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courages them to return to him. But, in order to their reconi ciliation, he first makes them sensible of their own unworthiness, and of his infinite mercy : he keeps them as it were in a state of separation till they are thoroughly humbled, and then communicates to them the joy of his pardoning mercy and favour : and it is an instance of his wisdom and kindness thus to humble those whom he intends to exalt.

2. Let us reflect on the present state of the Jews, as an accomplishment of this and many other prophecies. God has cast them out of his church and family ; they have no king nor priest nor sacrifice ; they live as exiles, upon sufferance ; have no prophet, nor any such worship as he requires. Yet they are not idolaters ; they abhor every thing that has an appearance of idola atry. God has merciful intentions toward them, and they shall at length return to the Lord ; and receive Christ, as David their king. Their dispersion, and continuing a distinct people in these circumstances, confirm the truth of this prophecy, and the truth of christianity.

3. Let us attend to the instructive view of true religion, which is here given us. It is fearing the Lord and his goodness. It is not a slavish fear of God's wrath, but a veneration of him, arising from thinking of him as the best, as well as the greatest of Beings ; especially being affected with his goodness in sending Christ to redeem us ; and admitting us into his covenant. Let us inquire then, how we are affected with this divine goodness ? whether it engages us to a holy reverence ; makes us afraid of offending so good a Being ; of making ungrateful returns for his kindnesses, and of losing our interest in his favour. Let us cherish this fear; for happy is the man that thus feareth always.

CHAP. IV.

Contains a warning given to the ten tribes of the calamities that

were coming upon them ; and their sins are described as the cause of them.

1 D EAR the word of the LORD, ye children of Israel : for

11 the Lord hath a controversy with the inhabitants of the land, a suit or action against them, because (there is) no

truth, nor mercy, nor knowledge of God in the land, though 2 they make a profession of his religion. By swearing, and lying,

and killing, and stealing, and committing adultery, they break out, and blood toucheth blood ; vice spreads like an inunda.

tion ; there are murders commilled without intermission ; 80 3 that one stream of blood meets another. Therefore shall the

land mourn, and every one that dwelleth therein shall languish

with the beasts of the field, and with the fowls of heaven;

yea, the fishes of the sea also shall be taken away ; there shall 4 be a dreadful scarcity, and a genral calamity. Yet let no man

strive, nor reprove another ; it will be in vain to do it : for thy people [arel as they that strive with the priest ; as, among the Israelites, the last resort in controversy was to the priest, who consulted the oracle, Deut. xvii. 12. and he that would not hearken to its decision was to-be put to death as a

presumptuous sinner. To strive with the priest, is probably a 5 proverbial expression for an incorrigible offender. Therefore

shalt thou fall in the day by open violence, and the prophet also, who seduced thee from God, shall fall with thee in the night, by secret mischief, and I will destroy thy mother, or city, that

is, Samaria, or, the whole Israelitish nation, 6 My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge : because

thou hast rejected knowledge, I will also reject thee, that thou

shalt be no priest to me : seeing thou hast forgotten the law 7 of thy God, I will also forget thy children. * As they were

increased in wealth and children, so they sinned against me :

[therefore) will I change their glory into shame, into reproach | 8 and calamity. They eat up the sin offerings of my people,

and they set their heart on their iniquity ; they wished them

to commit many sins, that they might have many sacrifices to 9 feast upon. And there shall be, like people, like priest : and

I will punish them for their ways, and reward them their do10 ings; they shall be alike in character and in ruin. For they

shall eat, and not have enough ; they shall either be insatiable, or want necessary food : they shall commit whoredom, and

shall not increase ; their children shall be cut off : because 11 they have left off to take heed to the LORD. Whoredom and

wine and new wine take away the heart, stupify reason and

conscience, and destroy every good sentiment and principle. 12 My people ask counsel at their stocks, their wooden images,

and their staff declareth unto them ; they use divination by rods or a staff, that is, by seeing which way it falls : for the spirit of whoredom hath caused (them] to err, and they have gone a whoring from under their God; their corrupt principles

lead them 10 corrupt practices, and their wicked practices 13 strengthen their bad principles. They sacrifice upon the tops

of the mountains, and burn incense upon the hills, under oaks and poplars and elms, because the shadow thereof (is) good : therefore your daughters shall commit whoredom, and your spouses shall commit adultery ; as they have sunk into idola. atry, which is often figuratively represented as whoredom, there

• When the ten tribes revolted, Jeroboam drove out the Levites, imagining that they would draw the people to the temple worship, and to the house of David ; therefore, when he set up the calves, he made priests of the lowest of the people, thus knowledge was lost; and these are the priests which are threatened. Vol. VI.

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fore they shall literally suffer by that vice, which shall run

through their families and produce the most distressing effects. 14 I will not, or rather, shall I not, punish your daughters when

they commit whoredom, nor your spouses when they commit adultery : for themselves are separated with whores, and they sacrifice with harlots : therefore the people (that) doth not understand shall fall.

Though thou, Israel, play the harlot, (yet] let not Judah offend ; and come tiot ye unto Gilgal, where the national cov. enant with God was renewed, and the Israelites were circumcis. ed when they came out of Egypt, and which, therefore was looked upon as a sacred plate ; neither go ye üp to Bethaven, or, Bethel, where the calf was set up; called in contempt Bethaven, the house of iniquity, instead of Bethel, the house of God; or, perhaps the expression is proverbial, as if he had said, Take care that you have not your Gilgals and Bethavens ; do not run into any practices like theirs ; nor swear, The LORD liveth ; do not swear at an idolatrous altar, or raise any other altar to

Jehovah ; but make your golemn appeals to God, and offer sac16 rifices at his temple only. For Israel slideth back as a back

sliding heifer, that will not bear the yoke upon her neck : now

the LORD will feed them as a lamb in a large place, he giveth 17 them plenty, yet they rebel : Ephraim, or the kingdom of Israel,

[is] joined to idols : let him alone ; there is no hope of re18 claiming him ; let him go on to his utter ruin. Their drink is

sour ; they are universally corrupt ; or, they have filled them. selves with drink at their idolatrous feasts, till it hath turned sour on their stomachs, and they have thrown it up: they have committed whoredom continually : her rulers (with] shame do love, or, have loved shame and bribes, Give ye ; that is all

their cry ; having ruined themselves by their debaucheries, they 19 used the most wicked mearis of getting money. The wind hath

bound her up in her wings, and they shall be ashamed because of their sacrifices ; the judgments of God shall come rushing like a whirlwind, that shall raise them from the ground and carry them away ; they shall be cast out of their land, and as they pass along, and see their idols and their allars, they shall be ashamed to think that they trusted in gods that could not save them.

REFLECTIONS.

1. QEE the source of sin and mischief; ignorance of God.

There was no knowledge of God in the land of Israel : though in Judah he was known, and the ten tribes had distinguished advantages for acquiring the same knowledge. This is the case of multitudes in this christian land : and no wonder ; for they reject knowledge, at least take no pains to attain it. Be sot licitous then, to be wise yourselves, and to teach your children religious knowledge; without which, God will forget them, and leave them to all the miseries of ignorance and a reprobate mind.

2. See the dreadful consequences of sin. God has a controversy with, or an action against sinners, for being ignorant of him ; disobeying his law, and breaking his covenant. And it is easy to see how it will end : God will be justified, and the sinner confounded. Let us be desirous to end this controversy ; and make peace with him, who is the most dreadful adversary ; but the most kind, powerful, and faithful friend.

3. See the wickedness of those who are glad of the sins of others, because gainful to themselves, v. 8. This is the case of too many in the world ; they are glad of the extravagance and debauchery of others, because they get their business, buy their estates, or some way or other turn their vices to their own advan. tage. But this is a most wicked temper, and shows an entire want of love to God and man ; and however men may be pleased with what they gain by other men's sins, God will punish them for their ways, and reward them for their doings, v, 9.

4. How dreadful a thing is it for men to be let alone in their sins, v. 17. Ephraim is joined to idols ; let him alone, So now, providence, ordinances, and the spirit, are as it were ordered to let many alone ; they will hear no reproof, regard no checks of conscience, and endeavour to stifle all remorse ; and therefore are given up to their own hearts' lusts. To such a sad state may men be brought by habits of wickedness, and the righteous judgments of God. They may in the mean time think themselves happy, because their consciences are at ease ; but this is the last stage of degeneracy, and the forerunner of utter destruction,

5. Since there is so much sin in the world, and these are its terrible effects, let God's people be very cautious that they never offend, v. 15. Let them guard against the infection of evil principles, customs, and examples. They know more, have felt and experienced more, and profess more, than others. Let them bę very watchful, shun the occasions of sin, resist temptations to it, and daily implore the divine blessing and assistance, that they may hold faith and a good conscience, and persevere to the end.

CHAP. V.

Declares God's judgments against the priests, the people, and the

princes of Israel, for their manifold sins, until they repent. D EAR ye this, o priests ; and hearken, ye house of 11 Israel ; and give ye ear, o house of the king ; for judgment (is) toward you, because ye have been a snare on

2 Mizpah, and a net spread upon Tabor.* And the revolters, or idolaters, are profound to make slaughter, they cunningly

contrive to ensnare or destroy men, though, by my providence 3 and my prophets, I [have been] a rebuker of them all. I know

Ephraim, and Israel is not hid from me ; I know their dech

designs : for now, O Ephraim, thou committest whoredom, 4 [and] Israel is defiled. They will not frame their doings to

turn unto their God : for the spirit of whoredoms [is] in the

midst of them ; they lay schemes for it, and they have not 5 known the LORD, neither his greatness nor goodness. And

the pride of Israel doth testify to his face ; pride is seen in their religion, and in all they do : therefore shall Israel and Ephraim fall in their iniquity ; Judah also shall fall with them. They shall go with their flocks and with their herds to seek the LORD ; but they shall not find (him ;] he hath withdrawn himself from them ; Judah shall keep up a profes

sion of religion ; but in vain shall they offer sacrifices, because 7 they are more fond of idols, and addicted to their service. They

have dealt treacherously against the LORD : for they have begotten strange children ; they have taken strange, heathen wives, or brought their children up in idolatry : now shall a month devour them with their portions ;t in a short time their idols and substance shall be destroyed. What follows is supposed

to refer to the invasion of Judah by Pekah, when he slew one 8 hundred and twenty thousand men in one day. Blow ye the

cornet in Gibeah, [and] the trumpet in Ramah : cry aloud

[at] Bethaven, frontier towns first attacked ; the enemy cometh 9 after thee, O Benjamin, it is thy turn next. Ephraim shall

be desolate in the day of rebuke ; among the tribes of Israel

have I made known that which shall surely be ; I have given 10 them fair warning, and declared my irrevokable judgment. The

princes of Judah were like them that remove the bound; they were arbitrary and tyrannical, and trampled both upon law and

justice : (therefore] I will pour out my wrath upon them like Il water, like a deluge. Ephraim [is] oppressed [and] broken in

judgment, by his tyrannical' princes, and the kings of Assyria, because he willingly walked after the commandment ; he noi only worshipped the calf and other idols, for fear of penal laws,

but did it willingly, and liked it better than the worship of Jeho12 vah. Therefore (will] I [be] unto Ephraim as a moth, and,

to the house of Judah as rottenness; I will cause them gradu.

• Tabor and Mizpah, two mountains, one on either side of Jordan ; during the civil wars in Israel, their princes and great men, according to their different parties, look opportunities of doing mischief, and from their castles and fortresses would sally out to plunder their neighbours, and rob and destroy innocent travellers, especially those who were going to Jerusalem to worship; or, it may mean that they ensnared men into idolatry,

† Bp. Newcome translates the last clause thus, Now shall the locusts devour their portions.

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