Hosea 11

* God's regard for Israel; their ingratitude. (1-7) The Divine

mercy yet in store. (8-12)1-7 When Israel were weak and helpless as children, foolish and

froward as children, then God loved them; he bore them as the

nurse does the sucking child, nourished them, and suffered their

manners. All who are grown up, ought often to reflect upon the

goodness of God to them in their childhood. He took care of

them, took pains with them, not only as a father, or a tutor,

but as a mother, or nurse. When they were in the wilderness, God

showed them the way in which they should go, and bore them up,

taking them by the arms. He taught them the way of his

commandments by the ceremonial law given by Moses. He took them

by the arms, to guide them, that they might not stray, and to

hold them up, that they might not stumble and fall. God's

spiritual Israel are all thus supported. It is God's work to

draw poor souls to himself; and none can come to him except he

draw them. With bands of love; this word signifies stronger

cords than the former. He eased them of the burdens they had

long groaned under. Israel is very ungrateful to God. God's

counsels would have saved them, but their own counsels ruined

them. They backslide; there is no hold of them, no stedfastness

in them. They backslide from me, from God, the chief good. They

are bent to backslide; they are ready to sin; they are forward

to close with every temptation. Their hearts are fully set in

them to do evil. Those only are truly happy, whom the Lord

teaches by his Spirit, upholds by his power, and causes to walk

in his ways. By his grace he takes away the love and dominion of

sin, and creates a desire for the blessed feast of the gospel,

that they may feed thereon, and live for ever.
8-12 God is slow to anger, and is loth to abandon a people to

utter ruin, who have been called by his name. When God was to

give a sacrifice for sin, and a Saviour for sinners, he spared

not his own Son, that he might spare us. This is the language of

the day of his patience; but when men sin that away, then the

great day of his wrath comes. Man's compassions are nothing in

comparison with the tender mercies of our God, whose thoughts

and ways, in receiving returning sinners, are as much above ours

as heaven is above the earth. God knows how to pardon poor

sinners. He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and

therein declares his righteousness, now Christ has purchased the

pardon, and he has promised it. Holy trembling at the word of

Christ will draw us to him, not drive us from him, the children

tremble, and flee to him. And all that come at the gospel call,

shall have a place and a name in the gospel church. The

religious service of Israel were mere hypocrisy, but in Judah

regard was had to God's laws, and the people followed their

pious forefathers. Let us be faithful: those who thus honour

God, he will honour, but such us despise Him shall be lightly

esteemed.
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