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and if I be a person capable of comfort, this is the fountain of it for my sins are not infinite, only because they could not be so; my desires were only limited by my nature, for I would not obey the Spirit.
Thou, O God, gavest mercy to the thief upon the cross, and from pain thou didst bring him to paradise, from sin to repentance, from shame to glory. Thou wert the Lamb slain from the beginning of the world, and art still slain in all the periods of it. O be thou pleased to adorn thy passion still with such miracles of mercy: and now in this sad conjunction of affairs, let me be made the instance.
Thou art angry if I despair; and therefore thou commandest me to hope: my hope cannot rest upon myself, for I am a broken reed, and an undermined wall. But because it rests upon thee, it ought not to be weak, because thou art infinite in mercy and power.
He that hath lived best, needs mercy; and he that hath lived worst ; even I, O Lord, am not wounded beyond the efficacy of thy blood, O dearest sweetest Saviour Jesus.
I hope it is not too late to say this. But if I might be suffered to live longer, I would by thy grace live better, spending all my time in duty, laying out all my passion in love and sorrow, employing all my faculties in religion and holiness.
O my God, I am ready to promise any thing now, and I am ready to do or to suffer any thing, that may be the condition of mercy and pardon to me. But I hope I am not deceived by my fears, but that I should, if I might be tried, do all that I could, and love thee with a charity, great like that mercy by which I humbly pray that I may be pardoned.
My comfort, O God, is, that thou canst if thou wilt: and:
I am sure thy mercy is as great as thy power, and why then may not I hope, that thou wilt have mercy according to thy power? Man, only man, is the proper subject of thy mercy, and therefore only he is capable of thy mercy, because he hath sinned against thee. Angels and the inferior creatures rejoice in thy goodness, but only we that are miserable and sinful can rejoice in thy mercy and forgiveness.
I confess I have destroyed myself; but in thee is my help; for thou gettest glory to thy name by saving a sinner, by redeeming a captive slave, by enlightening a dark eye, by sanctifying a wicked heart, by pardoning innumerable and intolerable transgressions.
O my Father, chastise me if thou pleasest, but do not destroy me: I am a son, though an Absalom and a Cain, an unthankful, a malicious, a revengeful, uncharitable person; thou judgest not by time, but by the measures of the Spirit. The affections of the heart are not to be weighed in the balance of the sanctuary, nor repentance to be measured by time, but by the Spirit, and by the measures of thy mercy.
O my God, hope is a word of an uncertain sound when it is placed in something that can fail; but thou art my hope and my confidence, and thy mercies are sure mercies which thou hast revealed to man in Christ Jesus, and they cannot fail them who are capable of them.
O gracious Father, I am as capable of mercy as I was of being created; and the first grace is always so free a grace, so undeserved on our part, that he that needs and calls, is never forsaken by thee.
Blessed Jesus, give me leave to trust in thy promises, in the letter of thy promises; this letter killeth not, for it is the letter of thy Spirit, and saveth and maketh alive. Ask and you shall have; so thou hast said, O my God, they are thy own words; and, whosoever shall call on the name of the Lord, shall be saved.
There are, O blessed Jesus, many more; and one tittle of thy word shall not pass away unaccomplished: and nothing could be in vain by which thou didst intend to support our hopes. If we confess our sins, thou art just and righteous to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all iniquities.
When David said he would confess, then thou forgavest him. When the prodigal was yet afar off, thou didst run out to meet him, and didst receive him. When he was naked, thou didst reinvest him with a precious robe; and what, O God, can demonstrate the greatness of thy mercy, but such a misery as mine, so great a shame, so great a sinfulness?
But what am I, O God, sinful dust and ashes, a miserable and undone man, that I should plead with the great Judge of all the world? Look not upon me as I am in myself, but through Jesus Christ behold thy servant; clothe me with the robes of his righteousness, wash me in his blood, conform me to his image, fill me with his Spirit, and give me time, or give me pardon and an excellent heroic spirit, that I may do all that can be done, something that is excellent, and that may be acceptable in Jesus Christ. If I' perish, I perish; I have deserved it: but I will hope for mercy, till thy mercy hath a limit, till thy goodness can be numbered. O my God, let me not perish; thou hast no pleasure in my death, and it is impossible for man to suffer thy extremest wrath. Who can dwell with the everlasting burning? O my God, let me dwell safely in the embraces of thy sweetest mercy. Amen. Amen. Amen.
END OF THE EIGHTH VOLUME.
Printed by J. F. Dove, St. John's Square.