England’s King Josiah

Rather indulgently, I've added a new coin to my collection. It’s not in the best condition, and I had to ask the seller for a lower price so it came within my range. It was minted at a time when the government mixed copper into the silver coins, reducing their value and causing inflation. So the coin I have is of an impure silver, lowering its intrinsic value. You might therefore wonder why I bothered buying it at all. 

Well upon its obverse is the image of a boy, aged 13 or 14. He wears a crown too big for him and he died within a year or so of the coin’s manufacture. It’s an image of King Edward VI, successor to that terrible blob of bile and puss, Henry VIII. Edward was a real reformer, seeking to complete the reformation that his inconsistent father had begun. Images were gone from churches, and stone altars were smashed, replaced with wooden communion tables brought down into the nave, that the Holy Communion might be celebrated among the people. As Bishop John Hooper preached to the court: 

"Seeing Christian men have none other sacrifice than these [giving to the poor and offering praise to God], which may and ought to be done without altars, there should among Christians be no altars." 

While altars remained, he explained, "both the ignorant people, and the ignorant and evil-persuaded priest, will dream always of sacrifice."

Sadly, good King Edward died aged 16. He was succeeded by his sisters Bloody Mary and lukewarm Elizabeth. So for a brief period, England was a truly Protestant realm with the Bible held in high regard. My coin is a doleful reminder that England once had her Josiah, who destroyed the altar of Bethel. He too seemed to die too soon yet was called home according to God’s unfathomable providence.

And behold, there came a man of God out of Judah (by the commandment of the Lord) unto Bethel, and Jeroboam stood by the altar to offer incense. 2 And he cried against the altar by the commandment of the Lord, and said, O altar, altar, thus saith the Lord, Behold, a child shall be born unto the house of David, Josiah by name, and upon thee shall he sacrifice the priests of the high places that burn incense upon thee, and they shall burn men’s bones upon thee. 3 And he gave a sign the same time, saying, This is the sign, that the Lord hath spoken, Behold, the altar shall rent, and the ashes that are upon it, shall fall out.

1 Kings 13:1-3, Geneva Bible 

Sometimes God receives more glory from the brief lives of children than the long lives of fools.

Better is a poor and wise child, than an old and foolish King, which will no more be admonished.Ecclesiastes 4:13, Geneva Bible