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signified by the perfect cleansing of his person, and the covering of all his filth.* Is he compared to a wretched insolvent, and his offences to a debt of ten thousand talents? his pardon is described by a blotting out of the debt, or by a non-imputation of it.† Is he likened to a person who labours under the weight of a heavy burden, which galls his shoulders and sinks his spirits? his forgiveness is designed by a lifting up, and a removal of the pressing incumbrance.‡ Arehis transgressions, for their nature, number, and effects, represented by clouds, black, lowering, low-hung clouds, which are ready to burst in a storm, and deluge the country? his pardon is described by their total abolition, by blotting them out from the face of heaven, so that the least trace of them shall not remain, nor any mortal be able to tell what is become of them.§ Is sin pronounced rebellion against the Majesty of heaven, and the sinner considered as a convict just going to be executed? forgiveness is a reversing the sentence, and a remission of the penalty due to his crimes. Under such a consideration, which is the proper notion of pardon, the language of a gracious God is, Deliver him from going down to the pit; I have found a ransom.' The Lord is pleased to represent the same invaluable blessing,' by casting our sins behind his back; by casting them into the depths of the sea; by removing them as far from us as the east is from the west; by remembering them no more; and by making scarlet and crimson offences white as wool, yea, whiter than snow.'¶
In this forgiveness, grace reigns, and the riches of grace are displayed. It is an absolutely perfect pardon; and to make it so, three things are required. It must be full, free, and everlasting. That is, it must extend to all sin; it must be vouchsafed without any
*Psal. xiv. 3. xxxii. 1. and lxxxv. 2. 1 John i. 7. Rev. i. v.
Isa. xliv. 22.
Matt. xi. 28.
Job xxxiii. 24.
Isa. xxxviii. 17. Micah vii. 19. Psalm ciii. 12. Heb. viii. 12. Isa. 1.18. Psalm li. 7. Lam. vi. 7.
conditions to be performed by the sinner, and absolutely irreversible. But these things deserve a more particular consideration..
That forgiveness which is equal to the wants of a sinner, must be full; including all sins, be they ever so numerous; extending to all their aggravations, be they ever so enormous. Every sin being a transgression of the divine law, and every transgression subjecting the offender to a dreadful curse, it is plain that if the guilt attending every sin be not removed, if the penalty due to every sin be not remitted, the curse must fall upon us, and wrath must be our portion. Hence appears the necessity of a full pardon in order to happiness. And as it is essentially necessary, so it is granted. The scriptures declare, abundantly declare, that when our offended Sovereign pardons any of the human race, he forgives all their sins. For, says the King whose name is the Lord of hosts, ' I will cleanse them from ALL their iniquities whereby they have sinned against me; and I will pardon ALL their iniquities whereby they have sinned, and whereby they have transgressed against me.'* Charming declaration! To forgive sin, is a divine prerogative. None can dispense the unspeakable favour but God. This he declares he will do; and that he will not only forgive some sins, or a few, but all; all entirely.
Let us hear another ambassador from the court of heaven. The prophet Micah, with an air of thanksgiving and joy, declares,' He will turn again, He will have compassion upon us, He will subdue our iniquities; and Thou wilt cast ALL their sins into the depths of the sea.' He will turn again; not as an incensed adversary, to pour out his vengeance; but as a friend and a father, to manifest his grace. Beholding with pity our miserable condition and helpless circumstances, 'He will have compassion upon us ;' He will relieve our distress, and richly supply our various wants. As sin is the cause of all our misery, and that abominable thing which he detests, He will subdue + Micah vii. 19.
*Jer. xxxiii. 8.
our stubborn' iniquities;' he will remove their guilt by atoning blood, and destroy their dominions by victorious grace. And, as a further expression of thy pardoning love, though thy people have offended to ever so high a degree, 'Thou wilt cast,' not a few, or the greatest part only, but ALL their sins into the depths of the sea.' Their sins, as a burden too heavy for them to bear, as an object too hateful for thee to behold, thou wilt for ever remove from them, for ever cast out of thy sight. Here the fulness and the perpetuity of divine forgiveness are expressed with all the force of language. Another infallible writer, and mirrorof pardoning mercy,expresses the glorious truth, and celebrates the ineffable blessing, in the language of exultation. To hear his words is delightful; to partake in his joy is transporting. 'Bless the Lord, O iny soul, and all that is within me, bless his holy name -Who forgiveth ALL thine iniquities, who healeth all thy diseases.'* Such is his language, and such the ground of his exuberant joy; and a solid foundation it is for incessant thanksgiving. For when and to whomsoever God pardons sin, he so forgives it, that, as to the eye of his vindictive justice, he sees it no more; there is none to be found; there is none which can be charged upon them. Hence it is, that there is no condemnation to such persons.‡
This forgiveness is worthy of God. This forgiveness, flowing from grace, reaches the foulest crimes and the most abominable transgressions. In virtue of it, scarlet and crimson sins are made white as wool; yea, whiter than snow.§ The bloody sins of Manasseh; the madness of rage in a persecuting Saul; the bitter taunts of the thief against the Son of God, when both were in their expiring moments; and the sin of crucifying the Lord of glory; these, all these, with their various and horrid aggravations, have been pardoned. These, though inconceivably heinous, and
*Psalm ciii. 1. 3. Rom. viii. 1.
+ Numb. xxiii. 21. Jer. 1. 20. Rom. viii. 32. Isa, i. 18. Psalm li. 7.
some of them such as the sun did never behold, either before or since, have been forgiven by a gracious God. The blood of Christ is possessed of infinite energy, arising from the superlative dignity of Him who shed it, and is able to cleanse from all sin;—From each sin, be it ever so heinous; from all sins, be they ever so numerous. Thus grace, like a mighty and compassionate monarch, passes an act of oblivion on millions and millions of the most aggravated offences and complicated crimes.
Did the most abandoned profligates know what forgiveness there is with God, they would no longer be held by the devil under that injurious persuasion and destructive snare, There is no hope.' Nor would they form the rash conclusion, 'We have loved strangers, and after them we will go. 米 JEHOVAH is the God of pardons. This is his name, and this is his glory. For thus saith the Lord, 'I will pardon all their iniquities-and it shall be to me a Name of joy, a praise, and an honour, before all the nations of the earth,' and all the angels in heaven ; ' which shall hear of all the superlative good that I do unto them.'+ Astonishing words! The Sovereign of all worlds seems to glory in his pardoning mercy, as one of the brightest jewels in his own eternal crown. This is encouraging; this is delightful. Well might the church cry out in a transport of joy, Who is a God like unto thee?' that pardoneth iniquity' of the most complicated and shocking kind; and passeth by,' with the utmost readiness, the transgression of the remnant of his heritage? He retaineth not his anger for ever' against offending creatures, and the glorious reason is a reason which ought never to be forgotten, because he DELIGHTETH,' infinitely and for ever' delighteth, in' shewing' mercy' to the most unworthy, distressed, and miserable.§
Come, then, poor trembling sinner! though you
* Jer. ii. 25.
Jer. xxxiii. 3. 9.
+ Exod. xxxiv. 6, 7. Neh. ix. 17.
§ Micah vii. 18.
are conscious that the number and magnitude of your sins are inexpressibly great; come, let us reason together, and contemplate the riches of grace. What though you are by nature an apostate creature and a child of wrath. Though you have, by innumerable transgressions, violated the divine law, and incurred its everlasting curse. Though you have grown hoary in rebellion against your divine Sovereign, and look upon yourself as a monster of iniquity. Though your sins of heart, lip, and life; sins of omission, and sins of commission; sins of ignorance, and sins against knowledge; like an armed host, in terrible array, besiege you on every side, and call aloud for vengeance on your guilty head. Though, to heighten your misery and increase your grief, the enemy of mankind should come in like a flood, and load you with horrid accusations; should tell you that you have, by your sins, dared God's vengeance to his very face, and solemnly mocked him in your duties; and so set a keener edge on all your sensations of guilt. And, to complete your distress, though your conscience turn evidence against you, ratify the dreadfulverdict, and pronounce the deserved sentence, so that you are ready to conclude you are almost a damned soul, and that your case is absolutely desperate; yet still there is relief to be had. Notwithstanding all these deplorable circumstances, there is no reason you should sink in despair. For, behold! there is forgiveness, a full forgiveness, with God; and such is his mercy, he waits to be gracious' in bestowing the invaluable blessing. As he never confers the favour on account of any thing amiable in the object, so he never withholds it on account of any peculiar aggravations in the sinner's conduct or character. To dispute this, is to deny that salvation is by grace. Divine mercy is not conditional, narrow, or limited; not like that which is exercised by men, backward to interpose till something inviting appear in its object. No; it is absolutely free and divinely sovereign.
Consider, O disconsolate soul! how many millions