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Acts V. 31.

Him hath God ex alt ed to be a 'Prince and a Saviour, to give Repentance unto Israel, and Forgivenefs of Sins.

WE have seen the sirst great Privilege appertaining
to the Catholick Church, viz. "The Communion of
Saints: I come now to the second, which is con-
Next Article, in these words; I believe the Forgiveness of
Sins. In discoursing whereof, I must shew,

First, The Nature and Guilt of Sin.
Secondly, What is meant by the Forgiveness of it.
Thirdly, How far it extends. e • •

Fourthly, What is imply'd in the Belief of this Forgivenels. For the

First, St. John hath desin'd for us the Nature of Sin, styling it the transgression of a Zaw, 1 John 3. 4. Where there Is no Law, there Is no transgression; and Sin Is not imputed where there is no Law. So that Sin evermore supposes a Law or Rule to walk by, and betokens a Breach or Deviation from it; and that either by omitting something which the Law requires, or committing something that it forbids; the former is a Sin of Omission, the latter of Commission: and both these may be done, either knowingly against the Conviction of the Mind, and then'tisa Sin of Wilfulness; or ignoranrly and without sufficient Knowledge, and then 'tisa Sin of Weakness. Again, .'...., . ,, .

This Ignorance may be either invincible, occasion d by the lack of sufficient means of Knowledge, and then 'tis a Sin of Insirmity; or affected, proceeding from the neglect or contempt of means, and then 'tis a Sin of Presumption. Moreover, a Law may be broken either deliberately and after some debate, and then 'tis in a high degree a Sin1 of . \ WilfulWilsulness; or unadvisedly and upon surprize, and then 'tis a Sin of Inadvertence or daily Incursion. In short, every volunntary Breach or Violation of a known Law is what in Scripture is call'd Sin, tho some may be more heinous than others ; and indeed the more voluntary, still the more heinous. Which will lead us, from the Nature, to consider

The Guilt of Sin : and this consists in an Obligation to Punishment. For all Sin being an Affront to the Divine Majesty, justly incurs his Displeasure; and being a Violation of the Authority of his Laws, binds the Sinner over to suffer the Penalty annex'd to them. Now the Punishment threaten'd and annex'd to the Breach of God's Law, is Death ; which implies not only all the Diseases and Miseries of this World, but the eternal Pains and Torments of the next: "The Wages of Sin is Death\ Rom. 6. last. Death appertains and is due to it as Wages is to a Servant: Sin not only deserves, but naturally leads to Death ; for he that hath offended God by breaking his Laws, hath made himself obnoxious to divine Wrath, and is become liable to the Punishment denounc'd against them that do so. Now this Debt or Obligation to Punishment, is what the Scripture calls the Guilt of Sin; and this doth not pass away with the Act of Sinning, but remains after it; which is in Scripture express'd by Sin's lying at the door. Having seen the Guilt, let us proceed to inquire,

Secondly, What is meant by the Forgiveness of Sin? And this consists in the Release of this Obligation, or the freeing of any from that Debt to Divine Justice, which by transgressing the Law he had contracted. For as a Malefactor is said to be pardon'd, when the Punishment of his Offence is remitted ; and a Debt is said to be forgiven, when 'tis either paid or satisfy'd for: even so Sin is pardon'd, when God Almighty remits the Punishment, and esteems of us as if it were not committed. And this is in Scripture variously express'd; sometimes by covering of Sins, and not imputing them unto us; sometimes by seeing no Iniquity in Jacob, nor Perversenefi in Israel ; sometimes by forgeting our Sins, and remembring them no more: All which signify the Forgiveness of Sin, to be an Exemption from the Guilt, and a Release from the Punishment that wasdue to it. . . . (

., And

And this is done partly here in this Life, and will be more perfectly done in the next. In this Life, tho we are exempted from the Sentence of eternal Death, and secur'd from ever suffering thofe future and everlasting Torments which our Sins deserve; yet we are not wholly exempted from temporal Punishments, nor freed from those Corrections that serve to awaken and deter us from the love and practice of Sin. Here we are still exercis'd with Evils and Afflictions for many wife and good ends, and Death paffeth upon all Men, for that all have sinned: But hereafter we shall be totally exempted from these and all other Punishments due to our Sins, and have a complete and irreversible Act of Indemnity pass upon all our Miscarriages.

But how is this Forgiveness of Sins procur'd and obtain'd for us? Why, not by any Act or Merits of our own, for we cannot of our selves satisfy or'make an Atonement for the least Iniquity, and much less for our innumerable Transgressions of the Divine Law; but this is intirely owing to the Sufferings and Satisfaction of our Blessed Saviour, who hath put away Sin by the Sacrifice of himself. Indeed Justice requir'd Satisfaction before the Guilt or Penalty of Sin could be remitted: and because Death was the Punishment due to it, the Son of God was pleas'd to give himself up to Death, and to make his Soul an Offering for Sin; which by reason of the Dignity of the Person, is a more valuable Satisfaction and Atonement, than the Death of all Mankind could have been. So that by this All-sufficient Sacrisice he hath appeas'd the Wrath of God, and fatisfy'd divine Justice, and thereby acquitted us from the Guilt and Punishment of our Sins. Hence our Text tells us, that Christ is exalted to be a 'Prince and a Saviour, to give Forgiveness of Sin: And the Apostles Commission was, thro" him to preach the Forgiveness of Sin, Acts 13. 38. for in him we have Redemption thro' his Slood, even the Forgiveness of Sin; Ephes. 1. 7. Because all things were purg'd with Blood, and without shedding of Blood there was no Remission, the Son of God shed his own Blood for the Remiffion of our Sins ; Mat. z6. zo. Thus We fee how Pardon of Sin is procur'd. But,

How or on what Terms is it granted? Is it given generally and promiscuously to all Offenders? No, that would encourage and harden them in their Offences, and make Sin abound, because Grace hath abounded; which can neither consist with the Justice, nor comport with the Ends of

God's God's Goodness. The Promise of Pardon is not absolute, but conditional; 'tis suspended upon the Conditions of Faith, Repentance, and Forgiving of others.

1. Faith is necessary to the Forgiveness of Sin; for 'tis thro' the Merits of Christ alone, that we can obtain Mercy, and 'tis only believing and depending upon him that intitles us to both : for without Faith 'tis impqffible for us to please God, or for God to pardon us. Hence the Apostle tells us, He is set forth as a 'Propitiation for the Remission of Sins, thro' Faith in his Slood; Rom. 3. z$.

z. Repentance is another Condition of the Forgiveness of Sin; for except ye repent (fays our Saviour) ye shall all likewise perijh: And therefore the Apostles were sent to freach Repentance for the Remission of Sins. Accordingly Sr. 'Peter's Sermon to the Jews was, Repent and be converted, that your Sins may be blotted out; Acts 3. 19. Our Text tells us, that Christ was exalted to give Repentance in order to the Forgiveness of Sin; the one always going before the other: for 'tis they that confess and forsake their Sins, that alone find Mercy ; Prov. 28. 13.

3. The forgiving of others Trespasses is necessary to the forgiving of our own; for our Saviour hath taught us to pray for the one as we perform the other, and hath frequently told us, that without forgiving our Brother we forieit all title to Forgiveness. He who took his Fellow-Servant by the throat for forty Pence, when his Master had just before remitted him a thousand Talents, was call'd to a second Reckoning, where the remitted Sum was exacted from him, and he cast into Prison till he should pay the utmost Farthing: Even so (says our Saviour) will your Heavenly Father do to you, except ye forgive one another their ^Trespasses. There is no Forgiveness for impenitent and uncharitable Persons; for they shall have Judgment without Mercy, who shew no Mercy.

Thus we fee the Nature of this Forgiveness, the Manner how it was effected, and the Terms on which alone we are to expect it.

thirdly, Our next Inquiry must be into the Extent of this Pardon, how far it reaches, and whether it extends to all, even the greatest Sins.

To this our Blessed Saviour hath given an Answer, Mat.

12. 31, 32. Ifay untoyou, All manner of Sin and Blasphemy

shall be forgiven unto Men; but the Blasphemy against the

- -' Holy Holy Ghoft shall not be forgiven, neither in this World, nor that which is to come. Where Christ declares all Sins pardonable, except thw ag&inst the Holy Obost, which is utterly incapable of all Favourer Allowance. Now thisiVw against the Holy Ghost, is a wilful rejecting of the Doctrine and Miracles of our Saviour; ascribing both not to the Spirit 6f God, but to the Devil, and blaspheming them as Impostures and Satanical Delusions: which Blasphemy a

Jjainst the Holy Ghost is unpardonable, not for want of urficient.Mercy and Goodness in God, but from the Incapacity of the Subjects ; who by rejecting the Means and Conditions of Pardon, render themselves incapable of it. This is that sinning wilfully after receiving the Knowledge of the Truth, for which the Apostle tells us there remains no Sacrifice, or Expiation, Heb. 10. %6. for such tread under foot the Son of God: that is, they despise him, who alone can pardon them; they count the Blood of the Covenant {by which alone the Forgiveness of Sin is obtain'd and convey 'd td us) an unholy thing; they do despite to the Spirit of Grace, by rejecting all his Miracles, whereby the Truth and Benesitsof Christianity are consirm'd and seal'd to us; they crucify afresh the Son of God, by approving the Jews Fact in crucifying him; and put him again to an open fhame\ 6s if he had justly died as an Impostor or Malefactor. These wilfully apostatizing and falling away from Christianity^ the Apostle affirms it impossible to renew them again unto Repentance ; and consequently it must be impossible for them to bbtain Remission of Sin.

But for all other Failings, that are consistent with the Belief of Christianity, they are remissible by the Merits and Mercy of a Mediator. As for the Guilt of Original Sin, that is wastVd away In the Waters of Baptism, which is therefore styl'd the Laver of Regeneration: And for all actual Sins committed after it, they all may and shall be forgiven upon our true Repentance. Neither the Number, hor the Heinousness of our Offences can deprive us of God's Mercy, nor exclude us from the Promise and Possibility ofa Pardon; for If we cease to do evil, and learn to do well, God Almighty hath told us, tho our Sins be as Scarlet, they shall be as white as Snow; and tho they be as Crimson, they shall be as Wool; Isa. 1. fj, 18.

Now this Forgiveness of Sins is not only purchas'd fof

iis by the Death and Satisfaction of our Saviour, butisre

veal'd and deliver'd to us in Holy Scripture, which is there

Vot. I. . X fore

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