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fore call'cl the Word of Reconciliation ; the Gospel being the Grand Charter of our Peace, that consigns to every returning Sinner a Patent of Pardon and Reconciliation.
Beside which, this Pardon is by Christ's Ordinance published and dispens'd to us by his Ministers, to whom he hath given Power and Commandment to declare and pronounce to his People, being penitent, the Absolution and Remission of their Sins. Christ's Commission to his Apostles was to preach Repentance and RemiJJion of Sin s to all Nations: Luke 24. 47. adding withal, Whosesoever Sins ye remit they are remitted; and whosesoever Sin s ye retain, they are retains: John 20. 23. signifying that God hath given Authority to his Ministers to dispense.and pronounce his Pardon to all penitent Persons ; and the Sentence they thus regularly pronounce here on Earth, shall be hereafter ratify'd and consirm'd in Heaven
Moreover, this Pardon is scal'd and convey d to us by the Holy Sacraments: Repent and be baptized for the RemiJJion of Sins, faith St. 'Peter to the Jews, Ms 2. 38. the Stain and Guilt of Sin being walh'd away in that Laver of Regeneration.
And if after Baptism we happen to relapse and tall again into Sin, we must renew our Repentance, and by receiving the Sacrament of the Lord's Supper, endeavour to fortify ourselves with Grace and Strength to resist it for the future; we are to seek Reconciliation by addressing to Christ's Holy Table and to have our Souls wassi'd with his most precious Blood,' whkh was shed for many for the RemiJJion of Sins. And this will lead me, in the
Fourth and Last place, to enquire, what it is to believe this Article of the Forgiveness of Sins. In answer to which, 'tis not barely to assent to the Truth of it, and to believe that a Pardon may be had; but it implies such an Assent, as sets us unon the seeking and suing out after it, as thofe that are lost and undone for ever without it. For as a condemn'd Person, lying under the Sentence of Death, will not rest in the ba're possibility or vain hopes of a Pardon, but bestirs himself and spires no pains to procure it; even so we being by our Transgressions guilty Persons before God, and lying under the Sentence of eternal Death, must not content ourselves with an idle Belief of God's Mercy, but use the best means to obtain a Share and Interest in it.
More particularly, the Belief of this Forgiveness teaches these two things: (1.) Not to presume of Mercy and Pardon without observing the Conditions. And, (2.) Not to delpair of it upon the performance of them.
(1.) I fay, we areso to believe the Forgiveness of Sins, as not to presume upon it without observing the Conditions of it; for the Promise of Pardon is not absolute, but conditional, 'tis granted only (as was before observ'd) upon the Terms of Faith, Repentance, and the Forgiving of others. To expect it otherwise, is to hope upon no Grounds; yea, to ask God to forgive us.upon any other Terms, is but to ibeg leave to affront and provoke him. If then we would have any well-grounded Hopes of Mercy and Paidon, we must not only depend upon the Merits of Christ for the Expiation of Sin, but likewise do our part in repenting and turning from it: and if we would have God to forgive tis our Trespasses, we must be ready to forgive them that trespass against us; reconciling ourselves to any that we have offended, and making Restitution and Satisfaction where we have done any Injury or Wrong. These are God's Terms of Mercy and Pardon, and 'tis great Vanity and Presumption to look for it upon any other. And as we may not presume, so neither,
(2.) Should we despair of Mercy upon performing the Conditions; for Christ's Death has procur'd a full Pardon for the greatest Sins, and he has commiffion'd his Ministers to proclaim it to the greatest Sinners; if we repent and amend, there is no Sin too big to be forgiven. Christ's Blood can wash out the deepest Guilt, and his Merits are sufficient to atone for the blackest Offences. 'David's Murder and Adul« tery, (Paul's Blasphemy and bloody Persecutions, 'Peter's Perjury and Denying his Master, were all forgiven; and if these crying Enormities, committed with Deliberation and Contrivance, and heighten'd with many Circumstances of Aggravation, did not miss of a Pardon, there can be no reason for the greatest Offenders to doubt or despair of Mercy upon their hearty Sorrow and Repentance.
But here care must be taken, that they so forsake their Sin as not to return to it again; for if the Righteous Mail turnfromhis Righteousness and do Iniquity, allhisRighteousnessjhallnot he mention'd, but in the Sin -which he hathfinnedt in that he shall die; Ezek. 18. 24. If we relapse into Wickedness, our former Pardon will be caneel'd, and we sliall be accountable for all our Transgressions.- and there*
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fore to make it good and available, we must persevere in our Repentance, and return no more to Folly. To conclude then, trom this Discourse we learn,
1. The insinite Love of Chrilt, in purchasing this Pardon for us at the dear rate of his own most precious Blood: this is a Mercy never enough to be valu'd and admir'd by us, I'tat when ive were Enemies, we were reconcil'dunto God by the Death of his Son.
z. We learn hence, the great Privilege of being born within the Pales of the Church, where this great Blessing of the Forgiveness of Sin is obtain'd and dispens'd to all true Members of it; and likewise how thankfully we are to own and make a right use of it.
Lastly, We should learn hence, to qualify ourselves for this great Blessing, by observing the Conditions upon which 'tis bestow'd; that is, let us stedfastllt believe in Christ, and rely upon his Satisfaction: to which we are to add, true Repentance and a thorow forsaking of every evil way.
But above all, let us have fervent Charity among ourselves, forgiving and forbearing one another in Love, as God for Christ''s fake hath forgiven us; for Charity shall cover a Multitude of Sins : and if we forgive one another, our Father which is in Heaven will certainly forgive us.
A Cts xxvi. 8.
Whyfliould it be thought a thing incredible with you that God foould raist the Tie ad?
HAVING explain'd the two sirst Privileges of the Catholick Church, that commence herein this Life, viz. 'Tbe Communion of Saints, and Forgiveness of Sins; I proceed to the two last that are rescrv'dfor the World to come: and they are, 'TheKefurreBionoftheSody, and the Life everlasting. Of the
First of these, which is the Subject of the next Article, viz. l"he Refurretlion of the Body, I shall treat from these Words of St. 'Paul; Wioyshould it be thought a thing incredible,
dible, &c. For the more clear and eafy handling whereof, 1 shall (hew,
First, The Credibility of this Article of the Resurrection of the 'Body.
Secondly, What it is that makes it seem incredible.
"Thirdly, The Certainty of it, notwithstanding that seeming Incredibility: to which I shall add something touching the Manner and Effects of it. I begin with the
First, The Credibility of a Resurrection, that we may see upon what our Beliesof it is grounded. And here what we mean by a Resurrection hath been explain'd already, in the Discourse of our Saviour's Resurrection: viz. Therestoring of a dead Person to Life again, or the reuniting of Soul and Body after they have for some time undergone a Separation.
That this is possible, we have likewise seen in Christ's Resurrection, who after he was truly Dead, and had lain three days in the Grave, came to Life again, and convers'd with his Disciples in the fame Body, in which he before suffer'd and dy'd. To which if we add, That Christ died and rofe again as our Head and Representative, we may easily conclude the Possibility of the thing; and likewise that his Resurrection was a sure and certain Pledge of ours: for that he hath a Power to raise the Dead, is evident by his raising himself; and if his Death and Resurrection were in our stead, and as our Surety, to be sure he that rais'd himself is able likewise to quicken our mortal Bodies. So the Apostle strongly argues, Rom. 8.11. If the Spirit os him that rais'd up Jefits from the Dead dwell in you, he that rais'd up Christ from the Head, shall also quicken us by his Spirit that dwelletb in us. Hence he is styl'd, the Firstborn from the Dead, and the First-fruits of them that slept. By this he hath made Death no other than a Sleep, and tne Grave only the Dormitory of our Bodies, where, when we die, we lie down to take our Rest, a Morning awaiting ut far more glorious than the Sun, that now rouzes us from our Pillows. Christ being risen as the Earnest and First-fruits from the Grave, assures us that the Dead in Christ shall awake and rife after him ; for if we believe that Christ dy'd and rose again, even so them that sleep in Jesus shall God bring with him; % Thess. 4. 14. And therefore the Apostle asks the Question, Jf Christ be freach'4 that he rose from
I 3 the the 'Dead, how say some among you that there is no Refer? reEtionl i Cor. 15. 12. as if it were absurd to doubt out own, after so full a Proof of Christ's Resurrection.
Beside, Our Saviour's raising Lazarus and others from the Dead, in the View of many People, after they had lain for some time in the Grave, is a plain Demonstration of the P-.ffiSiiity of the thing. And this will lead me to enquire,
Secondly, Why it should be thought a thing incredible that Cod should raise the Dead? Which Question manifestly suppofes, that some thought this an incredible Matter; and .. Indeed, the number of these were, and still are, not a few. When St. "Paul preach'd this Doctrine at Athens, we read, that certain 'Philosophers cf the Epicureans and Stoicks encounter'd him, faying, Wl;at will this Sabler fay? Other some, that he seemeth to be a Setter-forth os strange ^Doctrine, in preaching Christ and the Resurrection; Acts 17. 3f8. And ver. 32. When they heard of the Resurrection of the ^Dcad, some mocked, and others said, we will hear thee again of this Matter. Again, we read of others, who understood by a Resurrection, only a spiritual Tranflation from a State of Nature to a State of Grace, and therefore amrm'd the Resurrection to be past already, and derided thofe that talk'd or look'd for any other. The Sadduces of old flatly deny'd a Resurrection, and there are many still, who are but too much Scepticks and Insidels in this Article.
But what is it that makes this Doctrine so incredible, after so clear an Instance of it in Christ's Resurrection? Why,
1. Some tell us, that Christ's Body was never corrupted, but only deposited a while in the Sepulchre; and the Parts of it being still kept together, mightbemore easily fuppos'd to revive: whereas ours at the Dissolution, are crumbled into Dust and Ashes, and are after so scatter'd and confounded with other Dust, that -tis not tp be conceiv'd how they should come together and unite again.
But is this too difficult or impossible to an insinite Power? The several corrupted Parts of our Bodies, tho dispers'd and mingled with other Dust of the Earth, are not annihilated, but are still in being; and is it any difficulty to Insinite Knowledge to discover where they are, or to an Insinite Power to call them together? Is it more difficult to bring the several Parts of created Master together again,