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“s for God hateth it, and it is an abomination to him." (Prov. xvi. 16, 17.) “ The lovers and makers of lies are shut out of the kingdom of Christ.” (Rev. xxii. 15.)

But above all, false teachers that preach and prophesy lies, and deceive the rulers and people of the earth, are abominable to God: see Jer. xxvii. 10. 14--16; xiv. 14. 23. 25, 26. 32; Ezek. xiii. 9. 12; Isa. liv. 13. When Abab was to be destroyed, a lying spirit in the mouth of his prophets deceived him. And “ if a ruler hearken to lies, all his servants are wicked." (Prov. xxix. 2.)

7. Above all, false witness and perjury should be most odious to the servants of the God of Truth. A false witness shall not be unpunished, and he that speaketh lies shall perish.” (Prov. xix. 9.) " When thou vowest a yow to God, defer not to pay it.” (Eccles. v. 4, 5.) Saith David,

Thy vows are upon me, O God.” (Psal. lvi. 12.) And “ unto thee shall the vow be performed.” (Psal. lxv. 1.) Perjury is a sin that seldom escapeth vengeance, even in this life. The instances of Saul the first, and Zedekiah the last of the kings of Judah, before the desolation, are both very terrible. Saul's posterity must be hanged, to stay the famine that came upon the people for his breaking a vow that was made by Joshua, and not by him, though he did it in zeal for Israel. (2 Sam. xxi.) Zedekiah's case you may see, 2 Chron. xxvi; Ezek. xvii. He that sweareth, appealeth to God as the Seardler of Hearts and Avenger of Perjury. The perjured person chooseth the vengeance of God. He is unfit (till he repent) to be a member of any

civil society. For he dissolveth the bond of all societies. He cannot well be supposed to make conscience of any sin or villany in the world, against God, his country, his king, his friend or neighbour, that makes no conscience of an oath. It is not easy to name a greater wickedness out of hell, than to approve of perjury by laws or doctrine. And whether the church of Rome do so or not, I only desire them to consider that have read the third canon of the Council at Lateran under pope Innocent the third, where an approved General Council decreeth, That the pope discharge vassals from their allegiance or fidelity to those temporal lords that exterminate not heretics (as they call them) out of their dominions. What shall restrain men from killing kings, or any villany, if once the bond of oaths be nullified? But Scrip

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ture saith, “Keep the king's commandment, and that in regard of the oath of God." (Eccles. viii. 2.) No man defendeth perjury by name: But to say that men that swear to do that which God commandeth, or forbids not, are not bound to keep that oath ; or that the pope may absolve men, or disoblige them that swore fidelity to temporal lords, when once the

pope hath excommunicated them, doth seem to me of the same importance.

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CHAP. XX. 19. The next attribute to be spoken of is, his Mercifulness, and his Longsuffering Patience, which we may set together. This is implied in his Goodness, and the relation of a Father before expressed. Mercy is God's goodness inclining him to prevent or remove his creature's misery. It is not only the miserable that are the objects of it, but also those that may be miserable; it being as truly mercy to keep us out of it foreseen, as to deliver us out of it when we were in it. Hence it is that he “ taketh not pleasure in the death of the wicked, but rather that he may turn and live.” And hence it is that he “afflicts not willingly, nor grieves the children of men.” (Lam. iii. 33.) Not that his mercy engageth him to do all that he can do for the salvation of every sinner, or absolutely to prevent or heal his misery; but it is his attribute chiefly considered as Governor of the rational creature; and so his mercy is so great to all, that he will destroy none but for their wilful sin, and shut none among us out of heaven, but those that were guilty of contemning it. God doth not prevent the sinner with his judgment, but with his grace he often doth. He never punisheth before we are sinners, nor never decreed so to do, as all will grant. He punisheth none, where his foregoing commands and warnings have had their due effect for the prevention: and therefore because the precept is the first part of his law, and the threatening is but subservient to that, and the first intent of a governor is to procure obedience, and punishing is but upon supposition that he misseth of the first, therefore is God not to afflict willingly; because he doth it not. ex voluntate antece

ente,' but ex voluntate consequente,' that is (for so the di tinction is sound) not as a lawgiver, and ruler by those laws considered before the violation ; but only as a judge of the

(; lawbreakers. But yet God's mercy is no security to the

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abusers of his mercy. But rather will sink them into deeper misery, as the aggravation of their sin: As God afflicts, not willingly, and yet we feel that he afflicteth : so if he do not condemn yon willingly, you shall find if you are impenitent, that he will condemn you.

If you say, God can be forced to do nothing against his will: I answer you, that it is not simply against his will; for then it should never come to pass : but it is against the principal act of his will, which floweth from him as a lawgiver, or ruler by laws, in which respect it may be said, that he had “rather that the wicked turn and live :" but yet if they will not turn, they shall not live. A merciful judge had rather the thief had saved his life by forbearing to steal; but yet he had not rather that thieves go unpunished than he should condemn them.

1. The mercy of God should lead sinners to repentance, and shame them from their sin, and lead them up to God in love.

2. Mercy should encourage sinners to repent, as well as engage them to it: for we have to do with a merciful God, that hath not shut up any among us in despair, nor forbid them to come in, but continueth to invite when we have oft refused, and will undoubtedly pardon and welcome all that do return.

3. Mercy being specially the portion of the saints, must keep them in thankfulness, love and comfort: and all mercies must be improved for their proper ends.

When a merciful God is pleased to fill up his servants' lives with such great and various mercies as he doth, it should breed a continual sweetness upon their hearts, and cause them to study the most grateful retribution. He should breathe forth nothing but thankfulness, obedience and praise, who breathes nothing but mercies from God. As the food that men live upon, will be seen in their temperature, health and strength; so they that live continually upon mercies, should be wholly turned into love and thankfulness : it should become as it were their nature, temperature and constitution. O how unspeakable is the love of God, that provideth so sweet a life for his servants, even in their warfare and pilgrimage in this world! that mercy must be as it were the air that they breathe in, the food which they must live upon; and the remembrance, improvement and thankful mention of it, must be the business and employment of their lives ! O with

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what sweet affections, meditations and expressions should we live, if we lived but according to the rate of those mercies upon which we live! Love, and joy, and thanks, and praise, would be our very lives. What sweet thoughts would mercy breed and feed in our minds when we are alone! What sweet apprehensions of the love of God, and life eternal, should we have in prayer, reading, sacraments, and other holy ordinances! Sickness and health, poverty and wealth, death as well as life would be comfortable to us : for all is full of mercy to the vessels of mercy. O Christians, what a shame is it that God is so much wronged, and ourselves so much defrauded of our peace and joy, by passing over such abundance of great invaluable mercies, without tasting their sweetness, or well considering what we do receive! Had we David's heart, what songs of praise would Mercy teach us to indite! How affectionately should we recount the mercies of our youth and riper age ; of every place and state that we have lived in to the honour of our gracious Lord, and the encouragement of those that know not how good and merciful he is.

But, withal, see that you contemn not, or abuse not mercy: use it well; for it is mercy that you must trust to in the hour of your distresses. O do not trample upon mercy now, lest you should be confounded when you should cry for mercy in your extremity!

4. The Mercifulness of God, must cause his servants to imitate him in love and mercy: "Be merciful, for your heavenly Father is merciful. Blessed are the merciful, for they shall obtain mercy.” (Matt. v. 7.) Be merciful in your censures : Be merciful in your retributions : You are none of God's children, if you " love not your enemies, and pray not for them that curse you, and do not good to them that hate and persecute you” (according to your power). (Matt. v. 44, 45.) “If you forgive not men their trespasses,” but take your brother by the throat, “neither will your heavenly Father forgive you your trespasses.” (Matt. vi. 14, 15.) Mark, that even while he is called “your heavenly Father," yet he will not forgive, if you forgive not. Unmerciful men are too unlike to God, to claim any interest in his saving mercy, in the hour of their extremest misery. Men of cruelty, blood, and violence, he abhorreth: and usually they do not " live out half their days :" but they that “ bite and

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devour one another, are devoured one of another.” (Gal. v. 15.) The last judgment will pass much according to men's works of mercy, to the members of Christ. (Matt. xxv.) He shall have judgment without mercy, that hath shewed no mercy: and mercy rejoiceth against judgment.” (James ii. 13.)

“Pure religion, and undefiled before God and the Father, is this, To visit the fatherless and widows in their afflictions, and to keep himself unspotted from the world.” (James i. 27.) “He that having this world's goods, seeth his brother in need, and shutteth up the bowels of his compassion from him, how dwelleth the love of God in him ?” But above all cruelty, there is none more devilish than cruelty to souls. And in those that undertake the place of pastors, cruelty to men's souls is a far greater sin than in any others. To starve those that they undertake to feed; and to seduce those whom they undertake to guide, and be wolves to those whose shepherds they pretend to be, and to prefer their worldly honours, and commodity, and ease, before the souls of many thousands, to be so cruel to souls, when Christ hath been so merciful to them, as to come down on earth to seek and save them, and to give his life a ransom for them; this will one day be so heavy a charge, that the man that must stand as guilty under it, will a thousand times wish, that a "milstone had been hanged about his neck, and he had been cast into the bottom of the sea,” before he had betrayed or murdered souls, or offended one of the little ones of Christ. Be merciful to men's souls and bodies, as ever you would find mercy with a merciful God in the hour of your necessity and distress.

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CHAP. XXI. 20. The last of God's attributes which I shall now mention, is, his Dreadfulness or Terribleness, to those that are the objects of his wrath. This is the result of his other attributes, especially of his Holiness, and governing Justice, and Truth in his comminations. He is a “great and dreadful God.” (Dan. ix. 4.) “A mighty God and terrible.” (Deut. vii. 21.)

" A great and terrible God," (Nah. i. 5.) God is terrible Majesty." (Job xxxvii. 22.) “ The Lord most high is terrible." (Psal. xlvii. 22.)

1. His children therefore must be kept in a holy awe; God is never to be approached or mentioned, but with the

“ With

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