« AnteriorContinuar »
offended; even against an infinite Majesty and power, an infinite mercy, an infinite justice—that power and majesty which hath spread out the heavens as a curtain, and hath laid the foundations of the earth so sure that it cannot be moved; who hath shut up the sea with bars and doors, and said, “ Hitherto shalt thou come, and no further; and here shalt thou stay thy proud waves,” Job xxxviii. : who doth whatsoever he will in heaven and in earth: who commandeth the devils to their chains ; able, therefore, to take infinite vengeance on sinners. That mercy of God the Father, who gave his own Son out of his bosom for our redemption; that mercy of God the Son, “who, thinking it no robbery to be equal unto God, for our sakes made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant; and being found in fashion as a man, humbled himself, and became obedient to the death, even the accursed death of the cross,” Phil. ii. 6, 7, 8, &c. That mercy of God the Holy Ghost, who hath made that Christ mine, and hath sealed to my soul the benefit of that blessed redemption. Lastly, that justice of God, which, as it is infinitely displeased with every sin, so will be sure to take infinite vengeance on every impenitent sinner.
And from hence, it will be fit and seasonable for the devout soul to look downward into that horrible pit of eternal confusion; and there to see the dreadful, unspeakable, inconceivable torments of the damned; to represent unto itself the terrors of those everlasting burnings; the fire and brimstone of that infernal Tophet; the merciless and unweariable tyranny of those hellish executioners; the shrieks, and howlings, and gnashings of the tormented; the unpitiable, interminable, unmitigable tortures of those ever-dying, and yet neverdying souls. By all which, we shall justly affright ourselves into a deep sense of the dangerous and woeful condition wherein we lie in the state of nature and impenitence, and shall be driven with a holy eagerness to seek for Christ, the Son of the ever-living God, our blessed Mediator, in and by whom only we can look for the remission of all these our sins, a reconciliation with this most powerful, merciful, just God; and a deliverance of our souls from the power of the nethermost hell.
XIII. It shall not now need, or boot, to bid the soul, which is truly apprehensive of all these, to sue importunately to the Lord of life for a freedom and rescue from these infinite pains of eternal death, to which our sins have forfeited it; and for a present happy recovery of that favour, which is better than life. Have we heard of, or can we imagine, some heinous malefactor, who has received the sentence of death, and is now bound hand and foot, ready to be cast into a den of lions, or a burning furnace, with what strong cries and passionate obsecrations he plies the judge for mercy! We may then conceive some little image of the vehement suit and strong cries of a soul truly sensible of the danger of God's wrath deserved by his sin, and the dreadful consequence of deserved imminent damnation ; although what proportion is there betwixt a weak creature and the Almighty betwixt a moment and eternity!
Hereupon, therefore, follows a vehement longing (incapable of a denial) after Christ; and fervent aspirations to that Saviour, by whom only we receive a full and gracious deliverance from death
and hell, and a full pardon and remission of all our sins; and if this come not the sooner, strong knockings at the gates of heaven, even so loud that the Father of mercies cannot but hear and open. Never did any contrite soul beg of God, that his mercy did not go before it; much more doth he condescend, when he is strongly entreated; our very entreaties are from him, he puts into us those desires which he graciously answers. Now, therefore, doth the devout soul see the God of all comfort to bow the heavens, and come down, with healing in his wings; and hear him speak peace unto the heart thus thoroughly humbled: Fear not, thou shalt not die, but live: Be of good cheer, thy sins are forgiven thee. Here, therefore, comes in that divine grace of faith, effectually apprehending Christ the Saviour, and his infinite satisfaction and merits ; comfortably applying all the sweet promises of the gospel ; clinging close to that allsufficient Redeemer, and in his most perfect obedience emboldening itself, to challenge a freedom of access to God, and confidence of appearance be. fore the tribunal of heaven : and now the soul, clad with Christ's righteousness, dares look God in the face, and can both challenge and triumph over all the powers of darkness; for, “being justified by faith, we have peace with God through Jesus Christ our Lord,” Rom. v. 1.
XIV. By how much deeper the sense of our misery and danger is, so much more welcome and joyful is the apprehension of our deliverance, and so much more thankful is our acknowledgment of that unspeakable mercy. The soul, therefore, that is truly sensible of this wonderful goodness of its God, as it feels a marvellous joy in itself, so it can
not but break forth into cheerful and holy (though secret) gratulations.-" The Lord is full of compassion and mercy, long-suffering, and of great goodness; he keepeth not his anger for ever : he hath not dealt with me after my sins, nor rewarded me after mine iniquities,” Psa. ciii. 8-10. " 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,” cxvi. 11–13. “I will thank thee, for thou hast heard me, and hast not given me over to death, but art become my salvation. O speak good of the Lord, all ye works of his; praise thou the Lord, O my soul,” cxviii. 18, 21, etc.
XV. The more feelingly the soul apprehends, and the more thankfully it digests the favours of God in its pardon and deliverance, the more freely doth the God of mercy impart himself to it; and the more God imparts himself to it, the more it loves him, and the more heavenly acquaintance and entireness grow betwixt God and it; and now that love, which was but a spark at first, grows into a flame, and wholly takes up the soul. This fire of heavenly love in the devout soul, is and must be heightened more and more, by the addition of the holy incentives of divine thoughts concerning the means of our freedom and deliverance. And here offers itself to us that bottomless abyss of mercy in our redemption, wrought by the eternal Son of God, Jesus Christ the just, by whose stripes we are healed, by whose blood we are ransomed, where none will befit us but admiring and adoring notions. We shall not disparage you, O ye blessed angels and archangels of heaven, if we shall say, ye are not able
to look into the bottom of this Divine love, where. with God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life. None, 0 none can comprehend this mercy, but He that wrought it. Lord, what a transcendent, what an infinite love is this ! What an object was this for thee to love ! a world of sinners ! impotent, wretched creatures, that had despited thee, that had no motive for thy favour but deformity, misery, professed enmity! It had been mercy enough in thee, that thou didst not damn the world; but that thou shouldst love it, is more than mercy. It was thy great goodness to forbear the acts of just vengeance to the sinful world of men; but to give unto it tokens of thy love, is a favour beyond all expression. The least gift from thee had been more than the world could hope for; but that thou shouldst not stick to give thine only begotten Son, the Son of thy love, the Son of thine essence, thy co-equal, co-eternal Son, who was more than ten thousand worlds, to redeem this one forlorn world of sinners, is love above all comprehension of men and angels. What diminution had it been to thee and thine essential glory, O thou great God of heaven, that the souls which sinned should have died, and perished everlastingly! yet so infinite was thy loving mercy, that thou wouldst rather give thy only Son out of thy bosom, than that there should not be a redemption for believers.
Yet, O God, hadst thou sent down thy Son to this lower region of earth, upon such terms, as that he might have brought down heaven with him, that he might have come in the port and