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and love. That we may enjoy pardon and peace in our own minds, will appear, if we consider the design of our Lord in coming into the world. This was to make reconciliation for the transgressors; or to make a full and complete atonement for sin. But why should he do this, but that all who believe in him, should experience the benefit of that reconciliation, even redemption in his blood, the forgiveness of sins. Is it at all reasonable to suppose, that by the express design of God, this blessing should be purchased for us, even with the precious blood of his well-beloved Son; and when this is done, the blessing itself shall be with-held from us? Surely
Nor can it ever be reconciled to either the wisdom or goodness of God, to suppose, that he may bestow the blessing, but not give the person so favoured, a sense of it in his own mind. For where is either the wisdom, or goodness, of bestowing such a great and high favour, as the pardon of our past sins must be, if this is not done in order to make the person so pardoned, happy in the enjoyment of this un, speakable blessing? But how can this add to a person's happiness, it be knows nothing at all about the matter ? This would be to make the blessed God act far less wisely and tenderly towards his creatures, than good and wise men do in common, one towards another, When we confer a particular favour upon any one, we surely do it with a view to increase that person's happiness; but then we take care to let the person know that he has received such a favour, or else how shall his happiness be increased? Can any one be the happier for that which he does not know that he enjoys ?
This matter is set in the clearest light by Zacharias, the father of the holy Baptist. He was favoured with a clear view of the design of God, in sending Christ our Redeemer into the world. Speaking of that extraordinary child which God had given him, he says, " And thou, child, shalt be called the Prophet of the Highest : for thou shalt go before the face of the Lord, to prepare his ways; to give knowledge of salvation to his people, by the remission of their sins. Now we learu from these words, that one considerable branche of Gospel-salvation is the forgiveness of sins; and that it is the design of God not only to bestow the blessing itself, but. also to give the knowledge of it, at the same time. If then the design of God, in sending Christ into the world, is fulfilled in us we are blest with the knowledge of salvation, by the remission of our past sins.
2. This will also appear, if we consider the nature of that commission which our Lord gave unto his Apostles, when he sent them forth to preach the Gospel in his Name. His words
are these: “ Thus it is written, and thus it behoved Christ to suffer, and rise from the dead the third day: And that repentance and remission of sins should be preached in bis Name, among all nations, beginning at Jerusalein. And afterwards he gave a commission of the very same kind to St. Paul; “I send thee to the Gentiles, to open their eyes, and to turn them from darkness unto light, and from the power of Satan unto God, that they may receive the forgiveness of sins, and an inheritance among them that are sanctified, through faith that is in me.” Is it not undeniably evident, from both these truly delightful Scriptures, that it was the design of God, that the Apostles should offer pardon and peace, in the Name of the Lord Jesus Christ, to all that attended upon their ministry ? and that the people should embrace that offer, and consequently experience the blessing of pardon in their own minds? And if the great Head of the Church gave this commission to his ministers, in the apostolic age, can we suppose, that he gives one of a different kind, and of a less gracious nature, to his ministers now? There is nothing in the word of God to countenance such a supposition. No, surely; Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, and to-dav, and for ever ; and so likewise is bis Gospel. And accordingly, an Apostle bas pronounced a dreadfut curse upon any one, who shall presume to preach ány other Gospel than that which he had preached : “ If any man, or even an angel from heaven, shall preach unto you any other Gospel than that which I have preached, let him be accursed.” ' How truly awful are these words, and how well would it be for everyone, who looks upon himself as a minister of Christ, to consider them! But if the same Gospel be preached unto us which Paul preached, then the same blessing will be offered unto us; and consequently, it must be the design of God, that we should receive and enjoy that blessing. And dreadful will it
And dreadful will it be for those unhappy men, who notwithstanding the Apostle's curse, will venture to preach directly contrary to what he preached. But as the
ommission given by Christ to his ministers, must be the cme in all ages, therefore we are also called to experience the knowledge of salvation, by the remission of sins.
3. As the Apostles received the above commission from the Lord Jesus Christ, so we shall find, that on all occasions, they were careful to act agreeable thereto. Hence we bear St. Peter on the day of Pentecost, when he preached his first sermon, which was attended with such an extraordinary blessing from the Lord, publishing these glad tidings: “Repent, and be baptized, every one of you, in the Name of the Lord Jesus, for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost.”. And again, in his very next sermou, we have these remarkable words, - Repent ye therefore, and be converted, that your sins may be blot- : ted out, when the times of refreshing shall come from the presence of the Lord.” And when Cornelius, by the express command of God, sent for Peter to preach the Gospel to him and his friends, in his sermon on that occasion we have these comfortable words, -" To him give all the Pro. phets witness, that through his Name whosoever believeth in him shall receive the remission of sins.” And the Apostle Paul was equally faithful to the charge given to him by bis blessed Master :- Be it known unto you, men and brethren, that by this man is preached unto you the forgiveness of sins, and by him every one that believeth is justified freely from all things, from which they could not be justified by the law of Moses." And to the same purpose is that striking declaration of this faithful servant of God," I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ ; for it is the power of God to salvation, to every one that believeth.” It is quite clear then, that the knowledge of salvation, by the remission of sins, was a very considerable branch of that Gospel, which the Apostles of our Lord preached. They constantly set forth the Lord Jesus Christ, as evidently crucified before their eyes, bearing their sins, or the punishment due to their sins, in his own body upon the tree. Knowing him to be a complete Saviour, they directed the people's views to him for pardon and peace, redemption and salvation, saying, “Behold the Lamb of God, who taketh away the sins of the world :” “ He being exalted at God's right hand, as a Prince and a Saviour, to give repentance and remission of sins to Israel.” If Ananias was sent by the Lord himself to penitent Saul, now deeply sensible of his sin and danger and entirely willing to be saved in God's own way; this well-instructed servant of God cries out, Arise, why tarriest thou, wash away thy sins, calling upon the Name of the Lord.” And Saul soon found, to his unspeakable comfort, the blessing of pardon and peace, which he had so deeply felt the want of. And when he himself had any one in like circumstances to deal with, he took the very same course. Witness the poor, distressed, penitent jailor, who cried out in the bitterness of his soul, “ What must I do to be saved ?” The Apostle's answer was, “ Believe in the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved ;” and he also found redemption in the blood of that Jesus, in whom he now believed. If then the Apos. tles constantly preached this doctrine, as it is undeniably Cvident they did ; then may we not be fully satisfied, that every true minister of Christ will preach the very samç doctrine at this day? They must do this, or they will preach another Gospel, and then the Apostle's dreadful curse will fall upon them. And that we neither misunderstand, nor misapply those passages of Holy Scripture, already quoted, is evident, as we shall find that all truly wise and pious men, in all ages, have constantly understood them in the same sense. The church of England bears its testimony to this truth, so that every minister who reads the Commion Prayer, however prejudiced against this truth, is obliged to make this solemn declaration :-"He pardoneth and ob. solveth all them that truly repent, and unfeignedly believe in his holy Gospel.” So that unless we believe that there are none upon earth who either repent or believe the Gospel, we must confess that there are persons who experience the pardoning mercy and love of God. The Church also describes the nature of faith in Christ, in the following remarkable words:" It is a sure trust and confidence that a man hath in God, that through the merits of Christ, his sins are forgiven, and he reconciled to the favour of God.” From these words, it is just as clear as the shining of the sun at noon-day, that the Church not only teaches, that every believer in Christ is blest with a free and full pardon of all his past offences; but that he hath a sure trust and confidence that they are pardoned. That is, every true believer experiences the knowledge of salvation, by the remission of sins. How then can those be true ministers of Christ, who not only deny, but ridicule this doctrine: Or who do not believe or preach it, but endeavour to persuade the people, that they may be in a very safe state, although they do not enjoy a sense of the love of God in Christ Jesus. Does not this come to the same thing, as if they were to tell them, in plain terms, that they may be saved without Christ, without faith, and without salvation ? And as the Church of England bears witness to this truth, so likewise those good men who composed what is commonly called the Assembly's Catechism, are equally clear in this matter. For when the question is asked, “What are the effects of effectual calling, justification and adoption ?". It is answered, “ Assurance of God's love, peace of conscience, joy in the Holy Ghost, increase of grace, and perseverance therein to the end." Here then it appears, that these great and good men were fully satisfied that every true believer is blest with an assurance of the love of God in Christ Jesus, and experiences peace of conscience, and joy in the Holy Ghost, as the happy fruit of it.
As our blessed Lord came into the world, in order to comfort the mourners in Sion : So likewise this is one part of the business of every faithful minister ;-" Comfort ye, comfort ye my people, saith your God.” But shall we comfort those that are mourning under a sense of sin, and distressed for want of an interest in Christ, by persuading them to be satisfied with their present state, assuring them that it is safe and good, and that they need not trouble themselves about assurance; that this is a blessing attained by very few, if any of the children of God; and inasmuchi as they see their lost state, renounce all dependarce upon their own righteousness, see that Christ bath accomplished the work of man's redemption, and desire to be saved by grace: there is no doubt at all concerning them, all is quite well. This would be cold comfort indeed; but is this God's way of comforting poor, helpless sinners! O no. • Не bindeth up such as are broken in heart, and giveth medicine to heal their sickness." He giveth rest to poor, weary, heavy-laden souls, who come unto him; and bath said, “ Speak ye comfortably unto Jerusalem, and say unto her, that her iniquity is pardoned. Behold I, even I am he that blotteth out thy transgressions, and will not remember thy sins, saith the Lord.” He does not mock or tantalize his poor creatures; but when he kindly and affectionately invites them to come unto him, it is in order that he may receive them graciously, and love them freely; so that they may rejoice in him, as the God of their salvation.
4. As the Apostles constantly preached this doctrine, so they themselves, and the people who attended upon their ministry, experienced the truth of it. Hence the Apostle Paul declares, once and again, respecting himself and many others,—“We have redemption in bis blood, even the forgiveness of sins." And again," Being justified by faith, we have peace with God, through Jesus Christ our Lord." And he also assures us, that "there is no condemnation to them that are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit.” But to quote all the passages from his writings of this kind, which might be quoted, would be to transcribe a very considerable part of his 'Epistles. For it plainly appears, that he writes to all the people, as supposing them to be received into the favour and family of God; enjoying the peace of God in their consciences, having the love of God shed abroad in their hearts'; being adopted into his family, and made heirs of his everlasting kingdom. And the other Apostles write to the Churches in the very same way;
Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord