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tinues with its owner, will be shod, and have plenty of food, but when it runs away, will wear out its hoofs, and want both food and water;
80 thy idolatries will be injurious and destructive ; yet thou dost 26 desperately resolve to go on in thy evil ways. As the thief is
ashamed when he is found, so is the house of Israel ashamed ; they have nothing to say, but, like an hardened robber, impudently
deny the fact ; they, their kings, their princes, and their priests, 27 and their prophets, Saying to a stock, Thou (art) my father ;
and to a stone, Thou hast brought me forth ; giving that praise to idols thich is due to God alone, as the author and preserver of all things : for they have turned (their) back unto me in con
tempt, 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 time of thy trouble : for [according to the number of thy
cities are thy gods, O Judah; every city hath its peculiar gods, 29 like the heathens. Wherefore will ye plead with me your inno
cence and my promises ? ye all have transgressed against me, 30 saith the Lord. In vain have I smitten your children ; they re
ceived no correction ; they are not grown betier : your own sword
hath devoured your prophets, who reproved you, like a destroy31 ing lion, with fury and pleasure, as a lion devours his prey. O
generation, see ye the word of the LORD ; consider it and apply your hearts 10 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 ; we 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 for
gotten me days without number ; they have renounced their re33 lation to me, which was their greatest glory. Why trimmest thou
thy way to seek love, like a lewd woman, who by gay dress and artful looks endeavours to inveigle others ? therefore hast
thou also taught the wicked ones thy ways, and been an erample 34 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 as plain, as if your garments were sprinkled with their blood ; by which means murder is sometimes
discovered. 55 Yet thou sayest, Because I am innocent, surely his anger shall
turn from me. Behold, I will plead with thee, because thou 36 sayest, I have not sinned, and prove the contrary. Why gaddest
thou about so much to change thy way, flying from one alliance to another ? a plain proof that you have forsaken me : thou also
shalt be ashamed of Egypt, as thou wast ashamed of Assyria. 37 Yea, thou shalt go forth from him, or from hence, that i8, from
iliy own country, and thine hands upon thine head, as n:ourners, and in token of thy extreme grief: for the LORD bath rejected thy confidences, and thou shalt not prosper in thein.
1 Chap. III. They say, it is a known 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 deiestable practices ? but thou hast played the harlot with many lovers, by thine alliances with idolaters ;
yet return again to me, saith the LORD, and I will receive thee 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 waits for the caravans to buy goods ; thou hast been no more ashamed 10 sit by the way side as a prostitute, than a merchant is to deal with his customers ; and thou hast polluted the land with thy whoredoms 3 and with thy wickedness. Therefore the showers have been with
holden, 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 do it, when thou art so
graciously invited, and there are so many threalenings of sad judg5 ments if thou continuest obstinate? Will he reserve (his anger]
for ever? will he keep [it] to the end ?* Behold, thou hast spoken and done evil things as thou couldst.
1. L O W vain are all the attempts of sinners to justify them
11 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 sins are in the light of his counlınance ; and when he comes to 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
• These are words put into their mouth wherewith to approach God; yet there was little hope of their using them, because they had shown all hatred to God and goodness, VOL. V.
spirits will be tamed. Thcy now reject reproof, and scorn advice ; but when distress and anguish come upon them, where are their gods, their hououis, 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 and portion, and his service our business, we may cheerfully say to him, in our time of trouble, Arise, and save us ; and he will be our refuge and strength.
4. How 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 delighteth in mercy. Let rebellious children return to him as their father from this time, 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 10 rinderstand this part of the firophecy, we must remember,
that it refers to the time of Josiah, a very zealous reformer : the people were not hearly in his reformalion ; they only complied with it externally, and after his death relapsed into idolatry.
6 THE LORD said also unto me in the days of Josiah the
1 king, Hast thou seen [that] which backsliding Israel hath done? she is gone up upon every high mountain and un7 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 treacher8 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 was carried captive ; yet her · treacherous sister Judah feared not, but went and played the har9 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 treacher
ous sister Judah hath not turned unto me with her whole heart, il but feignedly, saith the Lord. And the Lord said unto me,
The backsliding Israel hath justified herself more than treacher. ous Judah ; Israel is less guilty than Judah, because Judah did
not take warning. 12 Go and proclaim these words toward the north, where the len
tribes were carried captive, and say, Return, thou backsliding Israel, saith the LORD ; [and] I will not cause mine anger to fall, or continue, upon you : for I [ain) merciful, saith the LORD,
13 (and) I will not keep [anger) for ever. Only acknowledge
thine iniquity, confess it, and be truly penitent for il, that thou hast transgressed against the LORD thy God, and hast scattered thy ways to the strangers under every green tree, run up and
down to the gods of neighbouring nations, and ye have not obeyed 14 my voice, saith the LORD. Turn, O backsliding children, saith
the LORD ; for I am married unto you : and I will take you one of a city, and two of a family, and I will bring you to Zion ; ye
shall be restored again ; and though but few shall come, yet 15 those shall not be overlooked : And I will give you pastors ac
cording to mine heart, which shall feed you with knuwledge and 16 understanding, and no more entice you to idolatry. And it shall
come to pass, when ye be multiplied and increased in the land, in those days, saith the LORD, they shall say no more, The ark of the covenant of the LORD : neither shall it come to mind :
neither shall they remember it ; neither shall they visit (it ;] 17 neither shall [that] be done any more.* At that time they shall
call Jerusalem, The throne of the LORD ; God will give them evident proofs of his spiritual residence among them, and his regard to them as their king ; and all the nations shall be gathered unto
it, to the name of the LORD, to Jerusalem : neither shall they 18 walk any more after the imagination of their evil heart. In
those days the house of Judah shall walk with the house of Israel, and they shall come together out of the land of the north to the land that I have given for an inheritance unto your fa
thers ; many of the Israelites shall return with the Jews 10 Ca. 19 naan. But I said, How shall I put thee among the children,
there must be a great change in you before I can do this, and give thee a pleasant land, a goodly heritage of the hosts of nations ; or, a land which the nations de sire, for they envy you this land, and desire to possess it ? and I said, Thou shalt call me, My father ; and shalt not turn away from me ; I will bestow upon thee a filial frame of heart toward me ; thou shalt return to me as thy father, and continue faithful to me ; then I will bestow these favours upon you.
Surely (as) a wife treacherously departeth from her husband; so have ye dealt treacherously with me, O house of Israel, saith 21 the LORD. A voice was heard upon the high places, weeping
[and] supplications of the children of Israel, repenting and ask
ing mercy : for, or because, they have perverted their way, [and] 22 they have forgotten the LORD their God. Return ye back
sliding children, (and) I will heal your backslidings. This is God's invitation : 10 which they renly, Behold, we come unto
thee, for thou (art) the LORD our God, and wilt heal and comfort 23 our hearts, which are wounded with grief and sorrow, Trulv in vain
[is salvation hoped for from the hills (and from the multitude of mountains; from idols, or any foreign alliances : it is in vain to go
. This seems to refer to the gospel, and to intimate the abolition of Jewish ceremonies, though perhaps the ark never was in the second remple, at least there was no Shekinah, and sobe suppose there is a reference to that.
up to the mountains to look if they are coming : truly in the LORD 24 our God, [is] the salvation of Israel. For shame, that is, sin
and idolatry, hath devoured the labour of our fathers from our youth ; their flocks and their herds, their sons and their
daughters ; these have wasted our substance, and brought our 25 enemies upon us. We lie down in our shame, and our confusion
covereth us ; we are not able to bear up under it : for we have sinned against the Lord our God, we and our fathers, from our youth even unto this day, and have not obeyed the voice of the Lord our God. In answer to these expressions of sorrow and
repentance, God assures Israel, 1 Chap. IV. If thou wilt return, O Israel, saith the LORD, re
turn unto me heartily, not by outward profession only : and if thou wilt put away thine abominations, thine idols, and thy sine,
out of my sight, then shalt thou not remove, but be established in 2 the land. And thou shalt swear, The LORD liveth, in truth, in judgment, and in righteousness; thou shalt no more swear by idols, but in important cases make thine appeal to God for the maintenance of truth and justice ; and the nations shall bless themselves in him, and in him shall they glory ; many heathens shall become proselytes, shall esteem themselves happy in being the people of Gud, and shall triumph in their relation to him and interest in him.
1. THE judgments of God upon others are designed as warn,
T ings to us, and he is displeased if they are not attended to. He expected that Judah should be alarmed by the captivity of Israel, and it was an aggravation of their guilt that they were not. God gives us many awful warnings by his word and providences ; even the calamities of Israel and Judah, are standing warnings to us, and are so described in the New Testament. God knows what admonitions he hath given us, and what effect they have had ; and if we overlook them and prove treacherous to our religious professions and engagements, we shall fall under his displeasure, for his power and wrath are against all them that forsake him.
2. The abundant mercy and reconcileableness of God, are motives to sinners to return to him. He commands his ministers and prophets to proclaim this ; to assure sinners of his readiness to forgive ; and invites them to return. May we hear the proclama. tion with gratitude and pleasure ; and let our answer be, Behold, we come unto thee, for thou art the Lord our God.
3. It is happy for a people to have pastors after God's own heart; such as he approves on account of their character and fidelity in their office. They are good pastors in God's sight, who take care of the flock, endeavour to improve their understandings, mend their spirits, and make them wise to salvation. The people who have such pastors, (who are, alas ! too few) ought to be very thankful to God, and esteem them highly in love for their work's sake.