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herd. “I am the good Shepherd; the good Shepherd giveth his life for the sheep.” There is a holy and gracious intercourse maintained between the God who showeth mercy, and the sinner who receiveth mercy “ I am the good Shepherd, and know my sheep, and am known of mine.” He " came to seek and to save them that were lost.'
When, therefore, we read such gracious promises and declarations as these, our hearts are filled with gratitude to God for his infinite mercies to us in Jesus Christ our Saviour. We reflect upon our absolute need of help, of guidance, and direction, and we see the Lord our God willing to
and uphold us by the right hand of his majesty. And when we examine our own hearts, and are brought to know our real state before God, we soon perceive the wisdom of the holy psalmist, and of other devout men, in making earnest prayer and supplication to the Lord for pardon and acceptance. - The heart is deceitful above all things and desperately wicked, who can know it?" But we can pray to God by his help to cleanse the thoughts of our hearts
by the influence of his holy Spirit. And whilst we are recollecting with shame and confusion of face our sins and transgressions, we may well pray to God, “O, remember not against us former iniquities; let thy tender mercies speedily prevent us, for we are brought very low.”
It is a sense of this our own unworthiness which makes us truly humble and contrite. And the broken and the contrite heart God will not despise. It is the pouring forth of the spirit before God, telling him of our want and sorrows, confessing his majesty and glory, and our own unworthiness, which makes us sensible of the need of a Saviour, and leads us to value the redemption which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.
What are we in the sight of God ? Vile dust and miserable ashes ! And yet we are the work of his hands, the children of his providence and of his grace. We have forsaken a good and gracious parent.
66 We have erred and strayed from his ways
like lost sheep; we are all as an unclean thing!” But still we may be made the children of God by faith in Jesus Christ. Let us then look up
to him, our creator, preserver, and daily benefactor. Let us labour to approve ourselves to him as his faithful though unworthy servants. We know that “if we confess our sins, God is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness;" and with all our imperfections, by the help of God, our hearts may be so changed that we may be made faithful in the covenant of our God.
Nothing tends so much to real holiness of life as being led to draw all our supplies from the rich fountain of mercy. For then, instead of a broken cistern which can hold no water, we come to a well-spring of life ; instead of leaning upon a broken reed, we are trusting to an Almighty arm, to an arm of strength and of power : then as we become weak in body, we may be strong in faith, rejoicing in the Lord. trust and so believe, as never to be confounded. We
realize the words of the psalmist, “ They that put their trust in the Lord, shall be even as Mount Zion, which may not be removed, but standeth fast for ever.”
This subject, we would observe in conclusion, is between the Lord God Almighty,
We may so
before whom we shall stand in judgment, and our own hearts. It is a subject of which prayer forms the groundwork. In it, we are called to the confession of our sins to him who alone can pardon them. And we know from the best warrant, and the highest authority, that he who so confesseth and forsaketh his sins shall find mercy.
pray to God for pardon, without a gracious promise that he will grant our requests, would be altogether disheartening. But this can never be the case, so long as the promises of God stand in sacred Scripture for our guidance and encouragement. To the Scriptures of truth, therefore, every one must refer. The promises to this effect are most full and consolatory : Ask, and you shall have; seek, and you shall find : whatsoever
shall ask the Father in my name, he will give it you.” Well, therefore, may we approach our merciful and gracious God in the language of my text,
66 () remember not against us former iniquities ; let thy tender mercies speedily prevent us, for we are brought very
low.” Indeed, nothing is wanting which the
poor penitent sinner can need, or a gracious God bestow. The parables of our blessed Saviour assure us that the king has prepared a marriage for his son; that servants are sent to invite the guests. The invitation is, “ Come, for all things are now ready.” But do we make light of the invitation ? Do we with one consent begin to make excuse ? Another parable assures us that, if an importunate widow prevailed with an unjust judge to grant her request, much more will God avenge his elect who cry day and night unto him. " Whatsoever therefore we ask in prayer, believing, we shall receive.”
Day by day, then, let us seek this great blessing of forgiveness. The remembrance of our old sins may press down the spirit; and it ever will grieve the renewed soul to think of having offended a good and gracious God. Our church teaches her communicants to say,
“ We do earnestly repent, and are heartily sorry for these our misdoings. The remembrance of them is grievous unto us, the burden of them is intolerable. Have
mercy upon us, have mercy upon us, most merciful Father. For