O Ephraim, what shall I do to you? O Judah, what shall I do to you? for your goodness is as a morning cloud…
In these words God complains that He did not know what to do with Israel, their impressions were so fading.
I. THE FACT THAT THE IMPRESSIONS OF NATURAL MEN FADE AWAY.
1. Prove the fact from Scripture. Take the case of Lot's wife. Or Israel at the Red Sea. Or the young man who came running to Jesus. Or Felix. Or King Agrippa.
2. Prove the fact from experience.
(1) Many have had a time of awakening in childhood.
(2) Or at their first communion.
(3) Or in a first time of serious sickness.
(4) Or when there has come a first death in the family.
(5) Or in some season of religious awakening.
3. Show the steps of impressions fading away.
(1) Prayer gradually given up.
(2) Hearing the Word neglected,.
(3) Failing to seek counsel and help of ministers.
II. REASONS WHY THE NATURAL IMPRESSIONS OF MEN DIE AWAY.
1. They never are brought to feel truly lost. The wounds of natural men are generally skin deep. They may be brought to say, "I am a great sinner"; but they are not brought to feel undone.
2. They never saw the beauty of Christ. A flash of terror will bring a man to his knees, but will not bring him to Christ. Love only will draw. A natural man, under concern, sees no beauty nor desirableness in Christ.
3. He never had heart-hatred of sin. The impressions of natural men are generally of terror. They feel the danger of sin, not the filthiness of it.
4. They have no promises to keep their impressions. Natural men have no interest in the promises, and so, in the time of temptation, their anxieties easily wear away.
III. THE SADNESS OF THEIR CASE.
1. God mourns over their case. It must be a truly sad case that God mourns over.
2. God has no new method of awakening. He speaks as even at a loss what to do, to show you that there remaineth no more sacrifice for sins.
3. No good by your past impressions. When the cloud is dried up off the mountain's brow, and the dew off the rock, the mountain is as great as before, and the rock as hard; but when convictions fade away from the heart of the natural man, they leave the mountain of his sins much greater, and his rocky heart much harder. It is less likely that such a man will ever be saved.Application.
1. You are now older, and every day less likely to be saved.
2. You have offended the Spirit. You have missed your opportunity. Convictions are not in your power.
3. You have got into the way of putting aside convictions.
4. When you come to hell you will wish you never had convictions, they will make your punishment so much the greater.Entreat all who now have any impressions not to let them slip. It is a great mercy to live under a Gospel ministry; still greater to live in a time of revival; still greater to have God pouring the Spirit into your heart, awakening your soul. Do not neglect it.
(R. M. M'Cheyne.)
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.