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what saith the Lord God ? He speaks these words, and he speaks them even unto thee. O Israel, return unto the Lord thy God; for thou hast fallen by thine iniquity. But how shall I return? What shall I say? How shall I confess my sin, and express myself unto him? O man! this is all provided. Hesays, Take with you words, and turn to the Lord: say unto him, Take away all iniquity, and receive us graciously: so will we render the calves of our lips. Where can we find grace and words in all the book of God, more immediately suited to a backslider, than these before us? I conceive we cannot any where. They are spoken by the Lord. They are spoken to me and you. They are spoken unto us, because we are what we are; because we have backslidden from him; because we have fallen by our iniquity; because we are in our own minds under guilt and condemnation. It is because we cannot lift up ourselves above the same; nor leave aside our own thoughts and disquietudes, therefore he says, O Israel, return unto the Lord thy God; for thou hast fallen by thine iniquity. Take with you words and turn to the Lord. Surely, all this is very expressive of the divine compassion, grace, and benignity of the ever blessed God. He waiteth to be gracious. His love to thee, and his covenant with Christ on thy behalf, is the same it ever was. There is no alteration here; say, therefore unto him, Take away all iniquity. How is this to be done? By lifting up thy mind to consider what he hath already done on thy behalf, and for thee. Hath he not made thine iniquities to pass from thee, and clothed the with change of raiment? Hath not the Lord laid on Christ the iniquities of us all? Is it not in those acts which passed between Jehovah and the Branch, thy whole salvation was perfected? Then, O backsliding man, the Lord the Spirit directing thy mind to this important transaction, thou wilt by the true realization thereof, be lifted up to the Lord in glorious views of thy complete pardon and deliverance from all the imputation of thy sin and guilt, let it consist in what it may, through the present, perpetual, and everlasting efficacy of the blood of the Lamb: then thou wilt have a blessed sense of the views the Father takes of thee in his Beloved ; and thereby see how he receives thee graciously at his throne, and delights to converse freely and openly with thee, through the person and mediation of his Son, the Lord Jesus. I have endeavoured to open this part of the subject as clearly as I could, it being most truly and divinely blessed, rightly to apprehend the same; most especially to such as are, have been, and may be, on the verge of backsliding from the Lord. It would be of great relief to us, to receive these truths into our minds; to meditate continually on them; and to rejoice in the grace contained in them, we should find them salutary, life-giving, faith-strengthening, and conscience-satisfying words. They would not only restore us from our backsliding cases, frames, and heart-wanderings from God; but they would also, as we dwelt upon them, and enjoyed fellowship with God in them, preserve us from falling into the same. This brings me to the last particular, which is
Fourthly-To notice the most grateful acknowledgments of these suppliants: We will render the calves of our lips. Take away all iniquity, and receive us graciously: so will we render the calves of our lips.
The free grace of God expressed in the text, as exercised on Israel who had fallen from the Lord by iniquity, could not but affect their minds; nay, the Lord speaks of this as the very fruit of his own grace towards them: for they are all his own words from first to last. That you may see it is even so, I will recite them. Take with words, and turn to the Lord: say unto him, Take away all iniquity, and receive us graciously: so will we render the calves of our lips. Whilst it could not be any less thạn what such matchless grace, brought home to their ears and manifested to their minds, must demand of them; yet the Lord claims all this to himself, as the fruit which his own grace produced in them: in which words there is contained an acknowledgment of the blessings bestowed on these favorites of free
grace. It may be here noticed what the apostie saith, It is God that worketh in you both to will and to do of his good pleasure. At the time these . words were delivered, the saints, on some occasions, presented their offerings of praise to God for singular blessings received from him, by the oblations of sacrificial animals; instead of which, the calves of our lips are substituted. The pardoned ones of God would render unto his Divine Majesty, the true and spiritual sacrifices of prayer and praise. The prophet's phraseology, so will we render the calves of our lips, seems most fully opened by the apostle in these words: By him, (i. e. by Jesus, our Altar, Priest, and Sacrifice, for this is the subject contained in the context.) therefore let us offer the sacrifice of praise to God continually, that is, the fruit of our lips, giving thanks to his name. Heb. xiii, v. 15.
The calves of our lips, in the prophet, is the fruit of our lips, in the apostles words and exposition of them. When the Lord is pleased to overcome our minds by the manifestations of his pardoning mercy, we cannot but open our mouth, and with our lips shew forth his glorious praise. At a future period, when the Lord shall call his people, the Jews, from their present state of sin, and backsliding from him, they will be filled with his glorious praise; and we who have been enlightened with the light of everlasting life, and called out of darkness into his marvellous light, under the influences of the Holy Ghost within us and upon us, cannot but utter forth his great and glorious praise. We, whose sins he has taken away, who have received Christ and his atonement into our minds, and are thereby brought under the influential virtue and efficacy of the same, cannot but render the calves of our lips, by offering the sacrifice of praise continually, giving thanks to his name.
May the Lord accompany, with his blessing and Spirit, that which hath been delivered to
HOSEA XIV, v. 3.
upon horses: neither will we say any more to the work of our hands, Ye are our gods: for in thee the fatherless findeth mercy. WE have here the true portrait of real penitents. The present words are very expressive of the minds of such as are enquiring after God. None can give the account of the same but the Lord himself; for their every spiritual sense, feeling, and perception, come from him only.