"The Kindness of God"
The LAW reveals the majesty, holiness, and justice of God; and when the law is first brought home to the conscience of the sinner, it produces gloom, despondency, hard thoughts of God, and enmity against God. It always hardens, contracts, and makes the heart wrathful. Consequently, we can enjoy no peace, experience no joy, nor perform any acceptable service to God; until we are delivered from the law.
The GOSPEL reveals the kindness of God; it represents him as sympathizing with sinners having a heart full of love to sinners, and as being determined to show infinite kindness to sinners. The knowledge of this excites hope, draws forth confidence, and produces love: so that we become new creatures, having new views, new feelings, and new desires.
The kindness of God appears in his thoughts. We could have known nothing of God's thoughts—if he had not revealed them. Nor should we have been surprised, seeing we were his avowed and determined enemies, if his thoughts had been angry and warlike towards us. But instead of this, he says, "I know the thoughts I think towards you, thoughts of peace, and not of evil, to give you an expected end." What are his gracious invitations, his generous promises, and his glorious proclamations? Just his thoughts expressed in our language, and presented to us in the most winning and affecting forms. He thought of our dreadful state—and determined to deliver us. He thought of our needs—and determined to supply them. He thought of our misery—and determined to provide an antidote for it. How kind! How infinitely kind! Shall we not say with the Psalmist, "How precious are your thoughts unto me, O God, how great is the sum of them."
The kindness of God appears in his gifts. We especially needed four things, and he has gratuitously conferred them all upon us.
1. We needed a Savior—one who could be a substitute for us under the law, and a sacrifice for our sins to divine justice. No one was capable of being so—but his own Son; and so great was his kindness that we read, "God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whoever believes on him should not perish—but have everlasting life."
2. We needed a Sanctifier—and none but a divine agent could accomplish this work, and in his kindness he has given his Holy Spirit.
3. We needed a directory, an infallible directory—and he has given us his holy Word.
4. We needed eternal life, or existence without sin, sorrow, or suffering—existence in purity, peace, and plenty; and the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord."
Thus we have a Savior, a Sanctifier, a Directory, and eternal life—and all by free gift, all of the mere unmerited kindness of God.
The kindness of God appears in the messages he sends us. He has sent to us by his prophets, by his Son, by his apostles, and by his Spirit. He has sent to inform us that he is love. That he has erected a throne of grace. That he wishes us to be reconciled to him. That he is ready to forgive all our sins, and to confer on us his richest favors. He says, "Come now, and let us reason together, though your sins be as scarlet they shall be white as snow, and though they be red like crimson, they shall be as wool."
He solemnly protests that he has no wish to punish us, that he has no pleasure in our death. But that he is waiting to be gracious, and ready to pardon. He tells us to come to him, just as we are, and promises to provide for us, and supply us with everything that we need. He has not been satisfied with sending one message, he has sent many; nor with sending once, he has sent often. He sends still. His ministers are appointed on purpose to deliver his messages to us, over and over again. This is the ministry of reconciliation. It is as though God did beseech us by them, they beg us in Christ's stead, to be reconciled to God. God is so kind as to reason with us. He expostulates. He pleads. He invites. He asks us to be at peace with him, to come and be made happy by him. What wondrous kindness!
The kindness of God appears also in the reception he gives us. However great, or aggravated or numerous our sins—when we come to him for mercy, to obtain pardon, or seek for grace—he receives us lovingly. His reception of us proves his invitations to be sincere. As the father of the prodigal, when he was yet a great way off, ran and fell upon his neck, and kissed him; so the Lord meets the returning sinner, blots out his transgressions, strips him of his rags, and clothes him with the best robe of his Son's righteousness, makes a sumptuous feast, and bids all present be merry. The reception is such as none but God could give, as none but a God of infinite kindness would give.
Just so, when the backslider returns from his follies, as soon as he confesses his iniquities, appeals to the divine mercy, and pleads the blood of Jesus—he is pardoned, reinstated in his privileges, and the joys of God's salvation are restored. His condescension is infinite. His kindness is without a parallel. O that we did but believe the love which God has to us!
Observe, reader, God nas been incomparably kind to us. Not only to our bodies—but to our souls. Not in one instance—but in ten thousand: yes, ten thousand times ten thousand. He is as kind to us this moment, as he ever was. But we have been very unkind to him. The charge brought against Israel by Isaiah, may be brought against us. We have not given him our first thoughts, warmest love, active obedience, or filial confidence; but we have wearied him with our iniquities. We have thought unkindly of him. We have acted unkindly towards him. It befits us now to reflect seriously, to repent immediately, and to reform thoroughly.
Let our thoughts dwell on the kindness of God, until our hearts are filled with kindness toward God, and our lives are spent in obedience to the will of God. He deserves our best, our all. His purposes respecting us are all kind. His plan of proceeding with us is kind. His thoughts of us are kind. His words to us, are kind. His dealings with us, are kind. There is nothing but kindness in his heart towards us, and by and bye we shall see that there was kindness in every cross, in every trial, in every disappointment, in every burden laid upon us; and shall most heartily and gratefully say, "You have dealt well with your servant, O Lord, according to your word." He loved us with an everlasting love, therefore with loving-kindness he drew us to himself; and, blessed be his holy name! He has appointed an eternity for us, in which to love him, enjoy his favors, and praise him for his infinite and sovereign kindness to us!