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portioned satisfactions, our speech and our perceptions, our acts of life, the rare invention of letters, and the use of writing or speaking at a 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,
Thele 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 fins; 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 an extraordinary mercy, that we were suffered to live at all, or that the anger of God did permit to us one blessing, or that he did punish us so gently: But when this anger is turned into kindnefs, and this punishment into blessing, these
are steps of a mighty favour, and redemption from our fin. And the returning back our own goods to us in this case, is a gift, sweetened by the apprehensions of the cao lamity we had to fear.
And thus it was that God punished man, and visited the fin of our first parents upon their posterity. He threatened that we should die, and so we do, but not so as we deserve. We wait for death, and stand fentenced, and are daily summoned by sicknesses and uneasinesses ; 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 fleep 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 an advocate; we laid down in forrow, and shall rise in joy.
And that is the first consideration: All the bounties of the creation became mer. cies to us, when God continued them to
us, and restored them after they were forfeited. But,
: 2dly, 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. God made us capable of one fort 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 pouring down his mercies upon us. But God is also ready to forgive : And of this kind of mercy we unhappily made ourselves capable, even by not deserving it. 3
Our fin made way for his grace, and our infirmities called upon his pity; and because we finned, 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 much more a:bound.
3dly, The next order of divine mercies that I shall remark, is also an improvement of our nature, or otherwise beneficial to it: For whereas our constitution is weak, our souls apt to be hindered in their operations, our bodies subject to imperfection, to sorrows and evil accidents; God hath in his infinite mercy provided for every condition extraordinary supplies of comfort and usefulness, to make recompence, and sometimes with an over-running proportion, for those natural defects, which were apt to make our persons otherwise contemptible, and our condition in tolerable, ' :
God gives to blind men better memories, He that wants one eye, hath the . R 3
force force and vigorousness of both united in that which is left. And whenever any man is afflicted with sorrow; his reason and his religion, himself and all his friends, persons that are civil and persons that are obliged, run in to comfort him: and he may, if he will observe wisely, find so many circumstances of ease and remission, so many designs of providence and studied favours, such contrivances of collateral advantage, and certain reserves of substantial and proper comfort; that, in thę whole fum of affairs, it often happens, that a single cross is a double blessing, and that (even in a temporal sense) it is better to go to the house of mourning than of joys and festivity.
The affliction of poverty is oftentimes better, than the prosperity of a great and tempting fortụne. Wifdom dwells frequently in a mean and low estate, in retired thoughts, and under an humble roof, And is it not generally true, that hicknels itself is attended and recompensed with religion and holy thoughts, with pious reso