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On the Duty of Prayer in general.—Part I.
TENTH ARTICLE OF THE BELIEF:
"The forgiveness of sins.”
ACTS, XIII. 38.
Be it known unto you therefore, men and brethren, that through this man is preached unto you the forgiveness of sins.
Ir would be a most gross affront to persons professing Christianity, to entertain a doubt of their knowing who the Person is, through whom the Apostle tells us, in these words, we have this comfortable doctrine preached to us, and which passage I have chosen, as very applicable to the subject of the present Lecture.
The remission or forgiveness of sins is that doctrine of Christianity, which the death and merits of Jesus Christ could alone have brought to light, or caused to exist, and which interests
a weak and corrupted race of creatures more than any other; for, as what passes in our own hearts, notwithstanding our utmost care to keep them pure, must convince us of our very great depravity, since all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God; all are born in sin, and, consequently, children of wrath, as there is none that doeth good, no, not one; and, of course, every creature must have abundant evil to answer for; so to reflect upon, and be persuaded of an all-sufficient remedy againt so much positive misery, and the dreadful punishment it naturally deserves, is a discovery, surely, that is well entitled to be called good tidings of great joy to all men; for, what is it that prevents even this life from being a state of more perfect happiness, but SIN? What is the cause of the innumerable arts to sooth and pacify the minds of men, but sin? which, like the troubled sea, is never at rest, but galls and terrifies the conscience in various shapes and degrees, and sets the creature at continual work to divert the reflections which paint the deformity of a corrupted nature. Nay, by the very endeavours to remove the effects of a quality so truly hateful in itself, men plunge deeper into the gulf they would avoid; and, by the indulgence of sinful pleasure, sin becomes more exceeding sinful. In short, what is the sting of death, but SIN? If this were not true, there could be no such thing
as the fear of death; or we might rather say, unless sin had pervaded human nature, death had not been KNOWN, at least, it could not have been called an evil, or dreaded as such; for, it sin did not cleave to us, and set before us the prospect of a future judgment, merely to die, would be no unwelcome event to a very large portion of mankind; but, as all are justly included under the curse of the law against sin, so the rich and poor, the prosperous and unfortunate, even the converted sinner, as well as the unreformed, in a certain degree, have an abhorrence of death; for death not being originally made for man, but brought into the world by sin, nature must revolt and shudder at the violence it suffers by it. Now, to be delivered from a burden so general and intolerable, will be allowed a most merciful deliverance indeed. An article of our faith, therefore, that leads to the encouragement of such a glorious hope, is of the greatest importance for us to examine with the utmost caution and regard; and as no less than our eternal happiness depends on our just belief in it, we cannot too diligently study the principles on which it is grounded-we cannot too warmly cherish a promise of such inestimable value, since a true and lively faith in this one article not only secures us against the common wretchedness of our nature above specified-not only defies