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crust, and labours to extract from it the history of the changes through which it has passed. The botanist confines his attention to the vegetation which clothes and adorns the earth's surface. Another part of the great field of natural history is reserved for him who seeks to render an account of the various forms of animal life, and he, in turn, calls to his aid the physiologist, the anatomist, and the chemist. Each traverses the field of nature with a different design, and returns with a distinct set of facts to pour into the lap of human knowledge. Far more knowledge of the power and wisdom of the Creator is acquired in this way, than were every investigator to attempt a complete history of all the various objects comprised within even a small part of the field of nature. In exploring the wider field of God's blessings to man, we may adopt a similar method. Now memory may travel life's path in search of iniquities forgiven; now again for facts, which prove Him Jehovah Rophi-the Lord my healer; or, retracing our steps, we may note our great deliverances in the Valley of the Shadow of Death; or, the days when we have been on the sunny hill-tops of delight. It is whilst engaged in contemplations of this kind, that we may expect the Lord will meet us, and crown His mercies by teaching us some new strain of the melody of thanksgiving.
I cannot make such a review
as this for you. All I can do is to offer some observations suggested by the Psalmist's catalogue of benefits, which may be help
ful to you in making it for yourselves.
"Who forgiveth all thine iniquities." Why is this first in the catalogue ?
In recounting the acts of a benefactor, a man will observe some order in his tale. It may be the order of time, or it may be the order of value. He may begin with the earliest he can remember; or strike at once his highest note in celebration of that which he esteems the chief among them all. In a studied composition, intended to produce impression upon others, the good wine is generally kept until last; in the spontaneous effusion of a full heart, that which is most prized, and therefore uppermost in thought, is sure to come out first. David had been healed of diseases, his life had been redeemed from destruction, loving - kindness and mercy had crowned him many times before the day when he first knew the blessedness of the man to whom the Lord imputeth not iniquity. But it is of forgiveness he speaks first. He esteemed that his chief benefit. Without it, all the rest had had no charm, and awakened no gratitude. It is somewhat singular that Addison's hymn, though evidently suggested by this psalm, follows a different order in surveying all God's mercies. It takes us back to the days of unconscious infancy, and to the slippery paths of youth, to excite our gratitude before it bids us sing,
"When worn with sickness, oft hast thou
With health renewed my face; And, when in sin and sorrow sunk, Revived my heart with grace."
It is no reproach upon the author of that hymn to say, that the order observed in the Psalm bespeaks a tenderer conscience, and a devouter gratitude. Character is often shown in little things. We may play a part passingly well, by imitation of the more striking features appropriate to it; but only the truth of nature can secure perfect accuracy in details. Happy is the man who, among God's benefits, reckons the forgiveness of sins the first and most precious. Do you, my readers? You need not have sounded the depths of sin with the plummet of your own experience, to think thus of it. The blessedness of forgiveness may be as truly learnt in following hard after God, as when it comes to us struggling in the miry clay. Light restored gives as much joy to those that have been blind for a season, as light bestowed gives to those who have been blind from their birth. Whether you have been forgiven much or little, so long as you were unforgiven, your soul was not at peace with God. The child's feeling of loving confidence was not possible to you, so long as guilt stopped the way between the outgoings of your soul and God. Your
Christian life dates from the hour of your first forgiveness. Your first sacrifice of accepted thanksgiving is no older. Until you were reconciled to God, His benefits only added to your responsibility, and aggravated the guilt of your hostility. All God's blessings intend our good, but when they fall upon those who are not right with Him, they work their ruin. Our first pardon, then, is the first blessing which comes a blessing, and
remains a blessing. It is our first portion of the riches which bring no sorrow. It is right, then, that the first expression of our gratitude should commemorate the mercy that forgiveth all our iniquities.
There are other considerations which enhance the value of this blessing.
It is a pledge of all other blessings. A pardoned sinner is a child of God; a child of God is a brother of Christ; a brother of Christ is an heir of heaven. When the blood of Christ is sprinkled upon the conscience, glory is as sure as though the hand already held the victor's palm, and the head were already crowned. On earth, the peace of God, which a pardoned sinner enjoys, speaks of rest in heaven; in heaven, the joy of the redeemed looks back for inspiration to pardon on earth. Pardon-redemption by blood, is the burden of the new song. Until, then, we sing that song with an unfaltering tongue, let us see that the subject of it give depth and tenderness to all our praise.
Again, this blessing of forgiveness was purchased for us at a costly price.
It had never been ours had God spared His only Son, instead of freely giving Him up for us all. When He created the world and man upon it, and endowed man with innumerable benefits, His treasurehouse of wisdom and power was still full. There was more if needed. But when He gave His Son, it was His only-begotten. After that gift, there was nothing left, for in that He gave Himself. "Great is the mystery of godliness;
God was manifest in the flesh." "God was in Christ, reconciling the world to Himself, not imputing their trespasses unto them." There is little I can add to the statement of the fact, that the Son of God came down, and died to procure the forgiveness of our sins. Illustrations of Divine love, drawn from human relationships, throw light upon it only at the cost of depreciating it. Until we understand more of the Divine nature, and of the relations subsisting between Father, Son, and Spirit, we cannot know much of the depths and height of that love which passeth knowledge. Perhaps you know no man who would give himself, and much less his son, to die for you. Such love, however, hath been found in the heart of man. But God commendeth His love toward us in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. Find, if you can, a father who, for an ungrateful, disobedient, proud and insolent son, will sacrifice the peace, the comfort, and, at last, the life of the darling of his heart, in the hope of reclaiming the outcast, who spurns alike his authority and his love. Suppose it were right for him to make such a sacrifice; suppose the victim willing, and the success certain, still, where is the love that would so do violence to itself? This illustration is almost too feeble and too impossible to be worth anything; but it is the nearest approach I can conceive to the love which is thus set forth in the words:-"God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life." Bearing
in mind, then, that the pardon of one, and that the least, of our iniquities cost God so much, is it not right that the forgiveness of all your iniquities should fill the first and largest place in your song of praise?
"ALL thine iniquities" suggests another consideration to swell our gratitude.
To think that He makes no exception. "All thine iniquities," sings David; and he thinks of a king whom God took from the sheepfolds, who by adultery and murder caused God's holy name to be blasphemed.
"All thine iniquities,"
cries Peter; and he thinks of a disciple who denied his Master. “All thine iniquities," cries each one of the spirits of the just made perfect, and murmurings, unbelief, coldness, falls, and backslidings come into their minds. It would have been grace to forgive one, but the forgiveness of all is grace abounding. Should not abounding grace call forth abundant praise? But how ready are our hearts to say,-It is as easy to forgive all as one. It is as easy for Him, but why? Because many sins are no worse than one sin? Because He knows of no degrees in provocation? Not for this cause, but because His compassions fail not, because they are new every morning, and His faithfulness to His covenant is so great. Are you not grieved at repeated offences more than at a single offence? Are you not more tried when your hopes are disappointed, and your kindness is defeated? Is it not harder for you to forgive the seventieth time than the seventh? Does not the sin that offends you, appear increasingly
hateful at every repetition of it? Be assured that it is not otherwise with God, and adore Him that, notwithstanding, His mercies are so great.
But there may be some who cannot say to their souls, "Bless His holy name, who forgiveth all thine iniquities." Some, from their weak faith in His pardoning word. Our assurance of pardon is in proportion to our faith in God's forgiving word. There are those who are pardoned, though they do not enjoy the comfort of it, but they have little faith. Only believe and thou shalt see the glory of God-the glory of His infinite mercy. Some, from conscious impenitence and carelessness, cannot join in this song. You may, if you will, repent and believe in the Lord Jesus Christ. There is no reason from God's unwillingness to pardon, why we should not all claim Him as the God who forgiveth all our iniquities.
There space for a few observations on the next words of the song, "Who healeth all thy diseases."
Infirmity is both the offspring and the parent of sin. By sin came weakness, and through weakness sin is multiplied. Next, then, to deliverance from guilt, stands deliverance from the miserable accompaniments of guilt. We need not only a change of state before God, which is justification, but a change of nature, which is sanctification-the renewing of the Holy Ghost. To pardon, without healing, would be to alleviate the painful consequences of disease, but not to touch the disease
itself. God does both; He not only
holds back the sword of justice, but heals the wounds sin has made. He had done this for David; and so he says, "Who healeth all thy diseases."
I understand him to speak chiefly of moral infirmities. A Christian man's life will furnish many evidences of the care and skill of the physician of souls. Looking back, he will see how he was cured of selfrighteousness and pride; how his faith, patience, courage, and hope, were made stronger, or how besetting sin was conquered and cast aside. The treatment was severe, perhaps, but he blesses God it was effectual. Sensible of remaining infirmities, and of his unmeetness for the inheritance in light, his hope does not fail, because he knows he is in the hands of One who healeth all his diseases.
Can you thank the good physician for wonderful cures wrought in you? Whatever is done in the way of healing in you, has been done by Him. He healeth all; our own skill and strength none. By grace you are what you are. Your meetness for heaven is as little of your own creating as your title. The glorified saints, as they survey their fine linen robes of righteousness, cannot boast that they have been wrought by their own hands. You should find many instances of healing in your life, for forgiving grace never comes but sanctifying grace comes with it.
The Psalmist also intends physical infirmities. God gives health of body as well as health of soul-a precious gift, and calling for loudest praise. But some there are whose
diseases are not all healed. They must look at their moral and physical diseases as one; and just as a physician allows some symptoms to run on unchecked while he is attacking the root of the disease, or is building up bodily strength, so they must believe that God leaves the outward man to perish, that the inward may be more effectually renewed. There is no resurrection for a dead soul in the next world, but there is for a dead body. If God, in His care for your soul, leave your body to perish, He will restore the body, and finish His healing work on the morning of the resurrection. Only, then, by faith, can you sing, "He healeth all my diseases."
"THUS saith the Lord; in returning and rest shall ye be saved; in quietness and confidence shall be your strength." (Is. xxx. 15.) Rest is repose, quietness and peace, comfort and confidence. Canaan was the land of rest to the Israelites, after the bondage of Egypt, the toils of the desert, and wars of the surrounding nations. Heaven, of which Canaan was a lively type, is a state and place of rest, perfect, undisturbed, and everlasting. "This is not your rest, it is polluted;" but "there remaineth a rest for the people of God." "There the wicked
A QUESTION.-"Mamma," said a little child, " my Sabbath-school teacher tells me that this world is only a place in which God lets us live awhile that we may prepare for a better world. But, mother, I do not see any one preparing. I see you
cease from troubling, and the weary are at rest.”—Mic. ii. 10; Heb. iv. 9; Job iii. 17.
The weekly Sabbath is the day of rest. On it God rested from all the six days' work of creation, and man must rest thereon from all his work and labour. The Sabbath, rightly observed, brings rest to both body and soul, and is a lively emblem and delightful foretaste of heaven itself. (Gen. ii. 1, 2, 3; Ex. xx. 10, 11; Heb. iv. 4.) Holy rest is the privilege of the godly, and of them only. "The wicked are like the troubled sea, when it cannot rest, whose waters cast up mire and dirt;", "but we which have believed do enter into rest." Is. lvii. 20; Heb. iv. 3.
Reader, observe the Psalmist,"Return to thy rest, O my soul, for the Lord hath dealt bountifully with thee." (Ps. cxvi.) Listen to the prophet (Jer. vi. 16), "Thus saith the Lord, Stand ye in the ways, and see, and ask for the old paths, where is the good way, and walk therein, and ye shall find rest for your souls." Come to the Saviour, and the blessing shall be your own, for he says (Matt. xi. 28, 29), "Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart; and ye shall find rest unto your souls." J. M. L.
preparing to go into the country, and Aunt Ellen is preparing to come here. But I do not see any one preparing to go there. Why don't you try to get ready? You scarce ever speak about going."