The Cords of Love!
James Smith, 1860
"I drew them with cords of a man, with bands of love!" Hosea 11:4
God's love to his people is variously and wondrously displayed. But this is more especially the case, in the manner by which he brings them to himself. He makes Israel the type, in their deliverance from Egypt, and being brought into covenant with himself. In reference to that event, he says, "I drew them with cords of a man, with bands of love!" And this is the way in which he generally converts souls, brings them to himself, and saves them forever.
The WORK. "I drew them." As he said by Jeremiah, "I have loved you with an everlasting love — therefore with loving-kindness have I drawn you." So the Savior testified, "No man can come unto me, except the Father who has sent me draws him." He drew Israel out of Egypt into the wilderness, and through the wilderness into the promised land. Just so, he draws his people OUT from the world, from sin, from self, and from Satan; and they leave all those voluntarily, cheerfully, and forever! He draws them TO himself, as a God of love; as a Father of the fatherless, and as the hope of the lost and miserable; he draws them to his beloved Son, to his cross, his house, and his service. And they rely on his work, unite with his family, and do his will from the heart.
The MANNER in which it was performed.
"I drew them with the cords of a man." That is reasonably — or according to their nature. He gives commands — and so manifests authority. He uses arguments — and so appeals to the judgment. He presents inducements — in order to affect the heart. He addresses the conscience — awakening conviction. He calls his witnesses, he assigns reasons — and so takes away all excuse.
"I drew them with the bands of love." The band is a thick, threefold cord, stronger than the cords of a man. He gives time, he uses means, he bestows favors, he speaks loving words, he performs loving deeds. In this way — he attracts, affects, and wins over the soul to himself. His love works gradually, gracefully — but effectually. By revealing his love to us in Jesus — he does much; but by shedding abroad his love in our hearts — he does more. Many have withstood his terrors — but who can withstand his love?
Observe, it is difficult to detach the soul from the world, from sinful customs, from idolizing self, and from the captivating power of Satan! Yes, it is so difficult, that none but God can do it, and he has to exert not merely "the cords of a man," but the strong "bands of love." Many come reluctantly from the world — to God, from sin and self to — the Savior. It takes years of gentle means — to win some! There are cases, in which the drawing is so gradual, and the pace of the coming soul is so slow — that they can scarcely believe that God has had anything to do with it, and they often write bitter things against themselves in consequence. But if the cord of man will not bring the chosen vessel, the band, shall.
God will not draw in vain. His purpose cannot be frustrated, nor the efforts of his love be lost. In the day of his power, in the power of his love — he will prevail, and no flesh shall glory in his presence!
He draws gently, especially the young, and those who have been piously educated. He often draws gradually, almost imperceptibly — but never in vain! He at length draws right up to the point of conversion — and sin is parted with, the world is forsaken, self is mortified, and Satan is conquered! Then, grace is admired! Then, salvation is prized! Then, Jesus is precious! Then, the soul is free! Then, the peace of God makes the heart happy!
Beloved, have you ever felt "the cords of a man" — the Lord drawing you by arguments, reasons, persuasions, appeals, inducements, and threatenings? Have you yielded to these drawings, and devoted yourself to God? Have you experienced "the bands of love" — the Lord affecting the heart, attracting the attention, and winning you over to himself?
Israel was not more really in slavery in Egypt — than you were in slavery in the world! Israel was not more certainly under the tyranny of Pharaoh — than you were under the tyranny of Satan, sin, and self! It was not more necessary for the Lord to save Israel — than for the Lord to save you!
"The cords of a man," are used when you read the Word, hear the gospel, or are spoken to by Christian friends. And if these are resisted, you are not sure that the Lord will use "the bands of love," or exert the invincible power of his Spirit in your hearts! Yield to the attractions of the cross. Surrender at the call of God. Submit to the authority of the gospel. If you do not — the results will be fearful.
Good and gracious God, let it please you to exert the mighty power of your love, in the reader's heart. If he has not been drawn to Jesus, to your blessed feet — draw him! If he has — draw him nearer and nearer still. O to feel the drawing power of the Holy Spirit daily — drawing us from worldly society, from poring over self, from all that is carnal and fleshly, and bringing us into closer, sweeter, and more blessed fellowship with our covenant God!