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and insinuate that God has no mercy in store for you, so that you are ready to conclude that you are almost a condemned soul, consigned over to remediless woe; still your case is not absolutely desperate ; even yet there is relief to be found: "Christ is mighty, and able to save them to the uttermost that come unto God by him ";" so that, notwithstanding every discouragement, there is no reason for despair.
There is full and free and eternal forgiveness with God, "and he waits to be gracious unto you." Jehovah invites you to debate the matter with him; in order to shew, that, if you are truly penetrated with sorrow for your sins, your fears of being cast off are utterly unfounded. "Come, now, and let us reason together, saith the Lord: though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they be red like crimson, they shall be as wool." Washed in the atoning blood of Christ, the foulest crimes lose their impurity, and are freely pardoned, through his all-prevailing merits.
Behold, then, ye that are bowed down with the cumbrous load of your sins, who lament "the plague of your own hearts," "there is balm in Gilead; there is a Physician there'," whose skill is fully adequate to the removal of your disease, however inveterate. See!"there is mercy with the Lord, and plenteous redemption."
Still, methinks, I hear you say," Though I am ready to admit the truth of these representations, yet I question whether the mercy of God can reach a case so aggravated as mine. Would it not be presumptuous in me to hope for what I do not deserve?"
Know, O sinner, for thy comfort, that pardon is not withheld on account of any peculiar guilt in offenders, ü Heb. vii. 25. * Isa, i. 18.
'Jer. viii. 22.
nor is it exercised for any merit in the object. Salvation is of free grace; a favour bestowed on the most unworthy, through the redemption of Christ". Come then, humble, disconsolate soul, and lift up thine eyes to Heaven! Who are those countless myriads of holy spirits that stand before the throne of God, exulting in bliss? They were once polluted by sin, laden with guilt, harassed with fears, and ready to despond; in a word, they were some of them altogether as vile and abominable and wretched as you can possibly be: they were all as wicked by nature, and some of them as bad in practice, as yourself. There is the idolatrous, and cruel, and bloody Manasseh, who was the terror of his country. There is the perfidious Apostle Peter, who basely denied his Divine Master with oaths and execrations. There are several of the depraved Corinthians, who were once a reproach and scandal to human nature. There, too, you may see some of those Jerusalem sinners who imbrued their hands in the blood of the Son of God. "All these, having washed their robes, and made them white in the blood of the Lamb," shine conspicuously among the spirits of just men made perfect; the very thought of which should revive the heart of a drooping sinner. In fine, if you examine those multitudes which now inhabit the regions of immortal purity, you will find sinners of every sort and description, who have been made recipients of matchless grace. So that, be your sins more in number than the stars in the firmament, or heavier than the mountains, yet the free forgiveness of a gracious God transcends them all: "For thus saith the Lord, Let the wicked forsake his ways, and the unrighteous man his thoughts, and let him return unto "Eph. i. 7.
the Lord, and he will have mercy upon him; and to our God, for he will abundantly pardon. For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, saith the Lord. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts". Let this be your confidence and joy, that God willeth not the death of a sinner, but that he should repent and live."
6. And, oh! how inexpressibly happy are you, O contrite souls! who are acquainted with the pardoning goodness of your God! Who can fully set forth the joy, and peace, and satisfaction which you experience, in the Scriptural assurance of the remission of your sins a pardon marked with the seal of God, whose sons ye are, and with whom ye shall reign in life eternal? But, having had many trespasses forgiven you, your love should be great in return. The unutterable sensations of a criminal, who should receive a reprieve from his offended sovereign at the very moment when he was going to be executed, can but feebly represent the feelings of gratitude which should inflame your hearts with affection towards your Redeemer. You were once condemned rebels; and must have endured the awful vengeance of the Divine law, had not Christ died to procure your pardon.
"Go, and sin no more. Let the loving-kindness of God, in forgiving you, work in your souls a deep abhorrence of vice, and a desire to cherish and prac→ tise every Christian virtue and be always ready to compassionate your offending brother; since God, for Christ's sake, hath forgiven you." Thus, being zealous for the honour of the Lord in this life, he Isa. lv. 9.
will ratify your pardon at the great day of reckoning, and award you a "crown of glory that fadeth not away."
ON FAITH-ITS FRUITS AND EFFECTS.
Gal. v. 6. For in Jesus Christ, neither circumcision availeth any thing, nor uncircumcision; but faith which worketh by love.
HUMAN faith is the giving credence to the report of another, concerning things which a man has seen or heard. Our belief of his statement increases or diminishes, in proportion as the circumstance which he relates to have happened is credible or incredible, and according to the integrity and ability of the person who affirms it.
Upon this kind of faith, arising from the testimony of others, many of the most common and important affairs of life are conducted. The judge is guided in passing the sentence of acquittal or condemnation, by the credit which he attaches to the evidence of competent witnesses. In the same way, we credit the narration of a thousand occurrences, which, on' aecount of distance of time and place, we have no opportunity of being otherwise assured of.
Divine faith is built on higher grounds, even on the express declarations and authority of God in his word. If the knowledge and fidelity of a fallible creature entitle him to belief, how much more the testimony of the infallible God? The hearts of men are so deceitful, that we cannot always repose confidence, in their assertions. Besides, their means of obtaining John v. 9."
correct information are often very slender; and thus they may mislead us, through their own imperfect conceptions of what they represent. These objec tions cannot apply to God; who is so unalterably righteous, that he can be under no temptation to falsehood; and so infinitely wise, as to secure him from the possibility of error. His testimony, therefore, is infallibly true, in the highest sense, and demands the unhesitating assent of every one to whom his truth may come.
1. Real faith, then, as exercised in the testimony of God, is a full, implicit, and hearty belief of the whole of his revealed will contained in the Bible; such a belief of it, as powerfully affects a man's mind with a lively persuasion of its reality and importance, and constrains him to act agreeably to it. The Apostle Paul represents it" as the substance of things hoped for; the evidence of things not seen".
Faith gives implicit credit to the Divine veracity, with respect to all those things which God attests; as, the creation of the world, and the fall of man from a state of innocence; the deluge; the crucifixion and resurrection of Christ; the providence of God; the mediation of Jesus in heaven, his coming hereafter to raise the dead and judge the world, and the doctrine of future eternal rewards and punishments. But more particularly, it regards, embraces, and looks for the blessings which God has promised; and thus gives the soul a kind of present possession of" things hoped for." The testimony of the Lord, with reference to the blessings of the Gospel, is so cordially received by faith, that it realizes them to the mind,