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"Shall we continue in fin, that grace may abound? God for"bid!" Rom. vi. 1, 2. Will nothing cheaper than the grace of God ferve to make a cloak for fin? O vile abuse of the most excellent thing in the whole world? Did Chrift shed his blood to expiate our guilt, and dare we make a plea to extenuate our guilt? God forbid !
If it be intolerable ingratitude, among men, to requite good with evil, fure that fin muft want a name bad enough to exprefs it, which puts the-greatest dishonour upon God, for the greatest mercy that ever was given by God to the world. "There is mercy with thee, (faith the Pfalmift), that thou mayest be fear"ed," not that thou mayest be the more abused, Pfal. cxxx. 4. Nay, let me fay, the devils never finned at this rate; they cannot abuse the pardoning grace of God, because fuch grace was never offered unto them. And certainly, if the abuse of the common mercies of God, as meat and drink, by gluttony and drunkennefs, be an henious fin, and highly provoking to God; then the abuse of the riches of his grace, and the precious blood of his Son, must be out of measure finful, and the greatest affront we can put upon the God of mercy.
Infer. 5. To conclude: If this be fo, as ever you expect pardon and mercy from God, to come Chrift in the way of faith; receive and embrace him now in the tenders of the gof pel.
To drive home this great exhortation, I beseech you, as in the bowels of Chrift Jefus, and by all the regard and value you have for your own fouls, let thefe following confiderations fink down into your hearts.
First, That all chriftless perfons are actually under the condemnation of God, John iii. 18. "He that believeth not, is condem. "ned already" and it must needs be fo, for every foul is concluded under the curfe of the law, till Chrift make him free, John viii. 36. Till we are in Chrift, we are dead by law; and when we believe unto juftification, then we pass from death to life. A blind mistaken confcience may poffibly acquit you, but assure yourselves, God condemns you.
Secondly, Confider what a terrible thing it is to lie under the condemnation of God; the most terrible things in nature cannot shadow forth the mifery of fuch a state: put all sicknesses, all poverty, all reproaches, the torments invented by all tyrants into one fcale, and the condemnatiou of God into the other, and they will be all found lighter than a feather. Condemnation is the fentence of God, the great and terrible God; it is a sentence hutting you up to everlasting wrath; it is a fentence never to
be reverfed, but by the application of Chrift in the season thereof. O fouls! you cannot bear the wrath of God; you do not understand it, if you think it tolerable: One drop of it upon your confciences now, is enough to distract you in the midst of all the pleasures and comforts of this world: yet all that are out of Chrift, are fentenced to the fulnefs of God's wrath for ever.
Thirdly, There is yet a poffibility of escaping the wrath to come; a door of hope opened to the worft of finners; a day of grace is offered to the children of men, Heb. iii. 15. God declares himself unwilling that any should perish, 2. Pet. iii. 9. O what a mercy is this! Who, that is on this fide heaven or hell, fully understands the worth of it?
Fourthly, The door of mercy will be fhortly fhut, Luke xii. 25. God hath many ways to fhut it: he fometimes fhuts it by withdrawing the means of grace, and removing the candleSticks; a judgment at this time to be greatly feared. Sometimes he fhuts it, by withdrawing his Spirit and bleffing from the means, whereby all ordinances lofe their efficacy, 1 Cor. iii. 7. But if he shut it not by removing the means of grace from you, certain it is, it will be fhortly shut by your removal from all the means and opportunities of falvation by death.
Fifthly, When once the door of mercy is fhut, you are gone beyond all the poffibilities of pardon and falvation for evermore. The night is then come, in which no man can work, John ix. 4. All the golden feafons, you now enjoy, will be irrecoverably gone out of your reach.
Sixthly, Pardons are now daily granted to others: fome (and they once as far from mercy as you now are), are at this day reading their pardons with tears of joy dropping from them. The world is full of the examples and inftances of the riches of pardoning grace. And whatever is needful for you to do in the way of repentance and faith to obtain your pardon, how eafily fhall it be done, if once the day of God's power come upon you? Pfal. cx. 3. O therefore, lift up your cries to heaven, give the Lord no reft, take no denial till he open the blind eye, break the ftony heart, open and bow the ftubborn will, effectually draw thy foul to Chrift, and deliver thy pardon figned in his blood.
Opening the eighth Motive to come to CHRIST, drawn
from the fixth Benefit purchased by CHRIST for Believers.
EPH. i. 6. To the praife of the glory of his grace, wherein he hath made us accepted in the Beloved. IN
our last discourse we opened to you the bleffed privilege of remiffion of fin, from the following verfe; in this verse lies another glorious privilege, viz. the acceptation that believers have with God through Jefus Chrift: both which comprise (as the two main branches) our justification before God. In the words read, (to omit many things that might be profitably obferved from the method and dependance of the apostle's dif courfe) three things are obfervable, viz.
1. The privilege itself.
2. The meritorious cause.
3. The ultimate end thereof.
First, The privilege itself, which is exceeding rich and sweet in its own nature; "he hath made us accepted;" the word is xapro nuas, he hath ingratiated us, or brought us into grace, favour, and acceptance of God the Father; endeared us to him, fo that we find grace in his fight.
Secondly, The meritorious caufe, purchafing and procuring this benefit for us, noted in the words, & Ta nyanμew, in the Beloved; which words are a periphrafis of Chrift, who is here emphatically filed the Beloved, the great favourite of heaven, the delight of God's foul, the prime object of his love: it is he that obtaineth this benefit for believers: he is accepted for his own fake, and we for his.
Thirdly, The ultimate end and aim of conferring this benefit upon believers; " To the praife of the glory of his grace;" or, to the end that his grace might be made glorious in praises: there are riches of grace in this act of God; and the work and bufinefs of believers, both in this world and in that to come, is to fearch and admire, acknowledge and magnify God for his abundant grace herein. Hence the note is,
Doct. That Jefus Chrift hath purchased and procured fpecial favour and acceptation with God for all that are in hims This point lies plain in fcripture, Eph. ii. 13. "But now in VOL. II.
Jefus Chrift, ye who fometimes werè afar off, are made nigh "by the blood of Christ," yfus eyes, made nigh, a term of endearedness: nothing is taken into the very bofom and embraces but what is very dear, precious and acceptable: and in Rev. ii. 5, 6. believers are faid to be made by Jefus Chrift "kings
and priests unto God, and his Father," (i. e.) dignified favourites, upon whom the fpecial marks of honour are fet by God.
In opening of this point, three things must be doctrinally dif cuffed and opened, viz.
1. What the acceptation of our perfons with God is? 2. How it appears that believers are fo accepted with God? 3. How Chrift the Beloved procures this benefit for believers? First, What the acceptation of our perfons with God is? To open which, it may be proper to remember, that there is a twofold acceptance of perfons mentioned in fcripture.
1. One is the finful act of corrupt man.
2. The other the gracious act of a merciful God.
Firfi, Accepting of perfons is noted in fcripture as the finful act of a corrupt man; a thing which God abhors, being the corruption and abuse of that power, and authority which men have in judgment; overlooking the merit of the caufe through finful refpect to the quality of the perfon whofe caufe it is; fo that the caufe doth not commend the perfon, but the perfon the caufe. This God every where brands in men, as a vile perverting of judgment, and utterly difclaims it himfelf, Gal. ii. 6. "God ac cepteth no man's perfon;" Rom. ii. 11. "There is no refpect of perfons with God."
Secondly, There is also an accepting of perfons, which is the gracious act of a merciful God; whereby he receives both the perfons and duties of believers into fpecial grace and favour for Chrift's fake; and of this my text fpeaks. In which act of fa vour three things are fuppofed or included.
First, It fuppofes an eftate of alienation and enmity: thofe onJy are accepted into favour, that were out of favour; and indeed fo flood the cafe with us, Eph. ii. 12, 13. Ye were aliens and ftrangers, but now in Chrift Jefus, ye who fometimes were a"far off, are made nigh by the blood of Chrift:" So the apofile Peter, in 1 Pet. ii. 10." Which in time paft were not a people, "but now are the people of God; which had not obtained mer
cy, but now have obtained mercy." The fall made a fearful breach betwixt God and man. Sin, like a thick cloud, intercepted all the beams of divine favour from us; the fatisfaction of Chrift diffolves that cloud, Ifa. xliv. 22. "I have blotted out, as a thick
"cloud, thy tranfgreffions; and, as a cloud, thy fins." This dark cloud thus diffolved, the face of God fhines forth again with cheerful beams of favour and love upon all, who, by faith, are interested in Jefus Chrift.
Secondly, It includes the removing of guilt from the perfons of believers, by the imputation of Chrift's righteousness to them, Rom. v. 1, 2. "Being juftified by faith, we have peace with God, "thro' our Lord Jefus Chrift: by whom alfo we have access by
faith into this grace wherein we ftand:" for the face of God cannot shine upon the wicked; the perfon must be first made righteous, before it can be made accepted.
Thirdly, It includes the offering up, or tendring of our perfons and duties to God by Jefus Chrift. Accepting implies prefenting or tendring believers indeed do prefent themfelves to God, Rom. xii. 1. But Chrift's prefenting them makes their tender of themselves acceptable to the Lord; Col. i. 22. "In the body. "of his flesh through death to present you holy, and unblame"able, and unreprovable, in his fight." Chrift leads every believer, as it were by the hand, into the gracious prefence of God; after this manner befpeaking acceptance for him: "Father, here "is a poor foul that was born in fin, hath lived in rebellion a"gainst thee all his days; he hath broken all thy laws, and de" ferved all thy wrath; yet he is one of that number which thou Igaveft me before the world was. I have made full payment "of my blood for all his fios: I have opened his eyes to fee the "finfulness and mifery of his condition; broken his heart for "his rebellions against thee; bowed his will in obedience unto "thy will; united him to my felf by faith, as a living member "of my body and now, Lord, fince, he is become mine by regeneration, let him be thine alfo by fpecial acceptation: let "the fame love with which thou loveft me embrace him also, "who is now become mine." And fo much for the first particular, viz. What acceptation with God is.
Secondly, In the next place, I muft fhew you how it appears that believers are thus ingratiated, or brought into the fpecial favour of God by Jesus Christ. And this will be evidenced divers ways.
First, By the titles of love and endearedness, with which the Lord graceth, and honoureth believers, who are fometimes called the houshold of God, Eph. ii. 19. the friends of God, James ii. 23. the dear children of God, Eph. v. 1. the peculiar people of God, 1 Pet. ii. 9. a crown of glory, and a royal diadem in the hand of their God, Ifa. Ixii. 3. The object of his delight and pleasure,