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Directions for an Acceptable Approach to God,

Directions for an Acceptable Approach to God,

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Hos. xiv. 1 — 3. Israel, return unto the Lord thy God ; for
thou hast fallen by thine iniquity. Take ivith you words, ajid
turn unto the Lord : say unto him, Take away all iniquity,
and receive us graciously : so ivill we render the calves of

Hos. xiv. 1 — 3. Israel, return unto the Lord thy God ; for
thou hast fallen by thine iniquity. Take ivith you words, ajid
turn unto the Lord : say unto him, Take away all iniquity,
and receive us graciously : so ivill we render the calves of

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Published by: GLENN DALE PEASE on Jun 26, 2014
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Hos. xiv. 1 — 3. Israel, return unto the Lord thy God ; for
thou hast fallen by thine iniquity. Take ivith you words, ajid
turn unto the Lord : say unto him, Take away all iniquity,
and receive us graciously : so ivill we render the calves of
¦ our lips. Ashur shall not save us : we will not ride upon
horses ; neither will we say any more to the work of our hands.
Ye are our Gods : for in Thee the fatherless find eth mercy.
FOR the encouragement of all who feel the burthen
of their sins, God has declared, yea has sworn, that
" he has no pleasure in the death of a sinner, but
rather that he should turn from his wickedness and
live :" and the whole Scriptures bear testimony to
that blessed truth. But, lest any should be discou-
raged by the idea that they know not how to approach
him acceptably, it has pleased God to prescribe the
very " words" whereby he would have them address
him. And assuredly, if he had consulted all the
weary and heavy-laden sinners in the universe, and
had permitted them, or any individual among them,
to dictate to him what expressions he should pre-
scribe, the whole world could never have suggested
any that were more suited to the necessities of men,
or more satisfactory to their minds, than those re-
corded in our text.
In the words before us,~ we see, not merely our
general warrant for returning to the Lord, but more,
I. What petitions to offer —
[What would any one who felt the burthen of sin, and a
restoration to the Divine favour, desire ? What but a full re-
mission of all his sins, and a free communication of all spi-
ritual and eternal blessings ? He would wish for pardon to be
complete ; because if so much as one sin were left upon his soul
it would inevitably plunge him into everlasting perdition
He would also wish for his reception to be perfectly gratuitous,
because he can never do any thing to merit it at the hands of
God Behold then, it is precisely in this way that we are
directed to pray ; " Take away all iniquity, and receive us gra-
ciously.' ' And let it be remembered, that this address is not put
into the mouths of those only who have contracted a less measure
of guilt than others, but of all, to whatever extent *' their
iniquities" may have abounded, and to whatever depth they may
have " fallen" by them. If only we have a desire to " return to
the Lord our God," we are the persons invited and commanded
to return in this ivay.']
In our text, we are further told,
II. What promises to make —
We must not imagine that we can make to God any
adequate return for his mercies towards us ; nor must
we presume to offer any thing to him as an induce-
ment to exercise mercy towards us : nor in any point
of view whatever must we promise any thing in our
own strength. But his mercies undoubtedly call for
the best return that we can make ; and they lay us
under an obligation to do our utmost to please and
serve him. Whatever tribute we can render to him,
we should : and he here tells us what he will accept
at our hands, namely, the tribute of,
1. A grateful heart —
[The blood of bulls or " calves" is no longer required of us :
there are other and better sacrijices which he expects us to offer,
namely, *' the calves of our lips," or the sacrifices of praise and
thanksgiving^. And these are the offerings which all who are
looking to him for mercy desire to offer. In fact, the more any
persons are bo\Ved down with a sense of sin, the more they are
ready to say, How shall I praise God, if ever I should obtain
mercy at his hands ! If ever God should admit nie to a partici-
pation of his kingdom and glory, there will not be one in heaven
that will shout the praises of redeeming love so loud as I. This
tribute therefore the pardoned sinner will delight to pay "]
1. A devoted life —
[To turn from sin, and especially from our besetting sins, is
indispensably required of all who seek for mercy at God's hands''
The besetting sins of Israel were, creature-confidence, and
idolatry :
»Ps. 1. 13, 14, 23. •* Heb. xii. 1.
336 HosEA, XIV. 1 — 3. [612.
idolatry : they were always looking to Egypt or Assyria for help,
rather than to God ; and giving to dumb idols the worship that was
due to him alone. These evils therefore thev were to renounce ;
and an engagement to renounce them was required of all who desired
the remission of their former sins. Thus, in approaching the Most
High God, and supplicating mercy from him, we should determine,
with God's help, never more to provoke the Lord to jealousy by
a renewal of those sins of which we profess to have repented.
Our besetting sins in particular must be searched out : and what-
ever they may have been, whether of a spiritual or carnal nature,
we must engage, through grace, to mortify and subdue them
We must engage, in dependence upon God, to " cleanse
ourselves from all filthiness of the flesh and spirit, pepfecting holi-
ness in the fear of God."j
As great earnestness is required in our prayers, we
are taught,
III. What pleas to urge —
[God indeed is not, nor can be, wrought upon by any con-
siderations that we can propose : but for the stirring up of our
own souls it is proper and necessary that we should enforce our
petitions with becoming pleas. But where shall we find any con-
sideration fit to be presented to the Deity ? o where, but in
his own perfections, or in his gracious promises. Here however
we are at no loss: the compassions of our God are infinite ; and
may well be pleaded by those wlio feel their need of mercy. " In
Him the fatherless findeth mercy:" in him, too, the guilty, as well
as the destitute, find mercy. Search the records of his word ;
and this truth will be seen written as with a sun-beam. Mark that
stupendous effort of mercy, the gift of his only dear Son to the
accursed death of the cross ! mark the invitations, the promises,
the expostulations, the complaints ; " Wilt thou not l)e made
clean? Oh ! when shall it once be ?" Mark these, I say; and
they form such a plea, as must satisfy the most doubting mind,
and turn to transports of joy the apprehensions of every despond-
ing soul ]
1. To those who refuse to turn to God —
[Alas ! how many turn a deaf ear to the solicitations of
heaven ! " How often would the Saviour gather us under his
wings, and we will not ?" But, if you will not turn at God's re-
proof, what will ye answer him in the day when ye shall judge the
w<Mld ? Low as " ye are fallen," he now is willing to raise you
up : but all possibility of recovery will then be past ; and you
will sink yet lower still, even into the bottomless abvss of misery.
" O consider this, ye that forget God; lest he tear you in pieces,
and there be none to deliver you."]
2. To those who are beginning to return —
[Mind that you return in his appointed way. Seek not
merely a deliverance from wrath, but a restoration to the state
from whence ye are fallen. Look back on man in his primeval
state, and ^ee how Adam walked with God in Paradise : tliat is
the pattern that you should enrleavour to follow, and the standard
to which you should aspire. Or, if he be too far removed from
your apprehensions, look at the ISaviour, the Lord Jesus Christ,
and see how he walked in the midst of this ungodly world : and
endeavour to " walk as he walked." For the remission of your
sins, and your restoration to the Divine favour, let the mercy
of God in Christ Jesus be your only plea, your only hope : and,
for the honouring of your reconciled God, let the sacrifice of
praise be continually offered to him on the altar of your hearts,
and every defilement be banished without hesitation or reserve.
Thus coming to him, you shall never be cast out ; but shall surely
be received to a participation of his favour, and to a possession of
his glory.]

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