Pagina-afbeeldingen
PDF
ePub

How precious also are thy thoughts unto me," looking for the mercy of our Lord Jesus O God! how great is the sum of them! If Christ unto eternal life." I should count them, they are more in num- What a character does Paul give of Onesiber than the sand: when I awake, I am still phorus; of his charity, and fortitude, and zeal; with thee.” They admire his excellences, yet he prays, “The Lord grant that he may and feel his goodness. They have seen him tind mercy of the Lord in that day!” Even he in the sacrifice of the cross; and on Calvary needed mercy, and would need it to the last, have complied with a demand so long resisted and then more than ever. And where is the before: “ My son, give me thy heart.” There man, however holy, that would think of that are many dear to them on earth, and more in ! day,” and not sink into despair and horror, but heaven; but they can say, “Whom have I in for the prospect of mercy! “ If thou, Lord heaven but thee, and there is none upon earth shouldest mark iniquities, O Lord, who shall that I desire beside thee!" For though they stand ?". do not love himn perfectly, they love him su- III. THE LORD HAS BEEN ALWAYS ACCUSpremely. There is noone they so fear to offend. TOMED TO DEAL MERCIFULLY WITH THEM. It There is no one whose favour they so long to is not a single, casual, occasional exercise ; enjoy: "His lovingkindness is better than but a well known and invariable wispensation, life. Their eyes run down with tears because to which David refers: "Be merciful unto men keep not his law. They delight to speak me, as thou usest to do unto those that love good of his name, and recommend him to thy name.” others; while they glory in the success of his It cannot be otherwise, if his word is the cause; and holding themselves at his disposal, faithful word; for he has promised it. He ask, “ Lord, what wilt thou have me to do?" has said to every believer, “I will surely do

II. His merCY IS THE SOURCE OF ALL THE thee good. All the ways of the Lord' are GOODNESS THEY EXPERIENCE. It is not neces- mercy and truth unto such as keep his covesary so set aside compulsion; for Deity can nant and his testimonies. For the Lord God suffer no impression from external power: is a sun and shield: the Lord will give grace and what is constrained has no value in it. and glory: no good thing will he withhold But the great opponent of mercy is merit: from them that walk uprightly.”. Here is and for this, man, who is naturally as proud the rule by which he has bound himself to as he is poor, will always strive to find a place. act towards his people. And that his conAnd yet where will he find it? Only in the duct has been conformable to these assurances creed of ignorance, and presumption: not, 1 even their enemies have been judges. They am sure, in the testimony of the Scriptures, have frequently been so struck with the disor in the language of believers. They “ look plays of his goodness, as inwardly to venerate to the rock whence they were hewn, and to the godly, and to commend their condition. the hole of the pit whence they were digged." " Verily, there is a reward for the righteous." They know that it was the mercy of God “How amiable are thy tents, O Jacob, and alone that brought them in the state which thy tabernacles, O Israel! Let me die the now attracts his regard, and inspired them death of the righteous, and let my last end be with all those dispositions in which he de- like his.” Thus it is said, “ All that see them lights: “not by works of righteousness which shall acknowledge them, that they are the seed we have done, but according to his mercy he which the Lord hath blessed.” But they themsaved us; by the washing of regeneration, selves are the best judges of the Divine conand renewing of the Holy Ghost.” Nor is duct towards them. They can judge spiritualtheir consciousness of unworthiness confined ly; and see mercy in dispensations which may to their natural condition ; but since they appear to the world as the effects of wrath. have known Gol, or rather bave been known With what pleasure do they look back, and of him, they see enough in their daily walk compare the words of his mouth with the and temper, in their non-improvement of works of his hands; “as we have heard, so means and privileges, yea, in their very du have we seen, in the city of our God!" What ties, to convince them that mercy is the prin- Ebenezers have they reared as they passed ciple of God's conduct towards them. Hence, along; inscribing on each, “Hitherto hath as they are spared from year to year, they the Lord helped me!". How often, among exclaim, “ It is of the Lord's mercies that we all their complaints of themselves, have they are not consumed, because his compassions looked up, and said ; " Thou hast dealt well fail not." Hence, in their suferings, they see with thy servant, O Lord !" Time would fail that they have no right to complain; but much me, to specify all the instances in which he reason to acknowledge under the severest has been used to deal mercifully with them. trials, " He has not dealt with us after our -Ile has been accustomed to appear for them sins, nor rewarded us according to our iniqui- in their temporal exigences; and though they ties.” If they pray, it is with the sentiment have not had the miracle of the ravens, and of Daniel : “ We do not present our suppli- the meal, they have had the mercy: “ Their cations before thee for our righteousness, but bread has been given them, and their water for thy great mercies.” If they hope, it is a has been sure; and he has blessed their bread and their water.”—He has been accustomed them mercy was to excite our application, to indulge them, peculiarly with his own pre- and to pull up despair by the roots. And sence, when creatures have failed them by hence the characters of many of those who death, or weakness, or perfidy: so that they have found mercy. In acts of grace among could say, “Nevertheless the Lord stood by men, the principal offenders are always exme: I am not alone, because the Father is cepted ; and the reason is, not only because with me.”—He has been accustoined to coun- they are more deserving of punishment, but teract their fears, and surpass their expecta- their pardon would be dangerous, by being so tions When they said in their haste, “ I am exemplary: but God has, in every age, called cut off from before his eyes;" he has “heard and saved some of the vilest of the vile; and the voice of their supplication, when they so far from his wishing to conceal it, one of cried unto him: at even-tide it has been light: these ringleaders, in his name, says, Hov. he has turned the shadow of death into the beit for this cause I obtained mercy, that in morning.” What appalled them in appre- me first Jesus Christ might show forth all hension they endured with cheerfulness: "as longsuffering for a pattern to them which the sufferings abounded, the consolations” should hereafter believe on him to life evermore than counterbalanced them; and their lasting.” When convinced of sin, and feelgreatest gains sprang from their greatest ing our desert, and urged to seek for the losses. He has been accustomed to bear with greatest of all blessings, from him whom we their ignorance and weakness; to “help their have offended and provoked; it is not a little infirmities;" to " uphold them with his free encouragement we need. And have we not Spirit;" to “show them his power and glory everlasting consolation and good hope through in the sanctuary ;" to say to their souls, “I grace? Let us think of the gift of his dear am thy salvation.” But where shall I stop? Son. Let us remember the promises and in

vitations of the Gospel. Let us reflect upon “My Saviour, my Almighty Friend, When I begin thy praise,

the examples of his grace. Let us consider Where will the growing numbers end, the invariableness of his regard to prayerThe numbers of thy grace ?"

This poor man cried, and the Lord heard All his dealings with his people have been him, and delivered him out of all his trouble" nothing but mercy. He was merciful to them They looked unto him, and were lightenwhen he frowned, as well as when he smiled. ed, and their faces were not ashamed."When he denied, as well as when he indulged. “He never said to the seed of Jacob, Seek ye When he took away, as well as when he me in vain.” But, gave. What use ought we to make of this? V. WE SHOULD BE ANXIOUS TO SECURE THE

IV. His MERCY TOWARDS THEM SHOULD MERCY THAT IS PECULIAR TO THEM; and not ENCOURAGE US TO IMPLORE MERCY FOR OUR be satisfied with his common kindness. * Be

“ Be merciful unto me, as thou merciful unto me, as thou usest to do unto usest to do unto those that love thy name.” those that love thy name." “I ask nothing but what thou hast been in the God is good to all; and his tender mercies constant practice of giving. I come after are over all his works. The sun is called his millions, every one of whom has said, “It is sun; and he makes it to shine upon the evil good for me to draw near to God. O taste and upon the good ; and sendeth his rain upon and see that the Lord is good : blessed is the the just and upon the unjust. David had reman that trusteth in him.'"

ceived from God a crown—and so had PhaBeggars naturally love to go to a door raoh long before him. David had geniuswhere others have been successful, especially so had Ahithophel, who hung himself. Na. where none have ever been sent empty away. tural talents and earthly possessions and enThis, indeed, is never the case among men. joyments are common to the righteous and No earthly benefactor, however disposed, can the wicked ; and no man can infer the love or afford universal relief. But we have every hatred of God from them—David prays for thing to inspire our application at "a throne those benefits which are tokens for good and

In what he has done through pledges of Divine friendship. every age, we see his resources and his Again. He knew that as ordinary mercies bounty. We see “ the same Lord over all, were not distinguishing, neither were they and rich unto all that call upon hiin."—And satisfying. The greatest abundance of them we know that he is unchangeably the same. cannot fill the void within; and tell the im. “ His hand is not shortened that it cannot mortal mind to rove no more. There is no save, nor his ear heavy that it cannot hear." true peace nor joy but as we are able to say -And we know that all those who have been of the God of all grace, " Thou art the saved and blessed by him, had no more to re- strength of my heart, and my portion for commend them to his regards than we have, ever. but originally stood before him “ wretched Yea, temporal blessings may even draw us and miserable, and poor, and blind, and na- astray, and become our sin and ruin. Hos ked.”_We go a step further, and we say, many are there now in hell cursing their sucthat one end God had in view in showing cess in business, because it set their affections

SELVES.

of grace.'

Where is the shadow of that Rock

on things below; their honour, because it that run the race that is set before them, and flattered their pride; their plenty, because it fight the good fight of faith. Therefore he fed their passions and lusts" The prosperity will not expect, nor desire, the Divine blessof fools shall destroy them.”

ing without prayer: for it has always been To which we may add, that these outward God's way to make his people sensible of blessings, however good in themselves, are their wants, and to give in answer to prayer. not durable,

They are “ the meat that Therefore he will not expect nor desire to perisheth." They are " the treasure that reach heaven without difficulties : for his moth and rust can corrupt, and thieves break people have always had to deny themselves, through and steal.” They are “but for a and take up their cross. If they have not moment." “O give me," says the man like- been chosen in the furnace of affiction, they minded with David, "give me the ineat that have been purified. God had one Son withendureth unto everlasting life. Give me the out sin, but he never had one without sorrow: "treasure in heaven, where neither moth nor " he scourgeth every son whom he receivrust can corrupt, nor thieves break through eth.” “ Yes," says the suppliant before us, and steal.' Tell me that the eternal God is “secure me their everlasting portion, and I my refuge, and that underneath are the ever- am willing to drink of the cup they drank of, lasting arms.' What are the wants of my and to be baptized with the baptism they body to the necessities of my soul! Not only were baptized with. I want no new, no byis every thing here going, but— I am going! path to glory. I am content to keep the I am a dying creature; I have nothing, if I King's high road. 6 Be merciful unto me, as have not a hope beyond the grave. I want thou usest to do unto those that fear thy pardon. I want holiness. I want the ear- name—I ask no more. nests of the Spirit. I want a better country. I conclude by observing, that with regard There are those who feel a peace which pass to some of you this prayer has been answered. eth all understanding; and rejoice in hope of You are not able, perhaps, to ascertain prethe glory of God.

cisely how it was at first awakened in your

bosom: but it was awakened ; and made you That from the sun defends thy flock ?

to differ from others, and from yourselves. Fain would I feed among thy sheep, From that hour it has been the prevailing peAmong them rest, among them sleep.'

tition ; nor has it been offered in vain—He • Be merciful unto me, as thou usest to do has looked upon you, and been merciful unto onto those that love thy name.'”

you, ás he useth to do unto those that love his Lastly, WE SHOULD BE CONTENT IF God name. Be not afraid to acknowledge it. Be DEALS WITH US AS HE HAS ALWAYS DEALT humble, but be grateful; and say, to the

While he could not be praise and glory of his grace, “ Thou hast satisfied with any thing less than their por- given me the heritage of those that fear thy tion, David asks for nothing better; he im- name. plores no singular dispensation in his favour, I hope some of you are beginning to make no deviation from the accustomed methods of this prayer your own. The world does not his grace.“ Be merciful unto me, as thou appear to you now as it once did; your conusest to do unto those that love thy name.”nexion with it is loosened, and you long to This was the disposition of Paul: “ if by any form an alliance with a better. You wish to means I might attain unto the resurrection of be companions of them that fear God. And the dead.” He did not prescribe, but submit. what should hinder you? They will receive The end was every thing; the way he left, you with delight; they are all saying, “ Come with a holy indifference, to God. And it is with us, and we will do you good; for the always a good proof that your convictions Lord hath spoken good concerning Israel." and desires are from the operation of the Spi- " And I will receive you, and be à Father rit when you are willing to conform to God's unto you, and ye shall be my sons and daughorder. What is this order? It is to dispense ters, saith the Lord Almighty." If he is not his blessings connectedly. It is never to jus- with us, he is not far off; for “the Lord is tify without sanctifying ; never to give a title nigh unto them that call upon him, to all to heaven without a meetness for it. Now that call upon him in truth.” But he is with the man that is divinely wrought upon will you. It is he that has excited the desire you not expect, or desire the one, without the feel; and “He will fulfil the desire of them other. Therefore he will not expect or de- that fear him: he also will hear their cry, sire the blessing of God without obedience: and will save them. Blessed are they that because it is always God's way to connect the do hunger and thirst after righteousness, for comforts of the Holy Ghost with the fear of they shall be filled.” the Lord; and, if his children transgress his But what can we say to those who never laws, to visit their transgressions with a rod. yet in earnest made the prayer of David Therefore he will neither expect nor desire their own! In a little time, you must leave his blessing without exertion: for it has al- all your possessions and enjoyments, relations ways been God's way to crown only those and friends, to enter an eternal world, and

WITH HIS PEOPLE.

to stand before the judgment-seat of Christ. it is the grace of God; it is the water of Then you will see the value of what you which our text speaks—"The water that I now despise. Then the mercy peculiar to his shall give him shall be in him a well of water people will appear the one thing needful. springing up into everlasting life.” Then the saved of the Lord will shout, “O Observe, I. Its DONOR: " I shall give give thanks unto the Lord, for he is good, for him.” II. ITS RESIDENCE: “ It shall be in his mercy endureth for ever!" While you him.” III. ITS ACTIVITY: "a well of water will exclaim, o that we had prized that springing up.". IV. ITS TENDENCY : “ into mercy, and sought after it when it was at- everlasting life.". tainable!

I. And who is THE DONOR? Yonder poor Then, alas ! it will be too late. But it is man, who has not where to lay his head; not too late at present. You are yet in the who is relieved by the alms of' widows; who land of the living. With the Lord there is is seen weary with his journey, and asking mercy; and with him there is plenteous re- the refreshment of a cup of cold water! And demption. Be prevailed upon to seek him does He profess to have the disposal of the while he may be found, and to call upon him blessings of salvation !-Yes; the water that while he is near.— You will not say, I know " I shall give him.” not how to seek him. Jesus is the way. And it is not profession only. Nothing Prayer is the breathing of desire. Even disgraces a man more than his undertaking words are not necessary to inform Him who what he is unable to accomplish, and prosearches the heart, and knoweth what is the mising what he cannot bestow. But our Sainind of the spirit. But you are furnished viour raises no visionary expectations. He with words. Borrow language that has ne- can more than realize every hope he excites. ver been refused ; avail yourselves of peti- He is mighty to save. He is able to save to tions which have been crowned with infinite the uttermost. He was delivered for our success. Pray, with the prodigal, “ Father, offences, and raised again for our justificaI have sinned against Heaven, and before tion. He obtained eternal redemption for thee, and am not worthy to be called thy us; and, as the reward of his obedience unto son; make me as one of thy hired servants. death, he was invested with the whole dis Pray, with the publican, is God be merciful pensation of the Spirit: “For it pleased to me a sinner." Pray, with sinking Peter, the Father that in him should all fulness “Lord, save: I perish.” Pray, with the dwell." king of Israel, “ Be merciful unto me, as thou What a complex character is here! How usest to do unto those that love thy name.” abased, and yet how glorious! How poor,

and yet how rich! How dependent, and yet

how all-sufficient !-Yes; by him who is now DISCOURSE LXXXIX. saying to the woman of Samaria, "Give me

to drink,” are all the regions of heaven peo

pled! All that are brought into the glorious THE WATER OF LIFE.

liberty of the sons of God, acknowledge that

he redeemed them. All that are saved, own The water that I shall give him shall be in that in him they have righteousness and him a well of water springing up into ever

strength. All that are replenished, whether lasting life.-John iv. 14.

living under the Law, or under the Gospel, It is a mark of true wisdom to value ob- look to him as the only source of their supé jects according to their real worth. It is child- plies, and exclaim, “Of his fulness have all ish, it is foolish, to be taken with toys and we received, and grace for grace.” And be trifles. And yet who has not incurred this it remembered, that after all he has communireproach? How many things not only in- cated he remains the same. For his fulness vite, but, alas! engross our attention, which is not the light of a lamp, which, however are by no means essential, or even important large, shines, not far, and is soon extinguishto our welfare ! We ought to be ashamed ed; but the light of the sun, which, after of the impression they make upon us. They shining for ages, and blessing so many myare unworthy of our hopes and fears; joys riads with his beams, shines with undiminishand sorrows; and angels must blush to see ed vigour. His fulness is not the resource of what exertions and sacrifices rational and a vessel, which, however capacious, will by immortal beings make, in order to gain vani- frequency of application be soon exhausted; ty and vexation of spirit.

but the fulness of a fountain, which, though My dear hearers! many things are desira- always running, is always full. ble, and some things are useful; but one In addition to this sufficiency, we may rething is needful,” absolutely needful; need- mark his appointment. He has not only a ful to every character; needful in every con- fulness to relieve all our wants, but he has it dition and in every period; needful for life for this very purpose. “Having ascended up and needful for death ; needful for time and on high, he received gifts for men, even for needful for eternity. It is genuine religion; the rebellious also.” “ Him hath God exalt

1

ed with his right hand, to be a Prince and a Especially in one so dear. It is indeed Saviour, for to give repentance to Israel, and painful to be under obligation to an enemy, forgiveness of sins."

but not to a friend. To one we love, the We must also notice his disposition. In burden of gratitude is a pleasant load. Sathe gifts which God bestows upon his crea- viour Jesus! we love thee above all-to Thee tures, he has in view, not only the good of we owe all our salvation, and all our hopes. the receiver, but the welfare of others. Our And we rejoice to think that through eternal talents, therefore, whatever be their nature ages we shall be bound to serve thee, and or degree, are to be considered as so many exclaim, “ Unto him that loved us, and washobligations to usefulness. For instance-a ed us from our sins in his own blood, and man has wealth; but of this wealth he is the hath made us kings and priests unto God and steward, and not the proprietor : he has it to his Father; to him be glory and dominion for feed the hungry; to clothe the naked; to in- ever and ever. Amen." struct the ignorant ; to spread the Scriptures;

II. ITS RÉSIDENCE. • The water that I to send forth missionaries: "Charge them shall give him, shall be in him.that are rich in this world, that they be not The internal principle of religion is not to highminded, nor trust in uncertain riches, but be opposed to external practice. Some tell in the living God, who giveth us richly all us, as they are out of sight, that their hearts things to enjoy; that they do good, that they are good; though their lives are not quite be rich in good works, ready to distribute, what they ought to be. But a good heart willing to communicate" —But he is selfish will be accompanied and evinced by a good and ungenerous: he refuses to give, or he life: “a good man, out of the good treasure gives with reluctance; while he expends his of his heart, bringeth forth good things.” It money in extravagance, or hoards it up in is in vain to tell us of your experience; and the miser's bag; and thus the wise and kind refer us for proofs of your religion to a numdesign of Providence is eluded. But donation ber of views and feelings beyond our reach falls in with the Saviour's disposition. He is —your religion is to be visible; your light is fit to be intrusted with unsearchable riches. so to shine before men that they may sec He has a heart to give his heart is made your good works, and glorify your Father of tenderness; his bowels melt with love." which is in heaven. He is in his element, as well as in his office, Yet, divine things must be known and felt while he relieves the distressed. This ability before they can govern us.

Christian exto succour was “the joy set before him:" for perience, therefore, precedes Christian practhis, " he endured the cross, and despised the tice; and internal principle is essential to real shame.” He was willing that his soul should godliness. Without this there will be no be made “a sacrifice for sin”-if he could course of consistent, unvarying obedience; “see the travail of his soul.”. Accordingly and if there was, yet there would be no value he was assured that his death would not be in it; for the action devoid of the motive is in vain; that his benevolence should be com- nothing. Here, therefore, God begins: he pletely gratified: all nations being blessed in begins with the heart; and I admire the way him, and all nations calling him blessed. he takes to secure holiness and good works..

And did any, in the days of his flesh, ad- To purify the streams he cleanses the foundress him in vain ? Had one suppliant only tain; and to make the fruit good he makes been repulsed or sent empty away, the re- the tree good. You cannot gather grapes jection would have been a source of des- from thorns, or figs from thistles: you may, pondency in every age of the world; we indeed, tie a cluster of grapes, or figs, to a should have feared that our case resembled thorn, or a thistle-but they do not look his. But what pretence has any one now to natural there—they do not live there: and perish in despair; when he says, by his con- both the ligature and the fruit will in time duct as well as by his word, "Him that rot off. You may fasten feathers to a wing, cometh unto me, I will in no wise cast out. and a wing to a bird: but the bird can only Whosoever will, let him come, and take of fly by wings growing out of his body, and the water of life freely."

feathers growing out of his wings. Surely Here then, we see, to whom in all our a man is never so likely to avoid all sin as necessities we are to betake ourselves. It is when he is mortified to it; or to obey God, as to Him, who is able, who is appointed, who when he delights in his law after the inward is willing, who is delighted to supply us. man. The religion of some people is all exAnd how much better is it to proclaim such ternal, and we may arrange them in four a Source of relief as this, than to lead men to classes. rely upon themselves And what, but pride, The religion of the first depends on excan make me revolt at such a doctrine? Why ternal occurrences. It may be compared to should I wish to be my own saviour any more a stream produced by a storm, instead of bethan my own creator? Why am I not satis- ing supplied by a spring. The man is seized fied, in grace as well as in nature, to “ live with sickness, and is alarmed—he sends for and move and have my being,” in another? | the minister: he prays; he resolves; he pro

« VorigeDoorgaan »