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his severity was the judge, his justice the executioner. It was a mighty calamity that man was to undergo, when he that made him, armed himself against his creature, which would have died or turned to nothing, if he had but withdrawn the miracles and the almightiness of his power: if God had taken his arm from under him, man had perished. But it was, therefore, a greater evil when God laid his arm upon him and against him, and seemed to support him, that he might be longer killing him. In the midst of these sadnesses, God remembered his own creature, and pitied it; and, by his mercy, rescued him from the hands of his power, and the sword of his justice, and the guilt of his punishment, and the disorder of his sin; and placed him in that order of good things where he ought to have stood. It was mercy that preserved the noblest of God's creatures here below; he who stood condemned and undone under all the other attributes of God, was only saved and rescued by his mercy; that it may be evident that God’s mercy is above all his works, and above all ours, greater than the creation, and greater than our sins. As is his majesty, so is his mercy, that is, without measures and without rules, sitting in heaven and filling all the world, calling for a duty that he may give a blessing, making man that he may save him, punishing him that he may preserve him. And God's justice bowed down to his mercy, and all his power passed into mercy, and his omniscience converted into care and watchfulness, into providence and observation for man's avail; and Heaven gave its influence for man, and rained showers for our food and drink; and the attributes and acts of God sat at the foot of mercy, and all that mercy descended upon the head of man. For so the light of the world in the morning of the creation was spread abroad like a curtain, and dwelt no where, but filled the 'expansum' with a dissemination great as the unfoldings of the air's looser garment, or the wilder fringes of the fire, without knots, or order, or combination; but God gathered the beams in his hand, and united them into a globe of fire, and all the light of the world became the body of the sun; and he lent some to his weaker sister that walks in the night, and guides a traveller, and teaches him to distinguish a house from a river, or a rock from a plain field. So is the mercy of God, a vast ' expansum' and a huge ocean; from

eternal ages it dwelt round about the throne of God, and it filled all that infinite distance and space, that hath no measures but the will of God: until God, desiring to communicate that excellency and make it relative, created angels, that he might have persons capable of huge gifts; and man, who he knew would need forgiveness. For so the angels, our elder brothers, dwelt for ever in the house of their Father, and never brake his commandments; but we, the younger, like prodigals, forsook our Father's house, and went into a strange country, and followed stranger courses, and spent the portion of our nature, and forfeited all our title to the family, and came to need another portion. For, ever since the fall of Adam,—who, like an unfortunate man, spent all that a wretched man could need, or a happy man could have,-our life is repentance, and forgiveness is all our portion; and though angels were objects of God's bounty, yet man only is, in proper speaking, the object of his mercy: and the mercy which dwelt in an infinite circle, became confined to a little ring, and dwelt here below; and here shall dwell below, till it hath carried all God's portion up to heaven, where it shall reign in glory upon our crowned heads for ever and ever!

But for him that considers God's mercies, and dwells awhile in that depth, it is hard not to talk wildly, and without art and order of discoursings. St. Peter talked he knew not what, when he entered into a cloud with Jesus upon Mount Tabor, though it passed over him like the little curtains, that ride upon the north wind, and pass between the sun and us. And when we converse with a light greater than the sun, and taste a sweetness more delicious than the dew of heaven, and in our thoughts entertain the ravishments and harmony of that atonement, which reconciles God to man, and man to felicity,-it will be more easily pardoned, if we should be like persons that admire much, and say but little; and indeed we can best confess the glories of the Lord by dazzled eyes, and a stammering tongue, and a heart overcharged with the miracles of this infinity. For so those little drops that run over, though they be not much in themselves, yet they tell that the vessel was full, and could express the greatness of the shower no otherwise but by spilling, and in artificial expressions and runnings over.

But because I have undertaken to tell the drops of the ocean, and

to span the measures of eternity, I must do it by the great lines of revelation and experience, and tell concerning God's mercy as we do concerning God himself, that he is that great fountain of which we all drink, and the great rock of which we all eat, and on which we all dwell, and under whose shadow we all are refreshed. God's mercy is all this; and we can only draw great lines of it, and reckon the constellations of our hernisphere, instead of telling the number of the stars; we only can reckon what we feel and what we live by: and though there be, in every one of these lines of life, enough to engage us for ever to do God service, and to give him praises; yet it is certain there are very many mercies of God upon us, and towards us, and concerning us, which we neither feel, nor see, nor understand as yet; but yet we are blessed by them, and are preserved and secured, and we shall then know them, when we come to give God thanks in the festivities of an eternal sabbath. But that I may confine my discourse into order, since the subject of it cannot, I consider,

1. That mercy, being an emanation of the Divine goodness upon us, supposes us and found us miserable. In this account concerning the mercies of God, I must not reckon the miracles and graces of the creation, or any thing of the nature of man, nor tell how great an endearment God passed upon us that he made us men, capable of felicity, apted with rare instruments of discourse and reason, passions and desires, notices of sense, and reflections upon that sense; that we have not the deformity of a crocodile, nor the motion of a worm, nor the hunger of a wolf, nor the wildness of a tiger, nor the birth of vipers, nor the life of flies, nor the death of serpents.

Our excellent bodies and useful faculties, the upright motion and the tenacious hand, the fair appetites and proportioned satisfactions, our speech and our perceptions, our acts of life, the rare invention of letters, and the use of writing, and speaking at distance, the intervals of rest and labour, (either of which, if they were perpetual, would be intolerable,) the needs of nature and the provisions of Providence, sleep and business, refreshments of the body and entertainments of the soul; these are to be reckoned as acts of bounty rather than mercy : God gave us these when he

made us, and before we needed mercy; these were portions of our nature, or provided to supply our consequent necessities: but when we forfeited all God's favour by our sins, then that they were continued or restored to us became a mercy, and, therefore, ought to be reckoned upon this new account. For it was a rare mercy that we were suffered to live at all, or that the anger of God did permit to us one blessing, that he did punish us so gently: but when the rack is changed into an axe, and the axe into an imprisonment, and the imprisonment changed into an enlargement, and the enlargement into an entertainment in the family, and this entertainment passes on to an adoption; these are steps of a mighty favour, and perfect redemption from our sin: and the returning back our own goods is a gift, and a perfect donative, sweetened by the apprehensions of the calamity from whence every lesser punishment began to free us. And thus it was that God punished us, and visited the sin of Adam upon his posterity. He threatened we should die, and so we did, but not so as we deserved: we waited for death, and stood sentenced, and are daily summoned by sicknesses and uneasiness; and every day is a new reprieve, and brings a new favour, certain as the revolution of the sun upon that day; and at last, when we must die by the irreversible decree, that death is changed into a sleep, and that sleep is in the bosom of Christ, and there dwells all peace and security, and it shall pass forth into glories and felicities. We looked for a judge, and behold a Saviour! we feared an accuser, and behold an Advocate! we sat down in sorrow, and rise in joy: we leaned upon rhubarb and aloes, and our aprons were made of the sharp leaves of Indian fig-trees, and so we fed, and so were clothed; but the rhubarb proved medicinal, and the rough leaf of the tree brought its fruit wrapped up in its foldings: and round about our dwellings was planted a hedge of thorns and bundles of thistles, the aconite and the briony, the nightshade and the poppy; and at the root of these grew the healing plantain, which, rising up into a tallness, by the friendly invitation of heavenly influence, turned about the tree of the cross, and cured the wounds of the thorns, and the curse of the thistles, and the malediction of man, and the wrath of God.“ Si sic irascitur, quomodo convivatur ?” “If God be thus kind when he is

angry, what is he when he feasts us with caresses of his more tender kindness ?' All that God restored to us after the forfeiture of Adam, grew to be a double kindness; for it became the expression of a bounty which knew not how to repent, a graciousness that was not to be altered, though we were; and that was it which we needed. That is the first general: all the bounties of the creation became mercies to us, when God continued them to us, and restored them after they were forfeit.

2. But as a circle begins every where and ends no where, so do the mercies of God: after all this huge progress, now it began anew: God is good and gracious,' and God is ready to forgive.' Now that he had once more made us capable of mercies, God had what he desired, and what he could rejoice in, something upon which he might pour forth his mercies. And, by the way, this I shall observe, (for I cannot but speak without art, when I speak of that which hath no measure,) God made us capable of one sort of his mercies, and we made ourselves capable of another. “God is good and gracious,' that is, desirous to give great gifts : and of this God made us receptive, first, by giving us natural possibilities,—that is, by giving those gifts, he made us capable of more; and next, by restoring us to his favour, that he might not, by our provocations, be hindered from raining down his mercies. But God is also ready to forgive:' and of this kind of mercy we made ourselves capable, even by not deserving it. Our sin made way for his grace, and our infirmities called upon his pity; and because we sinned we became miserable, and because we were miserable we became pitiable; and this opened the other treasure of his mercy; that because our sin abounds,'his grace may superabound.' In this method we must confine our thoughts :

1. Giving. s Thou, Lord, art good, plenteons in mercy to all them 2. Forgiving. { and ready to forgive, Sthat call upon thee.

3. God's mercies, or the mercies of his giving, came first upon us by mending of our nature: for the ignorance we fell into, is instructed, and better learned in spiritual notices, than Adam's morning knowledge in Paradise; our appetites are made subordinate to the Spirit, and the liberty of wills is improved, having the liberty of the sons of God;' and Christ

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