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13 ally to moulder away and consume them. When Ephraim saw

his sickness, and Judah (saw] his wound, then went Ephraim to the Assyrian, referring to the treaties of the king of Israel and Judah with different kings of Assyria, who only got money of them, saw the weakness of their country, and at length overrun it ; and sent to king Jereb, to plead for, or defend them, be

cause of the alliances between them ; yet could he not heal you 14 nor cure you of your wound. For I (will be) unto Ephraim

as a lion, and as a young lion to the house of Judah : 1, (even) I, will tear and go away : like a lion, coming and taking away a carcase, and then going secu

curely and lying down in his den, 80 I will take away, and none shall rescue (him.)

I will go [and] return to my place till they acknowledge their offence, and seek my face ; I will not interpose for their deliverance till they are truly humble and penitent ; in their affliction they will seek me early, that is, earnestly ; in the manner described in the beginning of the next chapter.

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REFLECTIONS.

1.
"WE

vated by many circumstances attending them. Notice is here taken of the aggravation of the sins of Israel : they were the effect of contrivance and deliberation ; they were very injurious to others ; not only to those whom they murdered, but to those they enticed to idolatry. And their sins, with every circumstance attending them, were all known to God, and none of their profound contrivances hid from him : this they well knew. They had dealt treacherously with God: and violated the most sacred engagements. God had rebuked them for it again and again, by his judgments and prophets; and solemnly declared what would surely be the consequence. Yet they went on in sin ; and at the same time showed a great deal of pride in their privileges and blessings. Let us attend to these circumstances, as aggravations of sin ; and be cautious, lest we incur the same heavy charge.

2. We see in v. 4. what the duty of impenitent sinners is. It is God's work to convert sinners ; without his grace, all their attempts will be ineffectual. But something is to be done by them, and is expected from them. They must frame their doings ; consider their ways, and the consequences of their actions ; attend to the reproofs and exhortations which are given them ; and make use of the means of reformation : then God will communicate his grace. But if they will not do this ; to expect his grace, or to hope that by sacrifices, or any religious services, they shall make their peace with him, is an high affront to him ; and he will withdraw himself from them.

3. See the importance of a steady opposition to all impositions upon liberty and conscience. The Israelites willingly walked after idolatrous commandments, therefore God gave them up to their oppressors. Idolatry was the religion of the court, enforced by penal laws ; yet here the people are threatened and condemned for conforming to it. Those who subject their consciences to their rulers in religious matters, may justly be left to feel the weight of arbitrary government. When the boundaries of conscience and religion are removed, a deluge of misery breaks in, To stand firm in defence of religious liberty, is the most likely way to maintain and perfect our civil liberties.

4. See the design of God in afflictions, and to what purposes they should be improved. God corrects men that they may be humbled, acknowledge their offences, and seek bim earnestly ; that they may feel the burden of sin, as well as of affliction, and seek reconciliation to God. It is a sign of a slothful, impious spirit, not to pray before afflictions come : but to be afflicted and not to pray earnestly, shows a stupid, senseless, incorrigible spirit, Let the afflicted stir up themselves io take hold of God; for they that seek him early shall find him,

CHAP. VI.

Contains an exhortation to repentance, and a complaint of the un.

towardness and iniquity of Israel and Judah. The first three
verses should have been joined to the former chapter.
I IN their affliction they will seek me early, saying, Come, and

let us return unto the LORD ; let us resolve to return to him, and invite and encourage one another to do 80 : "for he hath

torn, and he will heal us ; he hath smitten, and he will bind 2 us up. After two days, in a little time, will he revive us : in

the third day he will raise us up, and we shall live in his sight;

this surprising change will be like a resurrection from the dead, 3 Then shall we know, (if) we follow on to know the LORD;

if we take pains, he will bless our endeavours : his going forth is prepared as the morning ; and he shall come unto us as the rain, as the latter [and] former rain unto the earth ; his favour shall become more and more conspicuous, as the morning grows brighter and brighter till the sun is risen; he will revive us by his returning goodness, as showers, and sunshine after them, revive the earth. But it is intimated, that the reforma. tion will be only partial, and of short continuance.

O Ephraim, what shall I do unto thee, or for thee ? O Judah, what shall I do unto thee ? how shall I show thee mercy ? for, or since, your goodness [is] as a morning Cloud, and as

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$ the early dew it goeth away. Therefore have I hewed (them)

by the prophets ; I have slain them by the words of my mouth ; I have employed my prophets to denounce dreadful judgments against them, by which they are slain and hewn in pieces, (the prophets being frequently said to do thal, which they foretold should be done :) and thy judgments [are as) the light [that] goeth forth; the judgments to be executed upon thee shall be light as the day, and all that see them shall acknowledge

the justice of them. I will deal 80 with thee, because my com6 mands have been reasonable and kind : For I desired mercy,

and not sacrifice, or, rather than sacrifice ; and the knowledge of God, a practical sense of his presence, perfections, and declar.

ations, more than burnt offerings, rather than any ceremonial i observances whatever. * But they like men, like Adam, have

transgressed the covenant ; they imitated his apostacy, and transgressed the covenant : there, in the place where the covenant was given, have they dealt treacherously against me ; as Adan transgressed in paradise, so they forgot their engage.

ments as soon as they were made, and in the very place where 3 they were made. Gilead (is) a city of them that work iniquity,

(and is) polluted with blood ; instead of being a city of refuge, where those that accidentally killed another should have found protection, murderers were protected, and the innocent delivered up and punished as murderers. And as troops of robbers wait for a man, (so) the company of priests murder in the way

to Shechem by consent : for they commit lewdness, or, pre. 10 sumptuous wickedne88. I have seen an horrible thing in the

house of Israel ; such enormities as cannot be mentioned without horror, ; idolatry and uncleannes8 ; which generally went

together : there [is] the whoredom of Ephraim, Israel is des 11 filed. Also, O Judah, he hath set an harvest for thee, he hath

appointed a time when thou shall be reaped by the sickle of divine vengeance ; as thou hast imitated the sins of Israel, so thou shalt share in their judgments ; when I returned, or would have prevented, the captivity of my people.

REFLECTIONS.

1. ( EE the duty and happiness of returning to God under his

corrections. The design of afflictions is to bring men to. repentance and amendment : and it is great encouragement to both, that he will then heal and bind up; remove judgments, command deliverance, and speak peace to the soul. Let us encourage

• Not that God was indifferent to these, for he bad required them. The mearing is, that God would not accept their sacrifices, unless the kucwledge of himself and the prac. tice of moral duties were joined with them; and that if mercy and sacrifice interfered mercy was to be preferred

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others to do this, and so further the design of the providence and word of God.

2. See the importance of the knowledge of God; not merely a general knowledge of him, but a practical knowledge ; a religious regard to him. It is better than burnt offerings and sacrifices. It is as the light of the morning; preserving from error and temptation, and giving life, peace, and hope to the soul. The way to attain it, is to follow on to know the Lord ; to esteem it the best knowledge, and gain it by reading, meditation, and prayer. Follow on then, without being discouraged ; and labour to make continual improvement in so glorious and comprehensive a science ; for this is life eternal, to know the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom he hath sent.

3. Whatever pious purposes and resolutions we form, we should labour to preserve. How pathetically does the blessed God complain of Ephraim's fickleness and insincerity! and may he not still complain thus of many, and, in some measure, of all of us ? Men promise amendment, but do not perform ; they are wavering and unstable, even when sincere ; begin well, but do not persevere. This is greatly mischievous to ourselves, dishonorable to religion, injurious to others, and will forfeit all claim to the divine favour; for he alone that endureth te the end shall be saved.

4. Let us attend to the superior exellences of moral duties above ritual observances. God here requireth both, but prefers the former, when they come into competition. Our Lord quotes this passage twice, to vindicate his healing on the sabbath day, which was showing mercy to men's bodies; and his eating with publicans, which was in mercy to their souls. We should never place the whole of religion in rites and forms ; remembering, that the knowledge of God and obedience to him, are the main things. There are greater and lesser matters of the law; the former ought to be preferred, but the latter by no means neglected.

These ought ye to have done, and not to have left the other undone.

CHAP. VII.

Contains a reproof of manifold sins ; and declarations of God's

wrath against them for their hypocrisy. 1 HEN I would have healed Israel, when I took the

methods that had a tendency to heal and reclaim them, then the iniquity of Ephraim was discovered, and the wicked. ness of Samaria ; they grew worse and worse : for they commit falsehood ; and the thief cometh in, (and) the troop of

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robbers spoileth without ; they added public to private wicked

ness, were deceitful in their promises of amendment, and were 2 guilty of rapine and fraud. And they consider not in their

hearts (that] I remember all their wickedness : now their own doings have beset them about ; the evil consequences of them are just coming upon them; they are before my face ;

it will be evident that I remember them, by the punishments Iin8 flict. They make the king glad with their wickedness, and the princes with their lies ; to please the king and princes they run into all manner of wickedness and debauchery ; they

discover a mean, servile, and deceitful temper, and regard not 4 what they say or do, if it will but please their rulers. They

Care] all adulterers, as an oven heated by the baker, (who] ceaseth from raising after he hath kneaded the dough, until it be leavened ; the heat of their lust is like an oven, bv hot

that the baker does not find it necessary to add more fuel; but 5 having leavened his dough, finds the oven fit to receive it. In

the day of our king, the day of his birth, or accession, (when feasts are usual at courls) the princes have made [him) sick with bottles of wine ; he stretched out his hand with scorners ; he has put himself on a level with them ; for.

getting his rank and dignity, he has been intoxicated, and joined 6 with them in their banters of religion. For they have made

ready their heart like an oven, while they lie in wait : their baker sleepeth all the night ; in the morning it burneth as a flaming fire ; they have been pushed on by their violent lusts to watch all night for opportunities of committing wickedness ; referring to the former simile, v. 4. there they are compared to an heated oven, here, to an oven that has taken fire ; the baker neg'.

lecting it, falls asleep, and in the morning he awakes, and finds 7 his house on fire. They are all hot as an oven, and have de.

voured their judges ; magistracy is at an end, or does not an. &wer its institution ; all their kings are fallen : (there is) none among them that calleth unto me ; many of their kings are fallen one after another, yet they are not humble and serious. $ Ephraim, he hath mixed himself among the people ; I have

separated the ten iribes for a peculiar people to myself, but they are become like their idolatrous neighbours ; Ephraim is a cake not turned ;. if they have made any attempts for a reformation, they were weak and ineffectual ; they were like a cake burnt on one side, and cold on the other ; they were hot about forms and

ceremonies, but cold and indifferent about the vitals of religion, , Strangers have devoured his strength, and he knoweth [it]

not ; his alliance with strangers hath been detrimental to him, yet he never considered il : yea, grey hairs, symptoms of the

decay and approaching ruin of the state, are here and there $0 upon him, yet he knoweth not. And the pride of Israel,

which appears in all their actions, testifieth to his face : and yet You, VI.

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