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cious reception than this. Yes, my brethren, we are encouraged not only to ask God to "take away all our iniquity," but to "LOVE US FREELY." O what a mercy! what an unheard-of, inconceivable mercy, to believe that God's restoration is a perfect one, that there is not a single penitent sinner who draws nigh to God, that may not do so with boldness! Not with the doubting hope of a partial reception, but with the full assurance of an admission into all the blessings of a child of God. Yes, God's reception of the penitent will be a gracious one, and we might again illustrate this by the case of the prodigal. He will not recall our offences, he will not meet us with a rebuke and a remonstrance; but his treatment will be to us as though we had never fallen by our iniquity. The best robe, the ring, the shoes, the fatted calf,1 and all that belongs to a child, yea, and a favoured and loved child, shall be ours. O what inconceivable mercy, and how mysteriously bestowed! the eternal well-beloved Son taking our place, dealt with as a sinner, yea, as sin itself, that we might take his place he treated as the outcast and the alien, the Father's countenance averted from him, that it might shine in all the fulness of love and favour upon us.

Connected, therefore, with, or rather following this throwing himself upon the full and rich mercy of God, will be the repentant sinner's act of praise. Thus the prophet adds to the petition which we are to offer, "take away all iniquity and receive

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us graciously, sO WILL WE RENDER the calves of

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This is a figure taken from the thank-offering, in which the animal was offered to God in grateful acknowledgment of his mercy. Thus the apostle writing to the Hebrews, uses the same metaphor as peculiarly intelligible to those who were acquainted with the ritual observances of the Mosaic law. " By him," that is, Jesus, "let us offer the sacrifice of praise to God continually, that is, the fruit of our lips giving thanks to his name."3 This sacrifice is within the reach of all, and is more acceptable than any outward one to God. Thus David says, "I am poor and sorrowful, let thy salvation, O God, set me up on high. I will praise the name of God with a song and magnify him with thanksgiving; this also shall please the Lord, better than an ox or a bullock that hath horns and hoofs." Now this well becometh the repenting sinner who hath sought and found mercy at the hand of God. It "well becometh the just," the sinner freely justified, "to be thankful, and it well becometh the thankful to show forth his praise," and to ascribe all his salvation to the free love and mercy of his God. There is no service in which a repenting sinner has a part that should not partake of this character. Every thing that brings to remembrance our sins and our guilt, and that sets before us the love of God to us in Christ, should be accompanied with praise; and for this reason that special service which commemo3 Heb. xiii. 15.

2 Hosea xiv. 2.

4 Ps. Ixix. 29-31.

rates the death of Christ for us, is styled our sacrifice of praise and thanksgiving.' My brethren, let us not overlook this. It may seem very obvious; and when we think of it, it is so; but it establishes a great truth which is not sufficiently attended to, that the penitent sinner who is led through grace to go to God with this petition, "Take away all mine iniquity and receive me graciously," should believe that he is forgiven and received. We are apt to think that we need some evidence of this, and in some way expect a distinct answer that pardon is vouchsafed to us. But there is want of faith in this. The promise is, that every repentant sinner who goes to God through Jesus Christ, who looks to him as his appointed channel of mercy, obtains mercy in the very act of application. And the right exercise of faith is to believe this; and believing this, simply because God has said it, to feel peace; and feeling peace to rejoice; and rejoicing to praise God "for what he has done for his soul."5 My dear brethren, this is the first point to be established in our minds, that we are forgiven, that God hath "taken away our iniquity, and received us graciously ;" and upon no other ground can this in the first instance be based, but upon God's written promise. There may be a richer flow of peace into the soul, and I doubt not there will be, as the repentant believer grows in grace and in the knowledge of Christ," and cultivates communion with God; but the first feeling of peace can alone be, from the simple belief

5 Ps. lxvi. 16.

6 2 Pet. iii. 18.

of God's word, offering pardon through Christ; and from that, as from a point, all the increase of peace and holiness must take its rise. Let me beseech you not to deny yourselves this present peace, not to delay offering up the thanksgiving and the praise which can in reality flow from no other cause. Do not imagine that it is humility to question whether God has accepted you; but be assured that it is faith to think that he has not offered you in Christ a mercy which he will not realize or a pardon which he will not confirm.

This is, however, not all. The truly penitent sinner will to his prayer and his praises add his PRO"ASSHUR SHALL NOT SAVE US, WE WILL NOT RIDE UPON HORSES, NEITHER WILL WE SAY ANY MORE TO THE WORK OF OUR HANDS, YE ARE our Gods.'

MISE.

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The great sin of Israel was the evil heart of unbelief in departing from the living God; and this was manifested by their having recourse, in all their difficulties, to some of the neighbouring nations, and even by their setting up idols of wood and stone to worship. Assyria and Egypt were frequently resorted to; and the calves of Dan and Bethel were the awful result of their desertion of the God of their fathers. Here is a declaration that henceforward they will abjure all help but that of God, and will no more follow that which divided their affections with or alienated them from him. Now this, my brethren, is a most necessary part of true repentance, and perhaps it is well introduced here as the

7 Hosea xiv. 3.

you

consequence of the two preceding steps. The sinner throws himself upon the mercy of God in Christ ; the sinner believes that mercy is shown, and rejoices and praises God; and the sinner solemnly purposes, God being his helper, to put away from him all that has offended and come between him and his God. He now takes God for his portion, and renounces all save him and him alone. My brethren, let us not deceive ourselves; this must be the result of a believing repentance. I shall not dwell upon it, as it came so much before our consideration on the last occasion of my addressing you; but I am anxious to show that the freest system of gospel mercy is in reality the most conducive to holiness of living, that the system which offers full, free, unconditional forgiveness, perfect restoration, the most gracious reception to the "chief of sinners," who flees for mercy to Christ, lays the strongest obligation upon the pardoned believer; and that it is in reality utterly impossible that a convinced soul who has applied for forgiveness through Christ can do otherwise than renounce and abhor and abjure sin. Nay, we might go further, and say that it is the sense of reconciliation to God that can alone lead to this entire renunciation. I do not mean to assert that fear of the consequences of sin, or the mistaken idea of working out a righteousness of our own, may not lead to strong endeavours; but I do believe that there will be no real renunciation of sin, no true loathing of it, no actual fleeing from it, except where

81 Tim. i. 15.

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