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the righteousness of God be able to remove the unrighteousness of the creature? And it is to all, and upon all that believe, Rom. iii. 22. and remember, as the one abounds, the other superabounds, Rom. v. 20.
God is pleased to heap words of grace one upon another to put tempted sinners in hopes of pardon, Joel ii. 13. • Rent your heart and not your garments, and turn unto the Lord your God; for he is gracious and merciful, slow to anger, and of great kindness, and repentèth him of the evil,' Isa. i. 18. Come now, and let us reason together, saith the Lord: though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they be red like crimson, they shall be as wool.'—Chap. lv. 7. Let the wicked forsake his way, and the unrighteous man his thoughts: and let him return unto the Lord, and he will have mercy upon him, and unto our God, for he will abundantly pardon. And he has set up many instances of pardoning mercy, that none may despair of finding mercy that will come to him in his own way. Adam, the leading sinner in the world was pardoned. Manasseh, who gave up himself to the most gross sins of devilry, murder, &c. yet received a pardon. Paul, who was a persecutor, a blasphemer, and injurious, obtained mercy. And the very Jews that murdered the Lord of glory, were pardoned through his blood.
These instances of mercy are indeed abused to the encou. raging of sinners to go on in their sin: but they were never designed for that; and it is a dreadful sign, when the very gospel-news of pardon become a trap and a snare. But God designed them for thy encouragement, O trembling sinner, that would fain come to God through Christ for pardon, if thou durst; and by these he bids thee welcome, Eph. ii. 7. Come forward, then, and sue for thy pardon.
Mot. 6. The time of pardoning grace will not last, Isa. Iv. 6. “Seek ye the Lord while he
the Lord while he may be found, call ye upon him while he is near. Now is the accepted time, now is the day of salvation. The day will come when God will not be intreated, when abused patience will break forth into fury, Luke xiii. 24, 25. • Strive to enter in at the strait gate: for many, I say unto you, will seek to enter in, and shall not be able. When once the master of the house is risen hath shut the door, and ye begin to stand without, and to knock at the door, saying, Lord, Lord, open unto us; and
he shall answer and say unto you, I know you not whence you are.' Beware lest ye sit your day of grace, and it come to that, ye find no place for repentance, though ye should seek it carefully with tears. Remember those that were bidden to the supper, and shifted, and were excluded, Luke xiv. 24. Delay no more. A moment's delay may be an eternal loss.
Lustly, I beseech you remember, that your eternal state depends on your being justified now or not. If ye be justified now, ye shall be saved eternally; if not, ye are lost for ever. And how dreadful will the condemnation of those be, who by slighting an offered pardon trample on the blood of Christ, which was shed for the remission of sins !
I shall conclude this use of exhortation with a few directions.
1. Labour to get your hearts wrought up to a deep concern for a pardoned state. And for this cause, believe your miserable state by nature, that ye are once condemned. Take a view of the holy righteous law, and your innumerable transgressions of it, besides your sinful nature. Look to the flaming justice of God? behold it in the case of the damned, in the case of Christ suffering, and see what a fearful thing it is to fall into the hands of the living God.
2. Go to God in Christ, and confess your sins, and condemn yourselves. Lay them out before God with shame and confusion of face, with their several aggravations. Make a full and free confession, insisting most on those sins that have been most dishonouring to God in you. Acknowledge yourselves justly condemned by the law, and God to be righteous, if he should put the sentence into execution.
Lastly, Solemnly and sincerely accept of Christ in the covenant of grace held forth in the gospel. Receive him with his righteousness, and enter under the covert of his blood. And lay all your guilt over on him, believing his ability and willingness to remove it. And accepting of Christ for justification and sanctification, ye shall be accepted and pardoned.
Erhort. 2. To justified persons. This privilege calls you to several duties.
1. Love the Lord, and love him much, for much is for. given you. This may be oil to that holy Aame, and there. fore love will continue in heaven for ever.
2. Be of a forgiving disposition, Eph. iv. ult. “Be ye kind
one to another, tender-hearted, forgiving one another, even as God, for Christ's sake, hath forgiven you.' The same Saviour that brought in remission of sins, binds us to love our enemies. And the bitter revengeful spirit against those we think have wronged us, is a sad sign that our own sin is unforgiven of God, Matth. vi. 12. Forgive us our debts as we forgive our debtors. They who have found what a dreadful weight sin unpardoned is, and have at length got it removed, will thereby be helped to forgive.
3. Walk humbly. Ye are justified, but it is by the righteousness of another. Ye are pardoned, but it was procured to you by the satisfaction of a Saviour. Your debt is paid, your discharge is got up; but thanks to free grace, not to
4. Bear your troubles and crosses in a world patiently.Your life that was forfeited is safe by grace; therefore take thankfully any troubles you meet with. For why should a living man complain, especially one that deserved to die, and yet is adjudged to life?
5. Lastly, Walk tenderly. God pardoning a sinner, dismisseth him as Christ did the penitent adultress, John xii. 11. Go, and sin no more.' Let not your broken bones be forgotten, but walk softly all your years. And if ye be pardoned, shew it by your holy and tender walk.
you, for it.
2 Cor. vi. 18.-And I will be a Father unto you,
be my sons and daughters, saith the Lord Almighty.
those that obey the call of the gospel, ver. 17.• Wherefore come out from among them, and be ye separate, saith the Lord, and touch not the unclean thing. That call is not a call to separate from a church, but from those that are out of the church, ver. 14. • Be ye not unequally yoked together with unbelievers : for what fellowship hath righteousness with unrighteousness ? and what communion hath light with darkness ?' not only from outward visible communion with idolaters, but to separate from the unconverted to inward invisible communion with the family of God,
ver. 18. In a word, it is a call to come out of the world lying in wickedness, and to join the heavenly society.
There are but two families in the world, and to one of the two every man and woman belongs. One is Satan's family, the other God's. And these are the two terms of effectual calling. (1.) The term from which sinners are called by the gospel; that is Satan's family, which they are born in, Psal. xlv. 10. And it is made up of all the unconverted world, and fallen angels. These have a dreadful communion among themselves under one head, the devil. That is the family of unbelievers, unrighteousness, and Belial. And to come out of this the gospel calls you, ver. 17. "Wherefore come out from among them, &c. (2.) The term to which that is God's family, made up of saints, holy angels, and Christ as the Elder Brother having dominion over the family; he their head, and the head of Christ God, 1 Cor. xi. 3. That is the family of believers, righteousness and Christ. And to this the gospel calls you to come.
Thus the text proposes a great privilege of those that are effectually called, that is, adoption into the family of God. And here consider,
1. The family they are brought into; it is that of the Lord Almighty. No body needed to adopt, but he that had something to give. The family which believers are taken into is a rich family, seeing the Head thereof is the Almighty, who because he is Almighty can, and because he is a Father will, make his own perfectly happy.
2. Upon whom this privilege is conferred; that is, those who come out of the world and the family of Satan, and answer the gospel-call
. (1.) They are aliens, they are by nature strangers to the family they are taken into; they are of an ill house, that is an enemy to the house of heaven. And whatever house men would pitch on, it would not readily be such an one: but free grace takes people from such a house. (2.) But they are separatists from it, they are such as are sick of their
father's house, and people that are their own, and come off from it by faith to the Lord, upon the gospel-call
. Like Ruth, they leave their natural country and kindred, and come to incorporate with that other society,
3. The relation they are put into in God's family. It were much if they of the house of hell might be received into the house of heaven, in the quality of sojourners to VOL II.
lodge a while there; more, if in quality of domestic servants; and more, if in quality of friends : but they are received in quality of children of the family. And as all relation is mutual, upon the one hand, God becomes their Father. That is a kindly word, and that he is to them. On the other, they become sons and daughters. Observe, how particular this promise is, expressly made to both sexes. Whatever privileges in external things men had of old, or yet have above women; yet respect of spiritual privileges in Christ they are alike. The one are sons, and the other daughters, both children equally dear to our heavenly Father.
4. Lastly, The confirmation of this privilege, and the pro. mise thereof, saith the Lord. If a man or angel had said it, it could hardly have gained credit, that there should be such an adoption. But God himself says it; and it is impious therefore to disbelieve it.
The sum of the words may be comprised in the following doctrine, viz. Doct. “ As adoption into God's family is the peculiar pri
vilege of those that are effectually called, so whosoever will comply with the gospel-call, and come away, shall be adopted into God's family: God will be a Father to them, and they shall be his sons and daughters.' This doctrine has two branches.
I. Adoption into God's family is the peculiar privilege of those that are effectually called.
II. Whosoever will comply with the gospel-call, shall be adopted into God's family ; God will be their Father, and they shall be his sons and daughters.
I shall prosecute these two in order. 1. Adoption into God's family is the peculiar privilege of those that are effectually called. Adoption follows our justification ; and is an act of God's free grace, whereby we are received into the number, and have a right to all the privileges of the sons of God.
Here I shall endeavour to shew, 1. What adoption in general is. 2. What are the parts of adoption. 3. The properties of this adoption. 4. Apply the subject. FIRST, I shall shew what adoption in the general is.