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signed with His own hand, and sealed with His own signet. Therefore what they do in His name, He will most surely ratify. "Blessed is "the man whose transgression is forgiven, and "whose sin is covered; blessed is the man to "whom the Lord imputeth not iniquity!" * Is this blessedness mine? Then the chain that bound me for everlasting punishment is knocked off. If the debt be remitted, the prison-doors are thrown open, and I may walk at liberty. As, when the jubilee-trumpet sounded, † all forfeitures were rendered void; so it is when this

joyful sound" reaches a sinner's afflicted heart: all forfeitures are instantly at an end, whether of life, liberty, or estate. All condemnation ceases, and the believing soul passes from death to life. He who was tied and bound with the chain of his sins, is brought into the liberty wherewith Christ makes His disciples. free-a liberty of loving,, serving, and praising God. The heavenly inheritance, of which by sin he had deprived himself, is freely and fully restored to him, so that it is his privilege to

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rejoice in hope of the glory of God." At the jubilee was proclaimed a cessation from labour. There was to be no sowing nor reaping that year, but every Israelite was to eat of that which cost him no toil. So when the message of absolution enters the conscience, the favoured sinner ceases from his own works. No longer, like a galley-slave instigated by fear of the lash, does he obey under the influence of the spirit of bondage, as if his obedience were to be the condition of salvation; but, receiving a pardon

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*Ps. xxxii. 1, 2. + Lev. xxv. 8-10. Ps. lxxxix. 15, 16.

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as free as it is valuable, he now renders a willing obedience to Christ, as the fruit of "faith working by love." O precious benefit!

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"And what is this?-Survey the wondrous cure,
"And at each step let higher wonder rise!
"Pardon for infinite offence, and pardon
"Thro' means, which speak its value infinite!
"A pardon bought with blood! with blood Divine!
"With blood Divine of Him I made my foe!
Persisted to provoke! tho' woo'd and aw'd,
"Bless'd and chastis'd, a flagrant rebel stil!!
"A rebel midst the thunder of His throne!
"Nor I alone! a rebel universe!

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My species up in arms! not one exempt!
"Yet for the foulest of the foul He dies,
"Most joy'd for the redeem'd from deepest guilt!
"As if our race were held of higher rank,
"And Godhead dearer, as more kind to man 199 *

For whom is the comfort of this act of grace designed? The proposal is made to all who hear the joyful sound, but none reap the advantage, or enjoy the comfort of it, but those "who truly repent and unfeignedly believe His holy Gospel." Yet repentance and faith are not conditions performed by us, for the merit of which God bestows the pardon. To assert this would be to destroy the very nature of the act of grace, and to convert the gospel into a bargain made between God and the sinner. Faith and repentance are the gifts of God, and flow from the same ocean of mercy from which forgiveness itself springs. "Christ is exalted to "be a Prince and a Saviour, to give repentance "to Israel, and remission of sins."† "Faith "is not of ourselves, but it is the gift of God." How strange would it be for a person, who

† Acts v. 31.

* YOUNG.

Eph. ii. 8.

wished to get possession of some valuable com-. modity, to say to the proprietor, "If you will supply me with the money, then I will purchase of you the article I want?" The nature of repentance has already been considered. Concerning faith in the gospel something remains to be said, since this also is declared to be essential to salvation; for "the unbelieving," as well as the abominable, and murderers, "and whoremongers, and sorcerers, and idola"ters, and all liars, shall have their part in the

lake, which burneth with fire and brimstone; "which is the second death."* Gospel-faith, then, is a habit wrought in the soul by the power of the Holy Ghost, by which it renounces every thing which it can call its own, as a ground of hope towards God, and places all its trust on the Divine declaration that "Jesus "Christ came into the world to save sinners.” "Dost thou believe in the Son of God?” † How weighty an inquiry! Do you acknowledge that all men, as sinners, are under a sentence of condemnation, and that, had not the Saviour been provided, all must have perished? Let us endeavour to realize the thought; the conviction is essential to the being of faith: for in proportion to the sense we entertain of the reality and magnitude of our danger, will be our joy at the prospect of escape, and the cordiality with which we shall embrace the salvation of God. Self-despair must necessarily precede and accompany every act of believing on the Son of God. Is a physician valuable in his official character? It is only to the sick. Faith is a venturing of the soul on the narrative

*Rev. xxi, 8. + John ix. 35.

Matt. ix. 12.

of facts, and those deductions from them of which the gospel is composed. The gospel, considered not as a system of ethics, but as a revelation of Divine mercy, is the foundation on which the believer builds. Take this away, and he has nothing left to support the fabric of his hopes and prospects.

As the Israelites, when dying in torment through the venom of the fiery serpents which had bitten them, looked to the brazen effigy erected by Moses on a pole, and by looking derived life and health to their bodies; so the awakened sinner, through looking by faith unto Jesus on the cross, obtains salva: tion for his perishing soul. I you are a believer,

If

, you have an habitual acquaintance with your own guilty, helpless, and undone condition; you perceive the imperfections of your prayers, tears, repentance, and faith, and renounce them all, considered as a basis for confidence before

For as the magnifying powers of the microscope discover imperfections in the finest works of human art, which the unassisted eye: could not discern; and perfections in the works of God, which were also invisible without its aid; so faith perceives innumerable and gross defects in the most polished productions of man's righteousness, where reason saw nothing but excellence; and glories in the person and obedience of Jesus, where reason could espy nothing worthy of admiration or love. If you are a

know the difficulty of believing, and daily cry, “ Lord, help mine unbelief! ” For while the person, whose faith is the mere result of education or national tradition, and consists in a cold, uninfluential assent to certain propositions, considers the work of faith easy to be performed; the sinner, who is convinced

God.

believer, you

of unbelief, who apprehends the value of his soul, and perceives its lost condition, is persuaded from experience, that genuine faith is the effect of the operation of God, and that truly to believe on Jesus is an act of the Divine life which none can perform but through the influence of the Holy Ghost. On what ground then may one, who hears the declaration of absolution, safely build a hope that he is interested in it? Some risk their eternal all on an unfounded conclusion that, since sin is so common, God will not punish such multitudes of His creatures. Many compare themselves with others, and found their claim on a comparative innocence of manners, and an exemption from grosser pollutions. Others conclude favourably for themselves on the score of God's forbearance of executing His threatenings, forgetting that this is not the world of judgment. These are sandy foundations. An inference of the favour of God, drawn from outward prosperity, is of the same kind-it receives no support from Scripture. They "who truly repent, and un

feignedly believe His holy Gospel," are the only persons on whom a pardoning God will smile with approbation. If you are truly sorry for sin, and earnestly desire to forsake it, this is repentance. If, renouncing all hope from the law and your own obedience to it, you cordially embrace the gospel, and lie at the foot of the cross, covered with holy confusion, crying, "Lord, save, or I perish," this is faith; and the trembling sinner may rest assured, that it is not the high perfection, but the reality of faith, that gives an interest in the gracious promise, "He that believeth shall be saved."

I

* John xvi. 9.

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