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If the practice here insured is to result from the character here expressed, the character must be known. For "how can they call upon him, in whom they have not believed? And how can they believe on him, of whom they have not heard?" Accordingly, it is said, "From the rising of the sun, even unto the going down of the same, my Name shall be great among the Gentiles; and in every place incense shall be offered unto my Name, and a pure offering."
And, to notice this more personally, we see of what importance it is to entertain encouraging views of God. Confidence in his mercy and grace, will alone draw us into his presence. And therefore the ground of this confidence must be firm and obvious.
Much advantage, also, upon this principle, must result from reviews of our own experience of his goodness. All success is animating, especially in prayer. "Because he hath inclined his ear unto me, therefore will I call upon him as long as I live."
-Let me come to him among all those that are coming. And immediately. For there is a time when he will not hear prayer. "Then shall they call upon me, but I will not answer; they shall seek me early, but they shall not find me."
AUG. 26.-"Yea, I will betroth thee unto me in righteousness, and in judgment, and in lovingkindnesses, and in mercies." Hosea ii. 19.
In the covenant of grace, there is God's part, and there is our part. But God-or it would never be accomplished-undertakes for the latter, as well as the former-He engages to do all that is necessary for his people, and in them.
Here is the nature of the connexion he will establish with them-"I will betroth thee unto me." And the manner of it-"In righteousness, and in judg ment, and in lovingkindnesses, and in mercies."
First. I will do it, says He-in righteousness-He is holy in all his ways, and righteous in all his works. But the soul that sinneth, it shall die. Righteousness, therefore, seems to require that he should punish them, rather than admit them into his favour. And awakened souls want to see a way in which God is just, as well as the justifier. And he has provided for this; and he tells us in the Gospel, that, though sin is pardoned, it is also condemned; and that, though the transgressor escapes, the curse falls upon another, who, by bearing it himself, redeems us from it, and is the end of the law for righteousness to every one that believeth. The Law, therefore, instead of being injured, is magnified, and made honourable; and even more than it would have been by the destruction of the sinner. In the sinner's destruction, justice would have been always satisfying, but never satisfied. Whereas the satisfaction was now completed at once, "by the one offering up of himself." Then also justice would only have been displayed passively-but now, it is displayed actively, too. Then, it would have been displayed only in them-but now, it is also displayed by them. Then, they would have hated, and cursed it for ever-now, they love it, and delight to extol it. For righteousness here is not to be taken only for the way in which he makes the guilty just, but the way in which he makes the depraved holy. This comes from the same gracious agency; and is equally necessary with the former; as he could not admit them to communion with himself while in a state of sin-For, "how can two walk together except they be agreed?" And, "what fellowship hath righteousness with unrighteousness?"
Secondly. In judgment. The Heathens placed
Mercury, the god of wisdom, by the side of Venus, the goddess of marriage: and for good reason; since there is nothing in which judgment is so needful-yet few things are entered upon with so little discretion and reflection. Hence the wretched consequences that ensue. What can be expected from those hasty and thoughtless thoughtless_matches, in which, adaptation, age, temper, and even piety, are all overlooked?-But God knows what he does; and why he does it. He has reasons, which justify the measure to his own infinite understanding. Hence salvation is called his counsel; in which also he is said to abound towards us in all wisdom and prudence. And this is true, not only as to the contriving and procuring of it; but also as to the applying. The place, the time, the manner, the means of their conversion; will all evince, when known, that his work is perfect; and his ways judgment. We see but little of this now. Yet there are openings into it which carry the mind away in contemplation and surprize; and which assure us much more remains for our discovery and rapture in the world of light.-This applies also to his people, as well as to God. Their choosing him, and consenting to his gracious proposals, will bear examination. It is wisdom: and wisdom which is justified of all her children. The world may censure; but they are able to give a reason of the hope that is in them. The spiritual judgeth all things, though he himself is judged of no man.
Thirdly. In lovingkindness. Without this, it were better for persons never to come together. The parties mutually need it; and need it daily. They should be filled with tenderness, to bear and sympathize with each other; and the law of kindness should rule in all their looks, words, and actions. This is seldom wanting on the female side. Their love is not only more pure and disinterested; but more fervent and undeclining; and better prepared to
endure privations and sacrifices. Men are fond of power and authority; and therefore they are commanded-not to govern them-this they will do readily enough; but to love their wives, and not to be bitter against them. God says to his Church: "You shall find me full of tenderness and compassion. I know your frame, and remember that you are dust. I will pity your infirmities, and spare you. If I afflict, it shall not be willingly. If I chide, I will not contend for ever. I will look to the heart, and judge you according to your meaning, and your desires."-It would seem strange to apply the exercise of this quality to them, as well as to Him. Kindness towards God seems too low an expression; but he himself has sanctioned it-" I remember thee, the kindness of thy youth, and the love of thine espousals, when thou wentest after me in the wilderness, in a land that was not sown." Every thing they do for Him, he takes kind at their hand: and their ingenuous disposition will make them fearful of grieving his Holy Spirit; and anxious to walk "worthy of him unto all pleasing."
Fourthly. In mercies. This is distinguisable from the former. That was the effect; this shews the cause-and it is mentioned, in addition to lovingkindness, to remind us that all we possess, or expect, springs solely from the free and undeserved grace of God-and also to meet those discouragements to which we are always liable, from a sense of our unworthiness and ill-deservings. There is not a just man on earth that liveth and sinneth not. In many things we offend all. What humiliations must a Christian feel, when he reviews even his Sabbaths, and holy communions! and when he compares his proficiency with his obligations and advantages! But God will not cast away his people; but have mercy upon them according to the multitude of his tender mercies. This is children's bread; and the children of God will not, cannot abuse it. Yea,
the more they are persuaded of this truth, the more holy, and cheerful, and vigorous they will be in duty. Grass that grows in orchards, and under trees, is of a sour quality: it wants the sun. Fruits that grow in the sun are richer and riper than those which grow in the shade. The best frame we can be in, is to be upholden by a free spirit, and to act under a full sense of our divine privileges. Let us therefore sing of the mercy of the Lord for ever, and if he ever seems to have forgotten to be gracious, let us plead with him, and say, "Where is thy zeal, and thy strength, the sounding of thy bowels, and of thy mercies towards me? Are they restrained?" -Here again the import includes, not only that we receive mercy, but exercise it-not towards Him personally-this is impossible-and he needs it not. But his creatures need it; his people need it. And what is done to them, he will consider as done to himself. And what so just and proper, as that they who are forgiven, should forgive? And that they who live by mercy, should be merciful?
AUG. 27.-"- Heirs.-"
Titus iii. 6.
If we properly observe those who are Christians indeed, we shall find in them a peculiarity that distinguishes them from, and an importance that ranks them above, all other creatures. What an assemblage of qualities, excellencies, and advantages, must they possess, to do any thing like justice to the various and numberless representations, by which they are held forth to our view and admiration in the Scriptures of Truth! Let me contemplate them under the character of Heirs.
As such, we may consider them in the grandeur of their estate. A man may be an heir to a cottage,