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of my heart-the Lord will not spare him, but the anger of the Lord shall smoke against that man." Deut. xxix. 20. Beware, then, of abusing mercy ; and let not the present moment be neglected. Tomorrow may be too late. « Now is the accepted time. To day if ye will hear his voice, harden not your hearts.” Hereafter the door will be shut, and many shall seek to enter in, but shall not be able. When God had shut Noah into the ark, there was no refuge for the drowning multitudes, who refused his calls to repentance. But now he saith, “Let the wicked forsake his way, and the unrighteous man his thoughts, and let him return unto the Lord, and he will have mercy upon him, and to our God, for he will abundantly pardon.” Isa. lv. 7. Only turn to God through Christ, and beg him to help you to do it. If you turn to the Lord, he will have mercy upon you.' It is his own word. “Whoso confesseth and forsaketh his sin, shall have mercy." Prov. xxviii. 13. If you will not come to Christ, you will not, cannot, have life ; but coming to him, "you shall in no wise be cast out," but obtain mercy, and “the blood of Jesus Christ shall cleanse you from all sin.”
The mercy of God affords great encouragement to prayer. In the temple of Solomon there was a . Mercy-seat-this was the cover of the Ark, sprinkled with the blood of atonement, towards which all who offered up their petitions at the hour of prayer, turned their faces. Towards this seat of mercy the penitent Publican looked (in spirit at least) when he presented that humble but successful petition, 6 God be merciful to mne a sinner !” We too have a “throne of grace," sprinkled with the blood of the Lamb, to which we are kindly invited with confidence to approach, “ that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in every time of need." A. persuasion that God " is rich in mercy" to all who call upon him, will inspire us with holy boldness. This will furnish us with the Psalmist's plea,
« Great are thy tender mercies, O Lord, quicken me according to thy judgments !” Again, he pleads, “ Deal well with thy servant, according to thy mercy;" or, as another eminent believer pleaded, “We do not present our supplications before thee for our righteousness, but for thy great mercies.”
Does mercy belong to God? Then let humble believers trust and not be afraid. Think highly, think largely of divine mercy. “He will abundantly pardon." He will readily pardon. His thoughts are not as man's contracted thoughts,-his ways are not as man's limited ways : but superior, as the heavens are above the earth. Enlarge, then, your views of the mercy of God. Cherish extended thoughts of his goodness; and say, with the Psalmist, "I will hope in thy mercy ;" * I trust in the mercy of the Lord for ever ;” and this will induce you to · Thank God for his mercy. Look back and consider how much you owe to mercy! How many dangers have you escaped! how many deliverances experienced ! how many benefits received! Reflect on his preventing mercies; how many sins were you prevented from committing! his providing mercies ; how constantly hath he supplied your returning wants ! his restoring mercies, recovering you from the very borders of the grave! but, above all, think of his pardoning mercies !-how hath he “multiplied to pardon” your renewed and multiplied transgressions! O then “praise the Lord, for he is good, for his mercy endureth for ever!” let the redeemed of the Lord (especially) say so, and add, “How precious are thy thoughts (of mercy) unto me, O God! how great is the sum of them ; if I should count them, they are more than the sand.” And when you reflect upon this vast profusion of mercies, reflect also on your total unworthiness of them, of any of them. What God has done for you, was not only without merit, but contrary to it. So far were you from deserving any favour, that you deserved his anger ; he might not only have with
held his blessings, but he might justly have punished your transgressions. Forget not then to make some grateful return for his favours.” “They are new every morning." Let your praises be as frequently renewed. Offer the sacrifice of thanksgiving, and in the spirit of the patriarch Jacob, who had a long experience of the divine favour, say, “I am less than the least of all thy mercies !"
Finally, Let us imitate divine mercy. They who have obtained mercy, should certainly shew mercy. Such persons can never be covetous, hard-hearted, cruel, or oppressive. Shall he, to whom ten thousand talents have been forgiven, seize his brother by the throat for a few pence? It is impossible. If you forgive not men their trespasses, it is certain that you are not forgiven. But, on the contrary, Christians, “ Put ye on, as the elect of God, holy and beloved, bowels of mercies, kindness, humbleness of mind, meekness, long-suffering, forbearing one another, and forgiving one another, if a man have a quarrel against any. Even as Christ forgave you, so also do ye.” Such is the scriptural direction to those who have received mercy; and this will be the best evidence of having received it ; for thus said he, who will be our Judge, “ Blessed are the merciful, for they shall obtain mercy !!!
THE LOVE OF GOD.
eor. xii. 14. And the Love of God be with you all.
THESE words are a part of the benediction usu
1 ally pronounced at the close of public worship in Christian congregations. They are the words of St Paul, in the conclusion of his second epistle to the church at Corinth, by which he expresses his best wishes on their behalf; as if he had said, “ May the perpetual favour of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the constant and peculiar love of God the Father, and the most abundant communication of the Holy Spirit, in his gifts and graces, be with you, and remain with you, even with all the members of the church at Corinth !” “ It is with great reason,” says an eminent divine," that this comprehensive and in. structive benediction is pronounced just before our assemblies for public worship are dismissed ; and it is a very indecent thing to see so many quitting them, or getting into postures of removal, before this short sentence can be ended.”
That this excellent and desirable privilege, which St. Paul so fervently wished might be enjoyed by the Corinthian Christians, may be ours also, let us make it the subject of our devout meditations at this time ; and “may the love of God be shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Spirit !” But, how difficult is it to conceive aright of the love of God! When we contemplate the firmament, and survey the starry VOL. III.
heavens, we are constrained, from a sense of our own insignificance, to exclaim, “Lord! what is man, that thou art mindful of him! The condescensions of divine Providence are also truly wonderful; but the special love of God to sinful men, as displayed in their everlasting salvation, is beyond all description ;-it “passeth knowledge !"
Love, among mortals, is that affection of the human heart which inclines us to take delight in a chosen object, and to seek the good and happiness of that object. The love of God is that holy affection by which he condescends to take a pleasure in his chosen people, to confer special favours upon them, kindly to accept their persons and services, and to make them eternally happy. That such is the love of God to his church, is abundantly evident from the testimonies of his word, and from innumerable facts. Take a few of his own declarations.
He was pleased to select the posterity of Abraham from among all other nations, and to treat them with distinguished attention ; concerning which he says (Deut. vii. 6—8), “The Lord thy God hath chosen thee to be a special people unto himself, above all people that are upon the face of the earth : the Lord did not set his love upon you, nor choose you, becauşe ye were more in number than any people (for ye were the fewest of all people); but because the Lord loved you, and because he would keep the oath which he had sworn unto your fathers ;” and in (Deut. X. 15), “Only the Lord had a delight in thy fathers to love them, and he chose their seed after them, even you, above all people.” It is also said (Ps. lxxviii. 68), “He chose the tribe of Judah, the mount Zion which he loved." It is written in ano. ther place (Ps. cxlvi. 8), “the Lord loveth the righteous.” Particular persons are also described as the objects of divine love" Jacob have I loved ;' and our Saviour said to his disciples, “ The Father himself loveth you.”
But it is not by words merely, that God has mą.