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their freedom, through the redemption of Him who is no respecter of persons; in whose view the highest and the lowest are exactly on a level; and who, in this sense, gave himself a ransom for all," to be testified in due time?-Multitudes, who are living in carelessness and sin, are among the ransomed of the Lord Jesus, remembered by him in his grand design, the purchase of his agony and death. Are you not anxious that they may know this; and earnestly desirous of being the instruments of their present and eternal happiness? When a fever spreads, what solicitude prevails to check its progress! Much more should you be solicitous to check the progress of sin, and to cure the fatal distemper of the soul. Invite your neighbours to this word of healing. Do what you can to attract them to the house of God, and the means of salvation. Pray fervently for them. Exert yourselves, by every prudent effort, to awaken their attention to the things of the Gospel; to interest their minds, and to impress their hearts. Your labour, in the Lord, shall not be lost. The Saviour gave his life a ransom for many; and while there are first that shall be last, there are also last that shall be first. God forbid that our hope of heaven should deceive us! Rather, may this be our happy case: ransomed by one Saviour, renewed and sanctified by one Spirit, may we unite in one eternal song; saying, with a loud voice," Worthy is the Lamb that was slain, to receive power, and riches, and wisdom, and strength, and honour, and glory, and blessing."—" Blessing, honour, glory, and power, be unto Him that sitteth upon the throne, and unto the Lamb, for ever and ever!"
THE CALL OF GOD OBEYED.
JEREMIAH iii. 22.
Return, ye backsliding children, and I will heal your backslidings. Behold, we come unto thee, for thou art the Lord our God.
IT is a serious charge alleged against some of old; "I have called, and ye refused; I have stretched out my hand; and no man regarded: ye have set at nought all my counsel, and would none of my reproof*." Thank God, this is not universally true. The gracious calls and counsel of Heaven are not entirely lost; the faithful reproof, and earnest entreaties of the Most High are not utterly disregarded. The power of the Almighty accompanies his word, and then we perceive its most salutary effects. May this now be the case! The Lord's message to us is mercy; his language is love. The tenderest affection breathes in every word that he utters, and the kindest regard to our interest and happiness is displayed. "Return, ye backsliding children, and I will heal your blackslidings." What remains, but that we, from the heart, form this most reasonable resolve-" Behold! we come unto thee, for thou art the Lord our God."
* Prov. i. 24, 25.
We propose to take notice of the STATE OF THE PERSONS here addressed-The gracious LANGUAGE OF GOD to them-and, Their OBEDIENT REPLY.
May our minds receive instruction, our hearts be duly affected, and our lasting benefit promoted!
I. The STATE OF THE PERSONS here addressed: "backsliding children."-By these are evidently intended the "house of Israel," whom the Lord had distinguished with peculiar favour, but who had requited him with base and rebellious conduct: They are called "children;" for the Lord had been a Father to them: he had nourished and brought them up: he had exercised towards them all the tenderness and kindness of a parent. But they were foolish, froward, and disobedient: their temper and their manners fully justified the description in the text; ye backsliding children."
We see this sufficiently confirmed and illustrated in the foregoing verse: "A voice was heard upon the high places, weeping and supplications of the children of Israel; for they have perverted their way, and they have forgotten the Lord their God." Here was their backsliding. The words describe both their sin, and the sorrow which it produced. Let us glance
1. They had forgotten the Lord their God.-All sin may be traced to forgetfulness of God. Were he remembered, we could not deliberately transgress against him. But he is not remembered: his very existence is disregarded. "The fool hath said in his heart, there is no God." He asks the impious question, "Who is the Lord, that I should obey his voice?" The whole race of impenitent trans
gressors say unto God, Depart from us; for we desire not the knowledge of thy ways. What is the Almighty, that we should serve him? And what profit should we have if we pray unto him?"
God is forgotten by us. We forget the majesty and purity of his nature; his nearness to us; his presence with us; that his eye is ever upon us; and that darkness and light are both alike to him. We forget his unspeakable love and goodness, and our manifold, increasing obligations. Strange! that, amidst innumerable tokens of remembrance, we should be careless and thoughtless! What are we so powerfully and, perpetually reminded of, as the existence and perfections of Jehovah; yet what is there that we so habitually forget? Our very mercies become a snare, by leading us from himself. Affecting proof of the awful depravity of our hearts! The Lord our God is forgotten, though he is daily loading us with benefits; though he is visiting us every morning, and trying us every moment; though "in him we live, and move, and have our being."-It is farther stated,
2. They had perverted their way.-This denotes their actual transgression, and is the natural effect of forgetfulness of God. Let the Most High be forgotten, and immediately men wander from him; they turn into crooked paths; they lose and embarrass themselves; they pervert their way. Mark how this is expressed in other parts of this prophecy: "Thou hast forgotten me, and trusted in falsehood:" "My people hath forgotten me"-and what is the consequence? "They have burnt incense to vanity, and they have caused them to stumble in their ways from . the ancient paths, to walk in a way not cast up
* Jer. xiii. 25; xviii. 15.
And see here the true nature of sin it is the perversion of our way-in other words, it is "the transgression of the law," the righteous law of God; every commandment of which is "holy, just, and good."
Does not this apply to us? Have not we perverted our way? In innumerable instances we have struggled against the voice of reason, the voice of conscience, the voice of God; and, against the plainest dictates of his word, have wandered in foolish, forbidden paths. We dare not call ourselves "children:" we are no more worthy of this endearing appellation; but, if God be pleased to speak to us as such, we feel the propriety of this humbling epithet, ye backsliding children."
Again, it is intimated,
3. They were filled with painful regret: voice was heard upon the high places, weeping and supplications of the children of Israel."-Here you perceive the penitence of this people: and it was well they were thus affected! "Weeping and supplications" become those who have forgotten the Lord their God, and have perverted their way. And if we are penitents, we shall weep over our offences; we shall mourn bitterly before the Lord, because of our sins against him; we shall not restrain prayer; we shall not be ashamed of tears.
"The high places were the seat of Israel's idolatry: there they committed abomination, and provoked the Holy One of Israel to anger. But where they sinned, there they gave vent to their sorrow; and there they supplicated Divine forgiveness and favour. And, truly, if we are the subjects of genuine repentance, we shall do the same: where