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prophets, who deserved to be called watchmen, and gave you
faithful warning: ; but now your false prophets are a snare to , you and hasten your ruin. They have deeply corrupted [them
selves,] as in the days of Gibeah ; a proverb for abandoned wickedness : (therefore] he will remember their iniquity, he
will visit their sins ; that is, they shall suffer like Benjamin. 30 ( See Judges xix. 22, &c.). I found Israel like grapes in the
wilderness : I saw your fathers as the first ripe in the fig tree at her first time ; I was pleased with them, and favourable to them, as a traveller who, in a sandy desert, meets with a pleasant spot where there are grapes and figs : [but) they, their descendants, went to Baalpeor, the most filthy and detestable idol, and separated themselves unto that shame, gave a loose 10 all their sinful inclinations ; and (their) abominations were
according as they loved; they multiplied their idols according 1l 10 their own lusts and fancies. [As for) Ephraim, their glory
shall fly away like a bird, from the birth, and from the womb, and from the conception ; some shall loose their children when they are just born, others shall miscarry, and others be barren :
they glory in their numbers, but they shall all fly away and be 12 lost. Though they bring up their children, yet will I bereave
them, (that there shall] not (be) a man (left;] those that grote
up shall be destroyed : yea, wo also to them when I depart' 13 from them! Ephraim, as I saw Tyrus, [is] planted in a
pleasant place : but Ephraim shall bring forth his children to the murderer ; that is, to the king of Assyria, who made a fruitle88 attempt upon Tyre, but took Samaria, and
put to death 14 great multitudes. Give them, O LORD : what wilt thou give ?
give them a miscarrying womb and dry breasts ; if I should pray for this people, what shall I ask ? I see such misery coming
upon the country, that I could wish there might be but few born, 15 rather than many should live to be 80 miserable. All their
wickedness [is] in Gilgal ; great favour qvas shorn to their ancestors there, and there the covenant was renewed when they came into Canaan ; but now it is the head quarters of their idola. try : for there, or, therefore I hated them : for the wicked. ness of their doings I will drive them out of mine house, out of my family, and I will love them no more : all their princes
[are] revolters ; have revolted from religion and justice, and 16 propagated wickedness among the people. Ephraim is smitten
like a blasted tree, their root is dried up, they shall bear no fruit : yea, though they bring forth, yet will I slay (even) the
beloved (fruit) of their womb ; their dearest children shall be 17 early destroyed. My God will cast them away, because they
did not hearken unto him ; the source of all is their not heark. ening to God's law, his prophets, and threatenings : and they shall be wanderers among the nations ; shall be dispersed all over the earth (as they are at this day.) St. James addressea the twelve tribes, as those which are scaitered abroad.
TONE have less reason for joy than apostates and revolt
ers. Israel is here forbidden to rejoice, because they had no reason, no ground for it. Those who know not God may rejoice in his providential favours. His people have great reason to rejoice in him and his blessings ; but revolters have none ; for, as their sins are peculiarly displeasing to God, their punishment will be most dreadful. Guilt and fear may well spoil all their mirth. He that desires to secure true and lasting joy, must fear God, and keep close to him and his service.
2. It becomes us seriously to reflect on the manner in which we behave on our solemn days. Israel is here reminded of their ill behaviour, and directed to consider what they should do when their feasts ceased, that they should have no sacrifices to offer, and that they would not be accepted if they had, as they would be turned out of the Lord's land. Let this lead us to inquire what regard we pay to our solemn days ; what improvement we make of them ; and what reflections will fill our minds under the want or loss of them. Miserable indeed will be the case of those who are turned out of the Lord's heavenly land, and, in the horror of despair, wish for one of those days of that visitation, which they now despise or undervalue.
3. See the fatal consequences of God's departing from men. After he had threatened Ephraim with the loss of all their comforts, then this comes in also, as the most dreadful circumstance of all ; yea, wo also to them when I depart from them. When God finally departs, every thing that is good and happy is taken away ; every thing that is painful and tormenting is inflicted. Innumerable, eternal woes, will follow that unhappy creature from whom God is departed. Let us dread this, as the greatest evil, and keep ourselves in the love of God. The Lord is with you while you are with him ; but if ye will not hearken unto him, God will cast you off for ever.
In which Israel is reproved and threatened for their impiety and
idolatry, and exhorted to repentance.
ITSRAEL [is] an empty vine, he bringeth forth fruit unto
himself; like flourishing vines which empty their juices, but all 10 themselves : according to the multitude of his fruit he hath increased the altars ; according to the goodness of his land they have made goodly images ; they abused their pros
terity to idolatry, and served their gods with the gifts of provi. dence. Their heart is divided between God and idols ; now shall they be found faulty : he, the king of Assyria, by God's
permission, shall break down their altars, he shall spoil their 3 images. For now they, some of them, shall say, We have no
king, because we feared not the LORD ; what then should a
king do to us ? we are in such an unhappy situation that the 4 best king could not retrieve our affairs. They have spoken
words, mere hypocritical, empty words, swearing falsely in making a covenant with God: thus judgment springeth up as hemlock in the furrows of the field ; they make the administra.
tion of justise a mischief and a curse, rather than a blessing. 5 The inhabitants of Samaria shall fear, because of the calves
of Bethaven : for the people thereof shall mourn over it, and the priests thereof [that] rejoiced on it, for the glory thereof,
because it is departed from it ; because the calf of Bethel is if taken away and has lost all its reputation. It shall be also
carried into Assyria (for) a present to king Jareb; the calf shall be taken away by the king of 188yria ; and sent as a present to or, to plead with) king Jareb, to make up matters ; that is, in their domestic broils their god himself shall be carried away : therefore, Ephraim shall receive shame, and
Israel shall be ashamed of his own counsel ; of his policy in 7 setting up the calf. (As for] Samaria, her king is cut off as
the foam upon the water ; the whole kingdom shall have a short 8 lived glory, and vanish like a bubble. The high places also of -Aven, ikeir iniquity and idolatry, the sin of Israel shall be destroyed : the thorn and the thistle shall come up on their altars ; and they shall say with the utmost consternation to the mountains, Cover us; and to the hills, Fall on us: such shall be
their misery, that they will wish for the most terrible death, rather 9 than continue to endure it. O Israel, thou hast sinned from
the days of Gibeah ; or, more than in the days of Gibeah : there they stood in array against Benjamin : the battle in Gibeah against the children of iniquity did not overtake them ;
neither the first nor the second time ; but, as they were almost 10 all destroyed at last, 80 shall it be with you. [It is) in my de
sire that I should chastise them ; it is my purpose 10 do it ; and the people shall be gathered against them when they shall bind themselves in their two furrows ; that is, quhen they shall be chastised for their two iniquities, for their calves in Dan
and Bethel ; or rather, when the Assyrians shall reduce them in a 11 state of servitude. And Epliraim (is as] an heifer (that is)
taught, (and) loveth to tread out (the corn ;] but I passed the yoke over upon her fair neck ; probably referring to the general methods which God took at first to form them to obedience : I will make Ephraim to ride, or be ridden; that is, they shall be
oppressed and carried captive by the Assyrians ; Judab shall VOL. VI,
plough (and) Jacob shall break his clods; Juduh shall yet be
preserved, and return, while Ephraim shall be oppressed and 12 destroyed. Then follows an exhortation to repentance. Sow to
yourselves in righteousness, reap in mercy; break up your fallow ground of knowledge : for (it is) time to seek the LORD, till he come and rain righteousness upon you ; that is, If ye 80w goodness, ye shall reap divine mercys if ye cultivate the know
ledge of Jehovah, he will pour upon you the rain of righteous 13 benignity.* Ye have ploughed wickedness, ye have reaped
iniquity ; ye have eaten the fruit of lies ; deceitful fruii, the
just reward of idolatry: because thou didst trust in thy way of 14 worship, in the multitude of thy mighty men. Therefore shall
a tumult arise among thy people, and all thy fortresses shall be spoiled, as Shalman spoiled Betharbel in the day of battle : the mother was dashed in pieces upon [her] children ; refer
ring to an event, then well known ; that is, God will bring the 15 same enemies and do as cruel executions :t So shall Bethel do
unto you because of your great wickedness; it is not your enemies, but your sins, which are the cause of this : in a morning, that is, soon, and with great dispatch, shall the king of Israel utterly be cut off.
1. HEN men are destitute of real religion, they can find
little comfort in any of their enjoyments, v. 3. When their hearts are divided between God and the world, and they worship gold, as Israel did the calves, it is no wonder that God should take away the tokens of his favour ; and what can wealth and honour then do for them ? If the fear and love of God influence the heart, there may be inward peace and happiness without these things ; but when men forget God, are false to their covenant engagements, and thereby provoke God to forsake them ; all earthly things can do little to make them truly happy even in this world, much less in another ; for riches profit not in the day of wrath.
2. Let us attend to the exhortations and encouragements here given to repentance ; a beautiful and instructive description of which we have in v. 12. The heart of man is, if left to itself, like fallow ground, barren, and useless; yet it is capable of cultivation ; and when sinful habits are broken off, carnal affections rooted out, and seeds of righteousness sown there, the produce is invaluable. God must be sought unto to make the instituted means of grace effectual to this great end ; and then, we have reason to hope, he will rain righteousness upon us, increase in us
• See Bp. Newcome in los. + This threatening came to pass at Arbela in Armenia, in the famous battle between Alexander and Darius
all christian graces, and all worthy dispositions : and when this is the case, (beside the present satisfaction and pleasure arising from these) there will be a crop of future mercy to be reaped. But let us not forget that it is all mercy; the free gift of God to the righteous, and not what they have merited. Let us then foto low after righteousness, and shun and dread all iniquity ; remembering that the connexion between ploughing wickedness and reaping punishment, is as sure and necessary, as between sowing righteousness and reaping mercy.
3. Let us therefore learn to trace up all our calamities and af. flictions to sin, as the procuring cause : this is strongly expressed in v. 15. God had foretold what they should suffer by the Assyrians, and adds, 80 shall Bethel do to you. As if he had said, It is your idolatry at Bethel that brings all these calamities ; it is not Shalman, but Bethel, that does this to you. It is one design of afflictive providences, to bring men's sins to remembrance, to make us sensible of our great wickedness, or of the evil of our evil, as in the margin, and thus lead us to humiliation, repentance and amendment. Whatever calamities befall us, let us improve them to this purpose ; and then, by these shall our iniquities be purged ; and the fruit of all will be to take away sin.
Which contains an account of Israel's ingratitude to God for his ben.
efits ; of his judgments upon them ; of his mercy toward them ; of Ephraim's
falsehood, and Judah's fidelity.
THEN Israel (was) a child, at the beginning of their
state, in the days of their patriarchs, when they kept clear of idolatry, then I loved him, and called my son out of Egypt ; brought them out from Egypt by my divine power ; this God did literally, and the phrase became proverbial, for delivering them from imminent dangers, and showing them extra
ordinary favours i and in this sense it is applied to Christ, 2 (Matr. ii. 15.) (As) they, Moses and Aaron, called them, so
they went from them : they sacrificed unto Baalim, and burn.
ed incense to graven images ; they early began their idolatry, 3 even in the wilderness. I taught Ephraim also to go, taking
them by their arms, like a tender mother, leading them through the wilderness with great care, but they knew not that I healed
them ; they ascribed their deliverance to other instruments, 4 and not to me. I drew them with cords of a man, with bands
of love ; by a kind, and gentle conduct, suited to human nature, and adapted to work upon il ; or, as in the Chaldee, as beloved children are drawn, I drew them by the strength of love ; and