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which weighs in a just balance the importance of so momentous a concern, could venture to entertain the firm expectation of pardon. Here the Gospel comes in to our relief, and shows to the anxious mind a plan in which conscience acquiesces as most worthy of God, and according to which he displays, in the forgiveness of sins, at once the inexorable rigour of his justice, and the incredible tenderness of his mercy; the guilt of our sins being transferred to the Surety, who has cheerfully fulfilled his engagements, and most completely freed himself and all his people from the guilt which he undertook to bear." This is the glory which, conformably to the doctrine of the Gospel, Christian faith ascribes to God when it says, I believe the forgiveness of sins. "Who is a God like unto thee, that pardoneth ini"quity, and passeth by the transgression of the rem"nant of his heritage. He retaineth not his anger for ever, because he delighteth in mercy."

XVII. Thirdly, But faith does not stop here. Assured that the forgiveness of sins is laid up in Christ, the believer betakes himself to him, that he may obtain for himself for his own salvation, that which is promised, as he learns from the Gospel, to all believers. "Let him return to the Lord, and he will have mercy

upon him, and to our God, for he will abundantly pardon." And truly it is impossible for a man to believe that remission of sins is granted, which can be certainly found in the satisfaction and merits of Christ alone, without being inflamed at the same time with an ardent desire that himself may be blessed with the participation of so great a benefit, and without resolutely




n Rom. iii. 24, 25, 26.

r Is. lv. 7.

• Mic. vii. 18.

having recourse to the quarter where he cannot seek it in vain. “Knowing that a man is not justified by the “works of the law but by the faith of Jesus Christ, “even we have believed in Jesus Christ, that we might “be justified by the faith of Christ.” “Surely shall "one say, In the LORD have I righteousness and strength. Eren to him shall men come. In the "LORD shall all the seed of Israel be justified, and "shall glory."

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XVIII. Here it is necessary to stand greatly on our guard, that we may proceed in the right method. 1st, It behoves the sinner to be so convinced of his sins to acknowledge them with the deepest grief, shame, and detestation, and even to confess that he is guilty of more than he is able to conceive. 2dly, Under the consciousness of his crimes, his soul must then tremble at the tribunal of God, the most righteous Judge, aware also that he is unable to sustain the Divine anger, and that neither himself nor any other mere creature in the universe, whether man or angel, can make satisfaction to that Divine justice, which he has so often offended. 3dly, Hence, whilst the soul is engaged in meditating on itself and on God, arise sorrow, contrition, and a certain holy despair of relief from itself, and from all other creatures; for these sacrifices are highly pleasing to God. 4thly, Let the man, besides, make a sincere, free, full, and affecting confession of his sins in the presence of God, and condemn himself beforehand, that God, beholding his ingenuity, may the more readily absolve him." 5thly, Let him,

* Is. xlv. 24, 25.

Gal. ii. 16.

• Ps. li. 4. xix. 13. Ezra ix. 6.

Ps li. 17. Is. lvii. 15.

* Ps. xxxii. 3, 4, 5. Prov. xxviii. 13. Luke xv. 18, 19. xviii. 13.

next, with deep humility, and without the least reserve, surrender and resign himself to God, that he may do with him what is good in his eyes: Just as the servants of the king of Syria presented themselves to Ahab with sackcloth on their loins, and ropes on their heads, as if they surrendered themselves to disgrace, to imprisonment, to the halter itself. 6thly, Let him, in the mean time, pray with tears and unutterable groans, not once or twice merely, but by often reiterated supplications, beseeching and imploring, that if required to taste the bitterness of his sins, and to bear the rod of fatherly correction, he may not, however, be rebuked in wrath, nor punished in hot displeasure, but permitted at last to behold the face of his Father; and that some beam of continued favour may shine from his countenance through the cloud of his just indignation,-protesting that he is ready even to suffer death for the sake of so highly valued a privilege. 7thly, Relying by faith on the merits and intercession of Christ, let him, in fine, venture to hope for pardon,y provided he sincerely promise that in future he will diligently watch against all iniquity, and be prepared to forgive the offences done him by his neighbour. 76

XIX. Fourthly, After a man, proceeding in this manner, has by faith relied on Christ for obtaining forgiveness of sins, he advances by degrees to such holy confidence, that from sure and infallible signs, to which the secret testimony of the Divine Spirit is added, he concludes and professes, that now all his sins are for

1 Kings xx. 32. comp. 2 Sam. xv. 26.

▾ Ps. vi. 1.

* Comp. 2 Sam. xiv. 32.

*Job xxxiv. 32. Ps. lxxx. 18.

y Heb. v. 16.

* Mat. vi. 14, 15. xviii. 35.



given for Christ's sake, and that the door of heaven is opened, affording free access to the throne of grace and glory-which brings inexpressible joy to the mind. "In whom we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of his 66 grace,"b "Let us draw near with a true heart, in "full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled ❝ from an evil conscience, and our bodies washed with pure water. Let us hold fast the profession of our "faith without wavering." "C


xx. But we must take heed lest, in place of a wellassured faith, a bold and headlong presumption take possession of our mind. We shall be able to distinguish the one from the other, if we attend to what goes before, to what accompanies, and to what follows this assurance. The things which go before it, are those which we have stated in order in the eighteenth Section, namely, unfeigned sorrow for our violations and neglects of duty, the fear and trembling of a mind that dreads the offended justice of God, holy selfdespair, an ingenuous confession of our trespasses, earnest prayers, the flight of the trembling soul to the merits of Christ not without the hope of forgiveness, and in fine, resolutions of more pious and circumspect behaviour in time to come. It is not to be imagined, that God ever speaks pardon and peace to the soul, which continues to sleep securely in its sins, and neglects to condemn itself, and by importunate supplications to solicit the favour of God in Christ. "He "shall pray unto God, and he will be favourable unto "him; and he shall see his face with joy, for he will "render unto man his righteousness. He looketh

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upon men, and saith, I have sinned, and perverted "that which was right, and it profited me not.”a 77

XXI. This assurance of forgiveness is accompanied by the conscientious cultivation of accurate holiness. The promises of justification and of sanctification being equally extensive, no man can claim the former, who doth not also find the latter in himself. "Wash you,


"make you clean, &c. Learn to do well, &c. Come "now and let us reason together, saith the Lord, Though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow, &c." As often as the Holy Spirit speaks to the heart in his own gracious language, saying, "Be "of good cheer, thy sins are forgiven thee," he at the same time convinces the soul of its unworthiness, and fills it with admiration of so great kindness, and with joyful gratitude, which constrains it to celebrate the stupendous grace of God. "Bless the Lord, O my "soul, who forgiveth all thine iniquities."{



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XXII. In fine, a fervent love to God and our neighbour follows this assurance. Who would not ardently love Him, by whom, he believes that, when he might justly have inflicted punishment, so many and so great offences have been graciously forgiven! "I love the "Lord," says David, "because he hath heard my voice "and my supplications."s And what was the sum of his supplications? "O Lord, I beseech thee, deliver my soul." The love of God, too, is joined with re"There is forgiveness with thee, that thou mayest be feared." And the fear of God is a power



a Job xxxiii. 26, 27.

f Ps. ciii. 2, 3.

h Verse 4.


e Is. i. 16, 17, 18.

8 Ps. cxvi. 1.

i Ps. cxxx. 4.


3 F


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