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damned ? “ Turn ye, turn ye, why will ye
die?" Abandon the pollutions you have cherished; embrace the cross you have insulted ; trust the merits, imitate the holiness, devote yourselves to the glory of the Redeemer; and then, you will be raised from debasement, and shielded from danger, and prepared to receive from him an immortality in the purity and happiness of heaven.
ISAIAH 1. 18.
Come now, and let us reason together, saith the Lord: Though
your sins be as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow ; though they be red like crimson, they shall be as wool.
NEVER can we feel a sufficient warmth of gratitude, that God has communicated to us the knowledge of his character, and of the method by which the invaluable enjoyments of his favour are to be obtained. The moral perversion and intellectual weakness of human nature, prevent the correct pursuit and ultimate attainment of spiritual truth, the recognition and influence of which are essential to happiness,—and diffuse a darkness, whose shadows nothing less than the illuminations of heaven can remove. To annihilate the vast and numberless evils which such a state must produce, Jehovah has revealed his own glory, and shed a light around the sphere of man—a “ day-spring from on high”-sufficient to dispel “the shadow of death,” and to “ guide his feet into the way of peace.” Is not this a fact, demanding all that our hearts ean render of gladness and of praise?
I have now presented to your attention, words constituting one of the memorable messages which God conveyed by his prophets of old, to illustrate and impress important principles, and to kindle right and saving emotions in the human bosom. That they contain matter of great and permanent interest, and are justly to be regarded as an address from the Holy One to all ages, is not to be denied. You cannot surely, in the circumstances of your species, imagine a communication more interesting than this: if you have analyzed and ascertained its contents already, you ought yet to be thankful when you are summoned to their examination again; and the fact of repetition, only renders more imperious the duty of giving the best practical regard the understanding and heart can bestow. The truths here comprehended, are now to be proclaimed once more, without novelty indeed, except as the divine mercy is an object of contemplation ever charming and unexhausted: that all who hear may feel, and that all who are invoked may believe, is a prayer, which, if answered, will confer on all the riches of
grace, and the blessings of salvation. In this passage,
I. THERE IS
ASSUMED THE EXISTENCE
It is evident, from the nature of the terms employed in the text, that they to whom it was originally directed, were considered as trans
gressors of no ordinary kind. You need scarcely be reminded, that by sins which were “scarlet” and “crimson," were meant sins of peculiar heinousness and flagrancy. The connexion in which the text stands, will further illustrate, how far the people to whom pertained the privileges of the ancient revelation, had gone in the practice of iniquity. The writings of the prophet commence with a formal complaint of their opposition to divine authority. () heavens; and give ear, 0 earth; for the Lord hath spoken : I have nourished and brought up children, and they have rebelled against me: the ox knoweth his owner, and the ass his master's crib: but Israel doth not know, my people doth not consider. Ah, sinful nation, a people laden with iniquity, a seed of evil-doers, children that are corrupters! they have forsaken the Lord, they have provoked the Holy One of Israel to anger, they are gone away backward.”*
It is then stated, that the visitations of chastisement employed as means of reproof, would be unavailing, and that increased correction would only produce increased revolt. “Why should
will revolt more and more. The whole head is sick, and the whole heart faint. From the sole of the foot even unto the head there is no soundness in it; but wounds, and bruises, and putrefying sores : they have not been closed, neither bound up, neither mollified with ointment.”+ Titles in* V. 2-4.
+ V.5, 6.
volving the very worst characters of crime, are applied to them: “Hear the word of the Lord, ye rulers of Sodom; give ear unto the law of our God, ye people of Gomorrah ;"* and all their pretended worship of the Most High, is regarded as nothing but hypocritical mockery, which in place of being accepted, was adapted only to kindle the anger of Him to whom it was offered. . -Thus there are imputed immense aggravations of guilt; and when we consider the privileges with which they had been favoured, and the powerful means which had been established among them to restrain them from sin, and preserve them in obedience, we shall at once estimate what a weight of transgression they had contracted, and to what a danger of vengeance they were exposed.
Leaving the particular case of the Jews, for those general observations we are justified in introducing, it is a matter of solemn reflection, that participation in sin extends to the whole human race.
Offence against God is the uniform habit and character of our species. Our “ hearts are deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked ;” and the principle of the heart is awfully exhibited in the actions of the life. Departure from him who is “the fountain of living waters,” exemplified either in open rebellion against his claims, or in that neglect, which though less daring, is equally criminal,
* V. 10.