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who was the first ringleader : of latter days, the Antinomians. And these think the grace of God is, so free, as to supersede all necessity of working, for it or with it; and that it is enough for us to sit still and admire it, and so to be hurried away to heaven in a dream. Nay, some, even in our days, have, upon this principle, arrived to that height of blasphemy, as to affirm, that we never so much glorify Free Grace, as when we make work for it by stout sinning. u sing
i. Now therefore, that we may avoid both these extremes, it will be very necessary to state aright, HOW THE GRACE OF GOD IS FREE, and HOW IT IS NOT FREE.
Now there are many sorts of freedom: a freedom from natural necessity; a freedom from violent co-action, and from engaging promises, and the like : but these are not pertinent to our present business.
When Grace, therefore, is said to be Free, it must be taken · in a Twofold sense.
Free from any Procurement.
Free from any limiting Conditions. And, accordingly, I shall propound the Resolution of Two Questions.
Whether the Grace of God be so Free, as to exclude all
merit and desert. And, then,
Whether it be so Free, as to require no conditions. 1. 1. Whether the Grace of God be so Free, as to exclude all merit and desert.
In answer unto this Question, I shall lay down Three Propositions.
(1) That the pardoning grace of God is not so freely vouchsafed to man, as to exclude all merit and desert on Christ's part.
There is not the least sin pardoned unto any, but it first cost the price of blood, even the precious blood of the Son of God. It is this blood, that crosseth God's debt-book; and blotteth out all those items, that we stand indebted to him for. As Christ now sues out our pardon, by his intercession in heaven; so he bought out our pardon, by his sufferings on the cross : for, without. shedding of blood, there is no remission : Heb, ix. 22. And, This is my blood, says our Saviour himself, which is shed.... for the remission of sins : Mat. xxvi. 28. And, we are not our own, but we are bought with a price ; even with the precious blood of Jesus Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot : as the two great Apostles speak: 1 Cor. vi. 19, 20. i Pet. i. 19. Some have made bold, and possibly with no bad intention, to call Jesus Christ the greatest sinner in the world; because the · sins of all God's people met in him, and were imputed to him: they were his, by a voluntary susception and undertaking. And, if the foregoing expression may be allowed, there is one in heaven, the highest in glory, whose sins were never pardoned; for our Lord Christ paid down the utmost farthing that either the law or justice of God could exact, as a satisfaction for those sins that he voluntarily took upon himself; and, therefore, by Law and Justice, and not by Free Grace, he hath taken possession of heaven for himself, and is there preparing mansions for us. In respect of Christ, we receive nothing of Free Grace, or of Free Gift; but all is by purchase: and, as we ourselves are bought with a price; so is everything we enjoy: even common and vulgar mercies come flowing in upon us in streams of blood : our lives, and all the comforts of them, much more our future life, and all the means tending to it, are paid for by the blood of Christ. So that the Grace of God is not so Free, as to exclude all merit on Christ's part; who hath purchased all we enjoy or hope for, by paying a full and equitable price to the justice of God.
(2) The infinite grace of God, in giving Christ to us and his blood for us, through which we have pardon merited, is absolutely free; and falls not under any merit, either of ours or of his.
 It falls not under any merit of ours.
For, certainly, could we have merited Christ out of heaven, we might as well have merited heaven without Christ. When God, in his infinite Wisdom, foresaw how we would reject and despise his Son; first spill his blood, and then trample upon it; he did not account this demeanour of ours to be meritorious of so great a gift.
 Which is yet more to the glory of God's Free Grace, he bestowed Christ upon us; not only without any merit of ours, but without any merit of his also.
It is Free Grace, that pardons, that sanctifies, that saves us; yet all this Christ purchased for us by a full price. God will have a price paid down for all other things of a less value; that so he might hereby set forth his own bounty, in parting with his own Son for us without price.
(3) Pardon and grace, obtained through the blood of Christ, in respect of any merit of ours is altogether free and undeserved.
We cannot of ourselves scarce so much as ask forgiveness ; much less, therefore, can we do any thing that may deserve it. All, that we can do, is either sinfl or huly: if what we do be sinful, it only increaseth our debts : if it be holy, it must proceed from God's Free Grace, that enables us to do it; and, certainly, it is Free Grace to pardon us upon the doing of that, which Free Grace, only enables us to do. Far be it from us to affirm, as the Papists do, that good works are meritorious of pardon: what are our prayers, our sighs, our tears? yea, what are our lives and our blood itself, should we shed it for Christ? All this cannot make one blot în God's remembrance-book : yea, it were fitter and more becoming the infinite bounty of God to give pardon and heaven freely, than to set them to sale for such inconsiderable things as these are: heaven needed not to have been so needlessly prodigal and lavishing, as to have sent the Lord Jesus Christ into the world, to lead a miserable life and die a cursed death, had it been possible for man to have bought off his own guilt and to have quitted scores with God, by a lower price than what Christ himself could do or suffer.
And, so much, for the resolution of the First Question : God's pardoning grace, though it be purchased, in respect of Christ ; yet is it absolutely free, in respect of any merit of ours.
2. The Second Question is, Whether the Grace of God be so Free, as to require no conditions on our part. .
Of gifts, some are bestowed absolutely, without any terms of agreement; and some are conditional, upon the performance of such stipulations and conditions, without which they shall not be bestowed...,
Of which sort, is this Grace of God? I answer, .(1) The Sanctifying and Regenerating Grace of God, whereby. the great change is wrought upon our hearts in our first conversion and turning unto God, is given absolutely, and depends not upon the performance of any conditions. ;
Indeed we are commanded to make use of means, for the getting true and saving grace wrought in us; but these means are not conditions for the obtaining of that grace: for the nature of conditions is such, that the benefits which depend upon them are never bestowed, but where the conditions are first performed: and therefore we call faith and repentance conditions of eternal life, because eternal life is never conferred upon any, who did
not first believe and repent. But, certain it is, God hath converted some without the use of ordinary means; as St. Paul, and the Thief on the Cross. Therefore, though we are commanded to use the means; yet the use of means and ordinances cannot be called conditions of our regeneration. And, indeed, if any thing could be supposed a condition of obtaining grace, it must either be a work of nature, or a work of grace: now a work of grace it cannot be, till grace be wrought; and to go about to make a work of nature a condition of grace, is to revive that old error of the Pelagians, for which they stand anathematized in Count Pallestine many years since. Sanctifying Grace is given freely, excepted from any conditions, though not excepted from the use of means.
(2) Justifying and Pardoning Grace, though it be free, yet is it limited to the performance of certain conditions, without which God never bestows it upon any; and they are two, Faith and Repentance.
And these graces God bestows upon whom he pleaseth, with. out any foregoing conditions. Faith in Christ is the freest gift, that ever God bestowed upon any; except that Christ, on whom we believe. But pardon of sin is restrained to faith and repentance, as the conditions of it; nor is it ever obtained without them. These two things the Scripture doth abundantly confirm to us : Whosoever believeth on him shall obtain remission of sins ; Acts X. 43 : Repent.....that your sins may be blotted out ; Acts iii. 19: Whosoever believeth on him ; there Faith is made the condition of pardon : Repent....that your sins may be blotted, out ; there Repentance is made the condition of pardon. These two particulars correspond with the twofold Covenant of Grace, which God made with man. His Absolute Covenant, wherein he promiseth the first converting grace: this covenant is independent of any conditions, a copy of which we have in Ezek. xxxvi. 26, 27. A new heart also will I give you, and a new spirit will I put within you.....and I will....cause you to walk in my statutes, and ye shall keep my judgments, and do them. And then there is God's Conditional Covenant of Grace, wherein he promiseth salvation only upon the foregoing conditions of faith and repentance : this we have, Mark xvi. 16. He, that believeth....shall be saved,
Thus I have stated the great question concerning the Free, Grace of God. The first sanctifying grace of God is so free as to exclude all conditions ; but the justifying and pardoning grace, of God is limited to the conditions of faith and repentance: and both sanctifying and justifying grace are freely bestowed, without any merit of ours; but not without respect to the merit of the Lord Jesus Christ, who hath purchased them at the highest rate, even with his own most precious blood.
ii. In the next place, I shall endeavour to set before you SOME PARTICULARS, WHEREIN THE GLORY OF GOD'S FREE GRACE IN PARDONING SIN MAY BE MORE ILLUSTRATED; that it may appear God assumes to himself this, as the greatest honour, to be a sin-pardoning God. And,
1. This highly commends the Freeness of Pardoning Grace, in that God decreed to bestow it without any request or entreaties' of ours.
No rhetoric moved him, besides the yearnings of his own bowels. This was a gracious resolution, sprung up spontaneously in the heart of God, from all eternity. He saw thee wallowing in thy blood, long before thou wert in thy being: and this time was a time of love; even a time before all times. What friend couldest thou then make in heaven? What intercessor hadst thou then, when there was nothing but God? When this design of love was laid, there were neither prayers, nor tongues to utter them. Yea, Christ himself, though now he intercedes for the application of pardon, did not then intercede for the decree of pardon: he could not then urge his blood and merits, as motives for God to take up thoughts of forgiving us; for, had not God done so before, Christ had never shed his blood, nor wrought out salvation for us. What arguments, what advocates did then persuade him? Truly, the only argument was our misery; and the only advocate was his own inercy, and not Jesus Christ.
2. God pardons sin, when yet he is infinitely able to destroy the sinner.
And this greatly advanceth the Riches and Freeness of his Grace. The same breath, that pronounceth a sinner absolved, might have pronounced him damned. The angels, that fell, could not stand before the power and force of his wrath; but, like a mighty torrent, it swept them all into perdition : 'how much less, then, could we stand before him! 'God could have blown away every sinner in the world, as so much loose dust into hell. It had been easy for his power and justice, if he had so pleased, to have triumphed in the destruction of all mankind,