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But, secondly, as God means to sanctify none but those, whom he intends to pardon through the atonement of Christ; so his atonement is a remote, but not a next or immediate cause of their sanctification. It is only the occasion, or cause without which, none would be sanctified, or prepared for heaven. There appears to be no propriety in God's renewing and sanctifying any whom he means to shut out of heaven and consign to everlasting destruction, though such a mode of treating sinpers would not be inconsistent with justice; because they would deserve eternal misery after they were sanctified, as much as they did before. But there is no ground to think, that God ever has sanctified, or ever will sanctify any but those whom he means to pardon and save. Hence it appears, that the atonement of Christ is designed to render it consistent with justice for God to pardon sinners, and consistent with wisdom to sanctify them. So that men are not sanctified on Christ's account, in the same sense in which they are pardoned or forgiven on his account. In a word, the atonement of Christ is the occasion of the sinner's regeneration, and the sole ground of his pardon or justification; which is perfectly agreeable to the leading sentiment in this discourse,
It may be further objected, that we are required to ask for other favours, besides forgiveness, in Christ's name, or for his sake; which seems to imply, that God bestows not only forgiveness, but every other favour, on Christ's account. Among other texts, the following plainly convey this idea. “Whatsoever ye shall ask in my name, that will I do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son. If ye shall ask any thing in my name, I will do it. Ye have not choson me, but I have chosen you, and ordained you, that he should go and bring forth fruit, and that your
fruit should remain: that whatsoever ye shall ask of the Father in my name, he may give it you. Hitherto ye have asked nothing in my name: ask, and ye shall
: receive, that your joy may be full. And whatsoever ye do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God, and the Father by him."
To ask, or to do a thing, in Christ's name, very often means nothing more nor less than asking or doing a thing, for the honour and glory of Christ. And this is the only proper meaning of the last of the above cited passages. And to ask, or to do any thing for the honour and glory of Christ, is entirely consistent with our asking for, and God's granting us forgiveness, for Christ's sake, in distinction from all other favours,
But we readily allow, there is a propriety in asking for every favour for Christ's sake, though God grants only forgiveness on his account. The propriety lies here. We always need forgiveness, when we ask for any favour; and to ask for any favour for Chirst's sake, is to ask for forgiveness first, and then for the favour we request. This, we presume, is the real intention of every sincere christian, when he asks for any divine favour, for Christ's sake. He feels his guilt, which stands in the way of his receiving any token of God's gracious approbation. And in this view of himself, he asks for favour in Christ's name; or that God would both forgive and shew mercy. It is only because he feels the need of forgiveness, that he mentions the name of Christ in his petitions before the throne of grace. But whether we have, or have not given the true sense of those texts, which require us to ask for every favour, in Christ's name, or for his sake; yet it is firmly believed, that their true meaning does not militate against the doctrine, that it is only forgiveness, which God grants to men merely on Christ's account.
IMPROVEMENT. 1. If forgiveness be the only thing which God bestows upon men, through the atonement of Christ; then we may justly conclude, that his atonement did not consist in his obedience, but in his sufferings. Those who maintain, that his atonement wholly consisted in his obedience, suppose that it was designed only to open the way for God to renew and sanctify sinners. And if this were the only end to be answered by his atonement, it is difficult to see, why his atonement might not consist in his preaching, or in his working miracles, or in his wearing a seamless coat, or in his washing his disciple's feet, or in any act of obedience to his earthly or heavenly Father. Upon the supposition of his atonement being designed to lay a foundation for God's bestowing any other favour upon sinners, than pardoning mercy, we can see no reason why it should consist in sufferings rather than in obedience; or in obedience, rather than in sufferings; or in both, rather than in either. But if it were designed to lay a foundation for forgiveness only; then we can see a good reason why it should consist wholly in sufferings, rather than in obedience. His obeying for sinners could be no reason for God's forgiving them on his account; but his suffering for them could be a good reason for God's pardoning them on his account. His dying the just for the unjust; his tasting death for every man; or his suffering for those, who deserved to suffer, was doing what properly constituted an atonement for sin, according to our common ideas of an atonement; or doing that for which sin may be forgiven. It is the common opinion of mankind, that suffering, or the shedding of blood is the onļy thing that can make atonement, or lay a foundation for the remission of sin. And since it appears from what has been said in this discourse, that pardon, forgiveness, or remission of sin, is the only thing which God does actually bestow upon mankind, on account of Christ's atonement, we may safely conclude, that his atonement consisted wholly in his sufferings, and neither partly, nor wholly in his obedience. It is the end, which the atonement of Christ was designed to answer and does answer, that enables us to determine wherein it consisted. And if this be true, all who believe, that the only end which Christ's atonement was designed to answer and does answer, was to lay a foundation for forgiveness, will also believe that it consisted altogether in his suffering and dying in the room of sinners.
2. If forgiveness be all that God bestows upon men, through the atonement of Christ; then forgiveness is not only a part, but the whole of justification. Calvinists have found a great deal of difficulty in explaining justification to their own satisfaction, or to the satisfaction of others. The reason is, that they have endeavoured to make it appear, that justification contains something more than pardon or forgiveness. The Assembly of divines say, “That justification is an act of God's free grace, wherein he pardoneth all our sins, and accepteth us as righteous in his sight, only for the righteousness of Christ imputed to us, and re
, ceived by faith alone.” Agreeably to this definition, our Calvinistick divines generally maintain, that justification consists of two parts, namely, pardon of sin, and a title to eternal life. Pardon, they suppose, is granted on account of Christ's death, or passive obedience; and a title to eternal life is granted on account of his righteousness or active obedience. But we find no warrant in Scripture for thus dividing justification
into two parts, and ascribing one part to the sufferings of Christ, and the other part to his obedience. The apostle in our text and context uses the terms forgiveness and justification, in the same sense, or as signifying precisely the same thing. “Be it known unto you, men and brethren, that through this man is preached unto you the forgiveness of sins: And by him all that believe are justified from all things from which ye could not be justified by the law of Moses." When we look into the Old Testament, we there find forgiveness used to denote the same thing, that justification is used to denote in the New Testament. And it appears from the explanation, which we have given of forgiveness, that it means the removal of all the natural evil or punishment due to sin. Complete forgiveness, therefore, is complete justification. After a sinner is forgiven through the death, or blood, or sufferings of Christ, he can have no need of the obedience or righteousness of Christ, to recommend him to the favour of God, or entitle him to eternal life. When a rebel is fully forgiven, he is by that very act restored to the favour of his prince. So, when a penitent, believing sinner is fully forgiven, his very forgiveness restores him to the favour of God both in this life and that which is to come. It is a dictate of rea
. son and scripture, that after a sinner is renewed and -forgiven, he stands as fair to enjoy eternal life, as if he had never sinned and offended God. There is not the least foundation in scripture, for the distinction between the active and passive obedience of Christ, nor for the distinction between forgiveness and justification. It was what Christ suffered, that made the atonement for sin; that atonement is the sole ground of forgiveness; and forgiveness is the whole that God bestows upon men for Christ's sake. Hence forgiveness is not