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« of him that believeth in Jesus," and by whom the evil of sin is most awfully displayed.
« Ex“cept we repent,” therefore, * we must all
perish ;". for God shews His “mercy and pity" to those who, being made partakers of
“ repent and believe the gospel ;". forgiving mercy being always accompanied with converting power. O let us then “fly for re
fuge to the hope set before us in the gospel, and lay hold on the horns of the altar, for “our “ God is a consuming fire, even a jealous God;" and “ it is a fearful thing to fall into His hands” without faith in the "one Mediator between “ God and man, the man Christ Jesus." For all resistance will be in vain, seeing that “ al“ mighty power" will be employed in “taking “ vengeance on them that know not God, and “ that obey not the gospel of our Lord Jesus “ Christ.” The escape of the impenitent and the unbeliever is impossible; for God has positively declared that “the wicked shall not go “ unpunished.”
On this comfortable truth that “God declareth - His almighty power most chiefly in shewing “ mercy and pity,” we found a petition for His grace, the stream which flows from the fountain of His “mercy and pity.” It is a stream accommodated to various uses. For, like water its emblem, it is adapted both to refreshment and purification. Pardon, justification, sanctification and eternal life, are constituent parts of the stream of grace which issues from the fountain of Divine mercy. But the boon which is
. here specified is the sanctifying influence of the Holy Ghost.
The sanctifying influence of the Holy Ghost is called “ grace," because it is a gratuitous
communication of Divine favour to which we have no claim of merit or congruity. And it is grace indeed which cleanseth a sinner from the “ filthiness of the flesh and spirit,” and enables him to “ perfect holiness in the fear of God;" since, without it, we are and must remain wholly incapacitated for heavenly happiness, and fit only for the abodes of everlasting darkness.
This Divine influence is communicated to its recipients in different degrees, apportioned to the situations and circumstances in which they are placed. Some of the redeemed require for the fulfilment of incumbent duties a larger measure of God's grace than others; and a larger measure is also necessary to the same person at some seasons than at others.
We, who are raised up to serve and honour God at a time when Christianity is the established religion of the country in which we live, and when, of consequence, persecution for the profession of the gospel is deprived of its terrors, have no need of grace for the production of that faith by which miracles were performed in the primitive church, nor of that which enabled the martyrs to rejoice in the midst of excruciating tortures. If we wanted it, we should be warranted to pray for and to expect it. But we all want grace whereby we may be enabled to “run the
way of God's commandments," so as to “ obtain His gracious promises, and be made
partakers of His heavenly treasure." And no conscious sinner will think the communication of such a measure of grace as may effect this purpose to be a small favour. No awakened person will deem a small measure of grace sufficient to secure his salvation. For every believer,
being experimentally acquainted with his own innate depravity and weakness, with the temptations of the world, the flesh, and the devil, with the trials of the Christian pilgrimage, and the difficulties with which his path is on all sides surrounded at every step, will be ready to say, Surely no one ever wanted a larger measure of Divine grace than myself; for no one can have more guilt to be removed, more corruption to be subdued, more temptations to be resisted, or less strength wherewith to oppose them. I am a bruised reed, liable to injury from every invader—an expiring taper which Omnipotence alone, continually exerted in my behalf, can preserve from extinction. Nothing short of that
almighty power” which is “ declared most “chiefly in shewing mercy and pity,” can supply my wants, relieve my necessities, and save my soul. Without hope founded exclusively thereon, I must utterly despair.
The proposed complex object for which we implore grace is deeply interesting to us all. Ability to obey the will of God by “running “ the way of His commandments, so as to ob“ tain His gracious promises and be made par“ takers of His heavenly treasure,” is an object worthy of our ambition, and that demands the utmost fervency of spirit in prayer. This is a blessing without which we must be eternally miserable. If these pages should fall into the hands of any one who is indifferent about it, let him stop and contemplate his own folly. Let him consider how blinded and besotted he is.' Surely the God of this world hath awfully closed his eyes against the light of truth, so as to preclude him from a discovery of his own interests, wants, and miseries. If this prayer as used by
any reader hath passed over feigned lips, let such a one remember that he is an alien from “ the common-wealth of Israel," the members of which all find that without the grace of God they can do nothing.
The mediate object of our petition for grace is an ability to “ run the way of God's com« mandments." God's commandments constitute the way in which we must go, in order that we may reach the city of habitation where we would dwell. But " we have all erred and “ strayed from this way like lost sheep. We “ have done what we ought not to have done; “ and have left undone what we ought to have « done.” And so deplorable is our state, that we have neither the will nor power to return into it; for “ there is no health in us," no spiritual vigour, whereby we can retrace our wanderings so as to regain the path of righteousness. “ The carnal mind is enmity against God: it is “ not subject to the law of God, neither indeed
can be.” The commandments of God are all in direct opposition to the inclinations of fallen man, while he continues in his natural state. They cramp his sensual pleasures, and restrain him from those pursuits which are congenial to his corrupt taste. Therefore he hates them, and turns with disgust from the holy way which they present to his view.
The members of our church are supposed to be converted persons; that is, to be recovered from their wanderings, and to be restored to “ the high way of holiness.” Language is therefore put into their niouths, which is adapted exclusively to persons who are in the way, and desirous of making greater progress in it. Reader, is the supposition founded respecting
thyself? Dost thou discern that the way of God's commandments is the way of pleasantness and the path of peace? Dost thou perceive that thy happiness must be apportioned to thy steadfastness and celerity of progress in this way? Is it the desire of thy soul that thy pace may be quickened ? Happy are those persons who can say with the holy Psalmist,“ how love " I thy law! all the day long is my study in it." · The believer finds himself to be so injured in his spiritual powers, in consequence of his past wanderings, that, when brought into the way of God's commandments, he is so far from being able to run therein as to be incapacitated for walking, or even for crawling in the sacred road. “There is no health in him." He is like the paralytics whom our Lord healed, incapable of lifting up himself and of taking one step in his journey Sion-wards, without continual communications of strength from God.
And even when he begins to move forward, the smallest pebble turns his foot aside, and endangers his stumbling—the merest molehill is insurmountable to his unassisted efforts. He sees the indispensable necessity of going forward, of making progress, yet finds himself so lame, that he cannot move, or at best moves with extreme difficulty and tardiness: What can he do? He adopts the only measure which wisdom dictates; and, instead of lying down in despair, he cries “to the strong for strength”-“ Lord, merci.
. “ fully grant unto me such a measure of thy
grace, that I may run the way of thy « commandments."
If the reader be not conscious of remaining infirmities, it is because the spiritual palsy, under which he labours has deprived him of all