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2 Chronicles 17:7 . Sent to his princes to teach. Illustrious men have often engaged in these sacred services on special occasions. David, Jonathan his learned uncle, and the kings or princes of Israel. 1 Chronicles 27:32.
2 Chronicles 17:9 . And had the book of the Lord with them; a manuscript Pentateuch, from which they read and expounded the law, with other effusions of the heart.
A religious king makes a religious people, and a pious sovereign is happy and secure among his religious subjects. Many and great are the advantages of conveying religious and moral instruction to a nation at large. The generous soul of Jehoshaphat, feeling all those advantages in himself, was anxious to impart them to all his people. With these laudable views, he roused the priests and levites from their supineness; he sent princes to superintend the design, and to judge the harder causes. Under those efforts the glory of moral and religious instruction shone forth with a lustre as welcome as the beams of day, and dispersed the gloom that hovered over the land. Every family felt an augmentation of its happiness, and regarded the sovereign as the common parent and benefactor of the whole land. It is also added with pleasure, that the effects on the country exceeded the most sanguine expectations. So great was the encrease of population, so many were the Jews and strangers who sought happiness and protection under the house of David, that on dividing the kingdom into five military districts, Jehoshaphat could poll for war one million one hundred and sixty thousand men, a number exceeding the poll of all Israel in the days of David. And the number was not only astonishing, but they were now made really men by instruction, and consequently, better subjects, better artists, and better soldiers. How narrow, how cruel is that policy which would suggest, and from a mitre too, that the Sunday schools convey too much knowledge to the common people. Why deny them all the share of intellectual happiness of which their circumstances will admit? What can better preserve them from disliking the noisy and brutish conversation of the alehouse, than recourse in the evenings to excellent books at home. What can be a better pledge of domestic and public integrity than a thorough knowledge of relative duties. Is it not everywhere found that the education and morals of the generality of criminals has been grossly neglected? Hence the example of Jehoshaphat, in the instruction of all his people, was worthy of a king, and worthy of the imitation of all future ages.
Our next remarks turn on the advantages of itinerant instruction. It diffused talents through the land, it roused the spirit of enquiry in the people, and inspired all classes of men with diligence. Daniel saw in the spirit that the conversion of the heathen would proceed in this way from the apostolic labours. “Many shall run to and fro, and knowledge shall be encreased.” In like manner the reformation from popery was effectuated in a great degree, according to Mr. John Fox, by well-disposed men going through the north of Germany, and through Great Britain, with the books of the reformers, and aiding the people by their conversation and piety. I might even here mention some Catholic missionaries, men of popular eloquence, who have instructed the poor in France. But no two men were ever more distinguished in the diffusion of evangelical knowledge since the apostolic age, than John Wesley, and George Whitefield. The church, the various denominations of the old dissenters, the whole in short, of the British empire, and of the United States, have more or less received a lustre from their flame. And in this age, in which we have made transition from simplicity to a torrent of wealth and luxury, what would have become of us in our populous manufacturing towns, if the principles of immorality and vice had not been powerfully counteracted by the principles of religion and virtue? We should have been as Sodom, or like unto Gomorrah.
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Sutcliffe, Joseph. "Commentary on 2 Chronicles 17". Sutcliffe's Commentary on the Old and New Testaments. https://www.studylight.org/
the Week of Proper 14 / Ordinary 19