We are surrounded with mercies; mercies for the body, and mercies for the soul. There are indeed times and seasons when all the mercies of God, both in providence and grace, seem hidden from our eyes, when, what with the workings of sin, rebellion, and unbelief, with a thorny path in the world, and a rough, trying road in the soul, we see little of the mercies of God, though surrounded by them.
Like Elisha’s servant, though the mountain is surrounded by the horses and chariots of fire, and the angels of God are round about us, yet our eyes are holden, we cannot see them; and at the very moment when God is already showering mercies upon us, and preparing others in reserve, through some trying dispensation, we are filled, perhaps, with murmuring and rebellion, and cry, "Is his mercy clean gone for ever, will he be favourable no more?" This is our infirmity, our weakness; but it no more arrests the shower of God’s mercies than the parched field arrests the falling rain.
The mercies of God, like himself, are infinite, and he showers them in rich profusion upon his Church and people. They come freely as the beams of the sun shining in the sky; as the breezes of the air we breathe; as the river that never ceases to flow. Everything testifies of the mercy of God to those whose eyes are anointed to see it, and are interested in it. To them all things in nature, in providence, and in grace, proclaim with one united harmonious voice, "The mercy of the Lord endureth for ever."
Now, as these mercies of God are sensibly felt in the soul, they soften, meeken, and subdue the spirit, melt it into the obedience of faith, and raise up in it the tenderness of love. By this we are prepared to enter into the beauty and blessedness of the precept as an integral part of the gospel.
If I take a review of the mercies of God, and feel no interest in them; if they are not personally and individually mine, I slight, perhaps even rebel, against the precept as too hard and severe. The yoke is too heavy for my neck to bear. My Jewish mind, my stiff-necked disposition, shrinks from obedience to God’s word. But let my soul be favoured with a sweet discovery of the mercies of God; let them reach my heart, soften and subdue my spirit, then there is no cross too heavy to be taken up, no trial too hard to be endured, no path of suffering and sorrow in which we cannot patiently, if not gladly, walk.
The reason why the precepts are not obeyed is because the mercies of God are not felt. Love and obedience attend each other as the shadow waits upon the sun.