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“ I will praise thee, O Lord my God, with all my hcart, and I will glorify thy name forevermore; for great is thy mercy towards me, and thou hast delivered my soul from the lowest hell." The lower that hell was from which he was delivered, the more gloriously was the mercy of God displayed in his deliverance, and the more deeply was his heart affected with gratitude. Now the lowest hell from which we can be delivered in this world, is that of which the same ho. ly writer speaks when he says, Psal. cxxx. “ Out of the depths have I cried unto thee, O Lord. If thou, Lord, shouldest mark iniquity, O Lord, who shall stand ?" Out of that hell he was delivered, and calls upon Israel to hope in the Lord for the same, or the like displays of his grace,
"Let Israel hope in the Lord; for with the Lord there is mercy, and with him there is plenteous redemption, and he shall redeem Israel from all his iniquities,” Psal. lxxxvi. 12. 13.cxxx.
2. The mercy of God shines with distin- . guished lustre among the divine perfections in our salvation.
All the revealed attributes of God shine forth gloriously in this blessed work. He sheweth strength with his arm in redeeming us from the worst of bondage. He is faithful and just in forgiving our sins, and, in cleansing us from all unrighteousness. Mercy and truth meet together, righteous
ness and peace kiss each other.
We cannot therefore sufficiently praise any of these divine perfections to which we are so infinitely indebted, and ought to be cautious of derogating from any divine attribuie its just glories, to exalt another. These glories perfectly harınonize in the face of Christ our Redeemer, and in the work of his Spirit. Yet this may be said, that the work of our salvation was designed above others for the display of God's pity to the miserable, and of his grace to the worthless. He displayed the glory of his power, of his wisdom, of his incomparable excellency in holiness and righteousness, when he created the heavens, and the earth, and their innumerable hosts. He displayed the glory of his mercy from the beginning, in his kind administration of Providence towards sinful
Yet the glory of these displays of his mercy appears. chiefly in the work of salva. tion. Without a purpose of saving some of the lost race of Adam, there would have been no room for such wonders of patience, and forbearance, and long suffering goodness as these, of which all generations have been the witnesses. It is mercy
It is mercy that spares, for a time, those who must perish forever, because they are not lead by the goodness of God to repentance. But hereby perceive we the divine excellency of the mercy of God, that he not only gives them space for repentance, and powerful motives, but actually bestows
repentance unto life upon sinners. If they were not recovered from the snares of the devil by an Almighty arm, they would go on frowardly in the way of their hearts, till their condition become no less hopeless than that of the abhorred enemy of God and men.
What is it but the loving kindness and mercy of the Lord that engaged all his divine perfections to co-operate for the salvation of sinful men ?
What can be a more delightful subject of our contemplation, than the mercy of God, as it shines forth in all those mighty works that have been done, and will be done for us in Christ Jesus? When we consider the irresistible operation of divine power, the flaming glories of his holiness, the inflexibility of his justice, we are filled with consternation if we forget that God is no less abundant in mercy than in righteousness. But every perfection of the divine nature is a fountain of joy, when we view it in iis co-operation with saving mercy. . Then do we give thanks at the remembrance of his holiness. Then, at every contemplation of the divine excellency, we break forth into transports of joyful praise. “ This God," so great and glorious beyond all our blessings and praises, “is our God forever and ever; he will be our guide unto death," and beyond death. Glory to God in the highest, peace on earth, and good will towards men,"
3. That mercy which saves us is free.
We do not mean only that it is not merited, but likewise that it is exercised towards us without the consideration of any works or conditions performed by us. If Adam had not sinned, he would not have merited the favor of God, but he would have been entitled to it through works of righteousness performed by himself, according to the tenor of that covenant which God made with him. 66 The man that doth these things shall live by them.” But we have the decisive authority of the apostle for asserting, that the language of the gospel is quite different from that of the law, and that boasting, which is admitted by the one, is excluded by the other, Rom. iii. 27, X. 5, 6, 7, 8.
That the mercy which converts and saves us must be absolutely free, is evident from the natural state of men. 66 We ourselves were sometimes,” he says, “ foolish, disobedient, deceived, serving divers lusts and pleasures, living in malice and envy, hateful, and hating one another; but after that, the love and kipdness of God our Saviour towards men appeared, not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to his mercy he saved us, by the washing of regeneration, and the renewing of the Holy Ghost."
“ Tell me,” says Paul, “ye that desire to be under the law, do ye not hear the law ?" The same address, we may make to all that would suspend our faith in the mercy of God upon conditions which must be performed by ourselves. These are the men who still desire to be under the law, though they would have the law modified to suit their condition and abilities. But what the law said from the beginning, it still continues, and will continue to the end to say, “ Cursed is every one that continuech not in all things which are written in the book of the law to do them.” We can do nothing to procure the favor of God, unless we could deliver ourselves from the curse. While it lies upon us, we are cursed in all the work of our hands.
Had we only one sin to answer for, it must utterly preclude all hopes of recommending ourselves to the mercy of God, til it is done away. The best services that all the saints ever' performed to God, from the days of Adam to this hour, were they all collected into one sun, would not be a ransom for one sinner, nor a price for the pardon of one sin. How absurd then is it to imagine that we can, in any sense, entitle ourselves to the converting grace of God, by any services done to him before our conversion, when it is certain, that even at our highest attainment, we are continually adding to the number of these sins, not one of which can be pardoned, but for God's own name's sake through the blood of Christ.
Do you need pardon? This question, you