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Even all the sacrifices, and so consequently the whole worship of the Old Testament, evinced this relation between forgiveness and blood-lhedding;' whence the apoft'• concludes, that without shedding of blood there is NO 7. nifron, Heb. ix. 22. that is, all pardon ariseth from blood-Thedding, even of the blood of the Son of God. So that we are said to have redemption, even the forgiveness of fins, Eph. i. 17. Our redemption in his blood is our forgiveness, not that we are all actually pardoned in the blood of his cross, for thereunto must be added gospel-condonation, of which afterwards; but thereby it is procured, the grant of pardon is therein sealed, and security given, that it shall in due time be made upto us, To which purpose is that discourse of the apostle, Rom. iii
. 24, 25, 26. The work there mentioned, proceeds from grace, is managed to the interest of righteousness, is carried on by the blood of Christ and issues in forgivenels Now the blood of Christ relates variously to the pardon of fin.
first, Pardon is purchased and procured by it. Our redemption is our forgiveness ; as the cause contaivs the effect. No soul is pardoned but with respect unto the blood of Christ, as the procuring cause of that pardon. Hence he is said to have washed us in his blood, Rev i. 5. In himself, to have purged our fins, Heb. i. 3. by one offering to bave taken away fin, and for ever to have perfected them that are fanctified, Heb. x. to be the 1 anjom and propitiation of our fins, 1 Jolin ii. 2. to have made an end of sin, Dan. ix. 24. and to have made reconciliation for the fins of his people, Heb. ii. 17. God hath enclosed his, rich stores of pardon and mercy in the blood of Jesus Christ.
Secondly, Because in his blood the promise of pardon is ratified and confirmed, so that nothing is wanting to our complear forgiveness, but our pleading the promise by faith in him, 2 Cor. i. 20. All the promises of God are in him Yea, and in him Amen; that is, faithfully, and irrecoverably, and immutably established. And therefore the apostle having told us, that this is the covenant
of God, that he would be merciful to our fins and iniquities, Heb. viii, 12. He informs us, that in the undertaking of Christ, this covenant is become a testament, chap. ix. 15, 16, 17. So ratified in his blood, that mercy and forgiveness of sin is irrevocably confirmed unto us therein,
Thirdly, Because he hath in his own person, as the head of the church, received an acquitment for the whole body: His personal discharge upon the accomplishment of his work was a pledge of the discharge which was in due time to be given to his whole mystical body. Peter tells, Acts ii. 24. that it was impossible he foould be detained by death. And whý fo? because death being penally inflicted on him, when he had paid the debt, he was legally acquitted. Now, for whom, and in whose pame and stead he fuffered; for them, and in their name and stead, he received his acquitment.
Fourthly, Because upon his death, God the Father hath committed unto him the whole management of the business of forgiveness, Acts v. 31. He (now) gives repentance and the forgiveness of sins. It is Christ that forgives us, Col. iii. 13. All forgiveness is now at his difposal, and he pardoneth whom he will, even all that are given unto him of the Father, not cafting out any that come to God, by him. He is intrusted with all the ftores of his Father's purpose, and his own purchase ; and thence tells us, that all things that the Father hath, are his, Joho xvi. 15.
In all these respects doth forgiveness relate to the blood of Christ. Mercy, pardon and grace, could find no other way to issue forth from the heart of the Father, but by the heart blood of the Son, and so do they stream unto the heart of the finner,
Two things are principally to be considered in the respect that forgiveness hath to the blood of Christ. The way of its procurement. 2. The way of its administration by him. The first is deep, mysterious, dreadful. It was by his blood, the blood of the cross, the travel of his soul, his undergoing wrath and curse.
The other is gracious, merciful and tender ; whence so miny things are spoken of his mercifulness, and faithfulness, to encourage us to expect forgiveness from him.
This also adds to the mysterious depths of forgiveness; and makes its discovery a great matter. The soul that looks after it in earneft, must consider what it coft. How light do most men make of pardon? What an easy thing is it to be acquainted with it? And no very hard matter to obtain it. But to hold communion with God, in the blood of his Son, is a thing of another nature than is once dreamed ot by many, who think they know well enough what it is to be pardoned. God is merciful, is a con mon saying, and as common, to desire he would be fo for Christ's sake. Poor creatures are cast into the mould of such expressions, who know neither God, nor mercy, nor Chrift, nor any ibing of the mystery of the gospel Others look on the outside of the cross, to see into the mystery of the love of the Father, working in the blood of the Mediator, to consider by faith the great tranfaction of divine wisdom, justice, and mercy therein, how few attain unto it? To come unto God, by Christ, for forgiveness, and therein to behold the law issuing all its threars and curses in his blood, and losing its fting, putting an end to its obligation unto punishment, in the crots; to see all fins gathered up in the hands of God's justice, and made to meet on the Mediator, and eternal love springing forth triumphantly from his blood, fl jurishing into pardon, grace, mercy, forgiveDess. This the heart of a finner can be enlarged unto, only by the Spirit of God.
FOURTHLY, There is in forgiveness, free condonation, discharge, or pardon, according to the tenor of the gospel; 'and this may be considered two ways.
First, As ir lies in the promise itself; and so it is God's gracious declaration of pardon to finners, in and by the blood of Christ his covenant to that end and purpose; which is variously proposed, according as he
knew needful for all the ends and purposes of ingenerating faith, and communicating that consolation which he intends therein.
This is the law of his grace, the declaration of the mystery of his love, before insisted op.
Secondly, There is the bringing home, and application of all this mercy to the soul of a lioner by the Holy Ghost, wherein we are freely forgiven all our trespalles,
Col. ii. 13.
Gospel-forgiveness, I say, respects all these things, these principles, they have all an influence into it. And that which makes this more evident, wherewith I shall close this consideration of the nature of it, is, that faith, in its application of itself unto God about and for forgiveness, doth distin&ly apply itself unto, and close with, sometimes one of these severally and singly, sometimes another, and sometimes jointly takes in the confideration of them all exprefly. Not that at any time it fixes on any or either of them exclusively to the others, but that eminently it finds some special encouragement at some season, and some peculiar attractive from some one of them, more than from the rest ; and then that proves an inlet, a door of entrance, unto the treasures that are laid up in the rest of them. Let us go over the severals by instances.
if, Sometimes faith fixes upon the name and infinite goodness of the nature of God, and draws out forgiveness from thence. So doth the psalmist, Psal. Ixxxvi. 6. Thou, Lord, azt good, and ready to forgive. He rolls himself, in the pursuit and expectarion of pardon, on the infinite goodness of the nature of God. So Neh. ix. 17. Thou art a God of pardons, or ready to forgive ; of an infinite, gracious, loving nature, not severe and wrathful; and ihis is that which we are encouraged unto, Isa. I. 10. to stay on the name of God, as in innumerable other places.
And thus faith oftentimes finds a peculiar sweetness and encouragement in and from the confideration of God's gracious nature. Sometimes this is the first thing that it fixes on, and sometimes the last that it rests in ; and oft-times it makes a stay here, when it is driven from all other holds : It can say, however it be, yet God is. gracious, and at least make that conclusion which we have from it, Joel. ii. 13, 14. God is gracious and merciful, who knoweth but he will return. And when faith hath well laid hold on this consideration, it will not easily be driven from its expectation of relief and forgiveness, even from hence.
2dly, Sometimes the soul by faith addreffeth itfelf ia a peculiar manner to the sovereignty of God's will; whereby he is gracious to whom he will be gracious, and merciful to whom he will be merciful, which, as was fhewed, is another considerable spring or principle of forgiveness. This way David's faith steered him in his great trait and perplexity, 2 Sam. xv. 25, 26. If I fall find favour in the eyes of the Lord, he will bring me again; but if he thus fay, I have no delight in thee, behold here am I, let him do unto me as feemeth good unto him. That which he hath in conĞderation is, Whether God have any delight in him or no? that is, whether God would graciously remit and pardon the great sin against which, at that time, he manifested his indiga nation. Here he lays himself down before the sovereign grace of God, and awaits patiently the discovery of the free act of his will concerning him; and at this door, as it were, enters into the consideration of those other springs of pardon, which faith enquires after, and closeth withal. This sometimes is all the cloud that appears' to a distressed foul, which after a while fills ihe heavens by the addition of the other confiderations mentioned, and yields plentifully refreshing howers. And this condition is a fin-intangled soul oft-times reduced unto, in looking out for relief, it can discover nothing but this, that God is able, and can, if he graciously please, relieve and acquit him. All other supportments, all springs of relief are shut up, or hid from him. The fprings indeed may be nigh, as that was to Hagar, but their eyes are withheld, that they cannot see them.