"This people has a revolting and a rebellious heart; they are revolted and gone." Jeremiah 5:23
We look at a believer's lax practice, we mourn and weep over it, and we do well; we trace our own, and still deeper shame and confusion of face cover us: but we forget that the cause of our bitterest sorrow and humiliation should be the concealed principle of evil, from where springs this unholy practice. How few among the called of God are found confessing and mourning over the sin of their nature; the impure fountain from where the stream flows from, the unmortified root from where the branch originates, and from which both are fed and nourished. This is what God looks at- the sin of our fallen, unsanctified nature- and this is what we should look at, and mourn over. Indeed, true mortification of sin consists in a knowledge of our sinful nature; and its subjection to the power of divine grace. The reason why so few believers "through the Spirit mortify the deeds of the body" is, a forgetfulness that the work has to do first and mainly with the root of sin in the soul. "Make the tree good, and the fruit will also be good;" purify the fountain, and the streams will be pure. Oh, were there a deeper acquaintance with the hidden iniquity of our fallen nature- a more thorough learning of the truth, that "in our flesh there dwells no good thing,"- a more heart-felt humiliation on account of it, and more frequent confession of it before God- how much higher than they now are, would be the attainments in holiness of many believers! There is, then, in every child of God, the innate principle of departure. Notwithstanding the wonders of grace God has wrought for the soul- though He has elected, called, renewed, washed, and clothed the believer- yet if He did not check and bridle him in, he would depart, and that forever! -this unsanctified, unmortified principle would bear him away. Is there not in this aspect of our theme something truly heartbreaking?- the subject of God's kind and benevolent government, and yet to be always rebelling against the Sovereign; dwelling under a kind and loving Father's roof, and yet to be perpetually grieving Him and departing from Him; to have received so many costly proofs of His love, and yet rendering the most ungrateful returns- oh, it is enough to sink the soul in the deepest self-abasement before God. Reader, what has the Lord been to you? Come, witness for Him; has He ever been a wilderness to you, a dry and barren land? has there been anything in His dealings, in His conduct, in His way with you, why you should have turned your back upon Him? has there been any harshness in His rebukes, any unkind severity in His corrections, anything judicial and vindictive in His dealings? No, on the contrary, has He not been a fruitful garden, a pleasant land, a fountain of living waters to you? has He not blended kindness with all His rebukes, tenderness with all His chastisements, love with all His dealings, and has not His gentleness made you great? Then why have you departed from Him? What is there in God that you should leave Him, what in Jesus that you should wound Him, what in the blessed Spirit that you should grieve Him? Is not the cause of all your departure, declension, unkindness, unfruitfulness, in yourself, and in yourself alone? But if this has been your conduct towards God, not so has been His conduct towards you.