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under his corrections, but whether they | fume to send up from this altar to heaven, expect or feel smart, are no other than du- whose best sacrifices savoured worse in tiful to his awful hand. As a man that finds the nostrils of God: and the blood of the he hath done something that might endan-idolatrous sacrifices was a meet oblation to ger the forfeit of his favour, puts himself that God, who had been dishonoured by into some deserving action, whereby he may their burnt-offerings to his base corrivals. hope to re-endear himself, so doth Josiah Even that prophet, who foretold this, here. No endeavour is enough to testify had his tomb in Bethel, and that tomb had his zeal to that name of God which was so his inscription; his weakness might not rob profaned by his people's idolatry: whatever him of the honour of his sepulchre. How monuments were yet remaining of wicked palpably do these Israelites condemn them. paganism, he defaces with indignation : he selves, while they reserve so famous a mo. burns the vessels of Baal, and puts down nument of their own conviction! It was no his Chemarim, destroys the houses of the prejudice to this holy propliet, that his Sodomites, strews the powder of their idols bones lay amongst the sepulchres of idola. in the brook Kedron, defiles Tophet, takes ters. His epitaph preserved those bones away the horses of the sun, burns the cha- from burning upon that altar, which he riots of the sun with fire, and omits nothing | had accursed: as the lion might not tear that might reconcile God, clear Judah, per- / his carcass when he died, so now the fury fect a reformation.
of the multitude may not violate the very Neither is this care confined to Jerusalem bones in his grave. I do not see Josiah save and the neighbouring towns, but stretches them for relics; I hear him command they itself to the utmost coasts of Josiah's king shall rest in peace. It is fit the dead bodies dom. Bethel was the infamous seat of the of God's saints should be as free from conpollution of Israel : it seems the heirs of tempt, as from superstition. Jeroboam, who set up his golden calf there, After the removal of these rites of false enjoyed it not long; the kings of Judah worship, it is time to bring in the true. Now recovered it to their crown, but it had not a solemn passover shall be kept unto the yet recovered itself from that ancient in- | Lord, by the charge of Josiah : that book fection. Thither doth good Josiah send of the law sets him the time, place, cir. the unhallowed ashes of Baal's relics, to cumstances, of this sacrament; his zeal so stain that altar first, which he will soon carefully follows it, that since the days of after deface.
Samuel, this feast was never so gloriousThe time was, and it was no less than | ly, so punctually celebrated. Jerusalem is three hundred and fifty years since, that the place, the fourteenth day of the first the man of God, out of Judah, cried against month is the time, the Levites are the acJeroboam's altar :-“ O altar, altar! thus tors, a yearly and spotless lamb is the prosaith the Lord: Behold, a child shall be born vision : no bone of it is broken; the blood is unto the house of David, Josiah by name, sprinkled upon the door-posts; it is roasted and upon thee shall he offer the priests of whole; eaten with sour herbs, with bread the high places, that burn incense upon thee, unleavened; the remainder is consumed and men's bones shall be burnt upon thee." | by fire. The law, the sacrifices, had been And now is the hour come, wherein every in vain, if the passover had been neglected. of those words shall be accomplished. It No true Israelite might want, whether this could not but be a great confirmation to monument of their deliverance past, or this Josiah, to see, that God so long ago fore. type of the Messiah to come. Rather than marked him for his own, and forenamed fail, Josiah's bounty shall supply to Judah nim to so zealous a service.
lambs for their paschal devotion. No alms All our names are equally foreknown of is so acceptable, as that whereby the soul that divine Providence, though not fore is furthered. spoken; neither can any act pass from us, which was not predetermined in that eternal counsel of the Almighty ; neither can
CONTEMPLATION XIII. - JOSIAHS DEATH. any act, that is predetermined, be unful WITH THE DESOLATION OF THE TEMPLE filled upon earth. Intervention of time AND JERUSALEM. breaks no square in the divine decrees : our purblind eyes see nothing but that which Josiah hath now happily settled the toucheth their lids; the quick sight of God's affairs, both of God, and the state ; and prescience sees that, as present, which is now hath sweet leisure to enjoy himself a world off. According to the prediction, and his people : his conscience doth not the stench of dead men's bones is a fit per- more cheer him at home, than his subjects
abroad: never king reigned with more of. | wit are asleep in the holiest and wariest ticious piety to God, with more love and breast : the best of all God's saints may be applause of men. But what stability is sometimes miscarried by their passions to there in these earthly things ? how seldom their cost. is excellency in any kind long.lived ! In the The wise providence of God hath mer. very strength of his age, in the height of cifully determined to leave Josiah to his his strength, is Josiah withdrawn from the own counsels, that, by the weakness of luis earth; as not without a merciful intention servant, he might take occasion to perfect of his glory on God's behalf, so not with his glory. Even that, wherein Josiah was out some weakness on his own. Pharaoh wanting unto God, shall concur to the Necho, king of Egypt, comes up to fight making up of God's promise to Josiahı: against the king of Assyria. What is that to when we are the most blindfolded, we run Josiah? Perhaps the Egyptians attempted on the ways of God's hidden decrees; and to pass through the land of Judah towards whatever our intents be, cannot, if we Carchemish, the seat of his war; but as would, go out of that unknown path. a neighbour, not as an enemy: Josiah re. Needs will Josiah put himself into arms sists him, as neither holding it safe to against an unwilling enemy; and, to be admit a foreign power into the bosom of his less noted, disguises himself. The fatal ar. country, nor daring to give so fair an occa row of an Egyptian archer finds him out sion of provoking the Assyrian hostility in the throng, and gives him his death's against him.
wound: now too late he calls to a retreat ; The king of Egypt mildly deprecates this his changed chariot is turned to a bier to enmity: he sends ambassadors to Josiah, carry his bleeding corpse to his grave in saying, “ What have I to do with thee, Jerusalem. thou king of Judah? I come not against What eye doth not now pity and lament thee this day, but against the house where the untimely end of a Josiah? whom can with I have war; for God commanded me it choose but affect, to see a religious, just, to make haste : forbear thee from meddling virtuous prince, snatched away in the vi. with God, who is with me, that he destroy gour of his age? After all our foolish moan, thee not.”
the Providence that directed that shaft to What friend could 'nave said more? what | his lighting place, intends that wound for prophet could have advised more holily? a stroke of mercy. The God whom Josiah why doth not good Josiah say with himself, serves, looks through his death at his glory,
There may be truth in this suggestion ; God and by this sudden violence will deliver may have sent this man to be a scourge of him from the view and participation of the mine old enemy, of Ashur? If the hand of miseries of Judah, which had been many the Almighty be in this design, why do I deaths, and fetches him to the participation oppose it? The quarrel is not mine; why do of that happiness, which could countervail I thrust my finger into this flame unbidden? more deaths than could be incident to a wherefore should I hazard the effusion of Josiah. O the wonderful goodness of the blood upon a harmless passage? Can I hear Almighty, whose very judgments are merhim plead a command from God, and not ciful! O the safe condition of God's chilinquire into it? How easy is it for me to dren, whom very pain easeth, whom death know the certainty of this pretended com- revives, whom dissolution unites, whom, mission! have not I the priests and pro- | lastly, their very sin and temptation glo. phets of God about me? Let me first go and rifies ! consult his oracle: if God have sent him, How happily hath Josiah gained by this and forbidden me, why should my courage change! instead of a froward people, he carry me against my piety?.
now is sorted with saints and angels : inIt is strange that the good heart of Jo stead of a fading and corruptible crown, he siah could escape these thoughts, these now enjoys an eternal. The orphan subresolutions: yet he that, upon the general jects are ready to weep out their eyes for threats of God's law against Judah, sends sorrow; their loss cannot be so great as his messengers to inquire of a prophetess, now, gain : he is glorious; they, as their sins bad upon these particular threats of danger to deserved, miserable. If the separated soul limself, speaks not, stirs not. The famous could be capable of passion-could Josiah prophet Jeremiah was then living, and Ze- | have seen, after his departure, the calami. phaniah, besides a whole college of seers : ties of his sons, of his people--it could not Josiah doth not so much as send out of but have laid siege to his peace. doors to ask, “Shall I go up against the The sad subjects proclaim his son Jehoking of Egypt?" Sometimes both grace and aljaz king, instead of so lamented a father. He both doth ill, and fares ill. By the time, derling, yet peaceable. This man, to make he hath sat but three months on the throne, up the measure of God's judgments, as he Pharaoh Necho, king of Egypt, seconds was ever a rebel to God, so proves rebelthe father's death with the son's captivity. lious to his sovereign master the king of This enemy puts down the wicked son of Babylon. The prophet Jeremiah hath foreJosiah, and lades him with chains at Rib warned him in vain : nothing could teach lath, in the land at Hamath; and lades his this man but smart. people with a tribute of a hundred talents Who can look for other than fury from Ne. of silver, and a talent of gold: yet, as if he buchadnezzar against Jerusalem, which now that was unwilling to fight with Josiah, were | had affronted him with three several sucno less unwilling to root out his posterity, cessions of revolts and conspiracies against this Egyptian sets Eliakim, the second son his government; and thrice abused his of Josiah, upon the seat of his father; and, bounty and indulgence? With a mighty that he might be all his, changes his name army doth he therefore come up against his to Jehoiakim. O the woful and unworthy seditious deputy, and besieges Jerusalem, succession of Josiah! one son is a prisoner, and blocks it up with forts round about. the other is a tributary, both are wicked, After two years' siege, the Chaldees withAfter that Jehoiakim hath been some years out, and the famine within, have prevailed : Pharaoh's bailiff, to gather and rack the dear king Zedekiah and his soldiers are fled away rents of Judah, Nebuchadnezzar, the great by night, as thinking themselves happy if king of Babylon, comes up, and sweeps they might abandon their walls and save away both the lord and his feodary, Phia their lives. raoh and Jehoiakim.
The Chaldees, as caring more for the So far was the ambitious Egyptian from birds than for the nest, pursue them, and maintaining his encroachment upon the overtake Zedekiah, forsaken of all his forces, territories of Judah, that he could not now in the plain of Jericho, and bring him to hold his own. From Nilus to Euphrates, all Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon. What is lost: so subject are the lesser powers still can so unthankful and perfidious a vassal to be swallowed up of the greater; so just expect, but the worst of revenge? The it is with God, that they which will be af sentence is fearful: first, the sons of Zefecting undue enlargement of their estates, dekiah are slain before his eyes; then those should fall short of what they had. eyes of his, as if they had seen enough,
Jehoiakim is carried in fetters to Baby. | when they had seen him childless, are put lon; and now, in that dungeon of his out. His eyes are only lent him so long, captivity, hath more leisure than grace, to as to torment him with the sight of his own bethink himself of all his abominations ; utmost discomfort: had his sons but overand, while he inherits the sad lodging of his lided his eyes, the grief had been so much great-grandfather Manasseh, inherits not his the less, as the apprehension of it had been success.
less lively and piercing: now this woful While he is rotting in this gaol, his young object shall shut up his sight, that even son Jehoiakim starts up in his throne, like when his bodily eyes are gone, yet the eyes to a mushroom that rises up in a night, and of his mind might ever see what he last withers in a day. Within three months and saw; that thus his sons might be ever dying ten days is that young prince, the meet son before him, and himself in their death ever of such a father, fetched up in irons to his miserable. father's prison: neither shall he go alone Who doth not now wish that the blood (his attendance shall add to his misery); of Hezekiah and Josiah could have been his mother, his wives, his officers, his peers, severed from these impure dregs of their his craftsmen, his warriors, accompany him, | lewd issue? No man could pity the offenmanacled and chained, to their perpetual ders, were it not for the mixture of the bondage.
interest of so holy progenitors. Now, according to Isaiah's word, it would No more sorrow can come in at the winhave been great preferment for the fruit of dows of Zedekiah ; more shall come in at Hezekiah's loins to be pages in the court of his doors : his ears shall receive what more Babylon.
to rue for, his Jerusalem. Nebuzaradan, Only one branch yet remains of the un- | the great marshal of the king of Babylon, happy stock of holy Josiah: Mattaniah, the comes up against that deplored city, and brother of Jehoiakim, whom Nebuchad. breaks down the walls of it round about, nezzar, changing his name to Zedekiah, sets and burns the temple of the Lord, and the up in that forlorn and tributary throne: king's house, and every fair palace of Jeruthere might he have lived, though an un- salem, with fire; drives away the remainder of her inhabitants into captivity, carries / rusalem and Judah were swept away, Seaway the last spoils of the glorious temple. venty years was the period of their longest O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, the wonder of all servitude: while Babylon was a queen, times, the paragon of nations, the glory of Judah was her vassal; when that proud the earth, the favourite of heaven, how art tyranness fell, God's people began to rise thou now become heaps of ashes, hills of again. The Babylonian monarchy was no rubbish, a spectacle of desolation, a monu- sooner swallowed up of the Persian, than ment of ruin! If later, yet no less deep hast the Jews felt the comfort of liberty; for thou now pledged that bitter cup of God's Cyrus conquering Babylon, and finding the vengeance to thy sister Samaria: how care- | Jews groaning under that captivity, straight ful had thy God forewarned thee! Though releases them, and sends them, under the Israel play the harlot, yet let not Judah sin: conduct of their captain Zerubbabel, back lo now, as thine iniquities, so thy judgments to their almost forgotten country. have overtaken her. Both lie together in The world stands upon vicissitudes: every the dust; both are made a curse to all nation hath her turn, and must make up posterities. O God, what place shall thy her measure. Threescore and ten years justice spare, if Jerusalem have perished? ago, it was the curse of Judah: the iniquity If that delight of thine were cut off for her of that rebellious people was full. Some wickedness, “Let us not be high-minded, hundred and thirty years before that, was but fear."
the turn of Samaria, and her Israelites : What pity it was to see those goody cedars now the staff is come to the doors of Baof the temple flaming up higher than they bylon, even that wherewith Judah was stood in Lebanon! to see those curious beaten; and those Persians, which are now marbles, which never felt the dint of the victorious, must have their term also. It pick-axe or hammer in the laying, wounded is in vain for any earthly state to promise with mattocks, and wounding the earth into itself an immutable condition. At last, their fall! to see the holy of holies, where the rod that scourged God's children is cast unto none might enter but the high priest into the fire: “ Thou hast remembered, once a-year, thronged with pagans! the O Lord, the children of Edom, in the day vails rent, the sacred ark of God violated of Jerusalem, how they said, Down with it, and defaced, the tables overturned, the al down with it, even to the ground. O daugh. tars broken down, the pillars demolished, ter of Babylon, wasted with misery, how the pavements digged up, yea, the very happy is he that rewardeth thee as thou ground where that famous pile stood, de- hast served them !" It is Cyrus that hath formed! O God, thou wouldst rather have wrought this revenge, this rescue. no visible house upon earth, than endure Doubtless, it did not a little move Cyrus it defiled with idolatries.
to this favour, that he found himself hoFour hundred thirty and six years had nourably forenamed in these Jewish prothat temple stood, and beautified the earth, phecies, and foreappointed to this glorious and honoured heaven: now, it is turned service, no less than a hundred and seventy into rude heaps. There is no prescription years before he was. Who would not be to be pleaded for the favour of the Al. glad to make good so noble and happy a mighty: only that temple, not made with destiny? O God, if we hear that thou hast hands, is eternal in the heavens. Thither ordained us to life, how gladly, how care. he graciously brings us, that hath ordained fully, should we work out our salvation ! if us thither, for the sake of that glorious to good works, how should we abound ! High Priest, that hath once for all entered In the first year of his monarchy, doth into that holy of holies. — Amen.
Cyrus both make proclamations, and pub. lish them in writing, through all his king. dom, wherein he both professeth his zealous
resolutions, and desires to build up God's BOOK XXI.
house in Jerusalem, and enjoins and encou
rages all the Jews, through his dominions, CONTEMPLATION I. - ZERUBBABEL AND EZRA. to address themselves to that sacred work;
and incites all his subjects to aid them with The first transportation into Babylon, un- / silver and gold, and goods and beasts. How der Jehoiakim, wherein Daniel, Ezekiel, and gracious was the command of that, whereof many others of the best note, were driver the very allowance was a favour! into captivity, was, some eleven years after, Was it Cyrus that did this ? was it not followed with a second, under Zedekiah, thou, O God, in whose hands are the hearts wherein the remnant of the now ruined Je- of kings, that stirredst up the spirit of that Persian, as if he had been more than a son | He that took away by the Chaldees, gives of thy church- a father? How easy is it by the Persians. Where the Almighty infor thee to make very pagans protectors to tends a work, there cannot be any want of thy church, enemies benefactors!
means. Not with an empty grace doth this great Thus heartened, thus laded, do the joyful king dismiss the Jews, but with a royal families of Judah return to their old home. bounty : “ He brings forth the vessels of How many thousands of them were worn the house of the Lord, which Nebuchad. out and lost in that seventy years' servinezzar had brought forth out of Jerusalem, tude! how few of them yet survived, that and had put them in the house of his gods, could know the place of their birth and and causes them to be numbered by his habitation, or say, Here stood the temple, treasurer to the hands of Sheshbazzar, the here the palace ! Amongst those forty and prince of Judah, for the use of the temple ; | two thousand three hundred and tiireescore no fewer than five thousand and four hun-Jews that returned in this first expedition, dred vessels of gold and silver.”
there were whom the confusion of their Certainly this great monarch wanted not long captivity had robbed of their pedigree; wit to think, It is a rich booty that I find they knew tliemselves Jews, but could not in the temples of Babylon: by the law of derive their line: these were yet admitted conquest it is mine; having vanquished their without difficulty; but those of the priestly gods, I may weil challenge their spoil : how tribe, which could not deduce their gene. seasonably doth it now fall into my hands, alogy from the register, are cashiered as upon this victory, to reward my soldiers, to unclean : then, God would be served in settle my new empire! What if this trea- blood; now, in a due succession. If we sure came from Jerusalem ; the propriety could not fetch the line of our pedigree from is now altered : the very place, according | Christ and his apostles, we were not fit for to the conceit of the Jews, hath profaned the evangelical altars. Their calling was it. The true God, I have heard, is curious ; by nature, ours by grace - the grace of inneither will abide those vessels, which have ward abilities, of outward ordination : if been polluted with idolatrous uses : it shall we cannot approve both these, we are justly be enough if I loose the bonds of this mi- abandoned. Now had the children of Is. serable people; if I give liberty, let the rael taken down their harps from the willows next give wealth. They will think them which grew by the waters of Babylon, and selves happy in bare walls, in their native could, unbidden, sing the true songs of their earth: to what purpose should I pamper recovered Sion : they are newly settled in their penury with a sudden store? But their old mansions, when, upon the first pub. the princely heart of Cyrus would admit of | lic feast, in the autumn immediately followno such base sacrilegious thoughts. Those | ing their return, they flock up to Jerusalem: vessels that he finds stamped with God's their first care is their public sacrifice; that mark, he will return to their owner; neither school of their captivity, wherein they have his own occasions, nor their abuse, shall be been long trained, hath taught them to any colour of their detention. O Cyrus, how begin with God. A forced discontinuance many close-handed, gripple-minded Chris- makes devotion more savoury, more sweet, tians, shallonce be choked in judgment with to religious hearts ; whereas, in an open the example of thy just munificence! Thou freedom, piety doth too often languish. restoredst that which we purloin. Woe be Joshua the priest, and Zerubbabel the to those houses that are stored with the prince, are fitly joined in the building of spoils of God's temple; woe be to those ihe altar: neither of their hands may be out fingers that are tainted with holy treasures. of that sacred work. No sooner is that set
Kings can hardly do good alone : their upon the basis, than it is employed to the laws are not more followed, than their daily burnt offerings: the altar may not stay examples. No sooner do the chief of the the leisure of the temple; God's church may fathers of Judah and Benjamin, and the not want her oblations. He can be none priests and Levites, set their faces towards of the sons of Israel, that doth not every Jerusalem for the building of the temple, day renew his acknowledgments of God. than the liberal hands of their pagan neigh- How feelingly do these Jews keep their bours furnish them with gold and silver, and feast of tabernacles, while their sojourning precious things. Every Persian is glad to l in Babylon was still in their thoughts, while be at the charge of laying a stone in God's | as yet their tents must supply their ruined house. The same God, that had given them houses ! The first motions of zeal are com. these metals out of his coffers of the earth, monly strong and fervent: how carefully gives it out of their coffers to his temple. I do these governors and priests make pre