Monday, December 25, 2006

The elder brother; or, Grouchy saints, if saints at all

Micah 7:18 -- "Who is a God like unto thee, that pardoneth iniquity, and passeth by the transgression of the remnant of his heritage? he retaineth not his anger for ever, because he delighteth in mercy."

Sometimes those who profess to be God's people may become so lifted up with the Elijan pride of only I and so full of our "scriptural" correctness that we cannot abide how and on whom God chooses to dispense His gracious favours.

"Now his elder son was in the field: and as he came and drew nigh to the house, he heard musick and dancing. And he called one of the servants, and asked what these things meant. And he said unto him, Thy brother is come; and thy father hath killed the fatted calf, because he hath received him safe and sound. And he was angry..." Are we elder brothers, ever ready to complain about how the Father chooses to dispense His Grace? Should we not rather have joy, as it is in the presence of the angels -- rejoicing over even one sinner that repents? If we have experienced any of the hog-pens and husks (as many of us claim), might we rather cry out with the hymnist, "Who is a pardoning God like Thee? Or who has grace so rich and free?" Sadly, often more true to character we must begin with the lines of an unknown hymnwriter: "I am a great complainer that bears the name of Christ..."

"O LORD, was not this my saying, when I was yet in my country? Therefore I fled before unto Tarshish: for I knew that thou art a gracious God, and merciful, slow to anger, and of great kindness, and repentest thee of the evil." Shall we, like Jonah, condemn the Father's choice on whom He dispenses His Grace? Happy are we prophesying the restored coasts of Israel, while withholding our look toward those which "were not a people"?? May we rather be pleased with that which pleases the God who does as He pleases!

6-8s. A Pardoning God - Micah vii. 18.

GREAT God of wonders! all thy ways
Display the attributes divine;
But countless acts of pardoning grace
Beyond thine other wonders shine:
Who is a pardoning God like thee?
Or who has grace so rich and free?

Crimes of such horror to forgive,
Such guilty, daring worms to spare;
This is thy grand prerogative,
And none may in this honour share:
Who is a pardoning God like thee?
Or who has grace so rich and free?

In wonder lost, with trembling joy
We take the pardon of our God;
Pardon for crimes of deepest dye,
A pardon bought with Jesus' blood:
Who is a pardoning God like thee?
Or who has grace so rich and free?

O may this strange, this matchless grace,
This God-like miracle of love,
Fill the wide earth with grateful praise,
As now it fills the choirs above!
Who is a pardoning God like thee?
Or who has grace so rich and free?

-- by
Samuel Davies, published posthumously in Hymns Adapted to Divine Worship, by Thomas Gibbons

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