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reading the manuscript, was to thank hin for his « labour of love, in bringing me acquainted by this means with a doctripe 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 rcigoeth 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 miglit 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, (1 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 10 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 his future prospects in life are best promoted by this process. And why should our Heavenly Father be supposed to have lost sight of the
cause absence and discipline are made use of by him, to forward his gracious designs of greater tenderness towards them? But when we call in question the evidences of divine love, we forget where we are, and the reasons for w hich we are here. And hence it is not among the smallest testimonies of those very mercies of David, that the Lord makes use of the ministry of affliction to proclaim, that this is not our rest, because it is polluted.' Had Jesus intended this world for the enjoyment of his people, in a state of worldly prosperity, very different would have been their accommodations: But they are strangers and pilgrims upon earth,' and are going home to their Father's house. And what does ever make home more desirable to the traveller, than the ill reception he frequently meets with on the road ? · Sir! look at the subject again, and see whe
ther it doth not challenge your highest admira- . ?tion and praise, when you discover that the
afflictions of the Lord's people are among his tenderest mercies; in that they are so admirably contrived, that not a single trouble shall
ultimately 'do them harm; but on the con. trary, shall as positively work for their good? Set down this as an everlasting maxim; and compare with it either your own experience or your observation of others. Let us suppose now, for example's sake, that in the great mass of characters in the Lord's tried family, some are labouring under heavy afflictions of body, and some under anguish of mind; some impover. ished in worldly circumstances; some smarting under the lash of false tongues; some groaning , under the pains of sickness in their own persons ; some bitterly bewailing the effects of it in others : yet, be the trial what it may, (and wisely ordered it is, exactly suited to every one's necessities,) look only forward to its final issue, and you will find, that not a single individual of the Lord's household is injured by it. Each affliction becomes to them a messenger of sanctification and wisdom, and acts medicinally on the mind, as much as physic on the body. And can those things be properly called evils which minister good? Will any man blame the physician of approved judgment, when inducing a state of convalescence, because the medicine he administers is found somewhat nauseous to the taste, and operales roughly?
• But it is not enough to say that afflictions
do no harın ; they must also do good. The promise else would be lost all things work together for good to them that love God.' So that, unless in every single instance good is wrought to the lovers of God, the truth of Scripture would become questionable. But of the perpetual occurrences which are going on through life, in attestation to this precious assurance, a volume would only give, the mere outlines. And who is competent to describe them ? Generally speaking, all affictions which tend to bring the soul to God, keep up a life of communion with the Redeemer; make us sensible of the gracious influence of the Holy Spirit ; spiritualize our affections; wean our hearts from a world, from which we must soon part ; and promote a more intimate acquaint. ance with that in which we are shortly for ever to dwell; whatever things induce these blessed principles, are undeserving the name of afflictions: they are among the sweetest mercies of David. And when God removes every earthly comfort, in order to make room for heavenly; empties the soul of all creature-comforts, that he may fill it from all the fulness of Creator mercies ; can there remain a question, but that the believer is a gainer by the ex.. change? Nay, I am fully persuaded, that if