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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 ;o—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."q73 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
n Ex. xxxiv. 7. Num. xiv. 18. Ps. cxxx. 4.
• James ii. 23.
Rom. iv. 2, 3.
P 2 Sam. xii. 13.
* Rom. v. 11, 18.
9 Job. xxxiii. 24.
• Dan. ix. 24.
73 See NOTE LXXIII.
tained. It was not so, in ancient times. 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," 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
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." 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 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 gross
Y 2 Cor. v. 19.
a Rom. iii. 26.
Ps. li. 11, 12.
* Zech. iii. 9.
b Ps. li. 8.
iniquity or this languishing condition in particular, the general sentence respecting the forgiveness of all sins which is pronounced immediately after regeneration; and in answer to his earnest supplication, restores the cheering light of his countenance. 4. When, in the very article of death, God assigns to the believer's departing spirit as the object of his generous friendship and love, a mansion of eternal felicity, of which he had, by his sins, rendered himself exceedingly unworthy.d 5. When, lastly, in the great day of final judgment, the forgiveness and grace which God, for Christ's sake, confers on his elect, will be openly proclaimed before an assembled universe, and gloriously manifested. Then what is promised in the book of Revelation shall be fully accomplished: "To him that overcometh will I give - - a white stone, and in the stone a new name written, which no man knoweth, saving he that re"ceiveth it." f 75
xv. That FAITH which we profess to have as to the forgiveness of sins, comprises numerous and important mysteries regarding our salvation. First, We confess that we are chargeable not merely with one sin, but with many and highly aggravated sins. We confess also, that on account of our transgressions, God might justly cast us into the prison of hell, whence we should not be permitted to escape till we had paid the uttermost farthing. We acknowledge the righteousness of all those judgments which God inflicts upon us, to manifest his wrath, and his hatred of sin. We confess, in fine, that our salvation must not be sought in
a Heb. ix. 27.
f Rev. ii. 17.
h Mat. xviii. 34.
• 2 Tim. i. 18.
1 John i. 9. James iii. 2. i Ps. li. 4. Rom. iii. 19.
75 See NOTE LXXV.
any merits, or in any satisfaction, of our own; but in the free remission of our debts, which we are equally unable to deny and to clear. The attentive consideration, and sincere confession of these truths, are highly useful and necessary to produce in us that humility and that holy self-despair, without which we can neither participate of the Divine favour, nor flee to Christ as our refuge, nor build a firm and solid hope on his grace. Let this, therefore, be the prayer of the soul trembling before God at the sight of its offences: "I "have sinned; what shall I do unto thee, O thou preserver of men.” "Enter not into judgment with thy servant; for in thy sight shall no man living be. "justified."1
XVI. Secondly, We ascribe this glory to God, that he can grant us the pardon of our sins in a manner that will reflect no discredit on any of his attributes, but on the contrary, afford a bright manifestation of them all. If one carefully consider the all-sufficiency of the Divine perfections according to that idea of the Supreme Being which is impressed by nature on our minds, he will possibly conclude, or at least conjecture, that it is not altogether beyond the range of possibility, that a just and holy God may be reconciled to a sinner. This hope is cherished by observing the Divine patience and long-suffering, by which he not only bears with sinners, but also invites them to seek his face. But that method of forgiving sin which alone is worthy of God, could never have been discovered by the utmost efforts of the human mind. And whilst that scheme is utterly unknown, it is hardly possible, that the mind