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the gospel-call, they are gainers, Phil. iii. 8. He was a wise merchant that sold all to buy the pearl of great price. They axe wise indeed that are wise for their souls; and they are so that come to Christ on his call, while all the neglectors of the great salvation, gain what they will otherwise, do lose a talent while they gain a mite, losing their own souls, which loss can never be made up.
Use II. Of exhortation.
First, To unconverted sinners. O comply with the gospel-call at length, and come away to Christ. I offer a few motives to press the exhortation.
Mot. 1. While ye do not come away upon the call, ye have no part or lot in these benefits. If ye presume to apply them to yourselves, God's word knocks off your fingers from them, for they are the peculiar privilege of those that are effectually called. And,
1. Ye are not justified, the sentence of condemnation is standing in force against you, Gal. iii. 10, John iij. ult. And as sure as God's word cannot fail, it will be executed, if ye come not in in time. Every sin deserves God's wrath and curse ; all that thou dost is sin. But not one of all thy sins is pardoned; they are all wreathed about thy neck, and thou hast them all to reckon for. And thou hast not a cautioner to go between justice and thee; the burden must lie on thy own back.
2. Ye are none of God's children, but of the devil's, John viii. 44. Ye are still of the family ye were born of. A sad family, against which God will have war for ever. Ye can have no access to God, nor communion with him, nor may any of the privileges of the children of God be
aimed by you. Your inlieritance is suitable to the family ye are of, namely, that ye are children of wrath, and heirs of hell
3. Ye are not sanctified. There is no sanctification without the Spirit of Christ dwelling in you; ye have not Christ's Spirit, for ye are none of his. A form of godliness ye may have, but the power of it ye are strangers to. Ye are Satan's drudges and sin's slayes, though all are not employed in alike coarse work by the master of that family, Eph. ii. 2, 3.
Mot. 2. If ye will come to Christ on his call, ye shall partake of all these benefits. If your sins were never so great
and many, they shall be pardoned, Isa. lv. 7. Ye shall be the children of God through Jesus Christ, John i. 12. Ye shall be made holy, 1 Cor. vi. 11. Come in under the covert of his blood, and then neither law nor justice shall reach you. Match with the Son of God, and ye shall be of his Father's family. Answer his call, and he will break the yoke from off your necks, and make you free.
O, Sirs, do not ye need these benefits? How will ye live without them ? are ye able to bear the weight of unpardoned guilt ? How will ye die without them? What will it be to die in an unpardoned state, strangers to the family of hea. ven, and still in your sins? May not these glorious privileges prevail with you? Do ye think nothing of the white stone and new name, which ye may get by coming to Christ ? Seemeth it a light thing to you to be adopted into the family of the King of heaven, and to have his image drawn on you? Think with yourselves how it will aggravate your condemnation, that Christ and all his salvation was in your offer, and ye would have none of him, Heb. ii. 3.
Secondly, To converted sinners that have answered the call.
1. Labour to know your great privileges for time and eternity, 2 Pet. i. 10. O! it is a sad matter that the people of God should have so little knowledge of their state. This would be a notable means to promote sanctification, and tenderness in heart and life.
2. Be thankful for these privileges. Bless God for Christ and the gospel. O bless him for his holy and powerful Spirit. Admire and adore his rich grace, bestowed on worthless worms through Christ, 1 John iii. 1.
3. Lastly, Walk worthy of the vocation, and suitable to the privileges of it, that is, humbly, holily, heavenly, contentedly, patiently, and cheerfully, in hopes of the glory that is to be revealed.
ROMANS iii. 24.-Being justified freely by his grace,
through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus.
"HE first of those benefits which the called do partake
of is justification, which is the great relative change made
upon them, bringing them out of the state of con demnation, wherein they are born, and live till they come to Christ. In the text we have,
1. The persons justified, sinners, viz. believing in Christ. It is the justification of a sinner that the apostle speaks of, as is implied in the connection, ver. 23, 24. For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God: being justified freely by his grace ; but believing, ver. 26.-the justifier of him which believeth in Jesus.'
2. The party justifying, God the judge of all, his grace. It is God's act to justify a sinner.
3. The manner and moving cause, freely by his grace. It is done freely, without any thing of ours done by us to procure or merit it ; and it flows from God's grace or free favour to undeserving and ill deserving creatures.
4. The material and meritorious cause, the redemption that is in Christ Jesus. He has paid the price and ransom whereby the sinner is set free.
The text affords this great and important doctrinal note, , viz. Doct. . The justification of a sinner before God is of free grace, through the satisfaction of Christ.'
In discoursing from this subject I shall shew, 1. What it is to justify a sinner, in general, in the scriptural sense.
II. What are the parts of justification.
I. I shall shew what it is to justify a sinner, in general, in the scripture-sense. Justification and sanctification are indeed inseparable. In vain do they pretend to be justified who are not sanctified; and in vain do they fear they are not justified, who are sanctified by the Spirit of Christ, 1 Cor. vi. 11.
But yet they are distinct benefits, not to be confounded, nor taken for one and the same.
Justification is not the making of a person just and righ. teous, by infusing of grace or holiness unto him. But it is a discharging him from guilt, and declaring or pronouncing him righteous. So it is a law-term taken from courts of judicature, wherein a person is accused, tried, and after trial absolved. Thus the scripture opposeth it to accusation and condemnation, Rom. viii. 33, 34. Who shall lay any thing to the charge of God's elect? It is God that justifieth: Who is he that condemneth? It is Christ that died, yea rather, that is risen again, who is even at the right hand of God, who also maketh intercession for us,' Deut. xxv. 1. “They shall justify the righteous, and condemn the wicked.? And so it is declared to be a sin to justify the wicked, Proy. xvii. 15. not to make them righteous, but to pronounce them righteous. Hence it follows, that,
1. Justification is not a real change of the sinner's nature, but a relative change of his state. The change of the sinner's nature, from sin to holiness, is inseparably annexed to it: but it is only the bringing him out of the state of condemnation, and setting him beyond the reach of the law, as a righteous person, which is an unspeakable benefit.
2. Justification is an act done and passed in an instant in the court of heaven, as soon as the sinner believes in Christ; and not a work carried on by degrees. For if a sinner be not perfectly justified, he is not justified at all
. If a man were accused of ten capital crimes, if one of them be fixed upon him, he is condemned, and must die. And hence also, though one may be more sanctified than another, yet no believer is in the sight of God more justified than another, since the state of justification is not capable of degrees.
II. I proceed to shew what are the parts of justification.
These are two, the pardoning of sin, and accepting of the sinner's person as righteous. This double benefit is conferred on the sinner in justification. That we may the more clearly take up this matter, we must view the process of a sinner's justification. And here,
First, God himself sits Judge in this process, Psal. ix. 4. • Thou sattest in the throne judging right.' He gave the law; and as he is the Lawgiver, so he is the Judge of all the earth. Men may justify themselves, Luke x. 29. and others may justify them: but what does it avail, if God do not justify them ? for only he has the authority and power to do it, Rom. viii. 33. It is God that justifieth.' Many a man Inoking overly into his own state and case, passes a very favourable sentence on himself, and his way may be so blameless before the world, that others must judge him a righteous man too; but the judgment of God comes after, and reverses all. And he only can justify authoritatively and irreversibly. For.
1. He only is the Lawgiver, and he only has power to save or to destroy, and therefore the judgment must be left to him, Jam. iv. 12. The case concerns his honour and law, and must be tried at his tribunal; and whoever takes it in hand, he will call it to his own bar.
2. To him the debt is owing, and therefore he only can give the discharge. Against him the crime is committed, and he only can pardon it. Accept us as righteous who will, if he do it not, who gave the law of righteousness, it is nothing, Mark ii. 7.
Secondly, The sinner is cited to answer before God's judgment-seat, by the messengers of God, the ministers of the gospel, Mal. ii. 1. Every sermon an unconverted sinner hears, is a summons put in his hand to answer for his living in a state and course of sin. He is told he has broken God's law, and he must go to God and see what he will answer, and what course he will take with his debt. But, alas! for the most part, sinners are so secure, that they sit the summons, slight it, and will not appear.
But that is not all. Some keep themselves out of the messengers way; either they will not come at all, or very seldom to the public assemblies where the summons is given, Heb. s. 25. But the leaving of the summons there will hold in law before him that sends them, and the dust of the messengers feet will be sufficient witness to the execution, Matt. X. 14. Some never read the summons, they never once seriously consider or apply to themselves the word preached. They hear it as if they heard it not, it never sinks into their hearts. Others tear the summons in pieces; their hearts, like Ahab in the case of Micaiah, rise against the word and the bearer of it, and they hate both, as speaking no good of them. Some affront the messengers, and sometimes lay violent hands on them, Matth. xxii. 6. And thus some sit the