Imatges de pàgina
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Matt: XXV 41. as saying to the wicked at the day of judgment, Go, ye cursed, into everlasting fire prepared for the devil and his angels, &c. From all which, it plainly appears, that God punishes fome men for their lins in this world, and some in the world to come; and perhaps some finners he punishes in both,

And, as God is pleased to manifest his dislike of fin, by punishing the transgresors, as aforesaid so he is pleas'd, upon proper occasions, to manifeft his mercy, in forgiving the offender; which forgiveness consists in the remitting or taking away those punishments, which are either inflict ed upon or threatened to the finner : and accorde ingly forgiveness is likewise two-fold, as it relates to the two kinds of punishment to be remitted or taken away, viz. temporary punishments in this world, and everlasting punishments in the world

Thus we read, that because Abah humbled himself before the Lord, the Lord remitted to him the temporal punishment which he had threatened upon Ahab, and his house, and would not bring the evil in his days, 1 Kings xxi. 29. Likewise God was pleased to remit the temporary punishment threatened against the people of Nineveh, because they repented at the preaching of Jonah, chap. iii. 10. Thus again we read, that St. Paul was a great offender, in that he persecuted the church of God, and compelled christians to blaspheme, Axls xxvi. 11. And

yet

he declares for himself, that there was laid up for him a crown of righteousness (in another world) which the Lord, the righteous Judge, should give him at the day of judgment, 2 Tim. iv. 8. and consequently that the everlasting punishment, in another world, which was threatened to, and due for his sins, should be remitted unto him. Our Lord likewise declares, that those, which did blofpheme ihe Holy

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come.

Gbel, jooxld not be forgiven, neither in this world xeither in the world to come, Matt. xii. 42. From all which, it manifestly appears, that forgiveness of sin is two-fold; first, in remitting or taking away the temporary punishment inflicted upon, and threatened to men in this world, for their fins; and, secondly, in remitting the everlasting punishment threatened to the finner in the world to come. The case of forgiveness being thus - stated; the question is, when our Lord said, Son, thy fins be forgiven thee, whether he meant the removing of a temporary punishment in this world, or the sea mitting of everlasting punishment in the world to

Now, tho' the words themselves do not determine this matter to either side of the question; yet if we take in the whole story, we shall find it clearly determin’d to the former. For,

First, This forgiveness was vouchsafed to the man, not only upon the acount of his own faith, but also upon the account of the faith of them that brought him. And Jesus seeing [their] faith, &c. that is, Jesus seeing that the persons, which brought the fick man, were strongly persuaded, that he was both able and willing to heal him (which strong persuasion was evident by their opening the roof of the house, and letting the man down thro’ the tiling ) he said to the fick man, Son, thy fems be forgiven thee. Now as on the one side, when we consider the terms proposed in the gofpel for the remitting of everlasting punishment, it is very unlikely, and unreasonable, to suppose, that the man was discharged from that punishment, upon the account of other men's faith: fo on the other side it is very likely and rational to suppose, that the man was deliver'd from temporaty punishment, that is, was cured of the palfy, upon the account of the faith of those that brought him; because, as this was an answering the end

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of their faith and practice, so it was a proper and suitable means to corroborate and strengthen their faith in Christ. But this will be farther evident, if we consider,

Secondly, Our Lord's question to the fews, upon their supposing him to be guilty of blafphemy. Saith he, Whether is it easier to say to the fick of tbe palsy, Thy fins be forgiven thee; or to say, Arise, and | take up thy bed, and walk? Our Saviour, in the

exercise of his ministry, cured all sorts of bodily diseases; and in so doing, he had given an abundant proof of his power or ability to forgive or deliver men from the temporary punishments they lay under for their sins. Now, notwithstanding this, the Jewos, who catched at every occasion of defaming him, were so unreasonable as to think him guilty of blasphemy, because he said, Son, tły fins be forgiven thee. Upon which, our Lord replied to their reasoning; Wbether is it easier to say to the fick of the palj), Thy fins be forgiven thee; or to say, Arise, and take up thy bed, and walk? As much as if he had said; which is easier, to cure the man of his disease? or togive a sensible demonftration of the truth of that cure? But that ye may know that the Son of mon hath power 012 earth to work such a cure, he faith to the fuck of the palfy (that is, to the man which had been sick, and was just then healed) Arise, and take up thy bed, and go thy way into thine house. The man's rising and carrying his bed was a fensiblc proof of his being cured of his disease, or of his being forgiven or deliver'd from the temporary punishment he lay under for his fin; and consequently of Christ's being poffeffed with a power to exercise that forgiveness. But this act of his, in rising and carrying his bed, was not such a sensible proof of the forgiveness of his fins, with respect to everlasting punishment in another world; and consequently, that kind of

forgive.

forgiveness was not intended by our Saviour. Upon the whole, I think it very manifest, that when our Lord said to the man fick of the palsy, Son, thy fins be forgiven thee; he meant by it, that he was discharged from the temporary punishment (viz. the pally) which he lay under for his sins; and consequently, that the man was actually cura ed upon the pronouncing of these words, tho' he did not rise from his bed 'cill our Lord required him fo to do, to give a fensible proof, to the standers by, of the truth of that cure, and of his ability and power to effect it.

This point is farther illustrated by St. James, chap. v. 14. Is any fick among you? let him call for the elders of the church; and let them pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord. Verse 15. And the prayer of faith shall save the sick; that is, it shall be effećtual for his recovery from that temporary affliction which he lies under. And the Lord shall reise him up, viz. from that bed of fickness

upon which he is laid down. And if he have committed fins, that is, if he have committed such fins for which this affliction is laid upon him as a punishment, they shall be forgiven him. That this is the meaning of St. James, is evident from the supposition [ if he have committed sins.] St. James tells us, chap. iii. 2. That in mony things we offend all; therefore all have committed fins as well the sick, as the whole, in his account. Consequently, there was no room for him to put this supposition ( if he have committed sins] with respect to sins in general, because all men have done To. And therefore the sense of it is plainly this; if he have committed such fins for which this affiction is laid upon him,' as a punishment in this world, they shall be forgiven him ; that is, his affiction, or the temporary punishment which he lies under for them, Ihall be removed. To remit

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everlasting punishment to one man, merely upon the account of the prayer and faith of another inan, is to disregard those terms upon which that forgiveness is proposed in the gospel; which are the faith, penitence, and obedience of the

perfon forgiven. And therefore, by forgiving his fins, it is reasonable to suppose, that St. James intends the delivering him from the temporary punishment, or affliction he lay under for them, And that this is his meaning, is farther evident by what follows, verse 16. Confess your faults one to another, and pray one for another, that ye may be beoled ; that is, that ye may be deliver'd from those amictions which are laid upon you for those faults. The effeciual. fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much; that is, it availeth much towards the healing of those that are affiicted, as aforefaid. Verse 17. Elias was a man fåsbječt to like passions as we are, and he prayed earnesily that it might not rain; and it rained not on the earth by the space of three years and fix nonths. Verse 18. And be prayed cgain, and the beatens gave rain, and the earth brought forth her fruit. Here we see what it was that Elias's prayer was affectual for, not the infflicting or removing of everlasting punishment in the world to come, but for the inflicting and removing of temporary punishment here in this world : He prayed earnestly that it mighi not rain, and it rained not by the space of three years and fix months; this was a temporary punishmenț, laid upon the house of Israel, for their fins :. And be prayed again, and the heaven gave rain, and the earth brought forib ber fruit? This was forgiveness of sin in this world, or a removing the temporary punishment which the Ifraelites, in this world, Tuffer'd for their fins.

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