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words of which the text forms a part: “Thus saith the LORD God of Israel, Tell ye the man that sent you to Me, Thus saith the LORD, Behold, I will bring evil upon this place, and upon the inhabitants thereof, even all the words of the book which the king of Judah hath read : because they have forsaken ME, and have burnt incense unto other gods . . . My wrath shall be kindled against this place, and shall not be quenched. But to the king of Judah, which sent you to enquire of the Lord, thus shall ye say to him, Thus saith the LORD God of Israel, as touching the words which thou hast heard; 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
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. And they brought the king word again.”
How King Josiah conducted himself after this message I need not describe at any length. We have heard it in the First Lesson of this. Service'. He assembled all Judah at Jerusalem, and publicly read the words of the Book of the Law; then he made all the people renew the covenant with the God of their fathers; then he proceeded more exactly in the work of reformation in Judah and Israel, keeping closely to the directions of the Law; and after that he held his celebrated passover. Thus his greater knowledge was followed by stricter obedience: his accurate attention to the whole ritual is the very praise bestowed on his passover; “Surely there was not holden such a passover from the days of the judges ".” Whatever he did, he did it with all his heart: “Like unto him was there no king before him, that turned to the LORD with all his heart, and with all his soul, and with all his might, according to all the Law of Moses”.”
Passing by the particulars of his reformation, let us come to the fulfilment of the promise made to him by Huldah, as the reward of his obedience. “ Behold therefore, I will gather thee to thy fathers, and thou shalt be gathered into thy grave in peace;
9 Thirteenth Sunday after Trinity.
1 2 Kings xxiii. 22.
2 Ibid. 25.
and thine eyes shall not see all the evil which I will bring upon this place.” His reward was an early death; the event proved that it was a violent one also.. The king of Egypt came up against the king of Assyria through the land of Judah ; Josiah, bound perhaps by an alliance to the king of Assyria, or for some strong reason unknown, opposed him; a battle followed ; Josiah disguised himself that he might not be marked out for death ; but his hour was come-the promise of release was to be accom, plished. “And the archers shot at king Josiah; and the king said to his servants, Have me away; for I am sore wounded. His servants, therefore ... brought him to Jerusalem; and he died, and was buried in one of the sepulchres of his fathers .” Thus the best king of Judah died like Ahab, the worst king of Israel ; so little may we judge of God's love or displeasure by outward appearances. “The righteous perisheth, and no man layeth it to heart: and merciful men are taken away, none considering that the righteous is taken away from the evil to come. He shall enter into peace: they shall rest in their beds, each one walking in his uprightness.”
The sacred narrative continues : “ And all Judah and Jerusalem mourned for Josiah. And Jeremiah lamented for Josiah; and all the singing men and the singing women spake of Josiah in their lamentations to this day, and made them an ordinance in Israel :" probably there was a yearly commemoration of his death ; and so great was the mourning at the time, that we find it referred to in the Prophet Zechariah almost as a proverb. So fell the last sovereign of the house of David. God continued His promised mercies to His people through David's line till they were too corrupt to receive them; the last king of the favoured family was forcibly and prematurely cut off, in order to make way for the display of God's vengeance in the captivity of the whole nation. He was taken out of the way; they were carried off to Babylon. Weep ye not for the dead,” says the prophet, “neither bemoan him : but weep sore for him that goeth away : for he shall return no more, nor see his native country 6.” As for Josiah, as it is elsewhere written of him, " His remembrance ... is sweet as honey in all mouths, and as music at a banquet of wine. He behaved himself uprightly in the conversion of the people, and took away the abominations of iniquity. He directed his heart unto the LORD, and in the time of the ungodly he established the worship of God. All, except David, and Ezekias, and Josias, were defective; for they forsook the law of the Most High, even the kings of Juda failed?'
3 2 Chron. xxxv. 23–25.
4 Isa. Ivii. 1.
In conclusion, my brethren, I would have you observe in what Josiah's chief excellence lay. This is the character given him when his name is first mentioned; “He did . . . right in the sight of the LORD, and walked in all the ways of David his father, and turned not aside to the right hand or to the left ®.” He kept the narrow middle way. Now what is this strict virtue called ? it is called faith. It is no matter whether we call it faith or conscientiousness, they are in substance one and the same: where there is faith, there is conscientiousness—where there is conscientiousness, there is faith; they may be distinguished from each other in words, but they are not divided in fact. They belong to one, and but one habit of mind-dutifulness; they show themselves in obedience, in the careful anxious observance of God's will, however we learn it. Hence it is that St. Paul tells us that “the just shall live by faith " under every dispensation of God's mercy. And this is called faith, because it implies a reliance on the mere word of the unseen God overpowering the temptations of sight. Whether it be we read and accept His word in Scripture (as Christians do), or His word in our conscience, the law written on the heart (as is the case with heathens); in either case, it is by following it, in spite of the seductions of the world around us, that we please God. St. Paul calls it faith; saying after the prophet, “The just shall live by faith :” and St. Peter, in the tenth chapter of the Acts, calls it “ fearing and working righteousness," where he says, that “in every nation he that feareth God and worketh righteousness is accepted with Him.” It is all one : both Apostles say that God loves those who prefer Him to the world; whose character and frame of mind is such. Elsewhere St. Paul also speaks like St. Peter, when he declares that “God will render eternal life to them, who by “patient continuance in well-doing seek for glory." St. John adds his testimony: “Little children, let no man deceive you. He that doeth righteousness is righteous, even as He is righteous ?.” And our Saviour's last words at the end of the whole Scripture, long after the coming of the Spirit, after the death of all the Apostles but St. John, are the same: " Blessed are they that do His commandments, that they may have right to the tree of life?.”
7 Ecclus. xlix. 1-4.
8 2 Kings xxii. 2.
And if such is God's mercy, as we trust, to all men, where any one with a perfect heart seeks Him, what think you is His mercy upon Christians ? Something far greater, and more wonderful; for we are elected out of the world in JESUS CHRIST our Saviour to a glory incomprehensible and eternal. We are the heirs of promise ; God has loved us before we were born. He had us taken into His Church in our infancy. He by Baptism made us new creatures, giving us powers which we by nature had not, and raising us to the unseen society of Saints and Angels. And all this we enjoy on our faith; that is, on our believing that we have them, and seriously trying to profit by them. May God grant, that we, like Josiah, may improve our gifts, and trade and make merchandise with them, so that, when He cometh to reckon with us, we may be accepted !
9 Rom. ii. 7.
il John iii. 7.
2 Rev. xxii. 14.
INWARD WITNESS TO THE TRUTH OF THE GOSPEL.
Psalm cxix. 99, 100.
"I have more understanding than my teachers, for Thy testimonies are my
study; I am wiser than the aged, because I keep Thy commandments."
In these words the Psalmist declares, that in consequence of having obeyed God's commandments he had obtained more wisdom and understanding than those who had first enlightened his ignorance, and were once more enlightened than he. As if he said, “ When I was a child, I was instructed in religious knowledge by kind and pious friends, who told me who my Maker was, what great things He had done for me, how much I owed to Him, and how I was to serve Him. All this I learned from them, and I rejoice that they taught it me: yet they did more; they set me in the way to gain a knowledge of religious truth in another and higher manner. They not only taught me, but trained me; they were careful that I should not only know my duty, but do it. They obliged me to obey; they obliged me to begin a religious course of life, which, (praised be God!) I have ever pursued; and this obedience to His commandments has brought me to a clearer knowledge of His truth, than any mere instruction could convey. I have been taught, not from without merely, but from within. I have been taught by means