If you will return, O Israel, said the LORD, return to me: and if you will put away your abominations out of my sight…
I. THE NECESSITY OF FALLOWING THE GROUND is obvious to all who are practically acquainted with tillage: and such as are experimentally informed on the subject of the evil and barrenness of their own hearts, will admit the absolute requirement of a similar mental process. All your carnal hopes, and criminal opposition to the Divine will, must be completely eradicated.
II. THE NATURE of this part of a farmer's business will well Illustrate the correspondent toil of a believer. No attempt to cleanse the heart, however disagreeable, is intentionally neglected by the sincere believer — no effort is relied upon; all is subservient to the expected influences of heaven.
III. THE ADVANTAGES of this procedure. Those who make thorough work with their own hearts, will find that their religious joys and better hopes, though delayed, shall be most vigorous; their subsequent sufferings from the grieving thorn and pricking brier shall be fewer; and a richer harvest shall at length crown their toil.
1. If you desire permanent prosperity and joy in the Holy Ghost, break up the fallow ground — sow not among thorns.
2. Be personal in this labour. Turn your eyes from others to yourself.
3. Remember your own unworthiness, and the poverty of your unassisted endeavours.
Parallel VersesKJV: If thou wilt return, O Israel, saith the LORD, return unto me: and if thou wilt put away thine abominations out of my sight, then shalt thou not remove.