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all other considerations the most interesting, may be brought within the narrowest compass; the whole terminating, as it respects every individual, in this single question: Am I, or am I not, the highly favoured object of these ' sure mercies of David?'
If it be said, how shall this point be ascertained, and by what marks or characters is it to be known? the answer is direct: God hath not left himself without the witness of his Holy Spirit in the hearts and minds of his people. And although it is with the children of God in grace, as it is with the children of men by nature : in the infancy of life, while the faculties of the mind remain unopened, the child is unconscious of the inheritance to which he is born: so they to whom ' He hath given power to become sons of God,' will frequently remain a long time unassured of the 'incorruptible inheritance to which they are begotten by the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead.' But as the spiritual apprehension is unfolded by the heavenly Teacher, they are brought by little and little, as children under education, to see their interest in the 'sure mercies of David,' from the characters in which they find themselves distinguished in the everlasting covenant.
See, my brother, see whether you do not possesj what Jehovah promised, by virtue of this covenant, to give to Jesus'people. Have you not the new heart and the new mind, which God, by his covenant, is engaged to bestow. Do you not feel those covenant impressions, which are common to his people? Is not the 'Messenger of this covenant' whom God hath chosen, become the object of your choice also? If God the Spirit be promised to certify your interest in this covenant, 'have you received the Holy Ghost since you believed?' In a word, if these, and these only, are the sure mercies of David, are you seeking salvation in no other way, and do you say, as David did, 'this is all my salvation, and all my desire?' These are precious tokens of being interested in the sure mercies of David; when pardon, mercy, grace, righteousness, sanctification, and strength equal to our day, are sought for in nothing else but God's everlasting covenant.
My unawakened brother, what do you know of these sure mercies of David? I cannot, I dare not be silent, while endeavouring to comfort the people of God with a view of their privileges, without calling upon you to examine and look diligently, lest you fail of this grace. O -that the Lord may incline your heart, that you may come! O that you may hear the joyful sound, and live! that God may give you also these sure mercies of David!
How shall I conclude my sermon better, than by desiring the afflicted, mournful, exercised believer, of every description and character, to fold up the sweet text of the Prophet in his bosom, as a motto of consolation for every occasion? And may God the Holy Ghost write upon every heart, • I will make an everlasting covenant with you, even the sure mercies of David.'
When my friend had ended this discourse, he waited, as I perceived by his looks, for my observations upon it. I anticipated his inquiry for my opinion, by giving it unasked. It appeared indeed to me very plain, that the sermon comprised the leading principles of the covenant of grace; which, though certainly a subject of all others the most interesting, is perhaps the least understood. For my part, I am 'free to confess, that, previous to this explanation, I had very imperfect conceptions of
jt- .My first object, as soon as he had finished reading the manuscript, was to thank him for his 'labour of love,' in bringing me acquainted by this means with a doctrine so highly important. How sweet and consolatory is the view, that redemption-work originated in grace; is carried on and completed in grace; and yet, as if to remove all fears and apprehensions from the believer's mind, it is 'grace reigneth through righteousness unto eternal life, by Jesus Christ our Lord;' so that, though founded solely in mercy, it calls in to its assurance to fulfil the covenant engagements and covenant faithfulness of Jehovah. Well might one of old in the contemplation of it say, 'mercy and truth have met together, righteousness and peace have kissed each other.'
One branch of this subject particularly arrested my attention; to which, on account of my imperfect conceptions of it, I ventured to communicate to my friend my objection. The scriptures of truth, (I observed to him,) very strikingly distinguished those 'sure mercies of David,' as arising out of an everlasting covenant. This being the case, the operation of those mercies must, by their very nature, be perpetual, and without any interruption. There can be no period in which they cease to act, for what was promised to be eternal, can never admit the smallest alteration in time. Is there not, however, sometimes a suspension of those mercies, when afflictions abound in the lot of the Lord's family? -..
'No, never, (replied my friend,) is there the least interruption in the unchanging mercies of God in Christ Jesus. And however dark and seemingly mysterious, at times, the dispensation may appear to us, yet there is but one and the same purpose of mercy, invariably pursued by a faithful God to his people. And the difficulty of apprehending this would be soon removed, by only taking into the account the whole process of the divine administration towards believers, and not forming a judgment upon every single and detached part of it. As men regulate their opinion of some admirably well constructed machine, from a contemplation of the whole when complete, and not of its several constituent parts in a state of separation, so God's divine ordination respecting the government of his people must be viewed upon the whole—causes with effects; and then all is grace, mercy, and loving kindness. An earthly parent considers it as no diminution of his tenderness to a beloved child, that he sends him abroad for education, or that he himself instructs and disciplines him at home; because