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“and am no more worthy to be called thy son;" and you may rest assured of the prodigal's welcome. Your heavenly father has already provided for you the best robe; the “ rich cloth

ing, the wedding garment,” with which Jesus is ready to invest you, is the unspotted robe of his own imputed righteousness.-Look then

upon him whom by your sins you have pierced.” Now is the season for you to enquire and examine into your hearts, that you may discover the traitor which betrayed you into folly, which stole your

affections from your God and father, and let no blind partiality to your beloved lust incline you to spare or pity; it is for your life to discover where the plague lies. And now again, join yourselves to the Lord in an everlasting

covenant," and let your resolution, through grace, be, “ What have we any more to do with “ idols ? we will never again return unto folly." Do not risk the dreadful consequences of another departure from God. And let all of us be exhorted to "return to the Lord;" let it be our “ hearts desire and prayer to God”this day, that he would, by the gracious influences of his holy Spirit, increase our faith and inflame our love; that he would fill our souls with that “godly sorrow which “ worketh repentance;" that he would strengthen, confirm, and perfect our resolutions and en

deavours to love him more and serve him better; and “ may the God of peace, that brought again “ from the dead our Lord Jesus, that great shep“ herd of the sheep, through the blood of the “ everlasting covenant, make you perfect in every good work to do his will; working in you

that “ which is well pleasing in his sight, through “ Jesus Christ, to whom be glory for ever and




LAMENTATIONS ii. 33. For he doth not afflict willingly, nor grieve the children of men.


DAILY experience affords a strong confirmation of this truth, that “ man is born to trouble

as the sparks fly upward:” hence it was, that among several nations, the birth of a child was celebrated with mourning and loud lamentation, as the commencement of sorrow and distress; and, on the contrary, their funerals were accompanied with mirth and joy, as the glad termination of a miserable existence. Wherever we turn our eyes, if our own afflictions will permit us to look around, we behold nothing but scenes of woe, an innumerable tribe of ills extending their cruel devastations over the whole human race; sickness, and pain, and poverty wasting the bodies; anguish, and despair, and distraction overwhelming the minds of poor mortals; and from this view of human nature it was, that some of the ancient philosophers represented the Deity' as a capricious cruel being, who delighted in, and sported with the sufferings and miseries of his creatures; as they could not reconcile the notion of infinite goodness and mercy in the governor of the world with that universal face of calamity which overspread it. But, blessed be God, our holy religion teaches us a far more consolatory doctrine, teaches us the divine art of turning even our bitterest trials into the most wholesome, cordials. In discoursing from this subject, I shall, first, briefly illustrate the proposition contained in the text, then enquire into the more obvious causes and ends for which the Almighty lays his afflicting hand on men; and, lastly, point out the improvement we ought to make of dispensations of this sort. I am,

First, briefly to illustrate the proposition contained in the text, namely, that “ the Lord doth “ not afflict willingly, nor grieve the children of

men;" and this will appear, first, from the consideration of the general and ordinary method of procedure in God's government of the world. We see, from every day's observation, that God does not immediately punish, nor in the degree they deserve, the offences of even the worst of men;

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on the contrary, we frequently see the highest acts of mercy and goodness returned for the highest, the most daring instances of impiety and disa regard for the great Author of nature. What man would bear from his fellow so much and so long, as the great and omnipotent God every day bears at the hand of frail, impotent, presumptuous mortals, whom his power could crush in a moment; that God who is vested with the awful prerogative of destroying both soul and body in hell for ever?-We, frail sons of a day, are for snatching at every opportunity of wreaking our vengeance on those whom we imagine have injured us; but God pities, and desires to reclaim even the wretch who dares openly and avowedly to trample upon his authority, yea, who has the hardiness to attack, as much as impotence can, his sacred person and character. Why does God delay the execution of that awful sentence, “ He that is unjust, let him be un

just still; and he that is filthy, let him be filthy “ still?” Why, but because God punishes us much less than our iniquities deserve; why, but to prove in the most endearing manner, that so far from “ afflicting willingly,” so far from unnecessarily grieving the children of men, he in the most tender compassion to them suspends the punishment even where it is due, in order to

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