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consciousness of guilt, he goes on to declare his sovereign purpose, expressed in the most comprehensive and absolute terms, of difpensing to them, and conferring upon them, his pardoning mercy and sanctifying grace: “ I will heal their backsliding, I will love “ them freely : for mine anger is turned
away from him. I will be as the dew
unto Israel,” &c. In consequence whereof, he foretels, in the words of my text, that Ephraim, who till then had been joined to idols, should find himself disposed and enabled to say, not with his lips only, but from an effectual principle of new life in his heart, What have I to do with idols
From this view of my text, as it stands connected with other passages in this book that relate to Ephraim, and more especially with the verses immediately preceding, four observations obviously arise, which I propose to illustrate in the following difcourse.
1. That a finner, in his natural state, is joined to idols.
2. That to separate a sinner from idols, is a work that is altogether peculiar to God.
3. That this separation' is effected by the discovery and application of pardoning mercy and fanctifying grace.-And,
4. That every one who is a partaker of these important benefits, will, and must, adopt the words of Ephraim in their most extensive meaning, and say, as he did, Wbat have I to do any more with idols ?
I, My first observation is, That a sinner, in his natural state, is joined to idols.
Herein consisteth the essence of man's apostasy. Something that is not God is the object of his supreme love, and pofsefseth that place in his heart which is due only to the living and true God; and that thing, by what name foever it may be distinguished, is properly an idol. Now this world, and the things of the world, its riches, and pleasures, and honours, which the Apostle John, by a strong and fignificant figure, calls « the luft of the
eye, the lust of the flesh, and the pride w of life;" these are the great rivals of
God, which, ever since the fatal apoftafy, have usurped the throne in the human heart,
I am unwilling to mention the profane rites by which some of these idols are worshipped by many: they are too flocking to be named, and at the same time so notorious as to render a detail of them superflu
It is by no means neceffary for proving the charge of idolatry, that I should lead your imagination through the various scenes of injustice, oppression, and cruelty ; or into the foul haunts of lewdness and riotous excess. Many of these vices may be deemed unnatural to man even in his fallen state: and though the carnal mind
be enmity against God, yet I am verily persuaded, that the carnal mind itself doth often suffer a considerable degree of violence, before it can be fully reconciled to the practice of them. It is sufficient for my purpose to affirm, what daily observation puts beyond all doubt, viz. that this present world, in one shape or other, is loved and served in preference to God, by every man, without exception, who hath no other principle of life than what he derived from the first Adam. Here he finds the supply of his bodily wants, and all that kind of
provision that suits his animal nature, and gratifies those appetites which he hath in common with the inferior creatures. And tho'. he is often, or rather always, disappointed in his expectation ; yet being unacquainted with any better fuftenance than this earth affords, he only makes new experiments, pertiits in seeking his portion here below, and will continue to do so, till, by some means or other, he get a mind to discern those fpiritual objects, and an appetite to relish those fpiritual enjoyments, which are the
proper food of the foul, the only aliment whereby its real life and well-being can be supported. Hence it already appears,
in fome measure,
II. That to separate a finner from idols, must be the peculiar work of God himself; which was the second observation I proposed to illustrate.
The natural man, as I just now said, may change the obječt of his devotion ; and having experienced the vanity of any particular idol, he may say concerning it, What have
I to do any more with thee? Such a change as this is abundantly common, it is easy, nay it is necessary: it requires no exertion of strength; weakness itself is sufficient to produce it, being no other than the natural, the unavoidable consequence of satiety and disgust. But amidst ten thousand changes of this kind, the man is only turning from one idol to another : and though he may pass from grosser ones to others more refined ;
from mere bodily indulgence, to the amusements of science; or perhaps from the gratification of selfish and turbulent paflions, to the cultivation and practice of some public and social virtues ; yet still he stops short of God: all the objects of his pursuit belong to the present state of things; and he aspires to no higher felicity than may be gathered from the materials of this earth which he inhabits.
Accordingly, the conversion of a sinner, or the turning him from idols to the true God, is every where throughout the Scriptures represented as the effect of omnipotent creating power. It is called a new creation, à being born again, a resurrection, a paling