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THE DANGER OF FALSE CONFIDENCE
Hosea 8:2-28.8.3. Israel shall cry unto me, My God, we know thee. Israel hath cast off the thing that is good: the enemy shall pursue him.
THERE is not a more intimate connexion between any two things than between sin and misery. However specious an appearance any hypocrite may make in the world, God, who sees his heart, will sooner or later expose and punish his hypocrisy. The Israelites on different occasions professed to repent, and to return to God: but they were “as a deceitful bow,” that effected not the purpose for which it seemed to be bent: on which account God commanded the prophet to “set the trumpet to his mouth,” and to proclaim their speedy destruction. The prophet’s testimony is then confirmed by God himself in the words before us: in which we may see,
The vain confidence of the ungodly—
All men have, to a certain extent, the very confidence expressed in my text. As amongst the Jews, so amongst ourselves, the grounds of that confidence are diverse, whilst the confidence itself is the same.
[Some found it on their bearing of the Christian name. They have been born of Christian parents, and educated in a Christian country, and therefore they account themselves children of the Most High; exactly as the Jews claimed to be the children of God, because they were descended from the stock of Abraham, and had been admitted into covenant with God by circumcision. Hence we find them confidently asserting that “God was their Father [Note: John 8:33; John 8:39-43.8.41.].”
Others found it on their belonging to a peculiar Church. As the Jews said of themselves, “The temple of the Lord, the temple of the Lord, the temple of the Lord are these [Note: Jeremiah 7:4.],” so persons belonging to the Church of England esteem themselves especially favoured of the Lord on that account, whilst all the various classes of dissenters arrogate to themselves the same high privilege, as arising out of their separation from the Established Church, and the imagined superiority of their respective advantages for spiritual instruction.
Others found their confidence on their moral conduct, and their regular observance of all the external duties of religion. But like the Pharisees of old, whilst their regular deportment makes them objects of admiration to those around them, they shew by their whole conduct that they have only “the form of godliness without any of its power.” Yet do they value themselves as standing high in the favour of God, and would be filled with indignation if their acceptance with him were questioned, or their state before him made even for a moment a subject of doubt.
Others again found their confidence on their having embraced the principles of the Gospel, and professed themselves in a more peculiar manner the followers of Christ. These are apt to consider themselves as lights shining in a dark world [Note: Psalms 78:34-19.78.37.] — — — and, with more than ordinary boldness, will adopt as their own appropriate and distinctive privilege that assertion of the ancient Church, “My Beloved is mine, and I am his.” Now I am far from saying that none are entitled to express this confidence; for I know that it is the Christian’s privilege to possess it, and to “hold it fast even to the end.” But it is far too easily adopted, and too generally entertained. For thousands who “call God their Rock, and the Most High God their Redeemer, do, in fact, only flatter him with their mouths, and lie unto him with their tongues [Note: Matthew 7:21-40.7.23.]:”and many of the most confident among them will meet with that repulse in the last day, “Depart from me; I never knew you, ye workers of iniquity [Note: See Isaiah 58:2.].”]
Seeing, then, that there are so many who indulge a vain confidence before God, let me declare to you,
The disappointment that awaits them—
Whatever have been the erroneous standards which men have adopted for themselves, there is one, and one only, by which they shall be tried in the last day; and that is, the word of God.
Accordingly God casts in the teeth of self-deceivers their violations of his word—
[The Jews, as Jews, were bound to walk according to God’s law. But they had “cast off their allegiance to God, transgressing his covenant, and setting at nought his commandments [Note: ver. 1].” And this is the very state of us Christians. What a covenant has God made with us in Christ Jesus, “a covenant ordered in all things and sure,” and comprehending our every want, both in time and eternity! In this covenant we have the remission of all our sins accorded to us freely for Christ’s sake, and all needful supplies of the Holy Spirit, for the sanctification of our souls, yea, and eternal glory also vouchsafed to us as the purchase of the Redeemer’s blood. But how little have we regarded this covenant, or sought an interest in it! In fact, “we have rather trodden under foot the Son of God by our continuance in sin, and counted the blood of the covenant wherewith he was sanctified an unholy thing, and have done despite to the Spirit of his grace [Note: Hebrews 10:29.].” And, as for the laws either of the first or second table, we have never made them the rule of our conduct, or even desired to conform to them any further than suited our own interest or convenience. In our baptism indeed we engaged to walk according to the revealed will of God; but in our whole lives we have rebelled against him, and “cast off the thing that was good.”]
What then can we expect at God’s hands?
[He told the hypocritical Jews that “their Assyrian enemies should pursue them.” True, the Assyrians thought only of gratifying their own ambition; but they were a sword in God’s hand to “avenge the quarrel of his covenant:” and they did fearfully execute on these transgressors the Divine judgments.
And has not God instruments at hand to inflict punishment on us? See the perturbed state of Europe at this moment [Note: Of France and Belgium more particularly, May 1831.],” and see how we ourselves are approximating towards it. The outrages and conflagrations which have recently pervaded our land will have been as nothing in comparison of what we may soon behold, if God give us up to that anarchical spirit which now threatens to bear down all before it — — — Truly the occasional prayers which have for some time been in use amongst us by the appointment of our ecclesiastical superiors, may yet well be continued amongst us, for the averting of those judgments which we have so justly merited.
Amongst the professors of religion, too, there is a spirit not unlike to that which prevails in the ungodly world, a spirit of unhumbled inquiry, and of dogmatical assertion, tending only to divide the Church of God, and to diffuse uncharitable feelings amongst those who ought to “love one another with a pure heart fervently.” To what that also may grow, God alone knows. But it is a sad scandal to the Church of God, and can be pleasing to none but Satan, the author and abettor of all evil.
But there are other enemies that may pursue both the world and the Church of God: for most assuredly the wrath of God shall follow and overtake sin, whether it be found in the openly profane, or in the professors of the Gospel of Christ. “The sin of every man,” whoever he may be, shall assuredly, in due season “find him out.” A man’s profession may have raised the admiration of all around him: but if it prove at last unsound, he shall sink the deeper into irremediable shame and misery [Note: Job 20:4-18.20.7.] — — —]
Let us examine well the grounds of our confidence—
[I would by no means be understood to condemn all confidence, but only to recommend a careful examination of the grounds on which our confidence is built. We may, if we will attentively discriminate between things which differ, find a very broad distinction between the confidence which is delusive, and that which is truly scriptural. As a general observation, we may say, that that alone is scriptural which is attended with holy fear and jealousy: for even St. Paul himself laboured incessantly to “bring all his bodily appetites into subjection, lest, after having preached to others, he himself should become a cast-away.” That which stands on a presumptuous conceit about God’s decrees, and is sanctioned only by an appeal to past experience, may well be questioned: but that which is founded rather on the general promises of the Gospel, and is borne out and warranted by an appeal to the present experience of the soul, may safely be treasured up as an invaluable blessing. And if this latter appear more fluctuating than the other, let not that render it less estimable in your minds: for it is far the more scriptural and safe. In fact, Satan exerts himself to the uttermost to strengthen the confidence which is erroneous, that so his vassals may not suspect the delusion under which they labour; whilst, on the other hand, he infuses doubts into the minds of the upright, that they may not reap the full benefit of their confidence in God. Only let your confidence be humble, and its habitual effect be practical, and then you may say boldly, “O God, thou art my God!” and may hold fast your confidence, and the rejoicing of your hope firm unto the end.]
Let us endeavour to maintain a close walk with God—
[Whilst this, as I have already shewn, is the proper test of our confidence, it is also the means whereby our confidence is to be made more and more assured. “If we abide with God, he will abide with us: but if we forsake him, he also will forsake us [Note: 2 Chronicles 15:2.].” Here we see, that, if the text is true, so will the converse of it be found true also. Only let us “hold fast that which is good,” and no enemy whatsoever shall prevail against us. You all know how the Apostle sets all his enemies at defiance [Note: Romans 8:33-45.8.39.] — — — And thus may we also do: for, “if God be with us, who can be against us?” Our office is, to serve the Lord. His office, if I may so speak, is to save us. Only then let us attend to our part, and we may with safety leave to our heavenly Father the execution of his.]
THE NATURE AND EXTENT OF CHRISTIAN INNOCENCE
Hosea 8:5. How long will it be ere they attain to innoceney?
IT is impossible to read the history of God’s ancient people, or to survey the world around us, without being filled with wonder at the patience and forbearance of God. In vain were all his mercies to the Jews in delivering them from their bondage in Egypt, and in giving them Possession of the promised land: no manifestations of his power and grace were sufficient to convince them of his exclusive right to their service, or to knit them to him as their only Lord and Saviour. They would make to themselves idols of wood and stone, and transfer to them the allegiance which they owed to God alone. Yet, instead of breaking forth against them in wrathful indignation to destroy them, he bore with them, and, with tender anxiety for their welfare, said, “How long will it be ere they attain to innocency?” Precisely thus does he wait for us also, who, notwithstanding all that he has done for the redemption of our souls, are ever prone to depart from him, and to fix on the creature that regard which is due to him only. Yet he is waiting to be gracious to us also, and longing for the return of our souls to him as their proper rest.
In illustration of this pathetic complaint, I shall consider,
What is the attainment here specified—
Perfect innocency is utterly unattainable in this life—
[Once we possessed it in our first parents: but since the Fall, we all have inherited a corrupt nature; since “it was impossible to bring a clean thing out of an unclean.” Nor can we by any means wash away so much as one sin that we have ever committed. Rivers of tears would be insufficient for that. Sinners therefore we must be even to the end.]
Yet is there in a scriptural sense an innocency to lie attained—
[Our Lord said of his disciples, “Now ye are clean through the word that I have spoken unto you [Note: John 15:3.].” And we too may be clean, yea so clean as to be “without spot or blemish,” if only we use the means which God himself has appointed [Note: Ephesians 5:26-49.5.27.]. There is “a fountain opened for sin and for uncleanness [Note: Zechariah 12:1.];” even the Redeemer’s blood, which is able to “cleanse us from all sin [Note: 1 John 1:7.]” — — — The Holy Spirit also will renew our souls, and make us “partakers of a divine nature [Note: 2 Peter 1:4. ],” and “sanctify us throughout in body, soul, and spirit [Note: 1 Thessalonians 5:23.],” — — — and enable us, in the whole of our life and conversation, to approve ourselves “Israelites indeed in whom there is no guile” — — —
This is scriptural innocency: and this every sinner in the universe may attain. It is freely offered to all [Note: Isaiah 55:1.] — — — and has actually been vouchsafed to the most abandoned of mankind [Note: 1 Corinthians 6:11.] — — — Nor shall it be withheld from any one that will seek it at the hands of God [Note: John 6:37.] — — — God himself pants, if I may so say, to give it us: “Wilt thou not be made clean? When shall it once be [Note: Jeremiah 13:27.]?” Those to whom it was offered in my text were wicked idolaters [Note: ver. 4.]: and therefore we cannot doubt but that it will be granted to us also.]
The expostulation respecting it—
Long has God borne with us, even as he did with his people of old—
[Who amongst you has not harboured idols in his heart? — — — and whom has not God followed with warnings, exhortations, and entreaties, even to the present hour? — — —]
And how much longer must he bear with us?
[Have we not already provoked him long enough? — — — Or do we hope ever to enjoy his favour if we attain not to innocency? — — — O! delay not to seek this inestimable gift. Is it so small a matter to possess the forgiveness of your sins through Jesu’s blood, and the renovation of your souls by the influence of the Holy Spirit, and the entire conformity of your lives to the mind and will of God, that you will not set yourselves to seek them in the exercise of faith and prayer? — — — How long shall it be ere you begin to seek these blessed attainments? Will you wait till old age, and give to God only the dregs of your life? Or will you put off this necessary work to a dying hour? Believe me, that is by no means a fit season for so important a work as this, and who can tell whether time for it shall be allowed you then, or grace be given you for the execution of it? The attainment is difficult in proportion as it is delayed, and what bitter regret will you feel to all eternity, if the season afforded you for the attainment of this blessing pass away unimproved, and you be called with all your sins upon you into the eternal world! I would address you all in the very spirit of my text, and say to every one among you, “Seek the Lord whilst he may be found, call upon him whilst he is near. Let the wicked forsake his way, and the unrighteous man his thoughts, and let him return unto the Lord, and he will have mercy upon him, and unto our God, for he will abundantly pardon [Note: Isaiah 55:6-23.55.7.].”]
Those who think this blessing unattainable—
[Were this innocency really unattainable, God would never have so pathetically expressed his concern respecting it. But perhaps you think that the infirmities which of necessity cleave to our fallen nature are inconsistent with it. This however is by no means the case. If the heart be upright before God, then shall we be accepted of him in Christ Jesus, and “be presented before him faultless with exceeding joy.”]
Those who desire to attain it—
[Be sure you seek it in the appointed way. Seek not forgiveness only, nor renovation only, nor holiness only; but seek them all in their proper order, and in harmonious operation. First, your sins must be blotted out through faith in the Redeemer’s blood, next, must your soul be renewed after the Divine image by the power of the Holy Ghost, and lastly, must these blessings manifest themselves in holiness of heart and life. No one of these can be spared. And though we have placed them in the order in which they must be sought, yet will they all be vouchsafed to every one, who believes in Christ, His sins will all be cast into the depths of the sea, and the moral change also be begun, which shall issue in everlasting happiness and glory.]
Those who through mercy have attained it—
[Is it true that any one in this life is authorized to conceive of himself as “innocent” before God? Yes surely; else our Saviour would never have declared his own Apostles “clean.” Not that any attainment, however great, will supersede the necessity of continued watchfulness: for St. Paul himself felt the need of “keeping under his body, and bringing it into subjection, lest, after having preached to others, he himself should become a cast-away:” and the proper use of all the promises is, “to cleanse yourselves by means of them from all filthiness of the flesh and spirit, and to perfect holiness in the fear of God.”]
THE CONSEQUENCES OF SIN
Hosea 8:7. They have sown the wind, and they shall reap the whirlwind.
MISERY is attached to sin as its inevitable consequence. This connexion does not always appear to a superficial observer. On the contrary, transgression often seems productive of happiness; and obedience: to be a source of much affliction and trouble: but, whatever conclusions we may be led to draw from present appearances, we are sure that the wicked are not happy; nor have they any reasonable expectation of happiness in the eternal world. The Israelites had forsaken the true God for idols, and God warned them of the judgments which would ere long come upon them: but the declaration in the text may be understood as a general position. We shall take occasion from it to shew,
Who may be said to sow the wind—
To “sow the wind” is a proverbial expression for labouring in vain. It is applied to idolaters, because the silver and gold lavished on idols was unprofitably spent, and it may well be applied to all who seek happiness in a way of sin:
[They expect to find much comfort in the indulgence of their lusts. Hence they yield themselves up to all the gratifications of sense. But they find that such pursuits can afford them no real happiness. While they forsake the Fountain of living waters, they hew out to themselves only broken cisterns that can hold no water [Note: Jeremiah 2:13.]. Solomon, with the amplest means of enjoyment, confessed this [Note: Ecclesiastes 2:1; Ecclesiastes 2:10-21.2.11.]. And we may address that appeal to all the votaries of pleasure [Note: Romans 6:21.]—.]
[The lovers of this present world seem to follow something substantial. They hope to obtain, not a momentary gratification, but solid and lasting benefits. They promise to themselves the acquisition of ease, and affluence, and respect. But riches are justly, and on many accounts, termed “uncertain [Note: 1 Timothy 6:17.].” No dependence can be placed on their continuance with us [Note: Proverbs 23:5.]. Our cares are also generally multiplied by means of them: but if they were more conducive to happiness now, what shall they profit in the day of wrath [Note: Proverbs 11:4.]? What advantage has he now, who once took such delight in his stores [Note: Luke 12:19.]? or he, who placed his happiness in sumptuous fare, and magnificent apparel [Note: Luke 16:19; Luke 16:23-42.16.24.]? Surely all such persons will find ere long, that they “sowed the wind.”]
[The performance of religious duties seems more calculated to make us happy. It is certain that no one can be happy who disregards them. But a mere round of services can never satisfy the conscience. “The form of godliness without the power” will avail little. It will leave the soul in a poor, empty, destitute condition. Some indeed delude themselves with an idea that it will secure the Divine favour; and, under that delusion, they may be filled with self-complacency [Note: Luke 18:11-42.18.12.]. But if God send a ray of light into the mind, these comforts vanish. A sight of sin will speedily dissipate these self-righteous hopes [Note: Romans 7:9.]. Nor will any thing satisfy an enlightened conscience but that which satisfies God. There was but one remedy for the wounded Israelites in the wilderness [Note: John 3:14-43.3.15.]. Nor can a wounded spirit ever be healed but by a sight of Christ.]
To false professors—
[Many wish to be thought religious, when they are destitute of spiritual life. They perhaps are zealous for the doctrines of the Gospel, and for their own particular form of Church government. But they are not solicitous to live nigh to God in holy duties; nor do they manifest the efficacy of religion in their spirit and conduct. Yet, because of their professing godliness, they think themselves possessed of it, and buoy up themselves with expectations of happiness in the world to come. Alas! what disappointment will they one day experience [Note: Matthew 25:11-40.25.12.]! What will it avail them to “have had a name to live, while they were really dead?” or to have “cried, Lord, Lord! while they departed not from iniquity?” The pains they have taken to keep up a profession will all be lost. Nothing will remain to them but shame and confusion of face.]
From the seed which they sow, we may easily perceive,
What they may expect to reap—
“A whirlwind” is a figure used to represent extraordinary calamities. [Note: Proverbs 1:27.]And such is the harvest which they will reap in due season. Their calamities will be,
[The corn ripens gradually for the sickle, and its fate is foreseen; but the destruction of the ungodly cometh suddenly and at an instant. They indeed have many warnings from all which they see around them; but they put the evil day far from them, and think it will never come [Note: 2 Peter 3:4.]. Thus it was with the whole world before the Deluge. Though Noah preached to them for many years, they would not regard him; and were taken by surprise at last, as much as if no notice had been given them. [Note: Matthew 24:38-40.24.39.] Thus also it will be with all who reject the Gospel salvation. Solomon has expressly declared it in reference to those who sow discord [Note: Proverbs 6:14-20.6.15.]. And St. Paul has asserted it respecting all that live in a neglect of God [Note: 1 Thessalonians 5:2-52.5.3.].]
[Sinners of every description can withstand the word spoken by their fellow-creatures [Note: Ezekiel 20:49.]; but they will not be able to resist God when he shall call them into judgment. Then, if the whole universe should enter into a confederacy to protect one sinner, they would fail in their attempt [Note: Proverbs 11:21.]. There is not any thing more irresistible to man, in some climates, than a whirlwind. Yet far less power shall the ungodly have to avert the wrath of God. They will be carried to destruction as the chaff before the wind [Note: Psalms 1:4-19.1.5.]; and call in vain to the rocks to fall upon them, or the hills to cover them [Note: Revelation 6:15-66.6.17.].]
[Nothing can be conceived more dreadful than the desolation made by whirlwinds. Yet this suggests a very inadequate idea of the ruin that will come on the ungodly. The raining of fire and brimstone on Sodom and Gomorrha must have been exceedingly terrible. But even that was light, when compared with the vials of God’s wrath which will be poured out upon the ungodly world. Who can comprehend the full import of that threatening in the Psalms [Note: Psalms 11:6.]? Who can form a just idea of the judgment denounced by Isaiah [Note: Isaiah 5:24.]—? May we never experience such dreadful calamities! May we tremble at the apprehension of them, and seek shelter in Christ [Note: Isaiah 32:2.]!]
How earnest should we be in redeeming time!
[The present hours are given us that we may sow for eternity. Every action, word and thought is as seed that will spring up hereafter. According to what we sow now, we shall reap at the last day [Note: Galatians 6:7-48.6.8.]. Every moment increases our “treasure of wrath,” or our “weight of glory.” How should we be affected with this consideration! Let us lay it to heart, and “walk, not as fools, but as wise men [Note: Ephesians 5:15-49.5.16.].” And let that just expostulation shame us to a sense of duty [Note: Isaiah 55:2.]—.]
How blessed are they who are living to God!
[There is not a work which they perform for him that will not be rewarded. God would esteem himself unjust, if he made them no recompence [Note: Hebrews 6:10.]. However small and insignificant the service be, it shall not be forgotten [Note: Matthew 10:42.]. Some perhaps may complain, that they cannot do any thing for God, and. that they can only weep for their unprofitableness. But the sighs and tears of the contrite are “precious seed.” They will spring up to a glorious and abundant harvest [Note: Psalms 126:6.]. Let the humble then go on “sowing in tears till they reap in joy.” Let them persist in their labour, assured that it shall not be in vain [Note: 1 Corinthians 15:58.].]
MEN’S DISREGARD OF THE GOSPEL
Hosea 8:12. I have written to him the great things of my Law, but they were counted as a strange thing.
GOD, in estimating the sins of men, takes into his consideration all the aggravations with which they are committed. For instance; the warnings which have been given us against sin, the judgments with which we have been visited on account of it, the mercies that have been vouchsafed to us in the midst of it, are all regarded by him as enhancing our guilt in the commission of it. Hence, in criminating his people, whom now he was about to punish, he particularly charges home upon them their contempt of his word, which he had sent to guide them in the paths of righteousness, and to encourage them in a faithful discharge of their duty towards him. In this view our sins are peculiarly aggravated, inasmuch as we have been favoured with a more perfect revelation of God’s mind and will. And to evince this, I will shew,
What great things God has written to us in his law—
By God’s “law,” we are to understand his word in general; and by “the great things of it,” are meant its fundamental truths.
Let us take a view of them, as recorded in God’s blessed word—
[Our fall in Adam, our recovery by Christ, and our restoration to the Divine image by the Holy Spirit, these are plainly written in every part of the inspired volume. They were made known in the Old Testament, so far as was necessary for the instruction of men under that dark and temporary dispensation. The rite of circumcision marked, that we brought into the world a corrupt nature; and the appointment of sacrifices, whilst it shewed to all their desert of death, evinced to them the necessity of looking forward to that great sacrifice which should in due time he offered for the sins of men. The various lustrations also that were enjoined, gave a striking intimation of what should in due season be effected on the souls of men, through the operation of the Spirit of God. In the writings of David and the prophets, a further light is thrown upon these things: man is declared to be shapen in iniquity, and conceived in sin [Note: Psalms 51:5.]: and his guilt is said to be removed only through the vicarious sufferings of the Son of God, “on whom the iniquities of all mankind are laid [Note: Isaiah 53:5-23.53.6.].” And for the renewal of our nature, we are taught to look to that Divine Agent, who is sent from heaven on purpose to impart it [Note: Ezekiel 36:25-26.36.27.].
In the New Testament, these points are more fully opened: and every thing relating to them is developed with all the clearness and certainty that the most scrupulous mind can desire.
Who can doubt the corruption of our nature, when we are told that “we are by nature children of wrath [Note: Ephesians 2:3.]?” What stronger proof can we have of the necessity of believing in Christ, than the assurance that there is salvation in no other, and “no other name given under heaven whereby we can be saved [Note: Acts 4:12.]?” As to the Spirit’s operations upon the soul, we are expressly told, that “if any man have not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of his.”]
And are not these things justly called “great”?
[Verily, in whatever light we view them, they are “great.” Contemplate the mysteriousness of them. How do they, in every part of them, surpass all human conception! What shall we say to our fall in Adam, and the consequent condemnation of all the human race? What shall we think of the incarnation of God’s only dear Son, for the purpose of satisfying Divine justice in our behalf, and working out a righteousness wherein we guilty creatures may stand before God without spot or blemish? What shall we say of the Holy Spirit, the Third Person in the ever-blessed Trinity, making our polluted souls his temples, for the purpose of renewing our fallen natures, and rendering us meet for glory? Well may the Apostle say, “Great is the mystery of godliness [Note: 1 Timothy 3:16.]!” and well may every one, in the contemplation of it, exclaim, “O the depth [Note: Romans 11:33.]”—]
But consider also the importance of these things. There is not any child of man, to whom the tidings of them are made known, that can be saved without an experimental acquaintance with them, and a suitable operation of them upon his soul. Under a sense of our fallen condition, we must lie low before God, in dust and ashes: under a conviction that there is no salvation for us but in Christ Jesus, we must cleave unto him with full purpose of heart: and, under a consciousness of our incapacity to do any thing for ourselves, we must commit ourselves altogether to the care of God’s Holy Spirit, that he may “work all our works in us,” and “perfect that which concerneth us.”
Say, then, whether things so deeply mysterious and so infinitely important be not great. Truly there is nothing in the whole universe that deserves a thought in comparison of these stupendous truths.]
But it is humiliating to observe,
How they are regarded by an ungodly world—
“They are counted as a strange thing:”
They are neglected as unimportant—
[One would imagine that the book which reveals these great truths should be universally sought after with insatiable avidity; and be studied day and night, in order to the obtaining of a perfect knowledge of its contents. But how is this book treated? It is thought a proper book for children, that they may be made acquainted with its truths so far as their slender capacities can comprehend them: but for persons of adult age it is supposed to contain nothing that is interesting; and it is laid aside by them, as undeserving any serious attention. Angels in heaven are searching into its unfathomable mysteries with an anxiety worthy of the occasion; but men, who are far more deeply interested in them, suffer them to remain without any serious inquiry. In fact, there is no other book so generally slighted as the inspired volume; not a novel or a newspaper but is preferred before it; so little is the excellence of its mysteries contemplated, and so little the importance of its truths considered.]
They are ridiculed as absurd—
[Universally is the corruption of our fallen nature regarded as a subject calculated only to inspire gloom, and therefore injurious to the happiness of man. The salvation which Christ has wrought out for us, and freely offers to the believing soul, is reprobated as a licentious doctrine, subversive of morality. The sanctifying influences of the Spirit, also, are held in contempt, as the dreams of a heated imagination, or the pretences of a hypocritical profession. Sin itself, unless in its most hideous forms, is not so universally despised and hated as are the truths of our most holy religion. They were so when proclaimed by prophets, and Apostles, and by our blessed Lord himself. “Ah, Lord God, doth he not speak parables [Note: Ezekiel 20:49.]?” is the slightest expression of contempt that any preacher of them can expect. In truth, no man can preach them with success, without being accused as “deceiving the people,” and “turning the world upside down.”]
How great is the blindness of the natural man!
[The depths of philosophy may be successfully explored by men of studious habits and of intellectual attainments. But who, by any powers of his own, can comprehend the great things of God’s law? Verily, they are “to the Jews a stumbling-block, and to the Greeks foolishness;” and the most learned man on earth, no less than the most illiterate, must say, “Open thou mine eyes, that I may behold wondrous things out of thy law [Note: Psalms 119:18.].”]
How inestimable are the privileges of God’s people!
[“They have been brought out of darkness into marvellous light;” and the “things which God has hid from the wise and prudent, he has revealed unto them” — — — Still, however, there remains a veil upon their hearts, which yet they need to have removed. “They still see only as in a glass darkly;” and must wait for a full vision, till they come to the regions of the blest above.]
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Simeon, Charles. "Commentary on Hosea 8". Simeon's Horae Homileticae. https://www.studylight.org/
the Second Week after Epiphany