Imatges de pàgina
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It is the sense of unpardoned fin that breaks
their bones, and drieth up their marrow: the
arrows of the Almighty, fticking in them, caufe
a fmart that no words can utter. They appre-
hend themselves under condemnation, and can
have no eafe, till fecured of forgiveness by faith
in the blood of Jefus, the fpring and foundation.
of all comfort and peace, Ifaiah xl. 1, 2. Com-
fort ye, comfort ye, my people, faith your God.
Speak ye comfortably to Jerufalem, and cry unto
her, that her warfare is accomplished, that her
iniquity is pardoned. 'Till this is done, they are
under the curfe of God on record, which cuts
off from hin, and all good: a curfe that pierces
deep, and fpreads far; that is intolerable in its
effects, and unavoidable too. There is no found-
ness in
my flesh, 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
eafe or peace can he enjoy?

It is true, fenfual gratifications, or worldly
bufinefs, may keep off a fenfe of this for a time;
but when confcience awakes, fin revives, and
the finner dies. Some may laugh at this for a
time, and make a hard fhift to preserve a false
peace; but what bitterness is it found in the
end? The more carelefs and fecure, airy and
prefumptuous they have been in health and
profperity, under the guilt of multiplied, aggra-
vated tranfgreffions; with the greater horror they
are filled when the hand-writing appears, and

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their fins are fet in order before them

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and no meffage can reach their cafe, or make their broken bones to rejoice, but that of redemption. through the blood of Chrift, even the forgivenefs of their fins.

This is one reafon of the foul's greater love. The confideration of the diftrefs and agony it felt when unreconciled to God, condemned already, and every moment in danger of being fummoned by death to judgment; and fo fent into outer darkness, where there is weeping and gnashing of teeth.

O the fadness of the cafe of fuch 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 fuch an one, without forgivenefs? How can he eat or drink or fleep in peace? How heavily must he fet about any thing in this world, while under the fearful expectation of wrath in another? To be delivered out of fuch a state is a mercy indeed: And a discharge from greater terror, may well lead the pardoned finner to love him the more, from whom he hath obtained it.

3. The greater and more aftonishing grace abounding towards great finners, and fingling them out for mercy when others are left, is another ground of greater love. How far, will fuch an one fay, with flowing eyes and a melting heart, how far had I run from God! How heinously and how many ways had I finned against him! What a quick dispatch hath he made of others, while he fpared me! He hath taken fome 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, caft off the God of their fathers, and given themfelves up to a course of fin.

Many that were not fo 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 perfuaded me to do it, when he might inftead of this, moft deservedly have condemned me to remedilefs wrath. How unworthy had I rendered myself of any fuch grace, and how deep were my fears of perishing for ever according to my juft deferts! I long went on making light of Chrift, grieving the Spirit, ferving 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 fuch iniquities as mine, deliver me from going down into the pit, and restore me to the favour of God and a ftate of reconciliation with him! The condition of fuch a foul is made up of forrow and joy, humble confufion and confidence, leading by it a pardoned debtor, to love much, to whom fo much is forgiven, so much grace is fhewn.

How readily, will fuch a foul infift to say, hath God forgiven the fins that made me as fewel for everlafting burnings, and received me to mercy, when I deferved 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,

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and it was difficult to me to admit the thought, that it would ever be taken off, till it had funk me to the lowest hell. I had finned against light, broke through the warnings and reftraints of confcience, disvalued the favour of God when offered, and fecurely ventured upon his wrath: But the greatness of his mercy, and the blood of his Son cancelled all my offences againft, and the debts I owed to his offended juftice.

What ftrange, what aftonishing grace, what endearing kindness is it, that God fhould fpeak fuch language as this to me, though for lying vanities thou haft forfaken 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 inftance of it. Though thou haft heinoufly and long rebelled against me, I am loth to caft thee off. Long fince I might have fworn in my wrath, that thou shouldst never enter into my reft, but inftead of it, have fhut thee up in that prison from whence there is no redemption: But my bowels yearn, judgment is my ftrange work, mercy my delight; and though thou oweft five hundred talents, and haft nothing to pay, I frankly forgive thee all. What a powerful argument to love is this!

APPLICATION.

1. Have fuch 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 and live? And accordingly, it is with the

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the greatest tenderness that he gives out the exhortation, Turn ye, turn ye, from your evil ways; for why will ye die? Ezek. xxxiii. II.

2. How unreasonable are the hard and horrid thoughts, whereby finners, awakened to a fenfe of their vilenefs and guilt, are kept off from a forgiving God? He hath proclaimed and proved mercy to be his delight, even towards 'the most unworthy, by frankly cancelling all the score of thofe upon whom he hath the largest demands, but yet who have nothing wherewith to pay? 3. How difingenuous would it be for any to go on with the greater fecurity and boldness, in fin, becaufe God is ready fo freely to forgive the greatest debt? This would be to cross the nature and defign of grace, and cut off from ourselves all pleas for it. Shall we, faith the Apostle, continue in fin, that grace may abound? God forbid. The thought is fhocking, and ftrikes with horror. It can come from no where, but from hell, and leads to it: As there is not a more dangerous fymptom of a forfaken foul, than to prefume to fin upon this confideration: That God is ready to forgive the greatest debt, and thereupon to put it to the trial. To do thus, is to turn the grace of God into wantonnefs: And what, but perdition, can be the end of fuch a courfe?

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4. For the greatest finners to fay, There is no hope in their cafe, is to say what they have no warrant for, from God or his word. If any man fin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jefus Chrift the righteous: Who hath been the propitiation for fin, and is exalted to be a Prince and

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