O Ephraim, what shall I do to you? O Judah, what shall I do to you? for your goodness is as a morning cloud…
No valuable attainment is to be made without industry; and no industry is effectual but that which has the character of perseverance. Yet there is an impression almost universal, that spiritual blessings are to visit us unsolicited by our patient exertion; that, at all events, an occasional sensibility of feeling, and transient purposes of amendment will conduct us to all that is requisite for the life to come. Reflection might teach us the probability of there being an analogy between the requirement made upon us for the earthly, and that which is necessary for the heavenly attainments. Self-examination might show us how very foreign the knowledge of Divine things is to the darkness within our souls; how opposed the practice of what is righteous to the corruption which reigns there. Scripture would affix its authoritative seal on all which reflection and self-inquiry suggest. How unstable was the nation of Israel! What other means could Divine wisdom invent to give to their repentance a fixed, a lasting, an effective character? Mercies and judgments had been tried again and again. God speaks in the text as a man would speak with respect to persons with whom he had used every means of improvement, and used them in vain. The case before us is an exhibition of our own character and danger. It is the prototype of a large class among ourselves. Who have begun, but whose goodness has been like the morning cloud which flees before the approaching sun, or as the early dew soon caught up by his scorching heat. Those who so lately turned from sin to repentance, turn back again from repentance to sin. What are the causes of this short-lived goodness; the causes which lead to the relapse into evil? Great deliverances — blessings from God of an unusual importance — may produce a temporary relaxation of wickedness or worldliness. This effect is also seen to arise from trouble. There are few who have not been led by sorrow and disappointment to make what has proved in the result an abortive struggle. Another frequent cause of temporary heats of religion is discovered in the power of conviction. Appeal to men is continually made b.y the Word of God, by His ministers, by His providence. The only surprise is that such impressions, grounded in truth, should not conduct the soul further; and that there is any point within the line which divides insincerity and sincerity at which it should stop. The solution is found in the state of the heart; there is, in truth, no principle to lead it onward to the true Christian character. The nature of religion has not been considered; its motives have not been weighed; its difficulties have not been calculated. No wonder that animal indulgence, the temptations of the world, and the persuasions and influence of others make it difficult for a pliable mind to act independently.
(T. Kennion, M. A.)
Parallel VersesKJV: O Ephraim, what shall I do unto thee? O Judah, what shall I do unto thee? for your goodness is as a morning cloud, and as the early dew it goeth away.