I will restore - the years - It has already been remarked that the locusts not only destroyed the produce of that year, but so completely ate up all buds, and barked the trees, that they did not recover for some years. Here God promises that he would either prevent or remedy that evil; for he would restore the years that the locusts, cankerworm, caterpillar, and palmerworm had eaten.
And I will restore to you the years that the locust hath eaten - The order in which these destroyers are named not being the same as before, it is plain that the stress is not on the order, but on the successiveness of the inroads, scourge after scourge. It is plain too that they did not come in the same year, or two years, but year after year, for he says, not “year,” but in the plural, “years.” The locusts, although not the whole plague, intended, are not excluded.: “As the power of God was shewn in the plagues of Egypt by small animals, such as the cyniphes, gnats so small as scarce to be seen, so also now,” in creatures so small “is shown the power of God and weakness of man. If a creature so small is stronger than man, “why are earth and ashes proud?” The locusts, small as they are, are in God‘s hands “a great army,” (and from this place probably, Muhammed taught his followers so to call them) and mighty empires are but “the forces of God and messengers of His Providence for the punishing of” His people “by them,” “the rod of His Anger;” and when they have done their commission and are cast away by Him, they are as the vilest worms.
: “Since then after repentance God promises such richness, what will Novatus say, who denies repentance or that sinners can be reformed into their former state, if they but do works meet for repentance? For God in such wise receives penitents, as to call them His people, and to say, that they “shall never be confounded,” and to promise, that He will dwell in the midst of them, and that they shall have no other God, but shall, with their whole mind, trust in Him who abides in them forever.”
Through repentance all which had been lost by sin, is restored. In itself deadly sin is an irreparable evil. It deprives the soul of grace, of its hope of glory; it forfeits heaven, it merits hell. God, through Christ, restores the sinner, blots out sin, and does away with its eternal consequences. He replaces the sinner where he was before he fell. So God says by Ezekiel; “If the wicked will turn from all the sins which he hath committed and keep all My statutes, and do that which is lawful and right, he shall surely live, he shall not die; all his transgressions that he hath committed shall not be mentioned unto him” Ezekiel 18:21-22; and, “as for the wickedness of the wicked, he shall not fall thereby in the day that he turneth from his wickedness” Ezekiel 33:12. God forgives that wickedness, as though it had never been. If it had never been, man would have all the grace, which he had before his fall.
So then also, after he has been forgiven, none of his former grace, no store of future glory, will be taken from him. The time which the sinner lost, in which he might have gained increase of grace and glory, is lost forever. But all which he had gained before, returns. All his lost love returns through penitence; all his past attainments, which were before accepted by God, are accepted still for the same glory. “Former works which were deadened by sins following, revive through repentance”. The penitent begins anew God‘s service, but he is not at the beginning of that service, nor of his preparation for life eternal. If the grace which he had before, and the glory corresponding to that grace, and to his former attainments through that grace, were lost to him, then, although eternally blessed, he would be punished eternally for forgiven sin, which, God has promised, should “not be remembered.”
God has also promised to reward all which is “done in the body 2 Corinthians 5:10. What is evil, is effaced by the Blood of Jesus. What, through His Grace, was good, and done for love of Himself, He rewards, whether it was before anyone fell, or after his restoration. Else He would not, as He says He will, reward all. And who would not believe, that, after David‘s great fall and great repentance, God still rewarded all that great early simple faith and patience, which He gave him? Whence writers of old say, “It is pious to believe that the recovered grace of God which destroys a man‘s former evils, also reintegrates his good, and that God, when He hath destroyed in a man what is not His, loves the good which He implanted even in the sinner.”: “God is pleased alike with the virtue of the just, and the meet repentance of sinners, which restored to their former estate David and Peter.” “Penitence is an excellent thing which recalleth to perfection every defect.”: “God letteth His sun arise on sinners, nor doth He less than before, give them, most large gifts of life and salvation.”
Whence, since the cankerworm, etc. are images of spiritual enemies, this place has been paraphrased; “I will not allow the richness of spiritual things to perish which ye lost through the passions of the mind.” Nay, since none can recover without the grace of God and using that grace, the penitent, who really rises again by the grace of God, rises with larger grace than before, since he has both the former grace, and; in addition, this new grace, whereby he rises.