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FOURTEENTH CHAPTER OF HOSEA;
The Fourteenth Chapter of Hosea Sermonized.
HOSEA XIV, v. 1.
O Israel, return unto the Lord thy God; for thou hast fallen by thine iniquity.
THE prophecy, of which this is the last chap
ter, concerned the Ten Tribes of Israel, who had broken off from the house of David, under the influence of Jeroboam, the son of Nebat, who taught Israel to sin; and some parts of it belong to the people of Judah. Some conceive the prophet prophesied for the space of seventy years. His name Hosea, or, Hosheah, is the same with Oshea, or Joshua, whom Moses called Jehoshua, which is by some interpreted, the Essence saving; or, the salvation of the Lord. Our prophet must have been cotemporary with Isaiah. His name also signifies the salvation of the Lord. Hosea
prophesied under the reigns of Uzziah, Jotham, Ahaz, and Hezekiah, kings of Judah; and under the reign of Jeroboam, second king of Israel, and his successors, to the destruction of Samaria, under a king of the same name with himself. The general parts of the prophecy concern the kingdom of Israel by itself-See chap. i, and ii. The kingdom of Judah by itself-chap. iii. And both kingdoms jointly, in the succeeding chapters. These are interspersed with various threatenings of national and impending judgments, which would come upon them for their profaneness, and horrid impieties. Their sins are particularly enumerated. The way in which the Lord would execute his fierce wrath upon them is expressed; and a mixture of judgment and mercy is most graciously expressed, to encourage such as might be seeking the Lord, to hope in him for his pardoning mercy, to be exercised towards them. Some promises also are given concerning their deliverance from captivity. Many passages in it refer to Christ. His resurrection and victory over death are most triumphantly expressed, and the whole book is closed with a declaration that God will pardon their sins, and this in answer to their prayers; that he will receive them graciously, and love them freely; that he will shed his Spirit on them; that a glorious change shall be effected in them; that they shall be established, enlarged, made beautiful and glorious, a sweet
smell to others, that such as join them shall find the benefit thereof; they shall revive as the corn; they shall renounce all their former sins and self dependencies; God will hear their prayers, he will observe them: then the whole is concluded by declaring that spiritual wisdom and prudence consist, in having a knowledge of the ways of the Lord, to saints the right apprehension of the same is a delight; but to the wicked, they are a stumbling block. Thus I have given you a general outline of what is contained in the chapter before us, the total fulfilment of which will not be accomplished, until the restoration of the Jews, and the reinstatement of them in their own land in the latter day. I proceed to open and explain the words before me: O Israel, return unto the Lord thy God; for thou hast fallen by thine iniquity.
These words are spoken by the Lord God. They were spoken by him to backsliding Israel. They are spoken in rich mercy, and are full of rich and sovereign grace. They are expressive of the bowels of God's mercy. They are spoken to some sinners in the worst case and state of mind in which they could be placed, or under any consideration be in. There is no case so sinfully extreme, as that of backsliding from the Lord. None but the Lord himself can give encouragement to such to hope in his mercy. Here the Lord is pleased to utter forth his glorious voice
to his people, let their cases of sin and guilt be what they may. He is pleased, most graciously pleased, to give this as the reason for so doing: For thou hast fallen by thine iniquity. Backsliders want encouragement to return to the Lord. None know their hearts, cases, frames, and feeling, so as to be capable to speak fully to their satisfaction but the Lord himself. It is not all who preach, that can so express themselves in their ministry, as to set forth Christ as he is revealed in the word, and so declare the thing as it is; that they shall be the very means, if the Lord please, of removing every hindrance out of the way, so as a sinner, with the full knowledge of the whole contained in his sinfulness and guilt, and in the clear apprehensions of Christ, as set forth ministerially, may close with Christ, and receive him freely and fully, as the complete salvation of God. Neither are all the Lord's ministers suited to preach Christ to all sorts, and kind of sinful cases, which befal the children of the most high God; neither are all these, each, and every one of them, suited alike to feed, direct, and build up, the Lord's called people on their most holy faith. It pleases the Lord to give to all, and each of his ministering servants, the gifts and graces, severally as he will. So says the Apostle. Now there are diversities of gifts, but the same Spirit. And there are differences of administrations, but the same Lord. And there
are differences of operations, but it is the same God which worketh all in all. 1 Cor. chap. xii, ver. 4-6. It is the royal prerogative of the Lord God alone, to speak in the person of his co-essential Word, the Lord Jesus Christ, through the medium of the Scriptures, by the grace and influence of the eternal Spirit, to all his called ones, and that so particularly, and expressly to their cases, as is expressive of his heart towards them. In the words before us, we have a proof of this. The words are good and comfortable, They contain an address, which is to Israel his people. They are in a sinful case, and are in appearance insensible of the same. They are fallen into sad circumstances. Because it is even
thus with them, it is here written: O Israel, return unto the Lord thy God; for thou hast fallen by thine iniquity.
In my sermonizing these words I will cast my subject into the following order, and set the same before you, as contained in these particulars, hoping it may be the more advantageous for your memories, and the retention of the discourse,
First-We have here the Lord's address unto his backsliding ones. O Israel, return unto the Lord thy God.
Secondly-One substantial reason doing their relation to the Lord their God. He was their God, and they were his people. Return unto the Lord thy God.