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he, speaking of what men received by Moses under the law, and what Christians now under the gospel receive by Christ, "he aggravates the ingratitude of men. It is a very unworthy thing to profane the blood of Christ, which is the matter" (he means, the principal or most material cause) "of our sanctification. Yet this they do who apostatise from faith." A little after: "But he," the apostle, "takes notice of the manner how the covenant is confirmed unto us, when he saith, 'We are sanctified;' because the blood shed would profit us nothing unless we were watered" or sprinkled "therewith by the Holy Ghost. From hence cometh expiation and holiness;"* with much more to the like purpose in this commentary. Whereby evident it is, that this author, by the sanctification mentioned in the text, understands no other than that which was in himself, and which is wrought by the Spirit of God in the saints by watering or sprinkling them with the blood of Christ.
By which he was sanctified;" i. e., say our English divines, in their annotations upon the place, "by which their sins were pardoned in regard of that meritorious sufficient sanctification purchased by it;" sending us back to their note on verse 10 of this chapter, where they interpret the word "sanctified" as signifying our being freed from the guilt of our sin, and consecrated to God's service." So that there is little question but that these also understand the place to speak of a true sanctification indeed, and which either is, or flows from justification itself. And, long before them both, Chrysostom interpreted the place as speaking of such a sanctification which appertains to a son or child of God. God," saith he, "hath made thee a son; and wilt thou be willing to be made a servant?"†
The last of the Scriptures produced, to prove that Christ died even for those also who perish, as well as others, was Matt. xviii. 32, 34. The tenor and carriage of this is of like consideration with the three last opened: excepting only, that whereas those speak of sanctification, this speaks of justification. The passages now to be insisted on lie in the body of a parable, which is somewhat large: the reader may please to peruse the whole in the evangelist. The particulars in it for our purpose are contained in these words. "Then his Lord, after he had called him, said unto him, O thou wicked servant, I forgave thee all that debt, because thou desiredst me: shouldest not thou, also, have had compassion on thy fellowservant, even as I had pity on thee? And his Lord was wroth, and delivered him to the tormentors, till he should pay all that was due to him. So, likewise, shall my heavenly Father do also unto you, if ye from your hearts forgive not every one his brother their
Comparatione beneficiorum ingratitudinem auget. Christi, qui sanctificationis nostræ materia est, profanare. fide.- -Sed modum confirmationis notat, quùm dicit nos fusus sanguis, nisi nos per Spiritum Sanctum eo irrigaremur. † Εποίησε σε υἱόν· σὺ δὲ θέλεις γενέσθαι δοῦλος ;
Valdè indignum est sanguinem Hoc verò faciunt qui desciscunt à sanctificatos: quia nihil prodesset Unde et expiatio et sanctitas.
trespasses." In these words we hear of a servant to whom his lord and master had freely forgiven all that debt which he owed unto him, which, as we find in the former part of the parable, was a vast sum of ten thousand talents, fit to typify or represent that great debt of eternal sufferings, which every man owes for sins and trespasses, unto God. And yet we hear, also, that this same servant, by provoking this gracious lord and master of his by unmercifulness and cruelty to one of his fellow-servants, forfeited his former grace and mercy, which he had received from him in the forgiveness of his great debt, and that this forfeiture was taken by his lord, and he delivered by him to the tormentors, or prison-keepers, until he should pay the whole debt, i. e. for ever, inasmuch as he had not, nor was ever able to procure, wherewith to make such a payment. What was intended and signified by all this is clearly expressed by our Saviour, in those last words which contain the application, and are the close of the parable: "So, likewise, shall my heavenly Father," &c. From which words the clear and direct scope and intent of the parable showeth itself to be this, viz. to give the world to know and understand, that if men, who have obtained forgiveness of sins by the means and grace of Jesus Christ, shall so far sin against the excellency and richness of this grace, as to deal cruelly and unmercifully by men, this act of grace towards them shall be cancelled and revoked, and the debt of their sins shall return and recoil again upon them. Yea, he plainly tells his disciples themselves, (for this parable was in special manner directed unto them, as appears from the beginning of the chapter,) that they themselves must not look to be exempted from this law of the righteousness and equity of God. "So likewise shall my heavenly Father do also unto you," or even unto you, notwithstanding any privilege you may seem to have above other men, by being my disciples; he will neither deal better nor worse with you, but just as this lord did by that wretched and most unthankful servant of his, if you provoke him after the same manner, i. e. "if ye from your hearts forgive not every one his brother their trespasses." That great grace of forgiveness of sins, under which you now stand, will be reversed and called in again, by him that hath given it you, if you shall so far tread and trample the glory of it under your feet, as not in consideration and acknowledgment of the greatness of it, to be open and free-hearted in forgiving one another such injuries and trespasses as are done to you. This is the righteous and royal way of that God with the world, "who," as Peter saith, "without respect of persons, judgeth according to every man's work."
I shall not need, I suppose, to caution that which hath been delivered upon this account, with any such item or explication as this: that it was far from our Saviour's intent to threaten, either his apostles, or any other man, that they should incur the sore judgment mentioned, the loss of the forgiveness of sins, or be cast into the prison of hell, by every passionate or sudden heat conceived against a man upon a provocation, or offence given. If this
were so, the whole world of saints, in a manner, might cry out, as the apostles, upon occasion of another doctrine taught by Christ, sometimes did, "Who then can be saved?" But his meaning clearly was, and is, that if they should harbour or nourish thoughts or desires of revenge against any man, that should at any time offend or injure them, and remain implacable, not admitting of a clear and cordial reconciliation with him, and should live and die in this hateful and revengeful posture, that then God would deal no better with them than the lord in the parable did by that servant to whom he had forgiven a great debt, upon his unmerciful dealing by his fellow-servant, when "he delivered him to the tormentors, to be cast into prison, until he should pay the whole debt."
Nor doth any thing that hath been asserted concerning the return of the debt of sin upon any man, after forgiveness, upon occasion of cruel, unmerciful, and revengeful dealings by their brethren, bear at all upon that of the apostle: "The gifts and calling of God are without repentance," Rom. xi. 29. For the meaning hereof is not, that what God once gives he never takes away: we know there are instances in the Scripture without number to the contrary. He took away that integrity and rectitude of nature from Adam, upon his fall, which he had given him in his creation. So in the parable, he commands the "talent to be taken away from the unprofitable servant," Matt. xxv. 28, which before he had given him: yea, and threatens universally, "That from every one that hath not," viz. by way of improvement or increase, "shall be taken away even that which he hath," ver. 29, viz. by way of stock, or original donation. So that the gifts and calling of God are not in this sense without repentance. Therefore,
2. When the apostle affirms the gifts and calling of God to be without repentance, his meaning may be, 1. That he never gives any thing to any person or people whatsoever, but that he knows and considers beforehand, all the inconveniences and disaccommodations that will follow upon it, either in reference to his own glory, or to his creature, one or other, in any kind. Insomuch that whatever be the event or consequence of any of his gifts, if they were to give again, he would give them. Nor doth that expression concerning him, "And it repented the Lord that he had made man upon earth, and it grieved him at his heart," Gen. vi. 6, any way imply, but that if man had been now to make, he would have made him; or that when he did make him, he did not foresee the inconvenience which now followed upon his making of him. The phrase only imports a purpose of heart in God shortly to destroy him from off the face of the earth, for his wickedness, as he saith, immediately after, that he would do. For which kind of expression, when attributed unto God, we have accounted at large in the third chapter of this discourse.
2. The gifts and calling of God are, or may be said to be, without repentance, because, let men continue the same persons, I mean geometrically, or proportionably the same, which they were when the donation, or collation of any gift, was first made by God
unto them, he never changeth or altereth his dispensation towards them, unless it be for the better, or in order to their further good; in which case he cannot be said to repent of what he had given. But in case men shall change and alter from what they were, when God first dealt graciously and bountifully by them, especially if they shall notoriously degenerate, or cast away that principle, or through negligence or otherwise, divest and despoil themselves of that very qualification on which God, as it were, grafted his benefit or gift vouchsafed to them; in this case, though he recalls and takes away his gift, he cannot be said to repent of the giving it, because the terms upon which he gave it please him still; only the persons to whom he gave it, and who pleased him when he gave it unto them, have now rendered themselves, by their unworthiness, displeasing unto him, and incapable, by the laws and rules of his righteous dispensations, of any further enjoyment thereof. This is the case between God and such men, who having once obtained remission of sins from him by such a faith, which wrought, or was apt and ready to work by love, afterwards upon the loss or degeneration of this faith, together with the operativeness of contrary and vile principles, are divested by him of that great and glorious privilege, and fall back into their former estate of condemnation.
Therefore, from those quarters of the parable in Matthew which we have lately surveyed, perfect intelligence comes that persons, who have by means of a sound faith received remission of sins upon the account of Christ's death, may through negligence in not preserving this faith, or the sweetness and soundness of it, so far provoke their glorious benefactor, as to cause him to repeal that his act of grace towards them, and to suffer their former guilt to return, like the unclean spirit with seven worse than himself, upon them. From whence it undeniably follows, that Christ hath purchased remission of sins by his death for those, who notwithstanding, may through their own folly and wickedness perish. Chrysostom interprets the place in full consonancy with this inference or supposition. "Although," saith he, "the graces and gifts of God are without repentance, yet malice or wickedness prevailed so far as to dissolve this law. What then is there of more grievous consequence, than to remember injuries which appear to be a subverter, or destroyer, of such and so great a gift of God?" Amongst our later expositors, Musculus, as orthodox as men can make a man, advanceth the same interpretation, making it his third observation upon the place, "that those sins which are, through the grace of God, pardoned at present, shall not be remitted in the future, unless we will forgive our brother. For it is an unjust thing," saith he, "that he should enjoy the free remitment, or forgiveness of a debt of ten thousand talents, who refuseth to forgive his brother a debt of an hundred
* Καί τοιγε ἀμεταμέλητα τοῦ Θεοῦ τὰ χαρίσματα καὶ δωρεαὶ, ἀλλὰ τοσοῦτον ἴσχυσεν ἡ κακία, ὡς καὶ τοῦτον λῦσαι τὸν νόμον. Τί τοίνυν τοῦ μνησικακεῖν χαλεπώτερον, ὅταν δωρεὰν θείαν τοσαύτην καὶ τηλικαύτην ἀνατρέπον φαίνηται ;
pence. Mr. John Ball himself nibbleth also at this exposition, even whilst, for the sake of those that sit at the table with him, he opposeth it. "As in the parable," saith he, "the Lord is said to remit to his servant a thousand talents, when he desired him, viz. inchoately, or upon condition, which was not confirmed, because he did not forgive his fellow servant; so the false prophets are bought by the blood of Christ, viz. in a sort as they believed in Christ, but not sincerely and unfeignedly."+ A little after, "to these men their sins were remitted in a sort in this world," &c. If he would have brought forth his darkness of inchoately, upon condition, in a sort, into a clear and perfect light, his meaning must have been, that that remission of sins which God gives unto men in this world, he "neither confirms unto them in the hour of death, nor in the day of judgment," the author's own words a little after the former, in case they live and die under an implacableness or unmercifulness of spirit towards those who injure them. Such a sense as this is truly orthodox, whether men vote it such or no. Our English annotators, though they neither buy nor sell this interpretation in expressness of terms, yet interpretatively they buy or confirm it. "This parable," say they upon verse 35, "informs us that they shall find God severe and implacable that do not forgive their brethren, although they have been diversely and grievously injured by them." In these words they clearly suspend the gracious act of God in remission of sins, in respect of the ultimate and complete exercise of it, upon the Christian deportment and behaviour of men in forgiving one another their trespasses.
How perfectly it stands with the immutability of God, the unchangeableness of his love, the unalterableness of his counsels, and generally with all his attributes, to reverse acts or grants of favour, to re-demand debts once forgiven, &c. shall be cleared in the process of the digression following, occasioned by the contents of this chapter.
Containing a digression about the commonly received Doctrine of Perseverance, occasioned by several passages in the preceding chapter, wherein the benefit and comfort of that doctrine, which teacheth a possibility of the saints' declining even to destruction, is avouched and clearly evicted, above the other.
NOTWITHSTANDING the frequently experienced truth of the common saying, "pessimus consiliarius timor," fear is a very bad coun
Tertia observatio est, etiam ea delicta quæ jam condonata sunt per gratiam Dei, non fore remissa, si nos nolimus remittere fratri. Est enim injustum gaudere de remissis sibi talentis mille, qui nolit centum denarios fratri remittere.
† Covenant of Grace, p. 240.