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attributed to God, often signify also merciful, gracious, and loving, in the holy tongue. It is true, God holds in his band the sword of his justice ; but he is girded and clothed with his mercy, as with a garment. In short, God is not only good and merciful, but he is also goodness and mercy itself, 1 John iv. His compassion and tenderness is far greater than that of the best fathers and mothers, as he himself declares by the prophet: “ Can a woman forget her sucking child, that she should not have compassion on the son of her womb ? Yea, they may forget ; yet will I not forget thee. Behold, I have graven thee upon the palm of my hand, yea, in the bottom of my heart, Isa. xlix. These fatherly compassions force him to let fall the sword of his justice, as he tells us in Hosea : “ How shall I make thee as Admab? how shall I set thee as Zeboim ? Mine heart is turned within me, my repentings are kindled together : I will not execute the fierceness of my anger," chap. xi. Therefore David had good cause to be persuaded, “that though his father and mother should forsake him, the Lord would receive him.” If all love, kindness, and mercy, were totally banished out of the earth, and all natural affection should be extinct, my God will not forsake we while I live, and at the hour of death will receive me into his bosom, and cover me with his wings. Christian souls, let not the sad remembrance of your former sins and miscarriages discourage you. For when we appear before the throne of God's majesty, we must not trust upon our own righteousness, nor be puffed up with the fancy of our merits, but we must place all our assurance and hope in the mercy of God alone. We must imitate Daniel, who speaks thus of himself, and of his proceedings, “We do not present our supplications before thee for our righteousness, but for thy great mercies,” Dan. ix. The compassions of God are our merits. While God hath store of compassions, we shall not want merits, (St.Bern.) Now God's mercies and compassions can never fail : they renew every morning; his faith
fulness is very excellent, Lam. iii. “ As I live, saith the Lord God, I have no pleasure in the death of the wicked, but that the w icked turn from his ways, and live,” Ezek. xxxiii. I am he that blots out all thy sins for my own sake, and will not remember thy transgressions,” Isa. xiv. Though your sins andiniquities appear to you with all the deformity and ugliness of hell, be not overcome with grief, nor cast yourselves into despair. Let us rather say with the prophet Jeremiah, "W h erefore doth a living man complain, a man for the punishm ent of his sins? Let us search and try our ways, and turn again unto the Lord. Let us lift up our hearts with our hands unto G od in the heavens." Or let us speak in the language of Micah, “Whoisa Godlike unto thee, that pardonethiniquity,
e Passeth by the transgressions of the remnant of his heriage? Heretaineth not his anger for ever, because he delightech m ercy. He will come again, he will have compassion upon us, w ill subdue our iniquities, and thou wiltcast all their sinsinto
depths of the sea," Mic. vii. Let us comfort ourselves with words of the prophet Daniel, “Tothe Lord our God belong rciesand forgivenesses, tho' we have rebelled against him."
to walo leara fort the sand by iftbou dost soul, God will into the sea. passions are it fended thee, thou shouldst par
Il me not again, I know that God is good and merciful, m y sins are too many to believe that he will vouchsafe
a Pardon, and have mercy upon me. And after many
ated vows, after many groans, sighs, and tears of repences I have returned as a dog to his vomit, and as a swine a l low in the mire, 2 Pet. ïi. But, wretched sinner,
For thy comfort, that if thy sins should be as many as a nd by the sea-shore, or as the stars of the sky, Isa. xliv. De dost most sincerely repent of them with a contrite » G od will blot them out as a cloud, and will cast them
the sea. For God's mercy has no bounds, and his comOns are infinite, Mic. vii. When thy brother has of
& thee, if he ask forgiveness, the Lord commands that shouldst pardon bim, not only seven times, but seventy
and seven times, Matt. xvii. How much more reason hast thou to believe, that God, who is goodness and mercy, will pardon thee more sins, and oftener! Therefore instead of examining thy miscarriages, accept of the precious balm of divine consolations, and say with the royal prophet, “Bless the Lord, O my soul, and all that is within me, bless his holy name ; bless the Lord, O my soul, and forget not all his benefits; who forgiveth all thine iniquities, and healeth all thy diseases; who redeemeth thy life from destruction ; who crownech thee with loving-kindness and tender mercies; who satisfieth thy mouth with good things, so that thy youth is renewed like the eagle's. The Lord executeth righteousness and judgment for all that are oppressed; the Lord is merciful and gracious, slow to anger, and plenteous in mercy; be will not always chide, neither will he keep his anger for ever; he hath not dealt with us after our sins, nor rewarded us according to our iniquities; for as the heaven is high above the earth, so great is his mercy towards them that fear him ; as far as the east is from the west, so far hath he removed our transgressions from us. Like as a father pitieth his children, so the Lord pitieth them that fear him,” Psa. ciii.
Do not answer me, that your sins are so heinous and abominable, that you cannot expect a pardon : for if they be as high as the proudest mountains, if thou art really sensible of their weight, if they make thee sigh and groan, Lam. v. God's infinite mercy, like a deluge, shall cover and wash them away; or, like a torrent, it shall transport them out of thy sight; for when sin abounds, God's grace shall superabound, in case there be true repentance, Isa. i. Though your sins were as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they should be as red as vermilion, they shall become as white as wool. All the offences that you are guilty of, since you were in the world, are finite and limited, but God's mercy is infinite. “O Lord, if thou shouldst mark ini
quities, quities, who shall stand ? But there is forgiveness with thee, that thou mayest be feared,” Psa. cxxx.
He that hides his transgressions shall not prosper, but he that confesses and forsakes them shall obtain mercy, Prov. xviii. It is certain that there is no sinner ever so guilty, that shall seek to God's mercy by a true repentance, but shall obtain his request, Ps. cxiii. David had defiled himself with an infamous adultery, and imbrued his hands in the blood of one of his most faithful servants; but as soon as ḥe had made request to God with a broken heart, and a contrite spirit, his good and merciful Creator cleansed this foul sinner from all his guilt, at the fountain of his infinite mercy. He made him whiter than snow, and comforted his bruised bones. This consideration caused him to cry out.." I said, I will confess ụnto God mytransgressions; and thou, O God, hast taken away the punishment of my siq.” King Manasseh had been addicted to devilish arts, and to the most abominable and heinous idolatries, 2 Chr. xxxiij. Nevertheless, as soon as he sighed in his chains, his prayers and his groans found a gracious reception at the throne of grace. The poor publican in the Gospel, being ashamed to lift up his eyesto heaven, struck upon his breast with this expression of his penitent soul, “ God be merciful to me a sianer !” Luke xviii. And God looked upon him with an eye of mercy, and stretched out unto him his gracious hand, so that he departed to his home justified. The penitent Magdalen was inwardly grieyed at her former filthy and debauched beliaviour, so that she came and cast herself at our Saviour's feet, watering them with her tears, and wiping them with the hairs of her head, Luke ix. But Christ soon lifted herup with these comfortable words, “Thy șins are pardoned ; thy faith hath saved thee : go in peace.” St. Peter, by frailty, that should cause the best Christians to tremble for fear of falling into the same apostacy, denied his Lord and Master three times, with cursing and swearing,
Matt. xxiv. But' this merciful God looked upon him with an eye of compassion, and gave him grace to repent most bitterly of such a foul crime. I doubt not, but at the same time that St. Peter poured forth his tears in God's presence, he poured into his heart the oil of joy and gladness, and comforted him most effectually by his divine Spirit. Likewise, though your sins be never so grievous and abominable, if your souls be touched with displeasure, if your hearts be truly penitent, so that you shed sincere teats of repentance, in case you are heartily sorry for the want of a sufficient grief for your sins, in case you prostrate yourselves before your heavenly Father, he will raise you up again by his infinite goodness, he will cast all your sins and transgressions behind him. He will cry unto you inwardly, by the voice of his holy Spirit, “My son (or my daughter) thy sins are forgiven thee,” John v. He will fill your souls with an unspeakable joy, Luke ix. and will cause you to sing with the psalmist, “ Blessed is he whose transgression is forgiven, whose sin is covered. Blessed is the man unto whom the Lord imputeth no iniquity, and in whose spirit there is no guile," Ps. xxxii. Finally, think not, that it is ever too late to repent, and, when death is upon our lips, that it is no time to seek to the mercy of God. As the business of repentarice cannot be too soon, because we know not when God will call us to himself, it is most certain that it can never be too late. For at what time or season soever the poor sinner melts into tears of repentance, in case his repentance be real, and his tears proceed from a penitent heart, God will always have the arms of his mercy wide open to receive him. The thief crucified at our Saviour's side was at the last gasp when he was converted ; and when he uttered this excellent expression, “ Remember me, Lord, when thou comest into thy kingdom,” Luke xxiii. our good and merciful Saviour granted his request, and encouraged him with the most excellent and comfortable promise that could be expected ; “Verily I say unto thee, to-day shalt thou be with me in