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opportunity, do good unto all men, especially unto them who are of the household of faith."
Finally. Look forward to the heavenly world, when the goodness of God will be fully displayed, and perfectly enjoyed. Here, we taste that the Lord is good ; but it is only a taste,—the feast is reserved for the future and eternal state ; and if the foretaste of his goodness on earth be so sweet, what will the complete fruition of it be? If, even now, the believer's peace be a "peace passing all understand . ing;” if the believer's joy be a "joy unspeakable and full of glory," what may be expected in that better world, where “ God himself shall dwell with his people, and be their God ?” When “ God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes; and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain.” Rejoice, then, in hope of this glory of God; for “ in his presence there is fulness of joy,—at his right hand there are pleasures for evermore!"
N our mediations on the divine perfections, we
proposed to take a distinct view of the goodness, the mercy, and the love of God; for though they are sometimes taken for each other, and, in some measure, included in each other, yet a separate consideration of them may be useful; especially as God's goodness relates to his creatures in general, and as creatures : Mercy relates to those only of his creatures which are sinful, and therefore miserable ; and his love signifies the delight and complacence of his heart, in the special objects of his choice. We have already spoken of the divine goodness ; let his mercy be the subject of our present discourse ; and may we entertain such a view of this pleasing perfection, that we may learn to “ hope in his mercy," and to“ glorify him for his mercy.” That which we shall now endeavour to prove and illustrate is, that
Mercy to miserable sinners is a distinguishing attribute of the blessed God.
Mercy, among men, is a soft and tender affection, arising in the mind on the view of human misery, accompanied by a desire to afford relief; and though we ought not to ascribe to God any painful feelings,
any passion or agitation, grief or trouble, such as we feel, yet we may consider mercy in God as his disposition and readiness to relieve his miserable creatures. Our text asserts, that Mercy“ belongeth to him," or is “within him ;" that is, it belongs to his nature; it is inseparable from him ; it belongs to him more than to any other being ; so that nothing in his creatures deserves the name, compared with his mercy; for he is “the Father of mercies," and “he delighteth in mercy;" it is his glory,—for when Moses (as mentioned in a former discourse) desired to see his glory, he gratified him by proclaiming his names and titles, the first of which was “the Lord God, merciful and gracious_keeping mercy for thousands ;” and this forms the chief ground of confidence and trust in him, as appears from this psalm. David had found, by experience, that confidence could not safely be reposed in man; but finding that God was possessed of almighty power, and also of infinite mercy,
he declares his resolution to trust in him alone.
As mercy relates to misery, we must necessarily consider the mercy of God as extended to miserable man,-to man in his fallen, sinful, helpless state, as a sinner; for, as “the whole need not the physician, but they who are sick,” so none will seek or prize the mercy of God, but those who, in truth, feel, and confess themselves to be “miserable sinners. .” The Scriptures uniformly represent man as a depraved creature, having lost that original rectitude in which he was created. He is now so depraved, so very far gone from original righteousness, that he is of his own nature inclined to evil.” He is also actually guilty : charged with innumerable offences against God's holy law, in thought, word, and deed ; “for what the law saith, it saith to them that are under the law, that every mouth may be stopped, and all the world become guilty before God.” Rom. ii. In this state, man must needs be miserable ; for be is exposed to the righteous anger of an offended
God; "the wages of sin is death ;” and it is, indeed,
fearful thing to fall into the hand of the living God.” This is the real condition of every man, whether he be sensible of it or not. If he be not sensible of it, his case is so much the worse; his danger is increased by his ignorance of it, for of course he will not seek for mercy: if it be known, then will the mercy of God be the chief desire of his soul, and his sincere prayer will be, “God be merciful to me a sinner!”
That “mercy belongeth unto God," is the only truth that can support and cheer the real penitent. This is the relief of which the prophet speaks (Ps. cxxx. 1–3), where the deep distress of some convinced sinners is thus described : “Out of the depths have I cried unto thee, O Lord. If thou, Lord, shouldest mark iniquities, O Lord, who shaii stand! but there is forgiveness with thee, that thou mayest be feared : let Israel hope in the Lord ; for with the Lord there is mercy, and with him is plenteous redemption."
It seems to be a principal design of the word of God, and especially of the gospel of Christ, to satisfy the penitent soul, that “mercy belongeth unto God. Without these gracious assurances, the self-condemned sinner would be ready to despair ; for it is no uncommon thing for those who have just views of the holiness and justice of God, and of the extent and aggravations of their own sins, to fear that their iniquities are too great to be pardoned, and that there is no help for them in God. The tempter also, who “goeth about seeking whom he may devour,” and who prevails upon many to neglect the mercy of God, as scarcely needing it, frequently suggests to those who have lately become religious, that there is no mercy for them. But the gospel provides a sufficient antidote against despair; assures us that God is “rich in mercy to all that call upon him ;” that “ if the wicked man forsake his
ways, he will have mercy upon him ; he will abundantly pardon."
The grandest, the most affecting, the most satisfactory evidence of the divine mercy, appears in the person, character, sufferings, and death of the Son of God; for it might be said, How can God be just, if he be merciful Is he not infinitely holy? Does he not hate sin most intensely? Has he not threatened to punish it with everlasting death? And is he not true to his threatenings? How then can the honour of his justice be maintained, if mercy be shewn to the guilty sinner? This objection is reasonable. This
inquiry is important. And the question could never have been resolved, had not God himself given the answer. The gospel now informs us, that “Mercy and Truth meet together ; Righteousness and Peace embrace each other.” “The mercy of God is now exercised without prejudice to his justice, because justice received full satisfaction in the death of Christ, the sinner's surety; so that there is justice in punishing the sin, and mercy in relieving the sinner. The sin is punished by justice, in the Surety, and pardoned by mercy, in the sinner: so that he is just without impairing the honour of his mercy, and merciful without invading the rights of his justice.'
This shews with what propriety Jesus Christ bears the name of “ MERCY;" for when Zacharias praised God on the birth of John, the harbinger of Christ, he cries, “Blessed be God, for he hath visited and redeemed his people !-to perform the MERCY promised to our fathers.” Luke i. 72. the mercy promised from the beginning; the mercy of all mercies, the matchless, the invaluable, the unspeakable mercy-the greatest and the best that God himself could bestow on a fallen world, for he is the medium of all divine communications with man ; the great, the only channel, through which his mercy flows to the guilty children of Adam.
That we may the better conceive of the nature