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lying under the guilt of atrocious, aggravated, and repeated crimes! Though great profligates often defert the ordinances of God, that they may fin at greater ease, and meet with lefs refiftance; yet, in fo numerous an affembly as this, there is reason to suppose there are not a few of the chief of finners; the rather, that while fome defert the ordinances, that they may have ease from within, others attend them as a cover, that they may blind their neighhours, and meet with lefs fufpicion or disturbance from without. How, then, can murderers, fornicators, fwearers, drunkards, thieves, and retainers of unjuft gain, hear what hath been faid on this fubject without trembling for themfelves! Hear for your fouls fake; hear for eternity's fake; hear, I beseech you, for Chrift's fake. O that the Spirit of God may carry home the truth, and make it “quick and powerful, fharper than a "two-edged fword," Heb. iv. (12. It is an eafy thing for you now to diffemble the fins which men would punish, and even to boast of the fins which men muft tolerate; but hear and remember the two following paffages: Heb. iv. 13. "All things are naked, and opened unto "the eyes of him with whom we have to do;" and, Heb. x. 31. "It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God."
3. In the last place, If any Chriftian defires to keep his confcience tender and faithful, to have a deep growing and humbling fenfe of his own finfulness; if he would bar the gate against the entrance of pride, or banish it after it has ob tained admiffion; if he defires to walk humbly
and watchfully,―let him live as in the presence of God, let him often fist himself at his awful tribunal. It is eafy to juftify ourselves before men, who have fo little to require, and from whom fo much may be concealed. The truth is, it is not a great matter to be able to set the world at defiance. But to look up to that God who fitteth upon the throne of his holiness, is of infinitely greater moment, and of infinitely greater difficulty. He trieth the reins and the heart. He abhorreth evil. You fee how Job defended himself against the accufations of his friends, held faft his integrity, and would not let it go; but no fooner did God fpeak to him in the greatnefs of his power, than he confeffed his vileness, and laid his hand upon his mouth. In the fame manner, he that would guard against the impofitions of a deceitful heart, that would not be abused by flattering friends, or led aftray by a mistaken world; that would rather walk in the path of penitence than fecurity; let him live as in the prefence of God. And happy, happy they, who take confufion of face to themselves now, and feek for mercy through the blood of the atonement, in comparison of thofe who justify themselves now, but shall stand at laft with unutterable confufion before the fupreme judge, ready to pronounce the irreversible fentence.
Hope of forgiveness with God.
PSALM CXxx. 4.
But there is forgiveness with thee; that thou mayft be feared.
Fter confidering our own miferable and guilty state, and how little any plea which we can offer will avail before the holiness and juftice of God, it is proper to turn our eyes to his mercy, as the only foundation of our hope and peace. This is of the utmost neceffity to every penitent. When a sense of sin hath truly taken hold of the confcience, it is fo intolerable, that no man can continue long in that condition. When the waves and billows of divine wrath are going over him, he must either fasten upon fome ground of hope, or fuffer fhipwreck upon the rocks of defpair. There are indeed, alas that we fhould be fo liable to delufion! many ways of weakening the force of conviction, and obtaining a temporary, imperfect, or falfe peace. But the only fafe and stable ground of hope is the divine mercy. And happy the finner who obtains fuch difcoveries of its extent and efficacy, as to make him cleave to it with undivided affection, and reft upon it as the anchor of his foul, from which he is refolved never to depart.
Believe it, Christians, the more the finner looks into his own ftate, the more real and thorough his acquaintance with his own heart is, the more he finds, that not the least ray of hope can arise from that quarter. This is precisely the import of the pfalmift's declaration in this paffage, taking the one branch of it in connection with the other; as if he had faid, When I confider how great and multiplied my tranfgreffions have been, I muft ftand fpeechlefs, and without excufe, before thy holy tribunal, and justify thee, although thou fhouldft condemn me. But Lord, thou art a God of infinite mercy. This I fix upon as the foundation of my hope. I fee nothing in myself to plead. Thy law accufes me. My own confcience paffes fentence upon me. I am not able to fupport the view of thy juftice and holiness. Whither can I fly, but to thy mercy? Here I defire to take refuge, and to my unfpeakable confolation there is forgivenefs with thee; fo that thou mayft and oughtest to be feared. In difcourfing further on this fubject, which I intend to do in a manner entirely practical, I propose, in a dependence on divine grace, to follow this method.
1. I fhall give a brief view of the discoveries which God hath made of his mercy, as the foundation of the finner's hope; or, in other words, fhow what reafon we have to believe, that there is forgiveness with him.
2. I fhall point out the connection between the mercy of God and his fear; or explain the import
import of this expreffion, "There is forgive"nefs with thee, that thou mayst be feared." 3. I fhall make some practical improvement of the fubject.
I. FIRST, then, let us attempt to give a brief view of the discoveries which God hath made of his mercy, as the foundation of the finner's hope; or, in other words, fhew what reafon we have to believe, that there is forgiveness with him. For this purpose I obferve, first of all, that the patience and forbearance of God towards finners, in the courfe of his providence, is the effect of his mercy. Even this affords fome faint hope, that there may be forgiveness with him. See the reafoning or the expoftulation of Jonah on the refpite of the destruction of Nineveh, Jonah iv. 2. "And he prayed unto the Lord, "and faid, I pray thee, O Lord, was not this
my faying, when I was yet in my country? "Therefore I fled before unto Tarfhifh for I "knew that thou art a gracious God, and mer
ciful, flow to anger, and of great kindness, and
repenteft thee of the evil." The fentence being fufpended, there is time given to apply for pardon, and space for the exercife of repentance, with a peradventure, or who can tell, whether he may not be gracious. We may add to this, his continual benignity and kindness to all his creatures, not excepting the evil, the unthankful, and the unholy. The native tendency of both thefe is to lead the guilty to repentance, as we are told Rom. ii, 4. "Or despisest thou