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ful manner. And ministers have no right to give any direc-. tions to sinners, but such as, if they do follow them, they shall certainly be saved. To give them any other directions, directly tends to lead them to destruction. But how many religious guides at this day do give them very different directions. This is true not only of some ignorant lay teachers, but of many who consider themselves, and are considered by others, as masters in our Israel. Notwithstanding all the light that has been thrown upon this serious, momentous subject, there are many who teach for doctrines the erroneous and dangerous traditions of men.

4. When God aws near to sinners in the manner that has been described, they are in a dangerous situation. His peculiar presence always disturbs their peace and alarms their fears. When they see God in his holiness, and sovereignty, they are troubled. They know not what to do. They cannot flee from his presence. They cannot hide themselves from his heart-searching eye. They cannot resist his power, nor get out of his hand. Though they once thought they loved him, they now find they hate him. Though they once thought they would submit to him, they now find their carnal mind rises in enmity and opposition to him. Though they once thought they would seek him, if they knew where to find him, and would call upon him, if he were near; yet they now find they are destitute of the spirit of grace and supplication. Though they externally draw near to God, they are conscious that their hearts are far from him. Though they have strong and ardent desires to be saved from punishment, they have no desires to be saved from sin. Though they desire above all things to escape from the wrath to come, yet they are conscious, that they have no desires to be holy and happy in heaven. They find their hearts are in perfect contrariety to the character and commands of God, to the dictates of their reason, and to the voice of conscience. They find themselves to be poor, and wretched, and miserable, and self-condemned. They find that they are hateful to God, hateful to saints, and hateful to themselves. They do not see how it is possible for them to be happy in this world, or in any other world. They feel as though they were fit for nothing but to be thrown away and perish. They find what God has said concerning them to be true, There is no peace to the wicked. “The spirit of a man will sustain his infirmity; but a wounded spirit who can bear ?" A realizing sense of the presence of a sin-hating and sin-revenging God, throws sinners into the gall of bitterness and bonds of iniquity. There is nothing that can save them from destruction, but the

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sovereign mercy of God which they hate and abuse. He can save or destroy, and has a right to save or destroy, and there is none that can deliver out of his hand.

5. This subject now forces upon sinners the inquiry, whether God has not come near to them in some way or other. Has he not come to one and another of you, by his Spirit, and caused you to realize his presence? Has not a realizing sense of his presence alarmed your fears, and set your sins in order before you, and constrained you to see the plague of your own hearts? Has not God time after time striven with you by the secret influences of his Spirit, while reading or hearing his word? he not sometimes darted conviction into your consciences, and made you feel your guilty and perishing condition, and caused you to realize the danger of falling into his holy hands ? Has he not sometimes destroyed your inward peace, and created within you an anguish and distress, which you have endeavored to conceal and stifle? But if God has not come near you by the secret strivings of his Spirit, has he not by his providence ? Has he not come near you by the sickness and death of others ? Has he not called you to stand around the sick, the dying, and dead ? Has he not bereaved you of some of your nearest and dearest relatives, friends, or connections? Has he not lately been reading to you solemn lectures upon your own frailty, mortality, and duty of making your peace with him, and preparing for death and eternity ? Has he not loudly called upon you to seek him while he may be found, and to call upon him, while he is near? Have you heard and obeyed the voice of providence? Have you called upon his name? Have you forsaken your ways, renounced your hard and sinful thoughts, and penitently returned to the Lord ? Or have you only murmured and repined, and are you still standing and contending

vith your Maker? If any of you are in this guilty and dangerous condition, this subject points out your immediate and imperious duty; which is, not to wait for God to become reconciled to

you

before you are reconciled to him; not to wait for God to make you willing to become reconciled to him, but to become reconciled to him, before he is reconciled to you; not to wait for God to submit to you, but to submit to him, without the least delay or reserve. If God be near you, sincerely, and penitently, and believingly pray for pardoning mercy, and he will not reject the prayer, that flows from à penitent, contrite, broken heart.

6. It appears from what has been said, that God can come near to any sinners whenever he pleases. Though they are wandering, and loving to wander from him, and say in their

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hearts, “ Depart from us; for we desire not the knowledge of thy ways;" yet he can arrest them in their career, draw near to them, and make them realize his holy and awful pres

Who was ever at a greater distance from God in his own apprehension, than Manasseh for years? But God arrested him, while fleeing from him, and effectually taught him his guilt, his danger, and his duty. Though thoughtless, stupid sinners imagine, that they are out of the sight, and out of the reach of God, and feel secure in walking in the way of their heart and in the sight of their eyes; yet God can meet and arrest them whenever and wherever he pleases, and lay them prostrate at his footstool, in anguish and distress. He has come near to some in his providence, and will he not come near to others by his Spirit? Will he suffer truth to be rejected, and mercy to be despised, and sinners to ruin themselves? Is it not time for him to arise and plead his own cause? Will he not hear the prayer of the humble? Let them prove the Lord, whether he will not open the windows of heaven, and pour out a blessing, that there shall not be room enough to receive it. Do you not need to be reformed ? and must you not reform before God will hear your prayers ?

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And his servants said unto him, Behold now, we have heard that the kings of the house of Israel are merciful kings : let us, I pray thee, put sackcloth on our loins, and ropes upon our heads, and go out to the king of Israel: peradventure he will save thy life. So they girded sackcloth on their loins, and put ropes on their heads, and came to the king of Israel and said, Thy servant Ben-hadad saith, I pray thee, let mo live."1 Kings, xx. 31, 32.

BEN-HADAD, with thirty confederate kings, led a large army to Samaria, and besieged the city. But before he made his attack, he sent and demanded of Ahab king of Israel, to give up his regal authority and personal property, and submit to his government as the terms of peace. With this demand Ahab promised to comply; but this concession served only to increase the ambition and avarice of Ben-hadad, who sent another mes. sage to Ahab, and demanded the government and wealth of his whole kingdom. But Ahab, upon advice of his privy council, refused to comply with such an unreasonable and exorbitant price of peace. This brought on a battle in which Ahab gained the victory. The Syrians, however, were not discouraged by their defeat, but immediately concerted a plan for another campaign the next year. This plan they accordingly pursued, and pitched another battle with Ahab in which he again conquered, and slew in one day an hundred thousand Syrians, and dispersed the rest of the army. Ben-hadad was now reduced to an extremely wretched condition. In this helpless and hopeless state, his servants advised him to sue for mercy at the hands of Ahab the conqueror. Sensible that he had been the aggressor in the war with Ahab, and had justly forfeited his life, he yielded to the advice of his servants to go to Ahab and plead for mercy, with proper tokens of penitence and submission. " And his servants said unto him, Behold now, we have heard

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that the kings of the house of Israel are merciful kings: let us,

I pray thee, put sackcloth on our loins, and ropes upon our heads, and go out to the king of Israel: peradventure he will save thy life. So they girded sackcloth on their loins, and put ropes on their heads, and came to the king of Israel, and said, Thy servant Ben-hadad saith, I pray thee, let me live.” Sackcloth was the usual token of penitential sorrow, and this they put on to signify Ben-hadad's penitence towards Ahab; and the ropes they put on their heads were a significant badge of guilt and just desert of death. By these badges, Ben-hadad acknowledged that he had forfeited his life, and had no claims to mercy at the hands of Ahab, and therefore penitently and unconditionally submitted himself to his absolute disposal, to save, or take away his life. The mere light of nature taught him the duty and propriety of asking for mercy with unconditional submission. Though he was a heathen, and knew not the gospel condition of pardon; yet his reason and conscience taught him, that he ought to ask for pardoning mercy unconditionally; and this is the universal dictate of reason and common sense, in respect to asking for pardon at the hand of man. But how much more reasonable is it, that sinners should penitently and unconditionally ask for pardoning mercy at the hand of God? Hence every person of every capacity must see,

That it always becomes sinners to ask for the pardoning mercy of God, with unconditional submission.

To illustrate this practical and important truth, I shall,
I. Explain mercy.
II. Explain submission.

III. Show that it always becomes sinners to ask for the pardoning mercy of God, with unconditional submission.

1. Let us consider what we are to understand by divine mercy. The whole of God's moral character may be comprised in love. And this is what the apostle means when he says, “God is love." But the love of God may be exercised towards different objects, and on that account, may be distinguished into different moral attributes or perfections. God's disposition to make innocent creatures happy, is called goodness; his disposition to make guilty creatures miserable, is called justice ; and his disposition to forgive and save sinful creatures from deserved punishment, is called mercy or grace. Since all these moral perfections flow from the same divine benevolence, they cannot be said to be contrary to or inconsistent with each other ; yet they are totally distinct and diverse in respect to the effects they produce on different objects. God may be said to be good, in bestowing favors upon the innocent. He may be said to be

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