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"Shall we continne in sin, that grace may abound? God for"bid!" Rom. vi. 1, 2. Will nothing cheaper than the grace) of God serve to make a cloak for sin? O vile abase of the most excellent thing in the whole world? Did Christ shed his blood to expiate our guilt, and dare we mafys a plea to extenuate our guilt? God forbid! <
If it be intolerable ingratitude, among men, to requite good with evil, sure that sin must want a name bad enough to express it, which puts the-greatesl dishonour upon God, for the greatest mercy that ever was given by God to the world. "There is "mercy with thee, (laith the Psalmist), that thou mayest be fear^ "ed," not that thou mayest be the more abused, Psal. cxxx. 4. Nay, let me say, the devils never sinned at this rate; they cannot abuse the pardoning grace of God, because such grace was never offered unto them. And certainly, if the abuse of thecom-. mon mercies of God, as meat and drink, by gluttony and drunkenness, be an henious sin, 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 sinful, and the greatest affront we can put;ipon the God of mercy.
Infer. 5. To conclude: If this be so, as ever you expcEi pardon and mercy from God, to come Christ in the -way of faith; receive and embrace him now in the tenders of the gospel.
To drive home this great exhortation, I beseech you, as in the bowels of Christ Jesus, and by all the regard and value you have for your own fouls, let these following considerations sink down into your hearts.
First, That all christless persons are actually under thecondemnation of God, John iii. 18. "He that believeth not, is condem"ned already:" and it must needs be so, for every foul is concluded under the curse of the law, till Christ make him free, John viii. 36. Till we are in Christ, we are dead by law; and when we believe unto justification, then we pafs from death to life. A blind mistaken conscience mayipoffibly acquit you, but assure yourselves, God condemns you.
Secondly, Consider what -a. terrible thing it is to lie under the condemnation of God; the most terrible things in nature cannot shadow forth the misery of such a state: put all sicknesses, all poverty, all reproaches, the torments invented by all tyrants into one scale, and the condemnatiou of God into the other, and they will be all found lighter than a feather. Condemnation is the sentence of God, the great and terrible God ; it is a sentence shutting you op to everlasting wrath; it is a sentence never to be reversed, but by the application of Christ in the season thereof. O souls! you cannot bear the wrath of God; you do not understand it, if you think it tolerable: One drop of it upon your consciences now, is enough to distract yon in the midst of all the pleasures and comforts of this world: yet all that are out of Christ, are sentenced to the fulness of God's wrath for ever.
Thirdly, There is yet a possibility of escaping the wrath to come; a door of hope opened to the worst of sinners; 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 shortly shut, Luke xii. 25. God hath many ways to shut it: he sometimes shuts it by withdrawing the means of grace, and removing the candlesticks; a judgment at this time to be greatly feared. Sometimes he shuts it, by withdrawing his Spirit and blessing from the means, whereby all ordinances lose 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 shortly shut by your removal from all the means and opportunities of salvation„by death.
Fifthly, When once the door of mercy is shut, you are gone beyond all the possibilities of pardon and salvation for evermore. The night is then come, in which no man can work, John ix. 4. All the golden seasons, you now enjoy, will be irrecoverably gone out of your reach.
Sixthly, Pardons are now daily granted to others: some (and they once as tsar 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 instances of the riches of pardoning grace. And whatever is needful for you to do in the way of repentance and saith to obtain your pardon, how easily shall it be done, if osice the day of God's power come upon you? Psal. ex. 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 stony heart, open and bow the stubborn will, effectually draw thy soul to Christ, and deliver thy pardon signed in his blood.
Opening the eighth Motive to come to Christ, drawn from the sixth Benefit purchased by Christ for Believers.'.
Eph. i. 6. To the praise of the glory of his grace, wherein he hath made us accepted in the Beloved.
T N our last discourse we opened to you the blessed privilege
'of remission of sin, from the following verse; in this verse lies another glorious privilege, viz. the acceptation that believers have with God through Jesus Christ: both which comprise (as the two main branches) our justification before God. In the words read, (to omit many things that might be profitably observed from the method and dependance of the apostle's discourse) three things are observable, 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 t^apmm* npcts, he hath ingratiated us, or brought us into grace, favour, and acceptance of God the Father; endeared us to him, so that we find grace in his sight.
Secondly, The meritorious cause, purchasing and procuring this benefit for us, noted in the words, '» T« nyxm[t*»v, in the Beloved; which words are a periphrafis of Christ, who is here emphatically stiled the Beloved, the great savourite of heaven, the delight of God's soul, the prime object of.his love: it is he that obtaineth this benefit for believers: he is accepted for his own sake, and we for his.
Thirdly, The ultimate end and aim of conferring this benefit upon believers; "To the praise 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 business of believers, both in this world apd in that to come, is to search and admire, acknowledge and magnify God for his abundant grace herein. . Hence the note is,
Doct. That Jesus Christ hath purchased and procured special favour and acceptation with God for all that are in him'
This point lies plain ia scripture, Eph. ii. 13. "But now in
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«' Jt sus. Christ, ye who sometimes were asar off, are made nigh "by the blood of Christ," iyfW t^vu&iTt, made nigh, a term of endearedness': nothing is taken into the very bosom and embraces but what is very dear, precious and acceptable: and in Rev. ii. 5, 6. believers are said to be made by Jesus Christ "kings "and priests unto God, and his Father," si. e.J dignified savourites, upon whom the special marks ot honour are set by God.
In opening of this point, three things must be doctrinally discussed and opened, viz,
1. What the acceptation of our persons with God is?
2. How it appears that believers are so accepted with God?
3. How Christ the Beloved procures this benefit for believers? First, What the acceptation of our persons with God is? To
open which, it may be proper to remember, that there is a two. foid acceptance of persons mentioned in scripture.
1. One is the sinful act of corrupt man.
2. The other the gracious act of a merciful God.
First, Accepting of persons is noted in scripture as the sinful 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 cause through sinful respect to the quality of the person whose cause it is; so that the cause doth not commend the .person, but the person the cause. This God every where brands in men, as a vile perverting of judgment, and utterly disclaims it himself, Gal. ii. 6, "God ac"cepteth no man's person;" Rom. ii. 11. "There is no respect '* of persons with God."
Secondly, There'is also an accepting of persons, which is the gracious act of a merciful God; whereby he receives both the persons and duties of believers into special grace and savour for Christ's sake; and of this my text speaks. In which act of savour three things are supposed or included.
First, It supposes an estate of alienation and enmity: those only arc accepted into savour, that were out of savour; and indeed so stood the case with us, Eph. ii. 12, 13. "Yc were aliens and "strangers, but now in Christ Jesus, ye who sometimes were a"sar off, are made nigh by the blood of Christ So the apostle Peter, in 1 Pet. ii. 10. " Which in time past were not a people, r* but now are the people of God; which had not obtained mer"cy, but now have obtained mercy." The sall made a fearful breach betwixt God and man. Sin, like a thick cloud, intercepted all the beams of divine savour from us; the satissaction of Christ dissolves that cloud, lia. xliv. 22. " I have blotted out, as a thick
"cloud, thy transgressions; and, as a cloud, t*hy fins." This clark cloud thus dissolved, the sace of God shines forth again with cheerful beams of savour and love upon all, who, by saith, are Interested in Jesus Christ.
Secondly, It includes the removing of guilt from the persons of believers, by the imputation of Christ's righteousness to them, Rom. v. 1, 2. " Being justified by saith, we have peace with God, thro' our Lord Jesus Christ: by whom also we have access by "saith into this grace wherein we stand:" for the sace of God cannot shine upon the wicked; the person must be first made righteous, before it can be made accepted.
'Thirdly, It includes the offering up, or tendring of our persons and duties to God by Jesus Christ. Accepting implies presenting or tendring: believers indeed do present thernfelves to God, Rom. xii. 1. But Christ's presenting 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 sight." Christ leads every believer, as it were by the hand, into the gracious presence of God; after this manner bespeaking acceptance for him: "Father, here "is a poor foul that was born in sin, hath lived in rebellion a"gainst thee all his days; he hath broken all thy laws, and de"served all thy wrath; yet he is one of that number which thou "gavest me before the world was. I have made full payment "of my blood for all his fins: I have opened his eyes to fee the "sinfulness and misery of his condition; broken his heart for "his rebellions against thee; bowed his will in obedience unto "thy will; united him to my self by saith, as a living member "of my body: and now, Lord, since, he is become mine by re"generation, let him be thine also by special acceptation: let "the fame love with which thou lovest me embrace him also, who is now become mine." And so much for the first particular, viz. What acceptation with God is.
Secondly, In the next place, 1 must shew you how it appears that believers are thus ingratiated, or brought into the special savour 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 sometimes called the houfboldof 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. y. a crown o/glory, and a royal diadem in the hand of their God, Isa. lxii. 3. The object of his delight and pleasure,