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you into a state of condemnation again ; or nullify your former justification : for though the law of nature is so far still in force, as to make punishment by it your natural due ; yet the covenant of grace is a continually pardoning act; and according to its proper terms, doth dissolve the aforesaid obligation, and presently remit the punishment: and as its moral action is not interrupted; no more is our justified state.'
* There is no condemnation to them that are in Christ Jesus,” &c.; Rom. viii. 1. John iii. 16. 18. 1 John v. 11, 12. "If any may sin, we have an Advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous; and he is the propitiation for our sins;" 1 John ii. 1, 2. “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness." If all need of pardon had been prevented by Christ, what use were there of his advocation for our future forgiveness ?
Direct. 12. 'Remember, that though unknown infirmities, and unavoidable ones, have an immediate pardon, because the believer hath an habitual faith and repentance; yet great and known sins must have actual repentance, before the pardon will be plenary or perfect; though the person is not in the meantime an unregenerate nor justified person.'
1. That great and known sins must have a particular repentance, appeareth, 1. In that it is utterly inconsistent with the sincerity of habitual repentance, not to be actual, when sins are known, and come into our deliberate remembrance. 2. By all those texts which require such repentance, confession and forsaking ; 1 John ii. 1, 2. i. 9. Prov. xxviii. 13. Psal. xxxii. li. 2 Cor. vii. 11. Rev. ii. 5. 16. Luke xiii. 3. 5. James v. 14, 15. Luke vi. 37. xi. 4. Repentance consisteth chiefly in forsaking sin; and if men forsake not such known wilful sins, they are wicked men, and therefore are not pardoned.
2. That unavoidable frailties, are mere infirmities, and unknown faults, are pardoned immediately to them that are truly godly, and have a general and implicit repentance, is plain, because else no man in the world could be saved; because every man hath such infirmities and unknown sins; 1 John i. 10.
3. Yet David himself is not put by his sin into a mere graceless state, and as a person that hath no former justification ; for he prayeth God not to take his Spirit from him, and he was not deprived of the true love to God, which is the character of God's children: but he had incurred heinous guilt, and put himself in the way towards utter damnation, and caused a necessity of a more particular deep repentance before he could be fully pardoned, than else he needed.
Before the world had a Saviour, we were all so far unpardoned, that a satisfying sacrifice was necessary to our justification : but afterward, all men are so far pardoned, that only the acceptance of what is purchased and freely (though conditionally) given, is necessary to it. Before men are converted, they are yet so far unpardoned, that (though no more sacrifice be necessary, yet) a total conversion and renovation, by turning from a life of sin to God by faith in Christ, is necessary to their actual justification and forgiveness. When a man is turned from a life of sin to God, and liveth in the state of grace, all his following sins, which consist with the loving of God and holiness above the world and sinful pleasures, are so far forgiven immediately upon the committing, that they need neither another sacrifice, nor another regeneration, or justification, (' quoad statum') but only an acting of that faith and repentance, which habitually he had already. But the unknown errors and faults of such godly persons are pardoned even without that actual repentance: and infirmities, without forsaking of the sin overcomingly in practice. And so every one liveth and dieth, in some degree of sinful defectiveness and omission, of his love to God, and trust, and hope, and zeal, and desire, and love to men, and care of his duty, and watchfulness, and fervency in prayer, meditation, &c. And in some degree of sinful disorder in our ill-governed thoughts, and words, and affections, or passions, and actions: we are never sinless till we die.
Direct. 13. 'Remember that you must neither think that every sin which is a cause of repentance, is a sufficient reason for you to doubt of your present state of justification ; nor yet that no sin can be so great as to be a necessary cause of doubting.'
If every sin should make us doubt of our justification,
then all men must always doubt: and then it must be because no sin is consistent with sincerity, and the knowledge of sincerity; which is apparently false.
If no sin should cause our doubting, then there is no sin which is not consistent both with sincerity, and with the knowledge of it; which is as false, and much more dangerous to hold. 1. There are many sins that are utterly inconsistent with true godliness; otherwise the godly were ungodly, and as bad as others : and if you say that no godly man committeth these, it is true; and therefore it is true that he that committeth them, is not a godly man, or justified. And how shall a man know his godliness, but by his life, as the product of his inward graces ? It is arguing from an uncertainty against a certainty, to say, I am justified and godly, and therefore my wilful sins of drunkenness, fornication, oppression, lying, malice, &c. are consistent with justification: and it is arguing from a certain truth, against a doubted falsehood, to say, I live in ordinary, wilful, heinous sin; therefore I am not justified or sincere. “For this ye know, that no whoremonger, nor unclean person, nor covetous man, who is an idolater, hath any inheritance in the kingdom of Christ, and of God. Let no man deceive you with vain words; for because of these things cometh the wrath of God upon the children of disobedience;" Ephes. v. 5, 6. “Know ye not that the unrighteous shall not inherit the kingdom of God? 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 you; but ye are washed, but ye are sanctified, but ye are justified,” &c.; I Cor. vi. 9, 10.
“ There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit. For if ye live after the flesh, ye shall die," &c.; Rom. viii. 1. 13. Gal. v. 20-24.
2. And there are many sins which consist with true grace, which will not consist with the assurance of its sincerity. And that, 1. From the nature of the things; because the least degree of grace conjunct with, and clouded by the greatest degree of sin, which may consist with it, is not discernible to him that hath it; he that is so very near
a state of death, and so very like to an unjustified person, can never be sure, in that case, that he is justified. 2. And also God in wisdom and justice will have it so; that sin may not be encouraged, nor presumption cherished, nor the comforts which are the reward of an obedient child, be cast away on an incapable child in his stubborn disobedience ; Psal. li. xxxii. lxxvii.
Therefore for a man that liveth in gross sin, to say that he is sure that he is justified, and therefore no sin shall make him question it; is but to believe the Antinomian devil transforming himself into an angel of light, and his ministers, when they call themselves the ministers of righteousness; and to deny belief to the Spirit of holiness and truth. And if a true believer should come very near such a state of death, common reason, and the due care of his own soul, obligeth him to be suspicious of himself, and to fear the worst, till he have made sure of better; Heb. vi. iii. 10. iv. 1. 12-14. 1 Cor. x. John xv. 2. 7, 8, &c.
Direct. 14. • Let not the persuasion that you are justified, make you more secure and bold in sinning, but more to hate it, as contrary to the ends of justification, and to the love which freely justified you.'
It is a great mark of difference between true assurance, and blind presumption, that the one maketh men hate sin more, and more carefully to avoid it; and the other causeth men to sin with less reluctancy, and remorse; because with less fear.
Direct. 15. When the abuse of the doctrine of justification by faith alone, and not by works, doth pervert your minds and lives, remember that all confess, that we shall be judged according to our works (as the covenant of grace is the law by which we shall be judged): and to be judged, is to be justified or condemned:
I need not recite all those Scriptures to you, that say, that we shall be judged, and shall receive according to what we have done in the body, whether it be good or evil: and this is all that we desire you to believe, and live accordingly.
Direct. 16. Remember still that faith in Christ is but a means to raise us to the love of God, and that perfect holiness is higher and more excellent than the pardon of sin : and therefore desire faith, and use it, for the kindling of
love, and pardon of sin, to endear you to God, and that you may do so no more: and do not sin, that you may have the more to be pardoned.'
“ The end of the commandment is charity, out of a pure heart, and a good conscience, and faith unfeigned. Shall we continue in sin, that grace may abound? God forbid : How shall they that are dead to sin, live any longer therein ?" Rom. vi. 1, 2. See Titus iii. 5-7. Rom. v. 1. 4-6. viii. 1. 4. 9. Gal. iv. 6. v. 24. 26. So much for those practical directions, which are needful for them that love not controversy.
The pernicious and dangerous Errors detected, which hinder the
Work of Faith about our Justification; and the contrary Truths asserted.
There is so much dust and controversy raised here to blind the eyes of the weak, and to hinder the life of faith, and so much poison served up under the name of justification and free grace, that I should be unfaithful if I should not discover it, either through fear of offending the guilty, or of wearying them that had rather venture upon deceit, than upon controversy. And we are now so fortified against the Popish and Socinian extremes, and those whom I am now directing to live by faith, are so settled against them, that I think it more necessary (having not leisure for both, and having done it heretofore in my “ Confession") to open at this time the method of false doctrine on the other extreme, which for the most part is it which constituteth Antinomianism, though some of them are maintained by others.
And I will first name each error; and then with it, the contrary truth.
Error 1. • Christ's suffering was caused by the sins of none, as the assumed meritorious cause, or as they usually say, as imputed to him, or lying on him, save only of the elect that shall be saved.'
Contr. The sins of fallen mankind in general, except those rejections of grace, whose pardon is not offered in the