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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
when when Hezekiah succeeded his father. Though Ahaz had sacrificed many of his children unto devils, vet Hezekiah seems to have been reserved by heaven for the purpose of restoring the worship of Jehovah, as well as repairing the temple. This covenant was made in pursuance of that reformation which Hezekiah had so happily begun, to induce these reformers to finish their testimony. These were the circumstances of the covenanters at this time. The children of Judah, in short, had to acknowledge their iniquity, and supplicate the removal of their plagues: Therefore, it was proper to return unto the Lord their God by covenant-renovation.
FOURTHLY, I shall now deduce a fewlxJerences from what has been offered.
i. Grace comes not unto any by natural generation: Jotham begets a wicked Ahaz; That King Ahaz good Hezekiah; ?nd this last reformer a wicked Manalseh. The sons of God are born not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God. It is not of him that wilteth, nor of him that runneth; but of God who fheweth mercy.
The work of reformation is more easily marred, by the example and edicts of wicked
princes, and the supple, or perverse conduct of servile teachers, than it can he advanced by the zealous "and firm deportment of the most steady reformers. It was more easy for Ahaz to break down the carved work of Zion, as with axes and hammers, than for Hezekiah to build it up. With what amazing facility did Ahaz introduce the worship of Baalim j and persuade the deluded votaries of that idol to devote their most tender offspring to the most direful torments, in pasting through the fire to Molech! How easily did Ahaz and Judah chime in with those very Syrians whom God used for the rod of their correction! Ahaz was not more pleased with rthe altar of Damascus, than Urijah with the pattern which was sent from thence unto Jerusalem: And, after both were convinced that the god of that altar was unable to deliver, by the destruction of Damascus, did they set up this strange altar, and break down that of the Most High God. What gross stupidity? How wretched the exchange! Yet there will, in all ages, be some men found wicked enough to execute the most impious commands that come from a throne! The demolition of divine wor* ship is the more easily accomplished, as there are usually more bad men than good in the world; and, even in good men themselves, the corrupt and unrenewed part greatly prevails,