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death of Christ, hy which all pardon is obtained, can be applied to the soul by no other means than faith. The Sin against the Holy Ghost cannot be pardoned, because it is a malicious rejection of the blood of Christ, and all pardon by it.
Hast thou reason to'think thyself guilty of either of these sins?
Thou canst not say thou art guilty of Final Unbelief; for that cannot be, until the last moment of thy life.
But that, which most of all troubles the despairing soul, is, lest it hath committed the Unpardonable Sin against the Holy Ghost. And this many are afflicted with: this they fear; and so, in the extreme anguish and horror of their souls, they cry out that they are lost, that they are damned, that there is no hope, no pardon for them. If it be so indeed, that there is no pardon for thee; yet this outcry confutes itself: for the Sin against the Holy Ghost is, of all others, the least jealous and suspicious. I am persuaded, that the consideration of the nature of this sin will persuade us, that there is no man guilty of % but he, that is also given up by God to a reprobate mind and a seared conscience, and so grown quite past feeling as never to complain of his miserable condition.
Thy very troubles, therefore, thy very despairing thoughts, ishew that thou hast no reason to despair, and that thy sins are not unpardonable: and, therefore, be they what they will, the deformity of them never so ugly, the guiit of them as ghastly as thy guilty conscience represents them, yet there is an all-sufficiency in Christ to save thee fully.
Is it the numberless number of them, that affrights thee? Were they yet more, Christ can save thee from them: 1 John
i. 7. The blood of.....Christ cleansethfrom all sin. Dost thou
complain, O Soul, that thy sins are as many in number as the sand upon the sea-shore? yea, but dost thou not know likewise, that the sea can cover the sands? so the overflowing blood of Christ can reach the uttermost borders and extent of all thy sins; and keep them from the sight of God, that they shall never more appear.
Is it the greatness and the heinous nature of thy sins, that afflict thee? Possibly thou mightst think I flatter thee, to tell thee thou shouldst gather ground of hope rather than of despair: for thou hast now a plea for pardon. See how the prophet David urgeth this as an argument with God, for the forgiveness of them: For thy name's sake, 0 Lord, pardon mine iniquity; why? It may be they are so jreat, that they cannot in justice be pardoned: Yea, O Lord, pardon mine iniquity, for it is great. Itis a very strange argument, one would think,thus to plead with men: "Pray pardon me, because I have done you a great injury": and yet, with God, whose thoughts are not as the thoughts' of men, and whose ways are not as the ways of men, this strange argument is very forcible and prevalent: "Lord, pardon me, because I have sinned greatly:" thou speakest more reason by far, than if thou shouldst say, thy sins are great and heinousr and therefore there is no hope of pardon for them.
3. Now Christ's all-sufficiency to save the greatest and the worst of sitmers appears in these following particulars.
(I) In that he is able to save the Oldest and most Accustomed Sinner; and to make the last hour of his life the first of his eternal happiness.
And, in this, if in any thing, the almighty power of Christ to) save is made most wonderfully glorious. When an old sinner, that hath trudged on apace to destruction, and hath arrived event at the very brink of hell, when there were but a few steps between him and eternal death, nay when he stuck there, and there was nothing to recover him, for Christ then to give him a lift over that vast gulph,and then give him another lift over to everlasting life, what can be said in this case, but what the Psalmist saith in Ps. lxxxix. 13. Thou hast a mighty arm: strong is thy hand? Such a man's condition is very sad and dangerous : and, if any thing were too hard for all-sufficiency to achieve, it -were altogether desperate.
Now there are several things, which advance the power of Christ in saving Old Sinners. As,
[l] That the Devil's possession of an old overgrown sinner is mightily confirmed both in strength and title.
In Strength; in that he hath had time to fortify every stronghold of iniquity, and to make them impregnable. In Title; because, through long possession, the Devil pleads right by prescription, and time out of mind over the soul, so that it seems almost a vain attempt to rescue that soul from sin: and, though all things were made by and for God, yet here you see God's title seems as it were to fail, and the Devil's takes place; for, by a long custom in sin, such outstand the offers of grace, abuse the patience of God, and provoke him to give them up judicially to hardness of heart; by long delay, they more strengthen the Devil's title, and make their salvation the more difficult and ha/fcacdous.
 Old Sinners are so soaked and drenched in the cares and concernments of this world, that, by a strange sottishness, the nearer they approach to the evil day, the further they put it off from them; never thinking of eternity, until they are irrecoverably swallowed up in it.
As those, that work in deep mines, see not the sun, and know not how the day passeth away: so those earth-worms, that toil and drudge to load themselves with thick clay out of the bowels of the earth, never consider how far their day is spent, nor hownear their sun is to setting; never consider once how the day goes over their heads, but still work deeper and deeper till they have opened a passage through earth into hell, into which at last they fall headlong.
 Old Sinners have long built up and supported themselves with false and nattering hopes.
Either presumptuous conceits of God's mercy, or proud conceits of their own merits, or some such rotten principle or other: and, because, with these, they have worne out many storms of conscience and many powerful convictions, they will not forsake their hopes, nor let go their vain confidence; but cry out peace, peace to themselves, till they and their hopes perish together.
 By a long course of sinning incorrigibly, they have wearied out divine patience, and all the strivings of the Blessed Spirit of God; till, at last, they have provoked the Lord to pronounce a curse and a judicial hardness upon these Old Sinners.
And, because they would not be purged when he would have purged them, therefore they shall never be purged from their iniquities, till wrath seizes upon them, and seals them, and sets them aside for the Devil.
The condition therefore of Old Sinners is very dangerous and deplorable, and very seldom are such converted and saved.
But, yet, this is not the cause: the oldness or customariness of their sins makes them not unpardonable, nor sets them out of the reach of Christ's all-sufficiency to save; but, because they are so tough and stubborn, that they*will not come to God through Christ, that they may be saved by him. Yet, notwithstanding their case is thus forlorn and desperate, the all-sufficiency of Christ may be extended unto such as these, to bring them to salvation, and to cure and heal them, and save them from those sins that would deprive them of it.
Poor sinners! did you never read that Christ staunched an
festle of blood that had run twelve years? Mark v. 25. and how he straightened a woman that was bowed together eighteen years? yea, how he healed an impotent man, that had an infirmity thirty-eight years? John v. .5. And shall a miracle of power be able to cure an old disease, and not a miracle of grace be able to cure an old sinner? Though your bloody issue of sin hath run long; though you have lain bound under sin not seventeen or eighteen, but perhaps eighty years; yet come, though it be in the last hour of the day. Though your sins are old, yet they are not so old as those mercies that are everlasting. You are not too bid for grace, hor too old to be new-born. Lazarus riseth again, though he had lain four days in the grave; and the same hand, that raised him, can raise you from the power of the Devil, though you have lain there not four days, but fourscore years, dead in sin and trespasses. The Thief on the Cross Christ saved, not many' hours before his death: as though Christ would shew the world, by this example, what he can do in a desperate case. And could he thus save, when he suffered; and cannot he much more save, now he is glorified and triumphant? Old houses, many times, are repaired and made meet habitations again : so you, though you have been an old tenement for the Devil, may be so repaired by grace as to become a temple for the Holy Ghost. Be persuaded, therefore, yet at length to accept of the tenders of an all-sufficient Saviour. Your day is almost spent, and your life' stands upon the brink of the grave: if you now neglect so great salvation, as the Lord Jesus in the Gospel proffers to you, your death may be so soon as to prevent another offer of him to you; but it shall not, nay it cannot be so soon, as to prevent salvation by Christ, if you accept of this offer. ,
(2) Christ is able to save those, who have Frequently Relapsed into the commission of the same sin.
This is that, I know, which galls and stings the consciences of many sinners. It Is not so much the multitude of their sins that affrights them, as the frequent commission of the same sins. "Oh," saith one, "I am guilty of reiterated and oftrepeated sins. I have committed the same sin, again and again; notwithstanding I have been convinced of it; notwithstanding I have prayed, resolved, and vowed against it. Notwithstanding all the convictions and overtures which I have had, and notwithstanding all the resolutions which I have made, I have
VOL. III. •
again relapsed into the same sins; and those, not of ordinary inhrmity and human frailty, but sins of a gross and scandalous nature. And are such sins pardonable?"
I answer, These relapses, although they are very dangerous yet they are not altogether incurable. It is hard, to soften a heart, that is treacherous to God and to itself, and very deeply engaged in some particular lust; when we are frequently overcome by the same corruption, by the same temptation: but, yet, this is not such an aggravation, as should leave our sins unpardonable, or us desperate. The Jews, indeed, have a tradition among them, that the fourth relapse into the same sin makes it an unpardonable offence; but we know that the mercy of God and the infinite merit of Christ, are not stinted by any number of sins, nor by any number of the same sins. It is not with us as with drowning men, that if they sink the fourth time they never rise again. Certainly, that Christ, who bids us to forgive our brother, though he should offend us to seventy times seven offences, and hath not excepted reiterated provocations, will, upon our repentance, so much oftener forgive us, as his great mercy is above our charily. Though we have committed those sins and prpvocations against himself; though it be matter of bitter and deep humiliation, that any corruption should be so prevalent as frequently to overcome us, and that notwithstanding conviction, contrition, and heart-breaking confession: yet it is no cause of despair of mercy. The grace of Christ can subdue such rooted sinners as these. And what sins soever the grace of Christ can subdue, the mercy of God can pardon.
(3) Christ can save the profoundest and most notorious Backslider.
And backsliding is the greatest obstruction to a sinner's hope. This is that, which fills him with fears and terrors: " Oh, I have been guilty of apostacy. I have tasted of the sweetness of the heavenly gift, and of the powers of the world to come: yet I have fallen back to my carnal temper, from the holy ways of God; and have again backslided and wallowed in my former pollutions, from which I seemed sometimes to be cleansed and refined. And is this Apostacy pardonable?"
I answer, There is indeed an unpardonable apostacy, described in that dreadful place, Heb. vi. 8: it is impossible for such a one to be renewed by repentance, &c.: this is the same with the Sin against the Holy Ghost: and this no man is guilty