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look into the dungeon of guilt, and for a moment contemplate the wretched criminal loaded with chains, without dropping a tear of sympathising sorrow? Such a person is the proper object of human pity. But there is one respect in which Divine pity differs from our's. If the miseries which are felt have been occasioned by offences committed against ourselves, were we to behold á criminal under sentence of punishment for injuries done to our own persons, fortune, or reputation, our tender feelings would be in danger of suppression from the opposite principles of indignation and resentment. But “God's thoughts are not as our thoughts." . He compassionates those who have broken His own laws, rebelled against His own authority, crucified His own Son, and done despite to His own Spirit; nay, those who have proudly and disdainfully, and perhaps for a long season, rejected the overtures of reconciliation which He has made them. O the depths of the riches of the grace of God! The sin of man, however complicated, however heinous, is no obstacle to the exercise of Divine mercy, which, like some mighty torrent swelled by descending rains, overflows all bounds, and with irresistible impetuosity breaks down all impediments in the course which it is appointed to take.

Man also considered as a helpless creature is the object of Divine commiseration. We feel in our bosoms peculiar emotions towards the newborn infant, on account of its helpless state. Were we to discover a fellow-creature, who by some dreadful accident had dislocated all his bones, our compassion would be excited to a degree beyond the power of our present conception. The good Samaritan beholds us all in this disabled


situation. "He willeth not the death of a "sinner." Abandoned to ourselves, we must spend the miserable remains of life in unavailing groans, and then make our bed in hell. But

"He saw, and (O amazing love!)
"He flew to our relief."


Every attribute which we ascribe to Jehovah, He, possesses after an infinite manner. What an amazing thought is an infinite mind " full "of compassion!" The great and wide sea, and unmeasurable space, afford ideas that overwhelm our staggering faculties; yet these are limited. But the bosom of our God is higher than heaven, longer than the earth, and broader than the sea; * and it is full of compassion.' Our grandest ideas of it are as inadequate to the subject as a drop of water to the ocean, or a single ray of light to the flux of radiance from the orb of day. Whatever God's compassion dictates, His arm is able to effect. What ground have we, then, for faith, since our very guilt and misery are the circumstances which attract the regard of Divine pity? Perhaps it may be asked, When does our heavenly Father feel these emotions towards His redeemed ones? He is always the same, knowing "no variable"ness, nor shadow of turning.' What He was in the beginning, that He is now, and ever will be world without end. But those who feel a keen sensibility of their own miseries through sin, may be certain that it is occasioned by what passes in the bosom of their God concerning them. If you are of a broken and contrite heart, and tremble at His word; if you are

*Job xi. 8, 9.

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sighing after pardon and salvation; be assured that "the Lord is looking down from the height “ of His sanctuary to hear the groaning of the

prisoners, to loose those that are appointed « unto death. But in what way does God shew mercy? He

? manifests His loving-kindness in the only way that could be really advantageous to the sinner. He gives the longing desire to“ turn from our “ wickedness,” and thus proves His willingness that we should “live.” He does not take away the guilt of sin by absolution, and leave us under its tyrannical dominion. This would not be an act of kindness, since the love of sin would effectually exclude us from felicity, † even if there were no burning lake to receive transgressors. But He leads us in spirit to the garden at the foot of the Mount of Olives, and from thence to Golgotha, and there presents to our view a bleeding, dying Saviour. We behold in Him the malignity of sin, and the curse that is annexed to it, and turn from our wickedness with abhorrence, as a tender mother would turn from the sight of the reeking blade which had just been plunged into the bosom of her darling child. " I will

pour out” (says He who desireth not the death of a sinner) “ the spirit of grace “ and of supplication, and they shall look upon “ ME whom they have pierced, and they shall

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* Ps. cii. 19, 20. + The word rendered “ avenger,” in Ps. viii. 2, literally signifies “ the self-avenger,” or self-tormentor," and is a proper appellation of Satan, and of all those who follow him in his enmity to God and holiness. See also Ps. xliv.. 10, where the same word occurs in the same sense. “ Myself am Hell.”




"mourn for Him, as one that mourneth for his only son; and shall be in bitterness for Him, "as one that is in bitterness for his first-born.' Thus sin is exhibited to the mind as "exceeding "sinful;" and from thenceforth it becomes the main business of life to "crucify the flesh with "its affections and lusts." Now every man, who thus turns from his wickedness, has the witness in himself that God" willeth not his death, but rather that he should live;" since conversion is the work of God. But am I effectually turned from it? Or, am I not in league with some known sin? Should I choose, were it possible, to be secured from hell without any experience of deliverance from the love and power of sin? Or, can I say that I should prefer any sufferings, which God may see necessary for my purification, to a continuance under the accursed thraldom of sin and Satan?

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This being the gracious mind and will of God, "He hath given power and commandment to "His ministers to declare and pronounce to His people, being penitent, the absolution and "remission of their sins." Oh! how does pity beautify the Saviour's face, when we behold Him commissioning his Apostles to "go into "all the world, and preach the gospel to every "creature!" And what is the gospel, but a declaration of pardon? The doctrine of the forgiveness of sins is the principal characteristic of the message from heaven; it is that which makes it "good tidings of great joy." They, therefore, do greatly err, who make the gospel to be nothing more than a refined system of morality. What comfort could a code of laws

* Zech. xii. 10.

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afford to rebels whose lives are forfeited? What reception could a King's messenger expect, carrying to persons in such circumstances a perfect delineation of their duty without any intimation of mercy?. Few would attend the lecture, and those few would hear with indiffe. rence, or with sullen discontent, his disquisitions on the propriety of submission to an authority that doomed them to an ignominious death. But behold, the ambassador of peace approaches with a proclamation of unmerited favour! From the windows of their prison-house they see him drawing nigh, and in raptures of astonishment, mingled with joy, cry out, “ How beautiful

upon the mountains are the feet of him that

bringeth good tidings, that publisheth peace, " that bringeth good tidings of good, that pub“ lisheth salvation !” O most pleasant office! Most delightful employment! Well might the Apostle speak of his appointment to it as an inestimable privilege. “To me, who am less “ than the least of all saints, is this grace given, " that I should preach among the Gentiles the “ unsearchable riches of Christ!”

Having produced his credentials, the minister executes his commission by declaring, that “God pardoneth and absolveth all them that

truly repent, and unfeignedly believe His “ holy Gospel.” The steward mentioned in our Lord's parable, * fraudulently forgave the debts which were due to his lord, without his consent. The Ministers of Christ, in their declarations of mercy, bear no resemblance of him. They have their Lord's express consent and positive command. They produce His commission,

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* Luke xyi. 5, 6.

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