Imatges de pÓgina
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God's forbearance finners take the boldness to run deep on score, and when having nothing to pay, instead of casting them into prifon; be

frankly forgives them all. Now what riches of grace muft it argue, to pardon and remit not only a few pence, but thousands of talents ?

As to the forgiveness of fins, and mens apprehensions concerning the greatness of the grace of it, God declares, that as far as the heavens are higher than the earth, fo are his ways higher than their ways, and his thoughts than their thoughts, Isaiah lv. 9. The gospel is intitled goodwill towards men, from afsuring them of forgiveness with him for iniquity, transgression and sin. He keeps mercy for thousands in readiness to deal it out, and casteth their iniquities behind his back; and where fins are multipled, he has mercy in store to multiply to pardon. It is over and over repeated to a sinful people, Jer. xxxiii. 8. I will cleanse them from all their iniquity, whereby they have finned against me, and I will pardon all their iniquities whereby they have finned, and whereby they have transgressed against

(2.) Herein grace shines in its freeness : which, that it may be regarded, it is God's method, before he makes the offer of pardon, to sum up what sinners have been and done. See Isaiah xliii. 22, 23, 24. But thou hast not called

upon ine, O Jacob, but thou hast been weary of me, o Israel. Thou haft not brought me the small cattle of thy burnt-offerings, neither bast thou honoured me with thy facrifices, &c. Thou hast bought me. no sweet cane with money, neither bast theu filled

me.

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not his

me with the fat of thy facrifices : but thou haft made me to serve with thy fins, thou hast wearied me with thine iniquities. And yet, after this heinous charge, instead of resolving upon vengeance, he immediately adds, verse 25. I, even I am he that blotteth out thy transgressions for mine own sake, and will not remember thy fins : in which declaration how gloriously doth grace appear ? And, how often has he acted according to it? And he is still a God that pardoneth iniquity, and pafseth by the transgression of the remnant of his heritage : he retaineth

anger

for ever, because he delightech in mercy.

Sins of the deepest dye, like crimson and scarlet, have been forgiven, and the most heinous offenders received to favour; and assurance given to others of the fame mercy, from their breaking off from fin, and turning to God. Cease to do evil, learn to do well, &c. Come now and let us reason together, faith the Lord: thoyour fins be as scarlet, they shall be as white as

Inow ; though they be red like crimfon, they shall be as wool, Isaiah i. 16, 17, 18. It is the glory of God to forgive a multitude of fins; and where fin hath abounded, there is an opportunity for grace to abound so much the more. There is a multitude of tender mercies with God, for forgiving fins, and abundant virtue and efficacy in the death and intercession of Christ, to keep open the way for his mercy to be shewn. To the Lord our God belong mercies and forgivenesses, though we have rebelled against him. Some, whose fins have exceeded for number and S2

nature, cial

nature, have been forgiven, and others encouraged to hope for the same mercy.

But this leads us to consider,

II. What there is in forgiving grace to be an argument for love in those that receive it.

If blessedness be an argument for love, forgiveness has this belonging to it, and connected with it, Psalm xxxii

. 1, 2. Blessed is he whole transgresion is forgiven, whose fin is covered. Blessed is the man unto whom the Lord imputeth not iniquity.

This is a comprehensive blessing, and the foundation of many others. They who have their fins forgiven, are freed from the greatest evil, the wrath of God, and eternal condemnation. The wrath of an earthly prince is terrible as the roaring of a lion: how much more dreadful must be the wrath of God, and how miserable must be the case, to be under a sentence to this, as to be endured for ever? O the blessedness to be set free from it, as every one is whose fin is forgiven. Who shall lay any thing to the charge of God's elect, when it is God that justifieth ? Who is he that condemneth, when it is Christ that died ? Rom. viii. 33, 34. And how great is the privilege to be freed from everlasting condemnation, and delivered from hell, and the danger of being cast into it! Blesfed is he on whom the second death hath no power : whatever be his condition in this world, he has nothing to fear as to another ; he shall not be hurt of the second death.

Pardon of fin is a covenant-mercy, always connected with the favour of God, and a spe

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cial relation to him. Jeremiah xxxi. 33, 34. I will be their God, and they shall be my people, &c. for I will forgive their iniquity, and I will remember their fin no more. The pardoned sinner hath thereby a foundation for peace of conscience. There may be a separation between pardon and actual

grace,

but not between pardon, and the ground for it: Being justified by faith, we have peace with God, through our Lord Jesus Christ, Romans v. 1.

This opens a way for access to God, and communion with him. Forgiveness is never bestowed, but the golden fceptre is held out to invite us to come into God's presence. Sin, unpardoned, separates between God and the soul, lfaiah lix. 2. But when fin is forgiven, the partition-wall is taken down, and the soul has free access to God in prayer and other ordinances, being accepted in the Beloved.

The pardon of fin will sweeten every other mercy, and render any outward burden or afAliction tolerable. Sin imbitters, and adds a weight to any affliction ; but pardon doth lighten and sweeten it. We shall not cry out under the troubles and disappointments of the world, we are undone, if we have ground to concludę, that we are forgiven of God. Outward comforts and accommodations, accompanied with a pardon of our sins, are blessings indeed, and may be relished as such : but, if we had all the riches and prosperity in the world, the guilt of sin lying unpardoned upon conscience, and the apprehenfions of the wrath of God, would spoil the fatisfaction of all.

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· In a word, the sinner, pardoned in this world, shall have eternal life in the future. These two can never be severed. Sinners may know, that without pardon hell must be their portion. How rich or great foever they are in this world, without forgiveness all their worldly happiness will end in torment. And what comfort can that man take in any thing in this world, who may any moment expect an arrest, from God, and a demand of all his debts, when he has not a farthing of his own to pay, nor any intereft in the only all-sufficient surety? But he that is pardoned, besides all his privileges upon earth, hath, moreover, a title to the inheritance of the saints reserved in heaven, in the presence of God, where there is fulness of joy, and where there are pleasures for evermore. Hereupon let us fee,

III. How God's grace, as freely forgiving greater debts, fould lead the forgiven soul to love him the more. And here God's rich grace freely forgiving greater debts.

1. Tends to this, as it frees the soul from greater torment, to which its multiplied fins laid it open, especially those committed against light and grace. If the

wages

of death, what wrath is deserved by fins without number ? And who can think of this, and not be affected with the grace that gives him a dircharge from all ?

2. God's mercy, as forgiving greater debts, may free the soul from the more tormentful

apprehenfions it is under, even here, of the wrath

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