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were enjoined us in order to a participations of mighty glories; it brings our understanding into subjection, making us apt to receive the Spirit for our guide, Christ for our Master, the gospel for our rule, the laws of Christianity for our measure of good and evil; and it supposes us naturally ignorant, and comes to supply those defects which in our understandings were left after the spoils of innocence and wisdom made in Paradise upon Adam's prevarication, and continued and increased by our neglect, evil customs, voluntary deceptions, and infinite prejudices. And as faith presupposes our ignorance, so repentance presupposes our malice and iniquity. The whole design of Christ's coming and the doctrines of the gospel being to recover us from a miserable condition, from ignorance to spiritual wisdom, by the conduct of faith; and from a vicious, habitually-depraved life and ungodly manners to the purity of the sons of God, by the instrument of repentance.
2. And this is a loud publication of the excellency and glories of the gospel, and the felicities of man over all the other instances of creation. The angels, who were more excellent spirits than human souls, were not comprehended and made safe within a covenant and provisions of repent
Their first act of volition was their whole capacity of a blissful or miserable eternity: they made their own sentence when they made their first election, and having such excellent knowledge, and no weaknesses to prejudge and trouble their choice, what they first did was not capable of repentance; because they had at first, in their intuition and sight, all which could afterwards bring them to repentance: but weak man, who knows first by elements, and after long study learns a syllable, and in good time gets a word, could not at first know all those things which were sufficient or apt to determine his choice; but as he grew to understand more, saw more reasons to rescind his first elections. The angels had a full peremptory will and a satisfied understanding at first, and therefore were not to mend their first act by a second contradictory. But poor man hath a will always strongest when his understanding is weakest, and chooseth most when he is least able to de. termine; and therefore is most passionate in his desires, and follows his object with greatest earnestness, when he is blindest, and hath the least reason so to do: and therefore God, pitying man, begins to reckon his choices to be criminal, just in the same degree as he gives him understanding. The violences and unreasonable actions of childhood are no more remembered by God, than they are understood by the child. The levities and passions of youth are not aggravated by the imputation of malice, but are sins of a lighter dye, because reason is not yet impressed and marked upon them with characters and tincture in grain : but he who (when he may choose, because be understands) shall choose the evil and reject the good, stands marked with a deep guilt, and hath no excuse left to him, but as his degrees of ignorance left his choice the more imperfect: and because every sinner, in the style of Scripture, is a fool, and hath an election as imperfect as is the action ; that is, as great a declension from prudence as it is from piety, and the man understands as imperfectly as he practices; therefore God sent his Son
to 'take upon him (not the nature of angels, but) the seed of Abraham," and to propound salvation upon such terms as were possible; that is, upon such a piety which relies upon experience, and trial of good and evil; and hath given us leave, if we choose amiss at first, to choose again, and choose better; Christ having undertaken to pay for the issues of our first follies, to make up the breach made by our first weaknesses and abused understandings.
3. But as God gave us this mercy by Christ, so he also revealed it by him. He first used the authority of a lord, and a creator, and a lawgiver ; he required obedience indeed upon reasonable terms, upon the instance of but a few command ments at first, which, when he afterwards multiplied, he also appointed ways to expiate the smaller irregularities; but left them eternally bound without remedy who should do any great violence or crime. But then he bound them but to a temporal death. Only this, as an eternal death was also tacitly implied, so also a remedy was secretly ministered, and repentance particularly preached by homilies distinct from the covenant of Moses's law. The law allowed no repentance for greater crimes; • he that was convicted of adultery was to die without mercy :'' but God pitied the miseries of man, and the inconveniences of the law, and sent Christ to suffer for the one, and remedy the other. For so it behoved Christ to suffer, and to rise from the dead, and that repentance and remission of sins should be preached in his name among all nations.''
1 Heb. ii. 16.
Lev. xx. 10.
3 Luke, xxiv. 46, 47.
And now this is the last and only hope of man, who in his natural condition is imperfect, in his customs vicious, in his habits impotent and criminal. Because man did not remain innocent, it became necessary he should be penitent, and that this penitence should by some means be made acceptable; that is, become the instrument of his pardon, and restitution of his hope. Which, because it is an act of favour, and depends wholly upon the divine dignation, and was revealed to us by Jesus Christ, who was made not only the prophet and preacher, but the Mediator of this new covenant and mercy; it was necessary we should become disciples of the holy Jesus, and servants of his institution; that is, run to him, to be made partakers of the mercies of this new covenant, and accept of him such conditions as he should require of us.
4. This covenant is then consigned to us when we first come to Christ; that is, when we first profess ourselves his disciples and his servants, disciples of his doctrine, and servants of his institution; that is, in baptism, in which Christ who died for our sins makes us partakers of his death. For we are buried by baptism into his death,” saith St. Paul. Which was also represented in ceremony, by the immersion appointed to be the rite of that sacrament: and then it is that God pours forth, together with the sacramental waters, a salutary and holy foun. tain of grace, to wash the soul from all its stains and impure adherences: and therefore this first access to Christ is in the style of Scripture called * regeneration, the new birth,'' redemption,'' renovation,' expiation,' or 'atonement with God,"
· Rom. vi. 4.
and justification." And these words in the New Testament relate principally and properly to the abolition of sins committed before baptism : for we are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that is in Jesus Christ; whom God hath set forth to be a propitiation, to declare his righteousness for the remission of sins that are past: to declare, I say, at this time bis righteousness :'? and this is that which St. Paul calls “justification by faith,' that boasting might be excluded," and the grace of God by Jesus made exceeding glorious: for this being the proper work of Christ, the first entertainment of a disciple, and manifestation of that state which is first given bim as a favour, and next intended as a duty, is a total abolition of the precedent guilt of sin, and leaves nothing remaining that can condemn: we then freely receive the entire and perfect effect of that atonement which Christ made for us, we are put into a condition of innocence and favour. And this, I say, is done regularly in baptism ; and St. Paul expresses it to this sense : after he had enumerated a series of vices subjected in many, he adds, 'and such were some of you ; but ye are washed, but ye are sanctified." There is nothing of the old guilt remanent: when ye were washed, ye were sancti. fied;' or, as the Scripture calls it in another place, 'ye were redeemed from your vain conversation.'
5. For this grace was the formality of the covenant : ‘Repent, and believe the gospel.' 'Repent, and be converted,' (so it is in St. Peter's sermon,) and your sins shall be done away ;'that
' 1 Pet. iii. 21; Rom. v. 1; Tit. iii. 5, 7; Rom. iii. 26 ; Gal. ii. 16. 2 Rom. iii. 24, 25, 26.
3 Ibid. verse 28. 4 Ibid. verse 27.
61 Cor. vi. 11. 61 Pet. i. 18. 7 Mar. i. 15.
* Acts, ii. 19.