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people and the children are both carried into captivity, because they have no love of truth in them. Now a third point is, they received the word upon the blessing of God, and he giveth thanks unto God as the cause of all, to fit their hearts for hearing. For it is true that Paul may plant, and Apollos may water, but it is God who giveth the increase. And our Saviour, he oftentimes after his preaching saith, "He who hath ears to hear, let him hear." So that in hearing it is certain that God must give new ears, before we can hear: all cometh of him. So it is said, that he opened the understandings of his disciples, that they might understand the Scriptures. So it is said, that the Lord opened the heart of Lydia to attend diligently unto those things which Paul spake. And John the apostle saith, "we know that the Son of God is come, and hath given us a mind for to know him."
For use hereof, let us learn when we come unto God, not to trust to our wits, or depend upon anything in ourselves, but only upon God, the giver of all; for what is the cause, I pray you, why so many great scholars profit nothing in their learning to themselves or the Church, but because they esteem themselves wise, and therefore do they with their wits and devices prove foolish. But far otherwise holy and wise David prayeth unto Gods: "Open thou mine eyes that I may see the wonders of thy law," for there is a secret contained in the Word which none shall see but such who have their eyes opened by God that they may see into the depth of this profound mystery. As Moses therefore, before the giving of the law, by command from God, caused all the people to sanctify, prepare, and wash themselves first, so should we do before we come to the hearing of the Word, and then shall we have our eyes opened to see into these profound mysteries.
A fourth point is then, wherein most are faulty, that we much fail in this, that although we come, yet we come not to the hearing of the Word with that reverence and
n Luke, chap. 24. ver. 45.
P 1 John, chap. 5. ver. 20.
Acts, chap. 16. ver. 14.
9 Psalm 119. ver. 18.
hunger, as unto that which must save and be the food of our souls, not to have life thereby. The apostles counselleth us, seeing our souls are purified in obeying the truth in the spirit, to love brotherly without feigning, being born anew, not of mortal seed, but of immortal, by the word of God, who liveth and endureth for ever. These men come not to the hearing thereof as to immortal seed, whereby they may live for ever; therefore doth it prove deadly and mortal seed unto them for their condemnation. Another point very necessary for our due preparation to the hearing of the Word is, to weigh duly what the messenger is; for thou comest before the preacher as before God's messenger, to be judged, and to receive by his mouth a beginning of that last judgment and final sentence which shall then be pronounced, either with or against thee for evermore. This is a fearful thing, and yet we consider not the same. If thou be not obedient to the word of God, pronounced by his ministers, he hath power given unto him to bind and arrest thee over unto the last and fearful judgment of condemnation. The Lord he giveth his ministers this full authority: "Whosesoevert sins you remit, they are remitted unto them; and whosesoever sins ye retain, they are retained unto them." Therefore let men be well advised how they mock and contemn the ministers of God's word: woe will come unto thee! Thou shalt be bound in hell with devils for ever, if thou wilt not be content to be bound in the due obedience of the voice of God in the ministry in this life.
Many think that we must only preach mercy, and not justice. Nay, some will not give anything to the rebel, who cannot endure but to tread Christ under his feet, but still preach mercy, and throw pearls before these swine. But I tell thee that I am come also to bind thee, and deliver thee over unto Satan; to arrest thee before the great judgment seat, if thou thus continuest a rebel to God.
Aye, but some may object, I care not for this silly frantic fellow; let him prattle what he will, I care not for John, chap. 20. ver. 23.
1 Pet. chap. 1. ver. 22, 23.
him. Doest thou not care if he condemn thee upon just trial of thy disobedience, upon thy malicious carriage, contempt, and continuance in hardheartedness. I tell thee, he bindeth thee over in the name of his minister, Christ Jesus, as though Christ himself were there present to arraign and condemn thee; as also to pardon and to open Heaven unto all who are humble and truly penitent for their sins. And therefore the apostle, upon consideration of these things, he demandeth, Who is able? Who is sufficient for these things? Let him receive them, &c. for we have vengeance in readiness to be poured out against all stubborn and disobedient sinners.
Again, we should now see how this matter of faith worketh in a dead soul, by the powerful working of the Word, how it prepares the heart to receive mercy. For the law of God being laid close unto the conscience, here beginneth a sight of our misery. As the apostle Paul confesseth of himself, "1u knew not sin but by the law, for I had not known lust unless the law had said, Thou shalt not lust." Except the Lord put light into us to discern our own misery, we are not able to see the same, or know anything belonging to our great slavery in sin. Much less have we any power of ourselves to see afar off into things invisible, and into that precious redemption and life which is hid with God in Christ, unless the Lord do open our eyes, and enlarge our hearts, by the working of his powerful spirit in the ministry to find Christ Jesus, and the blessed fruition of those infinite joys which the faithful soul (who hath once attained to the knowledge of Jesus) findeth, lifting himself up above all these earthly things, where Christ Jesus sitteth at the right hand of the Father in majesty and power.
I know not how the time hath passed. Let us now commend that which hath been said unto God, that it may profit us both in soul and body, and that for Christ Jesus' sake, our Lord and Saviour, &c. &c. Amen.
u Rom. chap. 7. ver. 7.
2 CHRON CHAP. XXXIV. VER. 83.
So Josiah took away all the abominations out of all the countries that pertained to the children of Israel, and compelled all that were found in Israel to serve the Lord their God. So all his day sthey turned not back from the Lord God of their Fathers.
a 2 Kings, chap. 23. ver. 25. c2 Kings, chap. 23. ver. 2.
In this, and the chapter following, are described the acts of as worthy a prince as ever sat on the throne of Judah or Israel: a commendation which the spirit of God giveth unto him: "Thata like unto him was there no king before him, that turned unto the Lord with all his heart, with all his soul, and with all his might, according unto all the law of Moses; neither after him arose there any like him.”
Now the acts of this prince were of such note, that it pleased the Lord, three hundred and thirty years before he was born, to describe him by name ; a thing but seldom seen in the world. Yet no sooner came in the idolatry of Jeroboam, but the Lord sent a prophet from Judah, who should, in the presence of the idolatrous king, speak unto the altar: saying, "O altar, altar, thus saith the Lord, behold a child shall be born unto the house of David, Josiah by name, and upon thee shall he sacrifice the priests of the high places, that burn incense upon thee, and they shall burn men's bones upon thee." And it is specially to be noted that as the Lord there speaketh of a child, so this is spoken unto his singular commendations, that he should begin betimes; he did begin of a child, he put his hand to God's work, and did that which many old men before him were not able to accomplish; whilst he was but a child, he began to look
b 1 Kings, chap. 13. ver. 2.
after the Lord God of his fathers, he applied his heart to seek the Lord. But amongst all other things which are recorded of this prince, there is one especially singled out as a pattern unto all princes. That, in the eighth year of his age, Josiah's heart was stricken within him. In the days of Manasseh' the house of the Lord was profaned; the book of Moses, which was to be laid in the side of the Ark of the Covenant, it should seem, was then put in a more secret place.
Now in the building of the temple, in the time of Josiah, Hilkiah the high priest, finding it, gave it to the king. The king reading it, and discerning the plagues threatened, that they should be brought unto a nation, whose language they did not understand, of fierce countenance and cruel, where they should endure all miseries, as there is mentioned, and (which is more miserable) that they should serve other gods, even wood and stone, the workmanship of men's hands. Josiah discerning this time to draw near, he caused this book to be read openly; and in reading thereof it is saidh, he rent his clothes and his heart melted. He therefore struck a covenant betwixt God and the people, and the covenant being made, he put the same in operation. The acts which he did are here briefly set down in this verse. So that here we have the sum and abridgment of those things of reformation which Josiah did in his reign. So that in this two things are to be considered.
1. Josiah's godly attempts.
2. The success God gave him.
Concerning the first, two things also are therein to be considered:
1. That he went about to perform the abolishing of all false worship.
2. That he established the true service of God, and manner of worship.
The first is set down in these words. He took away all
d 2 Chron. chap. 33. ver. 4.
1 2 Kings, chap. 22. ver. 8.
e Deut. chap. 31. ver. 26.