Reynolds - BX5133.R42 S4 1831

ON HOSEA XIV.- -VERSE I ,2. 53 for themselves ; and this he proves by their behaviour after their return. If you had indeed sought me, you would have remembered the words of the prophets, when Jerusalem was inhabited before, and being re- turned, would now have put them to practice. But Jerusalem inhabited after the captivity, is too much like Jerusalem inhabited before the captivity ; so that from hence it appears, that all their weeping and separating was not for pious, but politic reasons, Zech. vii. 5, 6. And there is nothing under heaven more hateful, or more reproachful unto God, than to make religion serve turns, to have piety lackey and dance attend- ance, and be a drudge and groom to private ends, to make it a cloak to policy, a varnish to rotten wood, silver dross to a broken potsherd. O then, when we weep and . separate ourselves, let us not then think to mock God with empty ceremonies of repentance ; let us not assemble ourselves only to flatter away the rod from our back, and to get peace and security to our own persons, and then let the favour of God, the power of his grace, the comforts of his Spirit be unregarded as before ; as if we fasted and prayed only for our backs and bellies, not for our consciences or conversations ; for be we well assured, he who doth not ask the things which he ought, shall not obtain the things which he asks ; such a prayer begs nothing but a denial. We have now on many fasts prayed for making up our breaches. These prayers we have not found yet re- turn like Noah's dove, with an olive branch, a gracious answer unto us again. What is the reason ? Where is the obstruction ? Is not he a God that heareth prayers ? Is it not his title ? Doth he not glory in it ? Certainly mercies stop not at God, but at us. We are not straitened in him,_ but in our own bowels -- E3