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The subject concluded in an Address to the Objects of
T Shall now conclude, with an use of instruction,
addressed more particularly to those who may be denominated the real saints of God; being brought out of darkness into his marvellous light, called with an holy calling, and made, by regenerating and adopting grace, the sons and daughters of the Lord Almighty. These are interested in the divine favour, according to the tenor of that covenant which is ordered in all things and sure, and contains all their salvation, and all their desire; the distinguishing privilege of which is, “ I will be their God, and they shall be my people.” His favour towards them is, as Davenant observes, (vinculum æternæ benevolentiæ) a bond of eternal love. This bond is indissoluble, and cannot be broken; for his love, like himself, is immutable, and everlasting.
But the sweet and comfortable sense of this love is not always enjoyed by those who in reality are interested in it. For we find some of those pious and holy men, whose experiences are recorded in the sacred scriptures, at certain seasons, complainNo. XVII, 1.
-ing of the absence of God, of the hidings of his face, of their being filled with great bitterness in stead of peace, and with sorrow and anguish of fpirit instead of comfort. It is to such as these that the God of grace and consolation has said, “O thou afflicted, tossed with tempests and not com. forted, for a small moment have I forsaken thee; but with great mercies will I gather thee. In a little wrath I hid my face from thee for a moment; but with everlasting kindness will I have mercy on thee, faith the Lord thy Redeemer."
Of the Doubts and Scruples which some may enter.
tain respecting their Interest in God's Favour.
Perhaps some person, who may cast his eyes on these pages, may be saying, with a desponding heart, Alas! I fear that I am not in a state of friendship with my Maker, though there is nothing in heaven or earth that I fo much desire. How can I be in the favour of God who am so unworthy of it? A consciousness of my unworthiness bows down my soul before him from day to day.'
But can you forget that there is no worthiness in any of the human race to entitle them to the privilege in question ? “ There is none righteous, no
not one.” Neither does the Most High set his love upon any because they are worthy of it, but because of his own sovereign good pleasure. “ He hath mercy on whom he will have mercy, and compassion on whom he will have compassion,” Nothing out of his own infinite mind is to be confidered as a motive inducing him to it.
Those who have been distinguished with peculiar marks of favour from above, have had the deepest sense of their own unworthiness. Abraham, the father of the faithful, and the friend of God, counted himself but duft and ashes. Facob, who as a prince had power with God, who wrestled with the angel of the covenant, and prevailed, and who was favoured with the visions of the Almighty, even he, in deep humility of spirit, says, “ I am not worthy of the least of all the mercies, and of all the truth which thou haft shewed unto thy fervant.” The Psalmist, who was guided with the counsel, and held by the right hand of the Most High, owns himself as a beast before him. Paul, who was caught up to paradise, who had abun. dance of revelations from the divine Redeemer, and the most intimate and astonishing manifestations of his favour, yet owns himself less than the least of all saints, and the very chief of finners. If you look into the records of paft generations,
you will find that the tokens of God's favour have descended most plentifully on those who have walked in the low vallies of humiliation; and that those have been most honoured of their Maker, who have had the meanest opinion of themselves. The pious Roman centurion said to the Redeemer, in whom the Gentiles trust, “ Lord, I am not worthy that thou shouldst come under my roof; but speak the word only, and my servant shall be healed.” When Jesus heard it, he marvelled, and faid to them that followed, “ Verily I say unto you, I have not found so great faith, no not in Israel !" When Mary the finner wept at the feet of the Saviour, washing them with her tears, and wiping them with the hair of her head, he declared, in the presence of the haughty and disdainful pharisee, that her fins, which were many, were forgiven her. “ For whosoever exalteth himself shall be abased; and he that humbleth himself shall be ex. alted.”
Perhaps the person I am now addressing may say, But I am a vile, polluted, sinful wretch; how can a God of spotless purity have any favour for such an one as I am ?
It is true, the righteous Lord loveth righteous. ness, and hateth iniquity; yea, he is of purer eyes than to look on evil. But we must distinguish be
tween the person of a poor unworthy sinner, and the defilement cleaving to him, which the finner himself abhors, and from which he desires and seeks deliverance. If none were loved of God but such as are free from the stains of impurity, there could be no objects of his favour among the children of men. The love of God to finners is in Christ Jesus our Lord; and he can distinguish between their persons and that whereby they are defiled. The spouse of Christ, though black in herself, is comely in the eyes of infinite purity, as viewed in her relation to the Lord her righteousness. The child of an earthly parent is dear to his father, though he has fallen into the mire. The child's tears on the occasion move the compassion of the father's heart, and he haftens to relieve him in his distress. When Ephraim was turned and repented; when he was instructed, and smote upon his thigh; when he was ashamed and confounded, because he did bear the reproach of his youth, was there no favour towards this penitent in the heart of him who is justly called “ the Father of mercies?” Hear what he says; “ Is Ephraim my dear son ? Is he a pleasant child ? For since I fpake against him, I do earnestly remember him ftill: therefore my bowels are troubled for him: I will surely have mercy on him, faith the Lord.”