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or no we deserve any of the least of these his mercies. And if we do not, as certainly we do not, and as we have proved sufficiently before, then let us ask ourselves this question: What return ought I to make for such and so many undeserved favours and blessings, as I have for many years received, and do daily still receive, at the hands of my good God ? And I cannot but believe the result will be, that we shall feel ourselves full of love and thankfulness, of joy and admiration and praise, of humble acknowledgments that, as good Jacob said, we are less than the least of all the mercies and the truth which God hath shewn to his unworthy and unprofitable servants; and of firm resolutions of entire obedience to his blessed will, who is our greatest Friend and Benefactor.
And indeed this last is the most acceptable return of all; and in making which we should employ our utmost and sincerest endeavours. And they that thus praise him for his mercies here, shall at length bear a part in the blessed choir of saints and angels and beatified spirits in the kingdom of glory; chanting out the praises of the great Father of mercies, of Jesus his beloved Son, the blessed Redeemer of the world, and of the divine Spirit of them both, our comforter and guide to all eternity. Wherefore let us conclude in the words of the Psalmist, My mouth shall daily speak of thy righteousness and salvation, for I know no end thereof; I will go forth in the strength of the Lord God, and will make mention of thy righteousness only h.
1Psalm lxxi. 15, 16.
THE PRAYER. And thou, O Father of mercies, and God of all comforts, the eternal Fountain of life and blessing, in whom I live, and move, and have my being, and who hast given me richly all things to enjoy that are needful to my happiness both in this world and one infinitely better; I praise and magnify, with all my soul, thy wondrous and disinterested goodness to one who is so extremely unworthy, and less than the least of thy mercies.
My goodness, O Lord, extendeth not to thee, nor can it be in the least to thy advantage, should I be able to make my way perfect; and could I perform all that thou hast commanded, (which yet, alas! how far am I from doing!) I must confess I have but done my duty, for which thou hast rewarded me beforehand with blessings greater than my eternal service could ever make a suitable return for.
Otherefore, gracious Lord, preserve me, I beseech thee, from trusting in my own imperfect righteousness, and from all other vain dependencies and ill grounded hopes, in a matter of such infinite consequence as my salvation! And may thy boundless mercies, O my God, and thy prevailing and all-sufficient merits, blessed Redeemer, be my only confidence, my comfort, and support through all my life, and in the hour of death, and at the day of judgment !
Thou, Lord, hast out of nothing made me what I am; through thee have I been holden up ever since I was born, and thou hast been my trust from my youth: O may I never be unmindful of my low original, and of thy constant favours to me; but let
my mouth be filled with thy praise, that I may speak of thy glory and honour all the day, and in all lowliness and humbleness of mind think meanly of myself! So shall I escape being split upon the rocks of arrogance and pride, and safely arrive at the haven where I would be, through the satisfaction of thy dearly beloved Son, Jesus the righteous, my ever blessed Lord and Saviour. Amen, Amen!
Of the wise and foolish builder.
Matt. vii. 24–27. Therefore whosoever heareth these sayings of mine, and doeth them, I will liken him unto a wise man, which built
his house upon a rock : And the rain descended, and the floods came, and the winds
blew, and beat upon that house ; and it fell not : for it was founded upon a rock. And every one that heareth these sayings of mine, and doeth them not, shall be likened unto a foolish man, which built
his house upon the sand : And the rain descended, and the floods came, and the winds
blew, and beat upon that house ; and it fell: and great was the fall of it. THOUGH this is not styled a parable, and was spoken some time before our Lord's professedly taking up that mystical way of discoursing to his hearers in the 13th of Matthew, yet, I think, I need not scruple the considering it as such; and the occasion of it was this:
The holy Jesus, after he had been baptized by John in Jordan, and declared to be the Messias by the opening of the heavens, and a visible descent of the Spirit of God upon him, and a voice from heaven, saying, This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased a; after his triumph over the Devil in the wilderness, as an earnest of his complete conquest of him, which was ere long to follow; and his forty
a Matt. iii. 16, 17. •
days' preparation for the vast work he was to set about, (the reformation of the whole world,) by prayer and fasting and contemplation, and recess from secular disturbances b; after he had chosen some followers to minister to him, and prosecute this great affair C, when he should be removed from hence by the malice of wicked men, and made a sacrifice for sinners; and after making way for his better reception by miraculously healing all manner of sickness, and all manner of disease among the people d; he went up into a mountain to instruct his disciples in the heavenly doctrine he came to teach the world, and which they after him were to preach to all nations; as that will of God, which all, to whose notice it should come, should thenceforward be obliged to observe and do, upon pain of his highest displeasure.
Indeed the promulgation of this law of Christ was not attended, like that of Moses e, with thunderings and lightnings, thick clouds and darkness, with fire and smoke, and the echoings of loud trumpets, and threatenings of death to man and beast who should but touch the mountain, which itself quaked greatly ; such terrors as these might become the law of ceremonies and ordinances, and that killing letter, but not the gentle service and easy yoke of the Lamb of God. Here was only the small, still voice; and yet the Lord was here in a more august and glorious manner than in the strong wind, the earthquake, or the firef.
For here nothing was required to be done, but what is perfectly reasonable in its own nature, and
b Matt. iv. 1, &c. •Ver. 18. • Ver. 23. e Exod. xix. 18. fi Kings xix. 11, 12.