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cause, and some for another; but in opening for mercy, if we have but a little, it is because we open not our mouths wide to ask for it, because we are ignorant of the value of it, not begging earnestly for the same, as a man in danger would do for his life. If thus we beg, with wide mouths, with inflamed fervent affections for mercy, the Lord, who cannot lie, hath promised, we shall be full of it, and mercy shall compass us. The doctrine, then, from hence for our instruction is, that God hath appointed mercy for all who believe and will receive the same, yea even a full measure of mercy, not by parcels, or certain times, but even at all times. So speaketh Jeremy in his Lamentations. "It is the Lord's mercies that we are not consumed, because his compassions fail not. They are new every morning, great is thy faithfulness." There you see no end of these mercies, his compassion never failing, and his mercies ever renewed.
This then is the most blessed estate of a faithful soul, First in reconciliation, for we are reconciled unto God, (as the apostle to the Romans speaketh,)" Fory if, when we were enemies, we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, being reconciled, we shall be saved by his life." This is a great mercy then, even this reconciliation. If Christ then hath done so much for us, how ready should we be to embrace and love so merciful and so loving a God, following the counsel of our blessed Saviour. For which of you being about to meet a great man would not prepare every thing fitting to entertain and give him contentment? How much more then should we prepare to meet and make every thing in readiness to please him, who is King of kings? But here is the wonder of this mercy, that what we omitted, not being able to come unto Christ, he, preventing us with his loving kindness, hath sent Christ unto us, clothing him with our flesh, as our elder brother.
Secondly, he not only reconcileth his children unto him, but which is further, he entertaineth them in service also,
* Jerem. Lament. chap. 3. ver. 22, 23.
y Rom. chap. 5. ver. 10.
which is a great mercy and favour: for if we account the service of a king to be so honourable in this life, what exceeding honour and favour hath he, who is admitted to be a servant to the Lord of glory. Surely we are most dull and senseless, that we prize not this service more highly than we do. If we did seriously think that there is such a thing, and believe the same, we durst not, for all the world, do as we do. Yet here is more mercy. We read, that though Achish, King of Gath, did entertain David into his service; yet, when it came to the main matter, to the choice matter of trust, to be trusted in secrets and matters of war, the princes of the Philistines did expel him. But with God it is not so, for here are two parts of mercy. 1. He admitteth them as servants into his household. 2. They have his secrets, he trusteth them even with most admired love. The prophet David declareth, "the secret of the Lord is with them that fear him." So the Lord was gracious unto Abraham. "And the Lord said, Shall I hide from Abraham that thing which I do?" Abraham, being one of the faithful, must needs be of God's counsel. This is a wonderful mercy which the faithful enjoy, that before a judgment they have still some warning thereof, although the Lord visibly (as at other times of old) do not appear unto them, yet some secret instinct doth always presage the same. And the prophet saith," Surely the Lord will do nothing, but he revealeth his secret unto his servants the prophets." So that this also is a wonder of his mercy. Again, not only are they reconciled servants, admitted to his secrets, but they are also friends unto God. What stricter bond can there be, than that of friends in this life? This, if it be surely tied with the right links of Christian love, passeth all other sorts of love, when our soul is (as it were) poured into another; or rather two souls made one, nothing being concealed on either part, but having, as it were, one heart. And yet, so highly doth God honour his servants with so infinite mercy, that he vouchsafeth to make and call them
1 Sam. chap. 29. ver. 4. b Gen. chap. 18. ver. 17.
a Psalm 25. ver. 14.
his friends. As we read in the prayer of Jehosaphat: "Artd not thou our God, who didst drive out the inhabitants of this land before thy people Israel, and gavest it to the seed of Abraham thy friend, for ever?" And our blessed Saviour, we know, speaking of dead Lazarus, saith, “Oure friend Lazarus sleepeth, but I go that I may awake him." This also is further amplified, where our blessed Saviour saith, "Yef are my friends, if ye do whatsoever I command you. Henceforth I call you not servants, for the servant knoweth not what his master doeth; but I have called you friends; for all things that I have heard of my Father, I have made known unto you." What can be said more? or what can the heart of man desire more? I know nothing else to be wished for beyond so excellent privileges, which he vouchsafeth unto his children.
d 2 Chron. chap. 20. ver. 7. John, chap. 15. ver. 14, 15.
The Canaan, therefore, which the children of Israel enjoyed (although it flowed with milk and honey) yet is it nothing unto our Canaan, which we expect, wherein these infinite mercies shall be bestowed upon us. For whatsoever our troubles are in this life, Christ Jesus, our friend (who is of infinite power) he taketh us by the hand, and leadeth us through all miseries, like unto the true Joshua, unto the land of our heavenly Canaan, our eternal habitation. Only let us with assured confidence believe, and trust in him, and then it is not possible, that ever we should be disappointed of our hope. The further we read in this bottomless gulf of mercy, there is still more admirable compassions showed, which may swallow up our senses in admiration. There is yet more and more new mercies. The Lord saith unto Abraham, "Fears not Abraham, for I am thy buckler, and thy exceeding great reward." Here is a wonderful mercy which the Lord bestoweth not only upon Abraham, but also upon all his faithful seed for ever. He willeth first not to fear. And why? The reason is added. First, because he is a buckler, and keepeth off all sorts of troubles from finally overwhelming the faithful,
e John, chap. 11. ver. 11.
8 Gen. chap. 15. ver. 1.
giving still, though after a combat, a joyful victory. Again he saith, I am not only thy buckler, but thy exceeding great reward, an exceeding great reward indeed; for here is such an infinite store of mercy that the heart of man is no way capable of. Here the Lord promiseth more than if he had promised heaven and earth and all unto him. What, I pray you, can he lack that is possessed of God? Hath not he the whole Trinity? Have we not also all things in heaven and earth at our command, having God for our reward. Do we not, as the apostle to the Ephesians speaketh, in a manner even now sit with him in the heavenly places, possessing a wonderful measure of happiness, beingh, living, and now moving in him. "Oh', therefore, that the eyes of our understanding were enlightened, that we might know what the riches of the glory of his inheritance is in the saints; and what is the exceeding greatness of his power to us ward, who believe." All and a great deal more is included in this, "I am thy buckler, and thy exceeding great reward;" for from hence is the great fountain of mercy and grace set open, by which, as it is in the Revelations, we inherit all things. For then, in the comparison of the following mercies, the former seem nothing. Oftentimes to be made friends with God and reconciled; to be admitted as servants, to be of God's counsel, privy to his secrets, and be called friends. But here followeth the exceeding riches, of his great and infinite mercy. First (as St. John speaketh from hence) to be called sons. “Behold what manner of love the Father hath bestowed upon us, that we should be called the sons of God." Here is a wonderful comfort for God's children, that they are admitted to be the sons of God. I say it is an infinite mercy to be admitted as children, being (as it is in another place) of1 the generation of God. Although the world, then, scoff and mock at us, yet it is no matter; we are in an happier estate, being the sons of God we need not be afraid of anything, so long as Christ Jesus, our elder brother (to whom all power in heaven and in
h Acts, chap. 17. ver. 28.
* 1 John, chap. 3. ver. 1.
Eph. chap. 1. ver. 20.
1 Acts, chap. 17. ver. 29.
earth is given) being the Son of God, is not ashamed to call us brethren. He will still be our defence, and our strong tower of refuge, we shall still be the children of God. This the author to the Hebrews confirmeth, where he saith, "Forasmuch then as the children are partakers of flesh and blood, he also himself likewise took part of the same, that through death he might destroy him that had the power of death, that is, the devil, and deliver them, who through fear of death were all their life-time subject in bondage." This is our freedom.
m Heb. chap. 2. ver. 14. VOL. XIII.
This mercy is yet further amplified, Romans, chap. 8. where from this dignity of being sons, he proceedeth to an higher degree of mercy, showing that we are also heirs, and yet higher, even heirs annexed with Christ; many are children, who are no heirs; but this is the mercy of our God, that to whom he hath given himself for an exceeding great reward, admitting them as children, they are all heirs. "If children (saith the apostle) then heirs, heirs of God and joint heirs with Christ. If so be that we suffer with him, that we may be also glorified with him.” All are heirs, even heirs annexed with Christ, to reign with him in glory. What can we wish for more? Nay, but yet here is a greater degree of his mercy, saith the Spirit of God in the Revelation, "To him that overcometh, will I grant to sit with me in my throne; even as I also overcame, and am set down with my Father in his throne." Are not here wonderful mercies? To be of enemies, reconciled unto God: to be admitted his servants: to be of his Privy Council: to be called friends: to be possessed of God for our buckler: and our exceeding great reward: to be the sons of God: to be heirs, even heirs annexed with Christ: to sit with him in his throne, as he overcame and sitteth with his Father in his throne. This is a marvellous mercy, which produceth so many mercies, which hereafter we shall enjoy fully. We must then be content to go on patiently, walking in this narrow way, through a valley of tears. We must be content, I say, to shed a few tears for a while, until the time of
n Rom. chap. 8. ver. 17.