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them in due time; as the Apostle reasons, (Rom. viii. 11.) “ If the Spirit of him that raised up Jesus from the dead dwell in you; he that raised up Christ from the dead, shall also quicken your mortal bodies, by his Spirit that dwelleth in you." Then shall that song be sung by all the redeemed company newly raised from the dust, “ Death is swallowed up in victory.” “O death, where is now thy sting? O grave, where is now thy victory? The sting of death was sin, and the strength of sin was the law; but thanks be unto God, who hath now given us the victory through Jesus Christ our Lord."
Thus have I endeavoured to lead you through a very extensive, but surely a pleasant and fruitful field, wherein a variety of objects have occurred, interesting to all, and peculiarly comfortable to the people of God; upon whom I therefore call, in the conclusion of my discourse, to praise and magnify that compassionate Sa. viour, and faithful High-Priest over the house of God, who ransomed them with his blood ; and amidst all the splendours of his exalted state, is not unmindful of his charge upon earth, but continually appears in the presence of God for them; whose ear is always attentive to the voice of their supplications; whose mouth is ever open to plead in their behalf; and as if it had not been love enough to die for them, still lives and reigns for them, and even glories in being “ the head over all things to the church, which is his body, the fulness of him that filleth all in all.” To him, with the Father, and quickening Spirit, the one living and true God, be glory and honour, thanksgiving and praise, for ever aud ever. Amen.
HOSEA xiv. 8.
Ephraim shall say, What have I to do any more
with Idols ?
IF we compare the representation here given of Eph. . raim, with the account we have of him (ch. iv. 17.) we shall discover such a wonderful change, as must excite in us a desire to be acquainted with the cause of it. There it is said, “ Ephraim is joined to idols;" Here we behold him throwing them away, with every symptom of contempt and abhorrence. Like a man awakened from a dream, or rather like one who had lost his reason, and was now restored to the right use of it, he saith, What have I to do any more with idols ?--It is my disgrace, no less than my crime, that ever I had any thing to do with such lying vanities; but now I cast them from me with scorn and detestation, and with a determined purpose, that I shall never henceforth return to them any more.
How is this surprising change to be accounted for? When God said, “ Ephraim is joined to idols,” he immediately pronourced that awful decree, “Let him alone.” Hereby a restraint was laid upon every outward instrument. All the creatures were charged, by the highest authority, to give him no disturbance in the course of his idolatry, but to leave him entirely to his own conduct, and the unabated influence of the idols be had chosen. By what means then was his recovery brought about? Had Ephraim the honour to discover the delusion by his own sagacity, and to break the en. chantment by his own strength? We find an answer to these questions, (chap. xiii. 9.) “ O Israel, thou hast destroyed thyself, but in me is thy help.” Had God said, I am determined to let Ephraim alone, there would have been an end of him at once, though the whole creation had been left at liberty to exert its utmost activity for his help; but it deserves our notice, that though God laid a restraint upon the agency of the creatures, yet he laid no restraint upon his own, but reserved to himself the full exercise of his essential and unalienable prerogative, to be the free and sovereign disposer of his grace.
In tbis character he is introduced at the first verse of this chapter, where he issues forth his royal command, and clothes it with power: “O Israel, return unto the Lord thy God, for thou hast fallen by thine iniquity." In order to encourage their hope of acceptance, he teacheth them in the following verses how to pray, and even dictates the very form of surrender they were to make; “ Take with you words, and turn to the Lord; say unto him, Take away all iniquity, and receive us gracious. ly; so will we render the calves of our lips. Ashur shall not save us, we will not ride upon horses, neither will we say any more to the works of our hands, Ye are our gods; for in thee the fatherless findeth mercy." After which, to remove that distrust and jealousy which necessarily spring from a consciousness of guilt, he goes on to declare his sovereign purpose, expressed in the most comprehensive and absolute terms, of dispensing to them, and conferring upon them, his pardoning mercy and sanctifying grace: “I will heal their backsliding, I will love them freely; for mine anger is turned
I away from him. I will be as the dew unto Israel,” &c. In consequence whereof, he foretels, in the words of my text, that Ephraim, who, till then, had been joined to idols, should find himself disposed and enabled to say, not with his lips only, but from an effectual principle of new life in his heart, What have I to do with idols any more?
From this view of my text, as it stands connected with other passages in this book that relate to Ephraim, and more especially with the verses immediately preceding, four observations obviously arise, which I propose to illustrate in the following discourse.
1. That a sinner, in his natural state, is joined to idols.
2. That to separate a sinner from idols, is a work that is altogether peculiar to God.
3. That this separation is effected by the discovery and application of pardoning mercy and sanctifying grace. And,
4. That every one who is a partaker of these important benefits will, and must, adopt the words of Ephraim in their most extensive meaning, and say, as be did, What have I to do any more with idols?
I. My first observation is, That a sipner, in bis natural state, is joined to idols.
Herein consisteth the essence of man's apostacy. Something that is not God is the object of his supreme love, and possesseth that place in his heart which is due only to the living and true God; and that thing, by what name soever it may be distinguished, is properly an idol. Now this world, and the things of the world, its riches and pleasures, and honours, wbich the apostle John, by a strong and significant figure, calls “the lust of the eye, the lust of the flesh, and the pride of life;" these are the great rivals of God, which, ever since the fatal a postacy, have usurped the throne in the human heart.
I am unwilling to mention the profane rites by which some of these idols are worshipped by many; they are too shocking to be named, and, at the same time, so notorious as to render a detail of them superfluous. It is by no means necessary for proving the charge of idola. try, that I should lead your imagination through the various scenes of injustice, oppression, and cruelty, or into the foul haunts of lewdness and riotous excess. Many of these vices may be deemed unnatural to man even in his fallen state; and though the cafnal mind may be enmity against God, yet I am verily persuaded, that the carnal mind itself doth often suffer a considerable de gree of violence, before it can be fully reconciled to the practice of them. It is sufficient for my purpose to affirm, what daily observation puts beyond all doubt, viz. that this present world, in one shape or other, is loved and served in preference to God, by every man, without exception, who hath no other principle of life than what he derived from the first Adam. Here he finds the supply of his bodily wants, and all that kind of provision that suits bis animal nature, and gratifies those appetites which he bath in common with the inferior creatures. And though he is often, or rather always, disappointed in his expectation; yet, being unacquainted with any better sustenance than this earth affords, he only makes new experiments, persists in seeking his portion here below, and will continue to do so, till, by some means or other, he get a mind to discern those spiritual objects, and an appetite to relish those spiritual enjoyments, which are the proper food of the soul, the only aliment whereby its real life and well-being can be supported. Hence it already appears, in some measure,
II. That to separate a sinner from idols, must be