The Method of Grace in the Gospel Redemption
by John Flavel
File 18
(... continued from file 17)

Sermon 16. 
Enforcing the general Exhortation, by a seventh Motive drawn from 
the first Benefit purchased by Christ. 
Eph. 1: 7. 
In whom we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of 
sins according to the riches of his grace. 
    Six great motives have been presented already from the titles 
of Christ, to draw the hearts of sinners to him; more are now to be 
offered from the benefits redounding to believers by Christ; 
essaying, by all means, to win the hearts of men to Christ. To this 
end I shall in the first place, open that glorious privilege of 
gospel-remission, freely and fully conferred upon all that come to 
Christ by faith, "in whom we have redemption by faith," &c. 
    In which words we have, first, a singular benefit, or choice 
mercy bestowed, viz. redemption, interpreted by way of opposition, 
the remission of sins: this is a privilege of the first rank, a 
mercy by itself; none sweeter, none more desirable among all the 
benefits that come by Christ. And therefore, 
    Secondly, You have the price of this mercy, an account what it 
cost, even the brood of Christ, in whom we have redemption [through 
his blood:] precious things are of great price; the blood of Christ 
is the meritorious cause of remission. 
    Thirdly, You have here also the impulsive cause, moving God to 
grant pardons at this rate to sinners, and that is said to be the 
riches of his grace: where, by the way, you see that the freeness of 
the grace of God, and the fulness of the satisfaction of Christ, 
meet together without the least jar in the remission of sin, 
contrary to the vain cavil of the Socinian adversaries: "In whom we 
have redemption, even the remission of sins, according to the riches 
of his grace." 
    Fourthly, You have the qualified subjects of this blessed 
privilege, viz. Believers, in whose name he here speaks, [we] have 
remission, i. e. We the saints and faithful in Christ Jesus, ver. 1. 
We whom he has chosen in Christ before the foundation of the world, 
and predestinated unto the adoption of children, ver. 4, 5. We that 
are made accepted in the beloved, ver. 6. It is we, and we only, who 
have redemption through his blood. Hence observe, 
    Doct. That all believers, and none but believers, receive the 
         remission of their sins through the riches of grace, by the 
         blood of Jesus Christ. 
    In the explication of this point three things must be spoken 
    1. That all that are in Christ are in a pardoned state. 
    2. That their pardon is the purchase of the blood of Christ. 
    3. That the riches of grace are manifested in remission. 
    First, That all that are in Christ are in a pardoned state: 
where I will first shew you what pardon or remission of sin is. 
    Secondly, That this is the privilege of none but believers. 
    First, Now remission of sin is the gracious act of God, in and 
through Christ, discharging a believing sinner from all the guilt 
and punishment of his sin, both temporal and eternal. 
    It is the act of God; he is the author of remission; none can 
forgive sins but God only, Mark 2: 7. Against him only, i.e. 
principally and especially, the offence is committed, Psal. 51: 4. 
To his judgement guilt binds over the soul; and who can remit the 
debt but the creditor? Matth. 6: 12. 
    It is an act of God, discharging the sinner; it is God's 
loosing of one that stood bound, the cancelling of his bond or 
obligation, called therefore remission or releasing in the text; the 
blotting out of our iniquities, or the removing of our sins from us, 
as it is called in other scriptures; see Psal. 103: 11. Micah 7: 
    It is a gracious act of God, the effect of pure grace, done for 
his own name's sake, Isa. 43: 25. discharging us without any 
satisfaction at all by us: there is much grace in that; and 
providing a surety for us every way able to pay our debt, there is 
more grace in that. 
    It is the gracious act of God in and through Christ: the 
satisfaction of Christ is the procuring cause of our remission, and 
so God declares himself just in the remission of our sin, Rom. 3: 
25. "Gracious is the Lord and righteous," Psal. 116: 5. Justice and 
mercy meet here, and embrace each other; "in whom (saith the text) 
we have remission:" no other price could purchase this privilege, 
Micah 6: 6, 7. not rivers of oil, or of human blood. 
    And this gracious act of God discharges the pardoned soul both 
from guilt and punishment. Guilt is nothing else but the force and 
power that is in sin, to oblige the sinner to undergo the penalty 
due to sin; therefore sinners are said to be guilty of hell-fire. 
Matth 5: 22. Guilty of eternal judgement, Mark 3: 29. To be under 
the judgement of God, Rom. 3: 19. Remission takes away both guilt 
and punishment together; it takes away all guilt, Acts 13: 38, 39. 
and all punishment. And so much of the first thing to be opened, 
namely, what the remission of sin is. 
    Secondly, Now that this remission of sin is the privilege of 
believers, is most apparent, for all the causes of remission are in 
conjunction to procure it for them; the love of God, which is the 
impulsive cause of pardon; the blood of Christ, which is the 
meritorious cause of pardon; and saving faith, which is the 
instrumental cause of pardon, do all co-operate for their remission, 
as is plain in the text. 
    Besides, all the promises of pardon are made to them, Jer. 31: 
34. Micah 7: 18. And, lastly, all the signs of pardon are found in 
them, and in them only, that love God, Luke 7: 47. Mercifulness to 
others, Matth. 6: 14. A blessed calmness and peace in the 
conscience, Rom. 5: 1. So that it is a truth beyond controversy, 
that all that are in Christ are in a pardoned state. 
    Secondly, Next I will shew you, that the pardon of believers is 
the purchase of the blood of Christ: nothing but the blood of Christ 
is a price equivalent to the remission of sin, for this blood was 
innocent and untainted blood, 1 Pet. 1: 19. the blood of a Lamb 
without spot; this blood was precious blood, blood of infinite worth 
and value, the blood of God, Acts 20: 28. It was prepared blood for 
this very purpose, Heb. 10: 5. Prepared by God's eternal 
appointment; prepared by Christ's miraculous and extraordinary 
production by the operation of the Spirit; prepared by his voluntary 
sequestration, or sanctification of himself to this very use and 
    The blood of Jesus is not only innocent, precious, and prepared 
blood, but it is also blood actually shed and sacrificed to the 
justice of God, for the expiation of guilt, and procurement of our 
discharge, Isa. 53:5. O. To conclude, the severe justice of God 
could put in no exception against the blood of Christ, it is 
unexceptionable blood, being, (as before was noted,) untainted by 
sin, and dignified above all estimation by the person whose blood it 
was. Justice required no less, and could demand no more; and this is 
the price at which our pardons are purchased, and without which no 
sin could be pardoned; for "without shedding of blood, (such blood 
as this) there is no remission," Heb. 9: 22. 
    Thirdly, The last thing to be opened is, That God has 
manifested the riches of his grace, in the remission of our sins. So 
speaks the apostle, Rom. 5: 20. "Where sin abounded, grace did much 
more abound: And, 1 Tim. 1: 14. "The grace of our Lord (viz. in the 
pardon of sin) was exceeding abundant." Which will appear, if we 
bring our thoughts close to the matter, in several particulars. 
    First, From the nature of the mercy, which is the richest of 
all mercies, except Christ the purchaser of it: No mercy sweeter 
than a pardon to a condemned sinner; no pardon like God's pardon to 
a man condemned at his  bar; all the goodness of God is made to pass 
before our eyes in his pardoning acts of grace, Exod. 33: 19. 
    Secondly, The very riches of grace must needs be in the pardon 
of sin, if we consider the method in which pardons are dispensed, 
which is, as the text speaks, "through his blood." Herein "God 
commends his love to us," Rom. 5: 8. He commends it more than if he 
had pardoned sin without such a sacrifice, for then he had only 
displayed his mercy, but not caused mercy and justice to meet and 
triumph together. 
    Thirdly, The riches of his grace shine forth in the peculiarity 
of the mercy. Remission is no common favour; it is never extended to 
the fallen angels, nor to the greater part of the children of men, 
but only to a little flock, a small remnant of mankind, Luke 12: 82. 
John 17: 9. 
    Fourthly, The riches of grace are manifested in remission, if 
we consider the subjects of this privilege, who are not only equally 
plunged into sin and misery with others by nature, Eph. 2: 3. but 
many of the Lord's pardoned ones have been actually guilty of a 
deeper dyed abomination than many unpardoned ones, in the civilised 
world, are defiled with. "To me, (saith Paul), the greatest of 
sinners, one that was before a blasphemer, a persecutor, &c. yet to 
me is this grace given; I obtained mercy," 1 Tim. 1: 15. "And such 
were some of you, but ye are justified," 1 Cor. 6: 11. Yea, God 
singles out the most base, despised, poor, and contemptible ones 
among men, to be the subjects of this glorious privilege, 2 Cor. 1: 
26. "You see your calling, brethren," &c. 
    Fifthly, More of the riches of grace still appear, if we view 
the latitude and extent of this act of grace. O how innumerable are 
our transgressions! "Who can understand his errors;" Psal. 19: 12. 
"Yet the blood of Christ cleanseth us from all sin," 1 John 1: 7. 
Small and great sins, open and secret sins, old and new sins, all 
pardoned without exception. O the riches of grace! O the 
unsearchable goodness of God! "With the Lord there is mercy and with 
him there is plenteous redemption; and he shall redeem Israel from 
all his iniquities," Psal. 130: 7. 8. 
    Sixthly, and lastly, The riches of grace shine forth in the 
irrevocableness and perpetuity of remission. As grace pardons all 
sins without exception, so the pardons it bestows are without 
revocation: The pardoned soul shall "never come into condemnation," 
John 5: 24. "As far as the east is from the west, so far has he 
removed our transgressions from us," Psal. 103: 10. The east and 
west are the two opposite points of heaven, which can never come 
together; neither shall the pardoned soul and its sins ever meet any 
more. "Thou hast cast, (saith Hezekiah) all my sins behind thy 
back." The penitent believer sets his sins before his face, but the 
merciful God casts them all behind his back, never to behold them 
more, so as to charge them upon his pardoned people. And thus you 
see what the pardon of sin is, what the price that purchaseth pardon 
is, and what riches of grace God manifesteth in the remission of a 
believer's sins; which were the things to be explained and opened in 
the doctrinal part. The improvement of the whole you will have in 
the following uses. 
    Inference 1. If this be so, that all believers, and none but 
believers, receive the remission of their sins through the riches of 
grace, by the blood of Christ; What a happy condition then are 
believers in! Those that never felt the load of sin may make light 
of a pardon; but so cannot you, that have been in the deeps of 
trouble and fear about it; those that have been upon the rack of an 
accusing and condemning conscience, as David, Heman, and many of the 
saints have been, can never sufficiently value a pardon. "Blessed is 
the man whose transgression is forgiven, whose sin is covered; 
blessed is the man unto whom the Lord imputeth not iniquity," Psal. 
32: 1, 2. or, O the blessedness and felicities of the pardoned man! 
as in the Hebrew. Remission cannot but appear the wonder of mercies, 
if we consider through what difficulties the grace of God makes way 
for it to our souls; what strong bars the love of God breaks 
asunder, to open our way to this privilege; for there can be no 
pardon without a Mediator; no other Mediator but the Son of God: the 
Son of God cannot discharge our debts, but by taking them upon 
himself as our surety, and making full payment, by bearing the wrath 
of God for us; and when all this is done, there can be no actual 
pardon, except the Spirit of grace open our blind eyes, break our 
hard hearts, and draw them to Christ in the way of believing. And as 
the mercy of remission comes to us through wonderful difficulties, 
so it is in itself a complete and perfect mercy: God would not be at 
such vast expense of the riches of his grace, Christ would not lay 
out the invaluable treasures of his precious blood to procure a 
cheap and common blessing for us. Rejoice then, ye pardoned souls, 
God has done great things for you, for which you have cause to be 
    Inf. 2. Hence it follows, That interest in Christ by faith, 
brings the conscience of a believer into a state of rest and peace, 
Rom. 5: 1. "Being justified by faith, we have peace with God." I say 
not that every believer is presently brought into actual peace and 
tranquillity of conscience; there may be many fears, and much 
trouble even in a pardoned soul; but this is an undoubted truth, 
that faith brings the pardoned soul into that condition and state, 
where he may find perfect rest in his conscience, with respect to 
the guilt and danger of sin. The blood of Christ sprinkles us from 
an evil (that is, an accusing, condemning) conscience. We are apt to 
fear, that this or that special sin, which has most terrified and 
affrighted our conscience, is not forgiven: but if there be riches 
enough in the grace of God, and efficacy enough in the blood of 
Christ, then the sins of believers, all their sins, great as well as 
small, one as well as another, without limitation or exception, are 
    For let us but consider, If Christ remits no sin to any man, 
but with respect to the blood of Christ, then all sins are pardoned, 
as well as any one sin; because the dignity and desert of that blood 
is infinite, and as much deserves an universal pardon for all sins, 
as the particular pardon of any, even the least sin: moreover, 
remission is an act of God's fatherly love in Christ; and if it be 
so, then certainly no sin of any believer can be retained or 
excluded from pardon; for then the same soul should be in the favour 
of God, so far as it is pardoned, and out of favour with God, so far 
as it is unpardoned, and all this at one and the same instant of 
time: which is a thing both repugnant to itself, and to the whole 
strain of the gospel. 
    To conclude: What is the design and end of remission, but the 
saving of the pardoned soul? But if any sin be retained or excluded 
from pardon, the retaining of that sin must needs make void the 
pardon of all other sins; and so the acts of God must cross and 
contradict each other, and the design and end of God miscarry and be 
lost; which can never be. So then we conclude, faith brings the 
believing soul into a state of rest and peace. 
    Inf. Hence it also follows, That no remission is to be expected 
by any soul, without an interest by faith in Jesus Christ: no 
Christ, no pardon; no faith, no Christ. Yet how apt are many poor 
deluded souls to expect pardon in that way, where never any soul yet 
did, or ever can meet it. Some look for pardon from the absolute 
mercy of God, without any regard to the blood of Christ, or their 
interest therein: we have sinned, but God is merciful! Some expect 
remission of sin by virtue of their own duties, not Christ's merits: 
I have sinned, but I will repent, restore, reform, and God will 
pardon! But little do such men know how they therein diminish the 
evil of sin, undervalue the justice of God, slight the blood of 
Christ, and put an undoing cheat upon their own souls for ever. To 
expect pardon from absolute mercy, or our own duties, is to knock at 
the wrong door, which God has shut up to all the world, Rom. 3: 20. 
Whilst these two principles abide firm, that the price of pardon is 
only in the blood of Christ, and the benefit of pardon, only by the 
application of his blood to us; this must remain a sure conclusion, 
that no remission is to he expected by any soul, without an interest 
by faith in Jesus Christ. Repentance, restitution, and reformation 
are excellent duties in their kind, and in their proper places, but 
they were never meant for saviours, or satisfaction to God for sin. 
    Inf. 2 It the riches of grace be thus manifested in the pardon 
of sin, How vile an abuse is it of the grace of God, to take the 
more liberty to sin, because grace abounds in the pardon of it! 
    "Shall we continue in sin, that grace may abound? God forbid!" 
Rom. 6: 1, 2. Will nothing cheaper than the grace of God serve to 
make a cloak for sin? O vile abuse of the most excellent thing in 
the whole world? Did Christ shed his blood to expiate our guilt, and 
dare we make that a plea to extenuate our guilt? God forbid! 
    If it be intolerable ingratitude among men, to requite good 
with evil, sure that sin must want a name bad enough to express it, 
which puts the greatest dishonour upon God for the greatest mercy 
that ever was given by God to the world. "There is mercy with thee, 
(saith the Psalmist,) that thou mayest be feared;" not that thou 
mayest be the more abused, Psal. 130: 4. Nay, let me say, the devils 
never sinned at this rate; they cannot abuse the pardoning grace of 
God, because such grace was never offered unto them. And certainly, 
if the abuse of the common mercies of God, as meat and drink, by 
gluttony and drunkenness, be an heinous sin and highly provoking to 
God; then the abuse of the riches of his grace, and the precious 
blood of his Son, must be out of measure sinful, and the greatest 
affront we can put upon the God of mercy. 
    Inf. 5. To conclude: If this be so, as ever you expect pardon. 
and, mercy from God, come to Christ in the way of faith; receive and 
embrace him now in the tenders of the gospel. 
    To drive home this great exhortation, I beseech you, as in the 
bowels of Christ Jesus, and by all the regard and value you have for 
your souls, let these following considerations sink down in your 
    First, That all Christless persons are actually under the 
condemnation of God, John 3: 113. "He that believeth not is 
condemned already:" and it must needs be so, for every soul is 
concluded under the curse of the law, till Christ make him free, 
John 8: 36. Till we are in Christ, we are dead by law; and when we 
believe unto justification, then we pass from death to life. A blind 
mistaken conscience may possibly acquit you, but assure ourselves 
God condemns you. 
    Secondly, Consider what a terrible thing it is to lie under the 
condemnation of God; the most terrible things in nature cannot 
shadow forth the misery of such a state; put all sicknesses, all 
poverty, all reproaches, the torments invented by all tyrants into 
one scale, and the condemnation of God into the other, and they will 
be all found lighter than a feather. Condemnation is the sentence of 
God, the great and terrible God; it is a sentence shutting you up to 
everlasting wrath: it is a sentence never to be reversed, but by the 
application of Christ in the season thereof. O souls! you cannot 
bear the wrath of God; you do not understand it, if you think it 
tolerable: One drop of it upon your consciences now, is enough to 
distract you in the midst of all the pleasures and comforts of this 
world: yet all that are out of Christ, are sentenced to the fulness 
of God's wrath for ever. 
    Thirdly, There is yet a possibility of escaping the wrath to 
come; a door of hope opened to the worst of sinners; a day of grace 
is offered to the children of men, Heb. 3: 15. God declares himself 
unwilling that any should perish, 2 Pet. 3: 9. O what a mercy is 
this! Who, that is on this side heaven or hell, fully understands 
the worth of it? 
    Fourthly, The door of mercy will be shortly shut, Luke 12: 25. 
God has many ways to shut it: he sometimes shuts it by withdrawing 
the means of grace, and removing the candlesticks; a judgement at 
this time to be greatly feared. Sometimes he shuts it by withdrawing 
the Spirit and blessing from the means, whereby all ordinances lose 
their efficacy, 1 Cor. 3: 7. But if he shut it not by removing the 
means of grace from you, certain it is, it will be shortly shut by 
your removal from all the means and opportunities of salvation by 
    Fifthly, When once the door of mercy is shut, you are gone 
beyond all the possibilities of pardon and salvation for evermore. 
The night is then come, in which no man can work, John 9: 4. All the 
golden seasons you now enjoy, will be irrecoverably gone out of your 
    Sixthly, Pardons are now daily granted to others: some (and 
they once as far from mercy as you now are,) are at this day reading 
their pardons with tears of joy dropping from them. The world is 
full of the examples and instances of the riches of pardoning grace. 
And whatever is needful for you to do in the way of repentance and 
faith to obtain your pardon, how easily shall it be done, if once 
the day of God's power come upon you? Psal. 110:3. 0 therefore, lift 
up your cries to heaven, give the Lord no rest, take no denial till 
he open the blind eye, break the stony heart, open and bow the 
stubborn will, effectually draw thy soul to Christ, and deliver thy 
pardon signed in his blood. 

The Method of Grace in the Gospel Redemption
(continued in file 19...)

file: /pub/resources/text/ipb-e/epl-09: flamt-18.txt