“My people are bent to backsliding from me.” Hosea 11:7The divine life has its dwelling-place in a fallen, fleshly nature. It is encompassed by all the corruptions, weaknesses, infirmities, and assaults of the flesh; there is not a moment that it is not exposed to assaults from within; there is not a natural faculty of the mind, or throb of the heart, that is favorable to its prosperity, but all are contrary to its nature, and hostile to its advance.As there is nothing internal that is favorable to a state of grace, so there is nothing external that assists it forward. It has its many and violent enemies: Satan is ever on the watch to assault it, the world is ever presenting itself in some new form of fascination and power to weaken it- a thousand temptations are perpetually striving to ensnare it; thus its internal and external enemies are leagued against it. Is it then any wonder that faith should sometimes tremble, that grace should sometimes decline, and that the pulse of the divine life should often beat faintly and feebly?The saints in every age have felt and lamented this. Hence the prayer of David, which is the prayer of all true believers: “Hold me up, and I shall be safe;” implying the greatest weakness in himself, and his perpetual exposure to the greatest falls: “Hold me up, for only as I am upheld by You am I safe.”Again he prays “Keep back Your servant also from presumptuous sins; let them not have dominion over me;” implying that a believer, left to the tendencies of his fallen nature, might become a prey to the worst sins. In addressing himself to the converted Hebrews, the apostle seizes the occasion thus to exhort them: “Take heed, brethren, lest there be in any of you an evil heart of unbelief, in departing from the living God.” “In departing,”- implying a constant tendency to depart from God.And what does God Himself say of His people? “My people are bent on backsliding from me.” And again, “Why is this people of Jerusalem slidden back by a perpetual backsliding?” Yes, it is a perpetual proneness to declension.The sun rises but to set, the clock is wound up but to run down; and not more natural is it for them thus to obey the laws that govern them, than for the heart of a child of God to follow the promptings of its corrupt and wayward nature.