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nothing to plead in their own defence, when the Judge shall say to them, “ Ye “ would not come unto me, that you « might have life.” Long did I stand at the door and knock, loudly did I call upon you to turn and live: but ye set at nought all my counsel, and would have none of my reproof; therefore now eat the fruit of your own doings, and fill yourselves with your own devices. Because when I called, ye refused; when I stretched out my hand, ye did not regard; therefore do I laugh at your calamity, and mock when your fear cometh, and leave you to inherit that wrath which you trea. sured up for yourselves, while mercy courted your acceptance, but did not prevail.
Thus far I have spoken for the conviction and reproof of those who have hitherto been abusing the divine patience in the manner described in my text : and if such transgressors still remain unmoved, it is not because the considerations I have suggested want weight, but because they want feeling. May the exalted Prince and Saviour, who
alone can give the spirit and grace of repentance,“ open their eyes, and turn them “ from darkness to light, and from the “ power of Satan unto God, that they may “ receive forgiveness of fins, and inheri-, “ tance among them which are sanctified “ through faith that is in him.”
U PON the whole, let each of us give unto God the glory of his patience, and acknowledge, with humble gratitude, his sparing mercy towards himself in particular. O my friends! with what multiplied provocations are we all chargeable ? Let us pitch upon the most innocent day of our life since we came to the full exercise of reason, and say, if we dare, that we are willing to have our final state determined by the behaviour of that one day, according to the measure of legal justice. Can conscience remind us of nothing that needs forgiveness or pardoning mercy ? Surely none of us will be so hardy as to say this : our own hearts do, and must condemn us : how guilty then must we appear in the fight of that God who is greater than our heart, and knoweth all things ? Were we chargeVOL. II. . E .
able with nothing worse than omissions of duty, yet these alone might justly have stopped the current of his beneficence, nay brought down his wrath upon such un- , faithful and negligent servants ; but when to these we add our many sins of commifsion, our sins against knowledge, conviction, and reproof, how great is their amount? how heinous their demerit? How astonishing then is the patience of God! -The faints in heaven are amazed at it; “ the souls of them that were slain for “ the testimony which they held,” who are better acquainted with the nature of God, and the order of his government, than we can be, are represented in the book of the Revelations, ch. vi. ro. as expressing the greatest surprise at the flowness of his wrath ; nay, as being at a loss to reconcile his patience with his holiness and truth. “ They cry with a loud voice, saying, How “ long, O Lord, holy and true, dost thou “ not judge, and avenge our blood on them “ that dwell on the earth?” And it can be owing to nothing but the grosseft infenfibility, if our hearts are not filled with a
mazement at those treasures of mercy which have already been expended upon us, and the overflowings of that goodness by which we are at this moment supported and preserved. How many of our companions have long ago been summoned away to receive their doom? yet we still live in the arms of mercy. How often has death been presented to our view, and the sentence (in our own apprehension just ready to be executed, Cut down this cumberer of the ground; when, lo! mercy interposed, and prevailed for a farther respite and trial ?-What shall we say then? “ He is God, and not man; " and therefore it is that we are not consu“ med.”_0 let our fouls, and all that is within us, be stirred up to bless him, because he is good, and hath not executed sentence against our multiplied offences..
Let convinced finners, in particular, take encouragement from the patience and longsuffering of God. It is one of the deadly artifices of the adversary, who continually “ goeth about seeking whoin he may de“ vour,” to discourage the newly-awakened soul, by whispering, that the season of mercy, is past, that the door is shut, and he is come too late. But be not disinayed, you are on the way to the fountain of love and grace ; go on, and you shall find more than it is pofsible for you to conceive.--You are going to him," who came to seek and to save that “ which was loft ; " -- that good Shepherd who laid down his life for the sheep, by whose merit and intercession you have been kept alive to this hour; who invites the chief of finners to come to him: and hath expressly said, “ Him that cometh to me, “ I will in no wise cast out."--He is “ the “ Lamb of God," meekness and gentleness itself." He will not break the bruised reed, “ nor quench the smoking flax.” Did he fpare you, while your heart was as hard as a stone and will he destroy you, when, . by the convincing influences of his own Spirit, it is softened, nay broken, with forrow ?-Impossible !-Go forward into his presence ; cast yourself at his feet; implore his protection ; and as God liveth, thy soul shall be safe.