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might be made, he gave his Son to “bear our iniquities in his own body on the tree,” and to “ be made sin for us, that we might be made the righteousness of God in him." For the fallen angels he made no such provision: but for us he did : and he sends forth his servants into all the world, to proclaim his offers of mercy, and to “ beseech sinners in his name to be reconciled to him " ----]
To seek reconciliation with him then is our true wisdom
[The world may account it folly, and may stigmatize all serious piety as needless preciseness : but we hesitate not to declare with David, that “the fear of the Lord is the very beginning of wisdom\;" and that the prodigal's return to his father's house was an evidence, not, as his ungodly companions would say, of weakness and folly, but of his having attained a soundness of mind and judgment: for it was when he came to himself he said, I will return, and go to my father.” Who that reflects upon the inconceivable weight of God's anger, and on the misery of those who are exposed to it, would continue one moment obnoxious to it, when God is offering him pardon, and beseeching him to accept of all spiritual and eternal blessings?
But add to this the shortness and uncertainty of human life. Who that considers this, would delay to deprecate God's wrath, and to avail himself of the present hour to secure the proffered mercy ? O beg of God to impress your minds with a sense of the shortness of time, and to " teach you so to number your days, that you may without delay apply your hearts unto wisdom.” Obvious as this lesson is, you can never learn it, unless you are taught of God. You will be ever calculating upon months and years to come, when“ you know not what a single day may bring forth." You may even, like the Rich Fool, be promising yourselves“ years of ease and pleasure," when God may have said, “ This night shall thy soul be required of theek.” To turn unto God instantly is true wisdom : to put it off to a more convenient season is folly and madness --“To-day, if ye will hear his voice, harden not your hearts ?."]
But, to this work you must “ apply with your heart," your whole heart
[It is not by seeking merely, but by “striving, to enter in at the strait gate,” that you are to obtain acceptance with your Godm. You must “apply your heart” unto wisdom: and “whatsoever your hand findeth to do, you must do it with all your might ""---]
i Ps. cxi. 10. k Luke xii. 19, 20. Ps. cxix. 60. Heb. ii. 7, 8. m Luke xiii. 24.
n Eccl. ix. 10.
[There are, alas ! too many who do this. “The wicked,” as David says, “ through the pride of his countenance will not seek after God: God is not in all his thoughts. His ways are always grievous: thy judgments are far above out of his sight: and as for all his enemies, he puffeth at them°;" and, with atheistical impiety," says in his heart, God will not do good; neither will he do evil P.” But consider, brethren, whether you will think so lightly of God's judgments when you shall have begun to feel the weight of them? Think whether, on first opening your eyes in the invisible world, and beholding the face of your incensed God, you will not bewail your present supineness, and curse the day when you listened to the dictates of flesh and blood, instead of attending to the counsels of true wisdom? O! think, “ Who can stand before his indignation ? and who can abide in the fierceness of his anger 9 ?” “Who can dwell with everlasting burnings ?” I pray you to number your days, not as the world does, but as God directs you: and to consider every day as if it were to be your last. This, with God's blessing, will stir you up to redeem the present time, and will put energy into your exertions in "fleeing from the wrath to come." Whatever be your age, my advice is still the same: for “you know not whether your Lord will come in the evening, or at midnight, or at the cock-crowing, or in the morning.” “Knowing the terrors of the Lord, I would persuade you $;" and "what I say unto one, I say unto all, Watch."]
2. Those who are in a state of reconciliation with him—
[Doubtless there are many amongst you, who can say with the church of old, “ Though thou wast angry with me, thine anger is turned away, and thou comfortest met." To you then I would say, “Who knoweth the power of God's love ? According to your hope, even your most sanguine hope, so is his mercy;" yes, and infinitely above all that either men or angels can conceive. Compare your state with that of those who are now lifting up their eyes in the torments of hell; and say whether eternity itself will suffice, to express your obligations to Him who has redeemed you by his blood, and to the Father who has accepted that atonement in your behalf? O! bless without ceasing your reconciled God. Labour to count, if it were possible, the riches of his grace; and to explore “the height and depth and length and breadth of his incomprehensible love." And let the stupendous mercy vouchsafed unto you, quicken you to every possible expression of gratitude to your adorable Benefactor.]
o Ps. x. 4, 5. .
p Zeph. i. 12.
9 Nah, i. 6.
SATISFACTION IN GOD ALONE. Ps. xc. 14. 0 satisfy us early with thy mercy, that we may
rejoice and be glad all our days ! WE are told, on most unquestionable authority, that “ godliness is profitable unto all things, having the promise of the life that now is, and of that which is to come.” We are further assured, that “ its ways are ways of pleasantness, and all its paths are peace b." This was the conviction of Moses, when he penned this psalm. The vanity and bitterness of sin had been deeply felt by all that generation whom he had brought out of Egypt: and here, he declared that there was no happiness but in God: he prays, “O satisfy us early with thy mercy, that we may rejoice and be glad all our days!” Now, Brethren, longing as I do for the happiness of you all, both here and in the eternal world, I will shew, I. Where, and where alone, true satisfaction can be
foundThe whole world are inquiring, “ Who will shew us any good ?” And to that there is but one answer to be given; namely this : “ Lord, lift thou up the light of thy countenance upon us!” Satisfaction is not to be found in any earthly pursuit
[Pleasure, how diversified soever it may be, can never satisfy a rational being. Solomon drank more deeply of that cup than any other man ; and, after all, pronounced it to be “vanity and vexation of spirit.” The same may be said of wealth and honour: they can never fill the desires and capacities of an immortal soul. As the eye is never satisfied with seeing, nor the ear with hearing, so no man that attains the greatest eminence can be sure that he has reached the highest pinnacle of his ambition. Let him possess all that mortal man can possess, and there will be some Naboth, whose vineyard
a 1 Tim. iv. 8. • Prov. ii. 17. c Ps. iv. 6.
he covets; or some Mordecai, who wounds him by refusing to pay him the homage he demands ---]
Nor is it to be found in any religious services which are performed with a self-righteous view-
[Doubtless a self-righteous man may be gratified for a season with the notion that he has established a ground of confidence before God: but at times there will arise in his mind such thoughts as these: “Have I done enough to secure for me the forgiveness of my sins, and to purchase moreover the blessedness of heaven?” And, after all his labour, he will feel some secret misgivings that all is not right. He has not a standard whereby to measure his attainments, except indeed the holy Law of God: and that altogether condemns him. In this state of uncertainty he cannot contemplate death and judgment without a degree of alarm, which casts a gloom over his prospect of the eternal world, and to a certain degree embitters also his enjoyments in this present world.]
That which alone can afford solid satisfaction to the soul, is, the having obtained “ mercy” of the Lord
[Every man is conscious that he has sinned, and must give an account of himself to the Judge of quick and dead. But, if he have fled for refuge to Christ, and embraced the salvation offered him in the Gospel, he is ready to go into the presence of his God. He knows“ in whom he has believed 4;” and has no doubt but that through the Redeemer's righteousness he shall find acceptance with God. He will be able to say, “ I know that when the earthly house of this tabernacle shall be dissolved, I have an house not made with hands, eternal in the heavense." In Christ he sees all that he can need: and, being " in Christ,” he is assured that "there is no condemnation to him?” either now or at the bar of judgment. “Believing in Christ, he has peace with God," and rejoices before him “ with joy unspeakable and glorified&."]
This point being ascertained, let us direct our attention to, II. The blessedness of those who seek it there
Mercy, once obtained from the Lord, is the richest balm of life
1. It constitutes the chief felicity in youth
[Who is there that has sought the Lord in early life, and did not experience the benefit of that blessed employment beyond his most sanguine expectations? Nay, I will ask, Who ever spent one hour in penitential exercises, and in crying to
1 2 Tim. i. 12. e 2 Cor. v. 1. Rom. viii. 1. 8 1 Pet. i. 8.
the Lord for mercy, and did not find more satisfaction in that hour than in all the pleasures he ever enjoyed? Who does not look back to such a period, as the happiest hour of his life? I will gladly concede to every man the liberty of passing judgment on himself; and will venture to abide the verdict which every man shall give. Into whatever state of carnal pleasures such an one may have turned aside, I can have no doubt but that, in seasons of reflection, he says, “Oh that it were with me as in times past!" ---]
2. It renders us happy amidst all the most afflictive circumstances of life
[Every man is, sooner or later, brought into trouble: for “ man is born to trouble, as the sparks fly upward.” But a sense of God's pardoning love upon his soul will more than counterbalance all his afflictions. " Being justified by faith, and having peace with God, he will glory in tribulations,” of whatever kind they beh. He will see his trials to be a rod in his Father's handi; and he will acquiesce in the dispensation, from the hope that “ all things shall work together for his goodk," and shall ultimately ” work out for him a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory!" ---]
3. It administers consolation to him, even on the bed of death
(How blessed were the reflections of St. Paul when in the daily expectation of a cruel death! “I have fought a good fight; I have finished my course; I have kept the faith: henceforth there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, shall give me in that day m.” Such was Jacob's consolation in his dying hour: “ I have waited for thy salvation, O Lord"." Yes, Brethren, a sense of God's pardoning mercy upon the soul will take away the sting of death, and make us rather to “ desire that we may depart and be with Christo," in the full fruition of his glory.- --] ADDRESS1. The young
[It is never too "early” to seek, and to obtain, “mercy" from God. We read of several who from their very infancy were sanctified unto the Lord: and why should not you be numbered amongst that highly-privileged class? You have an idea that the good things of this world, and the enjoyment of all pleasurable amusements, will make you happy. But if you will transfer this notion to spiritual things, and seek your happiness in them, I pledge myself that ye shall be satisfied h Rom. v. 1, 3. i Mic. vi. 9. * Rom. viii. 28. 12 Cor. iv. 17. m 2 Tim. iv. 7,8. Gen. xlix. 18.
o Phil. i. 23.