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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 ruhite 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 walers, 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 wohat 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 in-terchanges 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
this present world would not be sufficient to espress the love of God to us. Nature is too indigent : our faculties are too indigent: society is too indigent: religion itself is too indigent.
Nature is too indigent: it might indeed afford us a temperate air, an earth enamelled with flowers, trees laden with fruits, and climates rich with delights: but all its present beauties are inadequate to the love of God, and there must be another world, another reconomy, new heavens and a new earth, Isa. Ixv. 17.
Our faculties are too indigent: they might indeed admit abundant pleasures, for we are capable of knowing, and God could gratify our desire of knowledge. We are capable of agreeable sensations, and God is able to give us objects proportional to our sensations, and so of the rest. But all these gratifications would be too little to express the love of God to us. Our faculties must be renewed, and, in some sense, new cast; for this corruptible body must put on incorruption : this natural body must become a spiritual body, I Cor. xv. 53, 44. so that by means of more delicate organs we inay enjoy more exquisite pleasures. Our souls must be united to glorified bodies, by laws different from those which now unite us to matter, in order to capacitate us for more extensive knowledge.
Society is too indigent, although society might become an ocean of pleasure to us. There are men whose friendships are full of charms; their, conversations are edifying and their acquaintance delightful : and God is able to place us among such : amiable characters in this world : but society hath
nothing great enough to express the love of God to us. We must be introduced to the society of glorified saints, and to thousands of angels and happy
spirits, who are capable of more magnanimity and delicacy than all that we can imagine here.
Religion itself is too indigent, although it might open to us a source of delight. What pleasure hath religion afforded us on those happy days of our lives, in which, having fled from the crowd, and suspended our love to the world, we meditated on the grand truths which God hath revealed to us in his word, when we ascended to God by fervent prayer; or renewed at the Lord's table our communion with him! How often have holy men been enraptured in these exercises ! How often have they exclaimed during these foretastes, Our souls are satisfied as with marrow and fatness ! Psal. Ixii. 5. O how great is thy goodness which thou hast laid up for them that fear thee! Psal. xxxi. 19. We are abundantly satisfied with the fatness of thy house : we drink of the rivers of thy pleasures ! Psal. xxxvi. 8. Yet even religion can afford nothing here below that can sufficiently express the love of God to us. We must be admitted into that state, in which there is neither temple nor sun, because God supplieth the place of both, Rev. xxi. 22, 23. We are to behold God, not surrounded with such a handful of people as this, but with thousand thousands, and ten thousand times ten thousand, who stand continually before him, Dan. vii. 10. We must see God, not in the display of his grace in our churches, but in all the magnificence of his glory in heaven. We are to prostrate ourselves before bim, not at the Lord's table, where he is made known to us in symbols of bread and wine : (august symbols indeed : but too gross to exhibit the magnificence of God) but we are to behold him upon his throne of glory, worshipped by all the tappy host of heaven. What cause produceth those noble effects ? From what source do those ri