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absolution, the source from which the minister
derives his authority for the declaration that.
follows: "Who can forgive sins but God only?"
But if Almighty God has specified, in His own
oracles, the way in which He communicates
pardon, and the persons who may safely take
the comfort of it, the conscience may well rest
therein, and every feeling of the soul be tran-
quillized, like the sea of Tiberias when Jesus
had commanded, "Peace, be still." If God
be" Almighty," He has a supreme and inde-
feisible right over all creatures and things. He
who made the law, and enacted the penalty,
may, if he please, and it be consistent with
His own glory, dispense with the obligation to
punishment, restore the rebel to His favour, and
reinstate him in every privilege. The creditor
only has power to cancel a bond. Blessed be
His name! He to whom we owe ten thousand
talents, with His own hand tears the hand-
writing that is against us.* That God, against
whose supreme authority our rebellions have
been pointed, Himself proclaims our pardon.
Very remarkable are the consolatory words
which He speaks by His prophet, “ I, even I,
"am He that blotteth out thy transgressions
"for mine own sake, and will not remember
thy sins." t

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A conscious sinner, so soon as he hears the intimation of forgiveness, will be led to inquireHow can God absolve a wretch like me, without exposing His own glorious attributes of holiness and justice to an impeachment? And surely it might be expected that ten thousand such guilty worms as I am should be left to perish, rather

* Col. ii. 14

† Isa, xliii. 25.

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than that a stain should be affixed to the character of the ever Blessed God. Must not His justice find satisfaction? Must not the dishonour done to His holy law, by my transgressions, be repaired? Must He not be just as well as merciful in all His acts?-Such inquiries must be acceptable to the Searcher of all hearts, since they manifest an enlightened mind, and a concern for His glory. Blessed be God, we are not left to our own conjectures for an answer to them; for, while we are assured that "without "shedding of blood there is no remission," * we are also informed by our church, from the word of God, that He is "the Father of our "Lord Jesus Christ." Here "mercy and truth "meet together; righteousness and peace kiss "each other." In the covenant of grace provision is made for the honour of every Divine attribute; so that God, considered as "the "Father of our Lord Jesus Christ," can be "just," and at the same time" the Justifier of "him that believeth in Jesus. He is faithful "and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse "us from all unrighteousness." The only

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* Hebr. ix. 22.

+ Ps. lxxxv. 10. "When Christ appeared in our nature, "the promise was fulfilled, and Truth sprang out of the "carth. And now Righteousness, looking down from heaven, "beheld in Him every thing that she required; an undefiled "birth, a holy life, an innocent death, a spirit and a "mouth without guile, a soul and a body without sin. "She saw, and was satisfied, and returned to earth. Thus "all the four parties met again in perfect harmony; Truth ran to Mercy, and embraced her; Righteousness to Peace, "and kissed her. And this could only happen at the birth "of Jesus, in whom the tender mercy of our God visited us, and who is the truth; who is made unto us righteousness, and is our peace. Lukei. 78. John xiv. 6. 1 Cor. i. 30.

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Eph. ii. 14."-Bp. Horne's Comment on the Psalms.

begotten Son of God has paid the utmost far-
thing of our debt. Forasmuch as "the children”
of God are "partakers of flesh and blood, He
"also took part of the same," that, as our
elder brother, He might restore them to the
family of heaven. Through our relation to Him,
His Father is become our Father. Let the
scrupulosity of the sinner's conscience be ever
so great, though his mind be tumultuously agi-
tated like the ocean in a storm, this view of
absolution is enough to remove every doubt,
and reduce the tempest in his bosom to a perfect
calm. O what ample provision does the gospel
make for our security from condemnation, and
for our comfort in a heartfelt persuasion of
it! Well might Jehovah say by his prophet,
*Behold I lay in Zion for a foundation a stone,
"a tried stone, a precious corner-stone, a sure
"foundation: he that believeth shall not make
"haste." This is a basis on which too much
weight cannot be laid. Oh! with what feelings
of heart should the sinner receive the message
which the minister brings to his ears, since it is
derived from "the Father of our Lord Jesus
"Christ!" Surely the language of every peni-
tent soul must be, so soon as his ears have wel-
comed the joyful tidings,
"What shall I render
"unto the Lord for all His benefits towards me?
"I will take the cup of salvation, and call upon
"the name of the Lord?" †

Lest the conscience of a sinner should still be distressed through fear of a mistake, and apprehension of its consequences, in a matter

* Isa. xxviii. 16. comp. with 1 Pet. ii. 6. w shall not hurry hither and thither, as persons in perplexity "shall "not be confounded."

† Ps. cxvi. 12, 13.

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of such high and everlasting importance, a most confirming declaration is added, that "God "desireth not the death of a sinner, but rather "that he should turn from his wickedness, and "live." This is a quotation from the word of God by his prophet Ezekiel.* Mercy is the darling attribute of God, in which he seems most chiefly to delight. He is said by David to be "full of compassion." When Moses desired to behold the Divine glory, memorable is the answer that was given him: "I will make," not all my power, my holiness, or my justice, but "all my goodness to pass before thee; and "I will proclaim the name of the Lord before "thee, the LORD, the LORD GOD, merciful "and gracious, long-suffering, and abundant "in goodness and truth."† It may be asked, What is it that excites Divine compassion? This inquiry may be resolved in one word-It is misery. We esteem, we love, our rich and prosperous fellow-creatures, if there be any thing in them which challenges our esteem and love; but we do not pity them. Our compassion is reserved for those who are "in trouble, sor"row, need, sickness, or some other adversity." The great Author of all being loves His angels, and the spirits of just men made perfect;" but He does not pity them, because they have no miseries to call His compassion forth. Men, therefore, considered as fallen and miserable, are the objects of this Divine attribute. Let us employ a moment in contemplating the present state of man, as rendering him the object of Divine commiseration.

He is such if considered with respect to his

VOL. I

* Ezek. xviii. 23, and xxxiii. 11.
Exod. xxxiii. 19, and xxxiv. 6.

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bodily miseries. Many, very many, are the distresses of human nature, even of an external kind. Sin has introduced diseases, dangers, and wants, without number. Well might Seth call his first-born son by a name expressive of our present sad condition. * It might be supposed, were we to judge of God by ourselves, that "the High and Lofty One, "who inhabiteth eternity," would not condescend to notice the miseries of poor worms of the dust. Who would not be surprised to see a monarch descending from his throne to visit mansions of poverty, disease, and wretchedness? Yet the great God deigns to frequent the cottage of the destitute, the bed of disease, and the abode of guilt. When "God manifest in the "flesh" walked on this earth, His chief delight was among objects of distress. We do not find Him attending the levees of Herod, or courting the acquaintance of his nobles; but we find Him surrounded by a circle of the maimed, the deaf, the halt, and the blind. "He wept with "those that wept."† "And He is the same "yesterday, to-day, and for ever.'

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Moreover, man, considered as a guilty creature, is the object of Divine compassion. Who can

*

* Gen. iv. 26. "was a man, thus called from the infirm, "wretched state, into which he fell by sin. This the be

lieving Seth acknowledged in the name of his first-born. "Comp. Job ix. 2, and xv. 14. Ps. viii. 4, and ix. 19, 20. "Isa. li. 7. In Gen. v. 1, 2, we read, in the day that God "created man, in the likeness of God made He him : "male and female created He them, and called their name "Adam in the day when they were created-this

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name importing their being created in the likeness of God, "as to holiness, happiness, and immortality. But by sin 66 man became WIN Enos, a wretch; and this is the name "by which the species is most commonly called in Scrip"ture."PARKHURST'S Lexicon, p. 37, 3d Edit.

+ John xi. 35.

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