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his race. With this monarch joined the rulers of the city of Jerusalem, and the Levites who had the charge of the temple, and all the congregation of the Lord. Matters had been suffered to link to the lowest ebb in the days of Ahaz; but, all of a sudden, the Lord had spirited up a number to put hand to his work, to the great joy of Hezekiah and all the people: "And Hezekiah rejoiced, and all the people, that God had prepared the people; for the thing was done suddenly." Happy covenanters,—a people prepared by the Lord!
SECONDLY, The Resolution which these covenanters formed is the next thin«r before us. Said Hezekiah, " Now it is in mine heart to make a covenant with the Lord God of Israel, that his fierce wrath may turn away from, us*." The resolution is formed, indeed, by Hezekiah himself; but it was certainly intended as a public example, to excite unto public covenanting. Had he intended personal covenanting only, there was no need for announcing his intentions to the people; nor, in doing so, could he be well excused from ostentation. In this resolution we may,
1. Observe the matter of it, viz. To Ma K E A Covenant with the Lord God of Israel.
* 2 Chron. xxix. 10.
The sacred phrase is, To Cut A Covenant1/ In one of the Abrahamic transactions the reason of this phrase has been-explained *. When sacrifices were offered for covenant-ratification, the creatures were cut in twain, denoting the severity of the punishment incurred by covenant-violation: The violator deserved to be cut asunder, as the fœderal sacrifice had been when the covenant was ratified. This rite had also in it a representation of the substitution of Christ, the true sacrifice, in the place of the sinner; and of the separation of his foul from his body, as lie was made a curse for us. Taking HeZekiah's resolution in this fense, it was accomplished when the whole congregation offered a sin-offering for the kingdom, and for the sanctuary; and the King and the congregation laid their hands upon the sacrifice, and the priests made reconciliation with the blood of the sacrifice upon the altar, to make an atonement for all Israels. It is probable, however, that formal covenanting followed this solemn sacrifice. Along with the oblation of a sin-offering, there was either an explicit or implicit acknowledgment of sin; and this acknowledgment was a proper introduction to covenant-renovation. This sacrifice, then, was a fuederal one; and it was proper for Hezekiah to fay, 1 have it in mine heart to cut a
* Distort. II. Part ii. f 3 Chron. xxix. 20-^24.
covenant, covenant, or divide a fœderal sacrifice, unto the Lord God of Israel.
2.. Notice the firmness of this resolution, it was deeply laid; even in his heart: "Now it is in mine heart to make a covenant*," &c. Or, With My Heart, as others render it. This resolution was formed in his heart, and not merely by his tongue; and it was as deeply fixed as wisely formed. Covenanting took up the heart of a prince; it was really heartwork with him. He had laid fin to heart, on the one hand; and he was ready to make a hearty dedication, of himself unto God, on the
3. We have a forcible motive unto this duty of covenanting with God: "That his fierce wrath may turn away from us." The Lord promiseth to accompany public reformation with public prosperity.
THIRDLY, We shall now attend unto the Occasions of this Covenant. Between the beginning of the reign of Joafh an«L that of Hezekiah there were not fewer than an hundred and twelve years. Some of the princes, who reigned in this interval, were favourers of
* Chron. xxix. 10. Nunc igitur Cum corde mfo, i.e. Hebraisinus, postquam haec vidi constitui, &c. Vatab. in Loc. As also Arias Moutanus in his Version.
Lll 2 the tlie reformation, indeed; but it was greatly crushed by the apostacy of Joasti, after the death of Jehoiada. As long as the High-priest lived he was ready to promote the reparation of the temple, both by his royal edict and example; but he was no sooner dead than the princes of Judah flattered him into that idolatry from which they had been but lately reformed. They came and made obeisance to the king: Then the king hearkened unto them. And they left the house of the Lord God of their fathers, and served groves and idols. Such is the inconstancy and inconfistence of .many professors in almost every age! And, to add unto their guilt, when the Spirit 'of the Lord came upon Zechariah, the son of Jehoiada, and he testified against them, saying, "Why transgress ye the commandment of die Lord, that ye cannot prosper?" they stoned him with stones, at the commandment of the kino- in the court of the house of tlie Lord. "When persons fall into irreligion and impiety against God, it is not strange to fee them guilty of ingratitude and cruelty to the best of jnen. The vengeance of heaven overtook that persecuting monarch: For he was visited with war abroad, and conspiracy at home. His own servants conspired against him, for the blood of the sons of Jehoiada the priest, and flew him on his bed. The state of reformation, however, advanced in the three following
reigns: For the Spirit of God witnesseth, notwithstanding various blemishes, They Did
THAT WHICH WAS RIGHT IN THE SIGHT
Of The Lord. The space of their reigns, taken altogether, exceeds eighty years; a period of Reformation still longer than the former one.
But this long day of reformation was succeeded with a dark night of horrid apostacy, in the reign of Ahaz; the darkest, by much, that had ever befallen the Jewish Church, since the accession of David's family unto the throne. Ahaz was not content with introducing the worship of idols into his kingdom; but, when punished for his idolatry, in .the time of his distress he did trespass yet more against the Lord, by shutting up the gates of the house of the Lord, as well as putting forth his sacrilegious hands unto the sacred vessels and treasures. The Spirit remarks that he was eminent in wickedpess; for, having specified his crime, he adds, "this Is That King Ahaz." The rubbish which rilled the temple was so dreadfully enormous, as to hinder temple service until the Priests and Levites had performed the heavy talk of clearing it. The altars of Baal had been erected in every corner of his city; and the vengeance of heaven, ever fervent against idolatry and false worship, had wasted his kingdom. Such was the dismal plight of Juclah