Page images

might seem more desireable, but not the lealt 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, God implanted it in him, by, and in, his creation. This law, it was supposed, man might transgress. The very nature of a law prescribed unto free agents, attended with threatnings and promises of reward, requires that fuppofition. Now, there was not annexed to this law, or revealed with it, the least intimation of pardon to be obtained, if transgression thould ensue. Gen. ii. 17. we have this law, In the day thou eatest, thou shalt surely die : Dying thou shalt die; or bring upon thyself af. suredly the guilt of death temporal and eternal. There God leaves the lioner under the power of that commination. Of forgiveness, or pardoning mercy, there is not the lealt 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 lhalt die, O sinner, is the precise and final voice of it. From these previous confiderations, added to what was formerly. Ipoken, some things preparatory to the ensuing discourse may be inferred: As,

First, 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 thewed, conscience and law, with the inbred notions that are in the heart of man about God's holiness and vindictive justice, do ly against. A matter whereof we have no natural, presumption ; whereof there is no common notion in the mind of man. A mning 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 lipning ar gels, renders deep, admirable and mysterious. Men who have common and flight thoughts of God, of themseives, of in, 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, whieb, upon the matter, no man disbelieves. But convinced finners, who make a trial of these things as run. ning into eternity, have other thoughts of them. And as to that which 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 ?


Secondly, That the discovery of forgiveness io God, being a matter of lo 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 bath not the least obscure impression of it left thereon; so that,

Thirdly, lc is undoubtedly greatly incumbent on us to enquire diligently, as the prophets did of old, into this salvation ; 10 consider what fure evidences faith bath of it, such as will not, as cannot fail us. To be flight and common in this matter, to take it up at random, is an argument of an unfound rotten heart. He that is not serious in his enquiry 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 flow 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 Jhew unto the heirs of promise the immutability of his counsel

, confirmed it by an oath; that by two immutable things, in which it was imposible for God to lie, we might have strong confolation. It is of forgiveness of sin that the apostle treats, as hath been made evident by this 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 átrustse---as Tic. i. 2. The God that cannot lie, that cannot deceive or be deceived. It is impoffble it Nould be Yo 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 tò dwaráberov ris Bañis, an efpecial immutability of his counsel. Men may think, that although there be words spoken about forgivenefs


, yet it is possible it may be otherwise; no, faith the apostle, it is spoken by God, and it is impossible lie should lie. Yea, but upon the manifold provocations of finners he may change his mind and thoughts therein ; no, faith the apostle, there is a peculiar mutability 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, faith 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 affurediy answer. But neither is this all; but that no place might be left for any cavilling objection in this matter, tuicireusiv pxw, he interposeth himself by an oath. Thus we have this truth deduced from the veracity of God's nature, one of his effential 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 fhew what weight the Holy Ghost lays upon the delivery of this great truth, and thence how deeply it concerns us to enquire diligently into it, and after the grounds and evidences which may be tendered of it; which, among others, are these that follow.

Discovery of forgiveness in the first promise.---The e

vidence of the truth that lies therein.----And by the institution of sacrifices..--- Their use and end ---Alfo by the prescription of repentance uato finners.


The first discovery of forgiveness in God, and which I place as the first evidence of it, was made in his first. dealing with our parents after their shameful sin and fall. Now, to make it appear, that this is an evidence that carries along a great conviction with it, and is such as faith may securely reft upon, and close withal, the ensuing observations are to be considered.

First, The first fin in the world, was on many accounts the greatest in that ever was in the world. It was the fin as it were of human nature, wherein there was a copspiracy of all individuals, omnes eramus unus ille homo, in that one man, or that one fin, we all finned, Rom. v. 12. It left not God one subject, as to moral obedience, on earth, nor the least ground for any such to be unto eternity. When the angels (inned, the whole race or kind did not prevaricate. Thousands and ten 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 imbarked in the same crime and guilt. Besides, it disturbed the government of God in and over the whole creation. God made all things in number, weight, and measure, in order and beauty ; pronouncing himself concerning his whole work, chat it was 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 fin, and the very creation itself 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 fin that ever was n the world.

Secondly, Man, who had linned, subscribed in his heart and conscience unto the righteous sentence of the law. He knew what he had deserved, and looks | ed for nothing but the immediate execution of the fen


tence of death upon him. Hence he meditates not a defence, expects no pardon, stays not for a trial, but flees and hides, and attempts an escape, Gen. iii. 10. I was afraid, faith he, and hid myself; than which pever were there words of greater horror in the world, nor shall be until the day of judgment : Poor creature ! he was full of the expectation of vengeance, dus for a broken covenant

Thirdly, God hath newly declared, in the finning angels, what his justice required, and how he could deal with finning 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 a moment; he had not done so with the angels. All things lay now under wrath, curse, confusion, disorder ; nothing was left. good, lovely, or deGreable in his eye. As in the first creation, that which was first brought forth from nothing was (Heb.) without form and void, empry 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 infinire 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 fovereignty. All things being in this state and condition, wherein all doors stood open to the glory of God's justice, in the punishing of fin, nothing remaining without him to hold his hand in the least; the whole creation, and especially the finner nimself, lying trembling in expectation of a dreadful doom. What now cometh forth from him? the blessed word which we have, Gen. iii. 15. The feed of the woman shall break the ferpent's head. It is full knowo, 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 T


« PreviousContinue »