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the children of Israel. And such as complied not with the times fell a sacrifice to the rage of his idolatry: "Manasseh flied innocent blood very much, till he had filled Jerusalem from one end to another."—And, though there was great reformation in the latter end of Manafleh's reign, yet the people did not return unto the Lord by covenant-renovation: Wherefore, it was proper to put hand to that work "W'hich Manasseh had neglected. It must also be observed, that, though this method of reformation was essayed, yet there was a great defect in it, as Josiah and the rest of .the reformers did not make a thorough search into the iniquities of their fathers, nor yet a suitable acknowledgment of them; especially the sin of blood-shedding in the days of Manasseh. Hence we find God himself prosecuting the quarrel in after generations. He stirred up the Chaldeans to avenge this quarrel: "Surely at the commandment of the Lord came this upon Judah, to remove them out of his fight, for the sins of Manasseh, according to all that he did: And also for the innocent blood that, he shed (for he filled Jerusalem with innocent blood), which the Lord would not pardon *."

'4. Josiah had begun a reformation from the idolatry and superstition into which his

* a Kings jodv, 3, 4.

fore*

fore-fathers had been plunged.- This reformation had been advancing for eighteen years; and, while the priests were removing the rubbish which had been cast into the most holy place, they found that copy of the law which was kept in the temple: This book they carried unto the king, who, upon hearing the curses of it read in his ears, rent his clothes, in token of his fear and sincere repentance. And, that the whole congregation might be affected in the fame manner, this excellent prince called together a solemn assembly of the elders and people unto Jerusalem, and caused the book of the law to be read in their audience, as a necessary preparative for solemn covenanting. The pieces of reformation which Jofiah had accomplished, previous to his finding the book of the law, were various; and it was proper to take the congregation engaged, by covenant, to each of them. This good king took the administration of his kingdom into his own hand when he was only sixteen years of age: And, even previous to that period, he ■walked in the way of David his father. In the twelfth year of his reign, he began to 'purge Judah and Jerusalem from the highplaces, and the groves; and to break down the altars and images of Baalim, as well as to burn the bones of the priests upon their altars. On the other hand, he spared no expense that was requisite for repairing the temple of the N n n 2 Lord Lord. Like Hezekiah, and other reformers who had gone before him, he was equally careful to restore the worship of the true God as to destroy every monument of idolatry. There is one thing which ought by no means to be omitted, The neighbouring country of Ephraim and Manasseh, being under the dominion of the king of Assyria, but inhabited partly by some remnant of the ten tribes, Jofiah carried his reformation thither likeways; and, in particular, he demolished the altar and the highplace at Bethel, which Jeroboam erected to make Israel to sin. Thus the Lord accomplished his prediction, which he gave out as early as the days of Jeroboam himself; and glorified his faithfulness by raising up Josiah for that purpose *.

5. The canon of Scripture was greatly enlarged by the inspired prophets: Now it was sit the Church should receive and observe every notification of the divine will; as well as keep pure and entire all the ordinances which are appointed by it. There were two reasons for the enlargement of the (acred canon at this time, in subordination to the sovereign pleasure of God: First, to support the Church, and true believers in her, under such particular trials as exercised her faith and patience : For example,

* 1 Kings xiii. 2.

the the prophesies of Isaiah were given to support her under the severe trials Hie felt by reason of Ahaz's apostacy, and Sennacherib's invasion. And various other prophets prophesied for the fame purpose; such as Micah and HoscaThe prophet Habakkuk probably prophesied in the dark night of Manasseh's reijm in like manner. Secondly, To prepare the children of God for such afflictions as were before them. The inspired history exhibited to them a stock of experience, the experiences, as well as the falls of eminent saints: And the prophesies presented them with great consolation, in the promise of the coming of the Messiah, and the preservation of the Jewish monarchy until that happy time, on the one hand; and the certain prospect of their enemies destruction on the other: For, while the prophets announced the vengeance of God against the finally impenitent, by means of the Assyrians and Babylonians; they, at the fame time, held up, in their typical glass, the destruction of these empires. Thus, faith might look through the dark night of the Babylonish captivity, and contemplate, with pleasure, the reformation which mould ensue on die back of it.

FOURTHLY, I shall now subjoin a few ReFlections on the whole.

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1. God sometimes reserves the bestrpf men for the worst of times. Good Hezekiah is railed up between a wicked Ahaz and a wicked Manasleh; and good Jofiah between a wicked Amon and a wicked Jehoahaz. Such good men are the pillars of the earth; through the means of their prayers, and that they may be safely housed in the triumphant Church, the day.of divine forbearance is prolonged, as the day of vengeance is deferred. It had fared ill with backsliding Judah much sooner, if God had not bestowed on her such men as a reforming Jofiah, and a weeping Jeremiah.

2. The Lord may reward and countenance a work of reformation when there are several things attending it still calling for reformation. The Lord approved of Josiah's reformation," and made it the means of deferring his judgments; but it was accompanied with the want of sincerity in many of the people, and the want of due search into the iniquities of their fathers in all.

3. The reading of the holy Scriptures is the means of awakening, both unto a fense of sin and duty. In times of ignorance, idolatry, superstition, and corruption, the Scriptures arc concealed from, or, at least, flighted by a people; yea, such has been the audacity of a certain society, who presumes to appropriate unto

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