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when Hezekiah succeeded his father. Though Ahaz had sacrificed many of his children unto devils, yet Hezekiah seeins 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 fo happily begun, toinduce 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 few InFERENC ES from what has been offered.
1. GRACE comes not unto any by natural generation : Jotham begets a wicked Ahaz; THAT KING AHA Z good Hezekiah; 2.d this last reformer a wicked Mánafleh. The fons 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 willeth, nor of him that runneth; but of God who the weth mercy.
2. The work of reformation is more easily murred, by the example and edicts of wicked
princes, and the supple, or perverse conduct of servile teachers, than it can be 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; and perfuade the deluded votaries of that idol to devote their most tender offspring to the most direful torments, in passing through the fire to Molech! How eafily 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, the altar of Damascus, than Urijah with the pattern whiclı was sent from thence unto Jerufiilem: 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 worship 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 pre
3. An universal obedience unto the law of God, and an universal attendance unto divine institutions, goes hand in hand with right covenanting, and is greatly influenced by it. It has usually been urged against this duty, by the neglectors of it, that covenanters lay a disproportionate stress upon it, and overlook, or undervalue other duties. But Hezekiah's practice fhews the very reverse. Covenanting is so far from. relaxing the obligation of the Law, that it affords an additional motive to keep it. It diffuseth its benign influence upon the heart, engaging it to respect all God's commandments.
2 CHRON. xxxiv. 29–33. compared with 2 Kings
THIS is the last transaction which obtained
1 while the first temple stood, and while the line of David swayed the sceptre. In at- tending to it, I shall,-1. Explain the Character and Circumstances of the Covenanters.--II. The Matter of this Coveniant.-III. The Occasions of it.-IV. Improve the Subject.
FIRST, I shall explain the CHARACTER, and attend unto the CIRCUMSTANCES of these Covenanters. The first person mentioned is King Josiah. His agency in this matter deserves to be particularly considered. The facred history bears testimony unto his early, and
molt most exemplary piety: He did that which was right in the fight of the Lord, and walked in the way of David his father, and turned not aside to the right hand or to the left : And when he heard the law of God read in his ears, his heart was humbled, and he rent his clothes, and wept before God, in testimony of his genuine repentance. Josiah was also distinguished by his diligence and zeal for repairing the house of God: For the book of the covenant, which was the means of awakening Josiah and the inhabitants of Judah, was found by Hilkiah, when employed in the reparation of the temple ; and this prince had contributed liberally for that reparation, both by his example and authority. As to the activity of this prince, in bringing the people into covenant, the sacred historian remarks, that he not only made a covenant himself, but alfo CAUSED tle people to stand to it. The question is, if he drew the form of this covenant himself, and administered it unto the people; or, if he only excited the Priests and Levites to do their duty in this matter? The latter, to me at least, feems to be most probable : For it was accom panied with the reading of the Scriptures and dispensing the word. Now, there are none, as far as I know, who plead for magistrates taking upon them the administration of the word, The Jewislı monarchs were obliged, indeed, to read it diligently for themselves, and by them