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tern of the divine goodness be continually before us, SERM. that we may be still fashioning our felves in the temper of our minds, and in the actions of our lives, to a likeness and conformity to it.

Lastly, the confideration of the divine goodness fhould excite our praise and thankfulness: This is a great duty, to the performance whereof we should fummon all the powers and faculties of our fouls; as the holy Pfalmift does, Pfal. ciii. 1, 2. “Bless the "LORD, O my foul; and all that is within me, "bless his holy name. Bless the LORD, O my foul, "and forget not all his benefits." And we should invite all others to the fame work, as the fame devout Pfalmift frequently does; Pfal. cvi. 1. "O give thanks "unto the LORD, for he is good; for his mercy "endureth for ever." And Pfal. cvii. 8. "O that "men would praife the LORD for his goodness, "and for his wonderful works to the children of "men!"

And we had need to be often called upon to this duty, to which we have a peculiar backwardness. Neceffity drives us to prayer, and fends us to GoD for the supply of our wants; but praise and thankfgiving is a duty which depends upon our gratitude and ingenuity; and nothing fooner wears off, than the fenfe of kindness and benefits. We are very apt to forget the bleffings of Gon, not so much from a bad memory, as from a bad nature; to forget the greatest bleffings, the continuance whereof fhould continually put us in mind of them, the bleffings of our beings. So GOD complains of his people, Deut. xxxii. 18. " Of the GOD that formed thee thou "hast been unmindful," the dignity and excellency of our being above all the creatures of this vifible world; Job xxxv, 10, 11. "None faith, Where is



SERM. "GOD my maker, who teacheth us more than the "beafts of the earth, and maketh us wifer than the "fowls of heaven?" the daily comforts and bleffings of our lives, which we can continually receive, without almost ever looking up to the hand that gives them. So GoD complains by the prophet Hofea, chap. ii. 8, 9. She knew not that I gave her corn, and "wine, and oil, and multiplied her filver and gold." And is it not fhameful to fee how at the moft plentiful tables, the giving of God thanks is almoft grown out of fashion? as if men were afhamed to own from whence thefe bleffings came. When thanks is all God expects from us, can we not afford to give him that?"Do ye thus requite the LORD, "foolish people, and unwife ?" It is juft with GoD away his bleffings from us, if we deny him this eafy tribute of praise and thanksgiving.

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It is a fign men are unfit for heaven, when they are backward to that which is the proper work and imployment of the bleffed fpirits above. Therefore, as ever we hope to come thither, let us begin this work here, and inure our felves to that which will be the great business of all eternity. Let us, with the four and twenty elders in the Revelation, "fall down "before him that fits on the throne, and worship "him that liveth for ever and ever, and cast our "crowns before the throne" (that is, caft our felves) and afcribe all glory to GoD, faying, "Thou art "worthy, O LORD, to receive glory, and honour, "and power; for thou haft made all things, and "for thy pleasure they are, and were created."

"To him therefore, the infinite and inexhaufti"ble fountain of goodness, the father of mercies, and "the GOD of all confolation, who gave us fuch


"excellent beings, having made us little lower than SER M. "the angels, and crowned us with glory and ho- CXLVI "nour; who hath been pleased to stamp upon us "the image of his own goodness, and thereby made "us partakers of a divine nature, communicating "to us not only of the effects of his goodness, but in "fome measure and degree of the perfection itself; "to him who gives us all things richly to enjoy, "which pertain to life and godliness, and hath made "fuch abundant provifion, not only for our comfort "and convenience in this prefent life, but for our unfpeakable happiness to all eternity; to him who defigned this happiness to us from all eternity, "and whofe mercy and goodness to us endures for "ever; who when by wilful tranfgreffions and dif"obedience we had plunged our felves into a state "of fin and misery, and had forfeited that happi"nefs which we were defigned to, was pleased to "reftore us to a new capacity of it, by fending his only fon to take our nature, with the miseries and "infirmities of it, to live among us, and to die for 66 us; in a word, o him who is infinitely good to us, not only contrary to our deferts, but beyond

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our hopes, who renews his mercy upon us every "morning, and is patient though we provoke him every day, who preferves and provides for us, and fpares us continually, who is always willing, always watchful, and never weary to do us good; "to him be all glory and honour, adoration and "praife, love and obedience, now and for ever."

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The mercy of God.




NUM B. xiv. 18.

The LORD is long-fuffering, and of great mercy.

Have confidered God's goodness in general. There are two eminent branches of it, his patience and mercy. The patience of GOD is his goodness to them that are guilty, in deferring or moderating their deserved punishment: the mercy of GoD is his goodness to them that are, or may be miferable. It is the last of these two I design to discourse of at this time; in doing of which, I fhall inquire, First, what we are to understand by the mercy God.


Secondly, fhew you, that this perfection belongs to God.

Thirdly, confider the degree of it, that God is of great mercy.

Firft, what we are to understand by the mercy of



I told you, it is his goodness to them that are in mifery, or liable to it; that is, that are in danger of it, or have deserved it. It is mercy, to prevent the mifery that we are liable to, and which may fal us, though it be not actually upon us. It is mercy, to defer the mifery that we deferve, or mitigate it; and this is, properly, patience and forbearance. It is mercy, to relieve thofe that are in mifery, to fupport or comfort them. It is mercy,


to remit the mifery we deserve, and, by pardon and S ERM. forgiveness, to remove and take away the obligation to punishment.

Thus the mercy of GoD is ufually, in scripture, fet forth to us by the affection of pity and compaffion; which is an affection that caufeth a fenfible commotion and disturbance in us, upon the apprehenfion of fome great evil that lies upon another, or hangs over him. Hence it is that God is said, in scripture, to be grieved and afflicted for the miferies of men; his bowels are faid to found, and his heart to turn within him. But though God is pleased in this manner to set forth his mercy and tenderness towards us, yet we must take heed how we clothe the divine nature with the infirmities of human paffions. We must not measure the perfection of GoD by the expreffions of his condefcenfion; and because he ftoops to our weakness, level him to our infirmities. When GOD is faid to pity us, we must take away the imperfection of this paffion, the commotion and disturbance of it, and not imagine any fuch thing in GOD; but we are to conceive, that the mercy and compaffion of GOD, without producing the disquiet, do produce the effects of the most sensible pity.

Secondly, that this perfection belongs to God. All the arguments that I used to prove the goodnefs of God, from the acknowledgment of natural light, and from fcripture and reafon, ferve to prove that he is merciful; because the mercy of GoD is an eminent branch of his goodnefs. I will only produce fome of thofe many texts of fcripture which attribute this perfection to GOD. Exod. xxxiv. 6. merciful and gra

"The LORD, the LORD GOD,

"cious." Deut. iv. 31. "The LORD thy GOD is "a merciful God." 2 Chron. xxxiv. 9. "The LORD

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