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If vou had not mean thoughts of God, you would not find fault with him for not setting his love on you who never exercised any love to him. You would not think it unjust in God not to seek your inerest and eternal welfare, who never would be persuaded at all to seek his glory; you would not think it unjust in him to slight and disregard you, who have so often and so long made light of God. If you had not mean thoughts of God, you never would think him
obliged to bestow eternal salvation upon you, who have never been truly thankful for one mercy which you have already received of him. What do you think of yourselves ? what great ideas have you of yourselves ? and what thoughts bave you of God, that you think he is obliged to do so much for you, though you treat him ever so ungratefully for the kindness which he hath already bestowed upon you all the days of your lives? It must be from little thoughts of God, that you think it unjust in him not to regard you when you call upon him ; when he hath earnestly called to you, so long and so often, and you would not be persuaded to hearken to him. What thoughts have you of God, that you think he is more obliged to hear what you say to him, than you are to regard what he says to you?
It is from diminutive thoughts of God, that you think he is obliged to shew mercy to you when you seek it, though you have been for a long time wilfully sinning against him, provoking him to anger, and presuming that he would shew you mercy when you should seek it. What kind of thoughts have you of God, that you think he is obliged, as it were, to yield himself up to be abused by men, so that when they have done, his mercy and pardoning grace shall not be in his own power, but he must be obliged to dispense them at their call!
2. It is from little thoughts of God, that you quarrel against his justice in the condemnation of sinners, from the doctrine of original sin. It must be because you do not know him to be God, and will not allow him to be sovereign. It is for want of a sense how much God is above you, that those things in him which are above your comprehension, are such difficulties and stumbling-blocks to you; it is for want of a sense how much the wisdom and understanding of God are above yours, and what poor, short-sighted, blind creatures you are, in comparison with him. were sensible what God is, you would see it most reasonable to expect that his ways should be far above the reason of man, and that he dwells in light which no man approach unto, which no man hath seen, nor can see.If men were sensible how excellent and perfect a Being he is, they would not be so apt to be jealous of him, and io
suspect him in things which lie beyond their understand. ings. It would be no difficulty with them to trust God out of sight. What horrid arrogance in worms of the dust, that they should think they have wisdom enough to examine and determine concerning what God doth, and to pass sentence on it as unjust! If you were sensible how great and glorious a being God is, it would not be such a difficulty with you to allow him the dignity of such absolute sovereignty, as that he should order as he pleases, whether every single man should stand for himself, or whether a common father should stand for all.
3. It is from mean thoughts of God, that you trust in your own righteousness, and think that God ought to respect you for it. If you knew low great a Being he is, if you saw that he is God indeed, you would see how unworthy, how miserable a present it is to be offered to such a Being. It is because you are blind, and know not what a Being he is with whom you have to do, that you make so much of your own righteousness. If you had your eyes open to see that he is God indeed, you would wonder how you could think to commend yourselves to so great a Being by your gifts, by such poor affections, such broken prayers, wherein is so much hypocrisy, and so much selfishness.--If you had not very mean thoughts of God, you would wonder that ever you could think of purchasing the favour and love of so great a God by your services. You would see that it would be unworthy of God to bestow such a mercy upon you, as peace with him, and his everlasting love, and the enjoyment of himself, for such a price as you have to offer ; and that he would exceedingly dishonour himself in so doing.--- If you saw what God is, you would exclaim, as Job did, Job xlii. 5, 6. Now mine eye seeth thee; wherefore I abbor myself, and repent in dust and ashes.” And as Isaiah did, chap. vi. 5. “Woe is me, for I am undone, because I am a man of unclean lips; for mine eyes have seen the King, the Lord of hosts.”
4. It is from mean thoughts of God, that you contend with him, because he bestows grace on some, and not on others. Thus God doth : he hath mercy on whom he will have mercy; he takes one, and leaves another, of those who are in like circumstances; as it is said of Jacob and Esau, while they were not yet born, and had done neither good nor evil, Rom. ix. 10^-13. With this sinners often quarrel; but they who upon this ground quarrel with God, suppose him to be bound to bestow his grace on sinners. For if he be bound to none, then he may take his choice, and bestow it on whom he pleases; and his bestowing it on some brings no obligation on him to bestow it on others. Has
God no right to his own grace? is it not at his own disposal ? and is God incapable of making a gift or present of it to any man? for a person cannot make a present of that which is not his own, or in his own right. It is impossible to give a debt.
But what a low thought of God does this argue! Consider what it is you would make of God. Must he be so tied up, that he cannot use his own pleasure in bestowing his own gifts? Is he obliged to bestow them on one, because it is his pleasure to bestow them on another? Is not God worthy to have the same right to dispose of his gifts, as a man has of his money? or is it because God is not so great, and therefore should be more subject, more under bounds, than men? Is not God worthy to have as absolute a propriety in his goods as man has in his? At this rate, God cannot make a present of any thing; he has nothing of his own to bestow. If he have a mind to slew a peculiar favour to some, to lay some under special obligations, he cannot do it, on the supposition, because his favour is not at his own disposal ! The truth is, men have low thoughts of God, or else they would willingly ascribe sovereignty to him in this matter. Matt. xx. 15. 6 Is it not lawful for me to do what I will with mine own? Is thine eye evil, because I am good ?"
God is pleased to slew mercy to his enemies, according to his own sovereign pleasure. And surely it is fit he should. How unreasonable is it to think that God stands bound to his enemies! Therefore consider what you do in quarrelling with God, and opposing his sovereignty. Consider with whom it is you contend. Let all who are sensible of their misery, and afraid of the wrath of God, consider these things. Those of you who have been long seeking salvation, but are in great terrors through fear that God will destroy you, consider what you have heard, be still, and know that he is God. When God seems to turn a deaf ear to your cries; when he seems to frown upon you; when he shews mercy to others, your equals, or those who are worse, and who have been seeking a less time than yolu; be still. Consider who he is that disposes and orders these things. You shall consider it; you shall know it: he will make all men to know that he is God. You shall either know it for your good bere, by submission, or to your cost hereafter.
GREAT GUILT NO OBSTACLE
PARDON OF THE RETURNING SINNER.
PSALM XXV. 11. .
For thy name's sake, O Lord, pardon mine iniquity; for it
It is evident by some passages in this psalm, that when it was penned, it was a time of affliction and danger with David. This appears particularly by the 15th and following
“ Mine eyes are ever towards the Lord; for he shall pluck my feet out of the net," &c. His distress makes him think of his sins, and leads him to confess them, and to cry to God for pardon, as is suitable in a time of affliction. See verse 7. “ Remember not the sins of my youth, nor my transgressions;” and verse 18.“ Look upon mine affliction, and my pain, and forgive all my sins.”
It is observable in the text, what arguments the psalmist makes use of in pleading for pardon.
1. He pleads for pardon for God's name's sake. He has no expectation of pardon for the sake of any righteousness or worthiness of bis for any good deeds he had done, or any compensation he had made for his sins; though if man's righteousness could be a just plea, David would have had as much to plead as most. But he begs that God would do it for his own name's sake, for his own glory, for the glory of
* Not dated. All the Sermons in this collection which are not dated, are supposed to have been written before the year 1733, as from that period, our autbor dated his Sermons.
his own free grace, and for the honour of his own covenantfaithfulness.
2. The psalmist pleads the greatness of his sins as an argument for mercy. He not only doth not plead his own righteousness, or the smallness of his sins; he not only doth not say, Pardon mine iniquity, for I have done much good to counterbalance it; or, Pardon mine iniquity, for it is small, and thou hast no great reason to be angry with me; mine iniquity is not so great that thou hast any just cause to remember it against me; mine offence is not such but that thou mayest well enough overlook it: but on the contrary he says, Pardon mine iniquity, for it is great: he pleads the greatness of his sin, and not the smallness of it; he enforces his prayer with this consideration, that his sins are very heinous.
But how could he make this a plea for pardon? I answer, Because the greater his iniquity was, the more need he had of pardon. It is as much as if he had said, Pardon mine iniquity, for it is so great that I cannot bear the punishment; my sin is so great that I am in necessity of pardon; my case will be exceedingly miserable, unless thou be pleased to pardon me. He makes use of the greatness of his sin to enforce his plea for pardon, as a man would make use of the greatness of calamity, in begging for relief. When a beggar begs for bread, he will plead the greatness of his poverty and necessity. When a man in distress cries for pity, what more suitable plea can be urged than the extremity of his case ?--And God allows such a plea as this: for he is moved to mercy towards us by nothing in us but the miserableness of our case. He doth not pity sinners because they are worthy, but because they need his pity.
Doctrine. If we truly come to God for mercy, the greatness of our sin will be no impediment to pardon.-If it were an impediment, David would never have used it as a plea for pardon, as we find he does in the text.- The following things are needful in order that we truly come to God for mercy :
I. That we should see our misery, and be sensible of our need of mercy. They who are not sensible of their misery cannot truly look to God for mercy; for it is the very notion of divine mercy, that it is the goodness and grace of God to the miserable. Without misery in the object, there can be no exercise of
mercy. To suppose mercy without supposing misery, or pity without calamity, is a contradiction: therefore men cannot look upon themselves as proper objects of mercy, unless they first know themselves to be miserable; and so, unless this be the case, it is impossible that they should come to God for mercy. They must be sensible that they are the children of wrath; that the law is against them, and that they