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Holy Spirit into his heart; and hereby finds immediate relief. Take away all iniquity. The taking away sin, by the sacrifice of Christ, is the one great leading truth of the everlasting gospel. In the true knowledge of the same, the peace of the conscience is very greatly concerned. How the Messiah was to remove the sins of his people, out of the sight of law and justice, and from before the Lord, was one of the first subjects of revelation made known by the Lord, immediately upon the fall. In the instituted and daily sacrifices under the Patriarchal and Levitical economy, the propitiatory sacrifice of Christ was recorded. The sacrifices and services respecting the scape goat, as recorded in the sixteenth chapter of Leviticus, expressed how Christ once in the end of the world would appear, and put away sin by the sacrifice of himself. And without doubt, reference is here made to this great subject: it being by the confession of sins, iniquities, and transgressions of the Children of Israel, by the Lord's command, over the head of the scape goat, and laying the same thereon, that the people were discharged from them. The substance of all I aim at as before mentioned, seems. contained in the following declaration of grace: In those days, and in that time, saith the Lord, the iniquity of Israel shall be sought for, and there shall be none; and the sins of Judah, and they shall not be found: for I will pardon them whom I
reserve. Jer. 1, v. 20. Now the receiving this into the mind is the means of its becoming effectual to us. The Lord speaks out this grace for this purpose, that his people may receive the benefit of the same. The Lord letting in on the renewed mind a scriptural apprehension of Christ having taken away sin, by his blood and righteousness; it is by this he takes off, and removes guilt and sin from the mind, which relieves the conscience: this produces peace, and it is hereby enjoyed, and thus the pardon of sin is evidenced to believers in Christ Jesus. Take away all iniquity; and wherever iniquity is removed, there is free access to the Lord. The blood of Jesus Christ, the Son of God, cleanseth from all sin. Such have boldness and access with confidence to the throne of grace by the faith of Him. Take away all iniquity, and receive us graciously. God looking on his people in the person of Christ, and giving them to know that all their iniquities are done away in him, he shines upon them most freely in the person of his Beloved. He reflects his grace and truth upon their minds, and into their hearts; and thus he assures them of his everlasting favour, love, and good will towards them. He puts them upon praying for these blessings, that they may be sensibly affected with the want of them; that coming before him with his own words, and beseeching him to deal thus and thus with them, they might, receiving the
same as the fruits of his free grace, be the more truly and deeply affected with them. As these were to be received in a way of grace on the Lord's part, and in a way of believing on theirs; so the blessings and blessedness contained in these communications from the Lord, were inexpressible. They are so to any of us to the very present moment, when the Lord is pleased to make the same declarations efficacious unto us. The grace of the text extends unto us, as truly as to those unto whom it was first pronounced; as it also does, and will extend to God's Israel in the latter day; and here is the glory and perfection of the same: Take with you words, and turn to the Lord: say unto him, Take away all iniquity, and receive us graciously: so will we render the calves of our lips. Here is true repentance and godly sorrow for sin included, and expressed in all this. There can be no genuine repentance until Christ hath looked upon us, and enabled us to look unto him; neither shall we ever be raised up above our sins, until we are brought to understand that they are freely removed from us by the death of Christ, and freely forgiven us for his name's sake. As all contained in the expressions of the text, is very applicable to describe the grace and gracious design of the everlasting gospel, so I proceed
Thirdly-To speak of the suitableness of them as they belong to such as are in a case, or
state of backsliding, or on the very verge of the same.
There is a continual change, a flux, and reflux in the frames, tempers, cases, and feelings, of the people of God. Some of them seem to be more liable to fall into sin than others; but none are safe one single moment, but as they are kept by the power of God; of God; and eternally secure, as they have real communion with the Lord Jesus Christ. There are many of the Lord's called and beloved ones, whose walk, temper, and conversation, appear irreproachable, to whom the term of backsliding, and backsliders, does by no means seem to apply; yet, are conscious in themselves, there are many solemn evidences within them, that the heart is deceitful above all things: and that in innumerable instances they have reason to bewail the fickleness of their wills, and the inconstancy of their hearts and affections, so that they are not always, and at all times, and in every circumstance, cleaving to the Lord with full purpose of heart: yet as all this is before the Lord, and none searcheth the heart but him; so we are not so disposed to call this backsliding, as we are when any open sin and guilt have been contracted. Among such as we conceive by the term backsliders, or as we conceive are on the eve of backsliding, are such as have gone, or are going off, from a close and regular attention to the Lord's worship and ordinances, and are fallen into some actual transgression; and, even to such
as these, if any of us here present are such, the text before us, and every particular expression and sentence in it, are most suitably adapted: for such are fallen from the Lord. It is of their own iniquity; it is of themselves. They cannot undo that which they have done amiss.
If they are on Lord, and by a
the verge of departure from the transient act of the will; yet this wandering of the heart from God cannot be recovered to all eternity. All sin is seated in the will.
It is the will
în sin, contains the evil in the act; yet let what has been, what now is, or may ever be the case of a child of God, or any of the children of God collectively considered, what the Lord here says is most expressly suited to be balm to their wounds; a cordial to revive them, and a medicine to heal them; an encouragement for their return to the Lord: O Israel, return unto the Lord thy God; for thou hast fallen by thine iniquity. Even this is matter of great encouragement to a backslider. I have backslidden from the Lord. How? By what means? I answer: by falling into sin. There can be no other way, O man, for thy backsliding. I have done so and so. Yea, my will hath been in it. My heart hath been in it. I am under the guilt of it. This brings me under the prevailing power and influence of it. I cannot lift myself above the same, No; indeed I cannot. Man, whosoever thou art, who speakest thus, thou speakest the truth. But