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2 CHRON. xxxiv. 29-33. compared with 2 Kings
*HIS 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 facred history bears testimony unto his early, and most cxemplary piety: He did that which was right in the light 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 hiinself, 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 thic 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 theni
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selves; as appears from various precepts of the Mosaic Law; but they are never enjoined to read it to the people, much less to dispense it in such a folemn manner. The expression may be justified, viz. “ He read in their ears 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 oxen *; 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 Sanhedrin, or supreme council of the nation, appointing the contemners of it to be punished. But this matter has been explained already t. The rest of the covenanters were the whole congregation. The facred writer describes them in the following terms: “ The King fent and gathered together all the elders of Judah and Jerusalem. And the King went up into the house of the Lord, and all the men of Judah, and the inhabitants of Jerusalem, and the Priests, and the Levites, and all the people great and small I:” And, in the parallel
i Kings viii. 63. + Differtation IX.
place, the PROPHETS are added likeways, The elders were called together to settle what was to be done; and the people readily cooperated with them, and joined in the solemn service.
SECONDLY, I shall nest consider the MATTIR 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 soul, to perform the words of the covenant *."
1. THEY Çovenanted to WALK AFTER THE LORD, in opposition to those idols after which Manasseh and Amon had walked. When perfons fell into idolatry, the Holy Ghost frequently styles their course, A walking AFTER other gods t; or, a seeking after them. The expreflion imports, the emotion of the foul in acts of eiteem 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 practiting accordingly. Walking after the Lord, in fine, cannot imply less than an imitation of him in holiness and rightcousness, merey and truth; yea, in all his moral perfect tions.
2 Chron. xxxiv. 31. + Ceut, viii. 19. xi. 28. xiii. 2. 1 Kings. xi. 10.
2. They engaged to keep his COMMANDMENTS, and his TESTIMONIES, and his STATUTES *. The term rendered commandments is used to denote judicials, as I have already observed, or such political precepts as God gave out for the regulation of the Jewilli commonwealth : And testimonics are, in this connection at least, expressive of moral precepts. They are styled TESTIMONI E s because God has given a clear and full declaration of his will : He has not left us to guess at his mind, by dark hints; but has afforded such a degree of evidence, that nothing but a vailed heart and obstinate infidelity can resist. The
* 2 Chron xxxiv. 31. The word 101701, HIS TESTIMONIES, is derived from 79, IDEM ESSE ; because the testimony of a witness ought to be consistent with it felf, and be always the same. Tlie terin is sometimes used in a very large sense, for the whole doctrines and precepts in the word : But, in the present connection, it is evidently limited unto moral precepts; as there are othtr words used to denote ceremonials and judicials. Nor is this sense of it infrequent in the Old Teftament. “ Teftimonium quoque interdum fignificat ipfum Decalogum ; atque adeo duas Tabulas, in quibus feriptas fuit, . Exod. xl. 20. Levit. xvi. 13 Ideo auiein Decalogus vocatur Testimonium ; quia Deus id dixit teftatusque eft de se, ac sua voluntate de que justitia et veluti debito, quod a nobis exigat.” MATTHIAS FLACCIUS ILLYRICUS Clay. Script. apud vocean,