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Preface to the Second Book of the Kings
Otherwise Called the Fourth Book of the Kings
In the preface to the First Book of Kings, I have spoken at large concerning both these books, the author, time of writing, etc., etc., to which I must refer my readers, as that preface is common to both.
The Second Book of Kings contains the history of three hundred and eight years, from the rebellion of Moab, A.M. 3108, to the ruin of the kingdom of Judah, A.M. 3416.
The history, on the whole, exhibits little less than a series of crimes, disasters, Divine benefits, and Divine judgments. In the kingdom of Judah we meet with a few kings who feared God, and promoted the interests of pure religion in the land; but the major part were idolaters and profligates of the highest order.
The kingdom of Israel was still more corrupt: all its kings were determined idolaters; profligate, vicious, and cruel tyrants. Elijah and Elisha stood up in the behalf of God and truth in this fallen, idolatrous kingdom, and bore a strong testimony against the corruptions of the princes, and the profligacy of the people: their powerful ministry was confined to the ten tribes; Judah had its own prophets, and those in considerable number.
At length the avenging hand of God fell first upon Israel, and afterwards upon Judah. Israel after many convulsions, torn by domestic and foreign wars, was at length wholly subjugated by the king of Assyria, the people led away into captivity, and the land re-peopled by strangers, A.M. 3287.
The kingdom of Judah continued some time longer, but was at last overthrown by Nebuchadnezzar; Zedekiah, its last king, was taken prisoner; his eyes put out; and the principal part of the people were carried into captivity, which lasted about seventy years. The captivity began under Jehoiakim, A.M. 3402, and ended under Belshazzar, A.M. 2470 or 3472. There was after this a partial restoration of the Jews, but they never more rose to any consequence among the nations; and at last their civil polity was finally dissolved by the Romans, and their temple burnt, a.d. 70; and from that time until now they became fugitives and vagabonds over the face of the earth, universally detested by mankind. But should they not be loved for their fathers‘ sake? Are they not men and brothers? Will persecution and contempt convert them to Christianity, or to any thing that is good?