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HE accounts of this transaction are still
more sparing than those of the preceding one. We shall only,-1. Survey the Character of the Covenanters.-II. The Resolution into which they entered.--III. The Occafions of this Covenant.-And, IV. Deduce a few Inferences from the whole.
FIRST, I shall survey the CHARACTER of the Covenanters in this transaction.
1. The glorious party unto whom they were bound to surrender themselves is, THE LORD GOD OF ISRAEL. This designation was relative, and led the covenanters back to review the relation in which the Most High stood
unto them; he was their own God, and their fathers God: And also to review the obligations they were under to be for him, and not for another. They were his covenanted people; as he was their covenanted God, by virtue of the covenants of their ancestors. The Lord God of Israel was the character by which God saw meet to reveal himself under that æconomy.
2. The persons devoting themselves are, King Hezekiah, with the children of Judah, and such of the ten tribes as submitted to his government. The active part which King Hezekiah took in this covenant, probably was a little extraordinary; yet there was nothing in it either irregular in itself, or unbecoming his ftation and office : For, though he excited the proper officers of the Church to do their duty, as he well might in such a broken state of the Church, yet he did not wrest the administration of holy things out of their hands; nor, like Uzziah, grasp them into his own.
One of the most distinguished covenanters, then, was Hezekiah, a prince as eminent in his zeal for reformation as any of the line of David; and ignally rewarded by peculiar and miraculous deliverances from various afflictions. Happy in the succeeding part of his reign, and in almost every thing, except in being succeeded by such a son as Manasseh, who, in the begin. ning of his reign, proved the very worst of all
With this monarch joined the rulers of the city of Jerusalem, and the Levites who had the charge of the temple, and all the congregation of the Lord. Matters had been suffered to link to the lowest ebb in the days of Ahaz; but, all of a sudden, the Lord had spirited up a number to put hand to his work, to the great joy of Hezekiah and all the people : “ And Hezekiah rejoiced, and all the people, that God had prepared the people ; for the thing was done suddenly.” Happy covenanters,-a people prepared by the Lord !
SECONDLY, The RESOLUTION which these covenanters formed is the next thing before
Said Hezekiah, “ Now it is in mine heart to make a covenant with the Lord God of ifrael, that his fierce wrath may turn away from us *." The resolution is formed, indeed, by Hezekiah himself; but it was certainly intended as a public example, to excite unto public covenanting. Had he intended personal covenanting only, there was no need for announcing his intentions to the people; nor, in doing so, could he be well excused from oitentation. In this resolution we may,
1. OBSERVE the matter of it, viz. TO MAKE A COVENANT with the Lord God of fiacl.
The sacred phrase is, TO CUT A COVENANT, In one of the Abrahamic transactions the reason of this phrase has been explained *. When facrifices were offered for covenant-ratification, the creatures were cut in twain, denoting the severity of the punishment incurred by covenant-violation: The violator deserved to be cut asunder, as the foederal facrifice had been when the covenant was ratified. This rite had also in-it a representation of the substitution of Christ, the true facrifice, in the place of the finner;, and of the separation of his foul from his body, as he was made a curse for us. Taking Hezekiah's resolution in this sense, it was accomplished when the whole congregation offered a sin-offering for the kingdom, and for the fanctuary; and the King and the congrcgation laid their hands upon the sacrifice, and the priests made reconciliation with the blood of the sacrifice upon the altar, to make an atoņement for all Ifrael t. It is probable, however, that formal covenanting followed this solemn sacrifice. Along with the oblation of a sin-offering, there was either an explicit or implicit acknowledgment of fin; and this acknowledgment was a proper introduction to covenant-renovation. This sacrifice, then, was a fiederal one ; and it was proper for Hezekiah to say, I have it in mine heart to cut a
+ 2 Chron. xxix. 20—24.
* Differt. II, Part ii.
covenant, or divide a fæderal 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 other.
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 Joah and that of Hezekiah there were not fewer than an hundred and twelve
Some of the princes, who reigned in this interval, were favourers of
* Chron. xxix. 10. Nunc igitur cum corde men, i.e. Hebraifmus, poftquam hæc vidi constitui, &c. Vatab. in Loc. As alfo Arias Montanus in his Version. Lil 2