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possession of the land of Canaan, we perceive them almost constantly exhibiting a disposition to forsake the worship of God, and to conform themselves to the Idolatrous practices of the heathen around them. To counteract this perverse and fatal tendency, God had used every means compatible with their reasonable service. When they adhered to his worship he saved them from the band of their enemies, and made them to dwell safely. He gave them the former and the latter rain ; and caused their land to bring forth abundantly, thereby filling their hearts with food and gladness. On the other hand, when they went after strange gods, he gave them over as a prey to their enemies. He turned the heavens above them into brass, and destroyed the provision of bread. Yet notwithstanding these gracious and corrective dealings of their mercifn! God, they continued up to the time that they were carried away captive into Babylon, to depart from him, and to pay their adorations to wood and stone. These were in fact the two evils with which God by the mouth of the prophet charges them in the words of the text.
The sin of Idolatry so far as it consists in worshipping gold, or silver, or stone, graven by art, and man's device, cannot indeed be literally laid to our charge: still it is true of us no less than of the Jews,
that we have committed two evils, in that "we have forsaken God, the Fountain of Living Waters, and have hewed ourselves out cisterns,-broken cisterns, that can hold no water.” We shall not therefore enter into any inquiry at present respecting the remarkable tendency towards the worship of strange gods, which the Jewish people for so many successive ages continued to manifest; but shall proceed to consider the text, in the sense in which it is applicable to ourselves. In doing this, the first particular that presents itself to our no. tice, is, our departure from God.
One light in which this seems to be viewed is, our departure from him as our rightful owner, “ My people”, saith he, “ have forsaken me." That God is indeed our owner all must acknowledge who admit that he is our Creator; for if it was he that made us, and not we ourselves, we must be his people. The imparting of existence clearly constitutes absolute ownership. If we regard God as our preserver, we shall perceive, that in this respect also, be may justly claim us as his own : and if again we consider him as our Redeemer, as I trust and believe that the far greater part of us do; then we must admit that we are not our own, but that we are bought with a price, and are bis by right of purchase. But though we acknowledge that God is our proprietor, in each and all of the several respects here enumerated; still we must concede the fact that we have forsaken him. The general dis regard to God is too deplorably evident to afford any just ground to question the truth of this statement. That our hearts are not set upon God, as the object of our highest affections, is but too obvious, from the general inattention to his worship,-from the habitual neglect of his ordinances,-from the prevalent indifference to secure his favour, from the carelessness about his commandments,-from the inattention to his promises which are constantly exhibited; to say nothing of the awful desecration of his Sabbaths, the profanation of his Holy Name, and the impious and avowed contempt of his authority, with wbich every Christian bas his feelings perpetually shocked. Too truly may it in: deed be said of us, “ They have departed from me,” for all we like sheep bave gone astray; and the language of our conduct, perhaps of the lips of some of us has been, We are our own. Who is Lord over us? We know not the Lord, neither will we bearken unto his voice.
But the text speaks more particularly of our departure from Godus our Benefactor. “They have forsaken me, the Fountain of Living Waters.” In this expression, the benefits which we derive from God are beautifully and strikingly exhibited. Even with us, where showers are abundant, and where drought is seldom or never severely experienced, the perennial fountain is not merely an object beautiful to the sight, but of the utmost consequence to our health and comfort. In the sultry months of some of our summers, we have experienced how delightful and refreshing it is to drink the cool waters of the never-failing fountain. We can however form but a very inadequate conception of the value which the Inhabitants of Judea, and the neighbouring countries attach to such fountains. With them during the summer months most of their wells fail, and their brooks and streams are dried up. This circumstance must necessarily occasion great inconvenience, and in many cases very severe suffering; and if there were not here and there Fountains of Living Waters, the whole population would perish; and the land be left desolate, without Inhabitant. We need not wonder therefore, that the finding of such wells is so particularly recorded in the Scriptures, or, that in the figurative language of those countries they should be employed to denote the greatest blessings. When God therefore is described as a Fountain of Living Waters, we are reminded, that he is the author of all good. That every • good and perfect gift cometh down from the Futher of Lights.” That he is the source of all comfort, and of every blessing. And such indeed God has been found to be, in every age, by all those who cleave to him. “They cast their care upon him, knowing that
he careth for them” they look to him in the hour of distress, and they find him “a very present help in time of trouble” “ He lifts up the light of his countenance upon them, and give them peace” throughout their Pilgrimage his goodness and his mercy follow
them “he maketh them to lie down in green pastures, he leadeth them beside the still waters—when they pass through the Valley of the Shadow of Death, they fear no evil, for he is with them : His Rod and his Staff they comfort them” and after Death they shall hunger no more, neither thirst any more, neither shall the sun light on them, or any heat; for the Lamb which is in the midst of the thrones shall feed them, and shall lead them into Living Fountains of Waters, and God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes.” all this,yea, and more than heart can conceive, is God to such as love him and keep his commandments; still do we say unto him, “ depart from us, for we will not the “ knowledge of thy ways.”
But there is a second evil spoken of in the text with which also we are justly chargeable; we have not merely forsaken the fountain of living waters, but we have hewed ourselves out cisterns, broken cisterns that can hold no water,-in other words, we have ceased to seek our happiness in God, and are endeavouring to find it in the creature. The human mind naturally