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XXIV.

« THE CONTRITE COMFORTED."

JEREMIAH xxxi. 18-20th verses. “I have surely heard Ephraim bemoaning himself thus; Thou hast chastised me, and I was chastised, as a bullock unaccustomed to the yoke: turn Thou me, and I shall be turned; for Thou art the Lord my God. Surely after that I was turned, I repented ; and after that I was instructed, I smote upon my thigh: I was ashamed, yea, even confounded, because I did bear the reproach of my youth. Is Ephrain My dear son ? is he a pleasant child ? for since I spake against him, I do earnestly remember him still : therefore My bowels are troubled for him ; I will surely have mercy upon him, saith the Lord.”

WHAT is it, brethren, that wins back the heart to God? what is it that draws out the venom of the soul, displacing hatred by love, rebellion by obedience? It is God's voice of mercy ; free, full, everlasting mercy, “without money and without price.” This attracts the sinner, melts him, transforms him, comforts him, saves him. . . . What is it that hinders those who are inquiring the way to Zion, keeps

them from peace and joy, prevents the full surrender of the heart to God? Unbelief of His love, doubts of His mercy, fear lest He should reject them. Oh! when we do take God at His word, clouds disappear, there is indeed sunshine on the soul.

We have a blessed exhibition of this love of God, or rather of the God who is “ Love," in our text, in His dealings with a contrite one. It is calculated under God's blessing to comfort all that thus mourn; “Awake, 0 north wind, and come, thou south ; blow upon the garden, that the spices thereof may flow out!”

A Broken Heart, and Healing Mercy thus brought together, well deserve our prayerful consideration.

I. A Broken Heart. Such was Ephraim's; he had departed far from God, he had fretted against the Lord, he had refused for a time to submit, but chastisement after chastisement in mercy came, and at length he received instruction; shame and confusion of face were his, secret groans (heard by Him who despiseth not such sounds) told his sorrow,' faith embracing the promises claimed the Lord for his God, repentance with its godly fruits went hand in hand; Ephraim is still “ the dear son, the pleasant child.”

12 Cor. vii. 11.

1. His froward course is strikingly set forth; “a bullock unaccustomed to the yoke:” as the bullock first harnessed is impatient of the restraint, plunges under the yoke, attempts to free himself from the burden, will not be tamed by the strokes inflicted, so Ephraim had spurned the hand that would have guided him. Message after message had come, but he had turned a deaf ear to each and all ; chastening had followed, “neither did he set his heart to this also;" heavier judgments came, Ephraim was still the same: untamed, unhumbled, standing afar off.

Brethren! this is the awful course of some who are not “bemoaning” themselves, who are still rushing on in their mad career; God hath brought them low, and again raised them up, and they are as they were. He hath entered into their circle and removed one dear to them, and they are as they were.

He hath straitened their circumstances, and their murmurs are more loud; let such take heed, let such "fear the rod and who hath appointed it,” lest “ He pluck them away, and there be none to deliver them.” How different the features in repentant Ephraim.

2. There was insight into, and confession of his guilt. Nothing so fit to describe his state, as

Exodus vii. 23.

it was seen by his now enlightened eye, as the untamed bullock ; like Asaph,' “ his heart is grieved, he is pricked in his reins ;” like him he is ready to exclaim, “So foolish was I and ignorant, I was as a beast before Thee." He is ashamed and confounded at his waywardness, at his base ingratitude; “ against whom” -(we may imagine him saying)--"against whom have I lifted up my hand ? whose gracious overtures of reconciliation have I rejected ? whom have I thus insulted ? My God and Father, my Friend, my best and kindest Friend !” he smites upon his thigh in the agony of self reproach.

3. There were the true breathings of prayer. “ Turn thou me and I shall be turned, for Thou art the Lord my God; surely after that I was turned, I repented, and after that I was instructed,” &c. . . The source is acknowledged whence this godly sorrow flows—"after that I was turned.” Thou didst seek thy wandering sheep; Thou didst look upon me' with the forgiving look of love; Thou, and Thou only didst restore my soul; Thy Sovereign grace did say, “ thou hast destroyed thyself, but in Me is thine help.” “Thou drewest near in the day that I called upon Thee, Thou saidst,

1 Psa. lxxiii. ? Luke xxii. 61. 2 Hosea xiii. 9.

Fear not." There is application for mercy, “ Turn thou me." True it is that he sees his guilt, is humbled in heart, but the fervent desire breaks forth for mercy, grace--yea, more grace; he would have the work deepened, he would not rest short of the fulness of the promised blessing, pardon, peace, renewal of heart, the salvation that is of God ! Brethren! is this your petition ? are these your longings, your importunate cry? "Lord, turn thou me;" “this heart of mine hath much to unlearn-Lord ! cast out its idols; this heart hath much to learn-Lord ! teach thou me; this heart wants steadfastness-Lord! make it steadfast; oh! perfect that which concerneth me for thy Name sake.” Further, faith was in exercise in this prayer of Ephraim; “ Thou art the Lord my God." The beggar in filthy garments demands by virtue of the promise a change of raiment, the wedding garment; the prisoner out of the low dungeon claims to be of the children of the king; the self-condemned prodigal yet cries to Him from whom he hath so far gone by that name of Abba, Father! “Thou art the Lord my God.” Brethren! have we known seasons when these strange feelings have been ours, Jer. iii. 57.

2 Heb. viii.

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