« AnteriorContinua »
proof is brutish. A scorner seeks wisdom and finds it not; but knowledge is easy to him who is disposed to understand.
To depart from evil is understanding. Immediately renounce every known iniquity, and guard against the temptations to repeat it. If you think of setting out in the way of wisdom, the first step is to turn from the way of folly. Lay aside every weight-every sin which besets you, and run with patience the race set before you.
In a word; devote yourselves entirely to God; yield yourselves to him without reserve and without delay-serve him with a perfect heart, and a willing mind. "The Lord searcheth all hearts, and knoweth all the imaginations of the thoughts. If you seek him, he will be found of you; but if you for. sake him, he will cast you off forever."
JEREMIAH xxxi, 18.
Thou hast chastised me, and I was chastised as a bullock unaccustomed to the yoke: Turn thou me, and I shall be turned; for thou art the Lord my God.
THE prophet in the example of Ephraim,
describes the exercises of a penitent heart under a conviction of sin; and he represents God's gracious acceptance of the prayers of penitents in his attention to Ephraim's prayer.
God is here introduced as saying, "I have surely heard Ephraim bemoaning himself thus, "Thou hast chastised me, and I was chastised as a bullock unaccustomed to the yoke." God sees the returning sinner, when he is a great way off, and hears his penitential complaints before they are uttered.When David said, "I will confess my transgressions unto thee," God forgave the iniquity of his
I. You here observe, first, What Ephraim chiefly bemoaned was his long impenitence under the means used for his reformation.
The sinner awakened to a view of his guilt, laments his sins particularly, so far as he can recollect them; and for his secret iniquities, those which he has forgotten, or never observed, he exercises a general repentance, adopting the language of David, "Who can understand his errors? Cleanse thou me from secret faults."
For secret faults David supposed a general repentance would be accepted. must distinguish, however, between sins, which we cannot, and sins which we will not remember. The former can be confessed only in general; the latter must be recollected and confessed particularly. The penitent cannot call to mind all his acts of sin--all his evil thoughts-all his corrupt affections and irregular motions : But he can remember the several kinds of sin, which he has practised and habitually indulged. The profane person for instance, cannot recollect all his impious speeches; nor the intemperate man, all his excesses; but the former may know, that he has been profane; and the latter, that he has been intemperate. And every sinner, in order to obtain pardon, must distinctly repent of all his sinful ways; but for those particular steps, which are not, and cannot be within his recollection, a general repentance is all that can be exercised; and this will doubtless be accepted.
What the penitent most deeply laments is his obstinate continuance in sin under all the methods, which God has taken to reclaim him. He says with Ephraim, "Thou hast chastised me; and I was chastised as a bullock unaccustomed to the yoke." I have been impatient under thy corrections, and perverse under thy restraints. I have increased in my obstinacy under the means used for my repentance.
In the examination of his heart and life, he sees, that his sins are innumerable. He says with David,
"My iniquities have taken hold on me, so that I am not able to look up. They are more than the hairs of my head, therefore my heart faileth me." But his past impenitence is the most aggravating circumstance in his guilt, and the most painful circumstance in his recollection. This is disobedience continued; and rebellion repeated and justified: It is enmity to God retained in the heart, and opposition to him renewed in practice. One wilful transgression deserves death; more awful is the demerit of many trangressions; more dreadful still the guilt of all these daily repeated, and repeated without regret. In the contemplation of this guilt, the awakened sinner sits down astonished. The language of former penitents is the language of penitents still. "We are ashamed and blush to lift up our faces to thee, our God; for our iniquities have increased over our head, and our trespass is grown up to the heavens. Since the days of our fathers have we been in great trespass unto this day. We are confounded, because we bear the reproach of our youth. Remember not against us the sins of our youth; remember us for thy goodness sake, O Lord."
You see the madness of delaying your repentance. This delay is not only a continuance in sin, but itself a sin, which, without a distinct repentance, can. not be pardoned. To delay a present, with the intention of a future repentance, is to do that which you know to be utterly unreasonable, and extremely dangerous, and which you hope, you shall remember with remorse, and shall wish you had never done. It is to continue in sin with a deliberate purpose to condemn this presumption. What inconsistency; what infatuation is here? Your only wisdom is to resolve immediately, that you will not offend any
more. VOL. IV.
II. Our text teaches us, that a sinner, under a conviction of his guilt, laments his past abuse of the means used for his recovery. He says with repenting Ephraim, "I was chastised as a bullock unaccustomed to the yoke."
He reflects on the calls given him from the word of revelation. In this his guilt and danger have been represented; his hope and happiness exhibited; the terms of salvation stated; and his compliance with them urged. He wonders, that he could treat these things with indifference and neglect. He feels the weight of them, now and is astonished that he ever could make light of them.
He recollects the admonitions of God's providence. He has seen many cut down in the midst of their days; and some by a sudden stroke, and in an unexpected hour. He has accompanied to the grave some of his intimate friends; and some perhaps, who have been his associates in wickedness. Yea, it may be, he himself has been brought near to the gates of death, and again sent back into life. But the serious sentiments awakened in him by these providences have soon languished, and the resolutions excited by them have been forgotten. He wonders, that he was no more affected by them, when they were present, and no more influenced by them, after they were past.
He thinks on those seasons, when the Spirit of God strove with him; and he condemns his neglect of such favorable opportunities. He wonders at his past perverseness in rejecting, and at God's present mercy in renewing so great a blessing.
These are reflections, which wound the heart of a humble penitent.
You see then, the importance of an immediate attention to the means, which God is using with you. That the gospel is true, and its contents important,