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3. An universal obedience untp 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 (hews 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.
COVENANT BETWEEN GOD And Judahj
IN THE REIGN OF JOSIAH.
2 Chios, xxxiv. 29—33. compared with ; Kings xxiii. 1—3.
THIS is the last transaction which obtained while the first temple stood, and while the line of David swayed the sceptre. In attending to it, I shall,—I. Explain the Character and Circumstances of the Covenanters.— II. The Matter of this Covenant.—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 sacred history bears testimony unto his early, and * Mmm most most exemplary piety: He did that which was right in the Tight 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 also Caused the 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, seems to be most probable: For it was accompanied 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 Jewish monarchs were obliged, indeed, to read it diligently for themselves, and by themselves; selves■ as appears from various precepts of the Mosaic Law; but they ave never enjoined to read it to the people, much less to dispense it in such a solemn manner. The expression may be justified, viz. "He read in their cars all the words of the book of the covenant," if he caused it to be done; for persons are said 10 do things, in the sacred style, when they excite others to do them, or cause them to be done. Thus Solomon is said to offer two and twenty thousand oxe'a *; while it was only the priest that offered them by his direction, and at his expense, at the dedication of his temple. And Josiah might cause the people To Stand to this covenant, as well as Asa, by an act of the Sanhedrim, or supreme council of the nation, appointing the contemners of it to be punished. But this matter has been explained already]*. The rest of the covenanters were the whole conore Ration. The sacred writer describes them in the following terms: "The King sent and gathered together all die elders of Jud ah and Jerusalem. And the King went up into the house of the Lord, and all the men of Judah, and die inhabitants of Jerusalem, and the Priests, and the Levites, and all the people great and small's:" And, in the parallel
* I Kings viii. 6j. f Diflertation IX.
"f 2 Chron. xxxiv. 20, 30.
Mmm 2 v place, place, the Prophets are added likeways, The elders were called together to settle what was to be done 5 and the people readily cooperated with them, and joined in the solemn service.
SECONDLY, I (hall next consider the MatTer of this Covenant, or the various articles . unto which they engaged: And they covenanted to " walk after the Lord, and to keep his commandments, and his testimonies, and his statutes', with all his heart, and with all his foul, to perform the words of the covenant*."
1. Tn E Y covenanted to Walk After The Lord, in opposition to those idols after which Manasseh and Amon had walked. When persons fell into idolatry, the Holy Ghost frequently styles their course, A walking After other ^godsj-; or, a seeking >\fter them. The expression imports, the emotion of the foul in acts of esteem and desire,—of complacency and delight, according to the various objects on which it terminated :—The persons being also initiated into the way of his worship, and practising accordingly. "Walking after the Lord, in fine, cannot imply less than an imitation of him in holiness and righteousness, mer
* j Chron. xxxiv. 31. f Cent, viii. 19. xi. 28. xiji. 2. 1 Kings, xi. 10.