(The power and authority of Holy Scripture illustrated in 2 Chronicles 34, 35)
Summary made by a correspondent from C. H. Mackintosh.
2500 years have rolled away since King Josiah lived and reigned; but his history is pregnant with instruction which can never lose its freshness or its power. The moment at which he ascended the throne of his fathers was one of peculiar gloom and heaviness. The tide of corruption, swollen by many a tributary stream, had risen to the highest point; and the sword of judgment long held back in divine patience and long-suffering, was about to fall, in terrible severity, upon the city of David. Thus, a child of eight years found himself on the throne of David, surrounded by the accumulated evils and errors of his father Amon and his grandfather Manasseh; yea, by forms of corruption which had been introduced by no less a personage than Solomon himself! If the reader will just turn for a moment to 2 Kings 23, he will find a marvellous picture of the condition of things at the opening of Josiah's history. There were idolatrous priests who burned incense unto Baal, to the sun, the moon, the planets, and to all the host of heaven. "But further, there were high places which Solomon the King of Israel had builded for Ashtoreth, the abomination of the Zidonians, and for Chemosh, the abomination of the Moabites, and for Milcom, the abomination of the children of Ammon. All this is most solemn, and worthy of the serious consideration of the Christian reader. It is not as though we were reading the historic records of Babylon, Persia, Greece or Rome. We should not marvel at the kings of those nations burning incense to Baal, ordaining idolatrous priests, and worshipping the host of heaven; but when we see kings of Judah, the sons and successors of David, children of Abraham, men who had access to the book of the law of God, and who were responsible to make that book the subject of their profound and constant study; when we see such men falling under the power of dark and debasing superstition, it sounds in our ears a warning voice, to which we cannot, with impunity, refuse to give heed. We should bear in mind that all these things have been written for our learning (1 Cor. 10:2). But how are we to account for all those gross and terrible evils into which Solomon and his successors were drawn? By NEGLECT OF THE WORD OF GOD! That was the source of all the mischief and all the sorrow. How important, then, is the study, the diligent, earnest, prayerful study of holy scripture! How needful to cultivate a spirit of reverential submission, in all things, to the authority of the word of God!
The eighteenth year of Josiah's reign was one of the most memorable in his history. It was signalised by two great facts, namely the discovery of the book of the law, and the celebration of the feast of the passover. Stupendous facts! And it came to pass, when the King had heard the words of the law, that he "rent his clothes." He was in truth a man of a humble and contrite spirit, who trembled at the word of God, he was a man thoroughly in earnest. He felt the power in his own soul; and he could not rest satisfied until he had gathered the people around him, in order that the light which had shone upon him might shine upon them likewise. There is a fine moral lesson in all this for us. Josiah felt his responsibility to those around him. The great practical truth of the unity of all believers in one body ("There is one body and one Spirit") was not known to Josiah, but nevertheless there was the unity of the nation of Israel and this unity was always recognised by the faithful; e.g., by Elijah on Mount Carmel (1 Kings 18), by Hezekiah (2 Chr. 29:24) and by Paul (Acts 26:7). And now Christian reader, mark the application of all this to our souls, at this present moment. Do you heartily believe, upon divine authority in the doctrine of the unity of the body of Christ. Do you turn round and ask, "Where is this to be seen?" This is the question which unbelief must ever put as the eye rests upon Christendom's number less sects and parties, and to which faith replies, as the eye rests upon that imperishable sentence, "There is one body and one Spirit." Mark the words:- "There is." May God's Spirit lead all Christians to see this great truth in all its bearings!