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patience and submission, which are graces appro priate to a state of adversity. But they desire deliverance from such a state, that they may glorify him more; may serve him in the active duties of piety; and, enlivened by his mercies, may more sensibly feel their obligations, and more devoutly speak his praises; and especially that they may mingle with the saints in celebrating his works in the sanctuary. This was David's spirit and language in his afflictions. "Thou art the God of my strength. Why dost thou cast me off? Why go I mourning because of the oppression of the enemy? O send out thy light and truth, let them lead me, let them bring me to thy holy hill, and to they taber. nacles. Then will I go unto the altar of God, unto God my exceeding joy; yea, upon the harp will I praise thee, O God, my God." "Have mercy upon me, O God, and consider my trouble, that I may shew forth all thy praise in the gates of the daughter of Zion, I will rejoice in thy salvation." This he considered as one end which God intended in the deliverances, which he was pleased to grant. "Thou has turned for me my mourning into dancing, thou hast put off my sackcloth and girded me with gladness, to the end that my glory may sing praise unto thee and not be silent. O Lord my God, I will give thanks unto thee for ever?" As patience and submission mitigate the smart of affliction; so gratitude and praise exalt the sweetness of salvation.
Again; humble souls mourning under a sense of their spiritual imprisonment, pray for deliverance with the same argument in their lips, and the same sentiment in their hearts.
To the Ephesians the apostle observes, that God had predestinated them to the adoption of children by Jesus Christ, and had granted them a title to an inheritance among the saints, that they should be to the praise of his glory." Saint Peter instructs
believers, that one reason why God had selected them from the world, as a holy nation and peculiar people, was that they might shew forth the praises of him, who had called them out of darkness into his marvellous light."
Penitent souls, burdened with a sense of sin and guilt, are afflicted with a view of their own danger; and from this they seek deliverance. But what adds to their grief and anguish, is a conviction of the dishonour which they have offered to God by breaking his commandments and abusing his mercies. Hence the sorrow which works repentance is called godly sorrow, as the sincerity of Gospel obedience is called godly sincerity. While they mourn for their sins, as committed against God, they will pray for deliverance, that they may glorify his name. In the sorrows and humiliations of conscious guilt, they think, how happy are the souls, whose iniquities are pardoned, and whose pollutions are purged awaywho can look up to God as a reconciled friend, and draw near to him with confidence of his gracious attention-who can appropriate the rich promises of his word and view all things as working for their good-who can contemplate heaven as their eternal home, and death as their passage thither. They long to be placed in this happy condition, that they may partake in the joys, and join in the praise of them who are redeemed from the earth. This was the prayer, and this the resolution of David in the penitential exercises of his soul. "Blot out all mine iniquities, and create in me a clean heart; take not thy holy spirit from me, restore to me the joy of thy salvation; deliver me from blood guiltiness, and my tongue shall sing aloud of thy righteousness. Open my lips, and my mouth shall shew forth all they praise.'
If any feel themselves in prison, and desire to be
brought out of it, that they may priase God's name, let them remember and consider that the door of deliverance is open. The Redeemer is come, is come to Zion, is come to this place. He was sent to proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison to them that are bound. By the blood of the covenant he sends forth the prisoners out of the pit. Turn ye then to the strong hold, ye prisoners of hope. Even to day does he declare, that he will render to you double to all your prayers, and to all your hopes.
Do you pray to be brought out of prison, that you may praise God's name? His Son is here to bring you out. Give him your hand. Go forth with joy and thanksgiving, leaning on the beloved. Praise him by a thankful acceptance of his great salvation, and a cheerful compliance with the gracious terms of it. Come now, renounce every sin, devote your lives to his service, and hope in his grace. If when he offers you his salvation, you will not receive it— if when he holds out to you a pardon, you will retain your iniquities-if when he has once suffered for your sins, you open his wounds afresh by your impenitence-if when his spirit draws you, you pull away the shoulder and refuse to turn-if when patience waits, you harden your hearts; is this to come out of prison, that you may praise his name? No: it is to embrace your chains, contradict your prayers and insult the Saviour.
If any of you enjoy the persuasion, that your souls have been brought out of prison, walk at liberty, and be no more entangled with the corruptions of the world. Thank God for your deliverance, and honour him by a holy life. You then honour God's grace, when under its influence you live as becomes the gospel. Let the love of Christ constrain you, for he died for you, that henceforth you should live to him; not to yourselves.
He has delivered you from the bondage of sin, that henceforth you should not serve sin, but serve him in newness of spirit.
Give praise to God for your deliverance, by inviting others to accept his salvation. "God hath quickened us," says the apostle," that he might shew the exceeding riches of his grace in his kindness to us by Jesus Christ." "And for this cause I obtained mercy, that in me Jesus Christ might shew forth all long suffering for a pattern to them who should afterward believe in him to everlasting life." David prays, "Restore to me the joy of thy salvation; then will I teach transgressors thy ways, and sinners shall be converted unto thee."
If while you profess to be the subjects of God's grace, you by unholy lives strengthen transgressors and lay stumbling blocks before the weak, you disdishonor the holy name, which you ought to exalt, and cause the way of truth to be evil spoken of among its enemies.
Believers, who have been set at liberty from their prison, should thus glorify God's grace in this world. But in the world to come, they will display its glory in a more perfect manner.
The grace of God in bringing them out of prison, will in heaven be the burden of their song. This they will sing in the most exalted strains. The wonders of creation and providence will often be made the delightful subjects of their praise. But when the glory of divine grace in the salvation of sinners, and especially in their own salvation, becomes the theme, O, what raptures will they feel? They will set their harps on the highest key, and strike the liveliest chords; and yet their praise will sink under the majesty of the theme. When they begin this new song, Thou art worthy, for thou hast redeemed us by thy blood; saints and angels all around will catch the sound, and spread it wide as
creation. Every creature in heaven, and those redeemed from the earth, will feel the subject and re-echo the song.
What remains, but that we joyfully accept the overtures of God's mercy. Live no longer in prison, but come forth into the liberty, with which Christ offers to make you free. Are you sensible of your bondage and desirous of liberty, hear the Redeemer's call; "Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.”