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blessed be his holy name, he is not a God of terrors, but of love. He does not surround his throne with the blaze of ineffable majesty, which no man dares approach unto, but with the milder lustre of paternal love, which invites us to come uutu him. Is he then our Father? How will this allure the afflicted to open their sorrows to hiin? How will it invite the distressed to repose, all their cares upon him? How will it raise the desponding heart and feeble knees? How will it encourage the self-condemned sinner to hope for his mercy?
Draw near then, with faith, thou child of sin and affliction, to the throne of grace. Thou art, indeed, a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief :--yet God is thy friend. Thy sins have taken such hold upon thee, that thou art not able to look up :--yet the Almighty is thy Father. Thou art à rebellious and disobedient child :-yet he gave his Son to die for thee. Flee then to his altar for refuge: yet let thy confidence in his mercy be tempered with reverence of his majesty. It is thy Father, to who.n thou art applying for mercy ;--but remember, it is *thy Father in heaven. Whilst, therefore, his kindness gives thee assurance, let his greatness teach thee liumility and obedience.
Thirdly, Is God a Father? Then his children should behave with respect and reverence before him. The name of parent is a title of love, but it also carries authority with it. The true filial duty, therefore, which we owe to him, is that of fear tempered by love. We should love him as a parent, but fear to offend him as a God. It was the just language of God himself to the Jews, “If I be a parent, where is my honour?” It is, therefore, our first duty to honour God, at all times : but it is still more especially our duty, when we approach his presence in this solemn place. We ought, then, to suffer none of the follies and vanities of the world to occupy our thoughts. We are on our knees before a God; therefore man and his trifling concerns should vanish. Our eyes are raised to the wide expanse of eternity; therefore the petty views of limited time should not engage our notice: we should take up the language of the patriarch of old, “ Surely this is none other than the house of " God! Surely this is the gate of heaven!”
Fourthly, Is God our Father? The common parent of all mankind, who made all nations of men of one blood, to dwell upon the face of the earth ? How ought this to check every proud and contemptuous thought, when I consider that, however the providence of God may
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made the necessary distinctions of high and low, in the order of human society, yet, when we come into his presence, all distinctions cease,
and even the king and the beggar are upon a · level before him, who is King of kings, and Lord of lords ? Both have the same common wants : both have the same common parent: both have the same common Redeemer: both have the same right to come before the throne of grace : and both have the same common promise of acceptance, if they come before it with pure hearts and hallowed lips.
How, again, will this enlarge our her.rts and affections for all the world, who stand in the same common relation with ourselves to the great parent of the world? Will not this teach us to love them, to pray for their welfare, to promote their happiness, to forgive their trespasses, and, even in a foe, to behold a brother? Can I address that God, who is our common supporter, preserver, and redeemer," with partial and narrow thoughts, or wish to monopolize his blessings? Can I address God with pride, which is a contempt of others, who were made by the same hand with myself? Can I approach him with envy, which is maligning those blessings he is pleased to give them ? Can I come to him with malice, which is a detestation of those who are
children of the same God, and heirs of the same. hopes ? Must I not rather imitate this my heavenly Father, whom I am addressing, who is kind to all, and sendeth his rain upon the just and the unjust? Must I not rather, like him, study to forgive their faults, the common faults of that humanity of which I myself am a partaker; to pity their infirmities, to console their misfortunes, to relieve their necessities? Will it not better become me, when I am on my knees before God, to consider myself as the common intercessor for the whole human race? Will it not better become me, whilst I am begging a blessing upon myself, to cry out, in the pathetic language of Esau, “Hast thou but one blessing, my Father: Bless them, even them also, O
Bless the distant savage and barbarous infidel : bless the unbelieving Jew and deluded Turk: bless the whole race of mankind, wherësoever dispersed, or howsoever distressed ; wheresoever placed, or howsoever divided, in language, manners, or affections: O Lord, savę thy people, and bless thine inheritance; for thou art the same common parent of all: thou art our Father : all the earth doth worship thee, the Father universal and everlasting.
Every man, who rightly considers, will naturally have such thoughts as these. May we so
consider, that we may never begin this divine prayer without them! May we learn from the condescending title of parent, to come b. Idly to the throne of God's grace; yet, at the same time, let the awe of his majesty fill our souls with reverence. When we take upon us to speak to the Lord, let our words, our thoughts, our gestures, be all expressive of that humility, which becomes sinful dust and ashes. Let no levity or inattention be seen in our countenances, but let this solemn reflection ever be uppermost in our thoughts, that we are addressing a God of infinite majesty, for a blessing upon ourselves, our families, our kingdom, upon the whole race of mankind, for every thing that is dear to us in this life, and every thing that is valuable in a better. And above all, let all our addresses to God be offered up in the name of that Saviour, who, in compassion to our infirmities, taught us how to pray, and through whose merits alone, our prayers can hope to find acceptance at the throne of God, our Father in heaven.