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299

CHAPTER XIX

THE FINAL ARGUMENT

Hosea xii.-xiv. 1.

The impassioned call with which last chapter closed was by no means an assurance of salvation: How am I to give thee up, Ephraim? how am I to let thee go, Israel? On the contrary, it was the anguish of Love, when it hovers over its own on the brink of the destruction to which their wilfulness has led them, and before relinquishing them would seek, if possible, some last way to redeem. Surely that fatal morrow and the people's mad leap into it are not inevitable! At least, before they take the leap, let the prophet go back once more upon the moral situation of to-day, go back once more upon the past of the people, and see if he can find anything else to explain that bias to apostasy612612   xi. 7. which has brought them to this fatal brink—anything else which may move them to repentance even there. So in chaps. xii. and xiii. Hosea turns upon the now familiar trail of his argument, full of the Divine jealousy, determined to give the people one other chance to turn; but if they will not, he at least will justify God's relinquishment of them. The chapters throw even a brighter light upon the temper and habits of that300 generation. They again explore Israel's ancient history for causes of the present decline; and, in especial, they cite the spiritual experience of the Father of the nation, as if to show that what of repentance was possible for him is possible for his posterity also. But once more all hope is seen to be vain; and Hosea's last travail with his obstinate people closes in a doom even more awful than its predecessors.

The division into chapters is probably correct; but while chap. xiii. is well-ordered and clear, the arrangement, and in parts the meaning, of chap. xii. are very obscure.


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