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cessfully hold up God's pardoning and redeeming love. And that you might be led to fly in reality to that Saviour, to lay hold of his righteousness, to clothe yourselves in it; and sitting down now at the table of his grace, that you might sit down hereafter at the table of his glory!
And this leads me, lastly and briefly, to notice the important moral of this parable with which our Lord concludes, that though "MANY ARE CALLED, FEW ARE CHOSEN." It is full of warning to us, and calls at once to our recollection the two great classes to whom this parable speaks-those who openly reject, and those who outwardly but insincerely comply with the gospel invitation ;—yes, my brethren, these constitute the MANY that are CALLED, outwardly and ineffectually to any purpose of salvation, but sufficiently to stand condemned when they " appear before the judgment-seat of Christ."9 What a ground of self-examination is presented for every one of us here assembled! What a motive to "prove our ownselves," and "examine ourselves whether we be in the faith!" Have we rejected the offer of mercy and love? or have we coldly and formally welcomed it without suffering it to exert its lifegiving power upon our souls? Are we among the MANY? the "MANY CALLED," but "NOT CHOSEN, who walk in the "broad way that leadeth to destruction?" O, if so, that God would now give repentance to salvation;" that he would give
8 Matt. xxii. 14.
92 Cor. v. 10.
1 2 Cor. xiii. 5.
2 Matt. vii. 13.
3 2 Cor. vii. 10.
us grace to hear and obey the Saviour's call, "Awake, thou that sleepest, and arise from the dead, and Christ shall give thee light;" that he would lead us now to accept his gracious invitation, and to put on that wedding garment of the Redeemer's righteousness, which shall be our only title-and to put on that new man of the heart which shall be our only meetness, to sit down with the saints of God at the "marriage supper of the Lamb" in glory; which shall then be held, when the bride, the Lamb's wife, shall have made herself ready. And that they who have reason humbly to hope that they have in sincerity and singleness of heart closed with the Redeemer's call, would "give diligence to make their calling and election sure; for if they do this, they shall never fall, for so an entrance shall be ministered unto them abundantly into the everlasting kingdom of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ."7
4 Ephes. v. 14.
5 Rev. xix. 7.
7 2 Peter i. 10, 11.
HOSEA xiv. 1—3.
O ISRAEL, RETURN UNTO THE LORD THY GOD; FOR THOU
HAST FALLEN BY THINE INIQUITY. TAKE WITH YOU WORDS AND TURN ΤΟ THE LORD: SAY UNTO HIM, TAKE AWAY ALL INIQUITY, AND RECEIVE US
GRACIOUSLY : SO WILL WE RENDER THE CALVES OF OUR LIPS. ASSHUR
SHALL NOT SAVE US; WE WILL NOT RIDE UPON HORSES: NEITHER WILL WE SAY ANY MORE TO THE WORK OF OUR HANDS, YE ARE OUR GODS: FOR IN THEE THE FATHERLESS FINDETH MERCY.
I HAVE lately addressed you more than once on subjects connected with repentance. I should not at any time consider that this required an apology; still less at the present season,' which has been set apart by the church for the more solemn investigation of our state towards God. We have reason to regret, indeed, that all the objects of this especial season are not in these days complied with, and particularly that the godly discipline of primitive times is not maintained; namely, of compelling all open and notorious offenders to make public acknowledgment of their transgressions and their repentance; or, in case of refusal, of separating them
from church communion, and putting away such wicked persons, as the apostle enjoined the Corinthians. For doubtless it is the duty of a church of professing Christians "to withdraw themselves from every brother that walketh disorderly,"1 and brings discredit upon the christian name. Until, however, this discipline be restored, it becomes the more desirable that the church should call on all her members to "judge themselves;" and that subjects in which the great and all-important points of conversion and repentance are involved, should be brought before their notice. It is in the full persuasion of the necessity of this that I again recur to the subject, and I pray God that the Holy Spirit may be with us in the consideration of it, and apply it to our own hearts.
These words are the opening of the last chapter of the prophecy of Hosea. They contain, I. THE INVITATION; and II. THE DIRECTION HOW TO RETURN TO GOD.
In considering THE INVITATION, we are first led to notice to whom it is addressed. It is addressed to ISRAEL, God's own, peculiar, favoured Israel. There is a charm in the word Israel; it brings back to our recollection the change of name of the beloved patriarch, and the occasion, when, after his successful struggle, the Lord said to him, "Thy name shall no more be called Jacob, but Israel; for as a prince hast thou power with God and hast prevailed." By that honourable distinction did his
1 2 Thess. iii. 6.
21 Cor. xi. 31.
3 Gen. xxxii. 28.
posterity continue to be known, marked among the nations with whom they dwelt or by whom they were surrounded, as the chosen people of God. But, alas, "ISRAEL HAD FALLEN," and "FALLen by HER INIQUITY." Notwithstanding all her peculiar mercies, she despised them. She fell from her stedfastness; adopted all the idolatrous practices of the heathen world; and great, in proportion to her mercies and her advantages, was her disgrace and degradation. "FALLEN ISRAEL" conveys much meaning. It at once leads the mind to the contemplation of the height from whence the fall took place. When we speak of fallen man the contrast is between what man once was when he came out of his Maker's hands, created in God's own image, holding communion with his Creator, and what he became when that image was destroyed and that communion lost, and when alienation and enmity had assumed the place in the heart that was before occupied by affection and love: so here "Israel fallen" carries the mind back to Israel raised and cherished, honoured and protected. Her fall is by iniquity too. Yes, my brethren, as it was sin that first caused the separation between us and our God, so it is sin still; as it was sin that cast down man from that glorious eminence on which God placed him, so it is sin still."Be not high-minded, but fear;""Let him that thinketh he standeth take heed lest he fall." 5
But will it be said, how does a call to Israel apply to us? What is the analogy between the
4 Rom. ii. 20.
5 1 Cor. x. 12.