(On 2 Kings 22:19-20.)

In conclusion, my brethren, I would have you observe in what Josiah’s chief excellence lay.

This is the character given him when his name is first mentioned; “He did … right in the sight of the Lord, and walked in all the ways of David his father, and turned not aside to the right hand or to the left.” (2 Kings 22:2).

[…] Now what is this strict virtue called? it is called faith. It is no matter whether we call it faith or conscientiousness, they are in substance one and the same:

where there is faith, there is conscientiousness—where there is conscientiousness, there is faith; they may be distinguished from each other in words, but they are not divided in fact.

They belong to one, and but one, habit of mind—dutifulness; they show themselves in obedience, in the careful, anxious observance of God’s will, however we learn it.

Hence it is that St. Paul tells us that “the just shall live by faith” under every dispensation of God’s mercy.

And this is called faith, because it implies a reliance on the mere word of the unseen God overpowering the temptations of sight.

Whether it be we read and accept His word in Scripture (as Christians do), or His word in our conscience, the law written on the heart (as is the case with heathens); in either ease, it is by following it, in spite of the seductions of the world around us, that we please God.

St. Paul calls it faith; saying after the prophet, “The just shall live by faith”;

and St. Peter, in the tenth chapter of the Acts, calls it “fearing and working righteousness,” where he says, that “in every nation he that feareth God and worketh righteousness is accepted with Him.”

It is all one: both Apostles say that God loves those who prefer Him to the world; whose character and frame of mind is such.

Elsewhere St. Paul also speaks like St. Peter, when he declares that God will render eternal life to them, who by “patient continuance in well-doing seek for glory” (Rom. 2:7).

St. John adds his testimony: “Little children, let no man deceive you. He that doeth righteousness is righteous, even as He is righteous.” (1 John 3:7).

And our Saviour’s last words at the end of the whole Scripture, long after the coming of the Spirit, after the death of all the Apostles but St. John, are the same: “Blessed are they that do His commandments, that they may have right to the tree of life” (Rev. 22:14).

John Henry Cardinal Newman (1801-1890): Parochial and Plain Sermons, vol. 8,  Sermon 7. Josiah, a Pattern for the Ignorant. 

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