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6. Reflect upon blessings as well as evils,
7. Pray frequently and fervently for this disposition, 198
The properties of acceptable prayer,
IX. (3.) Hope. Its suitableness to our present state. How
it differs from presumption. (4.) The fear of God.
FORGIVENESS OF SINS.
Psal. cxxx. 4.
But there is forgiveness with thee, that thou mayest be feared.
THE Psalmist, in the first and second verses, addresses God with earnest desires for his saving mercies : “ Out of the depths have I cried to thee, O Lord: Lord hear my voice: let thine ear be attentive to my supplication.” He humbly deprecates the severe inquiry of divine justice ; ver. 3. “ If thou, Lord, shouldst mark iniquities : O Lord, who shall stand?" If God should with an exact eye observe our sins, and call us to an account, who can stand in judgment? who can endure that fiery trial? The best saints, though never so innocent and unblamable in the sight of men, though never so vigilant and watchfut over their hearts and ways, are not exempted from the spots of human frailty, which according to the rigour of the law, would expose them to a condemning sentence. He relieves and supports himself under this fearful apprehension with the hopes of mercy: “ but there is forgiveness with thee, that thou mayst be feared." It is in thy power and thy will, to pardon repenting and returning sinners, “ that thou mayest be feared.” The fear of God in scripture signifies the humble holy reverence of him,
as our heavenly Father and Sovereign, that makes us cautious lest we should offend him, and careful to please him. For this reason the fear of God is comprehensive of all religion, of “ the whole duty of man,” to which it is introductive, and is a principal ingredient in it. The clemency and compassionate mercy of God is the cause of an ingenuous filial fear, mixed with love and affiance in the breasts of men. Other attributes, his holiness that framed the law, justice that ordained the punishment of sin, power that inflicts it, render his majesty terrible, and cause a flight from him as an enemy. If all must perish for their sins, no prayers or praises will ascend to heaven, all religious worship will cease for ever : but his tender mercy ready to receive humble suppliants, and restore them to his favour, renders him amiable and admired, and draws us near to him.
There are two propositions to be considered in the verse :
11. That the forgiving mercy of God is a powerful motive of adoration and obedience. I propound to discourse of the first, and to touch upon the second in the application.
In managing the point with light and order, it is requisite to consider; Ist. What is contained in forgiveness. 2dly. The arguments that demonstrate that forgiveness belongs to God.
1. What is contained in forgiveness. This necessarily supposes sin, and sin a law that is violated by it: the law implies a sovereign Lawgiver, to whose declared will subjection is due, and who will exact an account in judgment of men's obedience or disobedience to his law, and dispense rewards and punishments accordingly. God by the clearest titles “is our king, our lawgiver and judge:" for he is our maker and preserver, and consequently has a full propriety in us, and absolute authority over us : and by his sovereign and singular perfections is qualified to govern us. A derived being is necessarily in a state of dependance and subjection. All the ranks of creatures in the world are ordered by their Maker; his “ kingdom rules over all.” Those in the lowest degree of being are ordered by power. Sensitive ereatures are determined by the impulses of nature to their actions; for having no light to distinguish between moral good and evil, they have no choice, and are incapable of receiving a law. Intelligent creatures, endowed with judicious and free faculties, an understanding to discern between moral good and evil, and