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REDEMPTION BY CHRIST.
In whom we have redemption through his blood, even the forgiveness of sins.—Col. I. 14.
THE apostle, in the former verse, had spoken of our slavery and bond age to Satan, from which Christ came to deliver us; now, because sin is the cause of it, he cometh to speak of our redemption from sin: ‘In whom we have redemption through his blood, even the forgiveness of sins.’ Here is—
I. The author.
II. The benefit.
III. The price.
The point is this:—
Doct. That one principal part of our redemption by Christ is remission of sins. Here I shall show you:—
1. What remission of sins is.
2. The nature of redemption.
3. That remission of sins is a part, and a principal part of it.
First, What remission of sins is. Both terms must be explained—what sin is, and what is the forgiveness of sin.
For the first, sin is a violation of the law of the eternal and living God: 1 John iii. 4, ‘Whosoever committeth sin, transgresseth also the law, for sin is the transgression of the law.’ God is the lawgiver, who hath given a righteous law to his subjects, under the dreadful penalty of a curse. In his law there are two things—the precept and the sanction. The precept is the rule of our duty, which showeth what we must do, or not do. The sanction or penalty showeth what God will do, or might justly do, if he should deal with us according to the merit of our actions. Accordingly, in sin, there is the fault and the guilt.
[1.] The fault: that man, who is God’s subject, and so many ways obliged to him by his benefits, instead of keeping this law, should break it upon light terms, and swerve from the rule of his duty, being carried away by his own ill-disposed will and base lusts. It is a great and heinous offence, for which he becometh obnoxious to the judgment of God.
[2.] The guilt: which is a liableness to punishment, and that not 418ordinary punishment, but the vengeance of the eternal God, who every moment may break in upon us. Where there is sin, there will be guilt; and where there is guilt, there will be punishment, unless we be pardoned, and God looseneth the chains wherewith we be bound.
Secondly, Forgiveness of sin is a dissolving the obligation to punishment, or a freedom, in God’s way and method, from all the sad and woful consequences of sin. Understand it rightly.
[1.] It is not a disannulling the act, as it is a natural action; such a fact we did, or omitted to do; factum, infactum fieri nequit—that which is done, cannot be undone. And, therefore, though it be said, Jer. l. 20, ‘The iniquity of Jacob shall be sought after, and the sins of Judah, and they shall not be found; for I will pardon them whom I reserve;’ yet that must not be understood as if God would abolish the action, and make it as if it had never been, for that is impossible. But he would pass by, and overlook it as to punishment.
[2.] Nor is it abolished as a faulty or criminal action, contrary to the law of God. The sins we have committed are sins still, such actions as the law condemneth. Forgiveness is not the making of a fault to be no fault. An accused person may be vindicated as innocent, but if he be pardoned, he is pardoned as an offender. He is not reputed as one that never culpably omitted any duty, or committed any sin, but his fault is forgiven upon such terms as our offended governor pleaseth ‘I will be merciful to their unrighteousness, and forgive all their sins,’ Heb. viii. 12. They are pardoned as sins.
[3.] Nor is the merit of the sinful act lessened; in itself it deserveth condemnation to punishment. Merito operis, it is in itself damnable, but quoad eventum: Rom. viii. 1, ‘There is no condemnation to them that are in Christ Jesus.’ &c.; because the grace of the gospel dischargeth us from it. We must still own ourselves deserving the wrath of God, which maketh for our constant humiliation and admiration of grace; so that he that is pardoned still deserveth punishment.
[4.] It remaineth, therefore, that forgiveness of sin is a dissolving the obligation to punishment, or passing by the fault, so as it shall not rise up in judgment against us to our confusion or destruction: the fault is the sinner’s act, the punishment the judge’s, which he may forbear on certain terms stated in the law of grace. He passeth by the fault so far, that it shall not be a ground of punishment to us. I prove it:—
(1.) From the nature of the thing; for there is such a relation between the fault and the guilt, the sin and the punishment, that the one cannot be without the other. There can be no punishment without a preceding fault and crime. Therefore, if the judge will not impute the fault, there must needs be an immunity from punishment, for the cause being taken away, the effect ceaseth, and the sin committed by us is the meritorious cause of punishment. If God will cover that, and overlook it, then forgiveness is a dissolving the obligation to punishment.
(2.) From the common rule of speaking used among men, for surely the scripture speaketh intelligibly. Now in the common way of speaking, he cannot be said to forgive or remit a fault that exacteth the whole punishment of it. How can a magistrate be said to forgive 419an offender, when the offender beareth the punishment which the law determineth? And what do men pray for to God, when they pray for the forgiveness of sins, but that they may be exempted from the punishment which they have deserved?
(3.) It would seem to impeach the justice and mercy of God, if he should exact the punishment where he hath pardoned the offence. His justice, to flatter men with hopes of remitting the debt, where he requireth the payment; his mercy, in making such fair offers of reconciliation, when still liable to his vindictive justice. There may be indeed effects of his fatherly anger, but not of his vindictive wrath.
(4.) The phrases, and way of speaking in scripture, by which forgiveness of sin is set forth, show God doth blot out our sins: Ps. li. 2, ‘Wash me thoroughly from my iniquity, and cleanse me from my sin.’ And cover them: Ps. xxxii. 1, ‘Blessed is he whose transgression is forgiven, whose sin is covered.’ To cast them behind his back: Isa. xxxviii. 17, ‘Thou hast cast all my sins behind thy back.’ And cast them into the bottom of the sea: Micah vii. 19, ‘Thou wilt cast all their sins into the depths of the sea.’ To remember them no more: Jer. xxxi. 34, ‘I will forgive their iniquity, and I will remember their sin no more.’ By such emphatical metaphors doth it express God’s free and full forgiveness, if we seriously enter into his peace; and do clearly show, that if God punisheth sins, he doth remember them; if he avenge them, he imputeth them; if they are brought into the judgment against us, they are not covered; if he searcheth after them, he doth not cast them behind his back; if he bringeth them into light, he doth not cast them into the depths of the sea; much more if he punish us for them.
Secondly, The nature of redemption.
What is redemption by the blood of Christ?
In opening it to you, I shall prove six things:—
1. A captivity or bondage.
2. That from thence we are freed by a ransom, or price paid.
3. That none but Christ was fit to give this ransom.
4. That nothing performed by Christ was sufficient till he laid down his life.
5. That thence there is a liberty resulting to us.
6. That we do not actually partake of the benefit of this ransom till we be in Christ.
[1.] Our being redeemed supposeth a captivity and bondage. All men in their unrenewed estate are slaves to sin and Satan, and subject to the wrath of God. That we are slaves to sin appeareth by scripture and experience: Titus iii. 3, ‘Serving divers lusts and pleasures;’ John viii. 34, ‘Whosoever committeth sin, is the servant of sin.’ Men imagine a life spent in vanity and pleasure to be a very good life; it were so, if liberty were to be determined by doing what we list, rather than what we ought. But since it is not, experience showeth that they are convinced of their brutish satisfactions as mean and base, yet they cannot leave them, for that true and solid happiness offered by Christ. Now as they are under sin, so they are under Satan, ‘who worketh in the children of disobedience,’ Eph. ii. 2; and hath a great power over wicked men in the world, who fall to his share, as the 420executioner of God’s curse, and are taken captive by him at his will and pleasure, 2 Tim. ii. 26. This is the woful captivity and servitude of carnal men, that they fall as a ready prey into the mouth of the roaring lion. Now, for this they are liable to the curse and wrath of God; therefore called ‘children of wrath, even as others,’ Eph. ii. 3; that is, obnoxious to his righteous displeasure and punishment. Thus were we lost in ourselves under sin, Satan, and the wrath of God, from which we could no way free ourselves; and if grace had not opened a way for us to escape, what should we have done?
[2.] To recover us, there was a price to be paid by way of ransom to God. We are not delivered from this bondage by prayer or entreaty, nor by strong hand or mere force, nor yet by the sole condescension and pity of the injured party, without seeking reparation of the wrong done, but by the payment of a sufficient price, and just satisfaction to provoked justice. This price was not paid indeed to Satan, who detaineth souls in slavery as a rigid usurping tyrant or merciless jailor (from him indeed we are delivered by force), but the price was paid to God. Man had not sinned against Satan, but against God, to whom it belongeth to condemn or absolve. And God being satisfied, Satan hath no power over us, but is put out of office, as the executioner hath nothing to do when the judge and law is satisfied; Now, that redemption implieth the paying of a price is clear, because the word importeth it, and the scripture often uses this metaphor: Mat. xx. 28, ‘The Son of man came not to be ministered unto, but to minister, and to give his life a ransom for many;’ 1 Tim. ii. 6, ‘Who gave himself a ransom for all, to be testified in due time.’ Redemption in the general is a recovery out of our lost estate. God could ‘have saved men by the grace of confirmation, but he chose rather by the grace of redemption. This recovery was not by a forcible rescue, but by a ransom. Christ, in recovering his people out of their lost estate, is sometimes set forth as a lamb, sometimes as a lion. In dealing with God, we consider him as the lamb slain, Rev. v. 5, 6: in dealing with Satan, and the enemies of our salvation, he doth as a lion recover the prey. But why was a ransom necessary? Because God had made a former covenant, which was not to be quit and wholly made void but upon valuable consideration, lest his justice, wisdom, holiness, veracity, authority should fall to the ground.
(1.) The honour of his governing justice was to be secured and freed from any blemish, that the awe of God might be kept up in the world: Rom. iii. 5, 6, and Gen. xviii. 25, ‘That be far from thee, to do after this manner, to slay the righteous with the wicked; and that the righteous should be as the wicked, that be far from thee: shall not the judge of all the earth do right?’ If God should absolutely pardon without satisfaction equivalent for the wrong done, how should God else be known and reverenced as the just and holy governor of the world? Therefore Rom. iii. 25, 26, it is said, ‘Whom God hath set forth to be a propitiation through faith in his blood, to declare his righteousness. for the remission of sins that are past, through the forbearance of God; to declare, I say, at this time his righteousness; that he might be just, and the justifier of him which believeth in Jesus.’
(2.) His wisdom. The law was not given by God in jest, but in the 421greatest earnest that ever law was given. Now, if the law should be recalled without any more ado, the lawgiver would run the hazard of levity, mutability, and imprudence in constituting so solemn a transaction to no purpose. Paul was troubled when forced to retract his word, 2 Cor. i. 17, 18; that his word should be yea to-day, and nay to-morrow. Therefore, when God had said, Thus I will govern the world, he was not to part with the law upon light terms.
(3.) His holy nature would not permit it. There needed some way to be found out, to signify his purest holiness, his hatred and detestation of sin, and that it should not be pardoned without some marks of his displeasure. His soul hates the wicked, and the righteous God loveth righteousness, Ps. xi. 6.
(4.) His authority. It would be a derogation from the authority of his law, if it might be broken, and there be no more ado about it. Now, that all the world might know that it is a dangerous thing to transgress his laws, and might hear and fear, and do no more presumptuously, God appointed this course, that the penalty of his law should be executed upon our surety, when he undertook our reconciliation with God, Gal. iv. 4.
(5.) The veracity and truth of God. It bindeth the truth of God, which sinners are apt to question: Gen. iii. 5, ‘Hath God said?’ and Deut. xxix. 19, 20. We look upon the threatenings of the law as a vain scarecrow; therefore, for the terror and warning of sinners for the future, God would not release his wrath, nor release us from the power of sin and Satan, which was the consequent of it, without a price and valuable compensation.
[3.] None was fit to give this ransom but Jesus Christ, who was God-man. He was man to undertake it in our name, and God to perform it in his own strength; a man that he might be made under the law, and humbled even to the death of the cross for our sakes; and all this was elevated beyond the worth of created actions and sufferings by the divine nature which was in him, which perfumed his humanity, and all done by it and in it. This put the stamp upon the metal, and made it current coin, imposed an infinite value upon his finite obedience and sufferings. By taking human nature a price was put into his hands to lay down for us: Heb. x. 15, and his divine nature made it sufficient and responsible, for it was the blood of God: Acts xx. 28, ‘Feed the church of God, which he hath purchased with his own blood;’ and Heb. ix. 13, ‘For if the blood of bulls and goats, and the ashes of an heifer, sprinkling the unclean, sanctifieth to the purifying of the flesh, how much more shall the blood of Christ, who through the Spirit offered himself without spot to God, purge your conscience from dead works to serve the living God?’ It was that flesh and blood which was assumed into the unity of his person as a slip or branch grafted into a stock is the branch of the stock, and the fruit of it is the fruit of the stock. A naked creature without this union could not have satisfied the justice of God for us. This made his blood a precious blood, and his obedience a precious obedience. In short, God-man, the Son of God and the son of Adam, was he that redeemed us. So, in short, there were different parties to be dealt with before the fruit of redemption could be obtained: God, satan, man. 422God was an enemy that could not be overcome, but must be reconciled; Satan was a usurper, and was to be vanquished with a strong hand; man was unable and unwilling to look after the fruits of redemption, and our obstinacy and unbelief could only be overcome by the Spirit of Christ.
[4.] Nothing performed by Christ could be a sufficient ransom for this end, unless he had crowned all his other actions and sufferings by laying down his life, and undergoing a bloody and violent death. This was the completing and crowning act. Partly to answer the types of the law, wherein no remission was represented without a bloody sacrifice; partly from the nature of the thing, and the fulness of the satisfaction required until all that was finished, John viii. 20. Death was that which was threatened to sin, death was that which was feared by the sinner. Many ignorant people will say the least drop of Christ’s blood was enough to save a thousand worlds. If so, his circumcision had been enough without his death. But Christ is not glorified but lessened by such expressions. Surely his death was necessary, or God would never have appointed it; his bloody death suited with God’s design. God’s design was to carry on our recovery in such a way as might make sin more hateful, and obedience more acceptable to us.
(1.) Sin more hateful by his agonies, blood, shame, death; no less remedy would serve the turn, to procure the pardon and destruction of it: Rom. viii. 3, ‘By sin he condemned sin in the flesh;’ that is, by a sin-offering. God showed a great example of his wrath against all sin by punishing sin in the flesh of Christ. His design was for ever to leave a brand upon it, and to furnish us with a powerful mortifying argument against it, by the sin-offering and ransom for souls. Surely it is no small matter for which the Son of God must die! At Golgotha, sin was seen in its own colours—there he showed how much he hateth it, and loveth purity.
(2.) To commend obedience. Christ’s suffering death for the sin of man at the command of his Father was the noblest piece of ser vice and the highest degree of obedience that ever could be performed to God—beyond anything that can be done by men or angels. There was in it so much love to God, pity to man, so much self-denial, so much humility and patience, and so much resignation of himself to God, who appointed him to be the redeemer and surety of man, to do this office for him, as cannot be paralleled. The great thing in it was obedience: Rom. v. 14, ‘By the obedience of one shall many be made righteous;’ so Phil. ii. 7, God was not delighted in mere blood, but in blood offered in obedience. All his former actions, together with his death and sufferings, make but one entire act of eminent obedience; but his painful and cursed death, so willingly and readily undergone, was the crowning act. The formal reason of the merit was that Christ came to fulfil the will of God, ‘by which will we are sanctified,’ Heb. x. 10, therefore his death was necessary.
[5.] From this ransom and act of obedience there is a liberty resulting unto us, for the redeemed are let go when the ransom is paid. Now this liberty is a freedom from sin, that we may become the servants of God: Rom. vi. 22, ‘Being made free from sin, ye became servants of righteousness.’ Christ came not to free us from the duty 423of the law, but the penalty and curse thereof. To free us from the duty of the law is to promote the devil’s interest. No; he freed us from the wrath of God that we may serve him cheerfully, to establish God’s interest upon surer and more comfortable terms, to restore us to God’s favour and service: to God’s favour, by the pardon of sin; to his service by writing his laws on our hearts and minds. Sometimes our redemption from the curse is spoken of: Gal. iii. 13, ‘Christ hath redeemed us from the curse of the law, being made a curse for us.’ Sometimes our redemption from sin: Titus ii. 14, ‘Who gave himself for us, that he might redeem us from all iniquity;’ and so by consequence from the power of the devil, which is built on the curse of the law and reign^of sin. Satan’s power over us doth flow from the sentence of the condemnation pronounced by the law against sinners, and consists in that dominion sin hath obtained over them. If the curse of the law be disannulled, and the power of sin broken, he is spoiled of his power: Col. ii. 14,. 15, ‘Blotting out the handwriting of ordinances that was against us, which was contrary to us, and took it out of the way, nailing it to his cross; and having spoiled principalities and powers, he made a show of them openly, triumphing over them.’
[6.] That we are not partakers of this liberty, nor of the benefit of this ransom, till we are in him, and united to him by faith, for the text saith, ‘In whom we have redemption by his blood.’ Certainly we must be turned from Satan to God before we are capable of receiving the forgiveness of sins, Acts xxvi. 18. We do not actually partake of the privileges of Christ’s kingdom till we be first his subjects: ‘Who hath delivered us from the power of Satan, and hath translated us into the kingdom of his dear Son: in whom we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins.’ Christ and his people are an opposite state to the devil and his instruments. While we are under the opposite power we belong not to Christ, and the privileges of his kingdom belong not to us; but as soon as we are translated and put into another estate, then we have the first privilege, ‘remission of sins.’ Look, as in the fall there was sin before guilt, so in our reparation there must be conversion, renovation, or repentance before remission. We are first effectually called or sanctified, and then justified and glorified. Man’s recovery to God is in the same method in which he fell from him. It is first brought about by a new nature, and communication of life from Christ. He regenerateth that he may pardon, and he pardoneth that he may further sanctify and make us everlastingly happy.
Thirdly, That remission of sins is a part, and a principal part of redemption.
1. How is it a part or fruit of redemption?
I answer—Redemption is taken either for the impetration or application.
[1.] The impetration or laying down the price, that was done by Christ upon the cross. So it is said, Heb. ix. 12, ‘Christ by his own blood obtained eternal redemption for us.’ Then was God propitiated, the deadly blow given to the kingdom and power of the devil, and the merit and ransom interposed, by the virtue of which we are pardoned. The obtained redemption and remission of sins is a fruit flowing from it, and depending upon it as an effect upon the cause.424
[2.] The scripture considers redemption in its application. Besides laying down the price, there is an actual deliverance and freedom by virtue of that price. This is either begun or complete. The complete redemption, or freedom from sin and misery, is that which the godly shall enjoy at the last day: Rom. viii. 23, ‘We which have the first-fruits of the Spirit, even we ourselves groan within ourselves, waiting for the adoption, to wit, the redemption of our body;’ Eph. iv. 30, ‘Grieve not the Holy Spirit of God, whereby ye are sealed unto the day of redemption;’ Eph. i. 14, ‘In whom also, after ye believed, ye were sealed with that Spirit of promise, which is the earnest of our in heritance, until the redemption of the purchased possession.’ The inchoate or begun deliverance is that measure of deliverance which believers enjoy now by faith, which consists of two parts—justification and sanctification. Sanctification: 1 Pet. i. 18, Titus ii. 14, ‘Who gave himself for us, that he might redeem us from all iniquity, and purify unto himself a peculiar people, zealous of good works;’ when we are free from the power and weight of sin. Justification, so it is in the text, and Eph, i. 7; when sin is freely pardoned, and our debt cancelled, and we are delivered from evil and wrath to come.
2. As it is a part, so it is a principal part. This will appear if you consider the evil we are freed from.
[1.] The power of the devil is destroyed. All the advantage which he hath against us is as we are sinners, guilty sinners before God. For we are put into his hands when we have forfeited the protection of our righteous Lord, but forgiveness of sins gives us a release from him, Acts xxvi. 18. When Christ came to procure it he destroyed the devil’s power; when we are converted we are interested in the privilege.
[2.] The reign of sin is broken, or sanctifying grace is inseparable from pardoning grace; yea, I will venture to say, that the gift of the sanctifying Spirit is a part of our pardon executed and applied; for a part of the punishment of sin was spiritual death, or the loss of God’s image: Col. ii. 13, ‘He hath quickened you together with Christ, having forgiven all your trespasses.’ When God pardoneth he sanctifieth and createth us anew, that we may be fit for his service, so that we are renewed by the Spirit, as well as recovered out of the snares of the devil.
[3.] We are eased of tormenting fears in a great measure. Man can have no firm peace and comfort in his own soul while sin remaineth upon him. Our case is dangerous, whether we be sensible of it or no, because our condition is not to be valued by our sense and feeling, but by the sentence of the law of God, which we have broken and violated. If there be any difference in the case, the more insensible we are, the more miserable. The generality of men indeed are senseless and care less, put far away the evil day from them, and so make light work of reconciling themselves to God. But are they the more safe for this? No; if they will dance about the brink of hell, and go merrily to their execution, it argues not their safety, but their stupidness. The thought of danger is pat off when the thing itself is not put away, but if they be serious they cannot be without trouble: Rom. i. 32, ‘Knowing the judgment of God, they conclude that they that do 425such things are worthy of death.’ The very light of nature will revive many unquiet thoughts within them. The justice of the supreme Governor of the world will still be dreadful to them, whose law they have br6ken, and whose wrath they have justly deserved. They may lull the soul asleep by the stupifying potion of carnal delights, and while conscience is asleep please themselves with stolen waters, and bread eaten in secret, which is soon disturbed by a few serious and sober thoughts of the world to come. God is offended, and what peace can they have?
[4.] Death is unstinged. That is the usual time when convictions grow to the height, and the stings of an awakened conscience begin, to be felt, 1 Cor. xv. 56. Then the thoughts of death and judgment to come are very terrible to them, and men begin to see what it is to bear their own sins, and how happy they are who are sure of a pardon.
[5.] The obligation to eternal punishment ceases. Pardon is dissolving and loosing that obligation. Now the punishment is exceeding great; hell and damnation are no vain scarecrows. Eternity makes everything truly great, the poena damni, an everlasting separation from the comfortable presence of the Lord: Mat. xxv. 41, ‘Go, ye cursed;’ Luke xiii. 27, ‘Depart, ye workers of iniquity.’ When God turned Adam out of paradise his case was very sad, but God took care of him in his exile, made him coats of skin, gave him a day of patience, afterwards promised the seed of the woman, who should recover the lapsed estate of mankind, intimated hopes of a better paradise. That estate, therefore, is nothing comparable to this, for now man is stripped of all his comforts, sent into an endless state of misery, whence there is no hopes of ever changing his condition. So for the poena sensus, the pain: Mark ix. 44, ‘Where their worm never dieth, and their fire is never quenched.’ The worm is the worm of conscience reflecting on past folly and disobedience. See here a man may run away from the rebukes of conscience by many shifts—sleeping, sporting, distracting his mind with a clatter of business; but there not a thought free, but is always thinking of slighted means, abused mercies, wasted time, the offences done to a merciful God, and the curse wherein they have involved themselves; the fire is the wrath of God, or these unknown pains that shall be inflicted on body and soul, which must needs be great when we fall into the hands of the living God. If a little mitigation, a drop to cool your tongue be thought a great matter, oh! what a blessedness is it to be freed from so great an evil. Perhaps you coldly entertain the offer of a pardon now, but then to be freed from wrath to come—oh, blessed Jesus! 1 Thes. i. 10.
II. The good depending on it: Luke i. 77, ‘To give us the knowledge of salvation by the remission of sins.’ Eternal life dependeth on it, for you are not capable of enjoying God till his wrath be appeased. As all evil was introduced by sin, so all happiness by pardon. This is an initial blessing, which maketh way for the rest.
Use, of exhortation: To persuade you to seek after this benefit. All of us once needed it, and the best of us, till we are wholly freed from sin, still need it.426
1. We all of us once needed it; for we are not only criminal persons liable to condemnation, but actually condemned in the sentence of God’s law: John iii. 18, ‘He that believeth not is condemned already.’ Now, should not a condemned man make means to be pardoned? and should not we accept of God’s terms, especially when there is but the slender thread of a frail life between us and execution? He that securely continues in his sins, despiseth both the curse of the law and the grace of the gospel. Oh, consider! nothing but a pardon will serve the turn—not forbearance on God’s part, nor forgetfulness on yours.
[1.] Not forbearance of the punishment on God’s part. God may be angry with us while he doth not actually strike, as the psalmist saith: Ps. vii. 11-13, ‘God is angry with the wicked every day; if he turn not he will whet his sword. He hath bent his bow and will make it ready.’ God, who is a righteous judge, will not dispense with the offences of wicked men, by which he is continually affronted and provoked. Though in the day of his patience he doth for a while spare, yet he is ready to deal with them comminus, hand to hand, for he is sharpening his sword; eminus, at a distance, for he is bending his bow. The arrow is upon the string, and how soon he may let it fly we can not tell. We are never safe till we turn to him, and enter into his peace, and so the obligation to punishment be dissolved.
[2.] On our part, our senseless forgetfulness will do us no good. Carnal men mind not things which relate to God, or the happiness of their immortal souls; but they are not happy that feel least troubles, but they that have least cause. A benumbed conscience cannot challenge this blessedness. They put off the thoughts of that which God hath neither forgiven nor covered; and so do but skin the wound till it festers and rankles into a dangerous sore. Our best course is to see we be justified and pardoned.
2. The best of us still need it: partly because though we be justified, and our state be changed, yet renewed sins need a new pardon. We are still sinning against God—either we are omitting good, or committing evil. What will we do if we be not forgiven? Renewed sins call for renewed repentance. We do not need another Redeemer, or another covenant, or another conversion; yet we do need renewed pardon, partly because our final sentence of pardon is not yet passed, nor shall be passed till the last judgment: Acts iii. 19, ‘Repent ye, therefore, and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out, when the times of refreshing shall come from the presence of the Lord.’ We are now pardoned and justified constitutively by the tenor of the new covenant, and there by description. The sincerity of our faith and repentance is not presently evident; it is possible, but difficult, to know that we are sincere penitent believers; but at last, when our pardon is actually pronounced by our judge’s mouth, sitting on the throne, then all is clear, evident, plain, and open. And partly because daily infirmities call for daily repentance. We do not carry ourselves with that gravity and watchfulness, but that we need to cry for pardon every day.427
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