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proper state, as they will be if we walk with God, we shall not be at a loss, but shall know the meaning of bur Lord's words, "Out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaketh; "out of the abundance of that mercy we feel to those ruined sinners, we shall speak in the Name of the Lord tó them, in order to instruct them in the right way;-to make them sensible of their sin and danger ;-to shew them the necessity of repentance towards God, and faith in our Lord Jesus Christ; and with the same views, to endeavour to get them under an heart-searching and powerful ministry. Ten thousand excuses may and will be made, but they all stand for nothing. If we love mercy, we shall certainly live in the exercise of it.


We may add to the above, that considered as members of a religious society, we shall find innumerable occasions to exercise mercy towards the souls of our brethren. We' shall find it needful to instruct, advise, and counsel, to comfort, encourage, and strengthen our Christian brethren :-to assist in bearing their burthens, tenderly sympathizing with those whom we find to be tempted, afflicted, or distressed ;-endeavouring to relieve them according to our power; "Strengthen the weak hands and the feeble knees," saith the Apostle: And again," Strengthen the weak, comfort the feeble-minded" And yet again, "Rejoice with them that rejoice, and weep with them that weep." A man or woman who may properly be said to love mercy, will find work enough, and blessed work too;-work that the Lord will abundantly reward, both in the present and in the eternal world." He, (saith the Apostle,) who shall convert a sinner from the error of his way, shall save a soul from death, and shall hide a multitude of sins." A greater honour than this God himself cannot put upon a creature, than to make him an instrument in his hand of saving precious souls; of doing good in a spiritual way to our fellow-creatures..



But alas what shall we say here to a poor formalist, who has been laying hold of this Scripture with his withered hands? Thou poor blind pharisee! thou standest in the greatest need of this mercy to be exercised towards thyself. Not a more proper object of it than thou can be found upon earth, or on this side hell; that is most certain. But as to thy exercising this mercy, alas for thee! thou art totally destitute of it;-thou hast not a single grain of it in thy soul; and shouldst thou compass sea and land to make proselytes to thy way, it would only be to fulfil the word of the Lord, to make such two-fold more the children of hell than they were before. Alas, for thy poor benighted soul, thou

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thyself art walking in that way which seemeth right to a man, but the end of it leadeth down to the chambers of death. Thou art covering thyself with a covering it is true, but it is not of the Spirit of God;-and therefore there is a dreadful woe denounced against thee;-thou art walking in the light, of thy own fire, and compassing thyself about with sparks, but this shalt thou have at my hand, saith the Lord, thou shalt lie down in sorrow. In one word, thou art seeking, death in the error of thy way. Happy, yea, unspeakably happy would it be for thee, if thou wouldst deeply consider those awful Scriptures, and hearken to the voice of God, who certainly speaks to thee in that word of his, " Awake, thou that sleepest, and arise from the dead, and Christ shall give thee light." Then, and not till then, there would be hope concerning thee.

But indeed none can be said, with any degree of truth, to love mercy, (and consequently cannot exercise that which they have not,) but those, and only those, who have obtained mercy at the hand of the Lord themselves. He having freely and graciously forgiven them all their past offences: Having much forgiven, they love much, and discover their love to God, by their love to their fellow-creatures. And having the love of God shed abroad in their hearts; or as another Apostle speaks, being made the happy partakers of a divine nature, they are hereby made to resemble the Father of mercies, and feel themselves in their measure affected towards mankind as he does. O yes! Divine grace ennobles and expands the soul; it gives a god-like disposition to the mind; and hence it becomes natural to those who are indeed born of God, to pity the distressed;-and like the Divine Redeemer, to bless mankind according to the ability which he hath given them.


Let mercy be exercised towards the souls of men, as have been above described, and then, with respect to their bodies, they also shall have their proper share of pity and compassion. That it is our duty to relieve those who are in distress, according to our power, none, I suppose, will deny: But he who does this merely from a sense of duty, I fear, will have little satisfaction in his own mind in the performance of this work. My text rises much higher than this; the words are, "Love mercy." Now that which we love, we delight in, and are never weary of. When once we begin to be weary of any thing, we cease to love it. If then we love mercy, we must needs delight in shewing mercy ;-in exercising it towards those we think proper objects of it;-towards those who are in distress. Many are the encouraging passages of

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Holy Scripture which we meet with, as to the exercise of mercy: "He who giveth to the poor, lendeth to the Lord; and look that which he layeth out the Lord shall repay him," one would think this is quite enough. No one can be unwilling, one would suppose, to lend upon such security. "Blessed are the merciful,' saith our divine Saviour," for they shall obtain mercy." And again, "Lay not up for yourselves treasures upon earth; but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust doth corrupt, and where thieves cannot break through and steal." And yet again: He assures us, that even a cup of cold water given to a disciple of his in his name, shall not lose its reward. But it would be endless to recite all the passages from the word of God which might be quoted on this occasion.


I shall not enlarge on this head. Let it then suffice to say, with an Apostle, "Do good unto all men, but especially to them who are of the household of faith." Every lover of mercy will surely do this, not only because God hath commanded it; but also because God hath disposed his mind so to do: has given him such a turn of mind that his duty is his delight. To be in his measure "a father to the fatherless, and an husband to the widow." To be, as it were, eyes to the blind, and feet to the lame," is now the joy of his heart: But to be all this to a child of God, to an heir of eternal glory, will give him ten-fold pleasure. Because these are inexpressibly dear to him, as the purchase of the same precious blood;-as children of the same gracious Father ;as partakers of the same Holy spirit;-as walking in the same way of holiness;-and he hopes to dwell with them in the holy city of God through a boundless eternity. Thus then the lovers of mercy walk before the Lord, till their work of faith and their labour of love is ended.

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ISAIAH XXXviii. 17.

Behold, for peace I had great bitterness; but thou hast in love to my soul delivered it from the pit of corruption: for thou hast cast all my sins behind thy back.

THESE are the words of Hezekiah, king of Judah, when he had been sick, but through the unspeakable mercy and goodness of God, was now recovered. It appears from the account given of this Prince, that for some time after he came to the throne, he was a man of great piety. He trusted in the Lord with his whole heart, and steadily walked in all his commandments: and the Lord his God was with him, and prospered him in all his ways. In consequence of this, he cast off the yoke of the king of Assyria, and would no longer serve him. Upon this he was highly offended, and came against Jerusalem with a very powerful army. Now was the time for Hezekiah to look unto the Lord for his promised assistance. But alas! unbelieving fear prevailed. He fainted in the day of trial, and instead of crying unto the Lord for help, (as he was afterwards obliged to do) he sent his servants to the king of Assyria, to acknowledge his offence, by saying, I have sinned against thee, that which thou puttest upon me I will bear. Accordingly he appointed him to pay a large sum of money; and to discharge this, Hezekiah took all the money that was found in the house of the Lord, and cut off the gold from the doors and the pillars of the Temple, and gave the whole to this heathen king, the professed enemy of the God of Israel. Now was not all this gold sacred? Had it not been consecrated and solemnly dedicated to the service of God? Had Hezekiah any right to give this sacred treasure to the king of Assyria, or to any one else? In doing this, was he not guilty of sacrilege, and was it not the guilt of this sin which lay upon his conscience when Isaiah was sent to him by the Lord to deliver this most solemn message to him? "Set thine house in order, for thou shalt die and not live ?" Hezekiah no sooner heard these words, than he fell into the deepest distress. What was the cause of such sorrow? Had he enjoyed an assurance of his

interest in the God of Israel, surely it could not have occa. sioned such extreme grief to hear that he was going from a temporal, to wear an eternal crown, from a state of sorrow and suffering, to a state of inconceiveable glory and blessedness. Had he been duly prepared to meet the Lord, he would rather have rejoiced in hope of eternal peace and happiness, in the enjoyment of him. There seems to be no scriptural way of accounting for his present trouble, but to suppose that he was in the same state with David, when Nathan the Prophet came unto him from the Lord. Hezekiah had sinned, but was insensible of his sin, till the words of Isaiah were applied to his heart, by the Spirit of God. Then his conscience awoke, his whole soul was alarmed, and he sunk into the deep waters of bitter distress. But he cried unto the Lord in this day of great trouble, and be extended his mercy and love to him. He pardoned his sins, and received him into his favour once more. And Hezekiah joyfully testifies of the mercy and loving-kindness of the Lord extended unto him, in the words of the text; "Behold for peace, or behold upon my peace, came great bitterness; but thou hast in love to my soul delivered it from the pit of corruption; for thou hast cast all my sins behind thy back."

In discoursing upon the words, it may, by the blessing of the Lord, be profitable to consider the following particulars: First, The nature of that peace which Hezekiah had before Isaiah the Prophet came unto him.

Secondly, The nature of that bitterness which came upon him, after Isaiah had delivered the word of the Lord unto him.

Thirdly, The tender mercy and love of God, which Hezekiah ascribes his salvation to: "Thou hast, in love to my soul, delivered it from the pit of corruption.'


Fourthly, The blessing which he received at the hand of the Lord: "Thou hast cast all my sins behind thy back."

1. And First. Let us consider the nature of that peace which Hezekiah had, before Isaiah the Prophet came to him. It seems evident, it was not the peace of God, but a false peace. Had it been the peace of God it would not have vanished away upon his hearing the words of the Prophet; awful as they were. He would not have fallen into that deep trouble and bitter distress, had he been blest with an assurance of the favour of God towards him. For we shall find that not one of the Old Testament saints were thus affected at the approach of death; very far from it. We do not find that Abraham, or any of the old Patriachs; 4. bot



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