The Golden Key to Open Hidden Treasures

By Thomas Brooks, 1675

The third question, or case is this, namely—Whether in the day of general judgment, or in the particular judgment that will pass upon every soul immediately after death, which is the stating of the soul in an eternal estate or condition, either of happiness or misery; whether the sins of the saints, the follies and vanities of believers, the infirmities and enormities of sincere Christians shall be brought into the judgment of discussion and discovery, or not? Whether the Lord will either in the great day of account, or in a man's particular day of account or judgment, publicly manifest, proclaim, and make mention of the sins of his people, or not? This question is bottomed upon these ten scriptures, [Eccles. 11:9, and 12:14; Mat. 12:36, and 18:23; Luke 16:2; Romans 14:10, 12; 2 Cor. 5:10; Heb. 9:27, and 13:17; 1 Peter 4:5.] which I desire the Christian reader to consult; and upon the sad and daily complaints of many dear sincere Christians, who frequently cry out, "Oh, we can never answer for one evil thought of ten thousand, nor we can ever answer for one idle word of twenty thousand; nor we can ever answer for one evil action of a hundred thousand! How then shall we stand in judgment? how shall we look the judge in the face? how shall we be ever able to answer for all our omissions, and for all our commissions; for all our sins of ignorance, and sins against light and knowledge; for all our sins against the law, and for all our sins against the gospel, and for all our sins against sovereign grace, and for all our sins against the remedy, against the Lord Jesus, and for all the sins of our infancy, of our youth, and of old age? Job 9:3; Psalm 19:12, and 143:2; Ezra 9:6, etc.

What account shall we be able to give up, when we come to our particular day of judgment, immediately after our death, or in the great and general day of account, when angels, devils, and men shall stand before the Lord Jesus, Heb. 9:27, whom God the Father has ordained to be the judge of the living and dead, Acts 17:31?"

Now to this great question I answer, that the sins of the saints, the infirmities and enormities of believers, shall never be brought into the judgment of discussion and discovery; they shall never be objected against them, either in their particular day of judgment, or in the great day of their account. Now this truth I shall make good by an induction of particulars; thus,

[1.] First, Our Lord Jesus Christ, in his judicial proceedings in the last day, which is set down clearly and largely in Mat. 25:34-42, does only enumerate the good works they have done—but takes not the least notice of the spots and blemishes, of the infirmities or enormities, of the weaknesses or wickednesses, of his people. God has sealed up the sins of his people, never more to be remembered or looked upon, Deut. 32:4-6; Dan. 9:24. In the great day the book of God's remembrance shall be opened and publicly read, that all the good things that the saints have done for God, for Christ, for saints, for their own souls, for sinners; and that all the great things that they have suffered for Christ's sake, and the gospel's sake, will be mentioned to their everlasting praise, to their eternal honor. And though the choicest and chief saints on earth have—

1. Sin dwelling in them;

2. Sin operating and working in them;

3. Sin vexing and molesting of them, being as so many goads in their sides and thorns in their eyes;

4. Sin captivating and prevailing over them, Romans 7:23-24; Gal. 5:17—yet in that large recital which shall then be read of the saints' lives, Mat. 25, there is not the least mention made either of sins of omission or commission; nor the least mention made either of great sins or of small sins; nor the least mention made either of sins before conversion or after conversion.

Here in this world the best of saints have had their "buts", their spots, their blots, their specks—as the fairest day has its clouds, the finest linen its spots, and the richest jewels their specks. But in the judicial process of this last and universal assize, there is not found in all the books that shall then be opened, so much as one unpleasant "but" to blemish the fair characters of the saints. Surely he who sees no iniquity in Jacob, nor perverseness in Israel, Num. 23:21, to impute it to them while they live, he will never charge iniquity or perverseness upon them in the great day, Rev. 20:12; Dan. 7:10. Surely he who has fully satisfied his Father's justice for his people's sins, and who has by his own blood balanced and made up all reckonings and accounts between God and their souls—he will never charge upon them their faults and follies in the great day. Surely he who has spoken so much for his saints while he was on earth, and who has continually interceded for them since he went to heaven, John 17; Heb. 7:25; he won't, though he has cause to blame them for many things, speak anything against them in the great day. Surely Jesus Christ, the saints' paymaster, who has discharged their whole debt at once, who has paid down upon the nail, the ten thousand talents which we owed, and took in the bond and nailed it to the cross, Heb. 10:10, 12, 14; Mat. 18:24; Col. 2:14; leaving no back reckonings unpaid, to bring his poor children, which are the travail of his soul, Isaiah 53:11, afterward into any danger from the hands of divine justice; he will never mention the sins of his people, he will never charge the sins of his people upon them in the great day. Our dear Lord Jesus, who is the righteous judge of heaven and earth in the great day of account, he will bring in his presentment, all fair and well, and accordingly will make proclamation in that high court of justice, before God, angels, devils, saints, and sinners, etc.

Christ will not charge his children with the least unkindness, he will not charge his spouse with the least unfaithfulness in the great day. Yes, he will represent them before God, angels, and men, as complete in him, as all fair and spotless, as without spot or wrinkle, as without fault before the throne of God, as holy and unblamable and unreprovable in his sight, as immaculate as the angels themselves who kept their first estate, Col. 2:10; Cant. 4:7; Eph. 5:27; Rev. 14:5. This honor shall have all the saints, and thus shall Christ be glorified in his saints, and admired in all those who believe, 1 Thes. 2:10.

The greatest part of the saints by far will have passed their particular judgment long before the general judgment, Heb. 9:27, and being therein acquitted and discharged from all their sins by God the Judge of the living and dead, 2 Tim. 4:1, and admitted into heaven upon the credit of Christ's blood, righteous satisfaction, and their free and full justification; it cannot be imagined that Jesus Christ, in the great day, will bring in any new charge against his children when they have been cleared and absolved already. Certainly when once the saints are freely and fully absolved from all their sins by a divine sentence, then their sins shall never be remembered, they shall never be objected against them any more; for one divine sentence cannot cross and rescind another. The Judge of all the world had long since cast all their sins behind his back, Isaiah 38:17; and will he now set them before his face, and before the faces of all the world? Surely not! He has long since cast all their sins into the depths of the sea, Micah 7:19,—bottomless depths of everlasting oblivion—that they might never be buoyed up any more! He has not only forgiven their sins—but he has also forgotten their sins, Jer. 31:34; and will he remember them and declare them in the great day? Surely not!

God has long since blotted out the transgressions of his people, Isaiah 43:25. This metaphor is taken from creditors, who, when they purpose never to exact a debt, will blot it out of their books. Now after that a debt is struck out of a bill, bond, or book, it cannot be exacted, the evidence cannot be pleaded. Christ having crossed the debt-book with the red lines of his blood, Col. 2:14; if now he should call the sins of his people to remembrance, and charge them upon them, he should cross the great design of his cross. Upon this foundation stands the absolute impossibility that any sin, that the least sin, yes, that the least circumstance of sin, or the least aggravation of sin, should be so much as mentioned by the righteous Judge of heaven and earth in the process of that judicial trial in the great day—except it be in a way of absolution in order to the magnifying of their pardon.

God has long since blotted out as a thick cloud the transgressions of his people, and as a cloud their sins, Isaiah 44:22. Now we know that the clouds which are driven away by the winds appear no more; nor the mist which is dried by the sun appears any more; other clouds and other mists may arise—but not those which are driven away and dried up. Thus the sins of the saints being forgiven, they shall no more return upon them, they shall never more be objected against them.

[2.] Further, The Lord says, "Though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be white as snow; though they be red like crimson, they shall be as wool," Isaiah 1:18. Pardon makes such a clear riddance of sin, that it is as if it had never been. The scarlet sinner is as white as snow—snow newly fallen from the sky, which was never sullied. The crimson sinner is as wool, wool which never received the least tincture in the dye. You know scarlet and crimson are double and deep dyes, ingrained dyes—yet if the cloth dyed therewith be as the wool before it was dyed, and if it be as white as snow, what is become of those dyes? Are they any more? Is not the cloth as if it had not been dyed at all? Even so; though our sins, by reiterating them, by long lying in them, have made deep impressions upon us—yet, by God's discharge of them—we are as if we had never committed them.

[3.] Again, The psalmist pronounces him "blessed whose sin is covered," Psalm 32:1. A thing covered is not seen; so sin forgiven is before God as not seen.

The same psalmist pronounces him "blessed to whom the Lord imputes not sin," Psalm 32:2. Now a sin not imputed is as not committed. The prophet Jeremiah tells us that "the iniquity of Israel shall be sought for, and there shall be none; and the sins of Judah, and they shall not be found," Jer. 50:20. Now is not that fully discharged which shall never be found, never appear, never be remembered, never be mentioned?

Thus, by the many metaphors used in Scripture to set out forgiveness of sin, pardon of sin, you plainly and evidently see that God's discharge is free and full, and therefore he will never charge their sins upon them in the great day, Jer. 31:34; Ezek. 18:22. But

Some may OBJECT and say that the Scripture says, that "God shall bring every work into judgment, with every secret thing, whether it be good, or whether it be evil," Eccles. 12:14. How then can this be, that the sins of the saints shall not be mentioned, nor charged upon them in the great day?

I answer, this scripture is to be understood respective, etc. with a just respect to the two great parties which are to be judged, Mat. 25:32-33. Sheep and goats, saints and sinners, sons and slaves, elect and reprobate, holy and profane, pious and impious, faithful and unfaithful. All the grace, the holiness, the godliness, the good of those who are godly, shall be brought into the judgment of mercy, that it may be freely, graciously, and nobly rewarded. And all the wickedness of the wicked shall be brought into the judgment of condemnation, that it may be righteously and everlastingly punished in this great day of the Lord. All sincerity shall be discovered and rewarded; and all hypocrisy shall be disclosed and revenged. In this great day, all the works of the saints shall follow them into heaven; and in this great day, all the evil works of the wicked shall hunt and pursue them into hell. In this great day—all the hearts, thoughts, secrets, words, ways, works, and walkings of wicked men shall be discovered and laid open before all the world—to their everlasting shame and sorrow, to their eternal amazement and astonishment. And in this great day the Lord will make mention, in the ears of all the world—of every prayer that the saints have made, and of every sermon that they have heard, and of every tear that they have shed, and of every fast that they have kept, and of every sigh and groan that ever they have fetched, and of all the good words that ever they have spoke, and of all the good works that ever they have dope, and of all the great things that ever they have suffered!

Yes, in this great day they shall reap the fruit of many good services which themselves had forgotten! "Lord, when did we see you hungry, and fed you; or thirsty, and gave you drink; or naked, and clothed you; or sick or in prison, and visited you?" Mat. 25:34-41. They had done many good works, and forgotten them—but Christ records them, remembers them, and rewards them before all the world. In this great day, a bit of bread, a cup of cold water shall not pass without a reward, Eccles. 11:1, 6. In this great day, the saints shall reap a plentiful and glorious crop, as the fruit of that good seed, that for a time has seemed to be buried and lost. In this great day of the Lord the saints shall find that bread which long before was cast upon the waters. But my

The second reason is taken from Christ's vehement protestations, that they shall not come into judgment: John 5:24, "Truly, truly, I say unto you, he who hears my word, and believes on him who sent me, has everlasting life, and shall not come into condemnation—but has passed from death unto life." Those words, "shall not come into condemnation," are not rightly translated. The original is, "shall not come into judgment," not into damnation, as you read it in all your English books. Further, it is very observable that no evangelist uses this double asseveration but John, and he never uses it but in matters of greatest weight and importance, and to show the earnestness of his spirit, and to stir us up to better attention, and to put the thing asserted out of all question and beyond all contradiction; as when we would put a thing forever out of all question, we do it by a double asseveration—truly, truly, it is so, etc., John 1:51, 3, 11, and 6:26, 32, 47, 53, etc.

Thirdly, Because his not bringing their sins into judgment does most and best agree with many precious and glorious expressions that we find scattered, as so many shining, sparkling pearls, up and down in Scripture; as,

FIRST, With those of God's blotting out the sins of his people: "I, even I, am he who blots out your transgressions for my own sake, and will not remember your sins. I have blotted out, as a thick cloud, your transgressions, and, as a cloud, your sins," Isaiah 43:25, and 44:22.

Who is this that blots out transgressions? He who has the keys of heaven and hell at his belt; who opens, and no man shuts; who shuts, and no man opens; he who has the power of life and death, of condemning and absolving, of killing and making alive. He it is, who blots out transgressions! If an under officer should blot out an indictment, that perhaps might do a man no good; a man might, for all that, be at last condemned by the judge. But when the judge or king himself, shall blot out the indictment with their own hand, then the indictment cannot return. Now this is every believer's case and happiness.

SECONDLY, To those glorious expressions of God's not remembering of their sins any more, Jer. 31:34; Isaiah 43:25. "And I will not remember your sins." "For I will forgive their iniquity, and I will remember their sin no more." So the apostle, "For I will be merciful to their unrighteousness, and their sins and their iniquities will I remember no more." Heb. 8:12.

And again, the same apostle says, "This is the covenant that I will make with them after those days, says the Lord: I will put My laws on their hearts, and I will write them on their minds, I will never again remember their sins and their lawless acts." Hebrews 10:16-17. [That which Cicero said flatteringly of Caesar, is truly affirmed of God, "He forgets nothing but the wrongs which daily are done him by his people."]

The meaning is, their iniquities shall be quite forgotten: I will never mention them more, I will never take notice of them more, they shall never hear more of them from me. Though God has an iron memory to remember the sins of the wicked—yet he has no memory to remember the sins of the righteous.

Thirdly, His not bringing their sins into judgment does most and best agree with those blessed expressions of his casting their sins into the depth of the sea, and of his casting them behind his back. "He will turn again, he will have compassion upon us, he will subdue our iniquities, and you will cast all their sins into the depths of the sea," Mic. 7:19. Where sin is once pardoned, the remission stands never to be repealed. Pardoned sin shall never more come in account against the pardoned man before God; for so much does this speech import. If a thing were cast into a river, it might be brought up again; or if it were cast upon the sea, it might be discerned and taken up again—but when it is cast into the depths, the bottom of the sea—it can never be buoyed up again. By the metaphor in the text, the Lord would have us to know that sins pardoned shall rise no more, they shall never be seen more, they shall never come on the account more. He will so drown their sins, that they shall never come up before him the second time.

And so much that other scripture imports, "You have cast all my sin behind your back," Isaiah 38:17. These last words are a borrowed speech, taken from the manner of men, who are accustomed to cast behind their backs such things as they have no mind to see, regard, or remember. A gracious soul has always his sins before his face, "I acknowledge my transgressions, and my sin is ever before me," Psalm 51:3, and therefore no wonder if the Lord cast them behind his back. The father soon forgets, and casts behind his back those faults that the child remembers, and has always in his eyes; so does the Father of spirits.

FOURTHLY, His not bringing their sins into judgment does best agree with that sweet and choice expression of God's pardoning the sins of his people.

"And I will cleanse them from all their iniquity, whereby they have sinned against me; and I will pardon all their iniquities, whereby they have sinned, and whereby they have transgressed against me," Jer. 33:8. Just so, in Micah, "Who is a God like unto you, who pardons iniquity, and passes by the transgressions of the remnant of his heritage?"—as though he would not see it—but wink at it—"he retains not his anger forever, because he delights in mercy," Mic. 7:18. The Hebrew word that is here rendered pardons, signifies a taking away. When God pardons sin, he takes it sheer away; that if it should be sought for—yet it could not be found, as the prophet speaks, Jer. 50:20, "In those days, and in that time, says 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;" and these words, "and passes by," in the afore-cited Micah 7:18, according to the Hebrew is, "and passes over," "God passes over the transgression of his heritage," that is, he takes no notice of it; as a man in a deep muse, or as one who has haste of business, sees not things before him, his mind being busied about other matters, he neglects all to mind his business.

As David, when he saw in Mephibosheth the feature of his friend Jonathan, took no notice of his lameness, or any other defect or deformity; so God, beholding in his people the glorious image of his Son, winks at all their faults and deformities, Isaiah 40:1-2, which made Luther say, "Do with me what you will, since you have pardoned my sin; and what is it to pardon sin—but not to mention sin?"

FIFTHLY, His not bringing their sins into the judgment of discussion and discovery does best agree to those expressions of forgiving and covering, "Blessed is he whose transgression is forgiven, whose sin is covered," Psalm 32:1. In the original, it is in the plural, "O, the blessednesses"; so here is a plurality of blessings, a chain of pearls.

The like expression you have in the 85th Psalm and the 2nd verse, "You have forgiven the iniquity of your people, you have covered all their sin. Selah." For the understanding of these scriptures aright, take notice that to cover is a metaphorical expression. Covering is such an action which is opposed to disclosure; to be covered, it is to be so hidden and closed as not to appear. Some make the metaphor from filthy loathsome objects which are covered from our eyes as dead carcasses are buried under the ground; some from garments, which are put upon us to cover our nakedness; others from the Egyptians who were drowned in the Red Sea, and so covered with water; others from a great gulf in the earth, that is filled up and covered with earth injected into it; and others make it, in the last place, an allusive expression to the mercy-seat, over which was a covering.

Now all these metaphors in the general tend to show this, that the Lord will not look, he will not see, he will not take notice of the sins he has pardoned, to call them any more to a judicial account.

As when a prince reads over many treasons and rebellions, and meets with such and such which he has pardoned, he reads on, he passes by, he takes no notice of them, the pardoned person shall never more hear of them, he will never more call him to account for those sins; so here, etc. When Caesar was painted, the artists drew his finger upon his scar, his wart. God puts his fingers upon all his people's scars and warts, upon all their weaknesses and infirmities, that nothing can be seen but what is fair and lovely: "You are all fair, my love, and there is no spot in you," Cant. 4:7.

SIXTHLY, It best agrees to that expression of not imputing of sin. "Blessed is the man to whom the Lord imputes not iniquity, and in whose spirit there is no deceit," Psalm 32:2. Just so, the apostle reiterates in Romans 4:6-8. Now not to impute iniquity, is not to charge iniquity, not to set iniquity upon his score, who is blessed and pardoned, etc.

SEVENTHLY, and lastly, It best agrees with that expression that you have in the 103d Psalm and the 11th and 12th verses, "For as the heaven is high above the earth, so great is his mercy towards those who fear him; as far as the east is from the west, so far has he removed our transgressions from us." What a vast distance is there between the east and west! of all visible latitudes, this is the greatest; and thus much for the third argument. The

[4.] The fourth argument which prevails with me to judge that Jesus Christ will not bring the sins of the saints into the judgment of discussion and discovery in the great day is, because it seems unsuitable to three considerable things for Jesus Christ to proclaim the infirmities and miscarriages of his people to all the world.

FIRST, It seems to be unsuitable to the glory and solemnity of that day, which to the saints will be a day of refreshing, a day of restitution, a day of redemption, a day of coronation—as has been already proved. Now how suitable to this great day of solemnity the proclamation of the saints' sins will be, I leave the reader to judge.

SECONDLY, It seems unsuitable to all those near and dear relations that Jesus Christ stands in, towards his people. He stands in the relation of a Father, a Brother, a Head, a Husband, a Friend, an Advocate. [Isaiah 9:6; Heb. 2:11-12; Eph. 1:21-22; Rev. 19:7; John 15:1; 2:1-2.] Now, are not all these by the law of relation, bound rather to hide, and keep secret—at least from the world—the weaknesses, and infirmities of their near and dear relations; and is not Christ, is not Christ much more, by how much he is more a Father, a Brother, a Head, a Husband, etc., in a spiritual way, than any others can be in a natural way? etc.

THIRDLY, It seems very unsuitable to what the Lord Jesus requires of his people, in this world. The Lord requires that his people should cast a mantle of love, of wisdom, of silence, and secrecy over one another's weaknesses and infirmities, etc.

Hatred stirs up strife—but love covers all sins—love's mantle is very large. Love will find a hand, a plaster to clap upon every sore, Proverbs 10:12, and 1 Pet. 4:8. Flavius Vespasianus, the emperor, was very ready to conceal his friends' vices, and as ready to reveal their virtues. Just so, is divine love in the hearts of the saints, "If your brother offends you, go and tell him his fault between him and you alone; if he shall hear you, you have gained your brother," Mat. 18:15. As the pills of reproof are to be gilded and sugared over with much gentleness and softness, so they are to be given in secret. Tell him between him and you alone. Tale-bearers and tale-hearers are alike abominable. Heaven is too hot, and too holy a place for them, Psalm 15:3. Now will Jesus Christ have us behave thus towards offending Christians, and will he himself act otherwise? Nay, is it an evil in us to lay open the weaknesses and infirmities of the saints to the world? and will it be an excellency, a glory, a virtue in Christ, to do it in the great day? etc.

[5.] A fifth argument is this, It is the glory of a man to pass over a transgression. "A man's wisdom gives him patience; it is to his glory to overlook an offense," Proverbs 19:11. Or to pass by it, as we do by people or things we know not, or would take no notice of. Now, is it the glory of a man to overlook an offense—and will it not much more be the glory of Christ, silently to to overlook an offenses of his people in that great day? The greater the treasons and rebellions are, that a prince passes over, and takes no notice of—the more is his honor and glory; and so doubtless it will be Christ's in that great day, to pass over all the treasons and rebellions of his people, to take no notice of them, to forget them as well as to forgive them.

The heathens have long since observed, that in nothing man came nearer to the glory and perfection of God himself, than in goodness and mercifulness. Surely, if it is such an honor to man, "to overlook an offense," it cannot be a dishonor to Christ, to overlook an offenses of his people, he having already buried them in the sea of his blood. Again, says Solomon, "It is the glory of God to conceal a thing," Proverbs 25:2. And why it should not make for the glory of divine love, to conceal the sins of the saints in that great day, I know not. And whether the concealing the sins of the saints in the great day, will not make most for their joy and wicked men's sorrows; for their comfort and wicked men's terror and torment—I will leave you to judge, and time and experience to decide; and thus much for the resolution of that great question.

FIRSTLY. Now, from what has been said, in answer to this third question, a sincere Christian may form up this first plea as to these ten scriptures, [Eccles. 11:9, and 12:14; Mat. 12:36, and 18:23; Luke 16:2; Romans 14:10, 12; 2 Cor. 5:10; Heb. 9:27, and 13:17; 1 Pet. 4:5.] which refer either to the general judgment, or to the particular judgment that will pass upon every Christian immediately after death.

"O blessed God! Jesus Christ has by his own blood balanced and made up all reckonings and accounts that were between you and me; and you have vehemently protested, that you will not bring me into judgment; that you will blot out my transgressions as a thick cloud, and that you will remember my sins no more; and that you will cast them behind your back, and hurl them into the depth of the sea; and that you will forgive them, and cover them, and not impute them to me, etc. This is my plea, O Lord, and by this plea I shall stand."

"Well", says the Judge of the living and the dead, "I own this plea, I accept of this plea, I have nothing to say against this plea; the plea is just, safe, honorable, and righteous. Enter into the joy of your Lord!"

SECONDLY. Every sinner at his first believing and closing with Christ, is justified in the court of glory from all his sins, both guilt and punishment, Acts 13:39. Justification does not increase or decrease—but all sin is pardoned at the first act of believing. All who are justified are justified alike. There is no difference among believers, as to their justification; one is not more justified than another, for every justified person has a complete remission of his sins, and the same righteousness of Christ imputed.

But in sanctification, there is difference among believers. Everyone is not sanctified alike, for some are stronger and higher, and others are weaker and lower in grace. As soon as any are made believers in Christ, all the sins which they have committed in time past, and all the sins which they are guilty of, as to the time present, they are actually pardoned unto them in general, and in particular, 1 Cor. 12:12-14; 1 John 2:1,12-14. Now, that all the sins of a believer are pardoned at once, and actually unto them, may be thus demonstrated.

[1.] First, All phrases in Scripture imply thus much. Isaiah 43:25, "I, even I, am he who blots out your transgressions for my own sake, and will not remember your sins." Jer. 31:34, "I will forgive their iniquity, and I will remember their sin no more." Jer. 33:8, "And I will pardon all their iniquities whereby they have sinned, and whereby they have transgressed against me." Ezek. 18:22, "All his transgressions that he has committed, they shall not be mentioned unto him." Heb. 8:12, "I will be merciful unto their unrighteousness, and their sins and their iniquities I will remember no more;" consequently, all is pardoned at once. But,

[2.] Secondly, That remission of sins which leaves no condemnation to the party offending, is the remission of all sins; for if there were any sin remaining, a man is still in the state of condemnation—but justification leaves no condemnation. Romans 8:1, "There is no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus," and verse 33, "Who shall lay anything to the charge of God's elect? It is God who justifies;" and verse 38-39, "Nor things present, nor things to come, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord;" and John 5:24, "He who hears my word, and believes on him who sent me, has everlasting life, and shall not come into condemnation—but is passed from death to life;" consequently, all sins are pardoned at once, or else they were in a state of condemnation, etc. At a sinner's first conversion his sins are truly and perfectly pardoned. Thus you see it evident that there is no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus. Therefore there is full remission of all sins, to the soul at the first act of believing. But,

[3.] Thirdly, A believer, even when he sins, is still united to Christ, John 15:1, 6, 17:21-23; 1 Cor. 6:17, "And he is still clothed with the righteousness of Christ, which covers all his sins, and discharges him from them, so that no sin can redound to him," Isaiah 61:10; Jer. 23:6; 1 Cor. 1:30; Phil. 3:9, etc. But,

[4.] Fourthly, A believer is not to fear curse or hell at all, which yet he might do if all his sins were not pardoned at once—but some of his new sins were for a while unpardoned, etc. But,

[5.] Fifthly, Our Lord Jesus Christ, by once suffering, suffered for all the sins of the elect—past, present, and to come. The infinite wrath of God the Father fell on him for all the sins of the chosen ones, Isaiah 53:9; Heb. 12:14, and 10:9-10, 12, 14. If Christ had suffered for ten thousand worlds, he could have suffered no more than he did; for he suffered the whole infinite wrath of God the Father. The wrath of God was infinite wrath, and the sufferings of Christ were infinite sufferings. Consequently, as Adam's sin was enough to infect a thousand worlds, so our Savior's merits are sufficient to save a thousand worlds. Those sufferings that he suffered for sins past, are sufficient to satisfy for sins present and to come. That all the sins of God's people, in their absolute number, from first to last, were laid upon Christ, who in the days of his sufferings did meritoriously purchase perfect remission of all their sins—to be applied in future times to them, and by them, is most certain, Isaiah 54:5, 6. But,

[6.] Sixthly, Repentance is not at all required for our justification—where our pardon is only to be found—but only faith; therefore pardon of sin is not suspended until we repent of our sins. But,

[7.] Seventhly, If the remission of all sins be not at once, it is either because my faith cannot lay hold on it, or because there are some hindrances in the way. But a man by the hand of faith, may lay hold on all the merits of Christ, and thereby, the pardon of all. There is no danger which attends this assertion, for it puts the highest obligation imaginable upon the soul, as to fear and obedience: Psalm 130:3, "If you, Lord, should mark iniquities, O Lord, who shall stand?" verse 4, "But there is forgiveness with you, that you may be feared." Forgiveness does not make a Christian bold with sin—but fearful of sin, and careful to obey, as Christians find in their daily experience. By this argument it appears clear, that the forgiveness of all sins is made to the soul at once, at the first act of believing. But,

[8.] Eighthly, If new sins were not pardoned until you repent—then we would be left to an uncertainty, as to whether our sins are pardoned, or when they will be pardoned; for it may be long before we repent, as you see in David, who lay long under the guilt of murder and adultery before he repented; and you know Solomon lay long under many high sins before he repented, etc., and it may be more long before we do, or can know that we do truly repent of our sins. But,

[9.] Ninthly, If all sins were not forgiven at once, then justification is not perfect at once—but is more and more increased and perfected as more and more sins are pardoned, which cannot consist with the true doctrine of justification. Certainly as to the state of justification, there is a full and perfect remission of all sins—considered under the differences of time past, present, and to come. As in the state of condemnation, there is not any one sin pardoned; just so in the state of justification, there is not any one sin unpardoned; for the state of justification is opposite to all condemnation and curse and wrath. But,

[10.] Tenthly, All agree that as to God's eternal decree or purpose of forgiveness, all the sins of his people are forgiven. God did not intend to forgive some of their sins and not the rest—but a universal and full and complete forgiveness was fixedly purposed and resolved on by God. Forgiveness of sins is a gracious act, or work of God for Christ's sake, discharging and absolving believing and repenting people from the guilt and punishment of all their sins, so that God is no longer displeased with them, nor will he ever remember them any more, nor call them to an account for them, nor condemn them for their sins—but will look on them, and deal with them—as if they had never sinned, never offended him!

THIRDLY, Consider, that at the very moment of a believer's death, that all his sins are perfectly and fully forgiven. All their sins are so fully and finally forgiven them, that at the very moment of their souls going out from the body, there is not one sin of omission or commission, nor any aggravation or least circumstance left standing in the book of God's remembrance; and this is the true reason why there shall not be the least mention made of their sins in their trial at Christ's tribunal, because they were all pardoned fully and finally at the hour of their death. All debts were then discharged, all scores were then crossed, so that in the great day, when the books shall be opened and perused, there shall not one sin be found—but all blotted out, and all reckonings made even in the blood of Christ.

Indeed, if God should pardon some sins, and not others, he would at the same time be a friend and an enemy, and we would be at once both happy and miserable, which are manifest contradictions. Besides, God does nothing in vain—but it would be in vain for God to pardon some sins but not all, for as one leak in a ship unstopped will sink the ship, and as one sore or one disease, not healed nor cured, will kill the body—so one sin unpardoned will destroy the soul.

FOURTHLY, God looks not upon those as sinners, whose sins are pardoned: Luke 7:37, "And behold a woman in the city who was a sinner." A notorious sinner, a branded sinner. Mark, it is not said, behold a woman who is a sinner—but "behold a woman who was a sinner;" to note that sinners converted and pardoned are no longer reputed sinners, "Behold a woman who was a sinner." Look, as a man, when he is cleansed from filth, is as if he had never been defiled; so when a sinner is pardoned, he is in God's account as if he had never sinned. Hence those phrases in Cant. 4. 7, "You are all fair, my love, and there is no spot in you." Col. 2:10, "And you are complete in him, who is the head of all principality and power," as though he had said, because in himself he has the well-head of glory and majesty, the which becomes ours; in that he is also the head of his church: Col. 1:21, "And you who were once alienated, and enemies in your mind, by wicked works—yet now has he reconciled;" verse 22, "In the body of his flesh, through death, to present you holy and unblamably, and unreprovable in his sight," that is, by his righteousness imputed and imparted. Eph. 5:27, "that he might present it to himself a glorious church, not having spot or wrinkle, or any such thing—but that it should be holy and without blemish." The word "present" is taken from the custom of solemnizing a marriage; first the spouse was wooed, and then set before her husband adorned with his jewels, as Rebekah was with Isaac's.

Rev. 14:5, "And in their mouth was found no deceit, for they are without fault before the throne of God." They are without fault by imputation. Hence Job is said to be a perfect man, Job 2, and David to be "a man after God's own heart," Acts 13:22. The forgiven party is now looked upon and received with that love and favor, as if he had never offended God, and as if God had never been offended by him, Hosea 14:1-2, 4; Isaiah 54:7-10; Jer. 31:33-34, 36, 37; Luke 15:19-23. Here the sins of the prodigal are pardoned, and his father receives him with such expressions of love and familiarity as if he had never sinned against him; his father never so much as objects any one of all his high sinnings against him.

Hence it is that you read of such sweet, kind, tender, loving, comfortable expressions of God towards those whose sins he had pardoned: Jer. 31:16, "Refrain your voice from weeping, and your eyes from tears;" verse 20, "Is Ephraim my dear son, is he a pleasant child?" Mat. 9:2, "Son, be of good cheer, your sins are forgiven you." Remission of sins is not only a removal of guilt—but an imputation of righteousness. Look, as he who is legally acquitted of theft or murder, is no more reputed a thief or murderer, so here, Jer. 50:20, "In those days, and in that time, says the Lord; search will be made for Israel's guilt, but there will be none, and for the sins of Judah, but none will be found, for I will forgive the remnant I spare." Pardoned sin is in God's account no sin; and the pardoned sinner in God's account is no sinner; as the pardoned debtor is no debtor. Where God has pardoned a man, there he never looks upon that man as a sinner—but as a just man. Pardon of sin is an utter abolition of it; in this respect the pardoned man is as free as if he had never sinned. Therefore the believer, the penitent person, has infinite cause of rejoicing, that God has perfectly pardoned his sins, and that he looks upon him no more as a sinner—but as a just and righteous person.

O sirs! what can the great God do more for your comfort and consolation? and therefore, never entertain any hard thoughts of God, as if he were like those men who say they forgive with all their hearts, and yet retain their secret hate and inward malice as much as ever. But forever live in the faith of this truth, namely—that when God pardons sin, he takes it so fully away, as that the party acquitted is no more looked upon as a sinner. Now upon this consideration, what a glorious plea has every sincere Christian to make in the day of account! But,

FIFTHLY, Forgiveness of sin, takes off our obligation to suffer eternal punishment; so that, look, as a forgiven debtor is freed from whatever penalty his debt did render him liable to, so is the forgiven sinner from the punishment itself. In this respect Aristotle says, "To forgive sin is not to punish it." And Austin says, "To forgive sin is not to inflict the punishment due unto it." And the schools say, "To remit the sin is not to impute the punishment." When a king pardons a thief, his theft now shall no longer make him guilty. The guilt obliging is that whereby the sinner is actually bound to undergo the punishment due to him by the law, and passed on him by the judge for the breach of it; this is that which by the schools is called the extrinsic guilt of sin, to distinguish it from the intrinsic, which is included in the unlawfulness of the act, and which is inseparable from the sin. And if you would know wherein the nature of forgiveness immediately and primarily consists, it is in the taking off this obligation, and discharging the sinner from it. Hence it is that the pardoned sinner is said not to be under the law: Romans 6:14, and not to be under the curse; Gal. 3:13, and not to be under the sentence of condemnation. And according to this notion, all Scripture phrases are to be construed by which forgiveness is expressed, Romans 8:1. God, when he forgives sin, he is said to cover them, Psalm 32:1, 85:2; Romans 4:7; "to remember them no more," Isaiah 43:25; Jer. 31:34; Heb. 8:12; "to cast them behind his back," Isaiah 38:17;" to throw them into the depth of the sea," Micah 7:19; "to blot them out as a cloud," Isaiah 44:22; and "to turn away his face from them," Psalm 51:9. By all which expressions we are not to think that God does not know sin, or that God does not see sin, or that God is not displeased with sin, or that God is not displeased with believers for their sins—but that he will not so take notice of them as to enter into judgment with the people for them.

Just so, that the forgiven sinner is free from obligation of the punishment, as truly, as surely, as fully, and as perfectly as if he had never committed the sin—but were altogether innocent. In every sin there are two things considerable: first, the offence which is done to God, whereby he is displeased; secondly, the obligation of the man so offending God—to eternal condemnation. Now, remission of sin does wholly lie in the removing of these two. So that when God does will neither to punish or to be offended with the person—then he is said to forgive. It is true there remains paternal and medicinal chastisements after sin is forgiven—but no offence or punishment strictly so taken. And is not this a noble plea for a believer to make in the day of account? But,

SIXTHLY, Consider that all the sins of believers were laid upon Christ their surety, Heb. 7:21-22. What is that? That is, he became bound to God, he became responsible to him for all their sins, for all that God in justice could charge upon them, and demand for satisfaction: Isaiah 53:5-6, "Our salvation was laid upon one who is mighty;" Psalm 89:19; Isaiah 63:1. "As Judah became a surety to Jacob for Benjamin, he engaged himself to his father: I will be surety for him, of my hand shall you require him; if I bring him not unto you, and set him before you, then let me bear the blame forever," Gen. 43:9. Herein he was a type of Christ, who is both our surety to God for the discharge of our debt and duty, and God's surety to us for the performance of his promises. "Father," says Christ, "I will take upon me all the sins of my people; I will be bound to answer for them; I will sacrifice myself for them; at my hands you require satisfaction for their sins, and a full compensation unto your justice; I will die, I will lay down my life, I will make my soul an offering for sins; I will become a curse, I will endure your wrath." Oh, what unspeakable comfort is this, that there is a Christ to answer for that which we could never answer! Christ is a surety in way of satisfaction, undertaking for the debts, the trespasses, the sins of his elect. In this respect it is that Christ is most properly called a surety, in regard of his taking upon him the sins of his elect, and undertaking to answer and make satisfaction unto the justice of God for them. Christ interposes himself between the wrath of God and his people, undertaking to satisfy their debts, and so to reconcile them unto God. Christ had nothing of his own to be condemned for, nothing of his own to be acquitted from. He was condemned to pay your debt, as your surety, and therefore you cannot be condemned too. He was acquitted from it, being paid, as your surety, and therefore you must be acquitted too. He appeared the first time with your sin to his condemnation, he shall appear the second time without your sin unto your salvation, Heb. 9:28.

God the Father says to Christ, "Son, if you would have poor sinners pardoned, you must take their debts upon yourself, you must be their surety, and you must enter into bonds to pay every farthing of that debt poor sinners owe; you must pay all if you will undertake for them." Certainly these were some of those transactions that were between God the Father and God the Son from all eternity about the pardoning of poor sinners. If ever your sins be pardoned, Christ must take your debts upon himself, and be your surety; 2 Cor. 5:21, "He made him to be sin for us, who knew no sin." Christ was made sin for us—firstly, by way of imputation, for "our sins were made to meet upon him," as that evangelical prophet has it, Isaiah 53:6; and, secondly, by reckoning, "for he was reckoned among malefactors," verse 12. The way of pardon is by a translation of all our sins upon Christ, it is by charging them all upon Christ's score. That is a great expression of Nathan to David, "The Lord has put away your sin;" but the original runs thus, "The Lord has made your sins to pass over;" that is, to pass over from you to his Son; he has laid them to his charge.

Now Christ has discharged all his people's debts and bonds. There is a twofold debt which lay upon us. One was the debt of obedience unto the law, and this Christ did pay by "fulfilling all righteousness," Mat. 3:15. The other was the debt of punishment for our transgressions, and this debt Christ discharged by his death on the cross, Isaiah 53:4, 10, 12; "And by being made a curse for us, to redeem us from the curse," Gal. 3:13. Hence it is that we are said to be "bought with a price," 1 Cor. 6:20, and 7:23; and that Christ is called our "Ransom," Mat. 20:28, and 1 Tim. 2:6. The words signify a valuable price laid down for another's ransom. The blood of Christ, the Son of God, was a valuable price, a sufficient price; it was as much as would take off all enmities, and take away all sin, and to satisfy divine justice-and indeed it has done so. Therefore you read that "in his blood we have redemption, even the forgiveness of our sins," Eph. 1:7; Col. 1:14, 20; and his death was such a full compensation to divine justice, that the apostle makes a challenge to all: Romans 8:33, "Who shall lay anything to the charge of God's elect?" and verse 34, "Who is he who condemns? it is Christ who died." As if he had said, Christ has satisfied and discharged all. The Greek word is of special emphasis. The force of the word properly signifies a counter-price, when one undergoes in the room of another, that which he should have undergone in his own person; as when one yields himself a captive for the redeeming of another out of captivity, or gives his own life for the saving of another's. There were such sureties among the Greeks as gave life for life, body for body; and in this sense the apostle is to be understood, when he says that Christ gave himself a ransom, a counter-price, paying a price for his people.

Christ has laid down a price for all believers, they are his "dearly bought ones," they are his "choice redeemed ones," Isaiah 51:11. Christ gave himself a counter-price, a ransom, submitting himself to the like punishment, which his redeemed ones would have undergone. Christ, to deliver his elect from the curse of the law, subjected himself to that same curse of the law under which all mankind lay. Jesus Christ was a true surety, one who gave his life for the life of others.

The Lord Jesus became such a surety for his elect, giving himself a ransom for them, John 6:51; Tit. 2:14; 1 Pet. 1:18; Rev. 1:5, and 5:9.

Oh, what comfort is this unto us—to have such a Jesus, who himself bore our sins, even all our sins, left not one unsatisfied for; and laid down a full ransom, a full price, such an expiatory sacrifice as that now we are out of the hands of justice, and wrath, and death, and curse, and hell—and are reconciled and made near by the blood of the everlasting covenant! The blood of Christ, as the Scripture speaks, is "the blood of God," Acts 20:28, so that there is not only satisfaction—but merit in his blood. There is more in Christ's blood, than mere payment or satisfaction. There was merit also in it, to acquire and procure and purchase all spiritual good, and all eternal good for the people of God; not only immunities from sin, death, wrath, curse, hell, etc.—but privileges and dignities of sons and heirs; yes, all grace, and all love, and all peace, and all glory—even that glorious inheritance purchased by his blood, Eph. 1:14.

Remember this once for all, that in justification our debts are charged upon Christ, they are reckoned to his account. You know that in sin, there is the wicked and staining quality of it, and there is the resulting guilt of it, which is the obligation of a sinner over to the judgment-seat of God to answer for it. Now this guilt, in which lies our debt, this is charged upon Christ. Therefore, says the apostle, "God was in Christ, reconciling the world to himself, not imputing their trespasses unto them," 2 Cor. 5:19; "And has made him to be sin for us, who knew no sin," ver, 21. You know in law, the wife's debts are charged upon the husband; and if the debtor is disabled, then the creditor sues the surety. The surety and debtor, in law are reputed as one person. Now Christ is our surety, "He is made sin for us," says the apostle; "for us"—that is, in our stead—a surety for us, one who puts our debts on his accounts, our burden on his shoulders. Just so, says that princely prophet Isaiah: Isaiah 53:4-5, "He has borne our griefs, and carried our sorrows." How so? "He was wounded for our transgressions; he was bruised for our iniquities;" that is, he stood in our stead, he took upon him the answering of our sins, the satisfying of our debts, the clearing of our guilt; and therefore was it that he was so bruised, etc.

You remember the scape-goat; upon his head all the iniquities of the children of Israel, and all their transgressions in all their sins were confessed and put: "And the goat did bear upon him all their iniquities," Lev. 16:21-22. What is the meaning of this? Surely Jesus Christ, upon whom our sins were laid, and who alone died for the ungodly, Romans 5:6, "and bore our burdens away." Therefore the believer in the sense of guilt, should run unto Christ, and offer up his blood unto the Father, and say, "Lord, it is true, I owe you so much—yet, Father, forgive me; remember that your own Son was my ransom, his blood was the price; he was my surety, and undertook to answer for my sins! I beseech you, accept of his atonement, for he is my surety, my redemption. You must be satisfied that Christ has satisfied you, not for himself—what sins had he of his own?—but for me. They were my debts which he satisfied for! Look over your book, and you shall find it so; for you have said—He was made sin for us, and that he was wounded for our transgressions."

Now, what a singular support, what an admirable comfort is this, that we ourselves are not to make up our accounts and reckonings—but that Christ has cleared all accounts and reckonings between God and us! Therefore it is said that "in his blood we have redemption, even the forgiveness of sins," Eph. 1:7.