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DISSERTATION XXV.

ON THE FORGIVENESS OF SINS.

1. Although high encomiums are pronounced on the holiness of the Christian Church, yet while she continues in her militant state on earth, she is never without her blemishes; and is far from that perfection, which she hopes at last to obtain in heaven. Here indeed she is “ fair,” but yet “ as the moon.”a The moon being herself void of light, borrows all her light from the sun; has her increases and decreases, at stated intervals; is sometimes eclipsed even when full; and, though she suffer no eclipse, always discovers her spots. So the Church is in herself mere darkness, becomes light only " in the Lord,”b and shines, in so far, merely, as she is clothed with that Sun. Nor does she always prosecute her pious course with uniform constancy, or with equal vigour and alacrity. Sometimes she makes progress, when her “

when her “path is as the shining light, that “shineth more and more unto the perfect day.”d But sometimes also she declines, when, owing to the inter

b

• Song vi. 10.

. Rev. xii, 1. VOL. II.

Ephes. v. 8. d Prov. iv, 18.

3D

33.

GIVENESS OF SINS.

vention of a thick cloud of temptations or a dark mass of earthly perplexities, she sustains no inconsiderable loss of light.e Nay, there is no period at which the piercing eye of the Lord doth not discern her spots in her. And her faith and hope would utterly perish, were they not supported by the free FORGIVENESS OF SINS, which God promises in the Gospel, and the faith of which she herself professes. “ If thou, Lord, shouldest “ mark iniquities, O Lord, who shall stand ? but there is forgiveness with thee.g 11. We come now to speak in order of this For

It will be proper to show, first, what Sin is, and what guilt or debt it implies; secondly, what is intended by the FORGIVENESS of sins; and lastly, what it is to BELIEVE the forgiveness of sins.

111. SIN is a transgression or violation of that most holy law, which God, the supreme Lord of all, has prescribed to reasonable creatures. We lay it down as a first principle, that God is the absolute Lord of all that are without himself. This absolute dominion is founded in the independence and other perfections of God, and in that universal dependance of all creatures on God, which the very conception or idea of them, necessarily includes. “ Forasmuch as there is

none like unto thee, O Lord; thou art great, and

thy name is great in might;"h so that it is “ a more “ excellent name,"i having all the power and authority of the greatest name:“ Who would not fear thee, O

King of nations, for to thee doth it appertain.j By

e Rev. ii. 5.

? Is. lxiv. 6.
& Ps. cxxx. 3, 4.
h7779222 Comp. Rom. i. 4. 'ov duvépein.

Διαφορωτιρον όνομα, Ηeb. i. 4.
j 078973 vs Jer. x. 6, 7.

virtue of this authority, and for the manifestation of this dominion, God has prescribed laws to his reasonable creatures. “ The Lord is our Lawgiver; the LORD “ is our King."k “ There is one Lawgiver, who is able " to save and to destroy."! In the law which he has given, he has not only expressed the good pleasure of his will, which cannot be otherwise than most holy,m but also proposed that Holiness which is natural to himself, as a pattern to man," whom he created after his own image. Now, all these obligations are violated by sin. It involves a contempt and renunciation of

dominion of God, defection, and shaking off the yoke. It is a revolt,* and a neglect of obedience, so that you omit the duties commanded; nay, even rebellion,t so that you oppose his authority, and commit what is forbidden.“ We have transgressed, and have “ rebelled.”'_“ The rebels, and them that transgress “ against me.”p—Again, sin is a transgression of the Divine Law.9–In fine, sin includes a perverseness, a crookedness,|| contrary to that rectitude, of which indeed there is a transcript in the law," but the archetype is in God himself, and the living copy was in the first man. To this, that expression of Elihu refers: “ I have perverted that which was right.”

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$112 || Exonuotas, Philip. ii 15. * Is. xxxii. 22.

I James iv. 12. mi Thes. iv. 3.

* Lev. xix. 2. •139797 199VLam. ü. 42.

. ? 'Avogi, 1 John iii. 4; 1729 Ps. xlix. 5; faqebaris, 1 Tim. ii. 14. : Ps. xix. 9.

s Deut. xxxii. 4. " Eccles. vii. 29.

u Job xxxiii. 27.

.38 .Ezek . xx המורים והפושעים בי P

iv. As there is criminality in sin, so it cannot but infer great misery to the sinning creature. Both are elegantly pointed out by a Hebrew word, * which properly signifies wandering from the mark. It denotes infelicity, so that one comes short of what is proposed, and falls into the contrary, to wit, misery. The mark which man ought to propose to himself is true happiness, consisting in the fellowship and image of God. The sinner wanders from this mark, proposing something else to himself as his end; or not taking his aim aright, as to the object towards which, or the manner in which, he should have aimed. He acts a part, too, contrary to his incumbent duty; for he cannot without crime neglect or contemn the end for the prosecution of which he was created : and he renders himself miserable, because he not only deprives himself of his proper good, which consists in attaining the end of his existence; but brings himself under obligations to restore to Him who is his Chief end and happiness, that glory of which he bas robbed him.

v. It is particularly proper, distinctly to consider in every sin, the Stain and the Guilt. The stain is that pollution with which sin defiles the soul, repugnant to the Divine purity, the image of which man ought clearly to exhibit in his heart and conduct. “ These are the things which defile a man.”

6 Thus were they defiled with their own works.” Hence sin is represented as an unclean thing, and as a leprosy.z Guilt is an obligation to punishment.

ment, the guilt, was by one to condemnation." In

“ The judg

חטאה

+ 'Aroxia. res xx. 16. i. 39. 7. comp. Lev. xiv. 4. et seq.

1 Δυστυχία. w Mat. xv. 20. y Is. Lxiv, 6. · Rom. v. 16.

66

this view, sins are called debts, because they render men amenable, and obnoxious to punishment. According to the Apostle, to bė “ under sin,”c and to “ be

come guilty before God,”d are convertible expressions. The Stain of sin has a reference properly to the unspotted holiness of God expressed in the precepts of the law, which it opposes; and hence arise the detestation and abhorrence in which God holds it, who “is of

purer eyes than to behold evil.”e Guilt has a respect to the avenging justice of God: “Shall I not visit for “ these things, saith the Lord ? shall not my soul be “ avenged on such a nation as this?”L_And to the sanction of the law : “ Cursed be he that confirmeth “ not all the words of this law, to do them."!

vi. Further, guilt sometimes denotes the demerit of sin, by which, on account of its intrinsic evil and turpitude, it deserves to be punished; in reference to which the Apostle says, it is “ the judgment of God, “ that they which commit such things are worthy of « death :”h And sometimes it denotes actual obligation to punishment, which will be accompanied by condemnation itself, and the infliction of the punishment; “ He that believeth not, is condemned already.”i In the former sense, guilt cannot be separated from sin. Every sin includes in it a contempt of the Divine Majesty, and there is therefore no imaginable sin, which is not deserving of punishment. Nay, it may be affirmed further, that there is no sin at all, which is not actually punished, either in the sinner himself, or in his Surety. Hence it follows, if we wish to speak

• Mat. vi. 12. comp. Luke xi. 4.
d Verse 19.
i Jer. v. 9, 29.
h Rom. i. 32.

c Rom. iii. 9.
e Hab. i. 13.
& Deut. xxvii. 26.
i John iii. 18.

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