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us through the wilderness, through a land of deserts and of pits, through a land of drought, and of the fhadow of death, through a land that no man passed through, and where no man dwelt? where there was no 7 thoroughfare, no dwelling? And I brought you into a plentiful country, to eat the fruit thereof and the goodnefs thereof; but when ye entered, ye defiled my land, and made mine heritage an abomination by your fins, efpecially idolatry. And it is no wonder you did fo, for 8 The priests faid not, Where [is] the LORD? and they that handle the law knew me not; they took no pains to learn and preach my will: the paftors alfo, the governors and magistrates, tranfgreffed againft me, and the prophets prophefied by Baal, in the name of Baal, and walked after [things that] do not profit; that were extremely hurtful; this was the fource of their degeneracy. 9 Wherefore I will yet plead with you, faith the LORD,
and with your children's children will I plead; I will lay before you your ingratitude and fin, both by prophets and 10 judgments: For pafs over the ifles of Chittim, the politer
nations of Europe, and fee; and send unto Kedar, the barbarous nations that lay fouth east, and confider diligent11 ly, and fee if there be fuch a thing. Hath a nation changed [their] gods, which [are] yet no gods? they keep to the religion of their forefathers, tho' it be falfe, abfurd, and impious: but my people have changed their glory, their relation to God, and his prefence among them, 12 for [that which] doth not profit. Be astonished, O ye heavens, at this, and be horribly afraid, be ye very defolate, faith the LORD; it is fuch a thing, that the fun might veil his face at the fight, and the lights of heaven 13 Shrink away and vanish from their places: For my people have committed two eyils; they have forfaken me the fountain of living waters, [and] hewed them out cifterns, broken cifterns, that can hold no water; by worshipping idols and forming alliances with idolatrous princes, they have acted as foolishly as a man would do, who fhould forfake a pure running stream, for a little muddy water in a ciftern, and that a broken ciftern, out of which the water, fuch as it was, would quickly run.
[Is] Ifrael a fervant? [is] he a homeborn [flave?] why is he spoiled? Why is Ifrael a slave to his enemies? was he born fuch a one? No: but he is spoiled as if he were, 15 and this is owing to his fin. The young lions roared upon him, [and] yelled, and they made his land waste : "his cities are burned without inhabitant, by the tyrannical 16 kings of the neighbouring countries. Also the children of Noph and Tahapanes, two principal cities of Egypt, have broken the crown of thy head; the Egyptians have devoured the best part of thy country, and funk thee into con17 tempt. Haft thou not procured this unto thyself, in that thou haft forfaken the LORD thy God, when he led thee by the way? when he was leading thee, and would have 18 been thy help, and enfured thy profperity? And now what haft thou to do in the way of Egypt, to drink the waters of Sihor, or the Nile? or what haft thou to do in the way of Affyria, to drink the waters of the river Euphrates, that is, to form alliances with Egypt and Affy19 ria? Thine own wickedness fhall correct thee, and thy backflidings fhall reprove thee: know therefore and fee that [it is] an evil [thing] and bitter, that thou hast forfaken the LORD thy God, and that my fear [is] not in thee, faith the Lord GoD of hosts; thy fin fhall be thy punishment; the princes thou hast courted shall be a Scourge to thee; and thy calamities fhall convince thee, what a foolish, wicked part thou hast acted, in forfaking God.
Adapted to a faft, or day of humiliation.
HE piety of our ancestors, and God's kindness to them and us, aggravate national ingratitude and impiety. Ifrael 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 is highly proper to confider these aggravations of our guilt. Did our ancestors express a fervent love to God, and zeal in his fervices? Were his favours to them favours to us? Have we received many new and moft important ones from him? How odious muft our ingratitude be, and
how heinous will our guilt appear? He hath brought us, as a nation, from the bondage of popery and arbitrary power; led us thro' many perils; given us a plentiful country, and fucceeded our struggles against foreign and domeftick enemies. He hath given us good governors, and skilful, faithful interpreters of his law. How provok ing then must be the guilt of fuch 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 Ifraelites were always courting idols and idolatrous alliances, while they forfook their God and king. Our epidemical fin, as a nation, is forgetting God and trufting in our own wisdom and ftrength. This is forfaking a fountain for a broken ciftern; and what can we expect but difappointment? 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 madnefs; and it becomes us to be upon our guard, left we be chargeable with it; and to implore mercy for our nation, fince it is a temper that fo generally prevails.
3. When a nation fuffers calamities, it is owing to its fins. The Ifraelites are feveral times reminded of this in the paffages we have been reading. The neighbouring princes were confederates against them, and brought much defolation upon them. But haft not thou procured this to thyfelf? When our enemies are multiplied, and our danger increased, may not the fame question be put to us? God was leading us by the way, leading us to peace and prof perity; our profpects were promifing; but our fins hid thofe good things from us, engaged us in frefh 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; left we find by further dreadful experience, what an evil and bitter thing it is to have forfaken God, and caft off his fear.
4. God will be juftified in the judgments which he brings upon a wicked nation. He pleads with Ifrael, to fhow them that his judgments were righteous, and their calamities deserved. The fame appeal may be made to us. What iniquity have we found in God, that we should have CC 4 deferted
deferted his fervice, or have been cold and formal in it? Has it been either unpleasant or unprofitable? What could he have done more for us, that he has 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 juft God, if he punishes us as our ingratitude and iniquities have deferved. But while he condefcends thus to plead with us, and to display his former mercy, it gives us encouragement to return. The defign of these remonftrances to Ifrael 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 know, in this our day, the things that belong to our peace, before they are for ever hid from our eyes.
CHAP. II. 20, to the end. CHAP. III. 1–6. The prophet continues his expoftulations with the people for their wickedness.
OR of old time I have broken thy yoke, [and] burst thy bands; and thou faidft, I will not tranfgrefs; when I delivered thee from Egypt, thou didst promife at mount Sinai to be obedient, and didft behave well when firft fettled in Canaan; when, or yet, upon every high hill and under every green tree thou wandereft, 21 playing the harlot. Yet I had planted thee a noble vine, wholly a right feed: how then art thou turned into the degenerate plant of a strange vine unto me? I gave you a good constitution of government, excellent laws and ordinances, yet now ye are become corrupt and degenerate. 22 For though thou wash thee with nitre, and take thee much foap, [yet] thine iniquity is marked before me, faith the Lord GOD; tho' thou infifteft upon thy innocence, and justifieft thyself, yet thine iniquities are all known to me.
They had contrived a way to reconcile the worship of idols with the worthip of Jehovah, pretending it was only fubordinate worship; a pitiful diftinction, which papifts ftill ufe to defend their idolatry.
23 How canft thou fay, I am not polluted, I have not gone after Baalim? fee thy way in the valley, where thy idolatrous worship is performed, especially the facrificing of thy children, and know what thou haft done: [thou art] a swift dromedary traverfing her ways, running from 24 one idol to another; A wild ass used to the wilderness, [that] fnuffeth up the wind at her pleasure; in her occafion who can turn her away? all they that feek her will not weary themselves; in her month they fhall find her; like an afs, which at one time cannot be catched, but which in her month (when big and unweildy) is easy to be caught; fo you fall in a little time feel the burden of 25 your own iniquities. Withhold thy foot from being unfhod, and thy throat from thirft: but thou faidft, There is no hope: no; for I have loved ftrangers, and after them will I go; as an ass, which continues with its owner, will be fhod, and have plenty of food, but when it runs away, will wear out its hoofs, and want both food and water; fo thy idolatries will be injurious and deftruttive; yet 26 thou doft defperately refolve to go on in thy evil ways. As the thief is afhamed when he is found, fo is the house of Ifrael afhamed; they have nothing to say, but, like an hardened robber, impudently deny the fact; they, their kings, their princes, and their priests, and their pro27 phets, Saying to a stock, Thou [art] my father; and to a ftone, Thou haft brought me forth; giving that praife to idols which is due to God alone, as the author and preferver of all things: for they have turned [their] back unto me in contempt, and not [their] face: but in the time of their trouble they will fay, Arife, and fave us. 28 But where [are] thy gods that thou haft made thee? let them arife, if they can fave 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 innocence and my promises? ye all have tranfgreffed 30 against me, faith the LORD. In vain have I fmitten your children; they received no correction; they are not grown better your own fword hath devoured your prophets, who reproved you, like a destroying lion, with