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Son's Days will I bring the Evil upon bis House.
This being the Occasion of these Words, and the State of Ahab's Cafe ; I shall from thence discourse unto you of these Three Heads.
1. The readiness of God, to take notice of
and to fuspend his Judgments upon Men's present Humiliation of themselves before him. Seeft thou how Abab humbleth bimself before me? dc.
II. The Infufficiency of a partial and im
perfect Humiliation ; though it may mitigate or suspend ; yet it does not finally remove the Punishment.
III. The great Guilt of Injustice, Oppression,
and Cruelty : It descends downward; entails a Curse upon Pofterity. In bis Sons Days will I bring the Evil upon his House.
I begin with the First of these.
1. The readiness of God, to take notice of, and to suspend his Judgments upon Men's present Humiliation of themselves before him.
There is nothing mdre plain to any who read the Holy Scriptures with Understanding and Obfervation; than that the Methods and
Dispensations of Divine Providence towards Sinners have all along carried with them intimations of his Willingness to fhew Mercy, and of his Averseness to Punishment ; that whenever Men or Nations have been awakened out of their Sins, and truly humbled by his Threatnings, he suspended or revoked the Sentence he had purposed againft them. The Example of the Old World ; the Cities of Sodom and Gomorrha ; of Nineveb; of Jerusalem ; of the whole Jewish Nation, are undeniable Testimonies and everlasting Arguments of his unwearied Patience ; And how loth he is to have recourse to the last Remedies and Extremities of Justice. And I think, I may lay it down, as a general Rule and Observation in this Matter, that God never threatened or sent a Judgment upon a Person or Place, but if they re pented and humbled themselves before him
3 he either deferred, or relaxed, or qualified, or quite removed it ; proportionably to the Measures and Degrees of their Repentance. And this Consideration will be of greater Use and Comfort to us, through the whole course of our Lives, when we have a little confidered these Two Things.
1.1. That Compassion he naturally bears, and
has always shewn towards his Creatures. 2. The true End and Design of the Divine
First, Let us consider that Compaflon he naturally bears, and has always shewn towards his Creatures. The Divine Nature is always described to us in Scripture, aš made up of the most kind and tender Affections fuch as lead him forth to consult the Happiness, and to take all Occasions of doing Good to the
Sons of Meni. He is the Lord, the Lord *• 34. 6. Merciful and Gracious; Long-suffering, atun
dant in Mercy and Truth, says Mofes. Thou L. 86. s. Lord art Good and Gracious; and of great onah 4.2. Kindness to all that call upon thee, says David.
I know, says fonab, that thou art a gracious God, and Merciful, and repentest thee of the Evil
. Mic.7.18. And the Propher Micah, Who is a God like
unto thee that takes away Iniquity: He retaineth not his Wrath for ever, because Mercy pleaseth bim.' And all along the Prophetical Writings ; how is his Nature represented as yielding, and melting, and pitying, and for. rowing for the Follies of Men? His Compasfions yerning ; his Repentings kindling together ; his Mercy struggling and contending with his Justice : OB Ephraim! What fall I do unto thee? Ob Judab ! : Homo fall 1 in treat thee? And when his Justice was upon the Point of discharging it self; how vehemently does he call upon his Prophets to find
out fome that might intercede and attone for Jer. s. I.
the rest? Rın ye too and fro through the Streets of Jerusalem ; and seek if ye can find a Man, but one that executétb Judgment that seekeeb the Truth; and I will pardon it. And
Isa, 1. 43
he thus complains, and expoftulates by the Prophet Amos. I brought you up out of the Land Amos
. 2. of Egypt, and led you Forty Tears througb the Wilderness. And I raised up of your Sons for Prophets; and of your young
Men for Nazariles. Is it not even thus, O House of Israel? But ye gave the Nazarites Wine to drink, and commanded the Prophets, saying, Prophefie not. Behold, I am presed under you, as a Cart is pressed that is full of Sbeaves. So compassionate, lo prone is our God to Mercy and Pardon!
But on the other Hand; Vengeance cometh from him heayily, and with a very flow Pace"; not without a Note and Interjection of the deepest Sorrow. Ab! Sinful Nation ! a People laden with Iniquity! and again. Ah! I must; I see I must; for you will take no Warning: I will ease me of my Adverfaries; and be v.24. avenged of my Enemies. And if God was thus prone and inclineable to Mercy; and so averse from Punishment, under the Jewish Difpensation (upon Men's Repentance) how much more is he fo, under the Christian ?
And indeed, one great Design of the Chriftian Dispensation was to describe the Nature of Repentance ; and to explain the Terms of our Acceptance and Pardon with God more clearly. These are so plainly delivered, and so often in the New-Testament, that I think there is no Sect of Christians that denies, but Repentance towards God and Faith towards our Lord Jesus Christ, are now the Conditions of Life and Pardon,
'Tis true, the Doctrine of Repentance is miserably perverted by soine, and that of Faith by others : But what Remedy is there against the Mistakes or the Passions of Men The Scripture does not only require Repentance and Faith; but it plainly describes the Nature of both. That by Repentance we are to understand a new Nature and a new Life ; and by Frith a Reliance upon the Mercy of God, through the Merits and Intercession of Jefus Chrift. Heaven lies open to all that perform these Conditions. The Gospel everywhere abounds with Testimonies to confirm this: This is the Şubstance of Christ's Commission to his Apostles, that they should preach Repentance and Remission of Sins, through bis Name to all Nations.
And this is one blessed Advantage which revealed Religion, (especially the Christian) has above Natural ; that it contains an express Declaration of the Divine Will concerning the Pardon of all Şin whatsoever upon these Terms. Natural Religion indeed teaches us that God is merciful; but it teaches us that he is Just too : And it can never assure us what Bounds God will set to the Exercise of the one or the other ; when Juftịce shall take place, and when Mercy ; what Sims are, and what are not capable of the Benefit of Sacrifice and Repentance. And this Uncertainty (conlidering the manifold Frailties, and Sins of the best Life] was ever naturally apt to beget Jealousies and Difpondencies, and sometimes a superstitious Dread