Imágenes de páginas

fied and confirmed, so that nothing is wanting to our complete forgiveness, but our pleading the promise by faith in him. 2 Cor. i. 20. ‘All the promises of God, are in him, yea, and in him Amen;' that is, faithfully, and irrevocably, and immutably established. And therefore the apostle having told us, that this is the covenant of God, that he would be merciful to our sins and iniquities; Heb. viii. 12. he informs us, that in the undertaking of Christ, this covenant is become a testament, chap. ix. 15–17. So ratified in his blood, that mercy and forgiveness of sin is irrevocably confirmed unto us therein.

3. Because he hath in his own person, as the head of the church, received an acquitment for the whole body; his personal discharge upon the accomplishment of his work, was a pledge of the discharge which was in due time to be given to his whole mystical body. Peter tells us, Acts ii. 24. that it was impossible he should be detained by death. And why so? Because death being penally inflicted on him, when he had paid the debt, he was legally to be acquitted. Now for whom, and in whose name and stead he suffered ; for them, and in their name and stead, he received this acquitment.

4. Because upon his death, God the Father hath committed unto him the whole management of the business of forgiveness; Acts v.31. · He' (now) gives repentance and the forgiveness of sins. It is Christ that forgives us, Col. ii. 13. All forgiveness is now at his disposal, and he pardoneth whom he will; even all that are given unto him of the Father, not casting out any that come to God by him. He is intrusted with all the stores of his Father's purpose, and his own purchase; and thence tells us, that all things that the Father hath are his ;'John xvi. 15.

In all these respects doth forgiveness relate to the blood of Christ. Mercy, pardon, and grace, could find no other way to issue forth from the heart of the Father, but by the heart blood of the Son, and so do they stream unto the heart of the sinner.

Two things are principally to be considered in the respect that forgiveness hath to the blood of Christ. 1. The way of its procurement; 2. The way of its administration by him. The first is deep, mysterious, dreadful. It was by

his blood, the blood of the cross, the travail of his soul; his undergoing wrath and curse. The other is gracious, merciful, and tender; whence so many things are spoken of his mercifulness, and faithfulness, to encourage us to expect forgiveness from him.

This also adds to the mysterious depths of forgiveness, and makes its discovery a great matter. The soul that looks after it in earnest, must consider what it cost. How light do most men make of pardon! What an easy thing is it to be acquainted with it! and no very hard matter to obtain it. But to hold communion with God, in the blood of his Son, is a thing of another nature than is once dreamed of by many, who think they know well enough what it is to be pardoned. God be merciful, is a common saying; and as common, to desire he would be so for Christ's sake. Poor creatures are cast into the mould of such expressions, who know neither God, nor mercy, nor Christ, nor any thing of the mystery of the gospel. Others look on the outside of the cross; to see into the mystery of the love of the Father, working in the blood of the Mediator, to consider by faith the great transaction of divine wisdom, justice, and mercy therein, how few attain unto it. To come unto God by Christ for forgiveness, and therein to behold the law issuing all its threats and curses in his blood, and losing its sting, putting an end to its obligation unto. punishment in the cross, to see all sins gathered up in the hands of God's justice, and made to meet on the Mediator; and eternal love springing forth triumphantly from his blood, flourishing into pardon, grace, mercy, forgiveness ; this the heart of a sinner can be enlarged unto only by the Spirit of God.

Thirdly, There is in forgiveness, free condonation, discharge, or pardon, according to the tenor of the gospel; and this may be considered two ways.

1. As it lies in the promise itself; and so it is God's gracious declaration of pardon to sinners, in and by the blood of Christ; his covenant to that end and purpose; which is variously proposed, according as he knew [to be] needful for all the ends and purposes of ingenerating faith, and communicating that consolation which he intends therein.

This is the law of his grace; the declaration of the mystery of his love, before insisted on.

2. There is the bringing home, and application of all this mercy to the soul of a sinner by the Holy Ghost; wherein we are freely forgiven all our trespasses; Col. ii. 13.

Gospel forgiveness, I say, respects all these things, these principles, they have all an influence into it. And that which makes this more evident, wherewith I shall close this consideration of the nature of it, is, that faith in its application of itself unto God about, and for, forgiveness, doth distinctly apply itself unto, and close with, sometimes one of these severally and singly, sometimes another; and sometimes jointly takes in the consideration of them all expressly. Not that at any time it fixes on any or either of them exclusively to the others; but that eminently it finds some special encouragement at some season, and some peculiar attractive from some one of them, more than from the rest; and then that proves an inlet, a door of entrance unto the treasures that are laid up in the rest of them. Let us go over the severals by instances.

1. Sometimes faith fixes upon the name and infinite goodness of the nature of God, and draws out forgiveness from thence. So doth the psalmist, Psal. Ixxxvi. 6. ‘Thou, Lord, art good and ready to forgive.' He rolls himself, in the pursuit and expectation of pardon, on the infinite goodness of the nature of God. So Nehem. ix. 17. Thou art a God of pardons,' or ready to forgive; of an infinite, gracious, loving nature; not severe and wrathful; and this is that which we are encouraged unto, Isa. 1. x. to stay on the name of God, as in innumerable other places.

And thus faith oftentimes finds a peculiar sweetness and encouragement in and from the consideration of God's gracious nature. Sometimes this is the first thing it fixes on, and sometimes the last that it rests in; and ofttimes it makes a stay here, when it is driven from all other holds; it can say, however it be, ‘yet God is gracious;' and at least make that conclusion which we have from it, Joel ii. 13, 14. God is gracious and merciful, who knoweth but he will return?' And when faith hath well laid hold on this consideration, it will not easily be driven from its expectation of relief and forgiveness, even from hence.

2. Sometimes the soul by faith addresseth itself in

as it

a peculiar manner to the sovereignty of God's will; whereby he is gracious to whom he will be gracious, and merciful to whom he will be merciful ; which, as was shewed, is another considerable spring or principle of forgiveness. This way David's faith steered him in his great strait and perplexity, 2 Sam. xv. 25, 26. “If I shall find favour in the eyes of the Lord, he will bring me again; but if he thus say, I have no delight in thee; behold, here am I, let him do unto me as seemeth good unto him.' That which he hath in consideration is, whether God hath any delight in him or no; that is, whether God would graciously remit and pardon the great sin against which at that time he manifesteth his indignation. Here he lays himself down before the sovereign grace of God, and awaits patiently the discovery of the free act of his will concerning him; and at this door,

were, enters into the consideration of those other springs of pardon, which faith inquires after and closeth withal. This sometimes is all the cloud that appears to a distressed soul, which after awhile fills the heavens by the addition of the other considerations mentioned, and yields plentifully refreshing showers. And this condition is a sin-entangled soul ofttimes reduced unto in looking out for relief; it can discover nothing but this, that God is able, and can, if he graciously please, relieve and acquit him. All other supportments, all springs of relief, are shut up, or hid from him. The springs indeed may be nigh, as that was to Hagar, but their eyes are withheld, that they cannot see them. Wherefore they cast themselves on God's sovereign pleasure, and say with Job, · Though he slay us, we will put our trust in him;' we will not let him go. In ourselves we are lost, that is unquestionable; how the Lord will deal with us we know not; we see not our signs and tokens any more; evidences of God's grace in us, or of his love and favour únto us, are all out of sight. To a present special interest in Christ we are strangers; and we lie every moment at the door of eternity; what course shall we take, what way shall we proceed? If we abide at a distance from God, we shall assuredly perish: Who ever hardened himself against him and prospered?' Nor is there the least relief to be had but from and by him; 'for who can forgive sins but God ?' We will then bring our guilty souls into his presence, and attend the pleasure of his grace; what he speaks concerning us, we will willingly submit unto. And this sometimes proves an anchor to a tossed soul; which though it gives it not rest and peace, yet it saves it from the rock of despair. Here it abides until light do more and more break forth

upon it.

3. Faith dealing about forgiveness, doth commonly eye in a particular manner its relation to the mediation and blood of Christ. So the apostle directs, 1 John ii. 2. If any man sin we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous; and he is the propitiation for our sins.' If any one hath sinned, and is in depths and entanglements about it; what course shall he take, how shall he proceed to obtain deliverance? Why, he must [go] unto God for pardon. But what shall he rely upon to encourage him in his so doing? Saith the apostle, consider by faith the atonement and propitiation made for sin by the blood of Christ; and that he is still pursuing the work of love to the suing out of pardon for us; and rest thy soul thereon. This, I say, most commonly is that which faith in the first place immediately fixes on.

4. Faith eyes actual pardon or condemnation. So God proposeth it as a motive to farther believing ; Isa. xliv. 22. “I have blotted out as a thick cloud thy transgressions, and as a cloud thy sins ; return unto me, for I have redeemed thee. Actual pardon of sin is proposed to faith, as an encouragement unto a full returning unto God in all things; 2 Sam. xxiii. 5. And the like may be said of all the other particulars which we have insisted on. There is not any of them, but will yield peculiar relief unto a soul dealing with God about forgiveness, as having some one special concernment or other of forgiveness inwrapped in them. Only, as I said, they do it not exclusively, but are the special doors, whereby believing enters into the whole. And these things must be spoken unto afterward.

Let us now take along with us, the end for which all these considerations have been insisted on. It is to manifest, that a real discovery of gospel forgiveness, is a matter of greater consequence and importance than at first proposal, it may be, it appeared unto some to be. Who is not in hopes, in

« AnteriorContinuar »