The Lord's Prayer by Thomas Watson File 21 (... continued from file 20) The unpardoned sinner is in an ill case at death. Luther professed there were three things which he durst not think of without Christ; of his sins, of death, and of the day of judgement. Death to a Christless soul is the 'king of terrors.' As the prophet Ahijah said to Jeroboam's wife, 'I am sent to thee with heavy tidings' (I Kings 14: 6); so death is sent to the unpardoned soul with heavy tidings; it is God's jailer to arrest him. Death is a prologue to damnation. It takes away all earthly comforts, it takes away sugared morsels; no more drinking wine in bowls, no more mirth or music. 'The voice of harpers and musicians shall be heard no more at all in thee.' Rev 18: 22. The sinner shall never taste of luscious delights more to all eternity; his honey shall be turned into the 'gall of asps.' Job 20: 14. At death, an end shall be put to all reprieves. Now God reprieves a sinner, he spares him such a fit of sickness; he respites him many years; the sinner should have died at such a drinking bout, but God granted him a reprieve; he lengthened out the silver thread of patience to a miracle; but when the sinner dies without repentance, and unpardoned, the lease of God's patience is run out, and he must appear in person before the righteous God to receive his sentence; after which, there shall be none to bail him, nor shall he hear of a reprieve any more. (6) The sinner dying unpardoned, must go into damnation; this is the second death, mors sine morte [an undying death]. The unpardoned soul must for ever bear the anger of a sin-revenging God. As long as God is God, so long the vial of his wrath shall be dropping upon the damned soul. This is a helpless condition. There is a time when a sinner will not be helped; Christ and salvation are offered to him, but he slights them, he will not be helped; and there is a time shortly coming when he cannot be helped; he calls out for mercy, Oh! a pardon, a pardon! but it is too late, the date of mercy is expired. Oh! how sad, then, is it to live and die unpardoned! You may lay a grave-stone upon that man, and write this epitaph upon it, 'It had been good for that man that he had never been born.' Now, if the misery of an unpardoned state be so inexpressible, how should we labour for forgiveness, that we may not be engulfed in so dreadful a labyrinth of fire and brimstone to all eternity! (7) Such as are unpardoned, must needs lead uncomfortable lives. 'Thy life shall hang in doubt before thee, and thou shalt fear day and night.' Deut 28: 66. Thus the unpardoned sinner must needs have a palpitation and trembling at the heart; he fears every bush he sees. 'Fear has torment.' I John 4: 18. The Greek word for torment, kolasis, is used sometimes for hell: fear has hell in it. A man in debt fears, every step he goes, lest he should be arrested; so the unpardoned sinner fears, what if this night death, death which is God's sergeant, should arrest him! 'Why dost thou not pardon my transgression? For now shall I sleep in the dust:' as if Job had said, 'Lord, I shall shortly die, I shall sleep in the dust; and what shall I do if my sins be not pardoned?' Job 7: 21. What comfort can an unpardoned soul take in anything? Surely no more than a prisoner can take in meat or music, that wants his pardon. Therefore, by all these powerful motives, let us labour for the forgiveness of sins. But I am discouraged from going to God for pardon, for I am unworthy of forgiveness; what am I, that God should show such a favour to me? God forgives, not because we are worthy, but because he is gracious. 'The Lord, the Lord God, merciful and gracious.' Exod 34: 6. He forgives out of his clemency; acts of pardon are acts of grace. What worthiness was there in Paul before conversion? He was a blasphemer, and so he sinned against the first table; he was a persecutor, and so he sinned against the second table; but free grace sealed his pardon. 'I obtained mercy;' I was all bestrewed with mercy. I Tim 1: 13. What worthiness was in the woman of Samaria? She was ignorant. John 4: 22. She was unclean; ver 18. She was morose and churlish, she would not give Christ so much as a cup of cold water; ver 9. How is it that thou, being a Jew, askest drink of me which am a woman of Samaria? What worthiness was here? Yet Christ overlooked all, and pardoned her ingratitude; and though she denied him water out of the well, yet he gave her the water of life. Gratia non invenit dignos, sed facit. Free grace does not find us worthy, but makes us worthy. Therefore, notwithstanding unworthiness, seek to God, that your sins may be pardoned. But I hare been a great sinner, and surely God will not pardon me? David brings it as an argument for pardon. 'Pardon mine iniquity, for it is great.' Psa 25: 11. When God forgives great sins, he does a work like himself. The desperateness of the wound the more sets forth the virtue of Christ's blood in curing it. Mary Magdalene, out of whom seven devils were cast, was a great sinner, yet she had her pardon. When some of the Jews, who had a hand in crucifying Christ, repented, the very blood they shed sealed their pardon. Consider sins either for their number as the sands of the sea, or for their weight as the rocks of the sea, yet there is mercy enough in God to forgive them. 'Though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow.' Isa 1: 18. Scarlet signifies twice dipped, which no art of man can get out, yet God can wash out this scarlet dye. There is no sin exempted from pardon but that sin which despises pardon, the sin against the Holy Ghost. Matt 12: 31. Therefore, O sinner, do not cast away thy anchor of hope, but go to God for forgiveness. The vast ocean has bounds set to it, but God's pardoning mercy is boundless. He can as well forgive great sins as little, as the sea can cover great rocks and little sands. Nothing hinders pardon but the sinner's not asking it. That a great sinner should not despair of forgiveness, we may learn from this Scripture: 'I, even I, am he that blotteth out thy transgressions.' If you look on the foregoing words, you would wonder how this verse comes in. 'Thou hast made me to serve with thy sins, thou has wearied me with thine iniquities;' and then it follows, 'I, even I, am he that blotteth out thy transgressions.' Isa 43: 24, 25. One would have thought it should have run thus, 'Thou hast wearied me with shine iniquities; I, even I, am he that will punish thy iniquities;' but God comes in a mild loving strain, 'Thou hast wearied me with shine iniquities; I am he that blotteth out thy iniquities.' So that the greatness of our sins should not discourage us from going to God for forgiveness. Though thou hast committed acts of impiety, yet God can come with an act of indemnity, and say, 'I, even I, am he that blotteth out thy transgressions.' God counts it his glory to display free grace in its most brilliant colours. 'Where sin abounded, grace did much more abound.' Rom 5: 20. When sin becomes exceeding sinful, free grace becomes exceeding glorious. God's pardoning love can conquer the sinner, and triumph over the sin. Consider, thou almost despairing soul, there is not so much sin in man as there is mercy in God. Man's sin in comparison of God's mercy is but as a spark to the ocean; and who would doubt whether a spark could be quenched in an ocean? But I have relapsed into the same sins, and how can I have the face to come to God for pardon of those sins into which I have more than once fallen? I know the Novatians held that after a relapse there is no forgiveness by the church. But doubtless that was an error. Abraham twice equivocated; Lot committed incest twice; Peter sinned thrice by carnal fear; but they repented, and they had absolution. There is a twofold relapse, (1) A wilful relapse, when, after a man has solemnly vowed himself to God, he falls into a league with sin, and returns back to it. 'I have loved strangers, and after them will I go' (Jer 2: 25); and (2) there is a relapse through infirmity, when the bent and resolution of a man's heart is against sin, but, through the violence of temptation, and withdrawing of God's grace, he is carried down the stream against his will. Now, though wilful and continued relapses are desperate, and tend vastare conscientiam (as Tertullian), to waste the conscience, and run men upon the precipice of damnation, yet if they are through infirmity, and we mourn for them, we may obtain forgiveness. A godly man does not march after sin as his general, but is led captive by it; and the Lord will pity a captive prisoner. Christ commands us to forgive a trespassing brother seventy times seven. Matt 18: 22. If he bids us do it, much more will he forgive a relapsing sinner in case he repent. 'Return, thou backsliding Israel, for I am merciful, saith the Lord.' Jer 3: 12. It is not falling once or twice into the mire that drowns, but lying there; it is not once relapsing into sin, but lying in sin impenitently that damns. But God requires so much sorrow and humiliation before remission, that I fear I shall never arrive at it! He requires no more humiliation than may fit a soul for mercy. Many a Christian thinks, because he has not filled God's bottle so full of tears as others, he is not humbled enough to receive pardon. But God's dealings are various; all have not the like pangs in the new birth. Some are won with love; the sense of God's mercy abused causes ingenuous tears to flow; others are more flagitious and hardened, and God deals with them more roughly. That soul is humbled enough to receive a pardon which is brought to a thorough sense of sin, and sees the need of a Saviour, and loves him as the fairest of ten thousand. Therefore be not discouraged, for if thy heart be bruised from sin and broken off from it, thy sin shall be blotted out. No sooner did Ephraim weep than God's bowels were working. 'My bowels are troubled for him; I will surely have mercy upon him.' Jer 31: 20. Having answered these objections, let me beseech you, above all things, labour for the forgiveness of sin. Think with yourselves how great a mercy it is: it is one of the richest jewels in the cabinet of the new covenant. 'Blessed is he whose transgression is forgiven.' Psa 32: 1: In the Hebrew it is 'blessednesses'. And think of the unparalleled misery of those whose sins are not forgiven! Such as had not the blood of the paschal lamb sprinkled upon their door-posts, were destroyed by the angel. Exod 12: So they who have not Christ's blood sprinkled on them, to wash away the guilt of sin, will fall into the gulf of perdition. If you resolve to seek after forgiveness, do not delay. Many say they will get their pardon, but they procrastinate and put it off so long that it is too late. When the shadows of the evening are stretched forth, and the night of death approaches, they begin to look after their pardon. This has been the undoing of millions. They purpose to look after their souls, but they stay so long till the lease of mercy is run out. Oh, therefore, hasten to get pardon! Think of the uncertainty of life. What security have you that you shall live another day? Volat ambiguis mobilis alis hora [The fleeting hour flies on fickle wings]. Our life is a taper soon blown out; it is made up of a few flying minutes. O thou dust and ashes! thou mayest fear every hour to be blown into thy grave; and what if death come to arrest thee before thy pardon be sealed? Plutarch reports of one Archias, who being among his cups when a letter was delivered to him, and he was desired to read it, as it was about serious business, Seria cras, he said, 'I will mind serious things to-morrow;' and that night he was slain. Thou that sayest, 'To-morrow I will repent, I will get my pardon,' thou mayest suddenly be slain; therefore to-day, while it is called to-day, look after the forgiveness of sin. After awhile, all the fountains of mercy will be stopped, there will not be one drop of Christ's blood to be had, there are no pardons after death. Use 3. Let us labour to have the evidence that our sins are forgiven. A man may have his sins forgiven and not know it; he may have a pardon in the court of heaven when he has it not in the court of conscience. David's sin was forgiven soon as he repented. God sent Nathan the prophet to tell him so. 2 Sam 12: 13. But David did not feel the comfort of it at once, as appears by the penitential Psalm composed afterwards. 'Make me to hear joy;' and 'Cast me not away from thy presence.' Psa 51: 8, 2: It is one thing to be pardoned and another to feel it. The evidence of pardon may hot appear for a time, and this may be: (1) From the imbecility and weakness of faith. Forgiveness of sin is so strange and infinite a blessing that a Christian can hardly persuade himself that God will extend such a favour to him. As it is said of the apostles when Christ first appeared to them, 'They believed not for joy, and wondered,' (Luke 24: 41), so the soul may be so stricken with admiration that the wonder of pardon staggers its faith. (2) A man may be pardoned and not know it from the strength of temptation. Satan accuses the godly of sin, and tells them that God does not love them; and should such sinners think of pardon? Believers are compared to bruised reeds; and temptations to winds. Matt 12: 20; chap 7: 25. Now, a reed is easily shaken with the wind. Temptations shake the godly; and though they are pardoned, yet they know it not. Job in a temptation thought God his enemy, and yet he was then in a pardoned condition. Job 16: 9. Why does God sometimes conceal the evidence of pardon? Though he pardons, he may withhold the sense of it for a time: (1) Because he would lay us lower in contrition. He would have us see what an evil and bitter thing it is to offend him. Therefore we must lie longer in the briny tears of repentance before we have the sense of pardon. It was long before David's broken bones were set and his pardon sealed, that his heart might be more contrite; and this was a sacrifice which God delighted in. (2) Though God has forgiven sin, he may deny the manifestation of it for a time, to make us prize pardon and make it sweeter to us when it comes. The difficulty of obtaining a mercy enhances its value. When we have been a long time tugging at prayer for a pardon of sin, and still God withholds, but at last, after many sighs and tears, it comes, we esteem it the more, and it is sweeter. Quo longius defertur eo suavius laetatur [The longer the delay, the sweeter the rejoicing]. The longer mercy is in the birth the more welcome will the deliverance be. Let us not be content however without the evidence and sense of pardon. He who is pardoned and knows it not, is like one who has an estate bequeathed to him, but knows it not. Our comfort consists in the knowledge of forgiveness. 'Make me to hear joy.' Psa 51: 8. There is a jubilee in the soul when we are able to read our pardon. To the witness of conscience God adds the witness of his Spirit; and in the mouth of these two witnesses our joy is confirmed. O labour for the evidence of forgiveness! How shall we know that our sins are forgiven? We must not be our own judges in this case. 'He that trusteth in his own heart is a fool.' Prov 28: 26. 'The heart is deceitful.' Jer 17: 9. It is folly to trust a deceiver. The Lord only by his word must judge whether we are pardoned or not. As under the law no leper might judge himself to be clean, but the priest was to pronounce him clean, (Lev 13: 37); so we are not to judge ourselves to be clean from the guilt of sin till we are such as the word of God pronounces to be clean. How shall we know by the word that our sins are pardoned? (1) The pardoned sinner is a great weeper. The sense of God's love melts his heart. That free grace should ever look upon me; that such crimson sins should be washed away in Christ's blood, makes the heart melt and the eyes drop with tears; never did any man read his pardon with dry eyes. 'She stood at his feet weeping.' Luke 7: 38. Mary's tears were more precious to Christ than her ointment; her eyes, which before sparkled with lust, now became a fountain, and washed Christ's feet with her tears. She was a true penitent, and had her pardon. 'Wherefore, I say, her sins, which are many, are forgiven;' ver 47. A pardon will make the hardest heart relent and cause the stony heart to bleed. Is it thus with us? Have we been dissolved into tears for sin? God seals his pardons upon melting hearts. (2) We may know our sins are forgiven by having the grace of faith. 'To him give all the prophets witness, that whosoever believeth in him shall receive remission of sins.' Acts 10: 43. In saving faith there are two things - renunciation and recumbency:  Renunciation. A man renounces all opinion of himself; is digged out of his own burrow, and he is quite taken off from himself. Phil 3: 9. He sees all his duties are but broken reeds; though he could weep a sea of tears; though he had all the grace of men and angels, it could not purchase his pardon.  Recumbency. Faith is an assent with affiance. The soul gets hold of Christ as Adonijah did of the horns of the altar. I Kings 1: 51. Faith casts itself into the stream of Christ's blood, and says, If I perish, I perish. If we have but the minimum quod sic, the least drachm of this precious faith, we have something to show for pardon. This faith is acceptable to God, it pleases him more than offering up ten thousand rivers of oil, than working miracles, than martyrdom, or the highest acts of obedience. This faith is profitable to us; it is our best certificate to show for pardon. No sooner does faith reach forth its hand to receive Christ, than Christ sets his hand to our pardon. (3) The pardoned soul is an admirer of God. 'Who is a God like unto thee, that pardoneth iniquity?' Mic 7: 18. Oh, that God should ever look upon me! I was a sinner, and nothing but a sinner, yet I obtained mercy! 'Who is a God like unto thee?' Mercy has been despised, and yet that mercy saves me. Christ has been crucified by me, yet his cross crowns me. God has displayed the ensigns of free grace, he has set up his mercy above my sin, nay, in spite of it. This causes admiration. 'Who is a God like thee?' A man that goes over a narrow bridge in the night, and next morning sees the danger he was in, how miraculously he escaped, is filled with admiration; so when God shows a man how near he was falling into hell, how that gulf is passed, and all his sins are pardoned, he is amazed, and cries out, 'Who is a God like unto thee, that pardoneth iniquity?' That God should pardon one and pass by another - one should be taken and another left - fills the soul with wonder and astonishment. (4) Wherever God pardons sin, he subdues it. 'He will have compassion on us, he will subdue our iniquities.' Mic 7: 19. Where men's persons are justified, their lusts are mortified. There is in sin vis imperatoria et damnatoria, a commanding and a condemning power. The condemning power of sin is taken away when the commanding power of it is taken away. We know our sins are forgiven when they are subdued. If a malefactor be in prison, how shall he know that his prince has pardoned him? If the jailor come and knock off his chains and fetters, and lets him out of prison, then he knows he is pardoned: so we know God has pardoned us when the fetters of sin are broken off, and we walk at liberty in the ways of God. 'I will walk at liberty;' this is a blessed sign that we are pardoned. Psa 119: 45. Such as are washed in Christ's blood from guilt, are made kings to God. Rev 1: 6. As kings they rule over their sins. (5) He whose sins are forgiven is full of love to God. Mary Magdalene's heart was fired with love. 'Her sins, which are many, are forgiven; for she loved much.' Luke 7: 47. Her love was not the cause of her remission, but a sign of it. A pardoned soul is a monument of mercy, and he thinks he can never love God enough: he wishes he had a coal from God's altar to inflame his heart in love, he wishes he could borrow the wings of the cherubims that he might fly swifter in obedience; a pardoned soul is sick of love. He whose heart is like marble, locked up in impenitence, that does not melt in love, gives evidence that his pardon is yet unsealed. (6) Where sin is pardoned, the nature is purified. 'I will heal their backslidings, I will love them.' Hos 14: 4. Every man, by nature, is both guilty and diseased. When God remits the guilt, he cures the disease. 'Who forgiveth all shine iniquities, who healeth all thy diseases.' Psa 103: 3. Herein God's pardon goes beyond the king's pardon; the king may forgive a malefactor, but he cannot change his heart, which may be a thievish heart still; but when God pardons, he changes the heart. 'A new heart also will I give you.' Ezek 36: 26. A pardoned soul is adorned and embellished with holiness. 'This is he that came by water and blood.' I John 5: 6. When Christ comes with blood to justify, he comes with water to cleanse. 'I have caused thine iniquity to pass from thee, and I will clothe thee with change of raiment.' Zech 3: 4. I will cause thy iniquity to pass from thee, there is pardoning grace; and I will clothe thee with change of raiment, there is sanctifying grace. Let no one say, he has pardon who has not grace. Many tell us they hope they are pardoned, who were never sanctified. They believe in Christ; but what faith is it? A swearing faith, a whoring faith: the faith of devils is as good. (7) Such as are in the number of God's people have forgiveness of sin. 'Comfort ye my people, cry unto her that her iniquity is pardoned.' Isa 40: 1, 2. How shall we know that we are God's elect people? By three characters. God's people are a humble people. The livery which all Christ's people wear is humility. 'Be clothed with humility.' I Pet 5: 5. A sight of God's glory humbles. Elijah wrapped his face in a mantle when God's glory passed by. 'Now mine eye seeth thee, wherefore I abhor myself.' Job 13: 5, 6. The stars vanish when the sun appears. A sight of sin humbles. In the glass of the word the godly see their spots, and they are humbling spots. Lo, says the soul, I can call nothing my own but sins and wants. A humble sinner is in a better condition than a proud angel. God's people are a willing people. 'A people of willingness;' love constrains them; they serve God freely, and out of choice. Psa 110: 3. They stick at no service; they will run through a sea, and a wilderness; they will follow the Lamb whithersoever he goeth. God's people are a heavenly people. 'They are not of the world.' John 17: I6. As the primum mobile in the heavens has a motion of its own, contrary to the other orbs, so God's people have a heavenly motion of the soul, contrary to the men of the world. They use the world as their servant, but do not follow the world as their master. 'Our conversation is in heaven.' Phil 3: 20. Such as have these three characters of God's people, have a good certificate to show that they are pardoned. Forgiveness of sin belongs to them. 'Comfort ye my people,' tell them their iniquity is forgiven. (8) We are pardoned, if, after many storms, we have a sweet calm and peace within. 'Being justified we have peace.' Rom 5: 1. After many a bitter tear shed, and heart-breaking, the mind has been more sedate, and a sweet serenity or still music has followed; which brings the tidings that God is appeased. Before conscience accused, now it secretly whispers comforts, which is a blessed evidence that a man's sins are pardoned. If the bailiffs do not trouble and arrest the debtor, it is a sign his debt is compounded or forgiven; so if conscience does not vex or accuse, but upon good grounds whispers consolation, it is a sign that the debt is discharged, and the sin is forgiven. (9) Sin is forgiven when we have hearts without guile. 'Blessed is he whose transgression is forgiven, unto whom the Lord imputeth not iniquity, and in whose spirit there is no guile.' Psa 32: 1, 2. What is it to be without guile? He who is without guile has plainness of heart. He is without collusion, he has not cor duplex, a double heart; his heart is right with God. A man may do a right action, but not with a right heart. 'Amaziah did that which was right in the sight of the Lord, but not with a perfect heart.' 2 Chron 25: 2. To have the heart right with God, is to serve him from a right principle, which is love; by a right rule, the word; to a right end, the glory of God. A heart without guile dares not allow itself in the least sin; it avoids secret sins. The man dares not hide any sin, as Rachel did her father's images, under her. Gen 31: 34. He knows God sees him, which is more than if men and angels beheld him. He avoids besetting sins. 'I was also upright before him, and I kept myself from mine iniquity.' Psa 18: 23. As in the hive there is a master-bee, so in the heart there is a master-sin. A heart without guile takes the sacrificing knife of mortification, and runs it through its beloved sin. A heart without guile desires to know the whole mind and will of God. An unsound heart is afraid of the light, it is not willing to know its duty. A sincere soul says (as Job 34: 32), 'That which I see not, teach thou me:' Lord, show me what is my duty, and wherein I offend; let me not sin for want of light; what I know not, teach thou me. A heart without guile is uniform in religion. The man has an equal eye to all God's commands. He makes conscience of private duties; he worships God in his closet as well as in the temple. When Jacob was alone, he wrestled with the angel. Gen 32: 23, 24. So a Christian, when alone, wrestles with God in prayer, and will not let him go till he has blessed him. He performs difficult duties, wherein the heart and spirit of religion lie, and which cross flesh and blood; he is much in self-humbling and self-examining. Utitur speculis magis quam perspecillis. Seneca. He rather uses the looking glass of the word to look into his own heart, than the broad spectacles of censure to spy the faults of others. He who has a heart without guile is true to God's interest. He grieves to see it go ill with the church. Nehemiah, though the king's cupbearer, and wine so near, was sad when Zion's glory was eclipsed. Neh 2: 3. Like the tree of which I have read, if any of the leaves of which are cut, the rest shrink up of themselves, and for a time hang down; so when God's church suffers, a sincere soul feels himself touched in his own person. He rejoices to see the cause of God get ground; to see truth triumph, piety lift up her head, and the flowers of Christ's crown flourish. This is a heart without guile, it is loyal and true to God's interest. He who has a heart without guile is just in his dealings. As he is upright in his words, so he is in his weights. He makes conscience of the second table as well as the first; he is for equity as well as piety. 'That no man go beyond and defraud his brother in any matter.' I Thess 4: 6. A sincere person thinks he may as well rob as defraud; his rule is to do to others what he would have them do to him. Matt 7: 12. He who has a heart without guile is true in his promises; his word is as good as his bond. If he has made a promise, though it be to his prejudice, and entrenches upon his profit, he will not go back. The hypocrite plays fast and loose, flees from his word; there is no more binding him with oaths and promises, than Samson could be bound with green withs. Judges 16: 7. A sincere soul saith as Jephthah, 'I have opened my mouth unto the Lord, and I cannot go back.' Judges 11: 35. He who has a heart without guile is faithful in his friendship; he is what he pretends; his heart goes along with his tongue, as a well-made dial goes with the sun. He cannot flatter and hate, commend and censure. Counterfeiting of love is hypocrisy. It is too usual to betray with a kiss. Joab took Abner by the beard to kiss him, and smote him in the fifth rib that he died. 2 Sam 20: 9, 10. Many deceive with sugar words. Physicians judge of the health of the body by the tongue; if that look well, the body is in health; but we cannot judge of friendship by the tongue. The words may be full of honey, when the heart has the gall of malice. His heart is not true to God who is treacherous to his friend. Thus you see what a heart without guile is; and that to have such a heart is a sign that sin is pardoned. God will not impute sin to him 'in whose spirit there is no guile.' What a blessed thing is it not to have sin imputed! If our sins be not imputed, it is as if we had no sin; sins remitted are as if they had not been committed. This blessing belongs to a sincere soul. God imputes not iniquity to him in whose spirit is no guile. (10) He whose sins are forgiven is willing to forgive others who have offended him. 'Forgiving one another, even as God for Christ's sake has forgiven you.' Eph 4: 32. A hypocrite will read, come to church, give alms, build hospitals, but cannot forgive wrongs; he will rather want forgiveness from God than he will forgive his enemies. A pardoned soul argues thus: 'Has God been so good to me to forgive me my sins, and shall I not imitate him in this? Has he forgiven me pounds, and shall I not forgive pence?' It is noted of Cranmer, nihil oblivisci solet praeter injurias. Cicero. He was of a forgiving spirit, and would do offices of love to all who had injured him; like the sun, which having drawn up black vapours from the earth, returns them back in sweet showers. By this touchstone we may try whether our sins are pardoned. We need not climb up to heaven to see whether our sins are forgiven, but only look into our hearts. Are we of forgiving spirits? Can we bury injuries, requite good for evil? This would be a good sign that we are forgiven of God. If we can find all these things wrought in our souls, they are happy signs that our sins are pardoned, and are good letters testimonial to show for heaven. Use 4. For consolation. I shall open a box of cordials, and show you some of the glorious privileges of a pardoned condition. This is a peculiar favour, it is a spring shut up, and unsealed for none but the elect. The wicked may have forbearing mercy, but an elect person only has forgiving mercy. Forgiveness of sin makes way for solid joy. 'Comfort ye, comfort ye my people, saith your God. Speak ye comfortably to Jerusalem;' or, as in the Hebrew, 'speak to her heart.' Isa 40: 1, 2. What was to cheer her heart? 'Cry unto her, that her iniquity is pardoned.' If anything would comfort her the Lord knew it was this. When Christ would cheer the palsied man, he said, 'Son, be of good cheer, thy sins be forgiven thee.' Matt 9: 2. It was a greater comfort to have his sins forgiven than to have his palsy healed. This made David put on his best clothes, and anoint himself 2 Sam 12: 20. His child was newly dead, and God had told him 'the sword shall never depart from thine house;' yet now he spruces up himself, puts on his best clothes, and anoints himself, whence was this? He had heard good news, God sent him pardon by Nathan the prophet. 'The Lord has put away thy sin.' 2 Sam 12: 13. This could not but revive his heart, and, in token of joy, he anointed himself. Philo says, it was an opinion of some of the philosophers, that among the heavenly spheres there was such sweet harmony, that if the sound of it could reach our ears it would affect us with wonder and delight. Surely he who is pardoned has such a divine melody in his soul as replenishes him with infinite delight. When Christ said to Mary Magdalene, 'Thy sins are forgiven,' he soon added, 'go in peace.' Luke 7: 50. More particularly: (1) God looks upon a pardoned soul as if he had never sinned. As cancelling a bond nulls the bond, and makes it as if the money had never been owing, so forgiving sin makes it not to be. Where sin is remitted, it is as if it had not been committed. So that, as Rachel wept because her children were not, so a child of God may rejoice because his sins are not. Jer 50: 20. God looks upon him as if he had never offended. Though sin remain in him after pardon, yet God does not look upon him as a sinner, but as a just man. (2) God having pardoned sin, will pass an act of oblivion. 'I will forgive their iniquity, and I will remember their sin no more.' Jer 31: 34. When a creditor has crossed the book, he does not call for the debt again. God will not reckon with the sinner in a judicial way. When our sins are laid upon the head of Christ, our scapegoat, they are carried into a land of forgetfulness. (3) The pardoned soul is for ever secured from the wrath of God. How terrible is God's wrath! 'Who knoweth the power of thine anger?' Psa 90: 11. If a spark of God's wrath lighting upon a man's conscience fills it with horror, what is it to be always scorched in that torrid zone, to lie upon beds of flames! Now, from this avenging wrath of God every pardoned soul is freed. Though he may taste the bitter cup of affliction, he shall never drink of the sea of God's wrath. 'Being justified by his blood, we shall be saved from wrath through him.' Rom 5: 9. His blood quenches the flames of hell. (4) Sin being pardoned, conscience has no more authority to accuse. Conscience roars against the unpardoned sinner, but it cannot terrify or accuse him that is pardoned. God has discharged the sinner, and if the creditor discharge the debtor, what right has the sergeant to arrest him? The truth is, if God absolves, conscience if rightly informed, absolves; if once God says, 'Thy sins are pardoned,' conscience says, 'Go in peace.' If the sky be clear, and no storms blow there, the sea is calm; so, if all be clear above, and God shines with pardoning mercy upon the soul, conscience is calm and serene. (5) Nothing that befalls a pardoned soul shall hurt him. 'There shall no evil befall thee:' that is, no destructive evil. Psa 91: 10. Everything to a wicked man is hurtful. Good things are for his hurt. His very blessings are turned into a curse. 'I will curse your blessings.' Mal 2: 2. Riches and prosperity do him hurt. They are not munera [favours], but insidiae [snares]. Seneca. 'Gold snares.' 'Riches kept for the owners thereof to their hurt.' Eccl 5: 13. Like Haman's banquet, which ushered in his funeral. Ordinances do a sinner hurt; they are a 'savour of death.' 2 Cor 2: 16. Cordials themselves kill. The best things hurt the wicked, but the worst things which befall a pardoned soul shall do him no hurt. The sting, the poison, the curse is gone. His soul is no more hurt, than David hurt Saul, when he cut off the lap of his garment. (6) To a pardoned soul, everything has a commission to do him good. Afflictions do him good; poverty, reproach, persecution. 'Ye thought evil against me, but God meant it unto good.' Gen 50: 20. As the elements, though of contrary qualities, are so tempered that they work for the good of the universe, so the most cross providences work for good to a pardoned soul. Correction as a corrosive eats out sin; it cures the swelling of pride, the fever of lust, and the dropsy of avarice. It is a refining fire to purify grace, and make it sparkle as gold. Every cross providence, to a pardoned soul, is like Paul's Euroclydon or cross wind, which, though it broke the ship, yet Paul was brought to shore upon the broken pieces. Acts 27. (7) A pardoned soul is not only exempted from wrath, but invested with dignity; as Joseph was not only freed from prison, but advanced to be second man in the kingdom. (8) A pardoned soul is made a favourite of heaven. A king may pardon a traitor, but will not make him one of his privy council; but whom God pardons, he receives into favour. I may say to him as the angel to the virgin Mary, 'Thou hast found favour with God.' Luke 1: 30. Hence, such as are forgiven, are said to be crowned with lovingkindness. Psa 103: 3, 4. Whom God pardons he crowns. Whom God absolves, he marries to himself. 'I am merciful, and I will not keep anger for ever;' Jer 3: 12; there is forgiveness; and in the fourteenth verse, 'I am married to you;' and he who is matched into the crown of heaven, is as rich as the angels, as rich as heaven can make him. (9) Sin being pardoned, we may come with humble boldness to God in prayer. Guilt makes us afraid to go to God. Adam having sinned, 'was afraid, and hid' himself. Gen 3: 10. Guilt clips the wings of prayer, it fills the face with blushing; but forgiveness breeds confidence. We may look upon God as a Father of mercy, holding forth a golden sceptre. He that has got his pardon, can look upon his prince with comfort. The Lord's Prayer by Thomas Watson (continued in file 22...) ---------------------------------------------------- file: /pub/resources/text/ipb-e/epl-09: watlp-21.txt .