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and removing them from us, as far as the east is fiom the west; Such is the perfection of pardoning mercy.
Come, Sirs, what think you of sin? Perhaps you forget it; but God does not forget it. If it be not pardoned, it will be brought into judgment. Think not yourselves safe because you fancy your sins are little, or because they give you no disturbance, or because you prosper in the world, or because you have hopes of mercy. 'The wages of sin is death.' The law curses you for one offence ; and, if you are not redeemed, you must be ruined; if not pardoned, you must be punished. If you believe not in Christ, you are condemned already. Notwithstanding the mercy of God, and the merits of Christ, if you continue in a state of ignorance, carnality, and unbelief, they will not at all avail you. Food cannot nourish, if not received ; nor a medicine heal, if not applied. You will be none the better for Christ, if you do not come to him ; but you will be much the worse;—for how shall you escape, if- you neglect so great salvation? Think of these things, O ye children of men, before it be too late! How can you enjoy a meal, or sleep in your beds, while your sins remain unpardoned? O delay no longer! No longer abuse the patience and goodness of God. Instantly fly to the refuge, O ye prisoners of hope! As yet the door is open. God will pardon the greatest sinner that eomes to him by Jesus Christ. Take with you the words of the text, and say, 'Lord, I come at thy call; my sins are, indeed, as scarlet, for thy name's sake make them white as snow: my crimes are red like crimson, O wash me in the fountain of the Saviour's blood, and they shall be as wool!'
Believer, all hail !' Blessed art thou whose transgression is forgiven, whose sin is covered. Blessed is the man unto whom the Lord imputes not iniquity.' Happy art thou. God gave to thee to see thy sins, to feel thy sins, to Hment thy sins. God opened thine eyes to understand his gospel. God enabled thee to come with all thy sins, to Christ; and believing in him , thou hast passed from death unto life, and shalt never come into comdemnation. Admire the love of God ;—admire the blood of Christ; — admire the grace of the Holy Spirit:
'AncTlet your glad obedience prove
How much you owe, how much you love V
Thou art justified, O God, when thou speakest; thou art clear when thou judgest. Our sins are as scarlet and crimson. We would not dissemble nor cloke them before thy face, but confess them with an humble, lowly, penitent, and obedient heart, to the end we may obtain forgiveness of the same, through thine infinite goodness and mercy.
We come, Lord, to thy throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy. Though our sins be as scarlet, O make them white as snow; though they be red like crimson, may they be as wool. May the blood of Jesus Christ, thy Son, cleanse us from all sin.
We bless thee, O Lord, for the kind and encouraging language in which thou hast been pleased to speak to us ; for the condescending invitation and the gracious promise of which we have been hearing. O that not one of us may be so unreasonable, so ungrateful, and so foolish, as to neglect the invitation. O that not one of us may be so miserable as to live and die without enjoying the unspeakable blessing promised. For who "may stand in thy sight, O Lord, when once thou art angry? And how shall we escape, if we neglect so great salvation! O that each of us, from the heart, may cry, God be merciful to me a sinner!
Luke xxiii. 42, 43.
And he said unto Jesus, Lord, remember me when thou comest into thy kingdom. And Jesus said unto him, Verily, I say unto thee, to-day shalt thou be with me in Paradise.
\t7^HO can read these words, or consider the conversion and pardon of the dying thief, without exclaiming in the words of St. Paul —' Where sin abounded, grace did much more abound!' Here is a' wonderful instance of divine, free, and sovereign grace, abounding towards the chief of sinners: it is recorded for the encouragement of great sinners in every age, that they may take refuge in Christ, 'who are ready to perish;' and it affords a pleasing proof that' he is a"bl« to save to the uttermost all who come to God by him.' Our blessed Lord was crucified with two thieves, and placed between them, that he might be thought the worst of the three. But thus the Scripture was fulfilled, 'He was numbered with the transgressors,' or * criminals.' The chief priests, the scribes, the rulers, and the mob, all joined in mocking and deriding him : not content with beholding his extreme sufferings, they had the cruelty to add insult to his pains. 'Come down from the cross,' said they, 'and then we will believe. Thou that didst save others, save thyself;' and ' Save us too," said the thieves; not seriously, but by way of taunt; for it is written, ' The thieves also, which were crucified with him, cast the same in his teeth.' O what au instance is this of the savage hardness of the humai) heart! how dreadful, that wicked men, dying in their sins, should strive to forget their own agonies, that they might join in abusing and insulting the Son of
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God! A state of more desperate and confirmed wickedness can hardly be conceived.
But, beheld the grace of God! One of these men is snatched as a brand from the fire; plucked, as in an instant, out of the very jaws of destruction. An astonishing, perhaps a sudden change is produced. He cries for mercy, and he obtains it. He looks to Jesus, and is saved. From being a hardened sinner, he becomes at once an eminent saint; obtains assurance of immediate bliss; and passes from the cross to glory.
Let us now carefully consider the two parts of our text, into which it naturally divides itself:
I. The prayer of the dying malefactor.
II. The gracious auswer of the Saviour.
In attending to the first, consider for a moment the aharacter of the criminal, for a criminal he was; a malefactor—a highwayman —one who belonged to a desperate gang of robbers who infested that country; a •et of seditious banditti, who were for shaking off the Roman yoke, and who lived by rapine and plunder. It is not improbable that he was a murderer also: for such men scruple not to kill as well as steal. This is the man who becomes the trophy of sovereign grace. For surely it will be admitted that here was no previous goodness, or worthiness, to recommend him to the divine favour.
Is it not astonishing to hear such a man as this suing for mercy? But what cannot grace effect, aud that in a moment! He who in the first creation said, 'let there be light, and there was light,' can, in an instant, dart a ray of spiritual light into the darkest mind. Whether any means were employed for the communication of this light or not, we cannot say. Some imagine he was first affected by the strange, total, supernatural darkness, which then suddenly overspread the land—an emblem of the inward darkness which soon involved the sacred soul of our dear Redeemer ; and a dismal presage of the dreadful ignorance and darkness which should cover the Jews, and which has covered them ever since. Possibly, the pathetic