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"Behold! we come unto thee, for thou art the Lord our God." This was the reason of their return, the motive that urged them, the most powerful consideration, which at once became their encouragement and constrained their compliance.
May such be the sentiment of our minds, and the resolution of our hearts! Recollecting the grace of our covenant God in Christ Jesus; what he hath done for us, and given to us; how he hath engaged our declared affection for him, and our devoted service to him; and, in all this, laid us under the most pressing and multiplied obligations; let us say, "Behold! we come unto thee, for thou art the Lord our God."
From the whole,
1. Is not the state of these backsliding children nearly resembling yours ? — Men may backslide, either by declining from the life and power of religion, or by falling from an orderly profession of it. Examine, impartially, what is your state. Have not you forgotten the Lord your God, and has not the consequence been the perversion of your way ?" Are there not with you, even with you, sins against the Lord your God?" "If your heart condemn you, God is greater than your heart, and knoweth all things." You are conscious of some sort of regret: may "godly sorrow," working repentance to salvation, be yours! With " weeping and supplications" may you appear before the Lord; and low at his footstool mourn your departures from him!
2. Is not this language addressed to you ?—Doubtless it is. "Return," saith the Lord, "and I will heal your backslidings." Then obey the call, and the promise is yours; return, and your sins shall be pardoned, your souls shall be healed. Dream not of an interest in the promise, and of its accomplishment in your favour, unless you comply with the invitation given. Both the one and the other are from the God of love, the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ: he urges to repentance, while he engages to forgive, to receive, and to bless. Listen, therefore, to this kind and compassionate call; and beg for grace to enable you to arise and return. Thus returning, rest, in cheerful hope, in humble confidence, that he, who hath promised to heal, will do as he hath said. But,
3. Is this your reply ?—Are you answering to the invitation and promise of the text, "Behold! we come unto thee, for thou art the Lord our God?" Happy indeed were this the case! But there is cause to fear concerning some—to fear lest you deceive yourselves, lest you rest content in a state of indecision and procrastination, till iniquity be your ruin. Do not forget, every act of refusal to the call of God is a fresh affront against the Majesty of heaven, is a grievous offence, aggravated in proportion as it is opposed to the tenderness of sovereign mercy.
You have heard something of the way of a sinner's return to God by Jesus Christ, and the assurance which he has of a hearty welcome: make the trial; let the prompt reply of your souls be this, "Behold! we come unto thee." Earnestly we wish for concurrence in this business; that you resolve "with one accord." Unanimity, in an affair of such magnitude, is exceedingly desirable. But should there be one so unhappy as to trifle and refuse, be not you the unhappy character. Let each regard this great concern .individually for himself. Be earnest: form the resolution now: ratify it on your knees: daily confirm it in the devotion of your closet, and in the worship of your families. Live habitually under the influence of this important determination, so as to prove to all around you its sincere and decided adoption; "Behold! we come unto thee, for thou art the Lord our God."
THE THREE HEBREW YOUTHS.
DANIEL iii. 16—18.
Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-nego, answered and said to the king, O Nebuchadnezzar, we are not careful to answer thee in this matter. If it be so, our God whom roe serve is able to deliver us from the burning fiery furnace; and he will deliver us out of thine hand, O king. But if not, be it known unto thee, O king, that we will not serve thy gods,- nor worship the golden image which thou hast set up.
JL H E Church of God has suffered much persecution. This, though in itself an evil, has been productive of good. By persecution the sincerity of religious professors has been tried, the hypocrisy of deceivers has been detected, the graces of good men have been exercised and improved. By those dispersions which persecution has occasioned, the Bible has been carried into heathen lands, the Gospel has been spread in distant nations, the knowledge and the worship of the true God have been extensively promoted. We often read of the dispersion of the Jews, and
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of their captivity in Babylon; yet there God preserved to himself " a holy seed." Amidst the grossest idolatry, and the hottest persecution, a small number were distinguished by their exalted piety, and steady adherence to the worship of Jehovah. Particularly these three persons mentioned in the verses before us. It appears from the first chapter, that they were young men, remarkable for their comely appearance and mental abilities. They were the intimate friends and companions of Daniel; and being warmly attached to him, as well as to each other, they acted in concert, and thus proved a mutual support and comfort. These three young men were high in favour with the king, and raised to some distinguished office in the court of Babylon;— a situation, on many accounts, not friendly to genuine religion; but God preserved them; and he wrought wonders by them, in the sight of the heathen, for the glory of his own Name.
We propose to consider, The Circumstances which occasioned the address in the text,—The TemPer Of Mind which it discovers,—and The remarkable Effects which it produced.
I. The Circumstances which occasioned the address.
Babylon was the renowned capital of the ancient Chaldean empire; a place not less remarkable for its magnificence than its idolatry. Nebuchadnezzar was a heathen; the royal patron of idolatrous practices; a very powerful and ambitious monarch. At one period of his reign, he contrived a prodigious image of gold, which he caused to be set up in the plain of Dura, for universal adoration. To render the circumstance more noticed, and doubtless for