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Having in a former paper considered the vision'Jof the dry bones, I shall here offer a few remarks on some passages which 1 conceive have reference to the same subject, in the prophecies of Hosea. These are chiefly addressed to the ten tribes, as those of Ezekiel were to Judah.
Under the forms of signs and parables, as I suppose, he delivers in the first chapter some very pointed reproofs to that idolatrous people; but concludes with great and precious promises to their distant posterity.
He is commanded to go and take a wife of whoredoms, and children of whoredoms, and is supposed to have children by her. Such a command communicated to the people, would shock them as grossly indelicate. Nat/, saith the prophet, like Nathan to David, but ye are the men! If the Lord be a husband to you, he must have a wife of worse whoredoms than these!
This wife of whoredoms is supposed to bear him three children, each of whose names are prophetic. The first, Jezreel, predicts evil against the government, of which this place was a seat; the second, Loruhamah, intimates the discontinuance of the divine mercy to the nation; and the third, Loammi, God's renouncing them as his people. Yet these terrible denunciations are followed (in verses 10, 11,) by something not a little encouraging to the faithful, whose hearts would tremble as for the ark of God. The promises to Abraham should nevertheless be fulfilled; children should be raised up to him from among the Gentiles: nor is this all, the children of Judah and of Israel, forgetting their former enmities, should unite in the Messiah, as under a captain, or leader; and then Jezreel, from being a scene of wickedness and bloodshed, should have her day of mercy. Nor does this seem to conclude the prophecy: the first verse of the second chapter seems properly to belong to the preceding, rather than the following subject, and to contain an address to the faithful of the land, directing them to look out of the then present generation for brethren and sisters, even to the latter davs, and in the name of the Lord, to greet them with the cheering names of Ammi and Huhama, My people having obtained mercy'
After many cutting things in the second chapter, in which, 1o show the odiousness of Israel's conduct, and to bring it home to their bosoms, they are again compared to an adulterous wife, who having dissolved the marriage-bond, deserved to be stripped, and with her spurious offspring, turned out by her injured husband. They are even told, that such will actually be their portion. Yet after this, from ver. 14 to the end, the most precious promises are made to their posterity. His alluring her, and bringing her into the wilderness, however, seems rather to be expressive of present judgments than of future mercies. It denotes, 1 apprehend, not the drawings of love, but the devisings of Providence to render her sin its own punishment.* As an injured husband makes use of the adulteries of his wife to convict and banish her; so the Lord would cause the fondness of this people for idolatry and idolaters, to draw them into the Assyrian net, (Chap. vii. 11, 12.) and they should be carried away captive among the nations, as into a wilderness, and for a long time be in a manner lost. Ezek. xx. 35. Yet ns in the wilderness of old he spake kindly to their fathers, and from thence gave them the hind of promise, so from tbence shall she again receive her vineyards: and as the valley of Achor, where Achan's idolatry was punished, was to Israel a door of hope, in that the fierce anger of the Lord was hereby turned away (Josh. vii. 26.); so shall it be in this case. After having made an example of many for their idolatry, his anger will be turned away, and he will comfort the survivors. Then shall they sing as in the days of their youth, as in the day when they came up out of the land of Egypt. See also Exod. xv. 1—21, compared with Isa. xi. 11—16, and xii.
And now, being brought to believe in the Messiah, she shall be cured of her spiritual adultery, and become chaste to God, no more polluting his worship with idolatrous mixtures, but cleaving
* I cannot find that nnD aD7 where signifies to influence in a way of mercy, but probably means to entice, or deceive; and thus God, in just judgment, entices and deceives sinners, by giving them up to their own delusions. Pee 2 Chron. xviii. 19—22. Ezek. xiv. 9.
to him with singleness of heart, us to the husband of her youth. Ver. 16, 27.
In that day, the whole creation, which has in a manner been at war with her, shall be at peace, (ver. 18.) and he that had cast her off, saying, She is not my wife, neither am I her husband, shall betroth her unto him for ever in righteousness, and in loving-kindness, and in mercies. Nor are these the only attributes that shall be glorified in her recovery; he will betroth her unto him in faithfulness, and she shall know the Lord; his covenant promises, made even from the days of Abraham, shall now be fulfilled, and the veil which has so long remained on her heart shall be taken away. Ver. 18, 19, 20.
Finally: He who had taken away hi9 corn, his wine, his oil, and his flax, owing to their being ascribed to idols, and abused to idolatry, will now graciously restore them. God will hear, and supply the heavens with water; they, the earth with rain, and the fruits of it with moisture; and these the people with plenty. The earth shall yield her increase, and God, even their own God, will take pleasure in blessing them. Nor is this all; Israel shall be a blessing to the world. What the seed is to the harvest, that shall they be to the nations among whom they have sojourned. And now, instead of Loruhamah and Loammi, they are called Ruamah and Amrni; for I will have mercy upon her, saith the Lord, that had not obtained mercy, and will say to them that were not my people, Thou art my people; and they shall say, Thou art my God. Thus like friends re-united after a long separation, their communion is more intimate than ever.
The third chapter contains another prophecy on the same subject. Like the former, it is introduced under the form of a parable. The case supposed, is that of a man attached to a woman who is an adulteress. 'Go,' saith the Lord to the prophet,' see if thou canst love such an one; yet such, if any thing, must be my love to this people.' The prophet is further supposed to go, and covenant with this adulteress, engaging her to desist for many days from her lewd courses, living as it were a widow by herself, and afterwards she should become his wife. Such was the love of the Lord to the children of Israel. He loved them notwithstanding their idolatry, and intended at a future time to take them to be his people. He would not receive them, however, in their idolatry, nor till a proper time had elapsed, in which they should live in a state of separation; but in due season, he would take them to himself as his church and people, remembering their sin no more.
The children of Israel shall abide many days without a king, and without a prince, and without a sacrifice. Never, surely, has a prophecy corresponded more exactly with fact. Nor is this all: The whole of the Israelitish race with whom we have any acquaintance, have also been without an image, and without an ephod, and without teraphim; that is, though mixed with the nations of the world, and in other respects wicked in the extreme, yet they have not been suffered to go into their former idolatrous practices; and thus have answered to the adulteress ceasing from playing the harlot, and abiding for her husband in a state of separation many days. Afterwards shall the children of Israel return and seek Jehovah their God, and David their king; and shall fear the Lord and his goodness in the latter days. On this, no reflection need be made, save this, that the superabundant grace of God towards them in their outcast and perishing condition, shall not only fill their hearts with gratitude, but inspire them with a holy fear of offending him any more.
In my last I offered some observations on those prophecies which 1 considered as relating to God's future designs of mercy towards Israel, in the first three chapters of Hosea; in this, I shall notice some others in the remaining part of that book, together with a1 passage from Jeremiah.
The ten tribes, in this and other prophecies, are frequently personified under the name of Ephraim. Much is said of Ephraim's sin, and of his punishment; but several strong intimations are also given of his being brought to repentance, and obtaining mercy. Of this we have a beautiful example in chap. xi. 8, kc. How shall I give thee up, Ephraim! Shall I deliver thee, Israel! Horn skill I make thee as Admah?' Shall I set thee as Zeboim? Mine heart is turned within me; my repentings are kindled together. Half the force and meaning of this melting passage nppears to me to be lost, by twice introducing the supplementary term how. So read, it contains one continued appeal ot Jehovah to his own mercy and faithfulness; but without it, it is an alternate appeal, first in the language of covenant mercy, addressed to himself, and then in the language of justice, addressed to the conscience and other feelings of the offender: q. d. 'How can I bear to give thee up, Ephraim? yet thou deservest to be delivered over to destruction. What sayest thou? Shall I deliver thee? How can I bear to make thee as Admah? Yet this is thy due. What sayest thou? Shall I set thee as a monument of endless displeasure, like Zeboim? Ah no I my heart revolts at the thought, my repentings are kindled together; I will not execute the fierceness of mine anger, I will not return to destroy Ephraim; for I am God and not man, the Holy One in the midst of thee; and I will not enter into the city as an avenger, but rather as a father will turn away mine eyes from thee, that I may not be provoked by thy sins.'
In verses 10, 11, it is intimated that there should come a time when Ephraim should be of another mind, and the Lord would spare that generation, as well as many succeeding ones, for their sakes; and that the signal of their return to God should be some terrible event in the world, in which he would roar like a lion, filling the minds of men with consternation and terror; and that in the midst of these alarms, they should come from the west, and from the south, and from the east, as trembling doves to their windows, and I will place them in their houses, saith the Lord.
In Chap. xiii. 14, Ephraim is considered as dead and buried • and now what will his father do? Will he lament over him, like David over Absalom? No, his power is equal to his mercy. He will storm the castle that detains him. / will ransom him from the power of the grave, I will redeem him from death, 0 death! I will he thy plagues. O grave! I will be thy destruction. Repent
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