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cording to godliness, and those who preach the same, under the teaching and influence of the Holy Ghost, are the very persons who are most saved from sin, of any who are on this side of heaven. It is too awfully overlooked, by those who cavil at free grace, and preaching the same, according to the statement of it, as given in the divine record, That the mind of no one sinner out of hell, can ever be raised up to a lively faith and hope in God; but, as he is brought to a true knowledge of the pardon of all his sin, through the redemption which is in Jesus Christ. He must first know the blood of Jesus Christ cleanseth from all sin, and that God hath freely forgiven him all trespasses; or, his conscience cannot be discharged from guilt and condemnation. Whilst it is not, he will be as to himself, under the influence of the love and power of sin. Nothing therefore can suit the case, but the free declarations of grace. And these as contained in the most glorious proclamations of pardoning all sorts and kinds of sinners. This only reaches unto, and brings home the subject to the awakened sinner's own personal case, so as that he is most sensibly affected herewith. That the efficacy of the blood and sacrifice of the Lord Jesus Christ, exceeds and transcends all the guilt and evil contained in sin; and, that free pardon and forgiveness of the whole demerit, contained in the same, surmounts it to an infinite degree! this is
the doctrine of the everlasting gospel, it is revealed in the same, and published thereby. Our Lord himself said unto his Apostles: Thus it is written, and thus it behoved Christ to suffer, and to rise from the dead the third day: And that repentance and remission of sins should be preached in his name among all nations, beginning at Jerusalem. In the Old Testament, the Lord himself is pleased to speak most freely and abundantly upon this subject. His prophets do the same in his great name. It is the very doctrine of our present text which is not spoken for the Lord, but by himself. It comes in as an answer to the prayer backsliding Israel had poured out before him. It shews how well pleased he was with the same, it being indited by him, and put into their mouths: 0 Israel return unto the Lord thy God; for thou hast fullen by thine iniquity. 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. Asshur shall not save us; we will not ride upon horses: neither will we say any more to the work of our hands, Ye are our Gods: for in thee the fatherless findeth mercy. I will heal their backsliding, I will love them freely: for mine anger turned away from him. The words in themselves contain inexpressible grace. They are the Lord's. They were pronounced to sinners in the worst of cases, and who had been guilty of the
worst of crimes. For what cases can be worse than backsliding ones? There being guilt and aggravation in them which in some circumstances surpass description; and sometimes will not admit of particular enumeration. Yet, here they are all borne down with the free mercy and pardon of the Lord God, he saying, I will heal their backsliding, I will love them freely: for mine anger is turned away from him; and, seeing he is pleased thus to speak, and act agreeable to what he says, Who shall say unto him, what dost thou? My business is to give the interpretation of the text: this cannot be done, but the grace and glory of God, Father, Son, and Holy Ghost, in the same, must of necessity be attended unto. In my view, the words express in substance, more than can be found in so short a compass in all the Bible. I am at a loss how to divide them, least any part of the virtue of them should be lost. They contain three very important particulars without any division, which I will place as they are in the text itself. They are three, and are as follows: 1. I will heal their backsliding. 2. I will love them freely. 3. For mine anger is turned away from them. They are all three founded one upon another; and, one is the cause of the other. The healing of backsliding makes way for the free love of God, to break forth in the glorious manifestations of the same. The reason for which is, because the anger of God is removed from them.
To open each of these particulars is to explain the words before me. This might be done without any more division; yet, I think to set before you the complete subject, thus: and in these following divisions. May the Lord be with me in so doing. I will first, Speak of the Lord's free grace, in healing the backsliding of his people. Secondly, Of the manner in which this is made known to them. Thirdly, In what way, and by what means they receive the inward sense and benefit thereof. I will heal their backsliding. Here is the will of God in this,
Secondly-The freeness of God's love to his pardoned ones shall be taken notice of. This he is pleased thus to express: I will love them freely. What is contained in this, none but God himself can tell. The pardoned ones know how they are affected with it; yet the grace of all this is only known to the Lord. It is himself that speaks these words, who alone can fathom what is contained in them. I will love them freely.
Thirdly-The reason for all this, healing backsliding and loving those healed freely, is given in these words: For mine anger is turned away from him. Thus having given the outline of the present Sermon, I proceed to preach it.
And I will first speak of the Lord's free grace, in healing the backsliding of his people. I will heal their backsliding. It has been observed that these words are an answer to prayer. As such
we observe the Lord put Israel on calling on him, that he might be in the expressions of his good-will towards them, all that was absolutely necessary for them, in a way of mercy, health, and pardon. We have the will of God in these expressions of his grace. He says, I will heal your backsliding. The Lord's will is immutable. It is an act of his royal mind: nothing can frustrate this. In those most gracious words, Jehovah speaks to Moses, as recorded in Exodus, chap. xxxiii. 19, we have them thus expressed: I will be gracious to whom I will be gracious, and will shew mercy on whom I will shew mercy. The grace of God, is the free favour of God. This he is pleased to exercise upon, and towards his people, as seemeth good in his sight. The first act of his favor towards them was, in his everlasting love to their persons in Christ, before all time; and, all the after acts and expressions of his favour, originate from his ancient and eternal love. It may be said to be one, and the same act of love, only distinguished and expressed as the objects of the same, are in such circumstances. They, having fallen in Adam, are sinners, and sinful as considered in him, and in the nature they received from him: because of this, they needed redemption by the Lord Jesus Christ, from the state they were brought into by Adam's transgression. And they need a translation from the power of darkness into the kingdom of God's dear Son. And these acts, in which