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himself. It may be said of this, as is frequently said of that which is commonly styled the Lord's prayer, it contains a directory for prayer; not a command for the use of it, but a form to model our supplications agreeable to the substance of the same, as it agrees with the whole essence and nature of true prayer and supplication. The Lord here gives forth his royal command to Israel to pray
prepares a form of sound words, and puts them into the mouths of his people; nor could they of themselves have conceived any thing so expressive for themselves. The divine command for prayer is contained in these words, Take with you words, and turn to the Lord. The church in another place says, Turn thou us unto thee, O Lord, and we shall be turned. Lament. v, ver. 21. Here the Lord saith, Take with you words, and turn to the Lord. Here is an exuberancy of grace. The Lord gives the words himself with which his backsliding people are to approach him. He commands them to approach him; to say after him that which will most fully express their case; be very expressive of the state of their feelings, and sense of their spiritual maladies, and of their own personal wants: that by the same they might be the more fully enlightened into clear views of the exceeding greatness of their guilt and pollution. In their repeating this before the Lord, they could not but feel and cry out, Behold we are vile.' • We are altogether
unclean. Yet they are not left to speak this; but they are to speak after the Lord. Take with you words, and turn to the Lord: say unto him, Take away all iniquity. They had fallen by their iniquity; they needed it to be taken away from them; they could not take it off themselves, neither would their return to the Lord do this for them: if they could, there would have been no necessity for thus expressing the request at the throne, Take away all iniquity. And if all iniquity were not taken away, there could be no expectation of being received graciously; therefore the order, propriety, and connexion of these words, with the vast subject and importance of them, are well worthy of our observation: Take with you words, and turn to the Lord: say unto him, Take away all iniquity, and receive us graciously. The Lord thus speaking expressly, particularly, and personally to his people, could not but most effectually cause them, in heart and soul, to turn to him. Their repeating after the Lord the very words which he had put into their mouths, could not but be the means of their being free and open with him at his throne. The Lord directing them to say to him, Take away all iniquity, and receive us graciously, shewed them what those blessings were they stood in need of, and which the Lord would, out of his royal bounty, bestow on them. The addition, so will we render the calves of our lips, expressed the
effect the auswer to the prayer would produce in their minds. I am to shew what is to be understood by these expressions, and that they contain for substance, the whole grace and gracious design of the everlasting gospel. For what is it, but the remedy appointed by the Lord himself, as the only one for sin and sinners? And the whole salvation of God, Father, Son, and Spirit, is contained and set forth therein. I am to take up the following terms and explain them: in so doing I shall have an opportunity of setting forth the glorious gospel of the blessed God. The expressions, Take away all iniquity, and receive us graciously, are of vast importance; and not only so, but, as will appear in the scriptural opening of them, contain some glorious doctrines of free and sovereign grace.
The Lord pardons iniquity, transgression, and sin, as an act of his royal prerogative; yet not to the exclusion and neglect of the honour of his law and justice. This act, though a sovereign one, is founded on the ancient acts and transactions which passed in the counsel and covenant between Him, and his co-equal Son, before the foundation of the world, when God was in Christ, not imputing their trespasses unto the elect, bụt to their Surety, who engaged to bear their sins, and carry their sorrows. Christ is the propitiation. Israel was fallen by her iniquity. She is called upon to return unto the Lord her God. The way is opened for her return. This is
by the Lord alone. He proclaims it, and gives her the information. He provides her with words, and puts them into her mouth, that she may want no manner of encouragement. Take with you words, and turn to the Lord: say unto him, Take away all iniquity, and receive us graciously: so will we render the calves of our lips. Israel was under a sense of sin and guilt; to have the same taken away, and removed from the mind, was the only remedy suited to the case. We cannot remove sin from ourselves : nor can the Lord receive us graciously, and hold free communion with us, unless our iniquities be removed. This is to us, therefore, a subject of the greatest importance. It is not a simple act of pardon that will suit my case. I acknowledge it to be an instance of surprising mercy. I have some real knowledge of it, and I bless the Lord for the same; yet I esteem the taking away mine iniquity from me, as grace vastly superior to it: but can I expect the Lord to take away mine iniquity, so as that I shall be free from it, inherently, or so as that I shall be without it, and never feel it, or fall by it any more? No, No. Sin will never be taken out of me, or eradicated from my fallen nature, so long as I remain in a time-state. The Lord's taking away my sin, is a very different act froin all this: and the true knowledge that the Lord hath taken away your sin, and my sin, is the one foundation for faith and hope in God.
There is a necessity for our knowledge of the same, as without it we cannot have everlasting consolation and good hope through grace. It is brought in for this very purpose, by the Lord himself. These poor sinners whom he here addresses, let their sorrows or repentance be what they might, could only be relieved by the Lord alone. He is pleased to point out to them the only way by which they might be healed. This was by the Lord's taking away their iniquity. When David had most grievously transgressed the law of God, and Nathan, the prophet, was sent by the Lord to charge his sin upon him, he cries out, I have sinned against the Lord. The prophet rejoined, The Lord also hath put away thy sin ; thou shalt not die. It was this broke the heart of the sinner. And so here in the case before us ; these words, Take away all iniquity, being answered by the Lord, and made known in the grace-part of it to the mind of the petitioners, would be all-sufficient to break the heart of stone, and turn it into a heart of flesh. The grace of the gospel, or the free grace of God in Jesus Christ, is the sole remedy which the Lord hath provided for the taking away of sin. This hath been completed by the Lord Jesus Christ alone. The proclamation is made known by the everlasting gospel. It is brought home to the ear and heart of a poor sinner. He receives the report of the same through the light and teachings of the