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your lives, and will grow to endless ages. Are you not thankful for what the Lord hath done in opening your eyes, in touching your hearts, in turning you from sin to himself? Let your gratitude be expressed in humble, diligent service; in faithful affectionate devotedness to your God and Saviour.
Much of this discourse has been addressed to characters different from yourselves: but you are not uninterested when this is the case. Others are what you once were; and it gives you pleasure when they are warned of their danger, and urged to flee from the wrath to come. Lift up your heart in prayer, and let your petition be, that the sinners in Zion may be afraid; that transgressors may repent of their evil ways; that many who to this hour have refused the Gospel, may hear, and fear, and trust in the Lord.
Vol. i. 2 A
THE EVIL OF INCONSIDERATION.
HOSEA vii. 2.
And they consider not in their hearts that I do remember all their wickedness.
J. HE moral state of man, as described in the Bible,
is truly affecting. At a very early period, " God saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every imagination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually." After many ages had elapsed, "the Lord looked down from heaven upon the children of men, to see if there were any that did understand, and seek God." What was the result? "As it is written, There is none righteous, no not one; there is none that understandeth, there is none that seeketh after God. They are all gone out of the way, they are together become unprofitable, there is none that doeth good, no not one."
But God has always had a professing people in the world; a people distinguished with peculiar privileges, and laid under special obligations. Such were the ancient Israelites, and their descendants the nation of the Jews. Of these the prophet speaks in this chapter, and what he affirms is distressing. God himself is introduced as alleging a heavy charge; "When I would have healed Israel," stirring up my prophets to exhort them to repentance, and to proclaim salvation, "then the iniquity of Ephraim was discovered, and the wickedness of Samaria." Ephraim was, at that time, the chief tribe of Israel, and Samaria the residence of her kings and nobles. Such was their degeneracy, that the means which God employed for their cure served only to evidence their sin, and made the crimes of all ranks the more manifest! Deceit, fraud, and violence were predominant vices; "for they commit falsehood; and the thief cometh in, and the troop of robbers spoileth without." And, which aggravates the whole, "they consider not in their hearts that I remember all their wickedness."
But is this applicable only to the Jews? Does it not apply to professing Christians? May it not be said of many in this day, When God would heal them, then is their iniquity discovered? You are indulged with valuable privileges; some of you are the children of religious parents: you have been admonished and warned, by your ministers and friends; you have been. for years, urged to repentance and the fear of the Lord, by motives the most powerful; and what is the effect? Still you are impenitent: you go on in sin: as your mercies are multiplied, your inquity the more plainly appears. God, therefore, speaks to you, as he did to those of old; "They consider not in their hearts that I do remember all their wickedness."
Two things are observable—The Fact asserted; that God remembers the wickedness of men—The Evil stated; that men forget this fact: they consider it not in their hearts. The notice of these will lead us, by way of Improvement, to recommend and enforce the duty of Consideration.
I. The Fact asserted; that God remembers the wickedness of men.
Wickedness is a word of obvious meaning. It evidently denotes what is hateful and destructive. It is sin, in its secret intention, in its positive acts, and in all its diversified forms and appearances. Men may think lightly of wickedness: they may deny it; they may excuse it; they mayJorget it: but the Most High affirms; "I remember all their wickedness."
1. The fact is clear from the declarations of his Word.—By one of the prophets, he expresses himself thus; "Mine eyes are upon all their ways: they are not hid from my face, neither is their iniquity hid from mine eyes." The same prophet asserts; "- The sin of Judah is written with a pen of iron, and with the point of a diamond:" it is marked before the Lord in indelible characters. When God speaks of pardon, it is under the idea of " blotting out" transgression; intimating that it is recorded. He promises to "remember sin no more;" teaching, that until sin is pardoned, it certainly is remembered. The Psalmist prays; "O remember not against us former iniquities!" And again; "Remember not the sins of my youth, nor my transgressions;" from which it is clear that there is the remembrance of wickedness in the mind of the Most High. But not to multiply passages on so plain a point, the truth is affirmed in so many words; " For her sins have reached unto heaven, and God hath remembered her iniquities."
2. The fact is proved from the perfections of his nature.—" The Lord is a God of knowledge, and by him actions are weighed." "They say, The Lord shall not see; neither shall the God of Jacob regard. Understand, ye brutish among the people; and ye fools, when will ye be wise? He that planted the ear, shall he not hear? He that formed the eye, shall he not see? He that teacheth man knowledge, shall hot he know? The Lord knoweth the thoughts of man, that they are vanity." "His understanding is infinite." And if with boundless knowledge, we join the perfection of immutability, the fact before ua is more fully proved. The Lord changeth not. What he once knows, he always knows. With him is no defect of faculty, no decay of memory. All the varied and multiplied wickedness of the millions of our race, is at this moment present in his view, nor can he forget it. By an act of grace, through the redemption which is in Christ Jesus, it may be forgiven: but the perfections of his nature forbid that it should be carelessly overlooked. "The Lord hath sworn by the Excellency of Jacob; Surely, I will never forget any of their works."
3. The fact is confirmed also from the equity of his Government, and a future Judgment.—Is not God the Governor of the world, and the Judge of men? Is it not written, "God shall bring every work into judgment, with every secret thing, whether it be good, or whether it be evil *?" He cannot do this, unless he remembers the works of men: he cannot judge the world, and condemn the wicked, unless he knows their wickedness; and unless he retains the recollection of it in all its circumstances. "The great, the mighty God, the Lord of hosts is his name; great in
* Eccl. xii. 14.