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soil as mercy is, especially when mercy is the tillage. God's vineyard is on a very fruitful hill, * so we read it; but in Hebrew, † it is the horn of the son of oil. I know the son of oil may import a very rich soil, as son of the morning means what is exceedingly bright and luminous ; and so God's people were planted in Canaan, which was an exceedingly fruitful country, but the passage may, at least, allusively affirm of real saints, that they are planted in the horn of the son of oil, even in the Son of God, who was anointed with the oil of gladness above his fellows, and in whom true believers are planted, and from whom they may draw abundant juice and fatness, as branches do from the root of the olive-tree, Rom. xi. 17; moreover, what abundant pains doth God the Father, the husbandman, take, to make souls very fruitful; he “ takes away such as bear no fruit at all,” and “ every branch that beareth fruit, he purgeth it that it may bring forth more fruit."-John xy. 2. O what mercies do the saints partake of! gospel privileges, promises, providences, ordinances, experiences, comforts, corrections, every thing that might make them fruitful in good works, in praying, reading, meditating, conferring, exact walking, doth God distribute; and where is their answerable fruitfulness? God expects more and riper fruit. Alas, how short and defective are we! how little glory do we bring to God! how little profit unto others, or comfort to our own souls! We should be filled with the fruits of righteousness; we should abound more and more, and bring forth fruits meet for sincere repentance, and be truly fruitful in every good work. I But are we so or not? I much suspect it; and what
בקרן בן שמן +
• Isaiah vi. l.
Phil. i. 11.
1 Thes. iii. 12.
Matt. iii. 8.
Col. i. 10.
a shame is it that we should lie under the warm influ. ences of the sun of righteousness so long, and be so unfruitful! The God of heaven humble us for this!
2. I am afraid that the fruits we do bring forth are but sour and bitter, not so sweet and kindly as might be expected of the genuine fruits and products of these sure mercies. My meaning is, that the obedience and performances of believers too often flow from a spirit of bondage, fear and terror, and not from that filial child-like disposition, and the evangelical spirit of adoption that should be the principle and actuating cause of their spiritual obedience. I know legal fears and terrors are good in their tendency, to drive the soul out of itself, and unto Christ; but afterwards, a spirit of love best becomes a child of God ; * hence, saith the apostle, Rom. viii. 15, " ye have not received the spirit of bondage again to fear, but ye have received the spirit of adoption, whereby we cry Abba, Father.” A child-like boldness best befits a son. It is more acceptable to God to see souls attracted to him by silken cords of love, than scourged to him by severe lashes of wrath. Christ's soldiers are not so much pressed for his service by compulsion, as they are volunteers by a spontaneous movement. All our duties should be free-will offerings; but alas, sirs, how unwilling and forced are many of our performances ! how grumbling are we in our actings for God! We go to God as though it were our burden, not with that delight and cheerfulness we ought. Consider sirs, how readily God offers us mercy! how freely Christ laid down his life for us! how acceptable a work it is to the blessed Spirit to apply these mercies to us! and be ashamed to be so reluctant and dull in your performances; yea, consider the dispensation you are under--a gospel covenant, made up of
• 2 Tim. i. 7.
mercy, and this should ripen our fruits to more sweetness and maturity than the Old Testament dispensation. As
you know apricots and other fruit that are upon a wall, under the direct influence or powerful reflection of the sun beams, are sooner ripe, and sweeter when ripe, than such as are in the shade; so our fruits in gospel times should be better than theirs under the law; but, alas, how far do we fall short of David's warm spirit for God? or the holy acts put forth by him and other saints of God under types and shadows, when these sweet mercies were not so clearly revealed to them, and when the sun of righteousness did not shed his beams with so much warmth upon them! Ah Christians, if you would study mercies more, your spirits would be in a better frame for duty. David saith, “ I will come into thy house in the multitude of thy mercies, and in thy fear will I worship toward thy holy temple.”—Psalm v. 7. Observe it; the sense of God's mercy
is an excellent ingredient in the worship of God; yea, it begets a holy awe of God, for these two are very consistent; and, indeed, nothing is so prevalent a motive to duty, and dissuasive from iniquity, and persuasive to the exercise of repentance, as a sense of mercy is. This truth, Scripture and experience will abundantly confirm. But I have been too long on this subject; only let God's children be humbled for their too, too legal disposition, and breathe after a more evangelical spirit by the studying of these mercies, rather than poring upon guilt and wrath.
THE SURE MERCIES OF DAVID DESERVE CONSIDER
ATION, AND SHOULD EXCITE IN ALL A SOLICI. TUDE TO OBTAIN THEM.
V. ARGUMENTS may be used to induce all classes of persons to look after their share in these sure mercies of David ; and Othat I had it in my power by any means to evince their importance! O what a mercy would it be, if by these sure mercies of David, and these discourses about them, some soul were enamoured therewith, and set, in good earnest, to make them its
But shall I need to use many arguments to persuade any person to accept of mercy? Yes, certainly; the most part of the world forsake their own mercies by observing lying vanities; and they that can experimentally distinguish betwixt a gracious and graceless heart, find that it is the hardest thing in the world to close in with mercies in God's way. It is an easy thing for a secure sinner to presume upon mercy, to make mercy a pillow to sleep upon with ease, to build castles in the air, and feed himself with vain conceits of the mercy of God—this any one can do; but to be got off our own grounds of dependence, to despair of ourselves, to accept of Jesus Christ, to give up ourselves to God in covenant, to venture a troubled heart upon the promises of free grace. This is a high and hard work, an arduous and difficult undertaking ; but this is done by every converted sinner, and a soul never obtains mercy till it be, indeed, savingly converted, 1 Tim. i. 13. If you be lo-ammi, not God's people by way of covenant, you are lo-ruhamah, * that is, persons that have not
* Hos. i. 6-9.
mercy. O look after an interest in these sure mercies of David. Consider,
1. Nothing else in the world can be made sure; we live in an inconstant world; every thing is upon the wheel of change; sublunary comforts are like the moon, sometimes at the full, and sometimes in the wanenothing continues in a fixed state ; a man may be rich to-day and poor to-morrow, therefore the apostle calls them uncertain riches, or uncertainty of riches in the abstract. Now then, saith the apostle, Christians must lay up in store for themselves “a good foundation against the time to come.”—1 Tim. vi. 17-19. Alas, riches were never true to any that trusted to them ; the things of the world are like sand or smoke, with which you cannot fill your hand. * Who would be so fond of that which he knows he cannot keep? It is the part of a wise man to purchase such an estate as he may enjoy; friends, goods, honours, health, pleasures have their periods, but these mercies are sure and everlasting. O the vast difference! It is very deserving of consideration, that the things only that make us happy, can be made sure; but the things of this world, which cannot make us happy, cannot be made sureand, indeed, whatever may be lost is not capable of making any truly happy. Now heavenly things are durable as well as suitable to the soul, therefore, let us all take the counsel of our Lord Jesus, Matt. vi. 19, 20, “ Lay not up for yourselves treasures upon earth, where moth and rust doth corrupt, and where thieves break through and steal—but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust doth
* Plato said, Oύ πενία ποτε ή ολιγοχρηματία, άλλ' ή απληστία ής φρουδης ο αγαθός ών και πλούσιος γάν ειή.-Non est paupertas pecuniæ paucitas, sed insatiabilitas ; quæ si recesserit, qui bonus est dives quoque fuerit.—Clem. Alexand. Strom. lib. 2. VOL. II.