solemn fast. (1-3) Prayer and confession of sin. (4-38)
Verses 1-3: The word will direct and quicken prayer, for by it the
Spirit helps our infirmities in prayer. The careful study of
God's word will more and more discover to us our own sinfulness,
and the plenteousness of his salvation; thus it calls us to
mourn for sin, and to rejoice in him. Every discovery of the
truth of God, should render us more unwearied in attendance on
his sacred word, and on his worship.
Verses 4-38: The summary of their prayers we have here upon record.
Much more, no doubt, was said. Whatever ability we have to do
any thing in the way of duty, we are to serve and glorify God
according to the utmost of it. When confessing our sins, it is
good to notice the mercies of God, that we may be the more
humbled and ashamed. The dealings of the Lord showed his
goodness and long-suffering, and the hardness of their hearts.
The testimony of the prophets was the testimony of the Spirit in
the prophets, and it was the Spirit of Christ in them. They
spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost, and what they said
is to be received accordingly. The result was, wonder at the
Lord's mercies, and the feeling that sin had brought them to
their present state, from which nothing but unmerited love could
rescue them. And is not their conduct a specimen of human
nature? Let us study the history of our land, and our own
history. Let us recollect our advantages from childhood, and ask
what were our first returns? Let us frequently do so, that we
may be kept humble, thankful, and watchful. Let all remember
that pride and obstinacy are sins which ruin the soul. But it is
often as hard to persuade the broken-hearted to hope, as
formerly it was to bring them to fear. Is this thy case? Behold
this sweet promise, A God ready to pardon! Instead of keeping
away from God under a sense of unworthiness, let us come boldly
to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace
to help in time of need. He is a God ready to pardon.