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which we find in different parts of the earth. Did we not live under a constitution of mercy, and had not some traces of the original revelation of that mercy remained among the nations, there would have been no more appearance of religious worship in our world, than there is in the place of the damned. Nor, I add, would there be
any more virtue, or happiness, or order, in our world. Let the hope of mercy be obliterated from the breast of man, and man will become a devil. He will feel the malignity of a devil towards his God, and towards his fellow men.
This hope gilds our world, and like the sun, shines upon some parts dimly, and on others with greater brightness. From this, under God's merciful constitution, emanate parental affection, filial obedience, the feelings and exercises of friendship, the displays of generosity, of magnanimity, of gratitude; in a word, from the influence of this hope of acceptance with God, emanates whatever virtue, or happiness, or order, we have in our world. This constitutes the connecting bond of society, making the re
lations of life so many sources of enjoyment. This gives rise to the principles which civilize and humanize men.
The rudeness and barbarism of nations, are owing to the little knowledge which they possess of God's mercy as originally revealed, and the
consequently feeble restraint which that knowledge has over their passions and appetites. The first societies which existed in the world were civilized, because formed under the immediate influence of the first promise; so widely have those theorists departed from fact, who describe the first society as savage. Savageness in man and in nations is caused either by ignorance, or rejection of the mercy of God as revealed in his word. The direct effects of this
mercy, where it is known and acknowledged, are to soften the heart and to control the passions. In proportion to the degree of knowledge of this mercy, and the acknowledgment of it by individuals or nations, will be these effects. The least as well as the greatest display of these effects is owing to the same cause, the God, which he extends to the fatherless in
a temporal as well as in a spiritual sense. Nay, the former is the consequence of the latter. If God had not revealed himself as ready to forgive, we never would have enjoyed temporal comforts. The very fact of our having these comforts, proves, that we live under a dispensation of mercy, a constitution of
Under this constitution, God, by operating in his providence universally, and in his grace particularly, upon the hopes and fears which he by the first promise has originated in the human family, causes the “ fatherless” to meet with that mercy from their fellow men which is suited to their case. We find among all classes of men traces of humanity, of pity, of compassion. By means of these principles, he raises up protectors of the defenceless, guardians of the feeble, helpers of the sick, patrons of the destitute. To these principles, we are indebted for every plan to meliorate human misery; for every exercise of tenderness in war; for the display of hospitality; for the very existence of benevolent persons.
As these principles, which produce such
happy consequences, spring from the revelation of mercy; so where that revelation is best known, these principles produce their natural consequences in the greatest number and to the highest degree. This accounts for the fact, why the Jews formerly, and the Christians now, pay more attention to the “ fatherless” than the Heathen did, or do. True religion, the religion of the Scriptures, which, in other words, is the belief of“ the first promise,” and the influence of that belief over the heart and the life, is the sole and the exclusive parent of benevolence. To this also, we are indebted for our superiority over the wandering Indian, or the superstitious Hindoo. It is this, which has made Christendom, eminently, a theatre on which the human mind displays its powers and resources, and the human heart its feelings and sympathies. This has given rise to the numerous institutions, which do honour to our name and profession in various parts of the world. All humane and charitable establishments originate in the mercy of God; for the benevolence which erected them, owes its very existence in the human
se to the revelation of God's mercy. Hisd not God first loved us, we never, never would have loved either Him or our fellow men. Many
Many speculations and reasonings on this subject, would suit well with the situation of the prisoners of justice, who are confined in the region of despair; but are not adapted to the case of prisoners of hope, dwelling in the land of hope.
Blessed be God, we who enjoy the gospel, do fully know the mercy of God, because we have his word in our hands. And therefore, amongst us, amongst Christians, “ the fatherless” do pre-eminently find mercy in God. He disposes the hearts of men by the power of his word, to aid the destitute in all the varieties of their distress
Provision is thus made for the poor, the sick, the maimed, the deranged, and orphans.
The houses which have been erected in different places for the latter, strikingly prove and illustrate the truth of the text. God has been pleased on more occasions than one, wonderfully to attest his approbation of them.' Especially was this the