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voked him; we must pray to God to continue his acts of mercy, because we continually provoke him by new acts. of rebellion. Add to this, the king grants pardon to a man; in all patents of pardon there is a clause that the man must renew his patent. If forgiveness may be renewed, then those things are to be renewed again, by which the renovation of my remission may be wrought. God would have me renew my acts of faith; and if of faith, why not of repentance, and of prayer? There is a singular place in Ezek. chap. XXXVI. ver. 29. 35. 37. that makes it plain, that though God intends to do the thing, yet he appoints this to be the means: "Thus saith the Lord God, I will yet for this be inquired of by the house of Israel, to do it for them;" that is, though I have done it, and intend to it, yet will I do it by the means of prayer. Howsoever that God had promised Elijah," that rain should come upon the face of the earth;" yet he goes upon the mount, and saw no show of a cloud. The text saith not what he did; but "he put his head between his knees." St. James saith," he prayed, and he opened heaven, and brought down rain." It was an humble secret gesture. A man may be more free in private than in public. "He prayed, and the heavens opened." God had promised it, and would do it, but yet he would be sought to. So we see the mediate cause is prayer; so, though the Lord will do this, yet for all this he will be inquired of: it is not with God as with men; men, who have promised, would be loth to be sued to, not to break their promise; they account that a dishonour to them, but it is not so with God; God hath promised, yet thou shalt have no benefit of it, until thou sue to him for it; therefore thou must go to God and say, "Lord fulfil thy promise to thy servant, wherein thou hast caused me to trust." God loves to have his bond sued out. Lord, make good this word, perform that good word that thou hast spoken. God would have his bond thus sued out. And as thy faith, repentance, prayer is renewed, so is thy pardon renewed. When God will make a man possess the sins of his youth; when a man is careless this way, it
pleaseth God to awaken him. "Thou writest bitter things against me, and makest me to possess the iniquity of my youth." When a man forgetteth the iniquities of his youth, and reneweth not his repentance, and hath not new acts of faith and petition, then God maketh him to possess the iniquities of his youth;" he makes his sins stand up and cry out against him, and by this means his old evidences are obliterated. When a man hath a pardon, and it is almost obliterated, the letters almost worn out, that they cannot be read, he would be glad to have it renewed, to have a new exemplification. Every sin it puts a great blur upon thine old evidences that thou canst not read them. They may be firm in heaven, and yet perhaps be so blurred that thou canst not read them, and therefore if thou wouldst get them cleared again, thou must go to God by prayer, and renew them again; so that whether our evidences be blurred, or whether it be that God will make us possess the iniquities of our youth, it is necessary to pray for the forgiveness of those sins, which have been before forgiven.
But now you will say, when I have sinned afterward, how come I then to be justified? Then a man would think repentance only doth it, and without repentance a man cannot be justified.
But you must understand, repentance is not an instrument at all; faith only is the instrument, faith justifieth me from sin hereafter, as well as before. The case is this, faith brings life. "The righteous shall live by his faith," as the prophet Habakkuk1 speaks.
What do then new sins do?
k Job, chap. 13. ver. 26.
There are two sorts of sins; one of ordinary incursion, which cannot be avoided; these break no friendship betwixt God and us; these only weaken our faith, and make us worse at ease. But there are other sins which waste a man's conscience; a man that hath committed murder, adultery, and lives in covetousness, which (in the apostles) is idolatry; as long as a man is in this case, he cannot
Chap. 2. ver. 4.
exercise the acts of faith; we must know faith justifieth not as an habit, but as an act applying Christ to the comfort of the soul. Now a wasting sin it stops the passage of faith, it cannot act till it be opened by repentance; physicians give instances for it. Those that have apoplexies, epilepsies, and the falling sickness, are thought to be dead for the time, as it was with Eutychus, yet saith St. Paul, "hism spirit was in him." Every one thought him dead, yet his spirit is in him; however in regard of the operation of his senses it did appear he was dead. So, if thou art a careless man and lookest not to thy watch, and to thy guard, but art overtaken in some gross and grievous sin, thou art taken for dead. I say not, a man can lose his life that once hath it; but yet in the apprehension of others, and of himself to, he may appear to be dead. As in epilepsies, the nerves are hindered by obstructions; so sin obstructs the nerves of the soul, that there cannot be that life and working till these sins be removed. Now what is repentance? why, it clears the passages, that though faith could not act before, yet now it gives him dispositions unto it. As a man in a swoon cannot do the acts of a living man, till he be refreshed again; so here it is repentance which clears the spirits, and makes the life of faith pass throughout. Now when repentance clears the passages, then faith acts, and now there is a new act of faith, faith justifies me from my new sins; faith at first and at last, is that whereby I am justified from my sins, which I commit afterwards.
But this forgiveness of sins, what doth it free us from? In sin, we must consider two things; the fault and the punishment. Now consider sin as it is in itself, and as in itself, and as it respects the sinner, as acted by him, as repecting the fault of the sinner, it is ȧvouía, a transgression of the law; the punishment is death; as it respects the sinner, it is guilt. The sin is not guilt, but the guilt the sinner's. For instance, a man hath told a lie, or sworn an oath, the act is past, but a thing remains, which we call
Acts, chap. 20. ver. 13.
the guilt. As if a man commit murder, or adultery, the act is past, but yet if he sleep, or walk, or wake, the guilt follows him; and nothing can take away the murder, or adultery from the soul, but the blood of Christ applied by faith.
"Rom. chap. 8. ver. 1.
P 2 Kings, chap. 4. ver. 41.
First, God takes away the punishment. "There" is now," saith the apostle, "no condemnation to them that are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit;" what, nothing in them worthy of condemnation? God knows we are worthy of a thousand condemnations. There are two judges; there is a double guilt; when a man is brought to the bar, first, the jury judge the fact, and then the judge that sits on the bench, he judgeth the punishment; one saith, Guilty, or not guilty? The other saith, Guilty, then he judgeth him. Now when we are justified, we are freed from both these guilts; "sin when it is accomplished, bringeth forth death:" you know the natural work of sin, àπOKÚε, it labours with death; now God will stop the acts of it, that it shall not do that, which it is apt to do, which is as good as if the sin were taken away; when there were wild gourds sliced in the pot, it is said, the prophet took that venomous herb away; that is, though the thing were there, yet it is as if it were not there, it shall do no manner of hurt: "Bring now and pour out, and there was no evil thing." So in respect of us, though there be an evil thing in punishment, and what, if we had our due, would bring condemnation, yet when we are sprinkled with the blood of Christ, it can do us no evil, no hurt; it is said in the Scripture, that the stars fell from heaven to the earth; but they are said to fall, when they give not their light, and do not that, for which they were put there; so, though I have committed sin, yet when God is pleased for Christ's sake to pardon it, it is as if it were not there at all.
This is a great matter, but I tell you there is more; we are not only freed from the guilt of punishment, but which
James, chap. 1. ver. 15.
is higher, we are freed from the guilt of the fact.
Rom. chap. 8. ver. 33.
Isai. chap. 1. ver. 18.