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or seal. We have shewn before, what respect gospel forgiveness hath unto the death or blood of Jesus Christ. That is the means whereby for us it is procured, the way whereby it comes forth from God, unto the glory of his righteousness and grace, which afterward must be more distinctly insisted on. This ordinance, therefore, designed and appointed on purpose for the representation and calling to remembrance of the death of Christ, with the communication of the benefits thereof unto them that believe, doth principally intend our faith and comfort in the truth under consideration. And therefore, in the very institution of it, besides the general end before mentioned, which had been sufficient for our security, there is moreover added an especial mention of the forgiveness of sin; for so speaks our Saviour, in the institution of it for the use of the church unto the end of the world ; Matt. xxvi. 28. “This is my blood of the new testament, which is shed for many for the remission of sins. As if he had said, the end for which I have appointed the observance of this duty and service unto you, is that I may testify thereby unto you, that by my blood, the sacrifice of myself, and the atonement made thereby, I have purchased for you the remission of your sins, which you shall assuredly be made partakers of. And more I shall not add unto this consideration, because the death of Christ respected in this ordinance will again occur unto us.
3. What is the end of all church order, assemblies, and worship? What is a church? Is it not a company of sinners gathered together according unto God's appointment, to give glory and praise to him for pardoning grace, for the forgiveness of sins, and to yield him that obedience which he requires from us, on the account of his having so dealt with us? This is the nature, this is the end of a church. He that understandeth it not, he that useth it not unto that end, doth but abuse that great institution. And such abuse the world is full of. Some endeavour to make their own secular advantages by the pretence of the church. Some discharge the duty required in it, with some secret hopes that it sball be their righteousness before God. Some answer only their light and convictions in an empty profession. This alone is the true end, the true use of it. We assemble ourselves to learn that there is forgiveness with God through Christ; to
pray that we may be made partakers of it; to bless and praise God for our interest in it; to engage ourselves unto that obedience which he requires upon the account of it. And were this constantly upon our minds, and in our designs, we might be more established in the faith of it, than it may be the most of us are.
4. One particular instance more of this nature shall conclude this evidence: God hath commanded us, the Lord Christ hath taught us to pray for the pardon of sin, which gives us unquestionable security that it may be attained, that it is to be found in God. For the clearing whereof observe,
1. That the Lord Christ, in the revelation of the will of God unto us, as unto the duty that he required at our hands, hath taught and instructed us to pray for the forgiveness of sin. It is one of the petitions which he hath left on record for our use and imitation in that summary of all prayer which he hath given us, Matt. vi. 12. “Forgive us our debts,' our trespasses, our sins: some contend that this is a form of prayer to be used in the prescript limited words of it. All grant that it is a rule for prayer, comprising the heads of all necessary things, that we are to pray for, and obliging us to make supplications for them. So then, upon the authority of God revealed unto us by Jesus Christ, we are bound in duty to pray for pardon of sins, or forgiveness.
2. On this supposition, it is the highest blasphemy and reproach of God imaginable, to conceive that there is not forgiveness with him for us. Indeed, if we should go upon our own heads without his warranty and authority, to ask any thing at his band, we might well expect to meet with disappointment. For what should encourage us unto any such boldness? But now, when God himself shall command us to come, and ask any thing from him, so making it thereby our duty, and that the neglect thereof should be our great sin and rebellion against him ; to suppose he hath not the thing in his power to bestow on us, or that his will is wholly averse from so doing, is to reproach him with want of truth, faithfulness, and holiness, and not to be God. For what sincerity can be in such proceedings? Is it consistent with any divine excellency? Could it have any other end, but to deceive poor'creatures ? either to delude them if they do pray according to his command, or to involve them in
farther guilt, if they do not? God forbid any such thoughts should enter into our hearts. But,
3. To put this whole matter out of question, God hath promised to hear our prayers, and in particular those which we make unto him for the forgiveness of sin. So our Saviour hath assured us, that what we ask in his name, it shall be done for us. And he hath, as we bave shewed, taught us to ask this very thing of God as our heavenly Father; that is, in his name. For in and through him alone is he a Father unto us. I need not insist on particular promises to this purpose, they are, as you know, multiplied in the Scriptures.
What hath been spoken may suffice to establish our present argument, namely, that God's prescription of religious worship unto sinners, doth undeniably prove that with him there is forgiveness; especially considering that the principal parts of the worship so prescribed and appointed by him, are peculiarly designed to confirm us in the faith thereof.
And this is the design of the words that we do insist upon; "there is forgiveness with thee, that thou mayest be feared. The fear of God, as we have shewed in the Old Testament, doth frequently express, not that gracious affection of our minds, which is distinctly so called; but that whole worship of God, wherein that and all other gracious affections towards God are to be exercised. Now the psalmist tells us, that the foundation of this fear or worship, and the only motive and encouragement for sinners to engage in it, and give up themselves unto it is this, that there is forgiveness with God. Without this no sinner could fear, serve, or worship him. This therefore is undeniably proved by the institution of this worship, which was proposed unto confirmation.
The end of all these things, as we shall afterward at large declare, is to encourage poor sinners to believe, and to evidence how inexcusable they will be left, who notwithstandstanding all this, do through the power of their lusts and unbelief, refuse to come to God in Christ that they may be pardoned. Yea, the laying open of the certainty and fulness of the evidence given unto this truth, makes it plain and conspicuous, whence it is that men perish in and for their sins. Is it for want of mercy, goodness, grace, or patience in God ? Is it through any defect in the mediation of the Lord Christ? Is it for want of the mightiest encouragements and most infallible assurances, that with God there is forgiveness ? Not at all, but merely on the account of their own obstinacy, stubbornness, and perverseness. They will not come unto this light, yea, they hate it, because their deeds are evil. They will not come to Christ, that they may have life. It is merely darkness, blindness, and love of sin, that brings men to destruction. And this is laid open, and all pretences and excuses are removed, and the shame of men's lusts made naked by the full confirmation of this truth, which God hath furnished us withal.
Take heed you that hear or read these things; if they are not mixed with faith, they will add greatly to your misery. Every argument will be your torment. But these considerations must be insisted on afterward.
Moreover, if you will take into your minds what hath been delivered in particular, concerning the nature and end of the worship of God which you attend unto, you may
be instructed in the use and due observation of it. When
you address yourselves unto it, remember that this is that which God requires of you who are sinners; that this he would not have done, but with thoughts and intention of mercy for sinners. Bless him with all your souls, that this is laid as the foundation of all that you have to do with him. You are not utterly cast off, because you are sinners. Let this support and warm your hearts, when you go to hear, to pray, or any duty of worship. Consider what is your principal work in the whole. You are going to deal with God about forgiveness, in the being, causes, consequents, and effects of it. Hearken what he speaks, declares, or reveals about it; mix his revelation and promises with faith. Inquire diligently into all the obedience and thankfulness, all those duties of holiness and righteousness, which he justly expects from them who are made partakes of it; so shall you observe the worship of God unto his glory, and your own advantage.
The giving and establishing of the new covenant another evidence of forgive
ness with God. The oath of God engaged in the confirmation thereof.
EightHLY, Another evidence hereof may be taken from the making, establishing and ratifying of the new covenant. That God would make a new covenant with his people is often promised, often declared. See, among other places, Jer. xxxi. 31, 32. and that he hath done so accordingly, the apostle at large doth manifest, Heb. viii. 8-12. Now herein sundry things unto .our present purpose may be considered. For,
First, It is supposed that God had before made another covenant with mankind. With reference hereunto is this said to be a new one. It is opposed unto another that was before it, and in comparison whereof that is called old, and this said to be new, as the apostle speaks expressly in the place before mentioned. Now a covenant between God and man is a thing great and marvellous ; whether we consider the nature of it, or the ends of it; in its own nature it is a convention, compact, and agreement, for some certain ends and purposes between the holy Creator and his poor creatures. How infinite, how unspeakable must needs the grace and condescension of God in this matter be? For what is poor miserable man, that God should set his heart upon him, that he should, as it were, give bounds to his sovereignty over him, and enter into terms of agreement with him? For whereas before he was a mere object of his absolute dominion, made at his will, and for his pleasure, and on the same reasons to be crushed at any time into nothing; now he hath a bottom, and ground given him to stand upon, whereon to expect good things from God, upon the account of his faithfulness and righteousness. God, in a covenant, gives those holy properties of his nature unto his creatures, as his hand or arm for him to lay hold upon, and by them to plead and argue with him. And without this a man could have no foundation for any intercourse or communion with God, or of any expectation from him, nor any direction how to deal with him in any of his concernments. Great and signal then was the condescension of God, to take his