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God had perfected the frame of the world, and made man and all the creatures for his glory, sin entering marred the whole frame, and made the workmanship of his own hands dishonour him. O! is it not a'great work then to get a pardon, and all these injuries buried in forgetfulness with a holy jealous God?
(3.) God's elect have endured sad breakings of heart from the time they are made sensible of sin, till they have got their absolviture from it, Acts ii. 37. They have known the terror of the Lord, to the breaking of their bones, ere they could get a glimpse of his reconciled countenance. Think ye as light of pardon as ye will, if ever the Lord come to give you a spiritual medicine to cause you sweat out the poison of sin, it will make you sick at the heart, if it bring you not to the last gasp, Isa. xxxiii. ult.
(4.) Lastly, If ever ye get a pardon, there will be an awful solemnity at the giving of it, Psal. Ixxxix. 14. and it will be a very strong faith that will not receive it with a trembling hand. Hos. xi. 10. compare chap. iii. ult. “They shall fear the Lord, Heb. ' fear to the Lord.' For God gives no pardons but what are written in the blood of a Redeemer, sufficiently testifying his detestation of the crime ; none are got but through the wounds of a Redeemer. So that the very throne of grace stands on justice fully satisfied; and thou shalt be made to say when thou gettest the pardon, as Jacob did of the place where he had slept all night, “How dreadful is this place! this is none other but the house of God, and this the gate of heaven,' Gen. xxviii. 17.
Therefore look on it as a matter of the greatest weight, that will not be slightly managed, and to purpose too.
Mot. 3. Consider the dreadful disadvantages that attend an unjustified state. While ye are unjust,
1. Ye can have no access to God, nor communion with him, Rom. iii. 3. Unpardoned guilt is a partition-wall betwist God and you, Isa. lix. 2. It stands as the angel with the flaming sword to guard the tree of life, that ye can have no access to it. It is true, ye may attend public ordi. nances, and go about private and secret duties; but they are all lost, as to communion with God, in the great gulph of an unpardoned state. Ye cannot have a comfortable word out of his mouth, nor a smile of his face.
2. Ye can have no peace with God, Rom. v. 1. What Vol. II.
Jehu said to Joram, God says to every unjustified sinner pretending peace with him, “What peace, so long as the whoredoms of thy mother Jezebel, and her witchcrafts, are so many?' 2 Kings ix. 22. It is sin that makes God an enemy to the work of his own hands; and while it is not forgiven, there can be no reconciliation. How can they think they can have peace with God whom his law condemns ? What peace ye have in your consciences, arises from stupidity and presumption; it is stolen, and is none of God's allowance, Isa. lvii. ult. Neither could it, or retain it, if ye saw your case.
3. Ye can have no fruits of holiness. The conscience must be purged, ere one can serve God acceptably, Heb. ix. 14. or do any work good in God's sight, 1 Tim. i. 5. Justification and sanctification are inseparable, and a justified state goes before a holy life; "for to him that worketh not, but believeth on him that justifieth the ungodly, his faith is counted for righteousness, Rom. iv. 5. While a man is unpardoned, the curse lies on him; and it is a blasting wi. thering curse, like that on the fig-tree, that no fruit of holiness can grow where it comes. For it stops the communication of sanctifying influences; and the earth shall sooner bring forth its fruits while the influences of the heavens are restrained, than a soul shall do any good work without the influences of Christ's Spirit, John xv. 5.
4. All you do is turned to sin by this means, Psal. xiv. 1. A soul unjustified, is as a tainted vessel that turns every liquor that is put into it. Hence your very civil actions are turned to sin, Prov. xxi. 4. natural actions, Zech. vii. 6. yea, and your religious actions too, Proy, xv. 8. Isa. Ixvi. 3. For as the purest liquor put into a vessel for base uses is loathed, so are the best performances of an unpardoned sinner, by a holy God. For whatever they be as to the matter of them, they are selfish and hateful as to the principle end, and manner.
5. Lastly, Hence your accounts are running on every day and moment to the avenging justice of God, Rom. ii. 5. Thou art still deeper and deeper in that fearful debt; cords of thy guilt are growing stronger and stronger. Thy crimes and grounds of condemnation are multiplied more and more; and though it is dying for all, yet the more thy punishment will be increased, that the pieces of guilt increase.
It is true, that every one is sinning daily ; but a justified person's debts are not charged upon him for eternal wrath, but temporary chastisements; so that theirs is but an account of pennies, while thine is that of talents.
Mot. 4. Consider the unspeakable advantages of a pardoned justified state. He that is in that state, is a happy man, whatever his case be otherwise in the world, Psal. xxxii. 1. --He may meet with many crosses in a present world, but the white stone given him of God will make him happy for all that, Hab. ii. 17. One may be rich, yet reprobate; his portion fat, but his soul lean; applauded on the earth, but damned in hell. These things come from God's hand; and the crown of worldly felicíty set on with his bare hand, he will kick off with his foot at length. But a pardon comes from his heart, as an eternal love token, Rom. xi. 29. 0! let the happiness of a justified state engage you to seek after it. Get into the state of pardon ; and,
1. Ye shall have peace with God, Rom. v. 1. Sin is the only controversy betwixt God and a soul; when that is removed, the parties are reconciled, and meet together in peace. God justifying the sinner, lays by the legal enmity he bare to him, while he lived in a state of sin. He pursues him no more with wrath or curse. The heavens that are now black above your heads shall clear up, and ye shall enjoy a pleasant sunshine, if the cloud of guilt were dispelled. 0, Sirs! do ye not value peace with God? If ye do, then seek to be in this state.
2. It will bring you other peace besides. Peace of conscience follows upon a justified state. Unpardoned guilt makes a foul and condemning conscience, which gnaws a man like a worm. But when one gets his conscience sprinkled with the Redeemer's blood, and his sin pardoned, the conscience is cleansed, Heb. ix. 14. And then it is turn. ed to a good conscience, which sings sweetly in a man's bosom, 2 Cor. i. 12. Yea, ye shall have peace with the creatures, that are at war with the unpardoned sinner, Job v. 23. Having thus gained the favour of the Master of the great family, the servants shall all turn to be your friends.
3. Ye shall have access to God with confidence and holy boldness, Eph. iii. 12. 1 John iii. 21. God shall no more sit on a tribunal of strict justice to you, with the flaming sword before him; but on a throne of grace, with a rainbow round about it, Rev. iv. 3. And ye may come to him with all your wants, complaints, &c. as unto a friend, yea, a Father in Christ, confidently expecting all good things from him, Job xxxiii. 24, 26. For being justified, ye have a satisfaction to plead, upon which he can deny you no good thing; ye are cloathed with a righteousness that makes you spotless, and are under a covert, where love and favour shine continually.
4. Ye shall be delivered from the dominion of sin, Rom. vi. 14. and be made to bring forth the fruits of holiness, Col. ii. 13. As soon as ever the remission is passed the seals, so soon the orders are given to deliver the prisoner, to beat off his chains, and open the prison-door, and set him at liberty. The apostle tells us, that the strength of sin is the law, 1 Cor. xv. 56. namely, the law condemning and cursing the sinner; so that the sinner being under the curse, sin reigns in him with a full sway, as the thorns and briers in the cursed ground. But the law's curse and condemning power being removed in justification, sin loses its strength. And the blessing coming in its rooin, the soul is made fruitful in holiness. Hence faith's sanctifying virtue is so much insisted on in the word, Acts xv. 9.
5. It will take the venom out of your crosses, and the strongest afflictions ye meet with, i Cor. xv. 55. The venom of afflictions is the curse in a cross; but pardon takes out that. A bee-sting your troubles may have after that, but the serpent's sting shall no more be found in them. A pardoned state sanctifies crosses to a man; and a sanctified cross is better than an unsanctified comfort. A loss with God's favour, is more than an enjoyment with God's wrath.
6. It will sweeten your mercies with an additional sweetness, and make a small mercy more valuable than the greatest earthly comfort an unpardoned sinner can have, Psal
. xxxvii. 16. Who would not chuse to live at peace in a cottage, on coarse fare, than to be in the case of one under a sentence of death, liberally fed in a castle till the executionday? A mercy without a pardon will go
short way; the man may cry, · There is death in the pot,' Mal. ii. 2. But a pardon puts a blessing in a mercy, purifies and refines it, putting a stamp of God's good will on it, Gen. xxxiii. 10.
7. It will make all things work together for your good, Rom. viii. 28. God's wrath and anger against a person mars all to him. It makes every thing work for their ruin: the unpardoned man's crosses are curses, and his good things as well as his evil things work against him, Prov. i. 32. But by the Lord's favour all things shall work through grace to bring the believer to glory. God is for him, who then can be against him ? Whether the wind blow on his face, or on his back, it shall forward him to the happy harbour.
8. It is the way to live comfortably, Isa. xl. 1, 2. None in all the world have so good a reason to live comfortably as the justified person. He that gets the white stone of the Lord's absolviture, if he can but look on it, his soul may rejoice within him. If all things in the world were going wrong, he has that to comfort him, that God is his friend. However little he may have in hand, he has all the heavenly inheritance in hope. The uncomfortable life the pardoned sinner has, arises from want of consideration ; but the more clearly he sees his matters, he will have the more comfort.
9. Lastly, It is the way to die safely and comfortably too. The pardoned sinner may triumph over death and the grave, Rom. viii. 38, 39. 1 Cor. xv. 55. When death comes to him, he has his discharge, it cannot harm him. As for the tribunal, he cannot be condeinned there, for he is already justified. He shall swim safe through these dark waters, for the weight of guilt is removed, he cannot sink in them.
Mot. 5. A pardon is in your offer. There is none of us all under the sentence of condemnation, but may get it reversed, if we will come to Christ, and sue out an absolviture in the Lord's own way, Isa. lv. 7. He is a just God we have to do with, but there is a way how pardoning mercy may reach us in a full consistency with justice. The white flag of peace does yet hang out, and the market of free grace stands open. There is an act of grace and full indemnity through Jesus Christ proclaimed in the gospel. Come in, sinners, and take the benefit of it. Why will ye stand out, and despise the King of Heaven's free pardon?
Object. My sins are so great, that I can have no hope of pardon, whatever others may. Ans. Neither the greatness nor the multitude of your sins, nor your backsliding into them again and again, put you beyond the reach of pardon. For observe, I pray you, the foundation of pardon is Christ's righteousness, and that is the righteousness of God, Rom. x. 3. Now, your sins are the sins of a creature; and shall not