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What then hath God taught us concerning our case? That neither such repentance, nor such reformation, as we are capable of, will suffice to obtain us forgiveness and eternal happiness. For he hath ordained farther means for these ends : and he certainly would not without cause; especially such extraordinary means, as those in the text: which I have purposely deferred to mention, till, having shown you, that pardon is the great thing we all want, and cannot of ourselves secure, I might dispose you to embrace with a more joyful faith that reviving assurance, that Him who knew no sin, God hath made to be sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him. And this doctrine I now proceed

II. To explain and defend.

The natural and obvious meaning of these words, interpreted jointly with innumerable other passages of Scripture, is; that our gracious Maker, being desirous perfectly to relieve mankind both from the original bad effects of the fall of our first parents, and the personal guilt of our own transgressions; but perceiving, in his unsearchable wisdom, sufficient reasons not to do it on such confessions and submissions only, as we were able to make; appointed, that his ever-blessed Son (who voluntarily condescended to engage in the merciful work) should take upon him the likeness of sinful flesh; and bear, for our sakes, inconveniences and sufferings, from which otherwise the dignity and the purity of his nature entirely exempted him; that he took upon him the form of man, not only in order to teach the doctrines and exemplify the practice of true religion, which men had almost forgotten; but also to undergo that painful and ignominious death, which he foresaw wicked persons, offended by his reproofs, would in

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flict on him: that this consent of his to be made sin for us, to be crucified as a malefactor on our account, foreknown from eternity, our heavenly Father hath been pleased to consider as a sin-offering made to himself; an acknowledgment, on our behalf, of the ill-desert of disobedience; a satisfaction, in our stead, to the honour of his justice; and an inducement to bestow on all, who shall qualify themselves for receiving it, such full pardon, as else they could never have had. Thus by making him to be sin for them, he makes them the righteousness of God through him ; that is, on account of Christ's yielding to be treated as a criminal, he treats them as no longer criminals ; giving them joyful proofs here of his protecting providence and sanctifying grace; and raising them up hereafter from the universal sentence of death to the blessed enjoyment of eternal life.

This is so evidently the tenor of the whole New Testament, that no one could ever have entertained the least doubt on the subject, but for the seeming difficulty of reconciling some part or other of it to his own apprehensions and notions: which surely, in a matter so far above our reach, we have little cause to trust to, against the express declarations of Him who knows all things. It implies no absurdity in the least. Guilty persons cannot claim forgiveness, nor innocent persons everlasting happiness, as matters of right, but of mercy and favour only. Now God is not less merciful and favourable to his creatures, if he provides on purpose a particular method for bestowing these blessings on them, than if he did it without such a provision. Nay, indeed, more mercy is shown in making such a provision when it is wanted, than could be shewn were the case better. The goodness of God appears eminently, in propos

ing and accepting, what nothing but goodness could induce him to propose and accept: the goodness of our blessed Lord appears equally, in executing the gracious design by such condescensions as we read in the Gospels, particularly of this week: and the goodness of the Divine Spirit, in applying the whole, by his inward operations, for the benefit of our souls. That one person should undergo pains and hardships for the sake of others, and a good person suffer many things to prevent the misery and promote the happiness of bad ones, is so common in lower in

nces, that though we could not have expected, we may well believe, this high degree of God's love towards us, that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us *. We see not indeed fully, how his death produces our salvation: nor do many people ever know, how the steps taken by their friends for their pardon or advancement proved effectual: yet they are not the less effectual on that account. But thus much however we see daily, that from regard to the services and sufferings and intercessions of some persons, others have favours done them, very wisely and justly, which else neither wisdom nor justice would have permitted. And why then should it not be a fit recompense to our blessed Lord, (as undoubtedly it must be the most acceptable one possible,) for what he so cheerfully undertook and went through, that mankind to whom he had made himself related, in so extraordinary a manner, with so amiable an intention, should be treated the more kindly on his account? that, to speak in the language of the prophet †, when he had made himself an offering for sin, he should see of the travail of his soul and be satisfied, by the knowledge of himself justifying

*Rom. v. 8.

+ Isaiah liii. 10, 11.

many ? For observe, no one will ever be accounted righteous for his sake, who doth not in fact become righteous by his means. And rewarding his incarnation and death, by putting sinners into his hands to be made happy, on condition that he should first make them holy, pious, and virtuous, doth no less honour to the justice of God, than to his mercy.

And how little soever we apprehend the reasons of what Heaven hath done towards our deliverance; yet as we must perceive the fitness of all that we are to contribute towards it, repentance, faith, and obedience, we know very fully as much as we need. They, who never heard of the interposition of Christ, may possibly receive some benefit from it, on a general application, that God will be merciful to them in such a manner as he shall think proper. But of us will be required an explicit petition for that mercy which he hath offered, in that form which he hath directed. And if, instead of this, we will rest our cause solely on the footing of our own righteousness, or our own repentance, imperfect as we know, or easily may know, they both are: if we refuse to acknowledge that efficacy in the death of our blessed Saviour, which he and his Apostles have ascribed to it: from what cause soever this proceeds, other than excusable mistake; whether from a slight opinion of the desert of sin, from a high notion of human virtue, from unwillingness to confess obligations, or from the mere pride of these poor shallow understandings of ours, claiming to know every reason that God hath for his actions, while yet we know completely no one thing around us; it is a presumptuous neglect, full of guilt. And one motive for making our salvation dependant on another, and the manner of his obtaining it for us incomprehensible

to ourselves, might well be, to check that swelling vanity of our hearts, which is the parent of almost all our sin and misery, and to teach man to walk humbly with his God*.

Let us therefore thankfully accept his mercy, just as we find it offered to us, and learn to own, that we have all sinned, and come short of the glory of God, and are justified freely by his grace, through the redemption that is in Jesus Christ: whom God hath set forth to be a propitiation, through faith in his blood, to declare his righteousness; that he might be just, and the justifier of him which believeth in Jesus†.

Mic. vi. 8.

+Rom. iii. 23-26.

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