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"but more especially those which are of eternal obliga"tion, judgment, mercy, and faith; for these ought (C ye to do, and not to leave the others undone. In all "things show yourselves patterns of good works, that "they which are of the contrary part may be ashamed, "having no evil thing to say of you."
"God, who in time past spake unto the fathers by "the prophets, hath in these last days spoken unto us "by his Son. And how can we expect to escape, if
we neglect so great salvation! How can we suppose "that every transgression and disobedience will not " receive a just recompense of reward! Let it not be your condemnation, that light is come into the "world, and you have loved darkness rather than light. "For it had been better for you not to have known "the way of righteousness, than after ye have known
it, to turn from the holy commandment delivered "unto you." Be exemplary in the discharge of all the offices of benevolence and piety, which are enjoined by the word of Christ, and recommended by his perfect example. Pray without ceasing, in the solemn hours of retirement, and in the great congregation assembled for the purpose of public devotion. In every thing give thanks: in seasons of the severest temporal distress, habituate yourselves to rely upon the wise providence of that almighty Being, who can make the affliction of a moment work out an eternal weight of glory. Have your conversation in heaven. Walk by faith, and not by sight; and may the God of all grace make you perfect, stablish, strengthen, settle you; that after you have done his will, you may, in due time, receive his promise.
HOSEA xiv. S.
Ephraim shall say, What have I to do any more with idols? I have heard him, and observed him: I am like a green fir-tree: from me is thy fruit found.
THE prophecies of Hosea are chiefly directed to the
ten tribes of Israel, who, under Jeroboam, the son of Nebat, had revolted from the house of David, renounced the religion of their fathers, and fallen into idolatry. The judgments of that God whom they thus despised, immediately pursued their crimes; and these chastisements of heaven are represented by the prophet as producing their due effect.
The tribe of Ephraim was the head of the ten revolting tribes, both on account of its numbers, and because within the limits of that tribe, Jeroboam had fixed the seat of his government. In the prophetic language, therefore, the term Ephraim is equivalent to Israel, as distinguished from Judah and Benjamin, who remained steadfast in their allegiance to their almighty Sovereign, the only living and true God.
In the words of the text, by way of dialogue, the penitence of the idolatrous Israelites, and the consequent mercy and benediction of heaven, are very emphatically expressed: Ephraim declares an utter aversion to his late grievous crime-" What have I to "do any more with idols?" God replies-"I have "heard him, and observed him"-I have heard the confessions and righteous purposes of the humble penitent, will pardon his offences, and guide and protect him by my merciful providence. Ephraim acknowledges that upon returning to his duty, he soon rose to a happy and flourishing condition-" I am "like a green fir-tree." To preserve his humility, God immediately reminds him that his fruitfulness springs entirely from the divine blessing-" From me "is thy fruit found"-it is my holy spirit which puts into thy heart good desires: it is my heavenly aid which enables thee to carry them into complete effect.
It will be said, perhaps " How is this passage of "sacred Scripture in any way applicable to us? How "are we concerned in the ancient idolatry of the "Israelites? We have never renounced our faith in "the true God. We despise the absurdity, and abhor "the impiety of falling down to worship the calves set up in Dan, or in Bethel."
But, may we not revolt in our affections from the Lord our God? May we not rather serve mammon; and be lovers of pleasure, more than lovers of him? Is not covetousness expressly called idolatry? And may we not, in the language of Scripture, be, said, in various other ways, to set up our "idols in our "heart?"
In the estimation of religion; in the eye of dispas
sionate reason, whatever the object may be, which has so far taken possession of our hearts, as to alienate them from the love of God, and from the service which is due to him, that is our idol. Happy is it for those who can be speedily brought to see their error, and to form the good resolution of renouncing it; exclaiming in the penitential language of Ephraim-" What have "I to do any more with the vain idols which have "seduced my heart, and engrossed that attention which " is due to God alone?"
Look round the world, and, even where the light of the Gospel shines, behold the deluded children of men, bowing down before the works of their own hands, worshipping the creature more than the Almighty Creator. Some make power their idol, at whose polluted shrine, how many supplicating victims are sacrificed; what torrents of human blood are seen to flow! Some devote both soul and body to the service of mammon, for the acquisition of whose glittering stores, truth, justice, and mercy, are all abandoned and utterly disregarded. Some spend six days in the week involved in the cares of this world; in solicitudes about what they shall eat, and what they shall drink, and wherewithal they shall be cloathed; and when the day arrives which the Lord has made, which was set apart for the special purpose of calling us off from these anxious pursuits, and elevating our souls to the contemplation of God, and the awful things of eternity; this day also is dissipated in fatal inattention to these momentous subjects; in direct violation of laws both human and divine; in rioting and drunkenness; in boisterous revellings, or in more calm, though not less seducing festivity.
Instead of glorying in this alone, that they understand and know the Lord who exerciseth lovingkindness, judgment, and righteousness, in the earth; how many of the wise, and mighty, and rich men of this world, glory only in their wisdom, in their might, or in their riches? How many, when exalted to the summit of prosperity, instead of praising and honouring him who liveth for ever, look round upon the works of their hands, and in the vanity of their hearts exclaim with the Babylonish king-" Have not I "built this by the might of my power, and for the "honour of my majesty?" How many in the hour of adversity, instead of humbly seeking the guidance and protection of a wise and merciful Providence, depart in their heart from the Lord, and trust in man, and make the arm of flesh their principal dependence?
In terms of much severity, the prophets expose the vanity of idolatrous worship, and reprove the folly and ingratitude of their brethren for relying on the aid of false gods in the hour of distress. They who now forget the God that made them, and render not unto him the honour which is due to his holy name; they who now disregard the grace of God offered in the Gospel-the remission of their sins, the assistance of the Holy Spirit, the inheritance of life and glory: they who are now engaged in providing other helps, and are totally devoted to other objects of adoration, will, ere long, find the words of the prophet verified-" They "shall be ashamed, and also confounded all of them:
they shall go to confusion together that are makers "of idols." When a consciousness of guilt begins to terrify them, will the earthly pleasure which they have so fondly loved, speak peace to their souls? Will the