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Holy Ghoft fhall not be forgiven, neither in this World, nor that which is to come. Where Chrift declares all Sins para donable, except that against the Holy Ghost, which is utterly incapable of all Favour or Allowance. Now this Sin against the Holy Ghost, is a wilful rejecting of the Doctrine and Miracles of our Saviour; afcribing both not to the Spirit of God, but to the Devil, and blafpheming them as Impoftures and Satanical Delufions which Blafphemy against the Holy Ghoft is unpardonable, not for want of fufficient Mercy and Goodness in God, but from the Incapacity of the Subjects; who by rejecting the Means and Conditions of Pardon, render themselves incapable of it. This is that finning wilfully after receiving the Knowledge of the Truth, for which the Apostle tells us there remains no Sacrifice, or Expiation, Heb. 10. 26. for fuch tread under foot the Son of God: that is, they defpife him, who alone can pardon them; they count the Blood of the Covenant (by which alone the Forgiveness of Sin is obtain'd and convey'd to us) an unholy thing; they do despite to the Spirit of Grace, by rejecting all his Miracles, whereby the Truth and Benefits of Chriftianity are confirm'd and feal'd to us; they crucify afresh the Son of God, by approving the Jews Fact in crucifying him; and put him again to an open shame, as if he had juftly died as an Impoftor or Malefactor. Thefe wilfully apoftatizing and falling away from Chriftianity, the Apoftle affirms it impoffible to renew them again unto Repentance; and confequently it must be impoffible for them to obtain Remiffion of Sin.

But for all other Failings, that are confiftent with the Belief of Chriftianity, they are remiffible by the Merits and Mercy of a Mediator. As for the Guilt of Original Sin, that is wash'd away in the Waters of Baptifm, which is therefore ftyl'd the Laver of Regeneration: And for all actual Sins committed after it, they all may and shall be forgiven upon our true Repentance. Neither the Number, nor the Heinoufness of our Offences can deprive us of God's Mercy, nor exclude us from the Promise and Poffibility of a Pardon; for if we ceafe to do evil, and learn to do well, God Almighty hath told us, tho our Sins be as Scarlet, they shall be as white as Snow; and tho they be as Crimson, they shall be as Wool; Ifa. 1. 17, 18.

Now this Forgivenefs of Sins is not only purchas'd for us by the Death and Satisfaction of our Saviour, but is reveal'd and deliver'd to us in Holy Scripture, which is thereVOL. I.

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fore call'd the Word of Reconciliation; the Gofpel being the Grand Charter of our Peace, that configns to every returning Sinner a Patent of Pardon and Reconciliation.

Befide which, this Pardon is by Chrift's Ordinance publifh'd and difpens'd to us by his Minifters, to whom he hath given Power and Commandment to declare and pronounce to his People, being penitent, the Abfolution and Remiffion of their Sins. Chritt's Commiffion to his Apoftles was, to preach Repentance and Remiffion of Sins to all Nations: Luke 24. 47. adding withal, Whofefoever Sins ye remit, they are remitted; and whofefoever Sins ye retain, they are retain'd: John 20. 23. fignifying that God hath given Authority to his Minifters to difpenfe and pronounce his Pardon to all penitent Perfons; and the Sentence they thus regularly pronounce here on Earth, fhall be hereafter ratify'd and confirm'd in Heaven.

Moreover, this Pardon is feal'd and convey'd to us by the Holy Sacraments: Repent and be baptiz'd for the Remiffion of Sins, faith St. Peter to the Jews, Acts 2. 38. the Stain and Guilt of Sin being wafh'd away in that Laver of Rege

neration.

And if after Baptifm we happen to relapfe and fall again into Sin, we muft renew our Repentance, and by receiving the Sacrament of the Lord's Supper, endeavour to fortify ourfelves with Grace and Strength to refift it for the future; we are to feek Reconciliation by addreffing to Chrift's Holy Table, and to have our Souls wafh'd with his most precious Blood, which was Jhed for many for the Remiffion of Sins. And this will lead me, in the

Fourth and Laft place, to enquire, what it is to believe this Article of the Forgiveness of Sins. In anfwer to which, 'tis not barely to affent to the Truth of it, and to believe that a Pardon may be had; but it implies fuch an Affent, as fets us upon the feeking and fuing out after it, as thofe that are loft and undone for ever without it. For as a condemn'd Perfon, lying under the Sentence of Death, will not reft in the bare poffibility or vain hopes of a Pardon, but beftirs himfelf and fpares no pains to procure it; even fo we being by our Tranfgreffions guilty Perfons before God, and lying under the Sentence of eternal Death, must not content ourfelves with an idle Belief of God's Mercy, but ufe the best means to obtain a Share and Intereft in it.

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More particularly, the Belief of this Forgiveness teaches thefe two things: (1.) Not to prefume of Mercy and Pardon without obferving the Conditions. And, (2.) Not to despair of it upon the performance of them.

(1.) I fay, we are fo to believe the Forgiveness of Sins, as not to prefume upon it without obferving the Conditions of it; for the Promise of Pardon is not abfolute, but conditional, 'tis granted only (as was before obferv'd) upon the Terms of Faith, Repentance, and the Forgiving of others. To expect it otherwife, is to hope upon no Grounds; yea, to ask God to forgive us upon any other Terms, is but to beg leave to affront and provoke him. If then we would have any well-grounded Hopes of Mercy and Paidon, we muft not only depend upon the Merits of Christ for the Expiation of Sin, but likewife do our part in repenting and turning from it: and if we would have God to forgive us our Trefpaffes, we must be ready to forgive them that trespass against us; reconciling ourfelves to any that we have offended, and making Reftitution and Satisfaction where we have done any Injury or Wrong. These are God's Terms of Mercy and Pardon, and 'tis great Vanity and Presumption to look for it upon any other. And as we may not prefume, fo neither,

(2.) Should we defpair of Mercy upon performing the Conditions; for Chrift's Death has procur'd a full Pardon for the greateft Sins, and he has commiffion'd his Minifters to proclaim it to the greatest Sinners; if we repent and amend, there is no Sin too big to be forgiven. Chrift's Blood can wash out the deepeft Guilt, and his Merits are fufficient to atone for the blackest Offences. David's Murder and Adultery, Paul's Blafphemy and bloody Perfecutions, Peter's Perjury and Denying his Mafter, were all forgiven; and if thefe crying Enormities, committed with Deliberation and Contrivance, and heighten'd with many Circumstances of Aggravation, did not mifs of a Pardon, there can be no reafon for the greatest Offenders to doubt or despair of Mercy upon their hearty Sorrow and Repentance.

But here care must be taken, that they fo forfake their Sin as not to return to it again; for if the Righteous Man turn from his Righteousness and do Iniquity, all his Righteouf nefs fhall not be mention'd, but in the Sin which he hath finned, in that he ball die; Ezek. 18. 24. If we relapfe into Wickedness, our former Pardon will be cancel'd, and we fhall be accountable for all our Tranfgreffions: and there

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fore to make it good and available, we muft perfevere in our Repentance, and return no more to Folly. To conclude then, from this Difcourfe we learn,

1. The infinite Love of Chrift, in purchafing this Pardon for us at the dear rate of his own moft precious Blood: this is a Mercy never enough to be valu'd and admir'd by us, That when we were Enemies, we were reconcil'd unto God by the Death of his Son.

2. We learn hence, the great Privilege of being born within the Pales of the Church, where this great Bleffing of the Forgivenefs of Sin is obtain'd and difpens'd to all true Members of it; and likewife how thankfully we are to own and make a right ufe of it.

Laftly, We fhould learn hence, to qualify ourfelves for this great Bleffing, by obferving the Conditions upon which 'tis beftow'd; that is, let us ftedfaftly believe in Christ, and rely upon his Satisfaction: to which we are to add, true Repentance and a thorow forfaking of every evil

way.

But above all, let us have fervent Charity among ourselves, forgiving and forbearing one another in Love, as God for "Chrift's fake bath forgiven us; for Charity hall cover a Multitude of Sins and if we forgive one another, our Father which is in Heaven will certainly forgive us.

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Why Should it be thought a thing incredible with you that God should raise the Dead?

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AVING explain'd the two first Privileges of the Catholick Church, that commence here in this Life, viz. The Communion of Saints, and Forgiveness of Sins; I proceed to the two laft that are referv'd for the World to come: and they are, The Refurrection of the Body, and the Life everlasting. Of the

Firft of thefe, which is the Subject of the next Article, viz. The Refurrection of the Body, I fhall treat from these Words of St. Paul; Why should it be thought a thing incre

dible, &c. For the more clear and eafy handling whereof, I fhall fhew,

First, The Credibility of this Article of the Refurrection of the Body.

Secondly, What it is that makes it feem incredible.

Thirdly, The Certainty of it, notwithstanding that feeming Incredibility to which I fhall add fomething touching the Manner and Effects of it. I begin with the

First, The Credibility of a Refurrection, that we may fee upon what our Belief of it is grounded. And here what we mean by a Refurrection hath been explain'd already, in the Difcourfe of our Saviour's Refurrection : viz. The reftoring of a dead Perfon to Life again, or the reuniting of Soul and Body after they have for fome time undergone a Separation.

That this is poffible, we have likewife feen in Chrift's Refurrection, who after he was truly Dead, and had lain three days in the Grave, came to Life again, and convers'd with his Difciples in the fame Body, in which he before fuffer'd and dy'd. To which if we add, That Chrift died and rofe again as our Head and Reprefentative, we may eafily conclude the Poffibility of the thing; and likewife that his Refurrection was a fure and certain Pledge of ours: for that he hath a Power to raise the Dead, is evident by his raifing himself, and if his Death and Refurrection were in our ftead, and as our Surety, to be fure he that rais'd himfelf is able likewife to quicken our mortal Bodies. So the Apoftle ftrongly argues, Rom. 8. 11. If the Spirit of him that rais'd up fefus from the Dead dwell in you, he that rais'd up Chrift from the Dead, Shall also quicken us by his Spirit that dwelleth in us. Hence he is ftyl'd, the Firstborn from the Dead, and the First-fruits of them that flept. By this he hath made Death no other than a Sleep, and the Grave only the Dormitory of our Bodies, where, when we die, we lie down to take our Reft, a Morning awaiting us far more glorious than the Sun, that now rouzes us from our Pillows. Chrift being rifen as the Earneft and First-fruits from the Grave, affures us that the Dead in Chrift fhall awake and rise after him; for if we believe that Christ dy'd and rofe again, even fo them that fleep in Fefus fhall God bring with him; 1 Theff. 4. 14. And therefore the Apoftle asks the Queftion, If Christ be preach'd that he rose from

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