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deep impression which sensible objects make upon
the mind : he marks the baneful influence of sudden and violent, or of pressing and long-continued temptation; and he perceives the weakness, the imperfection, and the instability of virtue even in the best of human characters. He knows that oft when “to will is present, how to do what is good they find not.” And God is long-suffering and gracious. More ready to forbear with us than we are with one another. He makes every indulgent allowance for human infirmity. He is not strict to mark iniquity, nor rigorous to exact the debt of ten thousand talents. He is good, and ready to forgive. If sins are numerous, and often repeated, and greatly aggravated, yet where they are repented of and forsaken, he “multiplies to pardon.” He forgives for his great name's sake, and for his infinite mercy's sake, and because he delighteth in mercy; and from the benefit of his promise no penitent is excluded, whatever be the number or the greatness of his offences.
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Various, wise, and gentle, are the means which he adopts for the recovery of his offending children. He calls to them by the suggestions of reason and of conscience. He warns them by his threatenings, and invites them by his promises. He kindly expostulates with them upon the folly and the danger of their conduct. from your evil ways, for why will ye die?” He draws them to himself by the cords of love. And where there are any tokens of genuine repentance and filial contrition, where there are any secret relentings of heart and sincere purposes of reformation,
, he observes them with complacency. He meets from afar the returning prodigal, he embraces him in the arms of parental tenderness, he pronounces a free and full pardon of all his transgressions, and restores the mourning penitent to favour and to peace.
6. The character of a Father includes a readiness to hear and answer reasonable requests.
To whom should children go but to a
father. A wise and good parent will encourage the confidence of an affectionate and dutiful child, will listen to his desires and complaints, will attend to his anxieties and apprehensions, will administer advice and consolation, and will comply with his requests, so far as may be consistent with his situation, his improvement, and his ultimate advantage.
And the disciples of Christ are enjoined to offer up their devout aspirations to their Father in heaven, in full assurance that they shall find in him a powerful protector, a kind and faithful counsellor and friend. They are allowed and invited to draw near unto him even to his seat, to order their cause before him, to cast their 'care upon him, and in every thing by prayer and supplication to make known their requests to him.
They are permitted to open their whole mind to him ; to lay before him all their wants, and all their difficulties; to speak to him of all their burdens and their sorrows; to state before him all their dark apprehensions, their gloomy and forebod
ing fears; to commune with him of those secret perplexities, and troubles, which cannot be imparted to the dearest earthly friend; and to repose their entire confidence in his care and mercy. : They are encouraged to do this under the fullest assurance that their heavenly Father is at all times present with them that he knows all they say, and all they think; that he understands the meaning of a tear, and the language of a sigh; and that he 'fully comprehends those secret emotions of the beart which no words can express.
And the disciples of Jesus are taught to believe that their heavenly Father listens with an attentive ear to their imperfect supplications; that his parental heart is ever disposed to afford the most efficacious assistance, or the most substantial relief; and that he is more ready to give good things to them that ask him, than earthly parents are to give good gifts to their children.
They are not indeed to expect that God
will alter the course of nature in answer to their prayers, or to gratify their fond inclinations. But if they heartily desire and pray as they always ought, that the will of God may be done in them and by them, and that their will
may be wholly subjected and moulded into his, they will regard all events which take place, and every thing which befals them as a wise and merciful answer to their prayers. In a word, if they pray to bim with a dutiful and resigned spirit, their humble addresses to him shall not be in vain ; for he will either prevent what they fear, and remove what they suffer, and grant what they ask; or, he will do better for them than they desire. What they deprecate as an evil he will convert into a blessing. And in all his dispensations it shall eventually appear that they were the result of paternal love, under the direction of paternal wisdom.
7. The character of a father includes the provision of a suitable inheritance, of which they shall in due time be put into complete possession.