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And if we know that He hear us, we “ know that we have the petitions which we “ asked of Him." Let us endeavour to realize the truth of His promises. Let us make them the subjects of constant meditation. ask Him to teach us what we are to pray for. And then let us ask largely, confidently, perseveringly. He hath said, “Open thy mouth “ widely; and I will fill it.”
". Now because there is no man's prayer acceptable whose person is odious, neither any man's person gracious without faith ; it is of necessity required, that they which pray do be
Therefore we conclude our prayers with the adorable Mediator's name, asking all that we want, and instruction in asking, “ through Jesus Christ our Lord.”
* Hooker's Works, vol. ii. p. 181,
THE ELEVENTH SUNDAY AFTER TRINITY.
O God, who declarest thy almighty power most chiefly in shewing mercy and pity; mercifully grant unto us such a measure of thy grace, that we, running the way of thy commandments, may obtain thy gracious promises, and be made partakers of thy heavenly treasure, through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen
O a wretched criminal under sentence of
condemnation, how grateful would such a description of his sovereign prove as that which the Psalmist has drawn of God, when he says that “ He delighteth in mercy!” Well may His people with adoring gratitude express their admiration of “the riches of His grace;" well may they encourage themselves to hope for all the blessings of redemption. For it is not said, that God may be induced by earnest and patient importunity to shew mercy with a sparing and reluctant hand—not merely that he may, consistently with His other perfections, exercise compassion though this would have been joyful tidings to a lost sinner. But it is asserted that “ He delighteth in mercy.” And Oh! what abundant proof hath He given that the record is true! The gift of His Son and the uniform experience of His people testify that He “ wait“eth to be gracious."
With the Psalmist's representation of the Divine character agrees exactly the whole tenour of our present collect; of which the preface asserts, that God “declareth His almighty power “ most chiefly in shewing mercy and pity.” On this preface à prayer for grace is founded; and the ends are specified for which it is implored.
That God is possessed of “ almighty power” needs no proof. Creation and providence afford evidence which every one may read who is not wilfully blind. Indeed a being possessed of limited ability would be unworthy the name of God. This almighty power" God might justly have employed for the destruction of the whole human race. He might have thrust every individual of mankind into hell, because all men by sin have incurred the penalty of His holy and righteous law. “The wages of sin is « death”-a death which appears from the Apostle's antithesis to be of eternal duration. But because “ He delighteth in mercy,” His “ almighty power is chiefly declared in shewing
mercy and pity." Though all the attributes of Jehovah must harmonize in every act which He performs, though neither of His perfections can be glorified at the expence of another, yet, if we may so speak, His mercy seems to have the direction of His other attributes. It appears to be the prominent and predominant feature of the Divine character. “God is love." Angels perhaps may admire with equal regard all the perfections of the Godhead, dwell on them with equal satisfaction, and extol them with equal adoration. But it is natural for us, in our present state of mental imbecility, to be chiefly captivated with that Divine perfection which seems most adapted to the relief of our misery. “Mercy and pity" suggested a way of satisfying the claims of inviolable justice, and
of vindicating the honour of immaculate holiness, consistently with the salvation of lost sinners. And, having done this, they employ“ almighty “ power" for the execution of the gracious purposes which they had formed.
That “ almighty power" was necessary to be exerted in order that God might shew mercy and pity, is evident. For mercy could not be shewn, until a full satisfaction had been made to Divine justice for those who were to partake of it; and that satisfaction Divinity alone could make. Hence arose the necessity of a Mediator in whom God and man should be united. For as the manhood only could suffer the penalty due to man's transgression, the Godhead only could give availableness to the sufferings of the manhood, so as to render them satisfactory to the requisitions of inexorable justice. Moreover, “mercy and pity" could only display themselves through the medium of man's conversion to God. And conversion to God can only be effected by the interference of “ Al
mighty power," as Scripture and experience concur to testify. The plan of mercy could not be perfected but by a continued exertion of Omnipotence. For, without this, progressive sanctification, conservation and glorification could not be accomplished.
Let the reader attend to two important words which are introduced into our collect for the purpose of preventing mistakes. « God de
clareth His almighty power most chiefly in
shewing mercy and pity.” There will be monuments of His wrath as well as of His mercy. His almighty power will be displayed in the manifestation of His holiness and justice, by the destruction of all impenitent sinners
who reject the proposal of His grace. The rebellious “ angels, which kept not their first
estate, but left their own habitation, and are “reserved in everlasting chains under darkness “ unto the judgment of the great day;" the old world, which, < being overflowed with water, “ perished” in one watery grave; “Sodom and “ Gomorrha, and the cities about them, which “ are set forth for an example, suffering the “ vengeance of eternal fire," the existence of “ Tophet" which was “ordained of old;" all the righteous threatenings of the Scriptures; and even redemption itself ;-demonstrate the
propriety with which the exceptive words we have specified are introduced into our collect. Though Jehovah hath proclaimed His name to be “the LORD, the LORD God, merciful and “ gracious, long suffering, and abundant in “goodness and truth, keeping mercy for thou“ sands, forgiving iniquity, transgression and “ sin;" yet He adds, that “He will by no " means clear the guilty.” (Exodus xxxiv. 6, 7.) He accumulates expression for the purpose of assuring us, that He “declareth His almighty
power most chiefly in shewing mercy and
pity.” But there is also a restrictive clause, which proves that it is not exclusively and invariably by acts of grace that His “ almighty
power” is shéwn; for He “will by no means « clear the guilty." “ The Lord our God is “ holy," and necessarily abhors all moral evil. And though He delighteth not in the death of a sinner, yet His own perfections bind Him, as it were, to punish sin. The “mercy and pity" of the Divine bosom can only be shewn to those who embrace by faith the appointed sacrifice of Christ, “ in whom God is just and the justifier