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for He will abundantly pardon.28 And again He says respecting those who cry unto Him, I will hear, for I am gracious. 29 Let the consideration of the riches of His grace, His readiness to pardon, accept, and show favour to those who truly turn to Him, and seek Him with their whole hearts, be our encouragement to humble ourselves at the throne of grace, confessing our unworthiness of His favour, and imploring His grace to help us in the time of our need. Let us turn unto Him with our whole hearts and not with feigned lips, and we may be assured that He will be very gracious unto us at the voice of our cry, that He will hear and answer28 and bless us.
He is also merciful; that is, He has bowels of compassion, as a parent towards his own child, for those who humbly seek His face or His mercy in Christ Jesus. Like as a father pitieth his children, so the Lord pitieth them that fear Him.30 All the dealings of His providence towards the children of men, show that His tender mercies are over all His works.31 His word is the revelation of His mercy. This mercy was manifested at the fall of our first parents, in the promise of the Seed of the woman to bruise the head of the old serpent, their deceiver; to the fulfilment of which the patriarchs and prophets and
28 Isa. lv. 6,7; xxx. 19.
29 Exod. xxii. 27.
30 Ps. ciii. 13.
righteous men of old looked forward with earnest expectation, Searching what, or what manner of time, the Spirit of Christ which was in them did signify, when He testified beforehand of the sufferings of Christ, and the glory that should follow. 32 It was manifested most especially by the appearing of our Saviour Christ, to put away sin by the sacrifice of Himself ;33 in consequence of which it was announced by His apostles, that to Him gave all the prophets witness, that, through His name, whosoever believeth in Him shall receive re- mission of sins ; 34 for that in Him we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of His grace, wherein He hath abounded toward us.35 We are therefore assured that He who spared not His own Son, but delivered Him up for us all, will with Him also freely give us all things 36 that we stand in need of. He will show the tenderness and care of an almighty and most merciful Father to them that truly turn to Him, and seek earnestly His mercy and grace in Christ Jesus.
He is likewise slow to anger; not hot and passionate and implacable, as men frequently are towards those who have offended them. He is on the contrary ready to be appeased, when the children of men deprecate His displeasure and implore His mercy in Christ Jesus.
He is further of great kindness, so great, that it is wonderful indeed when we consider His almighty power, that instead of exercising it at once in the destruction of His enemies, He should be ready to forgive them, when they humble themselves before Him. His lovingkindnesses are multiplied towards the children of men in the most astonishing manner. It was His kindness and love which provided a Saviour for the guilty, a Redeemer for perishing sinners, and He still delights in bestowing upon them His salvation, and making them partakers of its blessings in time and in eternity.
It is also added, that He repenteth Him of the evil. He has denounced evil against the transgressors of His holy law, which will assuredly overtake hereafter all those who die in their sins. But in the mean time, He is slow to execute His wrath upon the children of men in this world ; He spareth those who deserve punishment, and in the midst of wrath remembers mercy, 37 and shows compassion. This is not after the manner of men. We sinful creatures do not act with unwearied kindness in this manner towards each other, when one has a supposed cause of offence against another.
This goodness of God should lead us to repentance and self-abasement before Him. If
35 Ephesians i. 7.
36 Romans viii. 32.
37 Habakkuk iii. 2.
we have reason to dread His displeasure against us on account of our transgressions, let us humble ourselves at His footstool, and implore His pardoning mercy for the sake of His beloved Son, our Redeemer; and then we may be assured that He will be merciful to our unrighteousness, and our sins and our iniquities He will remember no more.38 He has made known to us His character in the text in order to win our hearts to Himself, and to lead us to come to Him for the blessings of His grace, and to turn from every evil way. May His word be effectual by the power of His Spirit to accomplish in us the good pleasure of His goodness to His glory, and the salvation of our souls.
38 Hebrews viii. 12.
THE FIRST SUNDAY IN LENT
2 Corinthians vi. 1.
WE THEN AS WORKERS TOGETHER WITH HIM,
BESEECH YOU ALSO THAT YE RECEIVE NOT THE GRACE OF GOD IN VAIN.
The nature of the message of the gospel, and the character borne by those who delivered it in the infancy of the Christian church, are the subjects to which our attention is directed in the Epistle for this day, subjects which it becomes the ministers of Christ in all ages particularly to lay to heart. This portion of scripture seems to have been selected on account of this being one of the seasons called Ember weeks, in which the prayers of the church are requested on behalf of those who are to be admitted into the sacred ministry of the church.