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obedience to all the intimations of his will, they perform the conditions upon which they are pardoned and justified, and enjoy that peace which the world cannot give nor take away. And upon ihis ground the apostle declares, “ There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit.” “For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, they are the sons of God.” “ And if children, then heirs; heirs of God, and joint heirs with Christ.” So long as believers feel and express a filial spirit towards their heavenly Father, they may possess their souls in peace, and go on their way rejoicing in hope of eternal life, which God, that cannot lie, has promised to bestow upon all who are faithful unto death.

SERMON XLVII.

FORGIVENESS OF SINS ONLY FOR CHRIST'S SAKE.

Be it known unto you therefore, men and brethren, that through this man is

preached unto you the forgiveness of sins. — Acts, xiii. 38.

The apostle Paul determined to know nothing, in his preaching, save Jesus Christ, and him crucified. Whether he preached to Jews or to Gentiles, he commonly, and largely, insisted upon the atonement of Christ, as the only foundation of pardon and acceptance in the sight of God. In the discourse which contains the text, he first speaks of the descent, the life and death of Christ, and then represents what he did and suffered, as the only ground of the pardon and justification of sinners.

"Be it known unto you therefore, men and brethren, that through this man is preached unto you the forgiveness of sins." These words plainly teach us that forgiveness is the only favor which God bestows upon men, on Christ's account. In treating upon this subject, I shall, 1. Consider what we are to understand by forgiveness.

II. Consider what we are to understand by being forgiven on Christ's account.

III. Make it appear that forgiveness is the only favor which God bestows upon men on the account of Christ.

I. Let us consider what we are to understand by forgiveness.

To remit, to pardon, to forgive, are terms of the same import. ✓ To forgive a debt, is to cancel the obligation of the debtor to

pay the sum which he engaged to pay. And to forgive sins, is to cancel the obligation of the transgressor to suffer the punishment which his sins deserve. Some have justly made a distinction between the guilt of blame and the guilt of punishment. When a man has sinned, he deserves to be blamed,

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and when he deserves to be blamed, he deserves to be punished. Every sin carries in it a desert of both blame and punishment, which never can be removed. The Deity himself cannot take away the demerit of sin, which is inseparable from its nature. After a man has once transgressed, his transgression will for ever remain, and justly deserve both blame and punishment. But though God cannot remove the demerit of sin, yet he can free men from the punishment of it. And in this, the essence of forgiveness consists. So far as God frees men from the punishment due to them for sin, so far he actually forgives them. Forgiveness may be partial, or total. Partial forgiveness is the remission of part of the penal evil which the sinner deserves. Thus rebels are sometimes partially pardoned. They are freed from the punishment of death, but not from certain civil disadvantages, such as the deprivation of former privileges, and an incapacity for future preferments. But total forgiveness removes all penal pains, evils, or inconveniences, arising from transgression. “Every sin deserves God's wrath and curse, both in this life and in that which is to come." And though God remits to every believer the future punishment of all his sins, yet he reserves it in his own power to punish him in this life, as often and as severely as he sees best. So that the forgiveness of sin in this life is not total, but partial. It consists, however, as far as it extends, in the prevention or removal of punishment. God does, for Christ's sake, absolve true believ

. ers from all punishment in a future state. He assures them that they shall be saved from the wrath to come, and never suffer that eternal death which is the proper and full wages of sin. Having shown what is to be understood by forgiveness, I proceed to consider,

II. What we are to understand by being forgiven for Christ's sake, or on his account.

Through Christ, for Christ's sake, on Christ's account, are phrases of one and the same signification. “ Through this man is preached unto you the forgiveness of sins," says the apostle. Forgiveness comes through the medium of Christ. His atonement is the sole ground of pardon. God forgives for Christ's sake, or on account of what Christ has done to render it consistent with his character to absolve or release the transgressor from bearing the punishment due to him for sin. Sometimes men forgive for the sake of their own honor or reputation; and sometimes they forgive for the sake of compassion towards the offender. But God never forgives for his own sake, nor for the sake of the sinner, but merely for Christ's sake. Neither his own honor, nor the sinner's misery, is the ground of his forgiveness, but simply the atonement of Christ. God can consistently punish sinners without respect to Christ; but he cannot consistently pardon them, or free them from deserved punishment, without respect to the Mediator. Without shedding of blood there is no remission. There must be a peculiar reason for God's forgiving the guilty. And the atonement of Christ is the only sufficient reason for his forgiving the guilty. This indeed is sufficient; and while he forgives sinners entirely on Christ's account, he appears to be just, as well as gracious. The way is now prepared to show,

III. That forgiveness is the only favor which God bestows upon men, on Christ's account. This will appear, if we consider,

1. There was no need of an atonement, in order to God's bestowing any other favor than forgiveness. He can show favor to holy and innocent creatures, without any thing being done to render the displays of his goodness consistent with his character. From mere benevolence, he has raised the holy angels to the highest degrees of holiness, and caused them to drink of those rivers of pleasure which perpetually flow at his right hand. And when man was formed in his own image, he treated him in the same manner in which he treated, and will for ever treat, the angels of light. God placed him in the garden of Eden, and loaded him with benefits as long as he continued holy and innocent. And even now, be bestows innumerable blessings upon his degenerate offspring, without respect to Christ. He causes his sun to rise and his rain to fall upon the evil as well as the good, and grants as large a portion of the good things of this life to his enemies as to his friends. There is no temporal favor so great, but he can bestow it upon the vilest of men, as a mere act of sovereignty, without the least respect to Christ as mediator. But it is only through the atonement of Christ that he can and does forgive sinners. And from this we may justly conclude that forgiveness is the only | favor which he grants to mankind merely for Christ's sake.

2. The great design of Christ's coming into the world, and making atonement for sin, was to open the way for forgiveness. This appears from the whole current of scripture. The types of Christ

, under the law, represent his atonement as being designed to lay the foundation for forgiveness only. The paschal lamb was a type of Christ's death. “Christ our passover," says the apostle, " is sacrificed for us.” But the paschal lamb, which was slain to preserve the Israelites from that destruction which fell upon the Egyptians, would not have been a proper type of the death of Christ, unless his death had been designed to lay the foundation of pardon, or freedom from punishment. The bullock that was slain for the sins of Israel, was a type of

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VOL. V.

Christ's laying down his life for the sins of the world. But this bullock is said to make atonement for the express purpose

of forgiveness. So we repeatedly read in the fourth chapter of Leviticus. If the whole congregation sin, it is said, the priest shall kill the bullock, and make atonement for them, and their sin shall be forgiven. Ver. 20. If a ruler sin, then the priest shall kill the bullock, and make atonement for him, concerning his sin, and it shall be forgiven. Ver. 26. Or if one of the common people sin, the priest shall kill the bullock, and make atonement for him, and his sin shall be forgiven. All the sacri

fices for sin, under the Old Testament, were designed to lay a Ni foundation for forgiveness. Hence says the apostlc in his expo

sition of the types in the epistle to the Hebrews, “ without shedding of blood is no remission." This shows that the death or atonement of Christ was wholly designed to open the way for the remission of sin, or the exercise of pardoning mercy to penitent sinners.

The inspired writers represent the design of the sufferings and death of Christ in the same light. The evangelical prophet says, “ He was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities; the chastisement of our peace was upon him; and by his stripes we are healed.” When Christ appeared and foretold his own death, he always represented it as being designed to lay a foundation for forgiveness, or to open the way for God to save sinners from the punishment of sin. “As Moses," says he, " listed up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of man be listed up; that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have eternal life. For God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth' in him should not perish, but have everlasting lise.” Again he says, “ The Son of man came – to give his life a ransom for many." And when he instituted the memorials of his death, he clearly explained the design of it to his disciples. Having taken the cup and given thanks, he said to them, “ Drink ye all of it; for this is my blood of the New

Testament which is shed for many, for the remission of sins." The first time of his appearing to his disciples aster his death, “ He said unto them, these are the words which I spake unto you while I was yet with you, that all things must be fulfilled which were written in the law of Moses, and in the prophets, and in the Psalms, concerning me. Then opened he their understanding, that they might understand the scriptures, and said unto them, Thus it is written, and thus it behooved Christ to suffer, and to rise from the dead the third day; and that repentance and remission of sins should be preached in his name among all nations, beginning at Jerusalem.” In all these pas

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