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him; for it is no other than a crucified Saviour that the gospel presents unto us. No sinner had ever truly repented for sin and turned from it to God, had not Jesus put it away by the sacrifice of himself. This opened the way for his receiving and communicating the Spirit to work this grace in the heart. "Him hath God exalted with his right hand, to be a prince and a Saviour, to give repentance to Israel, and forgiveness of sins." Acts v. 31. Why should we repent of sin, but because we have disobeyed, and dishonoured God by it? But is it less heinous because Christ died for it? Do we not rather see its malignity to great advantage in his sufferings? Let us look on him who bare our griefs and mourn. Shall our hearts remain unaffected, while his heart was melted like wax in the midst of his bowels, when pouring out his soul unto death? Our hearts have been swelled with pride and insolence, Jesus has been humbled to the lowest condition of debasement un
der the curse. We have gratified our appetites with the pleasures of sin, Jesus drunk deep in the bitter cup of Jehovah's wrath. We provoked the divine displea-. sure, Jesus sustained it. Does it not, then become us to mourn? Let us never promise ourselves a share in the joys of the Redeemer, unless we are men of sorrows, sorrowing after a godly sort.
3. PARDON of sin through the sufferings of Christ is a rich display of divine mercy, and grace. Complete satisfaction for sin and pardon have been represented as incompatible. If the criminal satisfy for his fault, by bearing the punishment himself, no room is left for pardon, because he has fully answered the demand of the law, and destroyed the obligation to punishment. Where satisfaction is made by a surety the case is very different. The transgressor is bound by the law to suffer, and sa
tisfy, in his own person. If he do this, no room is left for pardon; grace is excluded, and he is by that very deed loosed from the obligation. But to admit satisfaction by a surety, is purely an act of grace interposed by the legislator, to whom the sole right of punishment and pardon belongs. As it belongs to him to admit a surety or not, it must be an act of pure grace if he do: and that grace will be the more astonishing if it also provide the surety. In payments of debt, the law makes no difference between the debtor and surety; because it is not the person who pays that the creditor regards, but the thing paid; in which case there is no pardon when payment is made. In criminal cases, the law demands the guilty person, and no surety can be admitted, but by a gracious act of the law-giver. Though it had been possible for the sinner to have provided a surety, independent of God, to suffer in his place, it would have been strictly just in God to have rejected him, as the law made no such provision for the sinner; and if he admitted him it would still have been an act of pure grace. Even the sufferings of Christ could not have been sustained for the sinner but by sovereign grace. To pardon a sinner is to exempt him from the punishment which he deserves. This God does; and though he has provided a surety and taken satisfaction from him, it does not, in the least, derogate from the grace manifested to the sinner. It is indeed the same grace to the sinner as if God had taken no satisfaction at all. It is astonishing grace in God to provide a surety, and additional grace to accept payment. Must not sinners have been eternally miserable, if God had not so far departed from his right, as to admit a surety for them and sustain his sufferings as substitutionary? And since, in this way, the sinner is delivered from that misery, it is
impossible to deny the greatness of divine mercy in it. We must beware, indeed, of thinking that the guilty sinnner is an object of mere mercy. His guilt renders him an object of justice, and his misery, an object of mercy. The divine law, the order of things by creation, and their universal dependence on God; require the punishment of sin, but not the exercise of mercy. Justice, then, must be satisfied in the expiation of the sinner's guilt, ere he can be considered by God as the proper object of mercy. In this way divine mercy reaches sinners, and shines forth with a lustre proportioned to the wretchedness of the sinner. Let enemies cavil as they will," Sinners are justified freely by grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, whom God hath set forth to be a propitiation," &c. Be it our study, then, to see our own guilt and misery, and to be affected with it; let us adore that rich grace which has made such provision for us; and let us, with the prophet, stand astonished at that sovereign mercy which relieves us from all the miserable effects of sin. "Who is a
God like unto thee, that pardoneth iniquity, and passeth by the transgression of the remnant of his heritage? he retaineth not his anger for ever, because he delighteth in mercy." Mic. vii. 18.
4. SINNERS, even the most criminal, have the highest encouragement to come to God for salvation. This is owing to the perfection of Christ's atoning sacrifice. Had not this been offered and sustained, even such as are less guilty must for ever have been debarred from the divine favour. When the scape goat was made a substitute for Israel, every one of their sins, was laid upon him, to be carried away by him; so Christ bare all the sins of his people in his own body on the tree. Hence it is that the gospel offers pardon to them that are
"stout hearted and far
from righteousness;" and calls upon "the wicked to forsake his way, and the unrighteous man his thoughts; to return unto the Lord, and he will have mercy upon him; and to our God for, he will abundantly pardon." Isaiah lv. 7. The wrath of the Almighty is appeased, and he offers pardon unconditionally and indefinitely; 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." Isaiah i. 18. The value of the Redeemer's blood far surpasses the most extensive guilt; it cleanseth from all sin. "Where sin abounds grace does much more abound," but "it reigns through righteousness unto eternal life, by the Lord Jesus Christ."
ARE there any here whose transgressions are incalculable, their aggravations heinous, and whose souls are deeply stained with spiritual defilement, and who are ready to conclude that such notorious offenders must have been excluded from God's gracious designs towards sinners, and that the Redeemer must have had no view to such in pouring out his soul unto death? To such I would say; To you, though the chief of sinners," is the word of this salvation sent." Have you pursued the gratification of your sinful appetites, and given loose reins to your lusts? Have you made an idol of every agreeable creature, setting it in that place which God should possess in your hearts? Have you associated with the noisy companions of riot in their mid-night revels, to expel every serious thought from your minds, and to stifle the disquieting convictions of an awakened conscience? Have your hearts swelled with pride and insolence? Have you opened your mouth against heaven, defied the Omnipotent, laughed at his threatenings, and treated his predictions with contempt? Has the
enmity of your hearts spurned at the free grace of the gospel? Have you depreciated the blood of Christ, done despite to the Spirit of grace, and pursued eagerly the gratification of your lusts under all the warnings, admonitions, and means of grace you have enjoyed? Be it so, the gospel excludes you not, but invites and calls upon you to come and receive pardon. You are not the less welcome of being sinners exceedingly before God. Do your sins exceed the sins of Manasseh, Mary Magdalene, the thief, the blaspheming persecutor Saul, or the murderers of the Lord of glory? But although they did, they would not warrant you to exclude yourselves from the gospel offer. The objects of the gospel offer are every creature under heaven, and you must be included. Are you "stout hearted and far from righteousness?" You are the very persons whom God calls, and to whom he brings near his righteous
5. DEATH ought to be made a matter of serious consideration. It is the common lot of all men to die; it is not, however, on this account that it demands our serious attention, but rather on account of the nature and consequences of it. The generality of mankind view it in no other light than merely incidental to human nature, but having no connection with sin. It is no effect of the law, nor of the covenant of works, nor of the human constitution, which it never would have attacked, had not sin introduced it. Many, at their exit out of the world, are no more impressed with it, than with the death of the brutal creation. This must arise. from ignorance and inattention, not considering it as penal. The first sentence reached all; and the first sin laid the life of all under forfeiture; on account of which they are all born children of wrath. Life is no more