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prayed to love Him. We have not borne the idea and the wish in our mind day by day, we have not had it before us in the little matters of the day, we have not lamented that we loved Him not, we have been too indolent, sluggish, carnal, to attempt to love Him in little things, and begin at the beginning; we have shrunk from the effort of moving from within; we have been like persons who cannot get themselves to rise in the morning; and we have desired and waited for a thing impossible, to be changed once and for all, all at once, by some great excitement from without, or some great event, or some special season ; something or other we go on expecting, which is to change us without our having the trouble to change ourselves. We covet some miraculous warning, or we complain that we are not in happier circumstances, that we have so many cares, or so few religious privileges; or we look forward for a time when religion will come easy to us as a matter of course. This we used to look out for as boys; we used to think there was time enough yet to think of religion, and that it was a natural thing, that it came without trouble or effort, for men to be religious as life went on; we fancied that all old persons must be religious; and now even, as grown men, we have not put off this deceit; but, instead of giving our hearts to God, we are waiting, with Felix, for a convenient season.

Let us rouse ourselves, and act as reasonable men, before it is too late; let us understand, as a first truth in religion, that love of heaven is the only way to heaven. Sight will not move us; else why did Judas persist in covetousness in the very presence of Christ? why did Balaam, whose ' eyes were opened," remain with a closed heart? why did Satan fall, when he was a bright Archangel? Nor will reason subdue us; else why was the Gospel, in the beginning, “to the Greeks foolishness?" Nor will excited feelings convert us; for there is one who “heareth the word, and anon with joy receiveth it;" yet " hath no root in himself,” and “ dureth” only “for a while.” Nor will selfinterest prevail with us ; or the rich man would have been more prudent, whose "ground brought forth plentifully,” and have recollected that “ that night his soul” might be "required of him.” Let us understand that nothing but the love of God can

make us believe in Him or obey Him; and let us pray Him, who has prepared for them that love Him, such good things as pass man's understanding, to pour into our hearts such love towards Him, that we, loving Him above all things, may obtain His promises, which exceed all that we can desire.

SERMON CLIII.

JOSIAH, A PATTERN FOR THE IGNORANT.

2 KINGS xxii. 19, 20.

" Because thine heart was tender, and thou hast humbled thyself before the

LORD, when thou heardest what I spake against this place, and against the inhabitants thereof, that they should become a desolation and a curse, and hast rent thy clothes, and wept before Me; I also have heard thee, saith the LORD. Behold therefore, I will gather thee unto thy fathers, and thou shalt be gathered into thy grave in peace; and thine eyes shall not see all the evil which I will bring upon this place.”

King JOSIAH, to whom these words are addressed, was one of the most pious of the Jewish kings, and the most eminent reformer of them all. On him, the last sovereign of David's house, (for his sons had not an independent rule,) descended the zeal and prompt obedience, which raised the son of Jesse from the sheepfold to the throne, as a man after God's own heart. Thus, as an honour to David, the blessing upon his posterity remained in its fulness even to the end; its light not waxing “dim," nor “its natural force abating.”

Both the character and the fortunes of Josiah are described in the text; his character, in its saying that his “ heart was tender," and that he feared God; and his fortunes, viz. an untimely death, designed as a reward for his obedience: and the text is a part of the answer which the Prophetess Huldah was instructed to make

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to him, when he applied for encouragement and guidance after accidentally finding the book of Moses' Law in the Temple. This discovery is the most remarkable occurrence of his reign, and will fitly serve to introduce and connect together what I wish now to set before you concerning Josiah.

The discovery of Moses's Law in the Temple, is a very important occurrence in the history, because it shows us that Holy Scripture had been for a long while neglected, and to all practical purposes lost. By the book of the law is meant, I need scarcely say, the five books of Moses, which stand first in the Bible. These made up one book or volume, and were to a Jew the most important part of the Old Testament, as containing the original covenant between God and His people, and explaining to them what their place was in the scheme of God's providence, what were their duties, and what their privileges. Moses had been directed to enforce the study of this law on the Israelites in various ways. He exhorts them to “lay up his words in their heart and in their soul, and to bind them for a sign upon their hand, that they might be as frontlets between their eyes.”

« And ye shall teach them your children,” he proceeds, “speaking of them when thou sittest in thine house, and when thou walkest by the way, when thou liest down, and when thou risest up. And thou shalt write them upon the door-posts of thine house, and upon thy gates ?.” Besides this general provision, it was ordered that once in seven years the law should be read to the whole people assembled at the feast of tabernacles?. And further still, it was provided, that in case they ever had kings, each king was to write out the whole of it from the original copy which was kept in the ark. And it shall be with him, and he shall read therein all the days of his life ... that his heart be not lifted up above his brethren, and that he turn not aside from the commandment, to the right hand or to the left; to the end that he may prolong his days in his kingdom, he, and his children, in the midst of Israel .'

However, considering how soon the nation fell into a general disregard of the law and worship which God gave them, it is not wonderful that these wholesome precepts were neglected, which could not be performed without testifying against their multiplied transgressions. And much more when they took to themselves idols, did they neglect, of course, to read the law which condemned them. And when they had set a king over them against the will of God, it is not strange that their kings, in turn, should neglect the direction given them to copy out the law for themselves; such kings especially as fell into idolatry.

1 Deut. xi, 18-20.

2 Ibid. xxxi. G13.

3 Ibid. xvii. 19, 20.

All this applies particularly to the age in which Josiah succeeded to the throne, so that it is in no way surprising that he knew nothing of the law till it was by chance found in the Temple some years after his accession. The last good king of Judah before him was Hezekiah, who had been dead sixty or seventy years. That religious king had been succeeded by his son Manasseh, the most profane of all the line of David. He it was who committed those inexpiable sins which sealed the sentence of Judah's destruction. He had set up an idol in the Temple ; had made his son pass through the fire; had dealt with familiar spirits and wizards; had “shed innocent blood very much, till he had filled Jerusalem from one end to another;" in a word, had “done wickedly above all that the Amorites did which were before him 4.

On his return from captivity in Babylon, whither he was taken captive, Manasseh attempted a reformation; but, alas, he found it easier to seduce than to reclaim his people. Amon, who succeeded him, followed the first ways of his father during his short reign. Instead of repenting, as his father had done, he “ trespassed more and more o.” After a while, his subjects conspired and slew him. Josiah was the son of this wicked king.

Here, then, we have sufficient explanation of Josiah's ignorance of the law of Moses. He was brought up among very wicked men-in a corrupt court_after an apostasy of more than half a century; far from God's Prophets, and in the midst of idols.

In such times was Josiah born; and like Manasseh, he came to the throne in his boyhood. As if to show us that religion depends on a man's self (under God, who gives grace), on the state of his heart, not on outward circumstances, Manasseh was the son of the pious Hezekiah, and Josiah was the son of wicked Amon. Josiah was but eight years old when his father was

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4 2 Kings xxi, 11.

5 2 Chron. xxxiii. 15–25.

6 Ibid. 23.

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