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waters are deep; and the farther we dive into them, the greater discovery shall we make of their depths. And many other sacred truths there are, whose mention is common, but whose depths are little searched, and whose efficacy is little known.
3. We multiply these evidences, because they are multitudes that are concerned in them. All that do believe, and all that do not believe, are so.
Those that do believe, that they may be established; and those that do not believe, that they may be encouraged so to do. Among both these sorts some evidences may be more profitable and useful, one to one, some to another. It may be amongst all, all will be gathered up, that no fragments be lost. They are all, I hope, instruments provided by the Holy Ghost for this end; and by this ordinance do we endeavour to put them into his hand, to be made effectual as he will. One may reach one soul, another another, according to his pleasure. One may be of use to establishment, another to consolation, a third of encouragement, according as the necessities of poor souls do require. However, God who hath provided them, knows them all to be needful. 4. They are so also upon
the account of the various conditions wherein the spirits of believers themselves may be. One may give help to the same soul at one season, another at another; one may secure the soul against a temptation, another stir it up to thankfulness and obedience.
These things have I spoken, that you may not think we dwell too long on this consideration. And I pray God that your consolation and establishment may abound in the reading of these meditations, as I hope they have not been altogether without their fruit in their preparation.
Further evidences of forgiveness with God. Testimonies that God was well
pleased with some that were sinners. The patience of God towards the world; an evidence of forgiveness. Experience of the saints of God to the same purpose. FOURthly. Let us then in the fourth place, as a fourth evidence of this truth, consider those, both under the Old Testament and the New, concerning whom we have the greatest assurance that God was well pleased with them, and that they are now in the enjoyment of him. And this argument unto this purpose the apostle insists upon, and presseth from sundry instances, Heb. xi. How many doth he there reckon up who of old obtained a good report, and this testimony, that they pleased God?' ver. 25. ‘All these inherited the promises through believing;' that is, obtained the 'forgiveness of sin.' For whereas by nature they were children of wrath,' and under the curse as well as others, obtaining an infallible interest in the favour of God, and this testimony, that they pleased him,' it could no otherwise be. For without this, on a just account, every one of them would have continued in the state wherein Adam was, when he heard the voice of God and was afraid.' Wherefore, it being evident that some persons in all generations, have enjoyed the friendship, love, and favour of God in this world, and at their departure out of it have entered into glory; it makes it evident that there is forgiveness of sin with him, without which these things could not be.
Let us, after the example of the apostle, mention soine particular instances in this matter. Look unto Abraham: he was the friend of God, and walked with God; God made a solemn covenant with him, and takes it for his memorial throughout all generations, that he is the God of Abraham.' And he is doubtless now at rest with God. Our Saviour calls the place or condition whereinto blessed souls are gathered, ‘Abraham's bosom ;' he is at rest with whom others are at rest.
The condition was the same with Isaac and Jacob. They also are in heaven, being alive unto and with God. Our Saviour proves it from the tenor of the covenant, 'I am the
God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, the God of Jacob. God is not the God of the dead, but of the living;' Matt. xxii. 32. They are yet alive, alive unto God, and with him by virtue of the covenant ; or after their death, God would not be said to be their God. This is the force of our Saviour's argument in that place; that after their death, God was still their God. Then death had not reached their whole persons. They were still alive with God in heaven; and their bodies, by virtue of the same covenant, were to be recovered out of the dust.
The same is the state with David. He was a man after God's own heart, that did his will, and fulfilled all his pleasure. And although he died, and his body saw corruption, yet he is not lost, he is with God in heaven. Hence he ended his days triumphantly in a full apprehension of eternal rest, beyond what could in this world be attained, and that by virtue of the covenant. For these are the last words of David, “ Although my house be not so with God, yet he hath made with me an everlasting covenant;' ascertaining unto him sure and eternal mercies, 2 Sam. xxiii. 5.
Peter also is in heaven, Christ prayed for him that his faith should not fail; and in his death he glorified God; John xxi. 19.
So is Paul. He also is in heaven. He knew that when he was dissolved he should be with Christ. Here then we are encompassed about with a cloud of witnesses.' For,
1. It is most certain, that they were all sinners; they were all so by nature; for therein there is no difference between any of the children of men. And personally they were sinners also. They confessed so of themselves, and some of the sins of all of them stand upon record. Yea, some of them were great sinners, or guilty of great and signal miscarriages. Some before their conversion, as Abraham, who was an idolater; Josh. xxiv. 2, 3. and Paul who was a persecutor and a blasphemer; some after their conversion; some in sins of the flesh against their obedience, as David; and some in sins of profession against faith, as Peter, Nothing then is more evident, than that no one of them came to rest with God but by forgiveness. Had they never been guilty of any one sin, but only what is left upon record
concerning them in holy writ, yet they could be saved no other way. For he that transgresseth the law in any one point, is guilty of the breach of the whole; James ii. 10.
What shall we now say? Do we think that God hath forgiveness only for this or that individual person ? No man questions but that all these were pardoned. Was it by virtue of any especial personal privilege that was peculiar unto them? Whence should any such privilege arise, seeing by nature they were no better than others, nor would have been 60 personally, had not they been delivered from sin, and prepared for obedience by grace, mercy, and pardon? Wherefore they all obtained forgiveness by virtue of the covenant from the forgiveness which is with God. And this is equally ready for others, who come to God the same way that they did ; that is, by faith and repentance.
2. Many of those concerning whom we have the assurance mentioned, were not only sinners, but great sinners, as was said, which must be also insisted on, to obviate another objection. For some may say, that although they were sinners, yet they were not such sinners as we are. And although they obtained forgiveness, yet this is no argument that we shall do so also, who are guilty of other sins than they were, and those attended with other aggravations than theirs were. To which I say, that I delight not in aggravating, no nor yet in repeating the sins and faults of the saints of God of old. Not only the grace of God, but the sins of men have by some been turned into lasciviousness; or been made a cloak for their lusts. But yet for the ends and purposes for which they are recorded by the Holy Ghost, we may make mention of them. That they may warn us of our duty, that we take heed lest we also fall, that they may yield us a relief under our surprisals, are they written. So, then, where the mention of them tends to the advancement of sovereign grace and mercy, which is the case in hand, we may insist on them. I think, then, that without mention of particulars, I may safely say, that there is no sin, no degree of sin, no aggravating circumstance of sin, no kind of continuance in sin (the only sin excepted), but that there are those in heaven who have been guilty of them.
It may be yet, some will say that they have considered
the sins and falls of Lot, David, Peter, Paul, and the thief himself on the cross, and yet they find not their own condition exemplified, so as to conclude, that they shall have the same success with them.
Ans. 1. I am not shewing that this or that man shall be pardoned, but only demonstrating that there is forgiveness with God, and that for all sorts of sins and sinners, which these instances do assuredly confirm. And moreover they manifest, that if other men are not pardoned it is merely because they make not that application for forgiveness which they did.
2. Yet by the way to take off this objection also, consider what the apostle says in particular concerning the several sorts of sinners that obtained mercy, 1 Cor. vi. 9—11. Be not deceived; neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor abusers of themselves with mankind, nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners, shall inherit the kingdom of God. And such were some of
ye are washed, but sanctified, but ye are justified.' Hell can scarce in no more words yield us a sadder catalogue. Yet some of all these sorts were justified and pardoned.
3. Suppose this enumeration of sins doth not reach the condition of the soul, because of some especial aggravation of its sin, not expressed. Let such a one add that of our Saviour's, Matt. xii. 31. 'I say unto you, all manner of sin and blasphemy shall be forgiven unto men, but the blasphemy against the Holy Ghost.' They are not, they shall not, be all actually remitted and pardoned unto all men ; but they are all pardonable, unto those that seek to obtain pardon for them according unto the gospel. There is with God forgiveness for them all. Now certainly there is no sin, but only that excepted, but it comes within the compass of all manner of sins and blasphemy; and so consequently some that have been guilty of it are now in heaven.
We take it for a good token and evidence of a virtuous healing water, when without fraud or pretence, we see the crutches of cured cripples, and impotent persons hung about it, as a memorial of its efficacy. And it is a great demonstration of the skill and ability of a physician, when many come to a sick person and tell him, that we had the same