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nal word, as the word is to God, was delivered for me, a vile creature, to the most ignominious treatment, to sufferings the most painful, and the most shameful, that were inflicted on the mearest and basest of mankind.
And when I inquire the cause of this great mystery, when I ask, Why did the almighty God bestow so rich a present on me? Especially, when I apply to revelation for an explication of this mystery, which reason cannot fully explain, I can find no other cause than the compassion of God.
Let the schools take their way, let reason lose itself in speculations, yea, let faith find it difficult to submit to a doctrine, which hath always appeared with an awful solemnity to those who have thought and meditated on it; for my part, I abide by this clear and astonishing, but, at the same time, this kind and comfortable proposition, God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son. When people shew us Jesus Christ in the garden, sweating great drops of blood; when they speak of his trial before Caiaphas and Pilate, in which he was interrogated, insulted and scourged; when they present him to our view on mount Calvary, nailed to a cross, and bowing beneath the blows of heaven and earth; when they require the reason of these formidable and surprizing phenomena, we will answer, It is because God loved mankind; it is because God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son.
2. The patience that God exerciseth towards sinners, is our secord remark. Here, my brethren, I wish, that as many of you as are interested in this article would allow me to omit particulars, and would recollect the histories of your own lives.
My life, says one, is consumed in perpetual indolence. I am a stranger to the practice of private
devotion, and, to speak the truth, I consider it only as a fancy. I attend public worship, only because I would conform to example and custom. I hear the sermons of the ministers of the gospel as amusive discourses, that treat of subjects in which I have no interest. I take no part in the prayers that are addressed to God in behalf of the sick or the poor, the church or the state.
I, saith a second, ever since I have been in the world, have cherished one of the most shameful and criminal passions; sometimes I have been shocked at its turpitude, and sometimes I have resolved to free myself from it: in some of my sicknesses which, I thought, would have ended in death, I determined on a sincere conversion : sometimes a sermon, or a pious book, hath brought me to selfexamination, which hath ended in a promise of reformation : sometimes the sight of the Lord's supper, an institution properly adapted to display the sinfulness of sin, hath exhibited my sin in all its heinousness, and hath bound me by oath to sacrifice my unworthy passion to God. But my corruption hath been superior to all, and yet God hath borne with me to this day.
A third. must say, As for me, I have lived thirty or forty years in a country where the public profession of religion is prohibited, and I have passed all the time without a membership to any church, without ordinances, without public worship, and without the hope of a pastor to comfort me in my dying illness; I have seduced my family by my example; I have consented to the settlement of my children, and have suffered them to contract marriages without the blessing of heaven; my lukewarmness hath caused first their indifference, and last their apostacy, and will perhaps cause and yet God hath borne with me to this day.
Why hath he borne with me? It is not a connivance at sin, for he hates and detests it. It is not ignorance, for he penetrates the inmost recesses of my soul, nor hath a single act, no not a single act, of my rebellion, eluded the search of his all-piercing eye. It is not a want of power to punish a criminal, for he holds the thunders in his mighty hands; ; at his command hell opens, and the fallen angels wait only for his permission to seize their prey. Why then do I yet subsist? Why do I see the light of this day? Why are the doors of this church once more open to me? It is because he commiserates poor sinners. It is because he pitieth me as a father pitieth his children.
3. Let us remark the crimes which God pardoneth. There is no sin excepted, no not one, in the list of those which God hath promised to forgive to true penitents. He pardoneth not only the sins of those whom he hath not called into his visible church, who, not having been indulged with this kind of benefits, have not had it in their power to carry ingratitude to its heighth: but he pardoneth also crimes committed under such dispensations as seem to render sin least pardonable ; he pardoneth sins committed under the dispensation of the law, as he forgiveth those which are committed under the dispensation of nature; and those that are committed under the dispensation of the gospel, as those which are committed under the law. He forgiveth, not only such sins as have been committed through ignorance, infirmity, and inadvertency, but such also as have been committed deliberately, and obstinately. He not only forgiveth the sins of a day, a week, or a month, but he forgiveth also the sins of a great number of years, those which have been formed into an inveterate habit, and have grown old with the sinner. Though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow ; though they be red like crimson, they shall be as wool, Isa. i. 18.
But what am I saying? It is not enough to say that God forgiveth sins, he unites himself to those who have committed them by the most tender and affectionate ties.
4. Our next article therefore regards the familiar friendship to which God invites us. What intimate, close, and affectionate relation canst thou imagine, which God is not willing to form with thee in religion? Art thou affected with the vigilance of a shepherd, who watcheth over, and sacrificeth all his care, and even his life for his flock? This relation God will have with thee: The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want. He maketh me to lie down in green pastures: he leadeth me beside the still waters, Psal. xxiii. 1, 2. Art thou affected with the confidence of a friend, who openeth his heart to his friend, and communicates to him his most secret thoughts, dividing with him all his pleasures and all his pains ? God will have this relation with thee: The secret of the Lord is with them that fear him, Psal. xxv. 14. Shall I hide from Abrahain that thing which I do? Gen. xviii. 17. I call you not servants; for the servant knoweth. not what his Lord doeth : but I have called you friends : for all things that I have heard of my Father, I have made known unto you. John xv. 15. Art thou touched with the tenderness of a mother, whose highest earthly happiness is to suckle the son of her womb.? God will have this relation with thee: Can a woman forget her sucking child, that she should not have compassion on the son of ker womb ? Yea, they may forget, yet will I not forget thee, Isa. xlix. 15.
Hast thou some good reasons for disgust with hu-. man connections? Are thy views so liberal and de
licate as to afford thee a conviction that there is no such thing as real friendship among men? And that what are called connections, friendships, affections, unions, tenderness, are generally no other than interchanges of deceit disguised under agreeable names? Are thy feelings so refined that thou sighest after connections formed on a nobler plan? God will have such connections with thee. Yes, there is, in the plan of religion, an union formed between God and us, on the plan of that which subsists between the three persons in the godhead, the object of our worship: that is, as far as a similar union between God and us can subsist without contradiction. God grants this to the intercession of his Son, in virtue of that perfect obedience which he rendered to his Father on the cross. This Jesus Christ requested for us, on the eve of that day, in which, by his ever-memorable sacrifice, he reconciled heaven and earth. I pray not for the world, but for them which thou hast given me, for they are thine. Neither pray I for these alone, but for them also which shall believe on me through their word : that they also may be one, as thou, Father, art in me, and I in thee; that they also may be one in us, John xvii. 9, 20, 21. Do not inquire the possibility of this union, how we can be one with God and with Jesus Christ, as Jesus Christ and God are one. Our hearts, as defective in the power of feeling as our minds in that of reasoning, have no faculties, at present, for the knowledge of such things as can be known only by feeling. But the time will come when both sense and intelligence will be expanded, and then we shall know, by a happy experience, what it is to be one with God and with Jesus Christ.
This leads us to our fifth and last article, That is, the felicity that God reserveth for his children in another world. A re-union of all the felicities of