“But if from thence thou shalt seek the Lord thy God, thou shalt find him, if thou seek him with all thy heart and with all thy soul.”—Deut. 4:29.
There is a mixture of mercy and judgment in all the sacred writings. The New Testament contains some awful threatenings. “He that believeth not shall be damned.”—“If any man love not the Lord Jesus Christ, let him be Anathema Maran-atha.” On the other hand, the law of Moses is interspersed with mercy. As the whole passage has immediate respect to Israel, it doubtless refers to their sins, their captivity and troubles, and to God’s great mercy to them in remembrance of the covenant with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. And as mention is made of “the latter days,” it seems to be not merely an encouragement to them to return, but a prophecy which has yet to be accomplished. Yes, when the Spirit of grace and supplication is poured out upon them, it shall be fulfilled.
But though it may specially refer to Israel, it is no less applicable to us Gentiles. We are sinners, and have brought innumerable miseries on ourselves, and there is but one refuge for us to seek to—and if we seek him with all our heart and soul, we shall find mercy; for the Lord our God is a merciful God.
I. Notice a few cases to which this language applies.—The description given of an impenitent people is—“No man spoke aright, saying, What have I done?” Were we to institute such an inquiry, and answer according to truth, what would the answer be?
1. One would say, I have gone great lengths in sin: I lived without restraint; I was a drunkard, a blasphemer, an injurious person to all I had to do with; and now God has brought me into troubles—I am hated and despised by my relations and neighbours—I cannot live long, and yet fear to die. Yet, “if from thence thou shalt seek the Lord thy God, thou shalt find him, if thou seek him with all thy heart and with all thy soul.”
2. Another says, I was born of religious parents; I was long weary of religion, and wished to be free. At length my father died, and I gave myself up to evil; and now my troubles are come upon me, no one respects me, nor careth for my soul; I was undutiful to my parents, and now my children are so to me. But, “if from thence,” &c.
3. Another may say, My conduct has been correct and orderly, so as to obtain the approbation of those about me; but I have valued myself upon it, have lived without God, and never sought mercy as a guilty creature; I have lived a Pharisee; and now I feel the want of something in which to appear before God. Well, “if from thence,” &c.
4. Another—I have made a profession of religion and thought well of my state, and talked to others, and was thought well of by others; but I indulged first in little and secret sins, and after this they became greater and more exposed; and now I am an outcast—every one shuns me. Yet, “if from thence,” &c.
5. Though I have not lost my character, yet I have lost my peace of mind; I have not walked with God, and God seems to have departed from me; I cannot pray, nor read, nor hear to profit: I can enjoy no pleasure in the world nor in religion; I feel myself a backslider in heart, and God has filled me with my own ways. But, “if from thence thou shalt seek the Lord thy God, thou shalt find him, if thou seek him with all thy heart and with all thy soul.”
II. Observe the grounds on which the encouragement rests.
1. The merciful character of God. Isa. 55:7, “Let the wicked forsake his ways,” &c. No sins are so great or numerous but that he can forgive them: “if—with all thy heart,” &c.
2. The covenant which God made with the fathers, and much more with his Son. There is this difference between uncovenanted and covenanted mercy; the one has no promises, the other has many. God has pledged his perfections, that whosoever believeth in him shall be saved. No ground therefore to despair; whatever thy condition, how far soever from God, return to him through his dear Son, and you will obtain mercy.
Fuller, A. G. (1988). The Complete Works of Andrew Fuller: Memoirs, Sermons, Etc. (J. Belcher, Ed.) (Vol. 1, pp. 444–445). Harrisonburg, VA: Sprinkle Publications.