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MatU xxv 41. as faying to the wicked at the day of judgment, Go, ye cursed, into everlastingfireprepared for the devil and his angels, &c. From all which, it plainly appears, that God punishes some men for their lins in this world, and some in the world to come; and perhaps some sinners he punishes in both.
And, as God'is pleased to manisest his dislike of sin, by punishing the transgressors-, as aforefaid so he isjileas-'d, upon proper occasions, to manifest his mercy, in forgiving the offender; which forgiveness consists in the remitting or taking away those punishments, which a-re either inflicted upon or threatened to the sinner: and accordingly forgiveness is likewise two-fold, as it relates to the two kinds of punishment to be remitted of taken away, viz. temporary punishments in this world, and everlasting punishments in the world to come. Thus we read, that because Abah humbled himself before the Lord, the Lord remitted to him the temporal punishment which he had threatened upon Ahab, and his house, and would not bring the evil in his days, 1 Kings xxi. 49. Likewise God was pleased to remit the temporary punishment threatened against the people of Nineveh, because they repented at the preaching of Jonah, chap. Hi. 10. Thus again we read, that St. Paul was a great offender, in that he persecuted the church of God, and compelled christians to blaspheme, Acls xxvi. 11. And yet he declares for himself, that there was laid up for him a crown of righteousness (in another world) -which the Lord, the righteous Judge, should give him at'the day os judgment, 2. Tim. iv. 8. and consequently that the everlasting punifliment, in another world, which was threatened to, and due for his sins, should be remitted unto him. Our Lord likewise declares, that those, which did blaspheme the Holy
neither in the world to tome. Matt. xii. 42. From all which, it manisestly appears, that forgiveness of sin is two-fold; first, in remitting or taking away the temporary punishment inflicted upon, and threatened to men in this world, for their sins* and, secondly, in remitting the everlasting punisliment threatened to the sinner in the world to come. The case of forgiveness being thus stated; the question is, when our Lord faid, Son, thy sim it forgiven thee, whether he meant the removing of a temporary punishment in this world, or the remitting of everlasting punishment in the world to come. Now, tho' the words themselves do not determine this matter to either side of the question; yet if we take in the whole story, we shall find it clearly determin'd to the former. For,.
First, This forgiveness was vouchfased to the man, not only upon the account of his own faith, but also upon the account of the faith of them that brought him. Ædjesus feeing [their] faith, &c. that is, Jesus seeing that the persons, which brought the sick man, were strongly persuaded, that he was both able and willing to heal him (which strong persuasion" was evident by their opening the root of the house, and letting the man down thro' the tiling) he-said to thesick man, Son, thy sins be forgiven thee. Now as on the one side, when we consider the terms proposed in the gospel for the remitting of everlasting punisliment,. it is very unlikely, and unreasonable, to suppose, that the man was discharged from that punishment, upon the account of other, men's faith: so on the other side it is very likely and rational to suppose, that the man was deliver'd from temporary punishment, that is, was cured of - the palsy, upon the account of the faith of those that brought him; because, as this was an answering the end
of their faith and practice, so it was a proper mi suitable means to corroborate and strengthen their faith in Christ. But this will be farther evident,
if we consider,
Secondly, Our Lord's question to the Jews,* upon their supposing him to be guilty of blasphemy. Saith he, Whether is it taster to fay to the sick of the palsy, Thy fins. be forgiven thee; or to fayr drift\ and. < take Us thy bed, and walk? Our Saviour, in the exercise of his ministry, cured all forts of bodily diseases-, and in so doing, he had given an abundant proof of his power or ability to forgive or deliver men from the temporary punishments they Jay under for their sins. Now, notwithstanding this, the Jews, who catched at every occasion of defaming him, were so unreasonable as to think him guilty of blasphemy, because he faid, Sen> thy fins be forgiven thee. Upon which, our Lord replied to their reasoning; Whether is it easier to fay to the sick of the sals), Thy fins be forgiven thee,. er to fay, Arise, and take up thy bed, and walk? As much as if he had faid; which is easier, to cure the man of his disease? or to give a sensible demonstration of the truth of that cure? But that ye may know that the Son of man hath power on earth to work such a care, he faith to the sick of the palsy (that is, to the man which had been sick, and was just then healed) Arise, and take tip thy bed, 'and go thy way into thine house. The man's rising and sarrying his bed was a sensible proof of his being cured of his disease, or of his being forgiven or deliver'd from the temporary punishment he lay under for his sin; and consequently of Christ's being possessed with a power to exercise that forgiveness. But this act of his, in rising and carrying his bed, was not such a sensible proof of the forgiveness of his sins, with respect to everlasting punishment in another world; and consequently, that kind of
forgiveforgiveness was not intended by our Saviour. Upon the whole, I think it very manisest, that when our Lord faid to the man sick of the palsy, Son., thy fins he forgiven thee; he meant by it, that he was discharged from the temporary punishment (viz. the palsy) which he lay under for his sins \ and consequently, that the man was actually cur* ed upon the pronouncing of these words, tho' he did not rise from his bed 'till our Lord required him so to do, to give a sensible proof, to the slanders by, of the truth of that cure, and of his ability and power to efsect it.
This point is farther illustrated by St. James, chap. v. 14. Is any fick among you? let him call for the elders of the church; and let them pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord. Verse 15. And the prayer of'faithshall save thefick; that is, it shall be effectual for his recovery from that temporary affliction which he lies under. And the Lord shall raise > him up, viz. from that bed of sickness upon which he is laid down. And if he have committed fins, that is, if he have committed such sins for which this affliction is laid upon him as a punishment, they shall be forgiven him. That this is the meaning of St. James, is evident from the supposition [ if he have committed sins. ] St. yames tells us, chap. iii. 2. That in many things we offend all; therefore all have committed sins as well the sick, as the whole, in his account. Consequently, there was no room for him to put this supposition [ if he have committed sins] with respect to sins in general, because all men have done so. And therefore the sense of it is plainly this; if he have committed such sins for which this affliction is laid upon him,' as a punishment in this world, they shall be forgiven him that is, his affliction, or the temporary punishment which he lies under for them, shall be removed. To remit P ever
on the account of the prayer and faith of another man, is to disregard those terms upon which that forgiveness is proposed in the gospel; which arc the faith, penitence, and obedience of the person forgiven. And therefore, by forgiving his sins, it is reasonable to suppose, that St. James intends the delivering him from the temporary punishment, or affliction he lay under for them. And that this is his meaning, is farther evident hy what follows, verse 16. Confess your faults one to another; and pray one for another, that ye may be healed; that is, that ye may be deliver'd from those afflictions which are laid upon you for thole faults. The effectual servant prayer of a righteous man availeth much; that is, it availeth much towards the healing of those that are afflicted, as aforefaid. Verse 17. Elias was a man subject to like passions as we are., and he prayed earnestly that it might not rain; and it rained not on the earth by the space of three years and frx months. Verse 18. And he prayed again, and the heavens gave rain, and the earth brought forth her fruit. Here we see what it was that Elias's prayer was affectual for, not the infflicting or removing of everlasting punishment in the world to come, but for the inflicting and removing of temporary punishment here in this world : lie prayed earnestly that it might not rain% and it rained not by the space of three years and fix months this was a temporary punishment, lai4 upon the house of Israel, for their sins :* And he prayed again, and the heaven gave rain, and the earth brought forth her fruit? This was forgiveness of sin in this world, or a removing the temporary punishment ,which the Israelites, in this, world, suffer'd for their sins. t