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its importance, as may constrain you to say, on all occasions, “ In his favour is life; his loving-kind. ness is better than life.” But the objects of sense are so near you, and so apt to captivate attention, that
you perhaps too frequently lose the sweet and comfortable sense of the love of God in Christ Jefus our Lord.
Few of us, I fear, are so affected with this sub. ject as we ought to be. We do not ftir up ourselves, as the prophet speaks, to lay hold on God, to claim interest in him, as reconciled to us through the death of his Son. We do not labour to quicken our dull and drowsy souls, to aspire after an assured evidence of his favour, and an habitual sense of the greatness of this privilege. We are too indifferent about it, and can live day after day, at ease, with. out any peculiar manifestation of our Father's love. Most certainly it ought to be otherwise. We some. times sit down pleased and contented with the common blessings of his hand, without aspiring after endeared communion, intimacy and fellowship with him who should be our all in all.
My dearly beloved, are the consolations of God small in your esteem? Have you but little regard for his tokens of favour? Is it a matter of indif. ference with you, whether he lift up the light of his countenance 'upon you or not? The great con
cern of the Redeemer upon earth, the important business he had to accomplish by his agonies and his blood, was to reconcile you to God, that you might be brought into a state of friendship with him. This is the grand subject of all the promises of grace. The gospel is the word of reconciliation. The office of the Holy Spirit is to make application of this to your hearts, and to give you the comfortable assurance of it. The Lord of life and glory declares, that he waits to be gracious unto you. And is it possible that you should be indifferent about it!
There is a day coming when an assured sense of the divine favour will be deemed of the greatest importance by you, and when your former indif. ference about it will occafion painful reflections, Be ashamed then of your present sluggishness.Think within yourselves, how unaccountable it is, that the children of God should prize their Father's love no more.
What can be of equal value with it? The full enjoyment of it conftitutes the felicity of that world to which all your wishes and hopes are, or should be directed. For in the presence of Jehovah is fulness of joy, and at his right hand are pleasures for evermore.
If therefore you put not a proper value on it at present, it is too evident, that you are greatly defective as to your meetness
for the inheritance of the faints in light. You want more fpirituality of mind, and heavenliness
There are others of God's children who fre. quently call in question their own interest in his favour. They are greatly dispirited, discouraged, and dejected on this account. They have many fears, jealousies, and misgivings of heart about it. Like the Pfalmift in his gloomy hours of defpon. dency, they remember God, and are troubled ; they complain, and their spirit is overwhelmed with grief. They are ready to say, “ I fear the Lord is not my God; I fear I have no interest in his favour,” They approach to his throne with fad and forrowful hearts, or are kept at a distance from him through fears of his displeasure. And the inore they think of their own sinfulness and unworthiness, the more they are deterred from drawing nigh to him. Conscious guilt, and oppressive fears damp the spirit of devotion. “My fins," says such a one, “ hang heavy on my soul. I dare not lift up mine eyes to heaven. The justice of the great Judge of all terrifies me, and his mercy, I fear, is far from me. My soul is shut up in dark . ness, and my mind is filled with terror. I am afraid God will call my sins to remembrance, and instead of enjoying the light of his countenance, I have
4.4 reason to fear he will look on me in his awful displeasure. I dare not neglect the exercises of devotion which I know are matter of duty, but I cannot come boldly to the throne of grace, and cry, , Abba, Father,"
This uncomfortable state of mind is much to be lamented. Where is that fenfe of God's love, that trust in the divine mercy, that delight in God, that rejoicing in his falvation, to which we are every where encouraged ? Legal terrors prevail, in the room of evangelical tenderness, in many minds. The heart is full of fear, which should be constrained by love. Devotion borders upon servility, instead of being the exercife of filial affection. In the room of that reverence and godly fear which the divine word recommends, the poor soul is kept at distance through a spirit of bondage.
Let such persons contemplate the grace of the gospel, the complete redemption which is in Jesus Christ, his ability to save to the uttermost all that come to God by him, and the free promises of grace and mercy. Jesus said to his disciples, “ Ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make
you free." Such persons would do well to consider, that he who is infinitely great and holy, is also infinitely gracious. His mercy triumphs over all the fins and unworthiness of man. In mercy he de.
lights. His favour is towards them that fear him; he takes pleasure in those that hope in his mercy. It is his will that his poor unworthy children should rejoice in his salvation, while they are deeply humbled for their offences against him. The joy of the Lord is their strength. Unbelief and despondency tend to weaken their hands, to deprive them of comfort, and to rob God of the glory due unto his
Sometimes this gloomy state of mind is, in some degree, occasioned by a misinterpretation of providential dispensations. You are visited with perfonal or domestic afflictions, you sustain heavy losses, or you meet with continual disappointments in the concerns of this present world. And you conclude from these, that instead of being interested in God's favour, you are marked out as a monument of his displeasure. But this is not a juft interpretation of God's mysterious dispensations. In many passages of his holy word, God assures his children, that his heart is towards them when his afflicting hand is upon them. 6. Whom the Lord loveth he chasteneth, and scourgeth every son whom he receiveth. As many as I love. I rebuke and chaften.” His corrective rod is the rod of love." My fon, despise not thou the chastening of the Lord,