The Backslider's Resolution
"I will go and return to my first husband; for then was it better with me than now!" Hosea 2:7
Nothing is more common than backsliding — and yet nothing is more criminal. He who thus backslides — troubles his own heart and mind too.
By the gospel we are espoused to Jesus, by grace we are united to Him; and when we profess religion we say, "I will be for you — and not for another. I will seek my happiness in your love, my supplies from your fullness, and my direction from your Word. I will aim at your honor, devote myself to your cause, and surrender myself to be ruled and guided by you alone!"
For a time after conversion — the love of Jesus charms us, the appointments of Jesus delight us, and the authority of Jesus binds us. We walk with Him in peace and holiness. But listening to Satan, yielding to the working of unbelief in our hearts, or conforming to the present evil world — we gradually backslide from Him:
our private fellowship with Him becomes less fervent and frequent,
our thoughts of Him less interesting and sweet,
our concern for His glory decays,
selfishness increases, and is fostered,
and we leave our first love.
The sin is inexcusable,
the folly is great, and
the consequences always painful, and sometimes fearful.
But here is one who is . . .
convinced of his folly,
sorry for his sin, and
determined to return.
"I will go," and humble myself at His feet, and confess my crime. I will seek to be restored to His favor and the enjoyment of His love. I will ask to be again employed in His service. I will beg to be received into His house. I am willing to be a servant, to do the lowest work, to be humbled to the lowest degree — if I may be but allowed to see His face, hear His voice, and once more enjoy His smile. He alone can satisfy me. His pardoning mercy alone can reach my case, and His gracious presence alone afford me comfort. I am wretched without Him. Emptiness and vanity are written upon everything around me! I deserve to be banished from His presence. He would be just if He sent me to Hell. But I must venture before Him, I must plead with Him, I must be again admitted mto His favor — or I die!
"I will go,"
though conscience accuses me,
though His Word condemns me,
though Satan opposes me,
though my heart misgives me,
though saints slight and discourage me.
"I will go and return" — for He was my husband, my joy, my delight, my all. I cannot live without Him, I can but die before Him; but no — no sinner, not even a backsliding sinner, ever perished at His feet.
"I will go and return to my first husband; for then was it better with me than now!" I remember the days of old, the season of my first love — how sweet, how delightful my experience! Then the presence of God raised me above my trials, and filled me with joy unspeakable. Then I had power over sin, and I could crucify the flesh with its affections and lusts. Then I enjoyed freedom from care — casting all my care upon Him, assured that He cared for me. Then I was indulged with discoveries of His love, which made it almost impossible to doubt. Then I found profit and pleasure in all the means of grace and ordinances of His appointment. Then I had joy and peace in believing.
But oh! How different has it been with me since! Instead of the highway of holiness, and the paths of pleasantness and peace — my way has been hedged up with thorns! Instead of holy contentment and inward satisfaction — I have had constant vexation and disappointment. It was indeed better with me once, than now!
But my injured Lord, my longsuffering Savior, my gracious God, is saying, "Return, you backsliding children, and I will heal your backslidings!" And my heart says, "Behold, I come unto you, for you are the Lord my God." "O Lord, our God, other lords besides you have ruled over us, but your name alone do we honor." Thus says the Lord, "I will heal your backslidings, I will love you freely, for my anger is turned away from you. I will restore comfort unto you and to your mourners."
"Lord, I bow with deep contrition
Low before your throne of grace;
Heal me in your kind compassion,
While I seek your smiling face.
Where — but to a bleeding Savior,
Should I come for life and peace?
Nothing but your boundless favor
Can my burdened soul release!
You have witnessed my transgression,
You have seen my load of guilt;
Witness now my deep confession.
You whose precious blood was spilt.
Oh, this sin of covenant-breaking!
Can You, will You, Lord, forgive?
Shall I hear your mercy speaking?
Can you bid me look and live?
Pardon, peace, and consolation,
At your bleeding cross I see;
There I take my humble station,
There I give my soul to Thee."