This action might not be possible to undo. Are you sure you want to continue?
II. Kings, xxii. 19. Because thy heart was tender, and thon hast humbled thyself before the Lord, when thou heardst 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. The Bible is written with a very different design from other histories. Other histories may be written generally to instruct or to amuse ; but the Bible is written that, we may know the God who made us, and the God who will judge us ; and that we may know his mind concerning us, before we stand in judgment at his bar. We here find, therefore, a great number of Facts stated to us — Historical Facts; and they arc stated to us as Cases. They are Cases, in which God discovers his mind concerning this or that man, this or that thing. One of these cases is before us : " Hilkiah the high priest, said unto Shaphan, the scribe, I have found the book of the law in the house of the Lord. And Shaphan the scribe showed the king, saying, Hilkiah the priest hath delivered me a book: and Shaphan read it before the king. And when the king had heard the words of the book of the law, he rent his clothes. And the king commanded Hilkiah the priest, and Ahikam the son of Shaphan, and Achbor the son of Michaiah, and Shaphan the scribe, and 4
38 SERMO [V. Asahiah a servant of the kings, saying, Go ye, inquire of the Lord for me, and for the people, and for all Judah, concerning the words of this hook that is found: for great is the wrath of the Lord that is
kindled against us, because our fathers have not hearkened unto the words of this book, to do according unto all that which is written concerning us. They went therefore, unto Huldah, a prophetess, the wife of Shallum. And she said unto them : Thus saith the Lord God of Israel. Tell 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, that they might provoke me to anger with all the works of their hands, therefore my wrath shall be kindled against this place, and shall not be quenched. But to the king of Judah, which sent you to inquire 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 thy heart was tender, and thou hast humbled thyself before the. Lord, when thou heardst what 1 spake against this place, and against the inhabitants thereof, that they should Die a desolation and a curse, and hast rent thy clothes, and wept before me: 1 also have heard thee, saith the Lord. Behold, therefore, I will gather thee unto thy fathers, and thou shall be gathered unto thy grave in peace, and thine eyes shall not see all the evil which I will bring Upon this place, And they brought the kiiiL r word again." From the words of the text, as they stand connected with this part of sacred history, I propose,
THE PE ITE CE OF KI G JOSIAH. 39 First, to notice, in King Josiah, the evidences of a contrite spirit. And, secondly, the regard which God is pleased to show to such a contrite spirit. I. Let us notice the contrite spirit of King Josiah. 1. You will observe in the king a most affectionate and reverential regard to God's word.
"It came to pass when the king heard the words of the book of the law, that he rent his clothes." You are to distinguish such a regard as this to the word of the Lord, from the suggestions of a scrupulous conscience. A scrupulous mind torments itself with every superstitious notion which enters it. Such a conscience is to be distinguished, therefore, from a tender conscience. A tender conscience is an inestimable blessing, as we see in the text ; but a scrupulous conscience does nothing but torment a man. He has marked some omen, some tradition, some sign ; and therefore he is uneasy : he has made sin, where God has made no sin : in short, he disregards what the Lord hath spoken. But this was not the case with King Josiah : it was on hearing the word of the Lord that he rent his clothes. He found the standard, and he saw how far the nation and himself fell short of that standard. This is the mark of a truly humble and contrite man: that he regards the standard which God sets up, and acknowledges how far below that standard he falls. 2. It is a second proof of a contrite mind, that it seeks information. The king not only heard the words of the book, but he said, " Go ye, inquire of the Lord for me, and for the people :" and they went to Huldah, a prophetess. Huldah, though a woman, was in office.
40 SERMO IV. It pleased God to endue her with a spirit of prophecy. 11 And she said, 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." In consequence of this denunciation, the king was willing to bow down to the word of the Lord, and accept of forgiveness in any way God was pleased to send it. How far was this spirit from that of the proud and sceptical man, who will undertake to think for himself in matters too high for him, and is unwilling to receive advice at all in God's way. A man of such a contrite spirit as Josiah's will not only read the word of God him-
self, but thank God that he can hear it in any way 3. You will observe in this contrite spirit, a bowing down to the charge which God brings against thi man. The king did not stand to reason on the matter. He did not say, " We are all born with evil dispositions. How can a man help the temper of mind which he brings into the world'/ The weakness of human nature will plead for the guilt of human nature." othing of this! He rends his clothes, in token of his astonishment and self-abhorrence : and it is said in the text, that his "heart was tender," contrite, soft: it is said, that " he humbled himself before the Lord," when he had heard what he had spoken; and that he not only " rent his clothes" — that any man may do, if he is disposed to make a show — but it is added, " thou hast wept before me." A pharisoe would stand and enumerate his good deeds. Josiah might have done this, for he was a man of unfeigned piety: but on the contrary, he looks only at the defects, and follies, and corruptions of man ; and, com*
THE PE ITE CE OF KI G JOSIAH. 41 paring them with the holiness of God, and the purity of his law, he rends his clothes and cries unto the Lord. 4. You see here a further evidence of such a state of mind, in that, instead of desponding under this view of sin, the king betakes himself to prayer and supplication. He not only inquires, but God declares that he had humbled himself : he had sought deliverance, and God promises that he should be heard. There is a stubborn spirit in us : it is in human nature. When any difficulty arises, we sit down in despondency. Like the sluggard, we are ready to say, Ci There is a lion in the streets : I cannot go out : I cannot pass: Why should I wait for the Lord any longer T' But not so this man : he knew that, though he was unworthy, yet he might seek the Lord, and find him in
any condition or circumstances. Instead, therefore, of falling into an obstinate and hardened state of mind, he has recourse to prayer, he makes use of means, and he waits to see whether God will be gracious or not. These are the marks of a contrite and humble spirit, as observed in this king. There is no question but his mind was a right mind : and, therefore, he is an example to this day. II. We are, secondly, to remark the regard which God is pleased to show to such a contrite spirit. By the word of the prophetess, the Lord asserts his honour and truth, and his regard to his declarations ; and that he would bring evil upon the place, and upon the inhabitants thereof, even every word that he had spoken. Men may forget God's word; but He does not for4*
42 SERMO IV. g-p.t it. Men may say, " Tush ! thou, Lord, wilt not regard it ;" but the text Bhows us the contrary. "But," Baith the Lord, "though I will visit the iniquity of this people, and will demonstrate my holiness in bearing a protest against that which my soul abhorn-th : when sooner or Later, the sinner shall know that it is impossible for him to contend with me, and prosper: yet inasmuch as thy heart was tender when I spake, i have seen it. I have marked it. I saw thee when thou humbiedst thyself before me :" — a humiliation, perhaps, in private, before God; when no eye saw. but the eye of the Lord. "I heard thee and I marked thy tears." he seems to say: "and I send thee now word, that I have heard thy prayers : and I tell thee that I will gather thee unto thy fathers in peace, and thine eyes shall not see the evil which I will bring upon this place. Get, therefore, into thy chamber : shut thy doors about thee : hide thyself for a little while, till the
indignation is past. I will cover thee with the shadow of my wings. Them that honour me, I will honour: thou hast honoured me, and I will put honour upon thee. Thou hast been solitary herein, but I will put public honour on thy solitary faith." This is by no means, however, a solitary instance of the Lord's acting in this manner: for even when wicked Ahab humbled himself before God, he received a message that at least lie himself should not lade a public example in the overthrow of his country. When the men of inevah prayed and humbled themselves before God, on hearing his will by the mouth of Jonah, he marked their humiliation, and showed to it a special regard: for " Blessed are, the poor in spirit:" blessed is the man that can come
THE PE ITE CE OF KI G JOSIAH. 43 down, when God rises up. "God resisteth the proud, but he giveth grace unto the humble. Thus saith the high and lofty One, that inhabiteth eternity, whose name is holy, I dwell in the high and holy place ; with him also that is humble and of a contrite spirit, and that trembleth at my words, to revive the spirit of the humble, and to revive the heart of the contrite ones." "Go," as if he had said, "and read my history from beginning to end ; and you will find that one great leading characteristic of my government is, that, while I resist the proud, I give grace unto the humble." Brethren ! there are few, I suppose, present, who would attempt to deny any of these truths : but let us beware that we do not rest in the public confession and acknowledgment of general truths. The word that was read in the ears of Josiah, is the word that is read in our ears every Sabbath day : so that we, as well as the king, are favoured with knowing the mind of God. But now the grand question that we have to ask ourselves, is this, What is the state of our minds on hearing this word? We have seen what the Lord marked in Josiah ; but the question is, what he is marking at this time in us: for "every one of us must give an account of himself to God."
A great multitude heard the word of God on the day of its being discovered; but they remained as they were before. One went to his farm, and said, " The word of the Lord hath been preached ;" but concerned himself no further. Another went to his merchandize, and carried the news. Another married a wife, and forgot every thing that was said. But God has said ; " I will bring evil and destruction upon the man that forgets me" — for "the wicked shall bft
44 SERMO IV. turned into hell, and all the nations that forget God!" Let us apply the case to ourselves. We have heard, as the king and his people did, the word of God. We now know his mind; for he changes not: he is the same now as he was then, and must continue unchanged to all eternity. Let us then ask ourselves, What effect has the word of God had upon us ! Do we remain as we were before we heard it I Are we walking after the coiT.sc of this world? Has the word no place nor authority in our consciences? Has it never brought a charge against as as sinners } Has it never put us on praying to God. that we maybe delivered according to the multitude of his mercies I Has he never seen our hearts tender } Has lie never marked that we have humbled ourselves before God, when we heard what he spake in his word ? If we have never rent our clothes, yet have we never wept before him ? Certain it is, then. that, whatever we think of ours.'lvcs. we may know from this history the mind of the Lord concerning us : — We have heard the word of God as the Israelites did; but it has not been mixed with faith in us who have heard it. Whe hath believed our report 1 says the prophet. What is this report I — that we have erred and strayed like lost sheep, and that there is a Shepherd who has laid down his life for sinners, and proclaims his mercy in their ears, and calls them that they may come to him and have life.
1 )¦> von ask me. why such good news as this is not red? Because men's hearts are not tender: they have not humbled themselves before the L ird, like this prince. They oever rent their clothes, nor wept over their condition : and, therefore, being yet
THE PE ITE CE OF KI G JOSIAH. 45 hard-hearted, proud, and unbelieving, they cannot receive the truth. The seed may be sown, and it may be good seed ; but the ground of their hearts is either hard, or stony ¦, or thorny, and there is no fruit brought to perfection. If I am preaching to any person in such a state as this, it becomes me to exhort them to pray earnestly to God, who is sowing the seed, that he would prepare the ground of their hearts : that he would give them this tenderness of heart, this humility of spirit, tears of true repentance, lively faith, and a hope that maketh not ashamed. Then they will understand the text experimentally, better than I can explain it. And they shall understand, moreover, that God, whc promised his blessing and mercy to Josiah, has alsc blessing and mercy in store for every contrite anc believing soul. Am I speaking, as I trust I am, to those whose hearts God has, by his grace, made tender; proud and hard as they are by nature '? Hast thou humbled thyself before him ? Hast thou laid to heart wnat he declares concerning a wicked and unbelieving world, and what shall be its end ? Dost thou believe his threatenings as well as his promises ? Dost thou believe that the end of the wicked shall be, that they shall become a desolation and a cwse, as the text expresses it? and hast thou, as one wicked by nature, wept before him ; so that he may say concerning thee, as he did concerning Ephraim, "I have surely heard Ephraim bemoan himself:" I have heard him say, " Thou hast chastised me, and I was chas-
tised, as a bullock unaccustomed to the yoke : turn thou me, and I shall be turned." Hast thou thus wept before the Lord ] take then thy comfort from
46 SERMO IV. the words of the text, for they are good icords and comfortable icords to such a heart as thine. The state that I am describing, which was the state of the king's heart, will be a token for good, and a pledge of God's future favour ; for the evangelical promise is fulfilled : — '-I will take away the stony heart, and give a heart of flesh : I will enable a man to feel, who did not feel : I will enable a man to listen, who did not listen : I will enable a man to submit to my righteousness, who used to glory and boast in his own." Proud unbelieving persons with whom you may live, may sneer at what God has wrought, and attempt to put a misconstruction on what you are endeavouring to do: in their ignorance and pride, they may say, that you are become a stranger — a singular character ; that you have lost your courage and your spirit; that you could once resent things and revenge yourself, but that now you walk humbly before God, and commit all to him. They may scorn that Gospel, with its promises and threatenings, which you now believe, and to which you now bow down. But are such persons as these to he heard? are men like these, though they walk on every side, and talk proudly, are they to judge ? o ! brethren ! we will hear the Judge himself. VY> will hear His sentiment on this subject : and may God grant, that we may determine to abide by that judgment, and by no other : that will bear us out in time, ami thai will bear us out to eternity. _ ow, says the Judge, "Two men went up into the temple to pray; the one a pharisee and the other a publican. The pharisee stood and prayed thus with himself: God, I thank thee that I am not as other men are,
THE PE ITE CE OF KI G JOSIAH. 47 extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even as this publican : I fast twice in the week : I give tithes of all that I possess." But, "the publican, standing afar off, would not lift up so much as his eyes unto heaven " — his heart was tender and contrite — "but smote upon his breast, saying, God be merciful to me a sinner !" ow hear the Judge, " I tell you, this man went down to his house justified rather than the other : for every one that exalteth himself shall be abased ; and he that humbleth himself shall be exalted." He, who can thus sit at the feet of mercy, and listen to the voice of God, like Mary : — he, who can go, like Magdalen, to the tomb, pouring out his tears, and looking after a Saviour : he, who, like the woman in Simon's house, can bow down before him, and wash his feet with her tears, and wipe them with her hair : " Thus saith the Lord God of Israel " to that man, "because thy heart is tender, and thou hast humbled thyself before me, and wept, I have heard thee;" and "I will gather thee to thy grave in peace."
1. 68 FREE BOOKS http://www.scribd.com/doc/21800308/Free-Christian-Books
2. ALL WRITI GS http://www.scribd.com/glennpease/documents?page=970
This action might not be possible to undo. Are you sure you want to continue?
We've moved you to where you read on your other device.
Get the full title to continue listening from where you left off, or restart the preview.