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losophy (unassisted by revelation) has ever represented its imaginary Deity ; and yet He is more wonderful also in grace and mercy. He is a just God, and a Saviour; there is none beside him.” (Is. xlv. 21.) Mankind, either in attempting to magnify the mercy of the Deity, lose sight of his justice altogether; or else, in endeavouring to establish his justice, so circumscribe his mercy as to leave the sinner hopeless. But the Scripture represents to us, in the Divine Being, an awful justice and holy abhorrence of all sin, in wonderful and harmonious combination with boundless mercy-even to the chief of sinners. The whole history of God's dealings with your nation, from the call of Abraham to this day, might be aptly considered in illustration of this character: as indeed is remarkably pointed out in many passages of Scripture, particularly Ps. cv. cvi. and Ez. xx., to which I refer you. When the Lord proclaims his Name to Moses, observe how He characterizes Himself by this very union of wonderfully contrasted attributes. “ The LORD passed by before him, and proclaimed, The LORD, The LORD God, merciful and gracious, long suffering, and abundant in goodness and truth, Keeping mercy for thousands, forgiving iniquity and transgression and sin, and that will by no means clear the guilty; visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children, and upon the children's children, unto the third and fourth generation.” (Ex. xxxiv. 6, 7.) He is declared to be “glorious in holiness, fearful in praises." (Ex. xv. 11.) “He is the Rock, his work is perfect : for all his ways are judgement: a God of truth and without iniquity, just and right is he” (Deut. xxxii. 4); and yet He exhausts the images of tenderness and love in his promises of mercy to his people, “Can a woman forget her sucking child, that she should not have compassion on the son of her womb ? yea, they may forget, yet will I not forget thee." (Is. xlix. 15.) " As one whom his mother comforteth, so will I comfort you; and ye shall be comforted in Jerusalem.” (Is. Ixvi. 13.) Hear his proclamations to the guilty, “ Come now, and let us reason together, saith the LORD : though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow ; though they be red like crimson, they shall be as wool. I, even I, am he that blotteth out thy transgressions for mine own sake, and will not remember thy sins. I have blotted out, as a thick cloud, thy transgressions, and, as a cloud, thy sins: return unto me; for I have redeemed thee.-Let the wicked forsake his way, and the unrighteous man his thoughts : and let him return unto the LORD, and he will have mercy upon him; and to our God, for he will abundantly pardon. For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, saith the LORD. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts." (Is. i. 18, xliii. 25, xliv. 22, lv. 7-9.)
Take also the following passages from other prophets, “ Thou art of purer eyes than to behold evil, and canst not look on iniquity.” (Hab. i. 13.)
" Who can stand before his indignation ? and who can abide in the fierceness of his anger ? his fury is poured out like fire, and the rocks are thrown down by him,” (Nah. i. 6,) which may be contrasted with the next verse, “ The Lord is good, a strong hold in the day of trouble ; and he knoweth them that trust in him,” (Nah. i. 7,) and with that remarkable expression, “Who is a God like unto thee, that par. doneth iniquity, and passeth by the transgression of the remnant of his heritage? he retaineth not his anger for ever, because he delighteth in mercy. He will turn us again, he will have compassion upon us; and thou wilt cast all their sins into the depths of the sea.” (Mic. vii. 18, 19.)
That the views of the sweet psalmist of Israel were nothing different, appears from the following representations of the holiness and righteousness of the God whom he adored : “My voice shalt thou hear in the morning, O Lord; in the morning will I direct my prayer unto thee, and will look up. For thou art not a God that hath pleasure in wickedness : neither shall evil dwell with thee. The foolish shall not stand in thy sight: thou hatest all workers of iniquity. Thou shalt destroy them that speak leasing: the Lord will abhor the bloody and deceitful man.—The Lord is in his holy temple, the Lord's throne is in heaven: his eyes behold, his eyelids try, the children of men,
The Lord trieth the righteous : but the wicked and him that loveth violence his soul hateth. Upon the wicked he shall rain snares, fire and brimstone, and an horrible tempest: this shall be the portion of their cup. For the righteous Lord loveth righteousness; his countenance doth behold the upright.” (Ps. v. 3—6, xi. 4—7.) And these, and similar passages, should be viewed in connexion with such adoring views of his mercy as the following :-“The LORD is merciful and gracious, slow to anger, and plenteous in mercy. He will not always chide : neither will he keep his anger for ever. He hath not dealt with us after our sins; nor rewarded us according to our iniquities. For as the heaven is high above the earth, so great is his mercy toward them that fear him.
As far as the east is from the west, so far hath he removed our transgressions from us. Like as a father pitieth his children, so the LORD pitieth them that fear him. For he knoweth our frame; he remembereth that we are dust. The mercy of the LORD is from everlasting to everlasting upon them that fear him, and his righteousness unto children's children; To such as keep his covenant, and to those that remember his commandments to do them.” (Ps. ciii. 8—14, 17, 18.) And, in contemplating the harmony of the Divine attributes, as displayed in his dealings with his people, we find him exclaiming, “ Mercy and truth are met together; righteousness and peace have kissed each other.” “ Justice and judgement are the habitation of thy throne : mercy and truth shall go before thy face." (Ps. lxxxv. 10, lxxxix. 14.)
Such is the view of the Divine Character presented to us in the Old Testament. Let us now turn to the pages of the New. Have we not here the same remarkable and glorious character displayed ? What can be more awful in judgement than the views which are given us of the fearful doom of the impenitent and unbelieving ? “Depart from me, ye cursed, into everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and his angels.” (Matt. xxv. 41.) And yet we find the holy God, who awards this doom, represented as contriving, out of His own overflowing grace and mercy, a plan of salvation with eternal glory, adapted to the case and necessities of sinful rebels
-even the chief! And such are freely invited to experience its power, and to accept of its consolations !
We are plainly told of His holy indignation against sin : “ For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who hold the truth in unrighteousness.” (Rom. i. 18.) of his strict and equal justice: “ Who will render to every man according to his deeds: To them who by patient continuance in well-doing seek for glory and honour and immortality, eternal life : But unto them that are contentious, and do not obey the truth, but obey unrighteousness, indignation and wrath, tribulation and anguish, upon every soul of man that doeth evil, of the Jew first, and also of the Gentile; But glory, honour, and peace, to every man that worketh good, to the Jew first, and also to the Gentile : For there is no respect of persons with God. For as many as have sinned without law shall also perish without law: and as many as have sinned in the law shall be judged by the law.” (Rom. ii. 6-12.) - We know him that hath said, Vengeance belongeth unto me, I will recompense, saith the Lord. And again, The Lord shall judge his people. It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God.” “ For our God is a consuming fire.” (Heb. X. 30, 31, and xii. 29.) The holiness of God is matter of unceasing praise to the blessed companies of heaven: “They rest not day and night, saying, Holy, holy, holy, Lord God Almighty, which was, and is, and is to come.” (Rev. iv. 8.) And the enemies of his kingdom, unable to endure the terrors of his righteous anger, are represented as crying out “to the mountains and rocks, Fall on us, and hide us from the face of him that sitteth on the throne, and from the wrath of the Lamb: For the great day of his wrath is come; and who shall be able to stand ?” (Rev. vi. 16, 17.)
Such declarations are calculated to appal the guilty, Who shall stand before Him ? And yet this awful, just, and holy God is represented as giving “ His unspeakable gift”-all (we may justly say it) that even Divine fulness could bestow—as a ransom for the sins of an offending world, and to work out everlasting redemption for rebellious men! “ For God so loved the world, that he gave his only-begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life. For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved.” For when
we were yet without strength, in due time Christ died for the ungodly. For scarcely for a righteous man will one die: yet peradventure for a good man some would even dare to die. But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us." “ God is love. In this was manifested the love of God toward 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, and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins." (John iii. 16, 17; Rom. v. 6–8; 1 John iv. 8—10.) And this precious gift was bestowed, in order to make poor and perishing sinners his children by adoption and grace.
“ For ye are all the children of God by faith in Christ Jesus.” Spirit itself beareth witness with our spirit, that we are the children of God: And if children, then heirs; heirs of God, and joint-heirs with Christ.” “ Behold, what manner of love the Father hath bestowed upon us, that we should be called the sons of God -Beloved, now are we the sons of God, and it doth not yet appear what we shall be: but we know that, when he shall appear, we shall be like him; for we shall see him as he is.” (Gal. iii. 26 ; Rom. viii, 16, 17; 1 John iii. 1, 2.)
Fix your attention, I entreat you, upon the riches of love and mercy which are set forth in these and similar passages. They contain some truths against which you might probably be disposed to make objections: but the manifestation of boundless love and mercy which they contain is plain and intelligible to all. And this, we are taught by express declaration, was to be shewn in such a way, as should be perfectly consistent with the holy character of a most just Judge and righteous Governor. “God hath set forth" Jesus Christ “to be a propitiation through faith in his blood, to declare his righteousness for the remission of sins that are past, through the forbearance of God; To declare, I say, at this time, his righteousness : that he might be just, and the justifier of him which believeth in Jesus.” (Rom. iii. 25, 26.) So that, while He reveals himself as a Father of mercies, forgiving all trespasses, according to the riches of his grace, it might justly be said, “ The Lord is well pleased for his righteousness' sake; he will magnify the law, and make it honourable :