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Adajited to a fast, or day of humiliation.
1. r I "• H E piety of our ancestors, and God's kindness to them JL and us, aggravate national ingratitude and impiety. Israel is reminded of their ancestors, who were holy to the Lord, and of the many favours he had shown to them. And when we come to humble ourselves before God, it re highly proper to consider these aggravations of our guilt. Did our ancestors express a fervent love to God, and zeal in his services? Were his favours to them favours la us? Have we received many new and most important ones from Li in? How odious must our ingratitude be, and how heinous will our guilt appear? He hath brought us, as a nation, from the bondage of popwy and arbitrary power; led us through many perils; given us a plentiful country, and succeeded our struggles against foreign and domestic enemies. He hath given us good governors, and skilful, faithful interpreters of his law. How provoking then must be ihe guilt of sucn a people! how much need is there of humiliation!
2. We learn the folly and vanity of trusting in creatures, to the neglect of God. The Israelites were always courting idols, and idolatrous alliances, while they forsook their God and king. Our epidemical sin,as a nation, is forgetting God and trusting in our own wisdom and strength. This is forsaking a fountain for a broken cistern; and what can we expect but disappointment? what have •we to do to make flesh our arm, when we have a God of almighty power and everlasting goodness to trust in? This were folly and madness; and it becomes us to be upon our guard, lest we be chargeable with it; and to implore mercy for our nation, since it is a temper that so generally prevails.
3. When a nation sutlers calamities, it is owing to its sins. The Israelites are several times reminded of this in the passages we have been reading. The neighbouring princes were confederates against them, und brought much desolation upon them. But hast not thou procured this to thyself? When our enemies are multiplied, and our (laiiRei1 increased, may not the same question be put tous? God was leading us by the way, leading us to peace and prosperity; our prospects were promising; but our sins hid those good things from us, engaged us in fresh quarrels, and exposed us to further and greater evils. Our wickedness is in this instance correcting us; and it becomes us to bewail it before God, and to reform; lest we find by further dreadful experience, what an evil and bitter thing it is to have forsaken God, and cast on' his fear.
4. God will be justified in the judgments which he brings upon a wicked nation, lie pleads with Israel,to show them that his judgments >vc-re righteous, and their calamities deserved. The same appeal may be made to us. What iniquity have we found in God, that we bhould have deserted his sen ice, or have been cold and formal ill it? Has it been either unpleasant or unprofitable? What could he have done more for us, that he lias not done? We are worse than the heathens, for they do not change their gods, nor are they so indifferent about their worship. This will fully vindicate a just God, if he punishes us ^s our ingratitude and iniquities have deserved. But while he condescends thus to plead with us, and to display his former mercVi h gives us encouragement to return. The design of these remonstrances to Israel was to lead them to repentance, and prevent their ruin. God grant they may have a good effect upon our minds; engage us to return to God ; and to /спою, in this our day, the things that belong Jo Out peace, before t Ley are for ever liiil from our eyes.
CHAP. II. 20, to the end. CHAP. III. 1—6.
The profthet continues his e.r/iostn/atiom ii'iih the profile for their wickedness.
20 Tj^OR of old time I have broken thy yoke, [and] burst thy .Г bands; and thou saidst, I will not transgress ; when I delivered theefram Egypt, thou didst promise at mount Sinai to be obedient, and didst behave veil when first settled in Canaan; when, or yet, upon every high hill and under every green tree
21 thou wanderest, playing the harlot. Yet I had planted thee a noble vine, wholly a right seed: how then art thou turned into the degenerate plant of a strange vine unto me ? / gave you a good constitution of government, excellent laws and ordinances, yt
32 now ye are become corrupt and degenerate. For though thou wash thee with nitre, and take thee much soap, [yet] thine iniquity is marked before me, saith the Lord God ; though t fan in* fielest upon thy innocence, andjustißest thyself, yet thine i'liqititiea
23 ore all known to me.* How canst thou say I am not polluted, T have not gone after Baalim? see thy way in the valley, where thy idolatrous worship is performed, especially the sacrificing of' tbii children, and know what thou ha%t done: [thou art] a swift dromedary traversing her ways, running from one idol to another;
24 A wild ass used to the wilderness, [that] sntiffcth up the wind at her pleasure ; in her occasion who can turn lier away? all they that seek her will not weary themselves; in her month they shall find her; like an ass, which at one time cannot te catched, but vihich in her month (when big rind unwieldy) is easy to be caught ; so you shall in a little time frei the burden ufynur oiun i»:<»
25 quitie». .Withhold thy foot from being unshod, and thy throat from thirst: but thou saidst. There is no hope: no; for I have loved strangers, and after them will I go; аа ап a<,n, vikich cwtinuee with ils owner, will be »hod, and have filcnty of food, but n/ien it runs await, I'jiU wear out itn hoofs, and want both food anil mater; no thy idolatries will be injurious and destruclive ; yet thon dont
* They had contrived л мгяу to recor.ciîe tbe within of idol« with the worship of 1-tovali, prétendit.); ic w:<* и-..; jobaidiuate worship ; a pitiful dissiaction, which раршв Uijl u> te defend tbrir
26 desperately résolve to go on in thy evil mays. As the thief is ashamed when he is found, so is the house of Israel ashamed; the y have nothing to »ay, bur, like an hardened robber, impudently deny the fact; they, their kings, their princes, and their priests,
27 and their prophets, Saying tu a stock, Thou [art] my father; and to a stone, Thou hast hrought me forth ; giving (Лас praise to ido's which is due to G^d alone, a» the author and preserver of all things : for they have turned [their] back unto me in eontfmfit, and not [their] face: but in the time of their trouble they
28 will say, Arise, and save us. But where [are] thy gods that thou hast made thee? let them arise, if they can save thee in the tima of thy trouble: for [according to] the number of thy cities are thy gods, О Judah; every city hath its peculiar gods,
29 life« the heathens. Wherefore will ye plead with me your innocence and my promises? ye all have transgressed against me,
30 saith the Lord. In vain have I smitten your children ; they received no correction ; they are not grown belter : your own sword hath devoured your prophets, who reproved you, like a destroy
31 ing lion, with fury and pleasure, as a lion devours his prey. О generation, see ye the word of the Lord ; consider it and apply your hearts to it. Have I been a wilderness unto Israel? a land of darkness? wherefore say my people, We are lords ; we are an independent people; we will come no more unto thee ; чае
32 can save ourselves, we have no need of thee. Can a maid forget her ornaments, [or] a bride her attire? yet my people have forgotten me days without number; the у have renounced their rt
33 laiton to me, which was their greatest glory. Why trimmest thou thy way to seek love, like a lewd miman, who by gay drene and artful looks endeavour» to inveigle others? therefore hast thou also taught the wicked ones thy ways, and been an example
3t of heinous wickedness to others. Also in thy skirts is found the blood of the souls of the poor innocents: I have not found it by secret search, but upon all these: in every part of the land the murder of your children is an plain, an if your garments werr sprinkled wili their blood; by which means murder is sometiiaei discovered.
55 Yet thou saycst. Because I am innocent, surely his anger shall turn from me. Behold, I will plead with thee, because thou
56 sayest, I have not sinned, and prove the contrary. Why gaddest thou about so much to change thy vit).y,ßyingfrom-onr alliance. to another? a /¡lain proof tltat you have forsaken me: thou also shall bs ashamed of Egypt, as thou wast ashamed of Assyria.
37 Yea, thou shall CO forth from him, or .from heticr, that is, from thy own country, and thine hands upon thine head, ax mourners, and in token oft/n/ ej-trrwr griff: for the I.ohd hath rejected thy conliJeiices, and thou shalt not prosper in them.
1 Chap. III. They say, it is a knovm adjudged case, If a man put away his wife, and she go from him, and become another man's, shall he return unto her again? shall not that land be greatly polluted by such detestable practices? but thou hast played the harlot with many lovers, by thine alliances viith idolaters; y et return again to me, saith the Lord, and I will receive thce
2 into favour. Lift up thine eyes unto the high places, and see where thou hast not been lien with. In the ways hast thou sat for them, as the Arabian in the wilderness, that irait» for the caravans to buy goods; thou hast been no more anhamed to »it by the "way side as a /¡restitute, than a merchant is to deal toil h las customers; and thou hast polluted the land with thy whoredoms
3 and with thy wickedness. Therefore the showers have been withholden, and there hath been no latter rain; and thou hadst a
4 whore's forehead, thou refusedst to be ashamed. Wilt thou not from this time cry unto me, My father, thou [art] the guide of my youth? and return to God, as thy husband, before thou art quite ruined? wilt thou not from this time da it, vihcn thou art so graciously invited, and there are so many threalenings cftadjudg
5 mente if thou continuest obstinate? Will he reserve [his anger] for ever? will he keep [it] to the end f* Behold, thou hast spoken ала done evil things as thou couldst.
1. TT O W vain are all the attempts of sinners to justify themJL -L selves in an evil way! They, like Israel, are fond of doing it; they deny the fact, plead innocence, and say they are not polluted. Yet all their iniquity is marked before God; their secret tins are in the light of his counttnance; and when he comes lo plead •with them, and set his law and their sins in order before them, they will be overwhelmed with shame and confusion. May we learn to guard against self deceit. We cannot plead innocence nor vindicate our conduct; therefore we should humbly and thankfully submit to the terms of the gospel.
2. They who forsake the service of God, change for the worse; change their God, for those which are no gods; their glory, for that which is their shame and reproach; like an untractable beast, that forsaking a good master is exposed to want and ruin. But men do not consider what their sins will bring them to at last. God is not a wilderness to his people; his service is both pleasant and profitable; but if we desert it, we run into shame, misery, and ruin ; and their case will be the worst of all, who do this after they have promised that they will not transgress.
3. The vanity and insufficiency of earthly things will abundantly appear in the day of trouble. Men will not hearken in the day of prosperity; but when sickness and death come upon them, their
• Thenf art words put info thtir month wb;rtwith to approach Gnd; yet there was little hop« of their using türm* because they had shown all halted lu God and goodness.
Vol. V. О о
spirits will be tamed. They now reject reproof, and scorn advice; but when distress and anguish come upon thein, where are their gods, their honours, and gay friends and companions? let them arise, and save them, if they can, in times of trouble: but here they" will find disappointment. The Lord hath rejected such confidences, and men can never prosper in them. But if we make God our hope ami portion, and his service our business, we may cheerfully say to him, in our time of trouble, .hue, and save us; and he will hi our refuge and strength.
4. flow kind is God to invite sinners to return, and put proper words and encouragements into their mouths. Though a man will not receive an adulterous wife, yet God invites sinners to return to him. He will not reserve his anger for ever, because he delighteih in mercy. Let rebellious children return to him as their father from this lime, when he again invites them, and he will have compassion upon them, will subdue their iniquities, and cast all their sins into the depth of the sea.
CHAP. III. 6, to the end. CHAP. IV. 1—3.
In order to understand this fiajrt of the prophecy, we must remember, tlmi it refers to the time of Josiafi, a very zealous reformer : the fieofile were not hearty m his reformation; they only complied with it externally, and after his death relapsed into idolatry.
6 r 1 11lli Loud said also unto me in the days of Josiah the
X kinir, Hast thou seen [that] which backsliding Israel hath done? she is gone up upon every high mountain and un
7 der every green tree, and there hath played the harlot. And I said, by the prophets, after she had done all these [things,] Turn thou unto me. But she returned not. And her treachcr
8 ous sister Judah saw [it.] And I saw, when for all the causes whereby backsliding Israel committed adultery, I had put her away, and given her a bill of divorce, that is, dissolved the spiritual relation between us; and she ivas carried captive; yet her treacherous sister Judah feared not, but went and played the har
9 lot also. And it came to pass through the lightness of her whoredom, that she defiled the land, and committed adultery
10 with stones and with stocks. And yet for all this, her treacherous sister Judah hath not turned unto me with her whole heart,
11 but feignedly, saith the Lord. And the Lord said unto me, The backsliding Israel hath justified herself more than treacherous Judah; Jtrael is lets guilty than Judah, because Judah did not lake murninif.
12 Go and proclaim these words toward the north, where the ten tribes wre carried captive, and say. Return, thou backsliding Israel, saith the Loas; [and] I will not cause mine anger to fall; or con.inue, upon you: lor I [am] merciful, saith the Lord,