Imatges de pÓgina

to be more abundantly enlightened, and he gives God the glory of his salvation, as every one will, who is truly saved.

That our salvation freely flows to us from this Divine Fountain, the love of God the Father, towards his lost and ruined creatures. Our blessed Lord himself declares: "God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life." Here is that fountain from which all our peace, happiness, and salvation flow. Yet notwithstanding this, how often has God the Father been represented to us, only as a sin-avenging God. As a God of infinite justice and holiness, a God of unspotted purity; and as being filled with wrath and fiery indignation against all his sinful creatures. And as being determined to pour out his vengeance upon all mankind, unless some one should stand forth, and make satisfaction to Divine Justice, and so turn his anger away. What an unlovely and unscriptural idea of God the Father, does these words convey!

"Rich were the drops of Jesu's blood,
"Which calm'd his frowning face."

Nor are the following words much better:

"Sprinkle still the mercy-seat,

"And bring the Father's anger down;
"Hide me JESUS, from the heat
"And terror of his frown!"

There is the appearance of truth in this. God the Father, most assuredly, is infinitely just and holy. And accordingly, he could not extend his mercy and love to poor, guilty, sinful creatures, considered as such, unless a proper atonement was made for their sin. But in order to open a way, consistent with all his infinite perfections, for his mercy freely and abundantly to flow to a world of guilty rebels, infinite wisdom contrived that wonderful plan of salvation, which is now made known to us in the Gospel. Such then was the love of God the Father towards us, that he sent his well-beloved Son upon this gracious errand, to redeem and save a lost and ruined world. And the love of God the Son, may and ought to be considered, as equal to that of God the Father: As he willingly undertook our dreadful cause, and accomplished the work of our redemption, by his meritorious death and passion.. He united himself to our nature, and by so doing, became a proper Representative of lost and guilty man; and his divinity being united to our humanity, gave all that he did, and suffer ed, on our account, an infinite value, so that he made a per

fect satisfaction for the sins of the whole world. In the person of our Lord, mercy and truth met together, righteousness and peace embraced each other. All the attributes of God sweetly harmonize. And yet mercy and love deInfinite love sent lightfully triumph over all the rest. Christ into the world to seek and to save us. And infinite love ruled in his breast, when he came down from heaven to earth, upon this errand. And if we duly consider this truly delightful subject, we shall see just the same love in God the Holy Ghost, in the methods he takes, and in the means which he uses, in order that we may experience all the inesti. mable benefits which our blessed Redeemer hath purchased for us.

1. The work of redemption being accomplished, and pardon, and peace, and life, and salvation purchased for us, it is necessary that the Gospel of Christ, should be published to mankind. "For how shall they believe in him, of whom they have not heard? and how shall they hear without a preacher? and how shall they preach except they be sent ;" But as the love of God made Isaiah a Prophet, so the same love sent him with that awful message to Hezekiah. And the very same love has, from the time that life and immortality were first brought to light by the Gospel, down to the present day, raised up, duly qualified, and sent forth his ministers, to proclaim the glad tidings of salvation to a lost and ruined world. In every true minister of Christ we see a fresh proof of the love of God towards us, as he certainly comes upon an embassy of peace and love, and has an offer to make, on the behalf of God, of pardon and peace, and evelasting salvation.

2. And as the love of God sends, and qualifies his ministers for their work, it is certainly the same love which renders the word which they preach effectual to any of those who attend upon their ministry. If by the word of the Lord we are made so to see our sin and danger, that we are brought under a deep concern respecting the salvation of our souls; and if by the same word our consciences are so deeply awakened, that we are constrained to say, as David once did, "I found trouble and heaviness; then called I upon the name of the Lord, O Lord, I beseech thee, deliver my soul." In all this we may clearly see the love of God, as we learn from his own word, that as his kind and gracious hand hath wounded, so it is only in order that he may in due time effectually heal us, and make us truly happy in the enjoyment of his love. If he have broken up the fallow ground of our heart, it is only in order that he may sow the

good seed of the kingdom there. If he have shewn us our extreme danger, by reason of our sin, it is only that we may escape that danger, by seeking salvation at his hand. If he have made us sensible of our disease, as filthy and polluted sinners, it is only in order that he may heal us by the power of his Grace. In one word, if he have given us repentance, it is only that we may receive forgiveness of sins, as the purchase of his precious blood. And although we dare not say, as too many now do, that if we experience true repentance, we are in the favour of God already: Yet this we must say, upon the authority of God's holy word, that every penitent sinner is most affectionately invited to come and receive pardon and peace, without money and without price: That all possible encouragement is given to them in the promises of the Gospel: That the door of mercy and salvation is opened to them: And that there is not a single word in the whole Bible which makes against them, if they understood it right. True repentance then, is our preparation for receiving pardon; and may be considered as a fore-runner of it, as an earnest of the blessing itself, as we may be well assured, that it is the design of our gracious God to receive us into his favour and family, and to make us happy in his love. It may be very difficult to convince a poor trembling sinner, in the time of his trouble, that these things are so: And this might be the case with Hezekiah, when he said, he "chattered like a crane or a swallow." Yet as he (when delivered) clearly saw the love of God manifested towards him, in permitting even that extreme sorrow to come upon him; so likewise will every pardoned sinner see the same thing, however deep and painful his convictions may have been. The case of an awakened sinner, very much resembles that of the sons of Jacob, when standing before Joseph, their brother. They were deeply conscious of their guilt, and they said one to another in their own language, (which they supposed he did not understand,) "We are verily guilty concerning our brother, in that we saw the anguish of his soul, when he besought us and we would not hear; therefore is this distress come upon us." They looked upon Joseph, as an austere man, and they well knew that he, being governor of the country, did not want power to punish them, and they were filled with painful fear and with dreadful apprehensions, lest he should do it. But all the while Joseph felt nothing in his mind towards them but the tenderest pity-the sincerest love. And when he could refrain, no longer, instead of pronouncing the dreadful sentence

upon them, which they but too justly feared, he said, "I am Joseph your brother; fear not." How must these men be astonished! How ashamed and confounded, when they heard these words!

So may a penitent stand, in the presence of an nfinitely gracious, yet an infinitely just and holy God. Deeply conscious of his own guilt, and at the same time being led to think more of the justice and holiness of God, than of his mercy and love in Christ Jesus. He may be filled with painful fears, and with the most distressing apprehensions, lest the heavy displeasure of God should fall upon him. But while he is thus fearing and trembling, the Lord Jesus feels nothing towards him but the tenderest pity and compassion, and the most unfeigned love. And he will speedily say to every such person, "I am Jesus, thy Saviour: I have died upon the tree, in order to redeem and to save thy soul; therefore, fear not." What an happy surprise will such a person feel! What joyful astonishment must fill his whole soul when this is the case!

The love of God evidently appears, when he graciously manifests himself as a God who pardoneth iniquity, transgression, and sin ;-when the Gospel of Christ is made the power of God unto salvation, to the believing soul. All the steps which the Lord takes, previous to this, lead to the same thing. Infinite wisdom and boundless love attended the whole; but the poor distressed soul could not see it. But now every veil is taken away, and he saith with Hezekiah, "Thou hast in love to my soul delivered it. For thou hast cast all my sins behind thy back."

From what has been said, let careless sinners learn, that it is an evil thing and bitter to sin against the Lord; and that however they may now say, "Tush, God careth not for it," and cry" peace, peace," to themselves; yet sooner or later their sin will find them out: And whatever transient pleasure, whatever momentary delight sin may afford them, it will be bitterness in the end. Happy would it be for these men to hearken to the warning voice of God now, so that they may return to him by true repentance, before it be too late. How many there are, who if a message of the same kind should be sent to them by the Lord, which was sent to Hezekiah, they would be as deeply alarmed as he was. Let them improve the present time, and prepare for that awful hour which will very soon overtake them. And from the consideration of God's gracious dealings with Hezekiah, let every poor penitent sinner be encouraged to hope for the


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same mercy at his blessed hand. He is no respecter of persons, he therefore will fulfil his faithful word unto all who return to him. They surely shall obtain pardon and peace, rede nption and salvation; and then, as Hezekiah did, so sha:] they praise the Lord for his goodness, and declare his wonderful mercy and love which they now enjoy. We now proceed to consider,

Fourthly, The blessing which Hezekiah received at the hand of the Lord, which he thus expresses: "Thou hast delivered my soul from the pit of corruption, for thou hast cast all my sins behind thy back." Hezekiah, no doubt, esteemed it as a singular mercy, that the Lord added to his days fifteen years: And more especially so, as this blessing was given in answer to prayer, and was also attended with a miracle-that of the sun going back ten degrees, which the Lord condescendingly granted, as an assurance that his days should be thus lengthened. Yet here he takes notice only of the Lord's goodness extended to his better part,-his precious and immortal soul: "Thou hast cast all my sins behind thy back." Now if the guilt of sin, lying upon his conscience, was the principal, if not the sole cause of his sore trouble and bitter distress, as seems evidently to have been the case; then it is quite natural to suppose, that he would be chiefly affected with the consideration of the removal of that which was the cause of his deep sorrow, and with the blessing of pardon and peace, which the Lord had given him. So he certainly was, and accordingly speaks with the fullest assurance, without the least doubt or fear, having a clear and lively sense of the love of God upon his mind: "Thou hast cast all my sins behind thy back;"-that is to say, thou hast received me into thy favour, and freely and graciously forgiven all my past offences.

In this gracious manner, the God of love dealt with Hezekiab, king of Judah. But have we any ground from the sacred Scriptures, to believe, that he will deal with us in the same manner? This very many absolutely deny, and do all they can to persuade us, that there is no such blessing to be received: And many others are in doubt concerning it, not being able to satisfy themselves on which side the truth lies. Let us then, in the fear of the Lord and with a single eye to his glory, enquire, Whether we may expect to be as highly favoured as Hezekiah was? In so doing, we will abide by the word of God, as we know that there he hath revealed his will to us. And if we can make it clearly appear from thence, (as I doubt not but we can), then may we also have cause to praise the Lord for his infinite mercy

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