Page images

"ed, The Lord, The Lord God, merciful “ and gracious, long suffering, and abundant in goodness and truth, keeping mercy for “ thousands, forgiving iniquity, and transgression, and fin.”

When Mofes foretels the final dispersion of the Israelites, in consequence of their idolatry, and other vices, he at the same time gives them the most folemn assurances of the divine favour in case of their repentance. I shall quote two remarkable paliages for this purpose, Deut. iv. 25. &c. “ When “ thou shalt beget children, and children's “ children, and shalt have remained long in “ the land, and shall corrupt yourselves, “ and make a gråven image, or the likeness “ of any thing, and shall do evil in the fight “ of the Lord thy God, to provoke him to “ anger : I call heaven and earth to witness “ against you this day, that ye shall soon “ utterly perish froin off the land whereunto “ ye go over Jordan to poffefs it: ye shall “ not prolong your days upon it, but shall “ utterly be destroyed. And the Lord shall “ scatter you among the nations, and ye

« shall


“ shall be left few in number among the “ heathen, whither the Lord shall lead you. “ And there ye shall serve gods, the work of ~ men's hands, wood and stone, which nei“ ther fee, nor hear, nor cat, nor smell. But “ if from thence thou shalt seek the Lord thy 66 God, thou shalt find him, if thou seek “ him with all thy heart and with all thy “ foul. When thou art in tribulation, and “ all these things are come upon thee, even so in the latter days, if thou turn to the Lord o thy God, and fhalt be obedient unto his 66 voice: (for the Lord thy God is a mer“ ciful God) he will not forsike thee, nei“ ther destroy thec, nor forget the covenant “ of thy fathers which he sware unto them.” Deut. xxx. 1. &c. “And it shall come to “ pafs when all these things are come upon “ thee, the blessing and the curse, which I “ have set before thee, and thou shalt call “ them to mind, among all the nations whi“ther the Lord thy God hath driven thee, “ and shalt return unto the Lord thy God, “and fhalt obey his voice according to all “ that I command thee this day, thou and “ thy children, with all thine heart and

or with


“ with all thy soul: that then the Lord thy “ God will turn thy captivity, and have “ compassion : pon thee, and will return and “ gather thee from all the nations whither “the Lord thy God hath scattered thee. If “ any of thine be driven out unto the out“ most parts of heaven, from thence will the “ Lord thy God gather thee, and from “ thence will he fetch thee. And the Lord “ thy God will bring the into the land “ which thy fathers possessed, and thou shalt “possess it, and he will do thee good, and “multiply thee above thy fathers.”

To these promises Daniel had recourse, when he made confession and prayer to God on the behalf of Israel, during the Babylonish captivity Dan. ix. 8. &c. “ O Lord, “to us belongeth confusion of face, to our “ kings, to our princes, and to our fathers, ,“ because we have finned against thee. To “ the Lord our God belong mercies and for“ givenesses, though we have rebelled against “ him.” The prophet Jeremiah also repeats the same promises of mercy and restoration, with a view to the same case, Jer. iii. 12. &c. “Go and proclaim these words “ toward the north, and say, Return, thou “ backsliding Ifracl, faith the Lord, and I “ will not cause mine anger to fall upon you, " for I am merciful, fuith the Lord, and I “ will not keep anger for ever.----Turn, “O backsiding children, faith the Lord, “ for I am married unto you: and I will “ take you one of a city, and two of a fami.“ ly, and I will bring you to Zion.”

12. matter

The declarations of divine mercy to penitent offenders, upon a great variety of occafions, in the course of the Jewish history, and especially in the book of Pialıns, and of the prophets, who wrote in times of great degeneracy, are remarkably emphatical ; and to give us the stronger foundation for our confidence in the divine mercy it is always represented as arising from himself only, from that love and compassion which is essential to his nature, and which he bears to all the works of his hands. We cannot so much as collect from any of them the most distant hint of its arising from any foreign confideration whatever; and this was certainly a

matter of the greatest consequence; fince a suspicion of this kind would tend to beget an idea of uncertainty, or partiality in the distribution of the divine mercy.

Indeed every idea of this nature seems to be expresily excluded in several pafages of fcripture, as in that declaration which the divine being makes by the prophet Isaiah, xliii. 22. &c. - Thou hast not called “ upon me, O Jacob, but thou hast been “ weary of me, O Israel.-Thou hast inade “me to serve with thy fins, thou hast “ wearied me with thine iniquities. I, “ even I am he that blotteth out thy tranf“gressions for mine own fake, and will not “ reinember thy sins.” David, it is evident, had no other idea when he prayed for the forgiveness of his sins, Pf. xxv. 6. &c. “Remember, O Lord, thy tender mercies, " and thy loving kindnesses, for they have “ been ever of old. Remember not the “fins of my youth, nor my transgresiions ; “ according to thy mercy remember thou “me, for thy goodness fake, O Lord. Good " and upright is the Lord; therefore will

s he

« PreviousContinue »