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to come, and so engage him to love the more. What words can represent or convey to another, the perplexities of such as are awakened to a sense of their fins, and held under a spirit of bondage? Who look upward, and apprehend God angry; and downward, and see, and think they even feel hell opening to swallow them up? To whom life is a burden by reason of sin; and yet death is the king of terrors, as it will transmit them to judgment.
Their loud cries and complaints tell us, they know not what to do, how to get rid of their pressing load, or bear up under it; being sensible of their danger from unpardoned fin, and that forgiveness alone can give them relief. Their spirit is now deeply wounded, and nothing but the voice of pardoning mercy can heal it. I have finned greatly, said David, and his heart: smote him : and then he prayed, And now,
I beseech thee, O Lord, take away the iniquity of tky fervant, 2 Samuel xxiv. 10. Nothing else could give him ease and quiet from an accusing, troubled conscience; but this would effectually do it. The inhabitant shall not say, I am fick : the people that dwell therein shall be forgiven their iniquity, Isaiah xxxiii. 24. The meer patience and forbearance of God, without forgiveness, will not answer the exigency of finners cases. Though they are out of hell, they know not how long they shall be so, nor how soon they may be in the lowest place, and in the hottest flames there.
It is the sense of unpardoned fin that breaks their bones, and drieth up their marrow : the arrows of the Almighty, sticking in them, cause a smart that no words can utter. They apprehend themselves under condemnation, and can have no ease, till secured of forgiveness by faith in the blood of Jesus, the spring and foundation of all comfort and peace, Isaiah xl. 1, 2. Comfort ye, comfort ze, my people, faith your God. Speak ye comfortably to Jerusalem, and cry
unta her, that her warfare is accomplished, that her iniquity is pardoned. 'Till this is done, they are under the curse of God on record, which cuts off from hin, and all good : a curse that pierces deep, and spreads far that is intolerable in its effects, and unavoidable too. There is no foundness in my fief, because of thine anger, neither is is there any rift in my bones, faith the Pfalmift, because of my fin, Pfalm xxxviii. 3. Sins are an heavy burden, they are too heavy for the finner : and till they are removed by forgiveness, what ease or peace can he enjoy ?
It is true, sensual gratifications, or worldly business, may keep off a sense of this for a time; but when conscience awakes, fin revives, and the finner dies. Some may laugh at this for a time, and make a hard shift to preserve a false peace ;
but what bitterness is it found in the end? The more careless and secure, airy and presumptuous they have been in health and prosperity, under the guilt of multiplied, aggravated transgressions ; with the greater horror they are filled when the hand-writing appears, and
their fins are set in order before them: and no message can reach their case, or make their broken bones to rejoice, but that of redemption through the blood of Christ, even the forgiveness of their fins.
This is one reason of the soul's greater love. The consideration of the distress and agony it felt when unreconciled to God, condemned already, and every moment in danger of being summoned by death to judgment; and so fent into outer darkness, where there is weeping and gnashing of teeth,
O the sadness of the case of such an one, who hath all the threatnings in the book of God against him, and nothing but a little breath between him and endless torment. What is all the pomp and wealth of this world to such an one, without forgiveness ? How can he eat or drink or sleep in peace ? How heavily must he set about any thing in this world, while under the fearful expectation of wrath in another ? To be delivered out of such a state is a mercy indeed: And a discharge from greater terror, may well lead the pardoned sinner to love him the more, from whom he hath obtained it. 3.
The greater and more astonishing grace abounding towards great sinners, and singling them out for mercy when others are left, is another ground of greater love. How far, will such an one say, with flowing eyes and a melting heart, how far had I run from God! How heinously and how many ways had I sinned against him! What a quick dispatch hath he made of others, while he spared me! He hath taken some away in the
heighth heighth of their rebellion, refusing to give them farther time and space to repent : He hath called fome to judgment in their youth, foon after they have broken the fetters of their pious education, cast off the God of their fathers, and given themselves up to a course of fin.
Many that were not so great finners as I have been, are gone to their own place, while he hath waited to be gracious to me; intreated me to accept of mercy, and persuaded me to do it, when he might instead of this, most deservedly have condemned me to remediless wrath. How unworthy had I rendered myself of any
grace, and how deep were my fears of perishing for ever according to my just deserts! I long went on making light of Christ, grieving the Spirit, serving the devil, and treasuring up wrath against the day of wrath, and the revelation of the righteous judgment of God. O the grace that will abundantly pardon such iniquities as mine, deliver me from going down into the pit, and restore me to the favour of God and a state of reconciliation with him! The condition of such a soul is made up of sorrow and joy, humble confusion and confidence, leading by it a pardoned debtor, to love much, to whom so much is forgiven, so much grace
is shewn. How readily, will such a soul insist to say, hath God forgiven the fins that made me as fewel for everlasting burnings, and received me to mercy, when I deserved to be rejected for ever as a worker of iniquity! My iniquities were gone over my head, for number and nature had greatly exceeded, lay as an intolerable burden upon me,
and it was difficult to me to admit the thought, that it would ever be taken off, till it had sunk me to the lowest hell. I had finned against light, broke through the warnings and restraints of conscience, disvalued the favour of God when offered, and securely ventured upon his wrath : But the greatness of his mercy, and the blood of his Son cancelled all my offences against, and the debts I owed to his offended justice.
What ftrange, what astonishing grace, what endearing kindness is it, that God should speak such language as this to me, though for lying vanities thou hast forsaken thy own mercies, yet return unto me, and fee my arms and heart
open to receive thee : As I live, I delight not in the death of finners, and thou art an instance of it. Though thou haft heinoully and long rebelled against me, I am loth to cast thee off. Long since I might have sworn in my wrath, that thou shouldīt never enter into my rest, but instead of it, have shut thee up in that prison from whence there is no redemption : But my bowels yearn, judgment is my strange work, mercy my delight ; and though thou owest five hundred talents, and hast nothing to pay, I frankly forgive thee all. What a powerful argument to love is this!
APPLICATION. 1. Have such as have run deeply in debt to God, been freely forgiven by him? What reason have we then to believe him when he declares himself thus, As I live, I have no pleasure in the death of the wicked, but that the wicked turn from bis way and live ? And accordingly, it is with