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The subject of reproof is continued through this Chapter. But it is mingled with mercy. Here are many blessed marks to show that the Lord had mercy in reserve for his people.
The mercy of God here spoken of cannot be considered as intended only, and not executed, but rather the words should be read, when I had healed Israel. For Christ the Almighty healer had been set up, as the lamb slain from everlasting. And it appears to me by the expression, as a beautiful instance of the freeness, and greatness of sovereign grace, that the remedy for sin went before the disease. And certain it is, that the fall of man, as is here said of Ephraim's iniquity, becomes more discovered in the prevenient grace and mercy which the Lord had provided against it. What Paul said of himself, in respect of his ignorance of sin, but by the law, is equally true of our discovery, through God the Holy Ghost, of our fallen state, by beholding the previous provision made for our recovery by the Lord Jesus Christ. See Romans 7:7 .
I include all these verses under one view; for they are all to the same amount. They represent the same melancholy truth, only by different figures. The heart of man ready like an oven, always heated; is a similitude to display the unceasing bias of it to evil. All the other wombs of nature wear out by bringing forth. The earth itself, if not replenished, will at length become barren. The parents of every species are prolific no longer than within certain boundaries. And both must concur, during that period, to produce the like. But the human heart in the oldest age ceaseth not the sending forth sin. This is a womb that is never barren. It needeth no other parent than itself; neither tempting devil nor enticing world, (though both too often work with it) to bring forth its inbred, indwelling sins, into being. To use the figure of the Prophet; the heart is like the baker's oven, which burneth all the night while he sleepeth, and in the morning it is ready to his hand; so our hearts are always heated by the sin that dwelleth there, and which, unless restrained by grace, breaks out of itself into evil! Reader! think how infinitely precious Jesus ought to be, and indeed is, when once the Holy Ghost hath convinced of sin, and taught to you, or to me, the same lesson as he taught Paul, when he said, I know that in me, that is, in my flesh dwelleth no good thing. Romans 7:18 .
We have here a continuation of the same subject, namely, the Lord's remonstrance with Israel. But I pray the Reader to observe, how many sweet and gracious expressions of our God are mingled with his complaints. The Lord points out indeed their unworthiness and rebellion; but he speaks of his punishments of the people as in mercy. Hence he calls these bringings down as chastisements. He saith, I have redeemed them, notwithstanding their lies. He bound and strengthened their arms, though they imagined mischief against the Lord. Surely there is a great deal of gospel in all this, and, evident proofs, that amidst all his people's forgetfulness of the Lord, the Lord hath not forgot his covenant faithfulness, nor the promises of his grace, which he had made to a thousand generations. Psalms 105:8 . Reader! what a mercy it is, that we have a covenant God and Father in Christ to look to, and to trust in, who though we deny him, yet he abideth faithful, he will not deny himself. 2 Timothy 2:13 .
READER! let this Chapter, as many other Chapters of the same nature and doctrine are highly calculated for, lead your heart and mine, under the teachings and influences of God the Holy Ghost, to take a double view, and in one and the same moment, behold the corrupt and fallen state of man, and the infinite grace and goodness of God. I do not say, that the Lord took occasion from man's misery to magnify the exceeding riches of his grace in providing salvation; for His love was before our misery; and his covenant grace in Christ existed before all worlds. But I may say, that in every instance of divine favor the Lord doth make the glory of his grace to shine towards his redeemed; and where sin aboundeth, grace doth much more abound, that as sin hath reigned unto death, so might grace reign through righteousness, unto eternal life, by Jesus Christ our Lord!
Reader! when you and I look into ourselves, what do we see but evil, and that continually? When now the Lord hath healed us in Jesus, how is our iniquity discovered? Our hearts are always ready to the lust of evil, like the baker's oven! How have we, like Ephraim, mixed ourselves with the heathen, and learned their works? And though we return, yet how often is it deceitfully, and not to the Most High! is it not so? Think then, how gracious, long suffering, and slow to anger, the Lord is? Gracious Lord Jesus! how shall we ever rightly and fully value the infinitely precious and costly sacrifice of thy blood and righteousness? How indeed shall creatures such as we are, rightly value what our utmost conceptions cannot fathom, or comprehend? Oh! for grace, to have some glimpses of those infinite dimensions of Almighty love, in all its heights, and depths, and breadths, and lengths, which passeth knowledge! Oh! to behold thee, thou blessed Lamb of God, in thy unceasing worthiness before the throne; and never, never to forget that thy blood speaketh more for thy boughten ones, than all their sins speak against them. Yea, dearest Lord, do thou enable me to cherish the sweet thought in my soul day by day; that a sense of the remains of indwelling sin in my nature, may not overwhelm me in despair; that thou art still appearing as a Lamb that hath been slain, in the presence of God for thy people, and canst, and wilt save to the uttermost all that come to God by thee, seeing that thou ever livest to make intercession for them. Amen.
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Hawker, Robert, D.D. "Commentary on Hosea 7". "Hawker's Poor Man's Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/
the Week of Proper 20 / Ordinary 25