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blessed Lord, the whole purpose of his goodness was opened ; as far as it is proper, that mortals should be acquainted with it.
From these revelations, contained in the Bible, we learn, that repentance alone, even the completest, would not be sufficient to reinstate us fully in God's favour; much less the poor endeavours towards it, which we, of ourselves, are capable of using ; but that our pardon and salvation depend on the compassionate intercession of a mediator appointed by our heavenly Father; that a person, who should deliver mankind from the bitter fruits of their transgressions, had, in general, been promised, and the promises had been believed, from the earliest ages; and more particular notices of him gradually imparted to the successive generations of the chosen people ; that at length in the season, which infinite wisdom saw to be fittest, he appeared on earth, in the character of the only begotten Son of God; taught his followers the precepts, and set them the example, of perfect piety and virtue; and after bearing cheerfully, for this purpose, all the inconveniencies of mortal life, submitted to suffer a cruel death from wicked men, provoked by the perfections, which they ought to have adored ; that this voluntary sacrifice of himself, the Almighty was pleased to accept from him, whose divine nature, united to the human, gave it unspeakable value, as a reason for entering into a covenant of mercy with all those, who should be influenced, by faith in his doctrines, to obey his laws; that still, neither our obedience, nor our faith itself, is at all meritorious, or, in any degree, the cause of our acceptance ; they are, both of them, God's gift; and they are both, through our fault, very imperfect : but that yet thankful belief in Christ, as our Saviour, from the power and the punishment of sin, “ working by love"3 to our
(3) Gal. v. 6.
Maker, our Redeemer, our Sanctifier, our Fellowcreature, is appointed the condition of our obtaining, and the instrument of our receiving pardon.
The rensons of this appointment, “ we see, as
through a glass, darkly ;"4 yet enough of them to convince us of its being o the wisdom of God, “ though in a mystery."š With respect to ourselves, it hath the most powerful tendency to inspire us with humility, gratitude, and diligence. With respect to the blessed Jesus, it was a fit reward for what he had done and suffered, to take those into favour again, for whom he hath interested bimself with such inexpressible goodness. And with respect to God, it was a strong demonstration of his concern for the glory of his attributes, and the honour of his government, that he would not be reconciled to sinners on any other terms, than such an interposition of such a person in their behalf; which yet, since he himself provided, as well as accepted, his kindness to us is no less, than if he pardoned us without it. Thus, then, did “mercy and truth meet together-righteous
;">6 and God show himself “just, and yet the justifier of them 56 which believe in Jesus."7
But, then, we must always remember, that none will be forgiven and made happy by the means of Christ, but they who are reformed, and made holy, by his means; that his sacrifice is not to stand instead of our repentance and amendment; but is the consideration which induces God first to work in us pious dispositions, then to accept us, if we cultivate and exert them faithfully.
Perhaps the benefit of this sacrifice may extend, in a very valuable, though inferior degree, even to those who have had little or no knowledge of him
(4) I Cor. xiji. 12.
(5) I Cor. ii. 7.
(6) Psal, lxxxv. 10,
who offered it. But in such questions we have no concern. Our business is, to take care that it may extend to us, by embracing, with an active, as well as joyful faith, the gracious tenders of the Gospel dispensation.
Indeed, the first advantage that we have from it, is before we are capable of knowing our happiness, at the time of our baptism. For baptism restores the infants of believing parents, as will be proved hereafter, in explaining it, to that assurance of immortal life, which our first parents lost, and we by consequence. But when administered to persons of riper years, as it conveys a further privilege, the pardon of their former actual sins, it also requires a suitable condition, the exercise of an actual faith, such as will produce future obedience. And as infants are baptized only on presumption of their coming to have this faith in due time, so, if they live, and refuse to be instructed in it, or despise it, their baptism will avail them nothing. For it is a covenant; at first, indeed, made for us, but to be afterwards acknowledged and ratified by us, as it is in confirmation. And in this covenant we engage, on our part, to keep ourselves, with an honest care, free from sin; and God engages, on his, to consider us (not because of our care, though on condition of it, but for the sake of Christ) as free from guilt ; not withstanding such infirmities and failings as may overtake well-meaning persons. He will not look on these as breaches of his covenant, but readily pass them over ; provided we make a general confession of them in our daily
prayers, and strive against them with a reasonable diligence. For such things we cannot 'expect to avoid entirely; but greater offences we may. And, therefore, if we fall into habitual wickedness, or any single act of gross and deliberate sin, we forfeit the happiness to which our baptism entitles us; and if we continue impenitent, the more privi
leges we have enjoyed, the more severely we shall be punished. For, “to whomsoever much is given, “ of him shall much be required.'
But if God allows us time, and we make use of it, not only to be sorry for having lived ill-for this alone is not Gospel penitence-but to be sorry from a principle of conscience and to show of what sort our sorrow is, by living well afterwards, in all those respects in which we have been faulty, we become entitled again to the divine favour. For though the Scripture declares it “impossible “to renew some sinners to repentance ;"' yet, if this be taken strictly, it can mean, only, “ blasphe
mers against the Holy Ghost." Besides, impossible, in all languages, often signifies no more than extremely difficult'; and a with God all " things are possible." Experience proves, that great numbers are renewed to repentance ; and that they shall not be forgiven, when they repent, is no where said. It is true,
" there remains no more sacrifice for sin,"3.
-no other method of salvation, than that to which they have lost their claim. But still, if they humbly apply for a fresh interest in it, since the Apostle directs all Christians to restore such to their communion, as brethren, “in the spirit of meekness," 4 there can be no doubt but God will receive them as a father, with pity and mercy. Indeed, the words of St. John, alone, would be sufficient to banish all despondency from the breast of every Christian peni- . tent. My little children, these things I write
any man sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus
Christ, the righteous; and he is the propitiation “ for our sins."
You see, then, the inestimable goodness of God,
(8) Luke xii. 48. (9) Heb, vi. 4, 6. (1) Matt. xii. 31, (2) Matt. xix. 26. (3) Heb. x, 26. (4) Gal. vi. k. (5) 1 John ii.l.
in providing means, by which we not only shall be pardoned, but have the comfort of knowing beforehand that we shall. But, then, you see also the only terms on which we are to expect it. And these are not that we live on in a circle of sinning and repenting—not that we abstain from some sins, and indulge others—but that we so repent of all our sins, as not wilfully to sin again. And till we are arrived at this, we must never think ourselves in a safe condition. For, as on the one hand, 6 if the wicked man turn from his wicked
ness, he shall live;"6 so on the other, “ if the “ righteous man turn from his righteousness, he 66 shall die."7 “ Blessed are they whose trans“gression is forgiven, and whose sin is covered. “ Blessed are they to whom the Lord imputeth “ not iniquity; and in whose spirit there is no " guile."
Articles XI. XII. Part I. The Resurrection of
the Body, and the Life Everlasting: THE Resurrection of the Body, and Life Everlasting, being the consequences of the preceding Article, the forgiveness of sins; our belief of that comfortable truth, leads us naturally to believe these also. And as they complete the whole of what we are concerned to know; so here the profession of our faith happily concludes, having brought us to the “ end of our faith, the salvation “ of our souls."9
(6) Ezek. xviii. 21, 27.
(7) Ibid 24
(8) Psalm xxxii. 1, 2.