‘O Israel, return unto the Lord thy God; for thou hast fallen by thine iniquity.’—Hos. xiv. I.
THANK God that He does not let His children go on comfortably when they wander and
Have we not known (God grant we may never again know!) a wretched mental nausea, a sense of discomfort and restlessness, a misgiving that something is wrong, though we can’t say what? no actual pain, no acute attack of anything, but a nameless uncomfortableness, most easily described by a negative, that we are not’ as in months past.’4
5 If this is the present state of any reader, do let
1 John xvii. 24. 2 i Thess. iv. 17. 3 Hos. ii. 6-
me most earnestly and affectionately entreat you not to remain one day—no, not one hour—in this most dangerous state, the beginning of back-sliding, and already a fall from your ‘ own steadfastness’ and your ‘first love.’1 ‘Remember from whence thou art fallen ;” look unflinchingly at your position, and recognize frankly the difference between to-day, and the past days of closer walking and happy abiding. Do not let yourself drift on, or you ‘will revolt more and more’ till ‘the whole head is sick, and the whole heart faint.” Every day’s delay will make your case worse.
Do not shrink from asking Him to show you how and why it is that you have fallen. The ‘ beautiful crown ‘ * which He put ‘upon thine head’ in ‘the time of love,’5 would not have ‘fallen from our head,’ but ‘ that we have sinned.” It is ‘by thine iniquity’ that ‘ thou art fallen,”—iniquity personal and real, though very likely un-guessed by any one, and hidden even from thine own eyes.
Perhaps the knowledge of this is already sent; if so, listen !’ And I said, after she had done all these things, Turn thou unto me.” And again, though you may have gone after other ‘ lovers,’ ‘”yet return again to me, saith the Lord.’9 Oh forsake the thoughts as well as the way, and return unto the Lord, and he will abundantly pardon.10 For when ‘He showeth them their work and their transgressions,’ He also ‘commandeth that they return from iniquity.’11
1 2 Pet. iii. 17. 2 Rev. ii. 4, 5. 8 Isa. i. 5.
* Kzek. xvi. 12. 6 Kzek xvi. 8. * Lam. v. 16.
7 Hos. xiv. 1. 8 Jer. iii. 7. * Jer. iii. 1.
10 Isa. lv. 7. 11 Job xxxvi. 9, 10
And why? Five infinitely gracious reasons are given. ‘Return! . . .for thou hast fallen by thine iniquity;” the very thing which seemed the barrier to return !’ Return! . . .for I am merciful, saith the Lord.’2 ‘Return! . . .for I have redeemed thee.”3 ‘Return! . . . for the Lord hath dealt bountifully with thee.’* ‘Come, and let us return unto the Lord: for He hath torn, and He will heal us.’5 All these gracious words for you! and the Lord Himself waiting that He may be gracious!’ Will you keep Him waiting till a more ‘convenient season’ ?7
To whom are you called to return? Ah! think of that—not to a state or position merely; not only ‘to thy rest,’8 but to ‘the Lord thy God,” thy God, ‘our own God; ’10 to Him who has betrothed you unto Him for ever;11 to Him who chose you unto Himself to be His peculiar treasure ;u to Him who remembers better than you do from whence you have fallen. Hear Him saying, ‘I remember thee, the kindness of thy youth, the love of thine espousals.’13 ‘How shall I give thee up?What pathetic yearning this is over you, even you! Will you not say, ‘I will go and return to my first husband; for then was it better with me than now.’15
Is intention enough in this matter? Listen again to the arousing words of your Lord, ‘If tfrou wilt return, . . . saith the Lord, return unto Me; ’16
1 Hos. xiv. I. 2 Jer. iii. 12. 3 Isa. xliv. 22.
* Ps. cxvi. 7. 5 Hos. vi. i. 6 Isa. xxx. 18.
f Acts xxiv. 25. 8 Ps. cxvi. 7. ‘ Hos. xiv. i.
10 Ps. Ixvii. 6. 11 Hos. ii. 19. 12 Ps. cxxxv. 4.
in other words, ‘Now, then, do it.’1 Stay no more at being willing to return, but ‘ Return ye NOW!” It will be harder to-morrow—nay, harder an hour hence than now. He who first caused you to approach,3 will cause you to return ;4 so you shall not be left unaided, for ‘In Me is thine help ‘5 even for returning from self-destruction.6
And then—oh, what wealth of promises to the returning one! what robes and rings and heavenly music !7 ‘If thou return, . . . thou shalt be built up, thou shalt put away iniquity . . . ; then shalt thou have thy delight in the Almighty, and shalt lift up thy face unto God.8 . . . He shall hear thee, . . . Thou shalt decree a thing, and it shall be established unto thee: the light shall shine upon thy ways.’ For He hath said, ‘I will heal their backsliding, I will love them freely.’9
O fallen; yet not lost!
Canst thou forget the life for thee laid down,
The taunts, the scourging, and the thorny crown?
When o’er thee first my spotless robe I spread
And poured the oil of joy upon thy head,
How did thy wakening heart within thee burn!
Canst thou remember all, and wilt thou not return?
1 2 Sam. iii. i8. ^ Jer. xviii. ii. 3 Ps. Ixv. 4.
* Jer. XXX. 3. 5 Hos. xiii. 9. 6 Lam. v. 31.
^ Luke XV. 22, »5. 8 job xxii, 23-28. 9 Hos. xiv. 4.