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from death to life. Nor are these expressions metaphorical, but strictly just; they are the words not of truth only, but of foberness, The apostate creature is really dead, in the truest and most important sense of that word. For what is natural death, as it is commonly styled? The foul, when separated from the body, doth not cease to exist; and though the body itself moulders into dust, yet no particle of that dust is annihilated or lost. The principal effect of that humiliating event, is to put an end to the creature's connection with a present world : the man ceases to be any more an inhabitant of this earth; and when we say he is dead, this is all that we commonly mean to express.
Now fin hath broken our connection with the spiritual world, as really as the separation of the soul from the body will break our connection with this material world : and therefore, without any metaphor, fin is the death of the foul or spirit of the man, whereby it is cut off from the source of life, and utterly disabled to relish those' employments or pleasures which
alone can render a spiritual being happy. And in this state it must remain, till the fame power
that gave it existence at first shall create it anew, and restore those faculties which sin had destroyed, of acting and enjoying according to its true and proper nature.
The use of this observation is twofold: first, That those who are turned from idols may, with humble gratitude, give God the glory, and cheerfully truft in him for perfecting the change his grace hath begun; and, secondly, That they who are conscious they are still joined to idols, máy imme: diately, and without any circuit, go directly to the Fountain of life, even the Father of fpirits, who is in Christ Jesus reconciling the world unto himself, and cry as they can, for new life, from him who quickeneth the dead, and calleth those things that be not, as though they were.
But how doth God quicken the dead in trespasses and fins, and separate the sinner from his idols?
III. My third observation is the answer
to this question.He doth it by the difcovery and application of his pardoning mercy and fanctifying grace. I join these together, because they are so inseparably connected, that neither of them can exist apart; “ for whom God justifies, them he có also sanctifies." And both of them are expressly mentioned in the context, as the means by which Ephraim should be difpofed and enabled to say, Wbat have I to do any more with idols ?
The discovery of pardoning mercy is the first means employed for working this change. Fear is the immediate consequence of guilt, which foon degenerates into hatred, or that enmity against God which is the distinguishing characteristic of the carnal mind. No sooner had Adam sinned, than he became afraid of his Maker, and preposteroully endeavoured to flee from his presence. This fear is the natural inheritance of his children. God appears as an enemy to the guilty soul ; and so long as he is viewed in that light, it is impossible that he can be the object of its love. But the report of pardoning mercy presents him in a light so suited
to the necessities of the apostate creature, that in proportion as it is believed, the finner is encouraged to look to him with hope. And when the evidence of this report is so fully seen, as to vanquish distrustful tormenting fear; when that blessed record gains entire credit, “ that God hath given
to us éternal life, and that this life is in « his Son," whom he hath fet forth to be a propitiation through faith in his blood, that without staining the honour of his juftice, a way might be opened for the free exercise of mercy to the chief of finners ; then God becomes the object both of love and confidence, and appears fo completely amiable, that in comparison of him, those idols which the soul formerly desired, stripped of their delusive charms, are regarded with contempt, nay, renounced with abs horrence.
Now, if the believing views of God's pardoning mercy have this effect, how powerful must the experience of it be, when ac-' companied, as it always is, with his fanctifying grace ?- When the soul hath not only seen, but tasted, that the Lord is graci
ous, and that in him the fatherless findeth mercy ;-when God faith, as in verse
4. “ I will heal their backslidings, I will love “ them freely, for mine anger is turned
away ;"-especially when, as it follows, he becomes, “ as the dew unto Ifrael,” causing the influences of his Spirit to descend upon the soul, whereby the barren wilder: ness is turned into a fruitful field;-above all, when the great Lord of the vineyard comes into his garden, to eat his pleasant fruits ; or, to drop the allusion, when the soul, washed, and sanctified, and justified, hath experienced the ineffable delights of fellowship with the Father, and with the Son, through the Spirit ;-then the victory over the world is completed, and the person will be enabled to say without any reserve, What have I to do any more with idols ?
IV. My fourth and last observation
was, that these words of Ephraim, in their most extensive meaning, will, and must be adopted, by all, without exception, upon whom God hath been pleased to confer his pardoning mercy, and his fanctifying grace. For