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me with the fat of thy facrifices: but thou haft made me to ferve with thy fins, thou haft wearied me with thine iniquities. And yet, after this heinous charge, inftead of refolving upon vengeance, he immediately adds, verfe 25. I, even I am he that blotteth out thy tranfgreffions for mine own fake, 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 ftill a God that pardoneth iniquity, and paffeth by the tranfgreffion of the remnant of his heritage: he retaineth not his anger for ever, because he delighteth in
Sins of the deepest dye, like crimson and scarlet, have been forgiven, and the most heinous offenders received to favour; and affurance given to others of the fame mercy, from their breaking off from fin, and turning to God. Ceafe to do evil, learn to do well, &c. Come now and let us reafon together, faith the Lord: tho' your fins be as fearlet, they shall be as white as Snow; though they be red like crimson, they shall be as wool, Ifaiah 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 fo much the more. There is a multitude of tender mercies with God, for forgiving fins, and abundant virtue and efficacy in the death and interceffion of Chrift, to keep open the way for his mercy to be fhewn. To the Lord our God belong mercies and forgiveneffes, though we have rebelled against him. Some, whofe fins have exceeded for number and nature,
nature, have been forgiven, and others encouraged to hope for the fame mercy.
But this leads us to confider,
II. What there is in forgiving grace to be an argument for love in thofe that receive it.
If bleffedness be an argument for love, forgiveness has this belonging to it, and connected with it, Pfalm xxxii. 1, 2. Blefed is he whofe tranfgreffion is forgiven, whofe fin is covered. Blessed is the man unto whom the Lord imputeth not iniquity.
This is a comprehenfive bleffing, 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 miferable must be the cafe, to be under a fentence to this, as to be endured for ever? O the bleffedness to be fet free from it, as every one is whofe fin is forgiven. Who fhall lay any thing to the charge of God's elect, when it is God that justifieth? Who is he that condemneth, when it is Chrift 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 caft into it! Bleffed is he on whom the fecond 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 fpe
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 finner hath thereby a foundation for peace of conscience. There may be a feparation 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 Jefus Chrift, Romans v. I. This opens a way for accefs 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 prefence. Sin, unpardoned, feparates between God and the foul, Ifaiah lix. 2. But when fin is forgiven, the partition-wall is taken down, and the foul has free access to God in prayer and other ordinances, being accepted in the Beloved.
The pardon of fin will fweeten every other mercy, and render any outward burden or affliction tolerable. Sin imbitters, and adds a weight to any affliction; but pardon doth lighten and sweeten it. We fhall not cry out under the troubles and disappointments of the world, we are undone, if we have ground to conclude, that we are forgiven of God. Outward comforts and accommodations, accompanied with a pardon of our fins, are bleffings indeed, and may be relished as fuch: but, if we had all the riches and profperity in the world, the guilt of fin lying unpardoned upon confcience, and the apprehenfions of the wrath of God, would fpoil the fatisfaction of all.
In a word, the finner, pardoned in this world, fhall have eternal life in the future. These two can never be fevered. 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 arreft, 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-fufficient furety? But he that is pardoned, befides all his privileges upon earth, hath, moreover, a title to the inheritance of the faints referved in heaven, in the prefence 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, fhould lead the forgiven foul to love him the more. And here God's rich grace freely forgiving greater debts.
1. Tends to this, as it frees the foul from greater torment, to which its multiplied fins laid it open, especially thofe committed against light and grace. If the wages of every fin is death, what wrath is deferved by fins without number? And who can think of this, and not be affected with the grace that gives him a difcharge from all?
2. God's mercy, as forgiving greater debts, may free the foul from the more tormentful apprehenfions it is under, even here, of the wrath
to come, and fo engage him to love the more. What words can reprefent or convey to another, the perplexities of fuch as are awakened to a fenfe of their fins, and held under a spirit of bondage? Who look upward, and apprehend God angry; and downward, and fee, and think they even feel hell opening to swallow them up? To whom life is a burden by reason of fin; and yet death is the king of terrors, as it will tranfmit them to judgment.
Their loud cries and complaints tell us, they know not what to do, how to get rid of their preffing load, or bear up under it; being fenfible of their danger from unpardoned fin, and that forgiveness alone can give them relief. Their fpirit is now deeply wounded, and nothing but the voice of pardoning mercy can heal it. I have finned greatly, faid David, and his heart. fmote him and then he prayed, And now, I befeech thee, O Lord, take away the iniquity of thy fervant, 2 Samuel xxiv. 10. Nothing elfe could give him eafe and quiet from an accufing, troubled confcience; but this would effectually do it. The inhabitant fhall not fay, I am fick: the people that dwell therein shall be forgiven their iniquity, Ifaiah xxxiii. 24. The meer patience and forbearance of God, without forgiveness, will not answer the exigency of finners cafes. Though they are out of hell, they know not how long they fhall be fo, nor how foon they .may be in the lowest place, and in the hottest flames there.