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him up for us all, how shall he not with him also freely give us all things?" The invitations and promises with which his word is filled, are a further evidence to us, that he is willing to receive every returning prodigal, and that he will in no wise cast out any who come unto him. On this ground the whole world may adopt the words of the text, and say, "Come, let us return unto the Lord."]
2. From that particular discovery of it which we have in the wounds he has inflicted on us
[The Israelites seemed to lay a peculiar stress on this, and to infer, from the very strokes of his rod, his willingness to "heal and bind them up." They even felt an assurance that his return to them would be both speedy and effectual. Thus as soon as any person is brought to acknowledge the hand of God in his afflictions, he will improve them in this very way. Whether his troubles be of a temporal or spiritual nature, he will adore God for not leaving him in a secure and thoughtless state, and for awakening him by any means to a sense of his guilt and danger. He will begin immediately to argue as Manoah's wife: "Would the Lord have shewn me this mercy, if he had intended to destroy me?" Does a father correct his child because he has no love to him? Are not the very expressions of his anger to be viewed as tokens of his love, and as an earnest of his returning favour as soon as the child shall have implored forgiveness?
Let those then who feel the burthen of their sins, remember, that it is God who has given them to see their iniquities; and that, the heavier their burthen is, the more abundant encouragement they have to cast it on the Lord.i]
1. To those who have deserted God
[Let us only reflect on the months and years that we have past without any affectionate remembrance of God, or any earnest application to Christ as our Mediator and Advocate; and we shall not need many words to convince us, that we are included in this number. But let us consider whom " we have forsaken; even God, the fountain of living waters;" and, with all our labour in pursuit of happiness, we have only "hewed out for ourselves cisterns, broker cisterns that can hold no water." Let our past experience suffice to shew us the vanity and folly of our ways: and let us him from whom we have deeply revolted." But let us beware lest we "heal our wounds slightly." Christ is the brazen
66 return unto
f Ver. 2. Song i. 4. Zech. viii. 21. John i. 41, 45.
8 Judg. xiii. 23.
h Heb. xii. 6.
Matt. xi. 28.
k Jer. ii. 13.
Serpent to which all must look: He is the good Samaritan who alone can help us, and who has submitted to be himself "wounded for our transgressions," that he might "heal us by his stripes."]
2. To those who are deserted by God
God does find it necessary sometimes to withdraw the light of his countenance from his people. But, whatever he may have done on some particular occasions, we are sure that in general he does not forsake us till after we have forsaken him. Hence, when the Israelites were deserted by him, they did not say, let us pray that he will return to us; but, let us return unto him: for they were well assured that, as the alienation had begun on their part, so it would be terminated as soon as ever they should humble themselves in a becoming manner. Let those then who are under the hidings of God's face, inquire, what has occasioned his departure from them: and let them put away "the accursed thing," and turn to him
with their whole hearts. Let them rest assured, that "there is balm in Gilead;" and that, if they come to him in the name of Christ, their "backslidings shall be healed," and "their happiness restored."*
I Hos. xiv. 4. Lam. iii. 31, 32. Ps. xcvii. 11. and cxlvii. 3.
If this were the subject of a Fast Sermon, the APPLICATION might be comprised in the following observations. 1. The calamities of the nation are manifest tokens of God's displeasure, and calls to repentance-2. All the efforts of our rulers to heal our wounds will be in vain, if we do not repent-3. A general turning unto God would bring us speedy and effectual relief.—
CCCXXV. A CALL TO REPENTANCE.
Jer. xiii. 15-17. Hear ye, and give ear, be not proud: for the Lord hath spoken. Give glory to the Lord your God, before he cause darkness, and before your feet stumble upon the dark mountains, and while ye look for light, he turn it into the shadow of death, and make it gross darkness. But if ye will not hear it, my soul shall weep in secret places for your pride; and mine eye shall weep sore, and run down with tears, because the Lord's flock is carried away captive.
REPENTANCE is at all times a proper subject to be enforced; but more especially on a day professedly set apart for national humiliation. The words before us were addressed to the Jews when God was about to send
them into captivity in Babylon: and they may well be considered as addressed to us, now that his hand is lifted up for the punishment, and, for aught we know, for the destruction, of our land.
They manifestly contain the Prophet's exhortationhis arguments to enforce it-and his determination in case he should not be able to prevail on the people to repent.
But the occasion, and the text itself, call rather for exhortation than discussion. We shall therefore, though not without a due attention to the order of the words, proceed to urge upon you the great, the seasonable, the indispensable duty of repentance.
[Know then, that it is "God who speaketh." The words delivered to you in his name, as far as they accord with his mind and will, are his words, and are to be received as though you heard them uttered by a voice from heaven.a
"Hear ye, and give ear," and let not the pride of your hearts obstruct your attention. Often has God spoken to you by the dispensations of his providence, and the declarations of his grace; yea, moreover, by the still small voice of con science: but ye, the generality of you at least, have turned a deaf ear, and refused to hear the voice of the charmer, charm he never so wisely. But "be not proud." Ye must hear at last, whether ye will or not. Let then your stout hearts be humbled; and receive with meekness the engrafted word.
In the name of God we say to you, REPENT. "Give glory to the Lord your God." It is by repentance only that you can do this. Repentance glorifies all his perfections; his omiscience that sees your transgressions, his justice that punishes them, his mercy that pardons, them, and his wisdom and goodness that have provided such a marvellous salvation for ruined
O glorify his omniscience: say, Lord, thou art privy to all the secrets of my heart; thou knowest that I am inexpressibly vile.e
Glorify his justice; and acknowledge, that if he cut you off, and consign you to the lowest hell, you have no more than your just desert.f
Glorify his mercy; and plead it with him as the only, the all-sufficient ground of your hope and confidence.
a 2 Cor. v. 20. 1 Thess. ii. 13. © Jam. i. 21.
e Jer. xvii. 9. Job x1, 4. and xlii. 2,
f Matt. xxii. 12, 13. Rom. iii, 4.
b Job xxxiii. 14.
d Josh. vii. 19. Rev. xvi. 9.
g Ps. li. 1.
Glorify his wisdom and goodness, that have opened a way for your return to him through the incarnation and death of his only dear Son. Declare, that you have no trust whatever but in the blood and righteousness of that almighty Saviour."
To persist in impenitence is the certain way to bring down the heaviest judgments upon your souls. The darkness that hangs over the nation, cannot be dispelled in any other way; much less can that with which God menaces your souls. O consider "the darkness, the gross darkness,” in which they are involved, who are shut up under judicial blindness and final obduracy; or who, under the terrors of a guilty conscience, “stumble on the dark mountains” of unbelief, and, like the Jews (who thought they had clean escaped from their pursuers) are overtaken by the sword of vengeance, so that "while they look for light, it is turned into the shadow of death," and they are plunged into "the blackness of darkness for evermore."m
But repentance may yet avert the storm, both from the nation, and from our own souls. Numberless are the declarations of God to this effect;" and numberless the instances wherein it has been verified. But let us remember what kind of repentance it is which will thus prevail: it is not a mere formal confession of sin with a partial reformation of the life, but such a repentance as glorifies all the perfections of the Deity; such a repentance as has an especial respect to Christ, who alone can procure our pardon, and in whom alone we can ever find acceptance with God.
Would to God that we might prevail with you, and that you were all, in good earnest, turning unto God! Could we once behold this, O how should we rejoice; and how would "the very angels in heaven rejoice" on your account! But, if ye will not repent" (as it is to be feared too many of you will not) 66 my soul," and the souls of all who are aware of your condition, “shall weep in secret places for your pride; yea, our eyes shall weep sore and run down with tears," on account of your present and approaching bondage. The godly in all ages have wept over those who felt no concern for their own souls:P and we trust that there are many, who will lay to heart the evils which ye are too proud to acknowledge, too obdurate to deplore. But we intreat you to consider, Is there one amongst us all, that is not a sinner before God? and does
h. Phil. iii. 8, 9.
k Isai. vi. 9, 10.
This is the literal meaning of the text. n To nations 2 Chron. vii. 14, and to 9. Nineveh, the dying thief, &c.
and x. 6. 2 Pet. ii. 8. Rom. ix. 1, 2. above all Luke xix. 41. 1 Kings viii. 46. Jam. iii. 2.
i Joel ii. 2, 3. perhaps a true picture of our present state. m 2 Thess. ii. 11,12. Jude 13. individuals Isai. lv. 7.
P Ps. cxix. 136. Ezra ix. 5.
not the broken law denounce a curse against us?r and if God be true, will not that curse be inflicted on the impenitent? Why then will ye not humble yourselves before an offended God, a merciful Redeemer? Alas! for your "pride," and stoutness of heart! How lamentable is it, that you, who have been baptized into the name of Christ, and are therefore properly the Lord's flock," should be so "carried captive" by your lusts, and by your great adversary, the Devil! O think, it is but a little time, and your captivity will be complete; and, lost beyond a possibility of redemption, you will be bound in chains of everlasting darkness. And is not here a cause for sorrow on your account? "Oh that mine head were waters, and mine eyes a fountain of tears, that I might weep day and night" for your unhappy state!"
We will not, however, conclude, without once more intreating you to "give glory to the Lord your God;" that so "your light may rise in obscurity, and your darkness may be as the noon-day."]
CCCXXVI. THE ONLY REFUGE OP SINNERS.
Isai. xxvi. 20, 21. Come, my people, enter thou into thy chambers, and shut thy doors about thee: hide thyself as it were for a little moment, until the indignation be overpast. For behold, the Lord cometh out of his place to punish the inhabitants of the earth for their iniquity.
a Amos iii. 7.
t Jude 6.
GOD has been pleased to manifest at all times such a tender concern for the welfare of his people, that he has scarcely ever done any thing of importance, which he has not revealed to them beforehand by his servants the prophets. Did he determine to destroy the earth with a flood? he instructed Noah first to build an ark for the preservation of himself and his family." Was he about to rain fire and brimstone upon Sodom and Gomorrah? he could not execute his vengeance till rightcous Lot had retired to a place of safety. Had he decreed to bring on Jerusalem such judgments as the world had never before seen? he warns his people to escape