ISRAEL'S PRAYER IN TIME OF TROUBLE, WITH GOD'S GRACIOUS ANSWER; AN EXPLICATION OF THE FOURTEENTH CHAPTER OF HOSEA. IN SEVEN SERMONS, PREACHED UPON DAYS OF SOLEMN HUMILIATION. BY THE REV. EDWARD REYNOLDS, D.D. AFTERWARDS BISHOP OF NORWICH. LONDON: PRINTED FOR THE RELIGIOUS TRACT SOCIETY; And Sold at the Depository, 56, PATERNOSTER - ROW; EV J. NISBET, BERNERS STREET AND OTHER BOOKSELLE':fl. 1831.
LONDON: PRINTED BY W. CLOWES, Stamford Street.
CONTENTS. Page Preface 5 SERMON I. 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 : (or give good :) so will we render the calves of our lips. Hosea xiv. 1, 2 SERMON II. So will we render the calves cf our lips. Asshur shall not save us ; we will not ride upon horses : neither will we say any more to the work of our hands, Ye arc our gods, &c. Hosea xiv. 2, 3. 7 59 SERMON III. Same text 88 SERMON IV. Asshur shall not save us ; we will not ride upon horses : neither will we say any more to the work of our hands, Ye are our gods ; for in thee the fatherless findeth mercy. I will heal their backsliding, I will love them freely : for mine anger is turned away from him. Hosea xiv. 3, 4. 128 A2
4 CONTENTS. SERMON V. Page I will be as the dew unto Israel : he shall grow as the lily, and cast forth his roots as Lebanon. His branches shall spread, and his beauty shall be as the olive tree, and his smell as Lebanon. They that dwell under his shadow shall return ; they shall revive as the corn, and grow as the vine: the scent thereof shall be as the wine of Le- banon. Hosea xiv. 5- 7..... I73 SERMON VI. Ephraim shall say, What have Ito 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. Hosea xiv. 8.... 223 SERMON VII. Who is wise, and he shall understand these things? pru- dent, and he shall know them ? for the ways of the Lord are right, and the just shall walk in them : but the trans- gressors shall fall therein. Hosea xiv. 9 261
TO THE READER. CHRISTIAN reader, understanding that my sermon, which was preached three years since before the Honourable House of Commons, on the day of their solemn humiliation, was to he reprinted, I thought fit to peruse, transcribe, and enlarge six other sermons, in which I had at mine own charge in the country, on the ensuing fast days, briefly explained and applied that whole chapter, (a portion only whereof was in the first handled,) and to send them forth together with it unto the public. Which I was the rather induced to do for these two reasons. . 1. Because it hath pleased God in his righteous and holy providence to make me, by a long infirmity, unserviceable to his church in the principal work of the ministry, the preaching of the gospel, which is no small grief unto me. So that there remained no other means whereby my life might, in regard of my function, be useful to the church, and comfortable to myself, than by inverting the words of the Psalmist, and as he made his tongue as the pen of a ready writer, so to make my pen the tongue of an unready speaker. 2. I considered the seasonable- ness and suitableness of these meditations unto the condition of the sad and disconsolate times wherein we live, very like those which our prophet threatened the ten tribes withal throughout this whole prophecy, unto which this last chapter is a kind of use, and a most solemn exhortation pressing upon all wise and prudent men such duties of humiliation and repentance, as might turn threats into promises, and recover again the mercies which by their sins they had forfeited and forsaken: which being restored unto them according to their petition, they are here likewise further instructed in what manner to return unto God
6 TO THE READER. the praises due to his great name. And these two duties of humiliation and thanksgiving, are the most solemn duties, which in these times of judgments and mercies, so variously interwoven together, the Lord doth so frequently call us unto. Places of scripture I have for brevity sake, for the most part, only quoted and referred thee unto, without transcribing all the words, and have usually put many parallel places together, because by that means they do not only strengthen the doctrine whereunto they belong, but mutually give light unto one another. The Lord make us all in this our day so wise and prudent, as to understand the righteous ways of our God towards us : that we may not stumble at them, but walk in them, and be taught by them to wait upon him in the way of his judgments, and to fix the desires of our soul upon his name as our great refuge, and upon his righteousness as our great business, till he shall be pleased by the dew of his grace, to revive us as the corn, to make us grow as the vine, and to let the scent of all his ordi- nances be over all our land, as the smell, and as the wine of Lebanon. It will be an abundant return unto my poor and weak endea- vours, if I may have that room in thy prayers which the apostle Paul desired to have in the prayers of the Ephesians, that utter- ance may be given unto me, that I may open my mouth boldly to preach the mystery of the gospel. The Lord sanctify all the ways of his providence towards us, that when we are chastened, we may be taught, and may be greater gainers by the voice of his rod, than we are sufferers by the stripes. e.v.1658.
SERMON I. 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: (OR GIVE GOOD: SO WILI. wE RENDER THE CALVES OF OUR LIPS. HOSEA XIV, 1, 2. THE blessing of Ephraim was according to his name, fruitfulness. The fruitfulness of the earth, a bough by a well, and the fruitfulness of the womb, and of the breasts, Gen. xlix. 22. 25. Deut. xxxiii. 13 -17. Contrary unto which two blessings, we find in our prophet two judgments threatened against him for his sins, chap. xìii. 15, 16. "Though he be fruitful amongst his brethren, an east wind shall come, the wind of the Lord shall come up from the wilderness, and his spring shall become dry, and his fountain shall be dried up, he shall spoil the treasure of all pleasant vessels. Samaria shall become desolate, for she hath rebelled against her God : they shall fall by the sword ; their infants shall be dashed in pieces, and their women with child shall be ript up." . And throughout the whole prophecy, if you read and observe it, you will find the judgments of God against Ephraim to be expressed by weeds, emptiness, barrenness, dryness of roots, of fruits, of branches, of springs, and by a curse upon their children, as on the other side, the
8 FIRST SERMON blessings here in this chapter renewed unto Ephraim repenting, are all expressed by metaphors of fruitful- ness, ver. 5 -7. From these two woful judgments, against the fruitfulness of their springs,and the fruitfulness oftheir wombs, by the desolations of a bloody sword, our prophet taketh occasion, once more for all, to awaken and drive them to a timely repentance ; that so they may recover the blessing of their name, Ephraim may be Ephraim again, a plentiful, a fruitful, a flourishing people that when God's judgments are in the earth, they would then at least set themselves to learn righteousness. Of all nations under heaven, this land of ours bath had the . blessing of Ephraim upon it, fruitfulness of the earth, abundance of plenty ; fruitfulness of the womb, abundance of people. But our misery is, that the abundance of our sins hath mightily outvied the abundance both of our plenty and of our people : sins, too, parallel to those of Ephraim, if you will but read this prophet, and compare the behaviour of this nation with him. And this parity of sins hath no doubt called upon God for a parity of judgments. Though I must read my text, " O Israel," yet I must apply it, " O England," " return unto the Lord thy God, for thou hast fallen by thine iniquity, take with you words," &c. The whole context contains two general parts. I. An invitation unto repentance, ver. 1. and, II. An instruction how to perform it, in the two verses following. Before we come to the particulars of the invitation, let us first briefly observe, that in the midst of judg- ments proposed against sinners that are obstinate, God cloth reserve and proclaim mercy unto sinners
ON HOSEA XIV. -VERSE 1, 2. 9 that are penitent. When a consumption is decreed, yet a remnant is reserved to return, Isa. x. 22, 23. The Lord will keep his vineyard, when he will burn up the thorns and the briers together, Isa. xxvii. 3, 4. When a day of fierce anger is determined, the meek of the earth are called upon to seek the Lord, Zeph. ii. 3. When the Lord is coming out of his place to punish the inhabitants of the earth for their iniquity, he -calls upon his people to hide themselves in their chambers, until the indignation be overpast, Isa. xxvi. 20, 21. The angel who was sent to destroy Sodom, had withal a commission to deliver Lot, Gen. xix. 15. God made full provision for those who mourned for public abominations, before he gave order to destroy the rest, Ezek. ix. 4. 6. Men in their wrath will many times rather strike a friend than spare a foe ; but God's proceedings are without disorder, he will rather spare his foes than strike his servants, as he showed himself willing to have done in the case of Sodom, Gen. xviii. 26. Moses stood in the gap, and diverted judgments from Israel, Psal. cvi. 23. Yea, God seeks for such, Ezek. xxii. 30. and complains when they cannot be found, Ezek. xiii. 5. And if he deliver others for them, certainly he will not destroy them for others. However it go with the world and with wicked men, it shall go well with the righteous, there shall be a sanctuary for them when others stumble, and they shall pass through the fire, when others are consumed by it, Isa. iii. 10, 11. viii.14 -16. Zech. xii. 8, 9. The reasons hereof are, first, God's justice he will not punish the righteous with the wicked ; he will have it appear that there is a " difference between him that serveth God, and him that serveth him not," Gen. xviii. 23. Mal. iii. 18. Also, God's love unto his people.
10 FIRST SERMON He hath a book of remembrance written before him, for them that fear him, and think upon his name ; " And they shall be mine, saith the Lord of hosts, in that day when I make up my jewels, and I will spare them as a man spareth his own son that serveth him," Mal. iii. 6. 17. Here is a climax and gradation of arguments drawn from love. In a great fire, and devouring trouble, (such as is threatened, chap. iv. 1.) property alone is a ground of care ; a man would willingly save and secure that which is his own, and of any use unto him ; but if you add unto this, pre- ciousness, that increaseth the care. A man will make hard shift to deliver a rich cabinet of jewels, though all his ordinary goods and utensils should perish. But of all jewels, those which come out of the body are much more precious than those which only adorn it. Who would not rather snatch his child than his casket or purse out of a flame : relation works not only upon the affection, but upon the most tender feelings of the heart, Jer. xxxi. 20. And lastly, the same excellency that the word jewel adds unto the word mine; the same excellency service adds unto the word son. A man hath much conflict in himself to take off his heart from an undutiful son. Never was there a worse son than Absalom, and yet how did David give charge to the commanders to have him spared ! How inquisi- tive after his safety ! How passionately and unseason- ably mournful upon the news of his death ! But if any child be more a jewel than another, certainly it is a dutiful child, who hath not only an interest in our love by nature, but by obedience. All these grounds of care and protection for God's people in trouble are here expressed property, they are mine ; preciousness, they are jewels, treasures, ornaments unto me ; relation, they are sons ; usefulness, they are sons that
ON HOSEA XIV.- VERSE 1, 2. 11. serve : none could look on a thing so many ways lovely, with the same eye as upon a professed and provoking enemy. Lastly, God's name and glory He hath spared his people even in the midst of their provocations for his name's sake, Deut. xxxiii. 26, 27. Josh. vii. 9. How much more when they repent and seek his face ! He will never let it be said, that any " seek the Lord in vain," Isa. xlv. 19. But it may be objected, does not Solomon say, that all things happen alike unto all ? and that " no man can know love or hatred by that which is before him ?" Eccl. ix. 1, 2. And is it not certain and common, that in public desolations good as well as bad do perish ? Does not the sword devour as well one as another ? It is true, God does not always distinguish his servants from wicked men by temporal deliverances : troubles commonly and promiscuously involve all sorts ; but there are these two things to be remarked in it. 1. That many times the good suffer with the bad, because they are together corrupted with them, and when they join in the common provocations, no wonder if they suffer in the common judgments, Rev. xviii. 4. Nay, the sins of God's people do (especially in this case) more provoke him unto outward judgments than the sins of his professed enemies. Because they expose his name to the more contempt, 2 Sam. xii. 14. and are committed against the greater love, Amos iii. 2. and he hath future judgment for the wicked, and therefore usually begin - neth here at his own sanctuary, Ezek. ix. 6. 1 Pet. Iv. 17. 2. When good men, who have preserved themselves
12 FIRST SERMON from public sins, do yet fall by public judgments, yet there is a. great difference in this seeming equality, the same affliction having, like the pillar that went before Israel, a light side towards God's people, and a dark side toward the Egyptians. God usually recom- pensing the outward evils of his people with more plentiful evidences of inward and spiritual joy. A good man may be in great darkness as well as a wicked man, but in that case he bath the name of God to stay himself upon, which no wicked man in the world hath, Isa. 1. 10. The metal and the dross go both into the fire together, but the dross is consumed, the metal refined. So is it with the godly and wicked in their sufferings, Zech. xiii. 9. Eccl. viii. 12, 13. This reproves the folly of those who in time of trouble rely upon vain things which cannot help them, and continue their sins still. For judgments make no difference ofany but penitent and impenitent ; sickness does not compliment with an honourable person, but uses him as coarsely as the base. Death knocks as well at a prince's palace as a poor man's cottage ; wise men die as well as fools. Yet poison usually works more violently when tempered with wine, than with some duller and baser material. In times of . trouble usually the greater the persons, the closer the judgments. When Jerusalem was taken, the nobles were slain, but the poor of the land had vineyards and fields given them, Jer. xxxix. 6. 10. Therefore, in troubles we should be more humbled for our sins than our sufferings, because sin is the sting of suffering. That mercies should not win us, that judgment should not awaken us, that the rod should speak, and we not hear, Mie. vi. 9. that the fire should burn, and we not feel, Isa. xlii. 25. that deso- lation should be threatened and we not be instructed,
ON HOSEA XIV. -VERSE 1, 2. 13 Jer. vi. 8. that the hand of God should be lifted up, and we not see it, Isa. xxvi. 11. that darkness should be upon us, and we not give glory to God, Jer. xiii. 16. This is that which should most deject us, that in mercies we have been wanton, and in judgments senseless. Get repentance by an affliction, and then you may look on it as traffic, and not as a trouble, like a merchant's voyage, which hath pain in the way, but treasure in the end. No afflictions can hurt him who is penitent. If thou escape, they will make thee the more thankful ; if not, they will bring thee the nearer and the sooner unto God. The way to be safe in times of trouble, is to get the blood of the lamb upon our doors, Exod. xii. 13. 23. All troubles have their commission and instructions from God, what to do, whither to go, whom to touch, whom to pass over. Be gold, and though the fire come upon you, you shall keep your nature and purity still. Godliness, saith the apostle, hath the promises of this life ; andamongst those one special one is, that we shall not be tempted above what we are able, 1 Cor. x. 13. neither are there indeed any distresses against which there is not a refuge and escapé for penitent sinners unto some promise or other. Against captivity : " When they be in the land of their enemies, I will not cast them away, nor abhor them," Lev. xxvi. 44. Against famine and pestilence : If I shut up heaven that there be no rain, or if I command the locust to devour the land, or if I send pestilence among my people. If my people which are called by my name, shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways ; then will I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land," 2 Chron. vii. 13, 14. Against sickness : " The Lord will strengthen him upon the bed of B
14 FIRST SERMON languishing, and make all his bed in his sickness," Psal. xli. 3. Against poverty : When the poor and needy seek water, and there is none, 1 the Lord will hear them," &c. Isa. xli. 17. Psal. lxviii. 10. Against want of friends : " When my father andmother forsake me, then the Lord will take me up," Psal. xxvii. 10. lxxii. 12. Against oppression and imprisonment : He " executeth judgment for the oppressed. The Lord looseth the prisoners," Psal. cxlvi. 7. Against " whatsoever plague or trouble," 1 Kings viii. 37 -39. He is the God of all consolation ; how disconsolate soever a man's condition is in any kind there cannot but be, within the compass of all consolation, some one remedy or other at hand to comfort and relieve him. In the invitation, we have the matter of it, and the motives to it : the matter is conversion ; without that, the hand which is lifted up in threatening will fall down in punishing, and where that is, God hath a book of remembrance for his jewels, when his wrath burneth as an oven against the stubble, Mal. iii. 16. But this conversion then must have two conditions in it. 1. It must be to the Lord : not merely philoso- phical, to some low and general dictates of reason, such as Aristotle, or Plato, or Epictetus, or Plutarch, or the like heathen moralists, could furnish us withal, without self - denial, lowliness of spirit, or faith in Christ ; nor merely political, to credit, or profit, or secular ends, or, as our prophet hath it, " for corn and for wine," Hos. vii. 16. as good be an empty vine, as bring forth fruit only to ourselves, Hos. x. 1. but it must be spiritual, unto the Lord. " If thou wilt return, O Israel, saith the Lord, return unto me," Jer. iv. 1. And not only to the Lord, for that may
ON HOSEA XIV. -VERSE 1, 2. 15 be done falsely, and flatteringly, with a halting and divided heart ; by the force of semi - persuasions, like that of Agrippa, and Orpah, complimenting with God, and then forsaking him ; by the force of compulsory impressions, like that of Pharaoh and Israel in the wilderness, promises on the rack, and pride when there was respite again, thawing in the sun, and freez- ing in the shade, melting in the furnace, and out of it returning unto hardness again, like the prophet's cake, burnt on the one side, and dough on the other ; but it must be, Hosea vii. 8. 2. A full, thorough, constant, continued conver- sion, with a whole, a fixed, a rooted, a united, an established heart, yielding up the whole conscience and conversation to be ruled by God's will in all things The motives to this duty are two : 1. His mercy ; he is yet thy God. No such argument for our turning unto God as his turning unto us. Adam looks on him as a judge, and hides ; the prodigal looks on him as a father, and returns. As the beam of the sun shining on fire discourages the burning of that, so the shining of God's mercies on us should dishearten and extinguish lust in us ; this is the use we should make of mercy. Say not, He is my God, therefore I may presume upon him ; but, He is mine, therefore I must return unto him. Because he is God, I will be afraid to provoke him ; and because he is mine, I will be afraid to forfeit him. He is so great, I must not dare to offend him ; he is so precious, I must not venture to lose him. His mercy is a holy mercy, which knows how to pardon sin, but not to protect it. It is a sanctuary for the penitent, not for the presump- tuous. 2. His judgment, and that expressed rather as our act than his, Thou hast fallen by thine iniquity. B2
16 FIRST SERMON If mercies do not work upon love, let judgments work upon fear. Extremities are a warrant unto importu- nities. Even heathen mariners in a storm will cry mightily upon God. When there is a deluge coming, is it not time for Noah to fear, and to prepare an ark ? Heb. xi. 7. What meanest thou, O thou sleeper, to lose the season and benefit of God's visitations ? when there is a tempest over the ship, heavy distresses, and distractions both at home and abroad, to be so secure in thy wonted impenitency, as if thou hadst had no sins to procure these judgments, or no sense to feel them ? as if there were agreements, and sealed cove- nants between thee and the sword, that it should not touch thee ? If thou be falling, is it not high time to consider thy ways ? to search and to judge thyself ? to have thine eyes, like the windows of Solomon's temple, broad inwards, to find out thine own provocations, and, as David speaks, to keep thyself from thine own iniquity ? Thus, when in one and the same time, mercies and judgments are intermixed, then is the most solemn season to call upon men for repentance. If we felt nothing but fears, they might make us despair ; if nothing but mercies, they would make us secure. If the whole year were summer, the sap of the earth would be exhausted ; if the whole were winter, it would be quite buried. The hammer breaks metal, and the fire melts it, and then you may cast it into any shape. Judgments break, mercies melt, and then, if ever, the soul is fit to be cast into God's mould. There is no figure in all the prophets more usual than this, to interweave mercies and judgments; to allure and to bring into a wilderness, Hos. ii. 14. And this of all other is the critical time of diseased people, wherein the chief conjuncture lieth, whether they are mending
ON HOSEA XIV. VERSE 1, 2. 17 or ending, according to the use which they make of such interwoven mercies. I have cursorily run over the first part of the con- text the invitation unto repentance, as intending to enlarge on the second, which is II. The instruction how to perform it. Therein we have, 1. A general instruction, " Take unto you words ;" 2. A particular form, what words they should take, or a petition drawn to their hands, " Take away all iniquity," &c. 1. A general instruction. Of this I shall speak but a little. It imports the serious pondering and choosing of requests to put up to God. The mother of Artaxerxes, in Plutarch, was wont to say, that they who would address themselves unto princes, must use silken words. Surely he that would approach unto God, must consider, and look as well to his words as to his feet. He is so holy and jealous of his worship, that he expects there should be preparation in our accesses unto him. Preparation of our persons by purity of life, Job xi. 13. Preparation of our services, by choice of matter, John ix. 31. Luke xv. 17, 18. Preparation of our hearts, by finding them out, stirring them up, fixing them, fetching them in, and calling together all that is within us, to prevail with God. The services which we thus prepare must be taken from him. They must not be the issues of our own private and fleshly hearts. For nothing can go to God, but that which comes from him ; and this phrase seems to import these three things. 1. We must attend unto his will, as the rule of our prayers. 2. We must attend unto his precepts and promises, as the matter of our prayers. 3. We must attend unto the guidance of his Holy Spirit, as the life and principle of our prayers, without which we know not what to ask. s3
18 FIRST SERMON And prayers thus regulated are most seasonable, and sovereign duties in times of trouble ; the key which opens a door of mercy, the sluice which keeps out an inundation of judgments. Jacob wrestled and obtained a blessing, Hos. xii. 4. Amos prayed, and removed a curse, Amos vii. 3. 7, 8. The woman of Canaan will not be denied with a denial, Matt. xv. 24. 27. The people of Israel will beg for deliverance, even then when God had positively told them, that he would deliver them no more, Judg. x. 13. 15. Jonah will venture a prayer from the bottom of the sea, when a double death had seized upon him, the belly of the deep, and the belly of the whale, and that prayer of his opened the doors of the leviathan, as the expression is, Job xli. 14. and made one of those deaths a deliverance from the other. O let the Lord's remembrancers give him no rest. There is a kind of omnipotence in prayer, as having an interest and prevalence with God's omnipotence. It hath loosed iron chains ; it hath opened iron gates ; it hath unlocked the windows of heaven ; it hath broken the bars of death. Satan hath three titles given him in the scripture, setting forth his malignity against the church of God. A dragon, to note his malice ; a serpent, to note his subtlety ; and a lion, to note his strength : but none of all these can stand before prayer. The greatest malice, the malice of Haman, sinks under the prayer of Esther ; the deepest policy, the counsel of Ahithophel, withers before the prayer of David ; the largest army, a host of a thousand thousand Ethiopians, run away like cowards before the prayer of Ma. How should this encourage us to treasure up our prayers ! to besiege the throne of grace with armies of supplications ! to refuse a denial ! to break through
ON HOSEA XIV.- -VERSE 1, 2. 19 a repulse ! God hath blessed those whom he did cripple ; he hath answered those whom he did reproach ; he hath delivered those whom he did deny ; and he is the same yesterday and to day. If he save in six and in seven troubles, should not we pray in six and seven extremities ? Certainly, in all the afflictions of the church, when prayers are strongest, mercies are nearest. And therefore let me humbly recommend, amongst all other pressing affairs, the providing that those solemn days, wherein the united prayers of this whole kingdom should with strongest importunities stop the breaches, and stand in the gaps of which judgments are ready to rush in upon us, may withmore obedience and solemnity be observed, than indeed of late they are. It is true, here, and in other cities, and populous places, there is perhaps less cause to complain. But who can without sorrow and shame behold in our country towns, men so unapprehensive either of their brethren's sufferings, or of their own sins and dangers, as to give God quite over, to let him rest, that they themselves may work, to come in truth to Jehoram's resolution, Why should they wait upon God any longer ? to grudge their brethren's and their own souls and safeties one day in thirty, and to tell all the world that indeed their day's work is of more value with them than their day's worship ; multitudes drudg- ing and moyling in the earth, while their brethren are mourning and besieging of Heaven. I do but name it, and proceed,-- - 2. To the particular form suggested unto them, according unto which their addresses unto God are to be regulated ; it consisted of two parts a prayer, and a promise. The prayer is for two benefits ; the one, removal of sin, the other conferring of good.
20 FIRST SERMON In the promise or re- stipulation we have first their covenant, wherein they promise two things ; 1. Thanksgiving for the hearing and answering of their prayers ; 2. A special care for the amendment of their lives : and, secondly, the ground of their con- fidence so to pray, and of their resolution so to pro- mise, "Because in thee the fatherless findeth mercy." My meditations will be confined within the first of these the prayer of the church in their fears and sufferings ; wherein I shall begin, in the prophet's order, . with their prayer against sin, " Take away all iniquity." The word signifies, 1. To expiate, and make atone- ment by a sacrifice. So the scape -goat (which was- a sign of Christ our sacrifice as risen and living again) is said to carry the sins of the people into the wilder- ness, Lev. xvi. 22. Thereby signifying Christ's . taking our sins from us, John i. 29. Heb. ix, 28. 2. To forgive, which in the court of mercy is the taking of sin away, Psal. xxxii. 1. 5. 3. To remove or take away by destroying. So it is used, Hos. i. 6. Job xxxii. 22. and is sometimes used to express burning, 2 Sam. v. 21. Nahum i. 5. sin is said to be destroyed, Rom. vi. 6. to be subdued, Mic. vii. 19. to be purged away with the spirit of judgment and burning, Isa.. iv. 4. The meaning then is; Take away all our sins from us, lay them upon Christ our sacrifice ; for his merit pardon them, by his grace destroy and subdue them, that so the root of judgments being removed, they likewise may therewithal be removed too. From hence the observation , which I shall insist upon is this : When God threateneth judgments, we in our con- version unto him should pray against sins. Our eye of sorrow should be more upon that which disho- nours him, than upon that which afflicts ourselves
ON HOSEA XIV. -VERSE 1, 2. 21 more upon that which is contrary to his image, than upon that which is contrary to our own nature ; more upon that which defiles, than upon that which pains us. Pharaoh cares for nothing but the removal of death : Simon Magus for nothing but to have perdition and the gall of bitterness kept from him. But good men, like wise physicians, cure the disease at the root, as Elisha did the waters by putting salt into the spring head. The angel was smiting the people with a plague ; David betakes himself to the right remedy, I have sinned, I have done wickedly : he goes not to the physicians, but to the altar to make atonement for sin ; and so the plague was stayed. Destruction was threatened against Israel for their calf, their mur- murings, their rebellions ; Moses stands in the gap to divert it. But how doth he do it ? surely by praying against their sins ; O this people have sinned a great sin, O that thou wouldest forgive them ! Exod.xxxii. 31. A sick man was brought to Christ to be healed, Matt. ix. 2 ; Christ overlooks the disease, and begins at the sin : Son, be of good cheer, thy sins are forgiven thee : and this being forgiven, the malignity of the disease was removed, though the matter should have remained. This was the usual method of David in his troubles, to throw over these Shebas that had wrought his woe ; Blot out, wash thoroughly, cleanse, create, renew. He is far more importunate for pardon and cleansing, than for ease and comfort. Complaining in trouble is the work of a man, but repenting is the work of a christian. The reasons of this point are these three : 1. If a judgment should be removed, while sin re- mains, it is not removed in mercy, but in anger : for many times God gives over punishing in displeasure; as a man throws away the rod when his scholar is
22 FIRST SERMON incorrigible. " Why should you be smitten any more ? you will revolt more and more," Isa. i. 5. If men be settled on their lees, and will not be reclaimed, there cannot a heavier punishment light upon them, than to be without punishment; to be left to themselves and the fury of their own wills, speedily to work out their own perdition, that their own pleasures may become their plagues, and the liberty of their own . lusts their sorest bondage. God may take away in wrath that which he sent in anger, Hos. xiii. 11. as on the other side he may punish sin then when he for - giveth it, and may visit iniquity with rods then when he will " not utterly take away his loving kindness from a people," Psal. xcix. 8. lxxxix. 32, 33. 2. If a judgment be removed, so long as sin re- mains, either the same or a worse is likely to succeed, for God will overcome when he judgeth. Pharaoh's stubbornness did but increase his plagues. God will not endure that the pride of man should outvie his justice. If we do not take Christ's warning_ to go and sin no more, we have great cause to fear his inference, that " a worse thing will come upon us," John v. 14. If we do yet exalt ourselves, God will yet plead with us. If we will walk contrary unto him, he threateneth to do the like unto us, and to punish us seven times more for our sins. If we do not turn unto him that smiteth us, then his anger in smiting shall not be turned away, but his hand shall be stretched out still. God can bring clouds after rain, distresses in Ireland after distractions in Scotland, and distrac- tions in England after distresses in Ireland, mischief upon mischief, and counsel against counsel, Manasseh against Ephraim, and Ephraim against Manasseh, to vex, and weary out a sinful people, till they pine away in their calamities.
ON HOSEA XIV.- -VERSE 1, 2. 23 3. Sin being removed, though the afflictions should not be removed, yet they are sanctified and turned into good. Repentance, like the philosopher's stone, can turn iron into gold, can make golden afflictions : so the trial of our faith, that is, our affliction, is said to be " more precious than gold," 1 Pet. i. 7. Whereas sin remaining is like copperas which will turn wine or milk into ink. It converts the blessing of God into the provisions of lusts. It cankers learning with pride, and wit with profaneness, and wealth with luxury ; like leaven which turns a very passover into pollution, 1 Cor. v. 8. As the pearl, which is an ornament to the woman who wears it, is a disease to the fish which breeds it ; as the same perfume which refreshes a dove, is mortal to a vulture ; as the same pillar and cloud was light to Israel, but dark to Egypt ; the same deep was a path to Israel, but a grave to Egypt : so the same blessings which by grace are converted into comforts, by sin are abused into dishonourable services. Sweet powders can make leather an ornament, when the sanies (corrupt matter) of a plague -sore will render a robe infectious. As it was said of Naaman, he was a great man, an honourable man, a mighty man of war, but he was a leper : so whatever other ornaments a man hath, sin stains them with the foulest " but" that can be brought to deprave the fairest endowments ; a learned man, a wealthy man, a wise man, an honourable man, but a wicked man. This makes all those other good things tributary unto Satan. And therefore, as the gold and silver of the Canaan - ites was to pass through the fire before it could be used by Israel, so all other blessings bestowed on men must pass through the spirit of judgment and burning, through the purifying waters of repentance,
24 FIRST SERMON before tney can bring honour to the author, or comfort to the enjoyer of them. When Christ overcometh Satan, " he taketh from him all his armour, and divideth the spoils," Luke xi. 22. How doth he divide the spoils ? surely he maketh use of that wit, wealth, power, learning, wisdom, interests, which Satan used against Christ's kingdom, as instruments and ornaments unto the gospel. As when a magazine in war is taken, the general makes use of those arms which were provided against him for his own service. And as sin doth thus corrupt blessings, so on the other side repentance doth sweeten judgments, and can turn afflictions into matter of comfort. Repentance, though it should not remove a judgment, yet can feed upon it ; and fetch meat out of the eater, and out of the strong sweetness. There are two evils in afflictions their thorns in the flesh, as they are matter of pain, and their snare to . the conscience, as they are matter of temptation ; as there are two things in a chain or fetter the heaviness whereby it loads, and the hardness whereby it galls. Now a prisoner, though he cannot make his chain lighter than it is, yet by lining it with wool or other soft things, he can prevent the galling ; so repentance, though it take not away the pain of affliction from the flesh, yet by meekening and humbling the soul, with silence and quietness to bear the indignation of the Lord, and accept of the punishment of sin, it removeth the temptation and malignity of it from the conscience. And thus as Protagoras by his natural dexterity ordered the burden which he was to bear with more ease and advantage, so piety by spiritual prudence makes judgments more easy to be borne ; and the light yoke of Christ, as floats in a deep water, bears up the spirits of men from sinking, and lighteneth every
ON HOSEA XIV.- VERSE 1, 2. 25 other burden. And therefore as he in Plutarch said of the Scythians, that though they had no music nor vines amongst them, yet they had gods ; so whatever other things may be wanting to a people, yet if God be their God, they are not destitute of any happiness. Yea, as those roses usually smell sweetest which grow nearest unto stinking weeds, so the comforts of God's Spirit are strongest when a man is otherwise perplexed with the greater difficulties. It was promised unto Josiah that he should die in peace, 2 Chron. xxxiv. 28. and yet we find that he was slain in war, chap. xxxv. 24. His weeping and humiliation altered the very nature of trouble, and macle war to be peace unto him. Now for the use and application of this point. It serves, first to instruct us how to deprecate calamities when God shaketh his rod over u2. There is nothing in all the world that God is angry with but sin : for all other things are his own works, in the goodness of which he rested with singular complacency and delight. Sin is that against which God's arrows are directed ; and as the arrow sticks in the butt unto which the mark is fastened, so the judgments which are shot at sin, must needs light upon us unto whom sin cleaveth. The way then to divert the arrow is to remove the mark. It is true, God doth sometimes bring afflic- tions without respect to the provocations of sin, upon his best servants. As if a man should shape out of a mass of gold some excellent vessel, though the gold be ever so pure, yet it must pass through the fire and under the hammer. But it is certain too, that no affliction comes in anger but with respect to sin ; and the anger of God is the bitterest thing in any calamity. Now for this turning from sin, there is no way but to get sin removed. Take the bark from a tree, and c
26 FIRST SERMON the sap can never find way to the boughs : sin is the vehicle which carries shame and sorrow to the soul ; take away that, and a judgment bath no commission: You may find an error in it, if you be not the same men that you were when it issued forth, for God shoots no arrows to hurt the body of his Son. It is true, Job complains that " God's arrows did stick in him," Job vi. 4. But these were not for destruction, but for trial ; as men shoot bullets against armour of proof, not to hurt it, but to praise it. Job in this case was brought forth, not as a malefactor to suffer, but as a champion to triumph. Let a man take what course he can to keep off God's judgments, and hide himself in the closest protection that human power or policy can contrive, so long as he keeps his sin with him, God's arrows will get through at one joint or other. A naked man with innocence, is better armed than Goliath in brass or iron. We are apt in our distresses to howl and repine, to gnaw our tongues, and tear our flesh in the anguish of our sufferings. Like the silly hart, which runs mourning and bleeding, but never thinks of getting out the fatal dart which sticks in his side. We look upward to see whether help will drop into our mouths ; and we look downward, to see whether human suc- cours will avail us. But we look, not inward, to find out the plague of our own hearts, that we may be rid of that. And till this be done, sin doth as naturally draw and suck judgments to it, as the loadstone loth iron, or turpentine fire. Whence comes it that our distractions remain unremoved ? Certainly our leaks are not stopped, our sins are not thrown away, we labour at the pump to get the water out, but we do not take care to cure the passage at which it enters in ; we are old bottles still, and God will not put new
ON HOSEA XIV.- VERSE 1, 2. 27 wine into old bottles. If men would spend their murmurings and reproaches rather upon their sins than upon their physicians, the work would be sooner done. When the temple of God was to be rebuilt, and a public restitution of the face of things .unto glory and splendour . was in agitation, the prophets call upon God's people in special then to repent. Im- penitence puts obstructions to God's mercy, and to all noble enterprises. So long as our lives are as bad as before, how can we expect that our condition should be better ? in that case mercies themselves become no mercies : as in the case of repentance, judgments would 'be no judgments. If we turn from our evil ways, God hath engaged himself by a solemn promise, that " he will do us no harm," Jer. xxv. 6. Other - wise, to busy ourselves in outward ceremonies of re- pentance, bodily fasting, and verbal praying, is indeed but to flatter God, and, if we could, to deceive him. And God will answer such men not according to the prayer of their lips, but according to the " idol of their hearts," Ezek. xiv. 4, 5. Further : this teaches us how to pray against sin. It must be against all, and in all respects. In the Hebrew text there is an unusual kind of transposition of the words. The word " all" is first. Methinks it doth intimate an intentness of the church upon that point, to have, if it were possible, all taken away at the very first. If there be one leak in a ship, one gap in a wall, one gate in a city unprovided for, it is enough to sink a ship, to drown a country, to betray a city. One little boy thrust in at a window, can unlock the door for all the rest of the thieves. It was but one Jonah that raised a tempest, but one Achan; that troubled a camp, and one sin generally unrepented of, were enough to undo a kingdom. Do not say it cZ
26 FIRST SERMON is a little one, and my soul shall live. Even the philosopher tells us, that sometimes the very smallest error proves most dangerous. How little soever it be in its own nature, it becomes heinous by the allow- ance. It is as much treason for a private man to coin silver as gold pieces, because the royal authority is as much violated by the one as the other. This then we must first and principally remember to set ourselves against all sin. In confession none to be dissembled, in supplication none to be excepted, in conversion none to be reserved : never give over so long as any is left. O Lord, yet it works, yet it lives, yet it tempts, yet it pains me. Sin bath not done accusing me, let not thy mercy have done forgiving sin. Sin hath not done rebelling in me, let not thy grace have done subduing sin. When men kill snakes or vipers, so long as they see them pant, or offer to thrust out a sting, they strike them still. Sin, like the thief on the cross, when it is fast nailed and kept from its old tyranny, yet will, as much as it can, revile, and spit out venom upon Christ. 0 therefore give it not over, break the legs ofit, crucify -it clean through, till it be quite dead. None can pray or turn unto God in truth, or hope to be delivered from judgments in mercy, so long as he holds fast any known sin. Can any man look to receive benefit by the blood of Christ, who hugs the villain that shed it ? is it not treason knowingly to harbour and enter- tain a traitor ? Whosoever laves and holds fast sin, lies unto God in every prayer that he makes. This serves to prove and humble us for our hypo - crisy and halvings with God, in our conversions from sin, and confessions of it; we are willing to pray for the pardon of them all, we would have none hurt us, but when it comes to parting, and taking all away,
ON HOSEA XIV.- VERSE 1, 2. 29 this we cannot away with. Some are fat, delicate, golden sins, we would fain spare these, as Saul did Agag, and hide them, as Achan did his wedge. Herod hears John gladly in many things, but if he restrain him of his Herodias, he must expect to be himself restrained. Agrippa will be almost a christian, but " altogether" may chance bring a chain with it ! Jehu will down with Baal and his priests, but he knows not how to part with his calves, lest he venture his kingdom. Policy is ever entering caveats against piety. Thus men huckster, and stand upon abate- ments with Christ in the bargain of salvation, not considering that the purchase of heaven is like the buying of the Sybil's prophecy, the longer we stand off, the dearer it will cost us every day ; the more tears, the harder repentance, the deeper sorrow, the stronger cries. These men know not the price of a soul, nor the worth of a Saviour. O if Christ should have served us so in dying for sin, as many of us do serve him in turning from sin, what a condition had our souls been in ! If he had died for some sins, and not for others ; if he had been unwilling to save us to the uttermost, as we are to serve him to the uttermost ; if he should have stopt before he came to consummalum est,* and left any one drop of that bitter cup for us to drink after him, would it not have " caused our belly to swell, and our thigh to rot," Numb. v. 21. and made us for ever inca- pable of any other mercy than only a less damnation ? Well, beloved, Christ expecteth, that as he died for all sin, so we should die to all : he will be counted worthy of all acceptation, before he will bestow him - s "lf ; he will not suffer his blood and his mercy to * It is finished, John xix. 30. c3
30 FIRST SERMON mingle with sin, or to . be a protection to it : he cannot endure mingling of the holy seed with the profane : swearing by God, and swearing by Malcham : Samaritan services, to be for the Lord in one thing, and for the world and flesh in another; one step straight, and another crooked ; one speech Ashdod, and another Canaan to let our conversation be yea and nay, a mongrel service ; in this I will do as you bid me, but in that I will not ; like the Jews that would buy Christ's blood with money, but would not take the money into the treasury ; they were fearful to defile their chests, but not to defile their consciences. This Christ cannot away with. It is dangerous to say with the pharisee, This I am not, and that I am not ; or with the young man, This and that I have done, and in the mean time to have one thing lacking, to llave one door locked up still to keep Christ and salvation from us : whosoever keeps a covetous heart for the world, or a sensual heart for the flesh, or a proud heart for the devil, is unworthy of heaven by his own election, and would not go in thither if the door were wide open : he would not find there any fuel for these his lusts, not any Nabal, or Cozbi, or Diotrephes to converse withal. And surely, he that doth any one wickedness with allowance, in God's construction, is habitually guilty of all, James ii. 10. Luke xvi. 10. Ezek. xviii. 10. 13. Therefore, in this case, as Samuel said to Jesse, Are here all thy children? If any be left, we will not sit down till he come. So we must conceive in our con- fessions and renunciations of sin, that Christ asketh us, Are here all ? if any be reserved, I will not take possession till that be cast out : there must not an hoof be left in Egypt, if God is to be served. God's law, as well as man's, disallows inmates in the same
ON HOSEA XIV. -VERSE 1, 2. 31 house ; he will not endure a divided heart, he is heir of all things, there lies no writ of partition in his inheritance, his title is so good that he will never yield to a composition ; he will have all the heart or none. Again : we should therefore be exhorted (in time of trouble especially) to set about this great work, to fall foul upon our sins, to complain against them to God, as the Achans that trouble Israel, as the corrupters and betrayers of our peace, to set ourselves in God's sight, and not to dare to lie unto his Holy Spirit, by falseness or hypocrisy ; as if we could reserve any one sin unmortified which he should not know of. But being in his sight to whom all things are naked and open, to deal in all sincerity, and to hate sin even as he hates it. There are five notable duties which these words, " Take away all iniquity," lead us unto. The first is, sense of sin, as of a heavy burden, as the prophet David calls it, Psal. xxxviii. 4. Such sense our Saviour requires in true penitents, " Come unto me all ye that are weary and heavy laden," Matt. xi. 28. To conceive them heavier than a millstone, Luke xvii. 2. than the weight of a mountain, Luke xxiii. 30. Oh what apprehension had St. Peter's con- verts of sin, when they felt the nails wherewith they had crucified Christ sticking fast in their own hearts, and piercing their spirits with torment and horror ! Acts ii. 37. Oh what apprehensions had the poor jailer of his sins, when he came as a prisoner before his own prisoners, springing in with monstrous amazement, and consternation of spirit, beseeching them to tell him " what he should do !" Acts xvi. 23. 30. Consider it in its nature ; a universal bruise and sickness, like those diseases which physicians say are
32 FIRST SERMON a corruption of the whole substance, from head to foot, Isa. i. 5, 6. And who doth not feel such a universal languor to be a heavy burden ? for a man that must needs labour, to have weights hung at his hands ; that must needs walk, to have clogs fastened to his feet, how can he avoid crying out with the apostle, " wretched man that I am, who shall deliver me ?" Rom. vii. 24. Consider it in the curse that belongs unto it. A roll written within and without with curses. Look outward, and behold a curse in the creature ; vanity, emptiness, vexation, disappointments, every creature armed with a sting, to revenge its Maker's quarrel. Look inward, and behold a curse in the conscience ; accusing, witnessing, condemning, haling to the tribunal of vengeance ; first defiling with the allowance, and after terrifying with the remembrance, of sin. Look upward, and behold a curse in the heavens ; the wrath of God revealed from thence upon all un- righteousness. Look downward, and behold a curse in the earth ; death ready to put a period to all the pleasures of sin, and like a trap -door to let down into hell, where nothing of sin will remain, but the worm and the. fire. Look into the scriptures, and see the curse there described : an everlasting banishment from the glory of God's presence : an everlasting destruction by the glory of his power, 2 Thes. i. 9. The Lord showing the jealousy of his justice, the unsearchableness of his severity, the inconceivableness of his strength, the bottomless guilt and malignity of sin, in the everlast- ing destruction of ungodly men, and in the everlasting preserving of them to feel that destruction. Who knoweth the power of thy anger ?" saith Moses; "evenallisonlibrary.regent-college.edu