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giveness, is the praise of his glorious grace;' Eph. i. 6. But let a soul in this frame have peace in itself, it is very little solicitous about giving glory unto God. He cries like Rachel, Give me children or I die;' give me peace, or I perish. That God may be honoured, and the forgiveness he seeks after be rendered glorious, it is cared for in the second place, if at all. This selfish earnestness, at first to be thrusting our hand in the side of Christ, is that which he will pardon in many, but accepts in none.
2. It is impatient. Men do thus deport themselves, because they will not wait. They do not care for standing afar off for any season with the publican. They love not to submit their souls to lie at the foot of God, to give him the glory of his goodness, mercy, wisdom, and love, in the disposal of them, and their concernments. This waiting compriseth the universal subjection of the soul unto God, with a resolved judgment that it is meet and right that we, and all we desire and aim at, should be at his sovereign disposal. This gives glory to God; a duty which the impatience of these poor souls will not admit them to the performance of; and both these arise,
3. From weakness. It is weak; it is weakness in any condition that makes men restless and weary. The state of adherence is as safe a condition, as the state of assurance; only it hath more combats and wrestling attending it. It is not then fear of the event, but weakness and weariness of the combat that makes men anxiously solicitous about a deliverance from that state, before they are well entered into it.
Let then the sin-entangled soul remember always, this way, method, and order of the gospel, that we have under consideration. First, exercise faith on forgiveness in God, and when the soul is fixed therein, it will have a ground and foundation whereon it may stand securely, in making application of it unto itself. Drive this principle in the first place unto a stable issue upon gospel evidences; answer the objections that lie against it, and then you may proceed. In believing, the soul makes a conquest upon Satan's territories. Do then as they do, who are entering on an enemy's country; secure the passages, fortify the strong holds as you go on, that you be not cut off in your progress. Be not as a ship at sea which passeth on, and is no more possessed or master of the water it hath gone through, than of that whereunto it is not yet arrived. But so it is with a soul, that fixeth not on these foundation principles; he presseth forwards and the ground crumbles away under his feet, and so he wilders away all his days in uncertainties. Would men but lay this principle well in their souls, and secure it against assaults, they might proceed, though not with so much speed as some do, yet with more safety. Some pretend at once to fall into full assurance, I wish it prove not a broad presumption in the most.. It is to no purpose for him to strive to fly, who cannot yet go; to labour to come to assurance in himself who never well believed forgiveness in God. Now that we may be enabled to fix this persuasion against all opposition, that which in the next place I shall do, is to give out such unquestionable evidences of this gospel truth, as the soul may safely build and rest upon : and these contain the confirmation of the prin. cipal proposition before laid down.
Evidences of forgiveness in God. No inbred notions of any free acts of God's will. Forgiveness not revealed by the works of nature, nor the law. First, The things that are spoken, or to be known of God are of two sorts: 1. Natural and necessary; such as are his essential properties, or the attributes of his nature, his goodness, holiness, righteousness, omnipotency, eternity, and the like. These are called, tò ywoTOV TOū (εoī, Rom. i. 19. - That which
may be known of God.' And there are two ways, as the apostle there declares, whereby that which he there intimates of God may be known, 1. By the inbred light of nature; pavepòv łoti įv aŭrois, ver. 19. “It is manifest in themselves ;' in their own hearts; they are taught it by the common conceptions and presumptions which they have of God by the light of nature. From hence do all mankind know concerning God, that he is, that he is eternal, infinitely powerful, good, righteous, holy, omnipotent. There needs no special revelation of these things that men may know them. That indeed they may be known savingly, there is;
and therefore they that know these things by nature, do also believe them on revelation. Heb. xi. 6. He that cometh unto God, must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder.' Though men know God by the light of nature, yet they cannot come to God by that knowledge.
2. These essential properties of the nature of God are revealed by his works. So the apostle in the same place, ver. 20. “The invisible things of God from the creation of the world, are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even his eternal power and Godhead.' See also Psalm xix. 143. And this is the first sort of things that may
be known of God. 2. There are the free acts of his will and power; or his free eternal purposes, with the temporal dispensations that flow from them. Now of this sort, is the forgiveness that we are inquiring after; it is not a property of the nature of God, but an act of his will, and a work of his grace. Although it hath its rise and spring in the infinite goodness of his nature, yet it proceeds from him, and is not exercised but by an absolute free and sovereign act of his will. Now there is nothing of God, or with him of this sort, that can be any ways known, but only by especial revelation. For,
1. There is no inbred notion of the acts of God's will in the heart of man, which is the first way whereby we come to the knowledge of any thing of God. Forgiveness is not revealed by the light of nature. Flesh and blood, which nature is, declares it not; by that means, 'no man hath seen God at any time ;' John i. 8. that is, as a God of mercy and pardon, as the Son reveals him. Adam had an intimate acquaintance, according to the limited capacity of a creature, with the properties and excellencies of the nature of God. It was implanted in his heart, as indispensably necessary unto that natural worship, which by the law of his creation he was to perform. But when he had sinned, it is evident that he had not the least apprehension that there was forgiveness with God. Such a thought would have laid a foundation of some farther treaty with God about his condition. But he had no other design but of flying and hiding himself; Gen. iii. 10. so declaring that he was utterly ignorant of any such thing as pardoning mercy. Such, and no
other, are all the first, or purely natural conceptions of sinners; namely, that it is dikalwua roù 0e07, “the judgment of God;' Rom. i. 32. that sin is to be punished with death. It is true, these conceptions in many are stifled by rumours, reports, traditions, that it may be otherwise ; but all these are far enough from that revelation of forgiveness, which we are inquiring after.
2. The consideration of the works of God's creation will not help a man to this knowledge; that there is forgiveness with God. The apostle tells us, Rom. i. 20. what it is of God that his works reveal ; 'even his eternal power and God-. head,'or the essential properties of his nature; but no more : not any of the purposes of his grace, not any of the free acts of his will; not pardon and forgiveness. Besides God made all things in such an estate and condition, namely, of rectitude, integrity, and uprightness ; Eccles. vii. 29. that it was impossible they should have any respect unto sin, which is the corruption of all, or to the pardon of it, which is their restitution, whereof they stood in no need. There being no such thing in the world as a sin, nor any such thing supposed to be, when all things were made of nothing, how could any thing declare or reveal the forgiveness of it?
3. No works of God's providence can make this discovery. God hath indeed borne testimony to himself and his goodness in all ages from the foundation of the world in the works of his providence: so Acts xiv. 15—17. We preach unto you, that ye should turn from these vanities, unto the living God, which made heaven and earth, and the sea, and all things that are therein: who in times past, suffered all nations to walk in their own ways. Nevertheless, he left not himself without witness, in that he did good, and gave us rain from heaven and fruitful seasons, filling our hearts with food and gladness.’ Ουκ αμάρτυρον εαυτόν αφήκε, “He left not himself without witness ;' that is, by the work of his providence there recounted, he thus far bare testimony to himself, that he is, and is good, and doth good, and ruleth the world, so that they were utterly inexcusable, who taking no notice of these works of his, nor the fruits of his goodness, which they lived upon, turned away after rà uárala, vain things,' as the apostle there calls the idols of the Gentiles. But yet these things did not discover pardon and forgiveness. For still God suffered them to go on in their own ways, and winked at their ignorance. So again, Acts xvii. 23—27. Whom ye ignorantly worship, him declare I unto you. God that made the world, and all things therein, seeing that he is the Lord of heaven and earth, dwelleth not in temples made with hands; neither is worshipped with men's hands, as though he needed any thing; seeing he giveth unto all life, and breath, and all things; and hath made of one blood all nations of men, for to dwell on all the face of the earth' (where by the way there is an allusion to that of Gen. xi. 8. 'the Lord scattered them abroad upon the face of the earth'), and hath determined the times before appointed, and the bounds of their habitation, that they should seek the Lord, if haply they might feel after him, and find him, though he be not far from every one of us.' By arguments taken from the works of God, both of creation and providence, the apostle proves the being, and the properties of God. Yea, he lets them know with whom he had to do, that God designed by his works so far to reveal himself unto them, as the true and living God, the maker and governor of all things, as that they ought to have inquired more diligently after him, and not to look on him alone as the unknown God, who alone might be known: all their idols being vain and nothing. But of the discovery of pardon and forgiveness in God by these ways and means, he speaks not; yea, he plainly shews that this was not done thereby. For the great call to saving repentance, is by the revelation of forgiveness. But now by these works of his providence, God called not the Gentiles to saving repentance. No, saith he, he 'suffered them to walk still in their own ways ;' chap. xiv. 16. • and winked at the times of their ignorance; but now,' that is, by the word of the gospel, commandeth them to repent;' chap. xvii. 30.
Secondly, Whereas there had been one signal act of God's providence about sin, when man first fell into the snares of it; it was so far from the revealing forgiveness in God, that it rather severely intimated the contrary.
This was God's dealing with sinning angels. The angels were the first sinners; and God dealt first with them about sin. And what was his dealing with them, the Holy Ghost tells us, 2 Pet. ii. 4. αγγέλων αμαρτησάντων ουκ εφείσατο, “he spared not the