Click here to join the effort!
MISERY OF A DESERTED PEOPLE
Hosea 9:12. Woe also to them when I depart from them!
THERE is nothing so essential to our happiness as the Divine presence. With that, we may smile at all earthly trials: without it, not all the universe can satisfy the soul. This is promised to us as the greatest good that can be vouchsafed to us in this world: and the withdrawment of it is threatened as the greatest of all evils [Note: Jeremiah 23:33.].
In the words before us, God, having denounced this judgment against his rebellious people, gives an awful intimation of the greatness of the calamity; “Woe unto them, when I depart from them!”
We propose to shew,
How great a calamity is the withdrawment of God’s presence—
As God is pleased to distinguish both individuals and collective bodies with his favour, so under great provocations he departs from them: and this is a very dreadful calamity, by whomsoever it may be experienced: it is so,
[These, as we see in the Jewish history, prosper beyond the common course of events, when God takes them under his special protection. On the other hand, they are destroyed with equal rapidity when he sets his face against them. War, famine, and pestilence are his ministers: the stars in their courses fight against his enemies: the elements enlist themselves under his banners. Universal nature rises up to avenge the quarrel of his covenant. Wretched indeed is that nation which he has abandoned to ruin! The destruction of the Jewish nation is an awful specimen and pledge of the vengeance which he will execute on those who have filled up the measure of their iniquities.]
[The Christian Church, when in its infancy, was honoured with very peculiar tokens of the Divine presence, and, in consequence thereof, “grew and multiplied” to a surprising extent. But when the life and power of godliness had declined among the Churches of Asia, and he had often warned them to no purpose, he “took away the candlestick from them:” so that in the cities where Christ was once worshipped and glorified, his name is scarcely known. Nor need we go back to the early ages of the Church: for in many places in our own land where Christ was once preached, nothing is now heard but Socinian heresy or heathen morality. The ignorance of the preachers, the blindness of the hearers, and the unprofitableness of the ordinances, concur in establishing the melancholy truth affirmed in our text [Note: Compare Micah 3:6-7. Isaiah 6:9-10. Amos 8:11-13.].]
[If we admit, as we must, that “God will not forsake his people [Note: 1 Samuel 12:22.],” still we have no evidence that we are his, any longer than we obey his commandments. If we go out from his people, it is rather a proof that we never truly belonged to them [Note: 1 John 2:19.]. But lamentable is the state of him who provokes God to leave him: for as soon as ever God deserts him, an evil spirit will enter into him [Note: 1 Samuel 16:14.]: yea, perhaps seven spirits, worse than ever before inhabited his soul, may take possession of him, and reduce him to a more awful state of bondage than he ever before experienced [Note: Luke 11:24-26.]. Hardness of heart, searedness of conscience, and probably an abandonment of all religious profession, with painful apprehensions of death and judgment, will be the bitter fruits of such a dereliction, which at last will issue in an aggravated and eternal condemnation.]
Let us then attentively consider,
How we may avert it from ourselves—
We cannot pretend to specify all the means which are to be Used; but we will notice some of the most important:
Let us abstain from that which will drive God from us—
[Sin is “that abominable thing which his soul hates;” and, if we wilfully indulge it, he will shew his abhorrence of it, by hiding his face from us, and withdrawing from us his blessing. He has said, that his “Spirit shall not alway strive with man.” And it is certain, that we may “grieve his Spirit,” till we altogether “quench” his sacred motions. Let us then turn, not only from open, but from secret sin. Let us “purge out that leaven, that we may be a new lump.” For though God will “not be extreme to mark the unallowed infirmities” of our nature, he will shew his indignation against hypocrisy, however refined it may be in its nature, or specious in its appearance [Note: Job 20:4-7.].]
Let us notice the very first intimations of his displeasure—
[God does not utterly forsake the soul at once: he testifies his displeasure in a variety of ways, before he finally forsakes us. As, in withdrawing from his temple of old, he descended from the mercy-seat to the threshold; and then went from the threshold to the court; then from the court to the door of the east gate; and, lastly, from the gate to the mountain [Note: Ezekiel 9:3; Ezekiel 10:18-19; Ezekiel 11:23.]: so, in his departures from Churches or individuals, he gives notice of his intention, that we may repent us of our evil ways. He ceases to manifest himself to us; he gives us up to the dominion of our former lusts; he embitters our state by forebodings of our future doom; and, when he cannot prevail, he “gives us over to a reprobate mind [Note: Psalms 81:11-12.],” and leaves us to fill up the measure of our iniquities. Let us “turn then at his first reproof,” that, instead of “taking his Holy Spirit from us,” he may “pour it out upon us” in richer abundance [Note: Proverbs 1:23.].]
Let us guard against secret departures from him—
[It is rarely, if ever, that God leaves us, unless we first leave him. He has laid down this as the rule of his conduct; “I am with you, while ye be with me: if ye be with me, I will be with you; but if we forsake me, I will forsake you [Note: 2 Chronicles 15:2.].” If we trace all our darkness and distresses to their proper source, we shall find that they originate in our own unfaithfulness. Let us then watch against a neglect of secret duties, or deadness in them, Let us “give ourselves to the word of God and prayer.” Let us “stir up ourselves, to lay hold on God [Note: Isaiah 64:7.];” and, with a holy boldness, say, like Jacob, “I will not let thee go [Note: Genesis 32:26.].” In this way we may detain him, and secure his continued presence: or if, “in a little wrath, he hide his face from us for a moment, with everlasting kindness will he have mercy upon us [Note: Isaiah 54:8.].”]
These files are public domain.
Text Courtesy of BibleSupport.com. Used by Permission.
Simeon, Charles. "Commentary on Hosea 9". Simeon's Horae Homileticae. https://www.studylight.org/
the Third Week after Epiphany