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sinning angels. He spared them not; it is the same word which he useth where he speaks of laying all our iniquities on Christ, he undergoing the punishment due unto them; Rom. viii. 32. oủk épeioato, 'he spared him not;' that is, he laid on him the full punishment that by the curse and sanction of the law was due unto sin. So he dealt with the angels that sinned; he spared them not,' but inflicted on them the punishment due unto sin, shutting them up under chains of darkness for the judgment of the great day. Hitherto then God keeps all thoughts of forgiveness in his own eternal bosom; there is not so much as the least dawning of it upon the world. And this was at first no small prejudice against any thoughts of forgiveness. The world is made, sin enters by the most glorious part of the creation, whose recovery by pardon might seem to be more desirable; but not the least appearance of it is discovered. Thus it was 'hid in God from the foundation of the world;' Eph. iii. 9.
Thirdly, God gave unto man a law of obedience immediately upon
his creation. Yea, for the main of it, he implanted it in bim, by and in his creation. This law it was supposed that man might transgress. The very nature of a law prescribed unto free agents, attended with threatenings and promises of reward, requires that supposition. Now there was not annexed unto this law, or revealed with it, the least intimation of pardon to be obtained, if transgression should
Gen. ii. 17. we have this law, ' In the day thou eatest thou shalt surely die;' dying thou shalt die : or bring upon thyself assuredly the guilt of death temporal and eternal. There God leaves the sinner under the power of that commination. Of forgiveness or pardoning mercy there is not the least intimation. To this very day, that law which was then the whole rule of life and acceptance with God, knows no such thing. Dying thou shalt die, O sinner, is the precise and final voice of it. From these previous considerations, added to what was formerly spoken, some things preparatory to the ensuing discourse may be inferred. As,
1. That it is a great and rare thing to have forgiveness in God discovered unto a sinful soul. A thing it is, that as hath been shewed, conscience and law, with the inbred no
tions that are in the heart of man about God's holiness and vindictive justice do lie against. A matter whereof we have no natural presumption; whereof there is no common notion in the mind of man. A thing which no consideration of the works of God, either of creation or providence will reveal, and which the great instance of God's dealing with sinning angels renders deep, admirable, and mysterious. Men who have common and slight thoughts of God, of themselves, of sin, of obedience, of the judgment to come, of eternity, that feed upon the ashes of rumours, reports, hearsays, traditions, without looking into the reality of things, may, and do take this to be an ordinary and acknowledged truth, easy to be entertained, which upon the matter no man disbelieves. But convinced sinners, who make a trial of these things, as running into eternity, have other thoughts of them. And as to that which it is pretended every one believes, we have great cause to cry out, ‘Lord, who hath believed our report? to whom hath this arm of the Lord been revealed ?'
2. That the discovery of forgiveness in God, being a matter of so great difficulty, is a thing precious and excellent, as being the foundation of all our communion with God here, and of all undeceiving expectation of our enjoyment of him hereafter. It is a pure gospel truth that hath neither shadow, footstep, nor intimation elsewhere; the whole creation hath not the least obscure impression of it left thereon. So that,
3. It is undoubtedly greatly incumbent on us to inquire diligently, as the prophets did of old, into this salvation; to consider what sure evidences faith hath of it, such as will not, as cannot fail us. To be slight and common in this matter, to take it up at random, is an argument of an unsound, rotten heart. He that is not serious in his inquiry into the revelation of this matter, is serious in nothing wherein God or his soul is concerned. The Holy Ghost knows what our frame of heart is, and how slow we are to receive this blessed truth in a gracious saving manner. Therefore doth he confirm it unto us with such weighty considerations, as Heb. vi. 17, 18. 'God, willing more abundantly to shew unto the heirs of promise the immutability of his counsel, confirmed it by an oath ; that by two immu
table things, in which it was impossible for God to lie, might have strong consolation. It is of forgiveness of sin that the apostle treats, as hath been made evident by the description of it before given. Now to give evidence hereunto, and to beget a belief of it in us, he first engages a property of God's nature in that business. He with whom we deal, is αψευδής as Tit. i. 2. The God that cannot lie, that cannot deceive, or be deceived. It is impossible it should be so with him. Now as this extends itself in general, to all the words and works of God, so there is peculiarly in this whereof he treats το αματάθετον της βουλής, , an especial .immutability of his counsel. Men may think that although there be words spoken about forgiveness, yet it is possible it may be otherwise. No, saith the apostle, it is spoken by God, and it is impossible he should lie. Yea, but upon the manifold provocations of sinners, he may change his mind and thoughts therein. No, saith the apostle, there is a peculiar immutability in his counsel concerning the execution of this thing, there can be no change in it. But how doth this appear that indeed this is the counsel of his will ? Why, saith he, he hath declared it by his word; and that given in a way of promise ; which, as in its own nature it is suited to raise an expectation in him or them to whom it is made or given, so it requires exact faithfulness in the discharge and performance of it, which God on his part will assuredly answer. But neither is this all; but that no place might be left for any cavilling objection in this matter, žuLOSTEUTEV Opkq, he interposed himself by an oath.' Thus we have this truth deduced from the veracity of God's nature, one of his essential excellencies, established in the immutable purpose of his will, brought forth by a word of promise, and confirmed by God's interposing himself against all occasions of exception (so to put an end unto all strife about it) by an oath, swearing by himself that so it should be. I have mentioned this only to shew what weight the Holy Ghost lays upon the delivery of this great truth, and thence how deeply it concerns us to inquire diligently into it, and after the grounds and evidences which may be tendered of it, which among others are these that follow.
Discovery of forgireness in the first promise. The evidence of the truth
that lies therein. And by the institution of sacrifices. Their use and end. Also by the prescription of repentance unto sinners.
The first discovery of forgiveness in God (and which I place as the first evidence of it), was made in his dealing with our first parents after their shameful sin and fall. Now to make it appear, that this is an evidence that carries along with it a great conviction, and is such as faith may securely rest upon and close withal, the ensuing observations are to be considered.
The first sin in the world, was on many accounts the greatest sin that ever was in the world. It was the sin, as it were, of human nature, wherein there was a conspiracy of all individuals; 'omnes eramus unus ille homo;' in that one man, or that one sin, 'we all sinned;' Rom. v. 12. It left not God one subject as to moral obedience on the earth, nor the least ground for any such to be unto eternity. When the angels sinned, the whole race or kind did not prevaricate. Thousand thousands of them, and ten thousand times ten thousands continued in their obedience ; Dan. vii, 10. But here, all and every individual of mankind (he only excepted which was not then in Adam) were embarked in the same crime and guilt. Besides it disturbed the government of God in and over the whole creation. God had made all things in number, weight, and measure, in order and beauty: pronouncing himself concerning his whole work that it was
210 exceeding, beautiful and good ; Gen. i. 31. Much of this beauty lay in the subordination of one thing to another, and of all to himself by the mediation and interposition of man, through whose praises and obedience the rest of the creation being made subject unto him, was to return their tribute of honour and glory unto God. But all this order was destroyed by this sin; and the very creation made subject to vanity;' Rom. viii. 20. On which, and the like accounts, it might be easily made to appear that it was the greatest sin that ever was in the world.
2. Man who had sinned, subscribed in his heart and conscience unto the righteous sentence of the law. He knew his eye.
what he had deserved, and looked for nothing but the immediate execution of the sentence of death upon him. Hence he meditates not a defence, expects no pardon, stays not for a trial, but flies and hides, and attempts an escape; Gen. iï. 10. •I was afraid,' saith he, “and hid myself;' than which never were there words of greater horror in the world, nor shall be until the day of judgment. Poor creature, he was full of expectation of the vengeance due for a broken covenant.
3. God hath newly declared in the sinning angels what his justice required, and how he could deal with sinning man without the least impeachment of his government, holiness, or goodness. See 2 Pet. ii. 4.
4. There was nothing without God himself that should move him in the least, so much as to suspend the execution of his wrath for one moment; he had not done so with the angels. All things lay now under wrath, curse, confusion, and disorder; nothing was left good, lovely, or desirable, in
As in the first creation, that which was first brought forth from nothing was 1721 170 ‘without form and void,' empty of all order and beauty ; nothing was in it to induce or move God to bring forth all things in the glory that ensued, but the whole design of it, proceeded from his own infinite goodness and wisdom; so was it now again. There was an emptiness and vanity brought by sin upon the whole creation. Nothing remained that might be a motive unto a merciful restoration, but all is again devolved on his sovereignty. All things being in this state and condition wherein all doors stood open to the glory of God's justice in the punishing of sin, nothing remaining without him to hold his hand in the least; the whole creation, and especially the sinner himself lying trembling in expectation of a dreadful doom; what now cometh forth from him ? the blessed word which we have, Gen. iii. 15. •The seed of the woman shall break the serpent's head. It is full well known that the whole mystery of forgiveness is wrapt up in this one word of promise. And the great way of its coming forth from God by the blood of the Messiah, whose heel was to be bruised, is also intimated.' And this was the first discovery that ever was made, of forgiveness in God. By a word of pure revelation it was made, and so faith must