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God's Notice of Penitents

God's Notice of Penitents

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Published by GLENN DALE PEASE
THE REV. C. SIMEON, M.A.


Hos. xiv. 8. Ephraim shall say, What have I to do any more
with idols P I have heard him, and observed him : I am like a
green fir-tree : from me is thy fruit found.
THE REV. C. SIMEON, M.A.


Hos. xiv. 8. Ephraim shall say, What have I to do any more
with idols P I have heard him, and observed him : I am like a
green fir-tree : from me is thy fruit found.

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Published by: GLENN DALE PEASE on Jun 26, 2014
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GOD'S OTICE OF PEITETSTHE REV. C. SIMEO, M.A. Hos. xiv. 8. Ephraim shall say, What have I to do any more with idols P I have heard him, and observed him : I am like a green fir-tree : from me is thy fruit found. THE conversion of a sinner is a work of infinite difficulty; no efforts of the creature can accomplish it ; none but He who spake the universe into exist- ence, can renew the soul : but when his time is come, the work is done both easily and effectually. As a ship, forsaken by the ebbing tide, can never be drag- ged along, but is easily put in motion when borne up by the returning waters, so the sinner is immoveable in his iniquities, till the Spirit of God flows in upon him : and then " old things quickly pass away, and, behold, all things become new." This observation is verified continually before our eyes : persons who have been warned and intreated for many years, and have not only withstood all the most awful and en- dearing considerations, but have been more and more hardened by the means used to convert them, have at last been turned to God through a secret and invi- sible influence upon their souls, and have become burning and shining lights in their day and generation. Such were the effects produced on the day of Pente- cost, when thousands to whom our blessed Lord had preached 614.] god's notice of penitents. 345 preached in vain, and on whom the most stupendous miracles had wrought no change, were constrained to renounce all their former habits and opinions, and to
 
embrace a new, a spiritual, a despised, and persecuted religion. A similar instance we have in the passage be- fore us. If we look to the account given us of Ephraim in chap. iv. 17. we shall find, that he was ''joined to idols," yea, so glued to them, that neither warn- ings from man, nor judgments from God, could sepa- rate him from them ; and therefore God said respect- ing him, " Ephraim is joined to idols, let him alone ;" it is to no purpose to use any further means for his recovery; he is incorrigible, and irreclaimable. But behold the change, when once God is pleased to put forth his power! When once he says, "¦ I will heal their backsliding, I will be as the dew to Israel," ** I will manifest my grace and mercy to his soul," the obdurate heart relents ; the abandoned sinner turns from his iniquities, and even with indignation and abhorrence renounces his most beloved lusts ; *' Ephraim saith, What have I to do any more with idols ?" If God therefore have such pity on an impe- nitent transgressor, we shall not wonder at the gra- cious declaration which he makes for the comfort of this penitent and returning sinner ; *' I have heard him, and observed him : I am like a green fir-tree : from me is thy fruit found." In discoursing on these words, we shall be natu- rally led to shew you, I. The disposition of the true penitent — [The unconverted man, though he may never have bowed down to stocks and stones, is an idolater : he " loves and serves the creature more than the Creator." All indeed do not worship the same idol : one gives his heart to riches, another to honour, another to pleasure ; and though all these find a higher place in our affections than we allow to God, yet each person has his fa- vourite idol, to which he is in a more especial manner devoted : but when grace has renewed the heart, then the penitent says with Ephraim of old, " What have I to do any more with idols?" His disposition is, To renounce all sins in general, — his besetting
 
sin in particular j — and this too with indignation and abhorrence. He 346 HosEA, XIV. 8. [614. He renouncesallsiTis in general. — A person who is not truly peni- tent may exchange one sin for another ; he may exchange lewd- ness and intemperance for the love of honour and ambition; he may turn from prodigality to avarice ; or from indifference and profaneness to Pharisaism and hypocrisy. But he never remits one sin without taking some other in its stead ; yea, he fre- quently puts more into the scale of pride and conceit, than ever he took outof that of sensuality or profaneness. But it is not thus with the true penitent: he has commenced a war against sin in general; he endeavours to attack it in all quarters ; he knows that sin is idolatry, in that it is a preference given to the creature above God himself; and therefore, without making any reserves, he deter- mines to extirpate sin, root and branch, if possible, and says, ** What have I to do any more with idols ?" But he more particularly devotes to destruction his besetting sin.  — ^The besetting sin of the ten tribes was idolatry : and therefore when Ephraim is brought to repentance, he is represented as fixing his eyes more particularly on that sin. Indeed this was remarkably exemplified in the Jews, after their return from the Babylonish captivity : for though, before their captivity, they could never be kept long together from idolatry, they could not after their return be drawn to it ; insomuch, that when it was proposed to set up a statue of Augustus in the Temple, the Jews determined to perish rather than submit to it. ow every man has some sin which more easily besets him : and it is oftentimes a very difficult matter to find it out, by reason of the various shapes which it assumes, and the deep recesses in which it lurks. But it is a distinguishing mark of the true penitent, that, whatever he imagines to be his besetting sin, he will be more particularly solicitous to mortify and subdue it. The hypocrite and self- deceiver will plead for his darling lust ; he will make excuses for

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