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eternal life; venture on his promise. So shalt thou find life, and obtain favour of the Lord. Then shall the same testimony, which it was necessary to employ to convince you of your sins, become the source of your consolation and the foundation of your hope. The record of God, and that alone, will then sustain your trembling faith. The witnesses in heaven and in earth will then be necessary to save you from despair. The gift of eternal life will appear to you so astonishing, that you will only be encouraged to believe by considering the most solemn and repeated assurances, which God has vouchsafed to afford you. To credit the promise of eternal life in Christ Jesus, is indeed to a penitent, who sees something of the evil of sin and the corruption of his nature, an effort to be supported only by the įrrefragable testimony of a divine witness. On no other testimony can the anxious penitent rely. But this witness shall never fail shall find this testimony of God to be sure. You shall obtain pardon and righteousness through the infinite merits of Christ; you shall be brought to a life of faith, obedience, and communion by the indwelling of his Spirit; you shall have the foretaste of that eternal life which he has purchased for all believers, in the secret witness of your conscience, in the joys of faith, the anticipations of hope, and “the mysterious commerce of the Holy Spirit with your heart *: and you shall at length oome to the full possession of eternal life itself, the gift of the same Saviour, who died for you that he might wash you from your sins in his blood, and prepare and fit you for his immediate presence and glory.
THE GRACE OF GOD IN PARDONING SIN.
MICAH, VII. 18-20,
Who is a God like unto thee, that pardoneth ini
quity 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 again, he will have compassion upon us; he will subdue our iniquities; and thou wilt cast all their sins into the depths of the sea.
Thou wilt perform the truth to Jacob, and the mercy to Abraham, which thou hast sworn unto our fathers from the days of
old. There is scarcely any thing in religion more difficult than deeply to feel our sins and mourn for them, and yet to believe firmly in the readiness of God to forgive them. When the penitent discovers the number and aggravation of his offences, and remembers the authority and majesty of the God whom he has provoked, he is usually prone to yield to despondency, and to consider the pardon of them as impossible. To oppose such gloomy suggestions, therefore, and to lead the broken in heart to behold the benignant face of their heavenly Father, is an important as well as pleasing duty. The words of my text are well calculated for this design. They close the prophecies of Micah, and seem intended to console those who were really pious among the Jews, under the chastisements to which the sins of the nation were exposing them, and to strengthen their faith in the divine promises of future deliverance and salvation. We may consider from the text,
I. The matchless extent of God's pardoning mercy;
II. The consoling application of this mercy to the case of the penitent sinner;
III. The confirmation of both these topics, to be derived from the covenant of mercy itself.
I. THE MATCHLESS EXTENT OF God's PARDONING MERCY.-Who is a God like unto thee, that pardoneth iniquity and passeth by the transgression of the remnant of his heritage? He retaineth not his anger for ever, because he delighteth in mercy. Ver. 18.
The Prophet appears in these words to break out into an abrupt and impassioned admiration of God's mercy, as the cause of all his forbearance towards his rebellious people. Indeed, the uniform character of God in his dispensations
to his church in all ages, is that of a God who pardoneth iniquity, transgression, and sin. The eye of the penitent and humble sinner is to be directed, then, to this point. For before he can make any consolatory application of the promises of grace to his own case, he must view and admire the infinite benignity and love of God in general, his readiness to pardon, his delight in mercy. He must not imagine him to be a hard master, but a compassionate father, who hastens to welcome the returning prodigal, and to embrace him with the most condescending and exuberant affection.
This part of the character of God will appear as we review the several expressions in this portion of the text. HE PARDONETH INIQUITY, He is ever engaged in remitting the sins of those who plead his mercy in the Son of his love. This is his babitual and delightful employ. As soon as the awakened penitent feels and confesses and forsakes his iniquity, and approaches his offended God in the name of Jesus Christ, desiring to rely on his atonement and trust to his merits, his sins, however great or manifold, are pardoned. Guilt and the desert of punishment, which oppressed him with an insupportable load, are removed. He has redemption through the blood of Christ, even the forgiveness
This is further evident by the following