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precisely, that even an actual obligation to the infliction of punishment is inseparable from sin. This obligation may be removed from the sinner, indeed, when sin with its guilt is transferred to the Surety, who makes satisfaction for him, in consequence of which, the principal debtor is absolved from making payment. It cannot be removed, however, from sin itself; for God, even when he pardons, doth “ by no means clear “ the guilty.”; In this sense the following words of Paul are to be understood : “ There is, therefore, now “ no condemnation to them who are in Christ Jesus.'' The meaning is not, that there is no sin in them, or that their sin doth not merit condemnation, or that by a dispensation on the part of God, their sin is exempted from actual obligation to punishment. But, Christ having suffered condemnation in their room, the sin which was punished in the Surety, cannot be punished a second time in them. In short, all sin involves an actual obligation to punishment; but with this difference, that some, having no Surety, are bound to undergo the punishment themselves, whilst others make satisfaction, not in their own persons, but in the person of a Surety.
VII. The FORGIVENESS OF SINS, therefore, is, the absolution of the sinner from guilt which Christ took upon himself; or, the declaration of God the Lawgiver and Judge, that on account of the satisfaction made by Christ the Surety, the sinner shall not suffer the punishment which he has deserved. Since that satisfaction, too, was of necessity accompanied with a most complete righteousness, which obtains a title to "fe, it follows, that he who is absolved from guilt and condemnation as if he had never committed any sin, has a right to eternal life adjudged to him, no less than if he himself had fulfilled all that righteousness which the law requires. They whose sins are forgiven, are accordingly pronounced blessed. 1
jopon x's nipo Exod. xxxiv. 7.
k Rom. viii. 1.
viii. Further, the forgiveness of sins may be considered either absolutely, as it is a blessing of the covenant of grace, equally pertaining to all believers in all ages; or under certain circumstances, which are diversified according to the varied economy of the covenant
ix. Even from the beginning, owing to the suretyship righteousness of Christ, sin, after having been committed, could not be imputed to believers, because it was charged on the Surety, and it was to be laid upon him, and exacted from him.m So that the will to punish the sins of believers on themselves neither was, nor indeed could be in God; for it is contrary to justice and equity that the same debt be twice demanded.
x. It pleased God, immediately after the fall, in the first promulgation of the Covenant of grace, to reveal to man, his merciful determination not to inflict on believers the punishment due to their sin. The same words in which he passed a condemnatory sentence on the devil, contained a promise of the grace of Christ unto righteousness.
XI. He also applied, brought home, and intimated that grace to individual believers, that they might know they were restored to a state of favour with God, and that their sins should not hinder them from possessing the heavenly inheritance ;—that they might even delight in the love of God towards them, and
I Rom. iv. 7. Ps. xxxii, 1, 2.
m Is. lüü. 6, 7.
have the full assurance of the hope of eternal felicity; -that in fine, after the afflictions of this life, they might, as the friends and the sons of God, be actually received into everlasting joys.
XII. Where these happy privileges are found, (and they were experienced from the beginning,) no man of a sound judgment will deny, that there is a real and a full remission of sins. Hence even under the Old Testament, God is described as “ forgiving iniquity,
transgression, and sin ;" —Abraham our father is said to have been justified ;'—it was said to David, “ The “ LORD also hath put away thy sin, thou shalt not “ die;"p—and Christ is introduced making intercession in these words, “ Deliver him from going down to the “ pit; I have found a ransom.”q 73 Thus far the forgiveness of sins is a blessing of the covenant of grace, equally belonging to all believers of every age.
XIII. Some diversity must be admitted, nevertheless, in the mode of forgiveness, corresponding to the diversity of the Old and New Testament. 1st, The satisfaction of the Lord Jesus, which is the sole meritorious cause of pardon, is considered under the Old Testament as promised by Christ, and to be performed at the time appointed; but under the New Testament as actually accomplished and performed. Now, the righteousness, or that for which we are justified, has an actual existence. Now, the “ everlasting righte“ousness” is brought in. Now, expiation is made by the blood of the Surety, and eternal redemption is ob
* Ex. xxxiv. 7. Num. xiv. 18. Ps. cxxx. 4.
4 Job. xxxiii. 24. * Rom. v. 11, 18.
· Dan. ix. 24. 73 See NOTE LXXIII.
tained. It was not so, in ancient times. 2dly, There is a difference also as to the manner of promulgation. Whilst the legal economy was in force, the promises of grace and of the forgiveness of sins, were more obscurely, and more sparingly set forth; and were generally mixed with the terror of legal threatenings. 3dly, Under the Old Testament, expiation being not yet made, sin might still be called to remembrance," and the hand-writing be demanded, which contained an acknowledgment of the debt not yet paid by the Surety, and was thus far “ against us, and “ contrary to us.” Under the New Testament, expiation having been made, a remission is granted of such a nature, as is quite incompatible with a typical oblation, calling sin to remembrance ;w and the hand-writing is cancelled, and nailed to the cross.74 In short, the forgiveness of the Old Testament was not inconsistent with the bondage of the elements of the world, from which we are completely delivered by the forgiveness of the New. 4thly, The sense of the remission of sins, the consolation it affords, the liberty of access to God, and the sealing of the Spirit of grace, are more abundant, more frequent, and more penetrating, under the New Testament, in “ the kingdom of God, which “ is righteousness and peace, and joy in the Holy “ Ghost,”x than under the Old Testament and legal economy; the inward operations of the Spirit being suited to the mode of the external dispensation.
xiv. It seems proper to observe, further, that the
t Heb. i. 3. ix. 12.
u Heb. x. 3. v Col. ii. 14.
# Heb. x. 18. * Rom. xiv. 17.
74 See Note LXXIV. VOL. II.
forgiveness of sins, even as it is enjoyed chiefly under the New Testament, is distinguished by various steps.
The first of these is that general declaration, by which God has announced, that his justice is amply satisfied by the death of Christ, and that therefore he will demand satisfaction for their sins from none of those who belong to Christ, having already given a discharge in the resurrection of the Surety. “ God was in Christ,
reconciling the world unto himself, not imputing “ their trespasses unto them.”y The iniquity of the whole earth was then removed in one day. In the next place, what is thus declared in general respecting all, is applied to particular believers. 1. When a man who is regenerated and united to Christ by a living faith, is declared to have now actually passed from that state of condemnation and wrath in which he remains till he is by faith united to the Saviour, into a state of righteousness and grace,—" That he might be just, and " the justifier of him that believeth in Jesus.”a 2. When the sentence then pronounced in the court of heaven, is intimated and brought home to the conscience by the Holy Spirit, who makes us “ to hear ‘joy and gladness.” 3. When the sinner is re-admitted to familiar fellowship with God, and to the mutual intercourse of delightful friendship. This frequently takes place after a believer has repented of some heinous sin, or awaked from a torpid condition of soul, by which his communion with God was not a little marred. We find David soliciting such a restoration. Then God, in very deed, declares, that he is become propitious to the sinner; applies to this
y 2 Cor. v. 19.
* Zech. ii. 9.