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MATT. V. 7.

Blessed are the merciful, for they shall obtain mercy.

I RECOMMEND the Christian Religion, because it will make every man happy, who receives it. It will enable him to mend a wicked world, and to diffuse a happiness, similar to that which he himself possesses, among multitudes of his fellow creatures, labouring under the calamities of poverty and distress, or under the more exquisite miseries of mental sorrow. There is no comfort, which the religion of the Gospel does not afford; no distress, which it does not alleviate; and therefore it is worthy the attention of all, who value present and eternal happiness. "Blessed (says our text) are the merciful, for they shall obtain mercy."

In discoursing upon these words, I shall set before you,

I. The inducement we have to be merciful; II. Mention some particulars, wherein that gracious disposition consists; and

III. Explain the nature of that reward, which is here promised to those who are found in the exercise of it.

purer eyes

First, then, I am to set before you the inducement we have to be merciful. This arises from considering the mercy, which God has already shewn, and which he still continues to shew, to us. If we meditate upon the infinite perfections of our Creator, who is of than to behold iniquity, and can delight in nothing but what is holy, just, and good, how must we poor sinful creatures be astonished at his long suffering and forbearance! Why is it, that we do not at this time lift up our eyes in torments, but that God is gracious, and "not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance"*? Should I ask, are you sinners? You will not, I think, say "no." Some of you are, I fear, great transgressors. You are living in continual opposition to God's holy law, and, though frequently exhorted to change your course of life, are regardless of every admonition. But, "thinkest thou this, O man, that thou shalt escape the judgment of God? Or despisest thou the riches of his goodness, and forbearance, and long suffering; not knowing that the goodness of God leadeth thee to repentance? But, after

* 2d Peter, iii, 9.

thy hardness, and impenitent heart, treasurest up unto thyself wrath against the day of wrath, and revelation of the righteous judgment of God"*? Consider, now, how many sinners like thyself have been cut off in the midst of their wickedness; some, without a moment's time to call for mercy, and others, stupid and insensible as the brutes which perish. Why art thou spared? Is it not because God is merciful; and is not the consideration of such goodness sufficient to stop thy mad career? Or, wilt thou fly in the face of thy best friend, and still abuse thy most gracious benefactor? Wilt thou challenge the Almighty to do his worst, and expose thyself as fuel to the devouring flames? Stop, my friend, and do not thus so wildly rush upon destruction.

But, it is not the notorious sinner alone that I would have mindful of the mercy of God. There is not a man upon earth, let him be ever so holy, who has not reason to say, "It is of the Lord's mercies" I am "not consumed, because his compassions fail not."+ If we consider only our sins of omission, we shall see reason to wonder at the divine patience; and, to prove this, let it only be considered, how forgetful we are of God, how irreverent in his sacred presence, and how neglectful of him, who is our greatest friend and benefactor.

* Rom. ii, 3, 4, 5.

+ Lam. iii, 22.

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