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Tit. 2. Directions about Restitution and Satisfaction.
Direct. 1. Foresee the trouble of restitution, and prevent it.' Take heed of covetousness, which would draw you into such a snare. What a perplexed case are some men in, who have injured others so far as that all they have will scarce make them due satisfaction! Especially public oppressors who injure whole nations, countries or communities : and unjust judges, who have done more wrong perhaps in one day or week than all their estates are worth: and unjust lawyers who plead against a righteous cause : and false witnesses, who contribute to the wrong: and unjust juries, or any such like: also oppressing landlords; and soldiers that take men's goods by violence; and deceitful tradesmen, who live by injuries. In how sad a case are all these men !
Direct. II. Do nothing which is doubtful, if you can avoid it, lest it should put you upon the trouble of restitution. As in case of any doubtful way of usury or other gain, consider, that if it should hereafter appear to you to be unlawful, and so you be obliged to restitution (though you thought it lawful at the taking of it), what a snare then would you be in, when all that use must be repaid! And so in other cases.
Direct. 111. 'When really you are bound to restitution or satisfaction, stick not at the cost or suffering be it never so great, but be sure to deal faithfully with God and conscience.' Else you will keep a thorn in your hearts, which will smart and fester till it be out: and the ease of your consciences, will bear the charge of your most costly restitution..
Direct. iv. • If you be not able in your lifetime to make restitution, leave it in your wills as a debt upon your estates ;' but never take it for your own.
Direct. v. 'If you are otherwise unable to satisfy, offer your labour as a servant to him to whom you are indebted;' if at least by your service you can make him a compensation.
Direct. vi. If you are that way unable also, beg of your
friends to help you,
that charity may enable you to pay the debt.'
Direct. vii. 'But if you have no means at all of satisfying, confess the injury and crave forgiveness, and cast yourself on the mercy of him whom you have injured.'
Cases and Directions about our Obtaining Pardon from God. Tit. 1. Cases of Conscience about Obtaining Pardon of Sin
Quest. I. 'Is there pardon to be had for all sin without exception, or not?'
Answ. 1. There is no pardon procured or offered, for the final non-performance of the conditions of pardon; that is, for final impenitency, unbelief and ungodliness. 2. There is no pardon for any sin, without the conditions of pardon, that is, without true faith and repentance, which is our conversion from sin to God. 3. And if there be any sin which certainly excludeth true repentance to the last, it excludeth pardon also ; which is commonly taken to be the case of blasphemy against the Holy Ghost; of which I have written at large in my “ Treatise against Infidelity.”
But, 1. All sin, except the final non-performance of the conditions of pardon, is already conditionally pardoned in the Gospel ; that is, if the sinner will repent and believe. No sin is excepted from pardon to penitent believers.
2. And all sin is actually pardoned to a true penitent believer.
Quest. 11. "What if a man do frequently commit the same heinous sin ; may he be pardoned?'
Answ. Whilst he frequently committeth it (being a mortal sin), he doth not truly repent of it; and whilst he is impenitent he is unpardoned : but if he be truly penitent, his heart being habitually and actually turned from the sin, it will be forgiven him ; but not till he thus forsake it.
Quest. iii. 'Is the day of grace and pardon ever past in this life?'
Answ. The day of grace and pardon to the penitent, is never past in this life": there is no day or hour in which a true penitent person is not pardoned; or in which the impenitent is not conditionally pardoned, that is, if he will truly repent and believe in Christ : and as for the day of true penitence, it is not past to the impenitent ; for it never yet came, that is, they never truly repented. But there is a time, with some provoking, forsaken sinners, when God who was wont to call them to repentance by outward preaching and inward motions, will call and move them so no more, but leave them more quietly in the blindness and hardness of their hearts.
Quest. iv. ·May we be certain of pardon of sin in this life?'
Answ. Yes: every man that understandeth the covenant of grace, may be certain of pardon, so far as he is certain of the sincerity of his faith and repentance, and no farther : and if a man could not be sure of that, the consolatory promises of pardon would be in a sort in vain ; and we could not tell how to believe and repent, if we cannot tell when we truly do it.
Quest. v. 'Can any man pardon sins against God; and how far?'
Answ. Pardon is the remitting of a punishment. So far as man is to punish sinners against God, so far they may pardon, that is, remit that punishment; (whether they do well in so doing, is another question.) Magistrates are to execute corporal penalties upon subjects for many sins against God, and they may pardon accordingly. The pastors of the church, who are its guides as to public churchcommunion, may remove offenders from the said communion, and they may absolve them when they are penitent, and they may (rightfully or wrongfully) remit the penalty which they may inflict. 2. The pastors of the church may as God's officers, declare the conditional general, pardon, which is contained in the covenant of grace; and that with particular application to the sinner, for the comforting of his mind: q. d. “Having examined your repentance, I declare to you as the minister of Christ, that if it be as you
* Some speak too ignorantly and dangerously about the day of grace being past in this life.
express it, without dissembling or mistake, your repentance is sincere, and your sin is pardoned.' 3. On the same terms a pastor may as the minister or messenger of Christ, deliver this same conditional pardon contained in the covenant of grace, as sealed by the sacraments of baptism and the Lord's supper; which is an act of investiture ; 9. d. “I do as the minister of Christ, hereby seal and deliver to you in his name, the pardon of all your sins through his blood; supposing that your professed faith and repentance be sincere; otherwise it is void and of no such effect.' But this is, 1. But a conditional pardon, though with particular application. 2. And it is but a ministerial act of delivery or investiture, and not the act of the donor by himself; nor the gift of the first title : so that it is no whit proper to say, that the minister pardoneth you ; but that the minister bringeth and delivereth you the pardon and sealeth it in his master's name; or that Christ doth pardon you, and send it you by his minister. As it is utterly improper to say, that the king's messenger pardoneth a traitor, because he bringeth him a pardon from the king. And though (if we agree of this sense) the controversy remaining will be but de nomine,' yet is it not of small moment, when abused words do tend to abuse the people's understandings; he that saith, 'I forgive your sins,' doth teach the people to take him for a God, whatever he meaneth in himself; and blasphemous words will not be sufficiently excused, by sayir.g that you have not a blaspheming sense. So that a pastor may, 1. Declare Christ's pardon. 2. And seal and deliver it conditionally in Christ's
But he cannot pardon the internal punishments in this life, nor the eternal punishments of the next. 3. But the punishments of excommunication he may pardon, who must execute them.
Quest. vi. 'Doth God forgive sin before it be committed (or justify the sinner from it)?'
Answ. No: for it is a contradiction, to forgive that which is not, or to remit a penalty which is not due. But he will indeed justify the person, not by Christ's righteousness, but by his own innocency in tantum,' so far as he is no sinner. He that hath not committed a sin, needeth no pardon of it, nor any righteousness but his innocency, to
justify him against the false accusation of doing that which he never did. God doth prepare the sacrifice and remedy before upon the foresight of the sin : and he hath made an universal act of pardon beforehand, which shall become an actual pardon to him who penitently accepteth it; and he is purposed in himself to pardon all whom he will pardon; so that he hath the decretive 'nolle punire' before. But none of this is proper pardon or the justification of a sinner, in the Gospel sense, as shall be further shewed.
Quest. vii. 'Is an elect person pardoned and justified, before faith and repentance?'
Answ. (Laying aside the case of infants, which dependeth
upon the faith of others) the former answer will serve for this question.
Quest. viii. •Is pardon or justification perfect before death?'
Answ. 1. ' De re:' 1. The pardon which you have this year, extendeth not to the sins which you commit the next year or hour; but there must be a renewed act of pardon for renewed sins; though not a new Gospel, or covenant, or act of oblivion to do it: but the same Gospel-covenant, doth morally perform a new act of pardon, according to the Redeemer's mind and will. 2. The pardon which we have now, is but constitutive and in jure,' and but virtual as to sentential justification : but the sentence of the judge is a more perfective act: or if any think that God doth now sentence us just before the angels, in any celestial court, yet, that at judgment will be a more full perfective act. 3. The executive pardon which we have now, which is opposite to actual punishing, is not perfect till the day of judgment; because all the punishment is not removed, till the last enemy, death, be overcome, and the body be raised from the earth. 2. And now the controversy 'de nomine,' whether it be proper to call our present justification or pardon perfect, is easily decided from what is said de re.'
Quest. IX. Is our pardon perfect as to all the sins that are past?'
Answ. 1. As to the number of sins pardoned, it is ; for all are pardoned. 2. As to the species of the act, and the plenary effect, it is not. For, 1. All the punishment is not removed. 2. The final absolving sentence is to come. 3.