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SERMON II.

HOSEA XIV, v. 2.

Take with you words, and turn to the Lu...

unto him, Take away all iniquity, and receive us graciously: so will we render the calves of

our lips. We have in these words a continuation of the former subject. Israel was fallen from the Lord by transgression. They could not by any means or power of their own return unto him. The Lord, out of his own free and sovereign grace, and from himself alone, is pleased most graciously to address them; and he calls upon them to return to him. This hath been opened in the former sermon. As they were altogether incapacitated by any power of their own to obey the Lord's command, neither knew they the course they should pursue, or how to draw nigh unto the Lord, and approach him; it pleased the Lord to draw up for them a form of prayer, which he puts into their mouths, and with which he sends them, that they might present themselves before him at his throne and mercy-seat, and there repeat it. They could not, in the case they were in, pray without words. They could not express themselves with these words, but they must turn unto the Lord. This is the principal thing intended by the Lord himself. They are to pray unto him agreeable to their cases. It is to be expressed in the Lord's own words, with their own lips, that they may have an inward feeling and sense of their own backsliding cases, and of what alone could do them good. They are at this time under guilt, and the burden of their inherent and personal iniquities: this oppresses them. They are directed by the Lord to request him to take away from them all their iniquities. Take with you words, and turn to the Lord: say unto him, Take away all iniquity, and receive us graciously, so will we render the calves of our lips.

This is all I shall engage in at this time, which, if properly opened, will be sufficient. To an enlightened mind, the grace of God in all this will appear great and marvellous, and the subject itself vastly interesting. The experience in it is deep, and the effects produced by the same lasting. The advice in it is very instructive. The doctrine of salvation is opened; as also how believers are made partakers of the real blessings and benefits thereof. In opening the words before us I will set before you the following particulars.

First-The connexion of these words with the former.

Secondly-I will endeavour to open and explain the words and expressions made use of in the text before us, or shew what is to be understood by them: that they express the whole grace and gracious design of the everlasting gospel. In what way we are to receive them, with the real blessedness contained therein; so far as the Lord may be pleased to make them efficacious unto us.

Thirdly—I will speak of the suitableness of them, as they belong to such as are in a case or state of backsliding, or on the verge of the same.

Fourthly-The most grateful acknowledgements of the supplicants. These are the particulars which we are to attend to. I am

First to notice these words with the former, as connected with each other. O Israel, return unto the Lord thy God; for thou hast fallen by thine iniquity. Take with you words and turn unto the Lord: say unto him, Take away all iniquity, and receive us graciously : so will we render the calves of our lips.

The connexion of these verses is very evident and clear, as is also the next verse with these, which I might here shew, but shall defer that until I come immediately to it, having reserved it for a sermon by itself.

It is good to remember, that all Scripture, and whatsoever is contained and written in the same, was written for our learning, that we through patience and consolation, or comfort of the Scriptures, might have hope. But to the present subject. Israel is fallen by her iniquity. What

is then to be done? What is requisite in this case ? It most assuredly must consist in a return to the Lord. This is the very remedy pointed out, and prescribed by God himself. But might not Israel say, I know not how to return? I am not capable of expressing myself, nor my case. It is true, my heart is softened, and melts at such gracious words as these: 0 Israel, return unto the Lord thy God; for it proves to a demonstration, the Lord is gracious and merciful: yet such are my present apprehensions of my own sin and sinfulness, that were I to presume to return, I could not open my case. Indeed, indeed, I could not. I should even be as a beast before him. To prevent all these thoughts and self-reflections, the Lord says, Take with you words, and turn to the Lord: say unto him, Take away all iniquity, and receive us graciously, so will we render the calves of our lips. Here is royal grace expressed in godlike language! most exactly adapted to the case: it is sufficient to remove all discouragements, and adds weight and emphasis to the former words. O Israel, return unto the Lord thy God; for thou hast fallen by thine iniquity. It puts words in the mouths of the suppliants. They are cogent; they are most particular, and exactly suited unto, and expressive of, the grace which those persons stood in need of. Should it please the Lord to assist me in opening and explaining them, I cannot but

same.

expect to find heavenly treasure contained in the

O Israel, return unto the Lord thy God; for thou hast fallen by thine iniquity. Take with you words, and turn to the Lord: say unto him, Take

away all iniquity, and receive us graciously : so will we render the calves of our lips. We see here what prayer is. It is the inwrought grace of the Holy Spirit in the mind. It is the fruit and gift of the Holy Spirit. It is simple and suitable to the case and experience of the child of God. It is comprehensive, and the fruit of the Lord's own teaching and inspiration. This being the precise truth of it, I will proceed with my designed subject, and go on · Secondly-To open and explain the expressions made use of in the words before us, and contained in this prayer: Take with you words, and turn to the Lord: say unto him, Take away all iniquity, and receive us graciously: so will we render the calves of our lips. I shall aim to shew what is to be understood by these expressions. That they contain for substance, the whole grace and gracious design of the everlasting gospel. In what way we are to receive them; with the real blessedness contained therein, so far as the Lord may be pleased to make them efficacious unto us. These are the particulars of this division of the text which is now before us to comment upon. The words contain a form of prayer, drawn up and prescribed by the Lord

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