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What would God require at the hand of his people, at a time when his enemies did every thing in their power to frustrate his promise respecting the seed-royal in the fan^ily of David? What would he have them to do, at a time when the worship of Baal was celebrated with every degree of splendour and magnificence; and that of the true God suppressed 1 When the altar of Baal-was erected in the temple of the Most High God; and that of Jehovah cast dpwn ?— When the consciences of such as worshipped the Lord Gx>d of Israel were oppressed, and their most sacred rights violated? Would he not have them to set The Seed Of David on the throne of his father,—repair the altar of the Lord,—purify his temple, —break down every monument of idolatry,—■ as well as avow their allegiance to the Most High?
FOURTHLY, The Occasions of this Covenant are the next branch of this subject.
1. That reformation, which advanced by covenant-renovation in the days of Asa, had made considerable progress under the auspicious reigns of both Asa and Jehosbaphat. The reigns of these two princes, taken together, lasted about sixty years; and reformation, on the "whole, was favoured and protected by them all the while; a thing seldom known Hi the Jewish, or any other church. The steps * Kkk bv
by which religion advanced were, Firft, He took away the High Places and Groves, as well as brake down the monuments of idolatry. The learned are not quite agreed as to the meaning of the terms; Co far as we can form a judgment of them, they were of two kinds: One fpecies of them was deiUned to the purpofes of idolatry; and the other facred to the Moft High God. With refpeiSl to thofe high places, which were feats of idolatry, there is not the leaft ground of doubt but that Jehpfhaphat demolifhed them. This diftin&ion may ferve to remove the feeming difficulty: Where, on the one hand, it is faid, "He took away the high places and the groves:" On the other, " Howbeitj the high places were not taken away *." The former importing fuch as had been proftituted to the purpofes of idolatry: The latter fuch as had been facred
to to the true God. Of, if this do not fullice, the first may denote the conduct of the prince, and the latter that of the people; as it follows, *' For, as yet, the people had not prepared their hearts unto the God of their fathers:" "Whereas the heart of this good prince was lifted up in the ways of the Lord. Thus idolatry was discouraged at court, though retained and practised in some distant places of the country.
* 2 Chron. xvii. 6. compared with 2 Chron. xx. 33. No one thing is more certain than that there -were high places and grove3 confecrated to idols: And it is equally plain, that good men worfhipped the living God in high places. "The grand difficulty is, how to reconcile their facrificing in other places befides the national altar; as, Gideon, at Ophrah; Manoah,. in the country of Dan; Samuel, at Mifpeh, and Bethlehem, &c. with the Law, "Take heed to thy felf, that thou offer not thy burnt-offerings in every place that thou feeft. But in the place which the Lord thy God (hall choofe, there ihalt thou offer thy burnt-offerings, and there malt thou do all that I command thee," Deut. xii. 13, 14. The beft folution, 1 apprehend, is, That it was done by fpecial divine direction 'and command, God haying an undoubted
Again, Jehoshaphat stirred up the Lcvites
to diligence in giving instructions to the people: "And they taught in Judah, and had , the book of the law of the Lord with them: and went about through all the cities of Judah, and taught the people." Thirdly, He
restored the courts of judicature, both civil and sacred, which had gone into disuetude: "In Jerusalem did Jehoshaphat set of the Levites, and of the priests, and of the chief fathers of Israel, for the judgment of the Lord, and for controversies.—Amariah the chief priest is over you in all matters of the Lord j and Zebadiah the son of Ifhmael, the ruler of the house of Judah, for all the King's matters." These were bound to inspect the morals of the people; and their care seems to have been crowned with a blessing.
doubted right to supersede his own positive laws when he pleases; and, as this is expressly aflerted to have been done in David's cafe, mentioned 1 Chron. xxi. 18. it may the more reasonably be supposed in, all the rest." Jennings, Vol. II. p. 93.
Kkk 2 2. The
2. Tbe reformation, which was so happily advanced, had been awfully crushed by the afsnity of the family of David with the house of Ahab. The edge of the Church's testimony, in Asa's reformation, pointed directly against the idolatry of the ten tribes. But, for political reasons perhaps, Jehostiaphat got his son Jehoram to marry Athaliah, the daughter of Ahab, and she introduced idolatry into his family; which was greatly displeasing to God, and severely punished by him. Jehostiaphat probably meant to put a period to the war which had long subsisted between Israel and Judah; but he broke the peace with heaven, and brought a bloody sword into his own house. His heir slew all the rest of his sons as soon as he ascended the throne; and Athaliah murdered all the feed-royal when she understood that her firstborn had died by the hand of Jehu. Thus, though the law condemning idolaters was not duly executed, yet vengeance did not suffer them to live. Athaliah, however, meant not so, neither did her heart think so: She intended to make the house of David like the house of her father Ahab; and, at once, to gratify her ambition, as well as secure herself from the victorious arms of Jehu, slie grasped at the throne and sceptre of David. This gave additional security to the worsliip of Baal, which was practised during the six years of Athaliah s
usurpation. This idol had his temple, to rival
that that which was built by Solomon; and his priest, to rival the priest: of the Most High after the order of Aaron: But both fell a sacrifice to an injured people. Now it was necessary to make a reformation from such flagrant corruption; and to confirm this reformation by solemn covenanting. It was proper to remove the rubbish of idolatry, and also restore such parts of reformation as God had bestowed on their fathers; as well as to make such alterations in the sacred bond as their case, and the circumstances of their time required.
3. The Lord had accomplished a most favourable revolution in the State,—prospering the enterprize of Jehoiada to restore the family of David unto the throne of Jndah. The scheme was wifely concerted and vigorously executed, as well as faithfully concealed until it was ripe for execution: And every thing succeeded even to the most sanguine expectation. Now, such remarkable success called for a grateful acknowledgment; and covenantrenovation was the fittest for their circumstances, and the best improvement of their deliverance.
LASTLY, I fliall now make some ReflecTions on the whole,