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the Deity which appear to have been more conspicuous, we would recommend that they be inspected with peculiar care, entering minutely into all the particulars of each, and viewing in each distinct particular the transcendent mercy of God. Let the psalm before us be particularly noticed in this view as a patterne. When we take only a superficial view of things in the general, we remain unaffected by them: it is by entering into them in the detail, and dwelling on the minutest particulars, that we get our hearts properly affected by them. This therefore we would most earnestly recommend to all who would obtain a due sense of the mercies conferred upon them.
But we must not imagine that the dispensations which have been pleasing to flesh and blood have been our only mercies; for amongst our severest trials will be found, for the most part, our richest mercies. The successive trials of Joseph were of the most painful nature: yet they were all mercies in disguise. If we descend to more trifling incidents, such as Balaam's ass proving restive, and crushing his foot against a wall, and afterwards falling with him, they, as we know, were the very means by which his life was saved? Thus the things which grieve and irritate us at the time may be the most merciful dispensations that we could possibly have received: and we ought to receive them as expressions of God's loves, sent to promote our good in this world, and to work for us an augmented weight of glory in the world to come! Even the darkness and temptations with which our souls may be oppressed, must also be numbered among the means which God in his infinite mercy makes use of for the humbling and quickening, the sanctifying and saving, of our soulsk --] 2. Its everlasting duration
[See how the mercy of God wrought in all the days of old, even from the foundation of the world! Precisely in the same manner it still operates, and shall ever continue to operate, towards all who fear his name?
God will not withdraw it from those who are united unto Christ by faithm --- He may hide his face from them for a season; but with everlasting mercies will he gather them
The repetition of this truth twenty-six times in as many verses is a very sufficient pledge to us that "the gifts and calling of God are without repentance°,” and that “whom he loveth, he loveth to the end P."]
Having contemplated, though so imperfectly, the mercy of our God, we now call upon you,
e ver. 9-22. f Numb. xxxiii. 22--33. 8 Heb. xii. 6. h Rom. viii. 28. i 2 Cor. iv. 17, 18. k Isai. xxvii. 8, 9. and Hos. v. 15. and Ps. xxv. 10. i Ps. ciii. 17. m Ps. lxxxix. 28–36. n Isai. liv. 7-10. ở Rom. xi. 29. P John xiii. 1.
II. To adore it
A tribute of praise and thanksgiving for such mercy is the least that can be demanded of us. And weil may it be demanded; for,
1. It is due from us
[Can we conceive, that, after all the mercies vouchsafed unto us, no return is required? Are we to be as stupid and insensible as beasts? Is this a state that becomes persons who have been redeemed by the blood of God's only dear Son?
Perhaps it will be said by some, I have not yet obtained an interest in Christ : how then can I render thanks for what I have never received? To this we reply, Have you no temporal mercies for which to give thanks? and, if you are not yet partakers of spiritual mercies, have you no reason to thank God for the offer of them, and for not having been yet visited with the judgments which you have so richly merited? Think what is the state of millions who have not committed either more or greater sins than you; and what might at this moment have been your state also, if God in his infinite mercy had not spared you; and given you space for repentance? Do but think of this, and you will want no further incentive to gratitude and thanksgiving. But think also of the offers of salvation now made to you, a salvation free, and full, and everlasting : O! what thanks does this call for at your hands! What if one such offer were now made to those who are shut up under chains of everlasting darkness and despair; would no thanks be expressed by them? I call upon you then to give thanks unto the God of heaven, who yet waiteth to be gracious unto you, and “whose long-suffering you should account to be salvation.”] 2. It is pleasing and acceptable to God
[The acknowledgment so often repeated in the psalm befor us has received more striking tokens of God's approbation than any other that was ever uttered by mortal man: David, knowing how acceptable it would be to God, appointed officers for the express purpose of repeating it in the service of the tabernacle? And, when Solomon had brought the ark of God into the sanctuary that he had prepared for it, and the priests were singing the praises of God in the very words of our text, at that moment, I say, did God descend into the sanctuary, so that the priests could no longer stand to minister there by reason of the overwhelming presence of the Divine glory. Another and no less remarkable testimony of God's approbation was that which was given to Jehoshaphat's use of these words at the time that he was going forth against three confederate armies: at the q 1 Chron. xvi. 41.
I 2 Chron. v. 13.
very instant that the priests began to utter this acknowledgment, God set the three confederate armies against each other, and stirred them up to kill one another; till they were utterly destroyed, without any conflict on the part of Israel s. greater proof can we have of the delight which God feels in the exercise of mercy, and in commending it to the admiration of the whole universe? Begin then this song: continue this song throughout the day: let every fresh occurrence call forth fresh acknowledgments of the mercy of your God: and rest assured, that the more you abound in these expressions of your gratitude, the richer displays you shall have of the Divine glory, and the more entire victory over all your spiritual enemies.]
s 2 Chron. xx. 21-23.
Ps. cxxxviii. 2.
A DEVOUT mind will never want occasions for praising God: but there are some occasions whereon it will find peculiar liberty and enlargement. If, for instance, we have been in deep affliction ; if we have had recourse to God in prayer; if we have laid hold on his promises, and pleaded them before him; and, in particular, if we have had them accomplished to our souls; this process prepares the mind, quickens it, elevates it, and so fills it, that it cannot but express its feelings in gratitude and praise.
David had, under some deep affliction, used these means for relief, and found their efficacy: “In the day when I cried, thou answeredst me, and strengthenedst me with strength in my soula.” Constrained by a sense of this great mercy, he breaks forth into this devout acknowledgment: “I will praise thee with my whole heart : before the gods (that is, in the presence of all the great ones of the earth) will I sing praise unto thee. I will worship towards thy holy temple, and praise thy name for thy lovingkindness and for thy truth (which, in this particular instance, thou hast so signally displayed :) for thou
a ver. 3.
hast magnified thy word above all thy name;" and hast shewn that it shall infallibly be fulfilled to all who trust in it.
From these words I will take occasion to shew, I. What honour God puts upon his word
“He magnifies it above all his name,” that is, above every thing whereby he has made himself known to mortal man. He has revealed himself in part, by his works of Creation and Providence; but far more abundantly by his word. He has sent it to us, 1. As a mirror, to reflect his glory
[" The heavens declare the glory of God; and the firmament sheweth his handy-work b." “ From them may his eternal power and Godhead be clearly seeno." In his providential dealings, also, is much of his wisdom and goodness exhibited. But of his perfections, generally, we can form no idea from these things : of his purposes we can know nothing. The state of the heathen world clearly attests this : for they behold the wonders of creation and providence, as well as we: “ There is no speech nor language where their voice is not heard: their line is gone out into all the earth, and their words unto the end of the world d.” But in the sacred volume all the glory of the Godhead shines : there we are admitted, so to speak, even to the council-chamber of the Most High ; to hear the covenant entered into between the Father and the Son; the Father engaging to give to him a seed, whom he should have for his inheritance, if he, on his part, would “ make his soul an offering for their sins," and, in their nature, expiate the guilt of their iniquities. This mysterious transaction having taken place in the incarnation and death of the Lord Jesus Christ, we behold all the perfections of God united and harmonizing in a way that they never did, nor could, by any other means: we see justice more inexorable, than if it had executed vengeance on the whole human race; and mercy more abundant, than if it had spared the whole human race without any such atonement. There, as it is well expressed, “ Mercy and truth are met together, and righteousness and peace kiss each other?.” Of this great mystery we find not a trace in the whole creation besides: but in the word it is reflected, as in a mirrors; and shines so bright, that the very angels around the throne are made wiser by the revelation of it to the Church"]
b Ps. xix. 1. c Rom. i. 20. d Ps. xix. 3, 4. e Isai. liii. 10. with Ps. xl. 6—8.
f Ps. lxxxv. 10. & 2 Cor. iii. 18. h Eph. iii. 10.
2. As a standard, to which every thing may be referred
[Of God's will we know nothing, but from the word: "We know neither good nor evil from all that is before us." What God requires of us, nothing in creation or providence can inform us : what he will do for us, we cannot ascertain : how he will deal with us in the eternal world, we cannot learn. But, in the sacred volume, all is written as with a sun-beam. There is nothing which God expects us to do for him, which is not there most explicitly declared: nothing which he engages to do for us, that does not form the subject of a distinct promise. The whole of his procedure in the day of judgment is there laid open : the laws by which we shall be judged; the manner in which the testimony, whether against us or in our favour, shall be produced; the grounds on which the sentence of condemnation or acquittal shall be passed; yea, the very state to which every person, either as acquitted or condemned, shall be consigned; all is so clearly made known, that every person, who will judge himself with candour now, may assuredly anticipate his fate. There is nothing left to conjecture. Every man has a standard to which he may refer, for the rectifying of his judgment in every particular: so that nothing can be added, for the instruction of our minds, or the regulation of our future expectations.)
3. As a fountain, from whence all his blessings emanate
[Great blessings, beyond all doubt, flow down to us through the works of creation and providence: in fact, they are incessantly administering to our welfare ; for “God opens his hands, and fills all things living with plenteousness.” Still
, however, the benefits derived from them are only temporal ; whereas those which the inspired volume imparts are spiritual and eternal: from thence we derive all our knowledge of divine truth, and all our hopes of everlasting salvation. Nor is it the knowledge only of truth that we obtain, but the operation and efficacy of it on our souls. There is in divine truth, when applied by the Holy Spirit, a power to wound, to heal, to sanctify, to save! When it comes to the soul with power, the stoutest heart in the universe is made 'to tremble: when it is poured out as balm, the most afflicted creature under heaven is made to leap for joy. Look over the face of the globe, and see how many, who were once under the unrestrained dominion of sin, are now transformed into the image of their God. And then ascend to heaven, and behold the myriads of the redeemed around the throne of God, uniting their hallelujahs to God and
i Ps. xix. 7-11.