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pardon of sin, without respect unto any thing in those that receive it, we renounce the gospel. Pardon of sin is not merited by antecedent duties, but is the strongest obligation unto future duties. He that will not receive pardon, unless he can one way or other deserve it, or make himself meet for it; or pretends to have received it, and finds not himself obliged to universal obedience by it, neither is, nor shall be, partaker of it.” Now, reader, what think you of this glorious pardon 2 Is it suitable to your wants' Is it worthy of your acceptance? You are, perhaps, one of those careless mortals that are at ease in their sins, and eagerly pursuing the tantalizing pleasures of this uncertain life. But can you be contented to live and die in utter ignorance of this forgiveness? Is pardon a blessing of small importance, or have you no occasion for it ! Sinned you have, condemned you are, and, without forgiveness, you die to eternity. Start, O start from your stupor Your state is dreadful, though not desperate. Your sins are upon you, the law of God curses you, and you
* Dr. Owen, On the Hundred and Thirtieth Psalm, p. 202, 227, and on Heb. viii. 12. This eminent writer loudly proclaims the charming truth. He no more feared this doctrine leading to licentiousness, than he valued the applause of the self sufficient moralist. He treats of a full, free, and final forgiveness, like one who knows its real value, experiences its unutterable sweetness, and glories in it as his own privilege. He labours his noble subject, and repeats the joyful truth. Whereas, many of our modern preachers, who pretend to reverence the Doctor's memory, admire his profound learning, and, in a general way, applaud his judgment; when handling the same subject, either directly contradict him, or whisper the grand truth in faint accents, as if they questioned the certainty of what they would seem to affirm, or were apprehensive of some pernicious consequences attending it.
are in extreme danger of eternal damnation. You are tottering, as it were, on the brink of a dreadful precipice, and nodding on the verge of the burning lake. Can you sleep in your sins, can you rest in an unpardoned state, when it is all uncertainty whether the next hour may not transmit you into an eternal world; place you at the bar of God; and put you beyond the possibility of relief? May divine grace forbid your continuing another moment in such an awful situation! For, another moment, and your life may be
another moment, and your soul may be lost; and then your loss will be irreparable, inconceivable, and eternal.
Is my reader sensible of his want, and longing for the matchless blessing? Then look to the dying Jesus. Your iniquities, it is true, abound; but parduning mercy, through his atonement, superabounds. Be of good cheer: take encouragement: for the favour you so earnestly desire is a free gift. Blessed be God for the amazing mercy! Such are the methods of grace, and such is the nature of this forgiveness, that as your eternal salvation is bound up in the enjoyment of it, so the everlasting honour of Jehovah is unspeakably advanced by freely bestowing it. There is no reason, therefore, that you should stand at a trembling distance, as if there were no such favour for you; but with boldness you may look for it, in a way of grace through the biood of Christ and truth itself has most solemnly declared that you shall not be disappointed ?
Are you comfortably acquainted with the pardoning goodness of God? having much forgiven, you should love much. The remembrance of a
blessing so immensely rich, the sense of a favour so extremely high should enlarge your heart with all holy affections toward the Lord Redeemer; should animate all your devotional services; should cause you to compassionate your offending brother, in forgiving him his hundred pence, considering that God has forgiven you ten thousand talents, and make you zealous of every good work. This forgiveness, far from being an incentive to vice, will bias your affections on the side of virtue; will cause you to love God as infinitely holy, and to abhor sin, as a direct opposition to his immaculate purity and revealed will. Yes, a sense of pardon, when warm on your mind, will work in you godly sorrow for all sin; for the latent corruptions of your heart, no less than the open transgressions of your life; and will cause you to confess them before God with shame and grief—Such are the genuine effects of divine forgiveness. These fruits will necessarily appear in some degree; and he who professes to know the pardon of his trangressions, but does not forgive his offending brother, and lives under the dominion of sin is a liar, and the truth is not in him.
THE doctrine of justification makes a very distinguished figure in that religion which is from above, and is a capital article of that faith which was once delivered to the saints. Far from being a merely speculative point, it spreads its influence through the whole body of divinity, runs through all christian experience, and operates in every part of practical godliness. Such is its grand importance, that a mistake about it has a malignant efficacy, and is attended with a long train of dangerous consequences. Nor can this appear strange, when it is considered, that this doctrine of justification is no other than the way of a sinner's acceptance with God. Being of such peculiar moment, it is inseparably connected with many other evangelical truths; the harmony and beauty of which we cannot behold while this is misunderstood. Till this appears in its glory, they will be involved in darkness. It is, if any thing may be so called, a fundamental article; and certainly requires our most serious consideration.*
* Let it be carefully observed by the reader, that though I here treat upon justification as distinct from pardon; yet I am fully persuaded that they are blessings which cannot be separated. For
How shall sinful man be just with God? is a question of the most interesting nature to every child of Adam. A question which, notwithstanding its infinite importance, could never have been resolved by all the reason of men, nor by all the penetration of angels, if the Lord of heaven and earth had not exercised and manifested reigning grace towards his disobedient and rebellious creatures. But, with the Bible, in his hand, and the gospel in view, the mere infant in religious knowledge and in christian expe. rience is at no loss for an answer: for the wayfaring man, though a fool, shall not err therein. Nay, such is the pleasure of God, that he frequently reveals
he who is pardoned is justified, and he who is justified is also pardoned.— It is readily allowed that there is in various respects, a great resemblance between the two blessings. They are both gifts of grace; both vouchsafed to the same person, at the same time; and both are communicated through the mediation of Christ. Notwithstanding which agreement, the signification of the terms, and the nature of the blessings intended by them, are so far different as to lay a sufficient foundation for distinguishing between the one and the other. I would just hint at a few things in confirmation of this. When a person is pardoned, he is considered as a transgressor; but when he is justified, he is con: sidered as righteous. A criminal when pardoned, is freed from an obligation to suffer death for his crimes; but he that is justified is declared worthy of life, as an innocent person.
Wisdom is said to be justified; Christ is said to be justified; nay, God himself is said to be justified. (Matt. xi. 19. 1 Tim. iii. 16. Luke vii. 29. Rom. iii. 4.) But neither God, nor Christ, nor Wisdom, is ever said to be pardoned; nor indeed is it possible, in any sense, that they should be forgiven. Though we may, therefore, with the scripture affirm, that they are justified; we cannot, without ab. surdity, or blasphemy, say they are pardoned. This one conside. ration, I humbly conceive, is an irrefragable proof that there is a real, an important difference between justification and pardon. To which I may add, Paul treats upon them as distinct blessings, in Acts, xiii. 38, 33.