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“ unjuit.” The apostle John expresses himself in the most emphatical manner concerning this subject, when he says, 1 John iv. 16. “ We have known and believed the “ love that God hath to us. God is love; “ and he that divelleth in love, dwelleth in “ God, and God in him.” And the apostle James says, ch. i. 17. “ Every good gift, “ and every perfect gift is from above, and “ cometh down from the father of lights.”
The severity with which good men are sometimes treated, is always reprcsented in the scriptures as the correction of a tender father, intended to promote the reformation and good of his children; and what he always inflicts with reluctance. Jeremiah says, Lam. iii. 31. “ The Lord will not cast off “ for ever. But though he cause grief, yet “ will he have compaffion, according to the “ multitude of his mercies; for he doth not “ afflict willingly, nor grieve the children “ of men.” The prophet Hofea draws a most affecting picture of the painful reluctance with which the divine being has recourse to severity, after the most aggravated
and repeated provocations, Hofea xi. 1. &c. “When Ifrael was a child, then I loved him, “ and called my son out of Egypt----They “ facrificed unto Baaliin, and burnt incense “ to graven images. I taught Ephraim also “ to go, taking them by their arms, but “ they knew not that I healed them. I drew “ them with cords of a man, with bands of “ love----My people are bent to backsliding “ from me: though they called them to “ the most High, none at all would exalt “him. How shall I give thee up, Ephraim? “ how fhall I deliver thee, Ifrael? how “ Mall I make thee as Admah? how shall I “ set thee as Zeboim? Mine heart is turned “ within me, my repentings are kindled tc“ gether. I will not execute the fierceness "s of mine anger, I will not rečurn to destroy “ Ephraim; for I am God, and not man, “ the holy One in the midst of thee."
The author of the Epistle to the Hebrews, also, reminds the persecuted chriftians of his age, of these comforting sentiments, so peculiarly proper to their circumstances, Heb. xii. 5. &c. “ Ye have forgotten the
24 " exhortation
“ exhortation which speaketh unto you as “ unto children, My son, despise not thou “ the chastening of the Lord, nor faint when “ thou art rebuked of him. For whom the “ Lord loveth he chasten.ch, and scourgeth “ every fon whom he receiveth. If ye en“ dure chastening, God dealeth with you “ as with sons: for what son is he whom " the father chafteneth not? ----Now no “ chastening for the present seemeth to be “ joyous, but grievous ; nevertheless, after“ ward it yieldeth the peaceable fruit of “ righteousness, unto them who are exer“ cised thereby.”
Lastly, the dispensation of the gospel is always represented as an instance of the ex- ' ceedingly great love and goodness of God, John iii. 16. “God so loved the world, “ that he gave his only begotten fon, that “ whosoever believeth in him should not “ perish, but have everlasting life.” 1 John iv.9. “In this was manifested the love of “ God towards us, because that God sent “his only begotten son into the world, that “ we might live through him. Herein is
“ love, not that we loved God, but that he “ loved us.” Rom. viii. 32.“ He that spared “ not his own son, but delivered him up “ for us all, how shall he not with him also “freely give us all things.”,
SECTION IV, ,
Of the mercy of God.
THE mercy of God to those who are
1 disposed to return to their duty, when they have once rendered themselves obnoxious to his displeasure by their offences, is a subject of which mankind, especially those whose minds were rendered timid and fearful by a consciousness of guilt, would be more apt to entertain doubts, than of the goodness of God in general. No proof by way of inference only, how short and plain soever, would be sufficient for such persons ; and yet it is easy to see, that it is of the utmost importance, that such persons should receive all possible satisfa&tion with respect to it: left, through a distrust of the mercy of God, they should be driven into absolute despair. Defides, nothing is so engaging, and furnishes so powerfula motive to a return to duty, as a thorough persuasion of the clemency of the offended party. . On this account, probably, it is, that the declarations of the mercy of God, to the truly penitent, are fo remarkably full and explicit in the fcriptures, insomuch that no doubt can poffibly remain with respect to it.
At the very time of the promulgation of the law of Moses, which is deemed to be the most rigorous of all the divine dispensations, when Mofes waited in mount Sinai with the second tables of stone, immediately after that most aggravated offence of the Iraclites in making the golden calf, the divine being makes the nuost folemn declaration of his mercy imaginable, Ex. xxxiv. 5. &c. “ And the Lord descended in the “ cloud, and stood with him there, and pro“ claimed the name of the Lord. And the “ Lord pafted by before him, and proclaim