! one may not be grammatical in his expressions and utterances in prayer, and when trouble pinches and the wound gapes and bleeds, one’s cries and petitions may grate a little at the time upon the human ear—God understands it all; he knows the meaning of the heart, and what is wanted by the sufferer. I do not believe, my friends, that any man, be he priest, or bishop, or pope, or the best Christian man or woman that ever lived; that any son or daughter of God can contrive or put together a form of prayer that will meet the requirements of God’s people every day and everywhere. No; we must pray, are obliged to pray, and forced to pray according to the circumstances of the time. Sometimes the occasion of prayer will be the fire of temptation; at other times the raging of sin within; at other times the waves and billows of affliction; at other times trouble from the world. The child of God is obliged at such times to gather together his feelings rapidly and quickly, and pour out his heart with all earnestness and fervour without a book or premeditation before his Father’s throne. “Pour out your hearts before him, ye people.” Circumstances must and will give shape, length, and form to our prayers.
Then, fifthly, learn from the text, and from the connection in which it stands, that heartfelt and divinely-inspired prayer moves heaven and earth. Read again the connection at your leisure. Hezekiah prayed—his prayer was short, but spiritual. The first Being that was moved was God; the second being that was moved was Isaiah. “Go!” said God to Isaiah, “for my servant Hezekiah has been into my presence and presented a petition before me,” and the prophet went. Thirdly, an angel was sent from heaven; and fourthly, death overtook a hundred and four-score and five thousand men in one night; and fifthly, the next morning, Hezekiah and all the children of Israel were filled with gratitude and wonder, and overflowing joy; for, behold, the Assyrian army were all dead corpses. Oh! says James, speaking of the importance of prayer, “Elijah was a man of like passions with ourselves; but he prayed that it might not rain, and the heavens were closed for the space of three years and six months. And then he prayed again and the Lord gave rain,” and James takes care to say, Do not think he was more perfect than you, for he was “a man of like passions with ourselves. The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much.” And do you not know how it is there is such a power in prayer? Prayer moves God, because it is God that moves the heart to pray. That is the reason; Jehovah the Holy Spirit is in the heart, and he moves the petitioner in prayer, and I should wonder indeed if God were not moved when the soul offers supplication to him under his own influence and at his own bidding. I should wonder indeed if God did not respond to that call which he himself is the author of. He puts it into the heart to pray, and when the prayer thus breathed into the mind by God’s Spirit is offered, he responds; for he has respect to the work of his own hands. Jesus is the Head of the church. He pours influences from himself; those influences are diffused through the needy mind, and prayer is the result, and I am not surprised that the Head should sympathise with the member that prays; and therefore you see God in being moved by prayer, and in answering it, is simply fulfilling and completing his own purposes and designs. Ah friends, there is a power in prayer. How strikingly David sets forth this fact. He says, describing the trouble in which he found himself, I called upon the name of the Lord, and he rode upon a cherub, and did fly; he made darkness his pavilion, and came upon thick clouds of the skies. He sent from above; he took me and drew me out of many waters, and set my feet in a large place. David simply called upon his name, and it thundered and lightened; it was dark, and God was in all that followed. My Christian brother, true prayer always moves God, and it moves him because he first moves the suppliant to call on his great name.
Now, lastly, all this is recorded. Here we have an historical fact recorded in the Bible. And what is it recorded here for? Think of the words, “Whatsoever was written aforetime was written for our learning, that we through patience and comfort of the Scriptures might have hope.” No man liveth to himself, no man suffereth to himself, and no man dieth to himself; and therefore, probably, this trouble befell Hezekiah and the children of Israel not more for their own sakes than for your sake and mine, than for the sake of God’s people in after ages of the world. Why, this historical fact will shine like a bright star in the Word of Truth, through all the long night of time, and saint after saint, saint after saint will think of Hezekiah and his prayer, and take courage again and again. Why, what is this that is recorded in my text and the chapter out of which I have taken it? What is it but the footsteps of the flock,—way marks on the road to a better world, and the poor tempest-tost and afflicted soul says, “There is hope! there is hope! for I see foot-prints here.” Hezekiah was in distress, he walked in trouble, and was in conflict with mighty powers, but he prayed, wrestled, and he was successful, and trod down strength. And therefore “If thou knowest not, O thou fairest among women, where I feed my sheep, go thy way by the footsteps of the flock, and feed thy kids by the shepherds’ tents.”
May the Lord add his blessing, for Christ’s sake.
John Hazelton (1822-1888) was a Strict and Particular Baptist preacher. He served for thirty-six years as the Pastor for Chadwell Street Chapel, Clerkenwell. His sermons were printed monthly and gathered into a five volume set. William Styles wrote of him:
"When fairly underway there was a dignity in his carriage, a grandeur in his steady flow of appropriate language, and a majesty in his thoughts that commanded close attention. At times his heart caught fire and he rose to flights of eloquence of no common order. We never knew him embarrassed for want of a thought, or at a loss for the very word he required. In a sermon delivered at the settlement of a minister he said: 'Preach a four-square Gospel, in which election, redemption and regeneration are co-extensive. Preach salvation by mercy, by merit, and by might; by love, by blood, by power. The Father's love, the moving cause; the Saviour's blood, the meritorious cause; and the Spirit's power, the efficient cause—to the praise of the glory of free and sovereign grace.' His ministry was heartily received by all who loved distinctive truth. The writer remembers the late Mr. John Gadsby once speaking of it to him in affectionate terms. Part of the inscription on the memorial tablet in the chapel contains all that is necessary to sum up this reference: ‘Called by sovereign grace in early life, and qualified by the Holy Spirit for the work of the Christian ministry, he was enabled to proclaim the truth as it is in Jesus, in all its fulness and sufficiency. Bold in the advocacy of those doctrines which the Holy Spirit had revealed to him, it was his delight to set forth the love of a Triune Jehovah in the salvation of His Church; the Cross of Christ and His righteousness were to him a glorious reality, and "Jesus only " was ever the theme of his ministry.'"