Hosea 11:4
I drew them with cords of a man, with bands of love. These words refer, in the first instance, to ancient Israel, and remind us how kindly and tender had been the Lord's dealings with them. In applying the text to ourselves, we shall consider it under two aspects. We have here -

I. A REPRESENTATION OF GOD'S WAY OF DEALING WITH MEN. The supreme power over the world of mankind is not the relentless power of natural law. The forces of nature dominate the physical universe; but man is a moral being, and is conscious of moral freedom. The force which draws his mind is reason - "cords of a man ;" and the power which influences his heart is tenderness - "bands of love." God uses these forces:

1. In his common providence. His love for his creatures is analogous to parental affection: it is as human, and more tender than that of a mother for her child. His mercy is long-suffering and indestructible. It leads him "daily to load us with benefits." And even the cords of affliction with which he sometimes binds us are "bands of love ' cast around us to draw us to himself.

2. In the plan of redemption. "The Word was made flesh" in order to draw men by cords of human sympathy. What blessing the Incarnation has brought to the reason of man! In looking upon the Lord Jesus Christ we see truth in the concrete. He is himself "the Truth," "the Word of Life."

"Though truths in manhood darkly join
Deep-seated in our mystic frame,
We yield all blessing to the Name
Of him that made them current coin
;

"For Wisdom dealt with mortal powers,
Where truth in closest words shall fail,
When truth embodied in a tale
Shall enter in at lowly doors.

"And so the Word had breath, and wrought
With human hands the creed of creeds
In loveliness of perfect deeds,
More strong than all poetic thought."


(Tennyson.) What blessing, also, the Incarnation has brought to the heart of man! The Lord Jesus is bone of our bone, and flesh of our flesh. He was the "Son of Mary," and he "shed the human tear." So he is qualified, as our merciful and sympathizing High Priest, to enter into all our feelings, and thereby to bind us to himself and to God.

3. In the invitations of the gospel. The Lord, in these, appeals to us as rational and moral beings. The invitation, e.g., "Come now, and let us reason together" (Isaiah 1:18), suggests that the most rational of all the actions of the human mind is to accept of Christ as the Savior; and that a life of faith in him is the only reasonable and manly and truly successful life. The gospel voices, moreover, are "bands of love." The prodigal son, so soon as he returned to reason, was led by the remembrance of his father's love to return home (Luke 15:17, 183. And, similarly, the love of God is the loadstar which leads poor sinners to himself.

4. In the appointed means of grace. Take:

(1) The Word of God. The Bible is a Divine Book, but it is also intensely human. The sacred writers display everywhere a profound knowledge of human nature. The spirit of the Book is humane and tender; it draws" with bands of love." In the universities of Scotland, the Professor of Latin is usually called "Professor of Humanity," from the supposed beneficial effects of the study of Roman literature; but surely the supreme humanizing influence in letters is the Word of God.

(2) The sacraments. As "signs," baptism and the Lord's Supper are "cords of a man." They appeal to the physical senses as well as to mind and heart. They are like pictures or illustrative diagrams of the great truths of redemption. The sacraments are also "seals;" and, as such, "bands of love." Each of them is, as it were, a keepsake, or love-token, given by the Redeemer to his Church. Once more, take

(3) Prayer. Prayer is the converse with God of his human children. It has for its key-note the child's cry, "Our Father." It is the voice of childlike trust in the humanity, the tenderness, the father-pity of our Maker and Redeemer.

5. As the motive-powers to holiness of life. Our text expresses the master consideration which impels the believer to a career of Christian consecration. The Apostle Paul urges the same in Romans 12:1: "Your reasonable service," i.e. "cords of a man;" "by the mercies of God," i.e. "bands of love." The meaning is that in a life of devotion to God all the rational faculties find their chief end, and that to such a life "the love of Christ constraineth us."

II. A LESSON OF CONDUCT FOR OURSELVES. The words before us reveal the secret of influence. They point out the magnet with which we are to attract our fellow-men in all the relations of life. God Almighty draws with the loadstone of love; and in this we are to be "imitators of God, as dear children" (Ephesians 5:1). Here is a lesson to:

1. Parents. The family bond is love. We must throw "cords of a man" around our children, if we would train them to live to the Redeemer. Our training must be humane, and in harmony with the moral nature of its subjects. A father ought, as soon as possible, to enlist his child's reason on the side of obedience. When our children do well, let us praise them without stint. When they do wrong, and we must show displeasure, let us welcome the earliest tokens of penitence, and be very ready to forgive. Next to Divine grace itself, the bands of paternal love are the strongest that can attract the child-heart.

2. Teachers. Humaneness of spirit is the mainspring of an educator's influence. The most effectual stimulus to learn is not that which is supplied by the rod, but that which is given by the "cords of a man." The secret of Dr. Arnold's influence at Rugby was his intense human sympathy, added to the regal supremacy of his spiritual character. In sabbath school work, especially, we must use these "cords" and "bands;" we must come to our classes "in love, and in the spirit of meekness."

3. Pastors. The preacher is to be himself a man, every inch of him. His influence in the community ought to be a masculine influence, he is to be "a preacher of righteousness." And he must take care to use "bands of love." His lifework is to "win" souls; and there is no way of winning without love (1 Corinthians 13:1). Like the high priest, the pastor ought to be one "who can bear gently with the ignorant and erring" (Hebrews 5:2). No Christian teacher has ever been more successful than the Apostle Paul; and Paul drew "with cords of a man" (1 Corinthians 9:19-23), and "with bands of love" (1 Thessalonians 2:7, 8).

4. Employers. This relationship, alike in business and domestic life, should be characterized by kindness. Masters ought to "forbear threatening" (Ephesians 6:9), and extend sympathy and confidence to their workmen. The responsibilities of an employer do not end with the punctual payment of wages. He is not to think of his workmen merely as "hands," i.e. as machines by using which he hopes to make money; but rather as his own flesh and blood, in whose welfare he ought to take a warm interest. And so, also, in the sphere of domestic service. Mistresses ought to treat their servants as part of the family, and see to their comfort as they see to their own. Happiness will enter our households through the door which has written over it these words: "I drew them with bands of love."

5. Neighbors, in their mutual intercourse. We who profess to be Christ's people ought to show the grace that dwells in us by striving to be eminent in courtesy and gentleness. We ought to be so even to the ungodly and profane, and to those who treat us as enemies "A soft answer turneth away wrath." And if love is the fire that will melt an enemy, is it not also the tie which binds believers together into a goodly fellowship? A strong and healthy Church is one the members of which "increase and abound in love one toward another, and toward all men' (1 Thessalonians 3:12).

CONCLUSION. To draw with these "cords" and "bands" is always, at least, self-rewarding. It is true that love will sometimes fail with its object. Jehovah himself failed with Ephraim during long centuries. Similarly, some whom we attempt to draw may say persistently, "Let us break their bands asunder, and cast away their cords from us." In such circumstances we ought to remember that duty is ours, and that results are with God. "Though Israel be not gathered, yet shall I be glorious in the eyes of the Lord, and my God shall be my Strength" (Isaiah 49:5). - C.J.







I drew them with cords of a man.
I. GOD IN THE ACTION OF GREAT SOLICITUDE. "I drew them." There are two ways by which this thought is confirmed —

1. By Scripture.

2. By experience.God is represented in the Song of Solomon as drawing us with the odour of a great ointment.

II. GOD DRAWING MAN THROUGH THE PRINCIPLE OF HUMAN AGENCY — "Cords of a man."

1. God did this in the use of the prophets.

2. God did this in the Person of Christ.

3. God is now doing this in the Christian ministry.

III. GOD DRAWING MAN THROUGH THE PRINCIPLE OF SPIRITUAL CONDITIONS: "With hands of love."

1. There is the voice of the inner life, — telling of wrong, and pointing to right and duty.

2. There is the agency of the Holy Spirit, — pointing to holy decisions. Dr. Doddridge once said to his daughter, "My dear, how is it that everybody seems to love you?" She answered, "I do not know, papa, — unless it is that I love everybody." Jesus loves us. Shall we not love Him?

(W. A. Perrins.)

Homilist.
I. THE UNCOERCIVENESS OF HIS REDEMPTIVE AGENCY. He draws, not drives. This Divine mode of action implies two things —

1. That God respects the moral freedom of human nature. He has endowed us with moral agency. We have a consciousness of freedom which defies and spurns all the logic that would prove us slaves. The Holy Father treats us according to the natures He has given us. God neither condemns nor saves men contrary to their own will.

2. That God's moral power in the Gospel is extraordinarily great.(1) It is a power to draw souls. Brute force can only drive bodies. Mere might has no magnetism for the soul. There is a moral power, the power of anger, falsehood, disgusting immorality, that can drive souls away — repel them with disgust. But holy moral power alone can draw the entire soul.(2) It is a power to draw depraved souls. It is something therefore extraordinary — greater than the moral power of nature. It is the power of infinite love, embodied in the life of Christ.

II. THE HUMANITY OF GOD'S REDEMPTIVE AGENCY. It is by a man's intellect, heart, life, example, influence that he draws. God saves man by man.

1. The reasonable draws man. God appeals to our reason through man.

2. The merciful draws man. God appeals to our gratitude through man.

3. The excellent draws man.

4. The desirable draws man.

(Homilist.)

It is God who speaks of the humanity of His treatment of us. When a man would influence, he must begin by loving. Few can resist that spell. I need not tell any one how mighty, how almighty, in a man's being is the force of love. There are not two definitions of love, though it has many modifications. The symptoms common to all loving are delight in presence, impatience of absence, eagerness for reciprocity, intolerance of coldness, joy in exchange of thought, sympathy in each change of circumstance; delight in the opportunity of benefiting, and corroding grief in the prohibition of intercourse. We have claimed for hope — we have claimed even for fear — a place in the Gospel. Can it be needful to do the same for love? Yet there may be some comparative, if not positive, disparagement of this grace. I have heard men speak slightingly of Gospel love. They judge it better, on the whole, for the character of Christ's Gospel, that in its central' innermost shrine the Deity of deities should be rather obedience than love. Thus, in improving Christ's Gospel, they spoilt, marred, ruined it.

I. THE GOSPEL IS A REVELATION OF LOVE. Herein lies its power, the secret of its strength. It reveals the love of God. That God loves virtue, and will compensate and make up for the sufferings of the good, is a tenet which needs not a revelation. But that God loves all men, even the sinner, is that quite right? Must there not be something here not altogether sound in doctrine, because not altogether conducive to morality and good? The Gospel risks this perversion. It refers us to Christ. Did Christ's example, did Christ's life, encourage or favour sin? There is, in the immeasurable love of God, room for all His creatures. There is a yearning of soul over the scattered, dispersed, erring, and straying race. He loves, therefore He pleads. The whole secret of the drawing lies in the spontaneity of the love. Tell a man, — "Seek God, and He will be found of you," — and you waste words. Tell him — "God loves you as you are. God has come after you, with far-reaching endeavour." He will find there is strength in that which will not, cannot, be resisted.

II. THERE IS AN INVITATION OF LOVE. There is something always pathetic, to the unsophisticated ear, in the petition of love. The outcries of barren, thirsting affection waste themselves oftentimes upon the desert. And yet there was a love for them, would they but have had it, a love better than of son or daughter, better than of wife or husband, a love indestructible, satisfying, eternal. It is permitted to you to love God. Ought not that to be joy enough and privilege enough for any man? God makes it religion to do the thing which will make us happy; and therefore He turns the invitation into the injunction of love, and bids the fallen self-ruined creature just love and be happy — just love and be saved.

III. THERE IS A COMMUNICATION, OR TRANSMISSION, OF LOVE. He who has been loved, and therefore loves, is bidden by that love of God to love his brother also; and then, in that transmission, that handing on of the love, the whole of the Gospel — its precept as its comfort — is in deed and in truth perfected. Little, indeed, do they know of the power of the Gospel who think either that obedience will replace the love of God, or duty be a substitute for the love of man. Christ teaches us that both towards God and towards man love goes first and duty follows after. Not, indeed, that we are idly to wait for the feeling, and excuse the not doing on the plea of not loving. There is such a thing as worshipping because I desire to love. So there is such a thing as doing good to my brother, if so be I may love him; a setting myself to every office of patient and self-denying charity, if by any means it may at last become not a labour but a love to me. But how can we love the unlovely? Surely whosoever sees with the eye of Christ, can discern, if he will look for it, on the most tarnished, debased, defaced coin of humanity, that Divine image and superscription in which God created, and for the sake of which Christ thought it no waste to redeem. This is love's place in Christ's Gospel. Love revealed, love reciprocated, then love handed on.

(C. J. Vaughan, D. D.)

This is not a day for difficult doctrines, but for the simplest and humblest feelings. The great work of this day is quite beyond, the reach of our understanding. The appeal is not made to our understanding, nor even directly to our conscience. With the cords of a man we are drawn. The human affections which all men share, the feelings which even the poorest, the meanest, the most ignorant partake in, the pity, the tenderness, the love that can only be called forth by love, these are now the cords by which our Father draws us, the cords of a man. To the heart that loves like a child, to the sinner deeply laden with his burden of unhappiness, to the broken spirit that secretly longs to escape from fetters which it is powerless to break, to the soul that is ready to despair, this Gospel speaks, and tells of hope, and love, and eagerness to forgive, and embracing arms, and falling on the neck, and tears of joy, and the welcome of the prodigal son. We cannot study here. We can but surrender our hearts to the love which is too much for them to contain. We are sometimes cold and dead. There are times when our feelings towards God seem to lose their warmth. We can obey and do, but we feel like servants, not like children, and we are unhappy because we cannot rouse any warmer feelings in ourselves. And when this is so, where can we go but to the Cross of Christ? Perhaps under a decent exterior we hide some sinful habit which has long been eating into our souls. It is possible that we may be discharging every duty as far as human eyes behold us. Yet time after time the temptation has proved too strong, or we have been found too weak. Our besetting sin has clung to us, and we cannot get rid of it. Then let us once more turn to God, and gaze upon the Cross of Christ. Or perhaps we have never striven to serve God at all. We have lived as best suited the society in which we were, as most conduced to our own pleasures. Whenever the thought of God or conscience comes across us, we find that but a dull subject to think on, and we turn to pleasanter and more exciting themes. What then shall warm our hearts but this plain story of sadness? If we have human feelings still left us, and sympathy can yet touch our souls, it will be impossible to read of the Cross of Christ without emotion.

(Archbishop Temple.)

I. I DEALT WITH THEM RATIONALLY, AS MEN, NOT AS BEASTS.

1. My statutes were according to right reason.

2. They were supported by many arguments.

3. And by persuasions, motives, and exhortations.

II. I DEALT WITH THEM GENTLY, NOT WITH RIGOUR AND VIOLENCE.

1. Suiting Myself to their dispositions.

2. Dealing with them when they were in their best temper.

3. Giving them time to consider.

III. I DEALT WITH THEM HONOURABLY, IN A MANNER SUITABLE TO THAT RESPECT WHICH IS DUE TO MAN.

1. My instructions ever exceeded My corrections.

2. Whatever spark of ingenuousness remained in them, I took care to preserve it.

3. I aimed at their good, as well as My own glory, in all things.

(Jeremiah Burroughs.)

s: — No man ever does come to God unless he is drawn. Man is so utterly "dead in trespasses and sins" that the same Divine power which provided a Saviour must make him willing to accept a Saviour. But many make a mistake about Divine drawings. They seem to fancy that when the time comes, they will, by some irresistible power, without any exercise of thought or reasoning, be compelled to be saved. But no man can make another man lay hold of Christ. Nay, God Himself does not do it by compulsion. He hath respect unto man as a reasoning creature. Love is the power that acts upon men. God draweth no man contrary to the constitution of man, but His methods of drawing are in strict accordance with mental operations.

1. Some are drawn to Christ by seeing the happiness of true believers.

2. Another cord of love is the sense of the security of God's people, and a desire to be as secure as they.

3. Some will tell you they were first drawn to Christ by the holiness of godly relatives.

4. Not a few are brought to Christ by gratitude for mercies received.

5. Some have been caught by becoming convinced that the religion of Christ is the most reason. able religion in the world.

6. A far larger number, however, are attracted to Jesus by a sense of His exceeding great love.

7. The privileges which a Christian enjoys ought to draw some of you to Christ.

( C. H. Spurgeon.)

Let us see what this goodness did for Israel, and what it does still for God's people. Three leading articles.

I. ATTRACTION. "I drew them." God attracted the Jews to Himself as their Lord and portion by conviction and affection. The attraction is to Him as well as by Him. In pushing and driving you urge a thing from you; but in drawing it you bring it towards you. God's aim is to bring us to Himself. This aim regards the state that we are previously in — a state of distance and alienation from Him. As in this state we see his sin, so we equally see his misery, for with God is the fountain of life, and we can never be happy save as we are near Him. Look at the manner in which this attraction is accomplished. "With the cords of a man." That Is —

1. "Rationally. Hence religion is called a reasonable service."

2. Affectionately. Love is the supreme attraction. There are four heads of goodness which are peculiarly attractive and powerful.

(1)Unreserved kindness is very attractive. So is

(2)Disinterested kindness. And

(3)Magnanimous kindness. And

(4)Costly and expensive kindness.

II. PROVISION. "I laid meat unto them." Meat means food generally. To show the plenitude and riches of the Gospel provision it is represented in the Scriptures by a feast. The provision is found in the Scriptures. It is "laid unto you in the preaching of the Gospel."

III. EMANCIPATION. He takes off the yoke from our jaws. What yoke?

1. The yoke of Judaism.

2. Of popery.

3. Of persecution.

4. Of bigotry.

5. Of ignorance.

(William Jay.)

A weeping willow stood by the side of a pond, and in the direction of that pond it hung out its pensive-looking branches. An attempt was made to give a different direction to these branches. The attempt was useless; where the water lay, thither the boughs would turn. However an expedient presented itself. A large pond was dug on the other side of the tree, and as soon as the greater quantity of water was found there, the tree of its own accord bent its branches in that direction. What a clear illustration of the laws which govern the human heart. It turns to the water — the poisoned waters of sin, perhaps — but the only streams with which it is acquainted. Remonstrate with it, and your remonstrances are vain. It knows no better joys than those of earth, and to them it obstinately clings. But open to its apprehension fuller streams, heavenly water; show to it some better thing, some more satisfying joys; and then it is content to abandon what it once worshipped, and turns its yearning affections heavenward.

(J. A. Gordon, D. D.)

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