"This is the resting place, let the weary rest; and this is the place of repose"—

"Because of His great love for us, God who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions—it is by grace you have been saved. Not by works, so that no one can boast." Ephesians 2: 4, 5, 9

This is a fitting song to sing, as the fronds of the Elim-palms are bending over us—the breath of God turning them into Aeolian harps, musical with "the name which is above every name!"

Salvation is here traced up to the riches of God's mercy. It is the offended Sovereign proclaiming amnesty to rebels, lifting the beggar from the ash-heap and setting him among princes. The mercy of God! It is a brief sentence. It can be lisped by a child; but what seraph can fathom the depths of its meaning? The inspired Apostle, baffled in the attempt, seems here only able to shadow forth its wonders by heaping together superlatives: "Because of His great love for us, God who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions" (Eph. 2:4, 5). Amazing thought! God's mercy stooping over us, and His love loving us, when we were morally and spiritually dead. Did you ever hear of one loving the dead? 'Yes!' a hundred lips reply; 'we have loved the dead! We have wept and sobbed over the cold marble—we have loved to gaze on those rayless eyes, although the light of life has faded from them forever here—with an unutterably sacred affection have we loved the broken, mutilated casket, even when the bright jewel had departed.'

But this is not the case in point, in estimating the marvels of the mercy of God. Let us ask rather—Did you ever love the dead outcast on the street? Did you ever love the beggar, found, wrapped in rags for his shroud, lying on the open highway? No! though you may have pitied him, compassionated him; though you may have shuddered at the spectacle—no tear of love could moisten your cheek. But if human compassion is unable to tell so wondrous a tale, "Let the redeemed of the Lord say so, whom He has redeemed out of the hand of the enemy." God has done this—God's mercy has reached the point of loving the dead outcast—Yes! more—loving the dead enemy: "Even when we were dead in sins!"

That mercy of God in Christ embraces, too, the vilest and most miserable. None stand beyond its pale. No gate—no veil—no flaming sword of cherubim bar the way to the mercy-seat. Our sins may have reached up to the clouds, but the heights of the Divine mercy are loftier still: "As the heavens are high above the earth, so great is His mercy towards those who fear Him." In writing to Timothy from Rome, the most joyful word Paul can utter when he thinks of himself, as "before, a blasphemer and persecutor and injurious," is this—"But I obtained MERCY."

Yes! come and learn from this giant in grace, when standing on the borders of the grave, the only foundation of a sinner's, or rather a believer's, hope. With all the memories of his apostleship behind him, a thousand battles of the faith, in which, as a spiritual champion, he had fought and bled and conquered: with the remembrance of Jewish hate and Gentile scorn; the stocks and stripes of Philippi; the buffeting of winter tempests he had braved by land and sea; the moral intrepidity that made him stand amid Athenian philosophers, in the streets of Imperial Rome, and amid the merchant princes of Corinth, pleading the injured cause of his Great Master; the sacrifice of home, country, friends, religion—for a life of untiring and perpetual exile from most of the world's amenities and joys, like a weary bird having no rest for the sole of his foot, and seeking none; and now with the flash of the executioner's sword before him to close the mighty drama of a consecrated existence: yet hear his final plea—"I obtained MERCY." Could we follow him now, among the bright martyr-multitude before the throne, doubtless we would find the dungeon-prayer caught up in Paradise, and become the song of Eternity—"O give thanks unto the Lord, for He is good, for His mercy endures forever!"

He would remind us, in all this, of the one only ground of hope and confidence and trust we have in the sight of a holy God. He was indeed the last to undervalue the precious fruits of the Spirit, as manifested in the heart and the life of the true believer. In the soul that has been divinely sanctified and purified, there is much to love and admire—those Christian graces—holy affections and holy deeds—flowers in the Beloved's garden, which, like so many incense-censers, are sending up their fragrant perfume to heaven. Such, doubtless, are regarded with divine contentment now; and at the Great Day, they will draw from the lips of the Righteous Judge the divine approval and tribute—"Well done, good and faithful servant!"

But what would all these (the best of them) avail, when we come to regard them as forming our plea at that bar of unspotted rectitude and equity? A poor installment, truly, in the discharge of an infinite debt. If the Apostle himself once indulged some such dreams of personal merit and sufficiency, the further he advanced in the divine life, the more maturely he grew in grace and holiness and purity; in a word, the nearer he approached to God, the more deeply did he feel his need of mercy. His estimate of himself in his closing and riper years is this—"Less than the least of all saints"—"Sinners, of whom I am the chief!"

Be it ours ever to take the publican's place; saying as we look to the true Altar of Sacrifice—"God be merciful to me, a sinner!" We believe there is no limit or hindrance to that ocean of mercy in Christ, except for what is erected by the pride, or indifference, or unbelief of man. It laves and washes the rockiest shores of the rockiest heart. Paul tells us for our encouragement, why Divine compassion was exercised towards him. "For that very reason I was shown mercy so that in me, the worst of sinners, Christ Jesus might display His unlimited patience as an example for those who would believe on Him and receive eternal life." "I look," said Simeon of Cambridge on his deathbed, "as the chief of sinners, for the mercy of God in Christ Jesus, to life eternal. And I lie adoring the sovereignty of God in choosing such a one, and the mercy of God in pardoning such a one, and the patience of God in bearing with such a one, and the faithfulness of God in perfecting His work and performing all His promises to such a one."

How many can add, from deeper and darker and sadder experiences, "Great is Your mercy toward me, and You have delivered my soul out of the lowest hell!"

"Let Your mercy's wings be spread
O'er me, keep me close to Thee;
In the peace Your love does shed
Let me dwell eternally.
Be my all; in all I do
Let me only seek Your will;
Where the heart to You is true,
All is peaceful, calm, and still."

"How great is Your goodness, which you have stored up for those who fear You."

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