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the Saviour again, penitent and contrite, lost in ourselves, vile in our own sight, and condemned in conscience, we have been taught by recovering grace, to intreat the removal, not of the cross, or burden of affliction merely, but the entire removal of the power, the love, the guilt of sin, of every sin, of all sin, while faith resolves to ascribe all the glory, not to works, not to repentance, not to contrition, not to forsaking sin, as causes, either in whole or in part, but to the glorious conduct of the Father of all mercies and the God of all grace.
It appears the prophet Hosea, under the teachings of God the Holy Ghost, had been reproving Israel for their awful departure from God, their idolatries, murders, uncleanness, oppression, and perversion of judgment; their confidence on foreign powers, and their scandalous neglects of the worship of the God of Israel. The prophet exhorts to repentance, reformation, and a public national returning to the worship of the Most High, agreeable to his own institutions, that iniquity might not be their ruin; and upon the call proving effectual, Hosea anticipates the pleasure of the success of his mission, in seeing Israel, or rather the elect people of God, among them, truly humbled in the dust, returning to the Lord with contrite hearts, and self abasement, and deep humiliation, confusion of face, and in want of language to express themselves before the Lord, or as guilty culprits, having nothing to say why judgment should not be executed on them.
This change baving taken place in a sinner's heart, whether in the first awakening, or in after recoverings, is repentance, not extorted by the fear of hell, and the wrath of God; but the repentance of the gospel is a gift of sovereign grace, and consists in a change of state, a change of principles, a change of views; and the effect is a total change of conduct. This is all of grace, from first to last; this is the Spirit's work alone, and where this returning to the Lord is found, the heart toucheth the lips, Prov. xvi. 23,-under the same divine influence, to entreat the Lord for the removal of all iniquity. Perhaps the prophet was looking forward to that important period, when the dear Redeemer should take away all iniquity of his church, by the sacrifice of bimself. This was indeed the grand object to which the eyes of all the Old Testament saints were directed, and on which they built their hopes for peace with God and everlasting salvation. Christ has taken away the sins of his people he has borne them and removed them out of the siglit of divine justice, by giving perfect satisfaction for them. But a sinner, feeling the burden of sin upon his conscience, prays most ardently for the removal of it, by a sense of pardoning love brought home to the heart. Such a character entreats the removal of its power, as well as its guilt; and not only the out-breaking of this or that sin, but all iniquity, what is discovered to him and what is not ; self conceit, self righteousness, self dependence, pride, and self will. The Lord's
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returning ones are not only taught this lesson, but also the im, portance of being received into the favour of God sensibly; they want a manifestation of it with power; for although it is a divine truth, that if a believer is once in the favour of God, he can never lose it, yet there are seasons in which he may not be able to believe it, but fear may so far prevade the mind, as to bring such a character very low, under apprehensions of the justly merited anger of God, as revealed in his law, and reflected upon the conscience. This prayer, therefore, highly becomes the returning prodigal, “ receive me graciously, by favouring me with an overcoming sense of thy love."
I remark here, that what the old Pharisees jeeringly said of the Saviour is a grand truth, though no thanks to them for ic.-" This man receiveth sinners,”—blessed be his name, he does, he received his church at the hands of the Father in eternity. He receives the souls of his people at their death. He will receive the whole body of his elect at the resurrection, when he will present them to himself a glorious church, without spot or wrinkle, or any such thing. He graciously receives every returning sinner at the hands of the Spirit, as they are taught their need, and led to the Saviour of sinners. The church, or a soul thus pardoned and received, is made, in a measure, sensible of the mercy, and in his strength vows gratitude, praise, and thank offerings, not calves, bullocks, and oxen for sacrifice, under the law, but praise for pardoning grace, immutable love, justifying righteousness, sanctifying truth, recovering mercy, and renewing power. It well becometh the just to be thankful, for his mercy endureth for ever. The apostle exhorts the church to this sacrifice: " Offer the sacrifice of praise to God continually. That is, the fruit of our lips, giving thanks to his name ; and let every one who has the breath of eternal life, praise the Lord. This gratitude of spirit is always attended with humility and self diffidence, with renouncing all creature worth, works, and worthiness, all self ability, and self righteousness; the soul cleansed from all idols, and being given up to God. The resolution is well made in grace, and by the same grace performed; “ Ashur shall not save us. We will not ride upon horses, neither will we say any more to the works of our hands, · Ye are our Gods.'” We leave these things to the whole fleshly tribe of proud, self righteous Pharisees to trust in, to glory in, and look to, hope in, rejoice in, and expect present and eternal salvation in God's own way, as revealed in the gospel, to which we can set our seal, and with heart-felt joy record, 66. That in thee the Fatherless findeth mercy.” When the prophet exhorts this backsliding people to return, however vile they feel, or base they have acted, still the Lord is their God. Oh! Israel, return unto the Lord thy God-thy God still. Wonder, O heavens! and be astonished 0 earth! at such unparalleled grace. And I beg once more to look at the subject as it is displayed in
the case of a poor sinner thus returning. There is not only a throne of mercy provided and invited to, not only the gracious covenant character of God exhibited, and the soul led to Jesus, but even words put into the mouth, the petition ready wrote, to carry in our hands, lest we should be overwhelmed, ashamed, confounded, and dumb in his presence, have no excuse to make for ourselves, and the mercy we need seems too great to ask. How kind, how gracious, to put words into our mouths, as well as desires into our hearts; words acceptable to himself, because it is the language of his own Spirit, which we are bid to use before him. Does not this subject sweetly confirm the truth of the text? • For in thee the Fatherless findeth mercy.” For all that grace has done, is doing, and will do for us as sinners, it is mercy. In writing this, I can only make a few remarks on the great subject of mercy. And secondly, describe the characters wbo bave both sought and found this mercy. Mercy is an essential attribute in God, it is his very nature, not that we are to consider it as a passion or affection as it is in men, but it is an inclination in his most holy will to succour persons in distress. But although this is mercy as it is in God, yet this mercy is bounded by his sovereign will :-" I will have mercy on whom I will have mercy.”
Nor is the misery of the creature the cause of his mercy; nor are the works of Christ, as a Mediator, the cause, nor the tears or prayers of distressed souls, the cause of mercy. This mercy is essential to his being, his very naiure is mercy. This is the rich mine-the storehouse-the grand treasury. The Lord God, merciful, rich unto all them that call upon him, not merely rich in bimself, but rich to us; well knowing all the miseries his dear people would feel and know, in consequence of the fall. He has a vast multitude, a rich abundance of mercies for them-keeping mercy for thousands. If the world could last for a thousand generations, there is mercy enough in God for all who need it. His everlasting love was set upon his people in Christ Jesus, considered in the pure mass of creatureship, but upon the fore views of their fallen state, this love was to be manifested in a way of mercy, because the objects of his love were to become subjects of misery ; and mercy bas only to do with ruisery, and all God's elect are such in consequence of sin. But mercy is magnified in raising them up from the ruins of the fall; hence they are called vessels of mercy, and this mercy God willed to them upon the footing of the mediatorial work of Christ ; and as the Father is said to delight in Christ, so he is said to delight in mercy. Christ therefore, is the great mercy provided, he is the mercy promised, and as the covenant was made with him, as the Son of God, the head of bis elect body, the adorable Mediator, all things bis people could need were then and there provided for them. These blessings are called the sure mercies of David, that is of the
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beloved. All covenant blessings are displays of mercy. It is the sole delight of Jebovah, Father, Son, and Spirit, to shew mercy ; and the Lord is pleased to call his dear people to glory, rejoice, boast, and delight in the same: “ Let bim that glorieth glory in this, that he knoweth me, that I exercise tender mercies.” The whole plan of salvation is the manifestation of rich mercy. The covenant of grace and redemption was founded and framed in mercy, “For I have said, mercy shall be built up for ever ; [ have made a covenant with my chosen, thy seed will I establish for ever.” All the covenant acts and transactions of the sacred Three, before the world began, is a full, clear, and glorious demonstration of the riches of bis mercy; not merely rich in justice or wrath, but absolutely rich in mercy. This mercy is infinite, everlasting, immutable, invariable, sovereign, free, unmerited, undeserved. Yea, it is the mercy of a God of love, grace, and kindness; to whom be glory by the Church throughout all ages. Amen. The gift of Christ, and the whole work of Christ, his incarnation, obedience, sufferings, death, and inter. cession, is all of mercy. The preservation of the persons of the elect, till called. The gracious visits, indwelling, and operations of the Holy Spirit in the hearts of the truly called of God, is mercy. Of his mercy he saved us by the washing of regeneration. The pardon of sin, and the experimental knowledge of it is mercy.
It is said to be, through the tender mercy of our God, our complete justification, and every branch of sanctification, with our perseverance to eternal life, renewals, visits, deliverances, sup. ports, tokens for good, afflictions, persecutions, crosses, trials, temptations, sorrows, and every temporal favour, with glory at the end of our race, is all of mercy, from first to last. Sweet views of this, attended with supernatural power on the mind, reconciles us to God's will, in all the dispensations of his providence..
For there is mercy in every place,
And reconciles man to bis lot. This is the first favour a poor sinner begs at the hands of God, when he is convinced that he has sinned against him. This was the publican's prayer, and it still suits every believer, from the first dawn of divine light till he breathes his last. And if a believer dies in his right mind, he will die crying, God be merciful to me a sinner; and as a sinner I have obtained mercy. This mercy can only be shewn but upon the ground of the dear Redeemer's sufferings and death. Justice being perfectly satisfied, the law magnified, and every attribute harmonized, mercy and truth meet together, justice and peace embrace each other. Here we behold the grand meeting of the sublime attributes of Jehovah
- here all perfections together meet, as an assemblage of unclouded suns, each on the other shining-angels here with boly wonder struck, and filled with awe, gaze and admire: “ For in thee the Fatherless findeth mercy.”
I would now take a view of this character, the Fatherless. The Lord has very particularly manifested his care and pity in his word to the widow and the fatherless, which is another display of the glory of his character, as a merciful God. Hence he has given encouragement in his word, to his people who are about to leave the world, and being tried in their minds concerning their dear families, he has graciously said, " Leave thy fatherless children, and I will preserve them alive, and let your widows trust in me. The Psalmist was led by the Holy Spirit to personate a poor orphan, and express his confidence in the paternal care of his God: " When my father and my mother forsake me, then the Lord will take me up.” A person left of his parents in early life, or cast out of house, home, country, relations and friends, such are fatherless, orphans, and outcasts. This has been the case of many thousands, deprived of parents by death or trouble, or driven out by cruelty, oppression, or persecution, national troubles, or want, or on account of religious sentiments. Such persons are frequently favoured with the goodness, power, care, and faithfulness of God, in whom the most destitute persons find mercy. Thus the fatherless, who are destitute of friends, of help, assistance, counsel and advice, have found favor, mercy, and kindness in him. When the proud king of Assyria waged war against Israel, many were obliged to flee to foreign countries, but the Lord still owned them, and cominanded their protection : " Let mine outcas:s dwell with thee, Moab, be thou a covert to them from the force of the spoiler." Outcasts, but God claims them as his own,-mine outcasts. This was a terın of reproach, with which the church of God was persecuted in the enemies land. Hence, the Lord is represented as taking up their cause, delivering them, and pardoning their sins; I will heal thee of thy wounds, saith the Lord, because they called thee an outcast, saying, “ This is Zion whom no man seeketh after, despised by most people, and pitied and prayed for by very few.” The state of the Israelites in Egypt, under Pharaoh the task-master, is set forth under the emblem of a little infant, helpless, naked, forlorn, cast out, without power to help itself, and destitute of all help from man ; cast out into the open field by some cruel and unnatural parent or nurse, and left to perish for want- Ezekiel xiv. The Lord in comforting his Church in time of trouble, or in some of her fits of unbelief, remonstrates with her : “ Can a woman forget her suckling child, that she should not have compassion on the son of her womb ? Yea, she may forget, yet will I not forget thee.” This was sweetly manifested by our all gracious Redeemer to his apostles, when he saw the dejection of their minds, and the trouble of their