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the prophesies of Isaiah were given to support her under the severe trials she felt by reason of Ahaz's apoftacy, and Sennacherib's invasion. And various other prophets prophesied for the same purpose; fuch as Micah and Hofea. The prophet Habakkuk probably prophesied in the dark night of Manasseh's reign 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 faints : And the prophesies presented them with great confolation, 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 againit the finally impenitent, by means of the Assyrians and Babylonians; they, at the same 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 should ensue on the back of it.
FOURTHLY, I shall now fubjoin a few Re· FLECTIONS on the whole.
1. God sometimies reserves the best, of inen. for the worst of times. Good Hezekiah is raised up between a wicked Ahaz and a wicked Manaffeh; and good Josiah between a wicked Amon and a wicked Jehoahaz. Such good men are the pillars of the earth; through the ineans 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 backliding 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 judyinents; 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 sense of sin and duty. In times of ignorance, idolatry, fuperftition, and corruption, the Scriptures are concealed from, or, at least, flighted by a people; yea, such has been the audacity of a cerIain fociety, who prefumes to appropriate unto
itself the name of THE CHURCH-the only Church on earth, that it has locked up the precious treasure of the holy Scriptures in an unknown tongue ; and a dreadful anathema hangs over the head of him who dares to peep into this sacred depositum. The dark tiines of Popery and the reigns of Manafleh and Amon were, in some respects, analogous; particularly in ignorance of the Scriptures : And the reading of the Scriptures produced a similar effect in Jofiah's time with that at the Reformation from Popery. It was :: blessed, at both, for awakening unto a dread of fin, and for exciting unto formal covenant
4. God fometimes brings his people into form al covenanting with himself, as the means of preparing them for the day of affliction, He makes some take the faster hold of him, in or der to their taking him along with thenı into the furnace: And others are permitted to aggravate their iniquities by a pretending to take hold of him, when, in fact, they are about' to renounce him, and he is about to punish them for their apostacy and deceit, that they may fill up the measure of their iniquity. This people was just on the brink of the Babylonish captivity: And the people of our own land covenanted but a little before they were cast into the furnace of a long and grievous
persecution. How some were thereby filted to bear their fiery trial, and others accumulated their guilt, are plain to all in the least conversant with the history of those times. God grant, that a furnace may not be a-heating for covenanters in this sinning land ; or, if it must needs be, that covenanting may be blessed to prepare for that evil day.
DISSERON THE COVENANT
BETWEEN GOD AND HIS CHURCII,
IN THE DAYS OF EZRAH:
EZ RAH X. 3-5
T SHALL pursue our subject, in this TransacI tion, by attending to the following partieulars :-I. Thc Character of the Covenanters.
-II. The Minister, by whose agency they entered into this Covenant.-III: The Matter of the Covenant.-IV. The Occasions of it.--V. Its Confirmations.--Then make fome Reflections on the whole.
FIRST, I shall consider the CHARACTER of the Covenanters: The account of them, which is afforded in the inspired history, is to the following purpose : “ They were persons returned from the Babylonish captivity, and engaged in repairing the city of Jerusalem ; but hot fufficiently wcaned from connection with * 000