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comfortable things unto them. He saith, I will heal your backsliding. The virtue of the sacrifice which perfects for ever, shall be displayed on your behalf. I will pardon all your sins and backsliding, freely and fully, for my great name's sake in the which, you shall enjoy spiritual health and cure. I will shine upon and within you, with the refreshing beams of my mercy and good-will towards you. I will love you as freely as if you never had sinned against me; there. shall be no more tokens of my displeasure remaining, For mine anger is turned away from you. This is most certainly the truth and subject of the verses which we have passed through. Here the Lord begins a new part of the same subject, as it respects the further expressions of everlasting love towards the Israel of God: I will be as the dew unto Israel: he shall grow as the lily, and cast forth his roots as Lebanon. The next verse expresses the blessings which are further contained in this. Then the two following, the gracious consequence produced by the same. Then the chapter closes with a declaration, that it is true wisdom to know what the Lord hath spoken, and that it is a part of real godliness to delight in the same. There are in the fourth and fifth verses, no less than three I wills. I will heal your backsliding. I will love you freely. I will be as the dew unto Israel. These are all most closely connected together, and the one makes way for the other.
To know that the Lord's will is in all his acts of grace and kindness towards us, is the utmost which can be desired. Does he heal our backslidings? His will is in it. I will heal your backsliding. I will do it. I will do it. Does he love us freely? His will is in it. Is he as the dew unto Israel? It is the good pleasure of God's will, to be to his people all comprehended in this; and, which is thus expressed in the word of grace now before us: I will be as the dew unto Israel: he shall grow as the lily, and cast forth his roots as Lebanon. In my attempt to open and explain these words, I will attend to the following particulars:
First-The declaration and promise here given, I will be as the dew unto Israel. And open the metaphor here made use of, by way of elucidation.
Secondly-The sudden change produced by the fulfilment of this promise. He shall grow as the lily; which, as the effect of its being watered, suddenly sprouts up. This is also to be opened and explained, He shall blossom, or grow as the lily.
Thirdly-The establishment of Israel; or, Church of Christ, in this their flourishing condition. He shall cast forth, or strike forth his roots as Lebanon. Here also the symbol will be spoken of, and will be found to express, that what the Lord doth in, and for his church and saints, is not easily overturned with every blast of wind; this will open the words before us, which are these. I will be as the dew unto Israel: he shall
grow as the lily, and cast forth his roots as Lebanon. May the Lord assist me in going through each of these particulars, and crown the same with his own presence, Spirit, and blessing. Even so, O thou God of all grace. Amen.
I. I am to open and explain the declaration and promise here given. I will be as the dew unto Israel. And open the metaphor made use of, by way of elucidation.
I would here observe, the fountain and spring of these words, originates from the former. The Lord says, I will love them freely. From this free love, it is his gracious pleasure to say, I will be as the dew unto Israel, which some interpret to be the promise of the Holy Ghost; certain it is, sin being taken away, and the Divine Father shining upon his church in Christ, is pleased to shed the Holy Ghost upon his people. We have an express passage to this purpose: Titus iii. 4-6. But after that the kindness and love of God our Saviour toward man appeared, not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to his mercy he saved us, by the washing of regeneration, and renewing of the Holy Ghost; which he shed on us abundantly through Jesus Christ our Saviour. It should be observed, the expression, I will be as the dew unto Israel, is indicative of divine sovereignty. Here is the will of God, expressed in the promise. What is the promise, but a free declaration of the
Lord's being to his church, what he here expresses? It is not founded on any thing in us; yet, it is suited exactly and completely to the case and need of the church. Tis an absolute promise, no way dependant upon the will of man, but upon the will of God; of whom the apostle James says, Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and cometh down from the Father of lights, with whom is no variableness, neither shadow of turning. Of his own will begat he us with the word of truth, that we should be a kind of firstfruits of his creatures. chap. i. 17, 18. Now as the Holy Ghost is the great Efficient of all grace, in, and throughout the whole elect church of Christ; the application of the promise concerning him is not to be despised and as his standing emblem in the Scriptures, is that of dew, rain, and water, so it may be acquiesced in. Be this as it may, it must be confessed the words are expressive of a confluence of all good; of the Lord's being to his church in his love and goodness, abundant and bountiful: also that he will in the communications of his presence, and blessings, exceed his people's uttermost expectation. The expressions are of themselves very sweet, suited to refresh the mind, to quiet the heart, to remove all sort and kind of fear, to excite faith and expectation, and to lead into real and open fellowship with the Lord our God. When he is pleased by them to speak home to the hearts of any of us,
and to shine in the spirit and power of them on our minds, we are most divinely quickened, refreshed, and strengthened. Then it is that we are watered with his graces and heavenly blessings. This is what he doth when he fulfils to us the following words of grace: And I will make them and the places round about my hill a blessing; and I will cause the shower to come down in his season; there shall be showers of blessing. Ezek. xxxiv. 26. The Lord speaking here, by way of declaring himself in his grace and blessings to his people, says, I will be as the dew unto Israel; it is to express how pleasant, reviving, and fructifying, the influences of his word and Spirit are. With respect to the metaphor, God, Christ and the Spirit, may be considered under the same; the saints of God may be compared unto it: so may the truths of the everlasting gospel. In Scripture, things very delightful and refreshing are compared to dew: thus for instance, the king's favor is as dew: The king's wrath is as the roaring of a lion; but his favor is as dew upon the grass. Prov. xix 12. When the soul prospers under the influences of God's word and Spirit; and, a person is under the blessing of the Lord, as it respects outward as well as spiritual prosperity, it may be said of him, the dew lies on his branches; as Job expresses himself: chap. xxix. 19. Unity amongst brethren is compared to the dew of Hermon, very reviving, delightful, and encourag