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. A Third thing brought forward to our view, in this retail of the glory of goodness, displayed in all the diviise perfections is, his grace and mercy-hence, he is proclaimed, “ The Lord gra
cious and merciful.” The object of mercy is misery and distress; the object of grace is not only misery and wretchedness, but demerit, guilt, and wickedness also. Mercy pities and administers relief to the forlorn and miserable ; grage confers heaverly blessings upon the sinful and ill-deserving ; where there is no present merit, nor any just ground to expect future favor.How charming ought the sounds of mercy and grace to be in the ears of our apostate and fallen world? They are sounds which fill the heart of the saint with joy and gladness, and how should they call up the listening attention of the guilty and impenitent sinner? O ye saints, who have experienced the power of sovereign grace, and know what it is to bask in the sun beams of divine mercy, let your souls ever be filled with extatic praises of these glorious perfections and goodness. And, Oye sinners, awake from your lethargic slumbers, to hearken to the voice of a gracious and merciful God, before your ears shall be stopped by -eternal death, and the things of your peace be hid from your eyes. Mercy and grace, what delightful attributes in the name of our God? How precious the proclamation, “ The Lord, the Lord “God, gracious and merciful ?" Attend to what the Psamlisi says, when describing these branches of the divine character, “ The Lord is merciful and gracious, slow to anger, and plente"ous in mercy.” Here is a diversity and variety of terms, that our conceptions of these glorious perfections might be enlarged, and wrought up to the liighest degree possible. The sacred historian, Nehemiah, when describing Jehovah, uses almost the same language. “ Thou art a God ready to pardon, gracious and s6 merciful, slow to anger, and of great kindness." Thus speaks the prophet Isaiah, “ I will mention the loving kindness of the “ Lord, and the praises of the Lord, according to all that the “ Lord hath bestowed on us, and the great goodness toward the * house of Israel, which he hath bestowed on them.” I proceed, Fourthly, to direct your thoughts to his patience and his love. How richly is the super-eminent goodness of the Most High dise played in his forbearance, long suffering, patience, and love? These perfections are daily manifested before the world, in his long bearing with provoking and heaven daring-offenders. Instead of causing his jealousy to smoke against them, he exercises long suffering, and waits to be gracious. Long suffering is that attribute, whereby God suspends deserved punishinent, and instead of wrath, he showers down a rich profusion of his benefi. cence, as if it were to see whether his goodness would not lead men to repentance. To you, O men, he calls, and the voice of his patience is to the sons of men. Let us not despise the riches of his goodness, and forbearance, and long suffering. When we speak of love, as an attribute of God, our souls are lost in admi. ration. Who can take a prospect of its height, contemplate its depth, or survey its length or breadth? Yea, when the Godhead would be comprehended in one word, the Apostle John employs the term love : “God is love." There is an incomprehensible extension in this concise phrase, that even the penetration of an archangel cannot reach. Its transcendent excellency and exuberant glory, celestial eloquence would sink into debility and meanness, in attempting the infinite description of it. God is nothing but love ; love in his nature, love in his essence, love in all his operations, and love in all the exhibitions and revelations which he hath made of himself. What spoke this world into existence, replenished it with innumerable inhabitants, and filled it with all its variegated beauty and usefulness, but almighty love? What upholds it in all its order and harmony, but superlative love, and overflowing and unbounded goodness? What but love, inconceivable love, provided a Redeemer for the lost and ruined children of men ? “God so loved the world, in such a marvelous and “ astonishing manner, that he gave his only begotten son, that “ whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have ever" lasting life." What but wonderful love, peoples the celestial
kingdom with inhabitants from this wretched and guilty world of ours? What is the hope of the saints on earth and the happiness of heaven, but divine ineffable love? “O that we may be able
'to comprehend with all saints, what is the breadth, and length, « depth, and heigth, and to know the love of Christ which passSeth knowledge, that we might be filled witla all the fullness of “ God.” Let each one continually be uniting in David's prayer, “ Have mercy upon me, O God, according to thy loving kind“ ness; hear me, O Lord, for thy loving kindness ; turn to me “ according to the multitude of thy tender mercies."
Let us proceed in our contemplations, and consider
Fifthly, The faithfulness, forgiveness, truth, and holiness of the great eternal, and how these perfections unfold the wonders of his goodness. He is every where illustrated as the faithful God. Faithfulness enters into his nature, into his word, and into all his promises. His faithfulness is the great support and consolation of his people. To this perfection they look in times of trouble. It cheers the melancholy mind, heals the broken heart, cures the wounded spirit, is a sweet balm under all the discour. agements of life, disarms the king of terrors of his sting, and gives fortitude to the soul, to venture down into the gloomy man. sions of the dead. “ He is the faithful God. His mercy is in the a heavens, and his faithfulness reacheth unto the clouds. His “ faithfulness is unto all generations. The heavens shall praise of thy wonders, O Lord, and thy faithfulness also in the congre“gation of the saints."
The forgiveness of God, is also an amiable branch of his cha.. racter. How delightful are these words in the proclamation? “ The Lord God, keeping mercy for thousands, forgiving iniqui" ty, and transgression, and sin.” That is, every manner and kind of offence he can pardon, all manner of sin and blasphemy, every species of transgression, whatever may be its nature or ag.
[88 gravations, his goodness is infinitely sufficient to forgive. Whoever repents, confesses, and forsakes his iniquities, is sure to meet with a sin forgiving, and a sin pardoning God. “Though your “sins be as scarlet or crimson, they shall be as snow or as wool. “ I, even I ana he, that blotteth out thy transgression for inine “own sake, and will not remember thy sins. I will cleanse then “ from all their iniquity whereby they have sinned against me ; « and I will pardon all their iniquities, whereby they have sinned, « and whereby they have transgressed against me."
The holiness of Jehovah is a distinguishing property of the Most High. This is a peculiar quality in all the attributes of his nature. Holiness is inscribed upon his whole name. He is holy in all the persons of Godhead, and in all his perfections ; he is holy in his ways and in his work. He is commonly stiled the thrice holy God. Because this term holy, is frequently three times together pronounced, in order to shew forth, as far as possible, its superlative excellency. *“ Holy, holy, holy is the Lord of “ hosts. Who is like unto thee, O Lord, glorious in holiness?
There is none holy as the Lord. And heaven is the habitation 6 of his holiness.” This is the beauty of every divine attribute, and forms the glory around the throne 'of the great Supreme.--And it is the indispensible duty of all his intelligent creatures, to be conformed hereto. Be ye holy as the Lord is holy. The happiness of saints is in proportion to their holiness. The greater, degrees of holiness, the more felicity, and wlien their holiness is perfect, their happiness will be perfect too. Holiness may be said to be the “ abundance of his goodness.”
And not only is he the holy, but also the true God. His name, his operations, his judgments, his word, his laws and government are truth. Hence, in this description, it is declared, “ That he is “ abundant in goodness and truth." He is infinitely remote from every thing that deviates from the most perfect rectitude. Any variation froin truth ascribed to God, must involve in it
blasphemy. For it is his distinguishing characteristic, that he is “ A God of truth, without iniquity ; just and right is he. All “ the paths of the Lord are mercy and truth. All his works are * truth, and his ways judgment. The Lord is good, and his truth < endureth to all generations." This is the consolation of his peo. ple, the joy and strength of their hearts. They may have the most absolute confidence in all his declarations and promises. “ His counsels of old are faithfulness and truth. Just and true « are thy ways, O thou king of saints."
We come now, in the
Last place, To speak of his righteousness or justice. This is contained in this part of the divine character. “ And will by no “ means clear the guilty.” This is as much a branch of the name of God, as any other ; and his justice and righteousness are equal manifestations of his glorious goodness. But here it will be asked, how is it possible that righteousness and justice can be a display of goodness? Is not justice continually exercised in the indiction of pain and punishment ? Is it not a display of terror, of power and wrath, rather than goodness? These things are in part true. Yet there is no punishment inflicted by God, but what is a manifestation of his goodness. Is it not goodness to form good laws, and to enforce the same by good sanctions ? The laws of God are all holy, just, and good; therefore, the execution of them must be good also. The laws of men which are good, the proper execution of them, can never be objected to as evil or bad. Much less can any objection of this kind, be brought against the perfect laws of heaven, or the execution of them. It is true, abstract punishment or misery, can never be considered as a good thing in itself, or an object of pleasure or delight-yet, when taken in all its bearings, relations and connections, it is an exhibition of supreme goodness. When punishment and misery are entailed for their own sake, it raises abhorrence and indignation in every virtuous and good mind. These are expressions of tyranny, cruelty,