Hosea 14:4. I will heal their backsliding I will deliver them from a backsliding heart and way, and remove those judgments they have brought upon themselves thereby. The Lord says, I will heal, &c., a usual metaphor in Scripture, because sin is our disease, and God is the physician who healeth us, Psalms 103:3; Jeremiah 3:22; and he doth it through Christ, in whom this promise is made to returning backsliders. God makes this promise to the Israelites by his prophet, to encourage them to hearken to his advice, given in the preceding verses. I will love them freely That is, of my own mere grace, and favour, and liberality. Bishop Horsley renders this verse, I will restore their conversion; (that is, as he understands it, their converted race, taking conversion as a collective noun for converts; like captivity for the captives; and dispersion for the dispersed;) I will love them gratuitously; for mine anger is departed from me. In these words, God promises, he says, to restore the converted nation [of the Israelites] to his favour, and a situation of prosperity and splendour. On the word gratuitously he quotes the following passage from Luther’s commentary on this chapter: “Are good works then nothing? you will say. Is there no place at all for them in the doctrine of repentance? I answer, that hitherto the discourse hath been about remission of sins, and the gift of the Holy Ghost. These are entirely gratuitous, and not of our merit, but simply of the inexhaustible goodness and compassion of God. Therefore, when we speak of the remission of sins, it is right to be silent about our own works; which, because they are done without the Holy Spirit, although with regard to civil society they may not be bad, yet cannot be called good, and ought not, because of the unclean heart from which they proceed. But when through faith we have received remission of sins, and, together with that, the gift of the Holy Ghost, forthwith from the heart, as from a pure fountain, come forth works also good, and well-pleasing to God. For although, by reason of the remains of original sin, the obedience even of the saints is not perfectly pure, yet, on account of faith in Christ, it is pleasing and acceptable to God.”
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