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the good of them, and of their children after them.” (Jer. xxxii. 39.) The knowledge here promised is an ailoring, thankful, rejoicing knowledge of God, as a God of infinite compassion ;-such as they only can have, whose iniquities He has forgiven, and whose sins He will remember
more. This knowledge is an effectual and saving knowledge-such as is often mentioned in connexion with the greatest spiritual blessings, and with an assurance of acceptance with Him :-as for example, "All thy children shall be taught of the LORD; and great shall be the peace of thy children.” “ Thou shalt know that I the Lord am thy Saviour and thy Redeemer, the Mighty One of Jacob." (Is. liv. 13; 1x. 16.) “ Thus shall they know that I the LORD their God am with them, and that they, even the house of Israel, are my people, saith the Lord God.” (Ez. xxxiv. 30.)
3. From these and similar expressions, and also from the conclusion of the passage we are considering, it is further evident, that this New Covenant contains abundant provision for the full, free, and everlasting forgiveness of all sin. God bestows many gifts and benefits, which only proceed from his patience and long-suffering, which imply no more than that He is waiting to be gracious,—that He yet bears with us—ungrateful and rebellious as we are, saying,
To-day if ye will hear his voice, harden not your heart." (Ps. xcv. 7, 8.) But when these mercies are vouchsafed, and a heavenly change is effected in the heart and mind of the sinner, it is evident, that an act of pardon must have passed, and that he who partakes of it is accepted into the number of God's peculiar people. From the moment that such a work of mercy commences in the heart, God has plainly become his God with full emphasis : He hath laid aside for ever the character of a just Avenger and unrelenting Judge, and has become a Father of mercies to that individual. This is evident from the connexion of the expressions in this passage, “I will be their God, and they shall be my people—and they shall all know me, from the least unto the greatest-For I will forgive their iniquity, and I will remember their sin no more.” So that if it were objected, “ How can the holy God bestow such blessings upon sinners such as we?” the answer night be given, in the words of inspiration, “I, even I, am he that blotteth out thy transgressions for mine own sake, and will not remember thy sins.-I have blotted out, as a thick cloud, thy transgressions, and, as a cloud, thy sins: return unto me, for I have redeemed thee.” (Is. xliii. 25; xliv. 22.)
This renewing and purifying work in the heart may always be considered as the pledge and seal of a full and free forgiveness. How precious then are the promised blessings of this Covenant! To every one, on whom they are bestowed, they are tokens to assure him, that the wrath of God is turned away from him ! Having pardoned, He also purifies : which is in exact agreement with the prayer of David, who asks first for the pardon of his sins, “ Hide thy face from my sins, and blot out all mine iniquities," and then for the experience of this mighty change—“CREATE in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a right spirit within me.” (Ps. li. 9, 10.) This is God's method; and, therefore, when He calls his people to repent, and to seek this inward change, He usually adds an encouraging promise of forgiveness : “Seek ye the LORD while he may be found, call ye upon him while he is near. Let the wicked forsake his way, and the unrighteous man his thoughts: and let him return unto the Lord, and he will have mercy upon him ;
and to our God, for he will abundantly pardon.” (Is. lv. 6, 7.) And, in other places, we find, that both these blessings are promised in intimate connexion, “I will cleanse them from all their iniquity, whereby they have sinned against me; and I will PARDON all their iniquities, whereby they have sinned, and whereby they have transgressed against me.” (Jer. xxxiii. 8.) “ In those days, and in that time, saith the LORD, the children of Israel shall come, they and the children of Judah together, going and weeping: they shall go, and seek the LORD their God. They shall ask the way to Zion with their faces thitherward, saying, Come, and let us join ourselves to the Lord in a perpetual covenant that shall not be forgotten.—In those days, and at that time, saith the LORD, the iniquity of Israel shall be sought for, and there shall be none; and the sins of Judah, and they shall not be found: for I will pardon them whom I reserve.” (Jer. 1. 4, 5; 20.) The same is abundantly manifest from another passage, which ought, for various reasons, to be diligently compared with the one of which we speak: “Behold, I will gather them out of all countries, whither I have driven them in mine anger, and in my fury, and in great wrath; and I will bring them again unto this place, and I will cause them to dwell safely: And they shall be my people, and I will be their God : And I will give them one heart, and one way, that they may fear me for ever, for the good of them, and of their children after them: And I will make an everlasting covenant with them, that I will not turn away from them, to do them good; but I will put my fear in their hearts, that they shall not depart from me. Yea, I will rejoice over them to do them good, and I will plant them in this land assuredly with my whole heart and with my whole soul." (Jer. xxxii. 37-41.)
4. This passage leads me to observe, that one of the express promises of this New Covenant is, a restoration to your own land, and abundant temporal, as well as spiritual, blessings therein. Thus the original promises to Abraham, of which his descendants have so long deprived themselves by their transgressions of the first Covenant, shall be literally and abundantly fulfilled under the New. On this point, it will only be needful to read with attention Ez. xxxvi. and xxxvii., to find the clearest proofs. Here, then, we find, that all the blessings promised under the Old Covenant, are confirmed under the New; and we have seen, that it has its own peculiar, and still more substantial and important, blessings besides ; without which, those which were promised to your fathers in the wilderness, have, and can have, no kind of certainty or security. This therefore may be fitly termed, “ An everlasting Covenant, ORDERED IN ALL THINGS, AND SURE." O that you might be disposed to add with David, “ And this is all my salvation, and all my desire !” (2 Sam. xxiii. 5.)
It can be scarcely needful to observe, that the fulfilment of the prophecy we are considering, must be referred to the ti of the Messiah. In connexion with some of the promises already quoted, He is expressly mentioned under the name of David; and the blessings of which we have spoken, both temporal and spiritual, are mentioned as being bestowed under His government. For example, * I will set up one Shepherd over them, and he shall feed them, even my servant David; he shall feed them, and he shall be their Shepherd. And I the LORD will be their God, and my servant David a Prince among them; I the LORD have spoken it.
And I will make with them a covenant of peace, and will cause the evil beasts to cease out of the land : and they shall dwell safely in the wilderness, and sleep in the woods. And I will make them and the places round about my hill a blessing; and I will cause the shower to come down in his season ; there shall be showers of blessing. And the tree of the field shall yield her fruit, and the earth shall yield her increase, and they shall be safe in their land, and shall know that I am the Lord, when I have broken the bands of their yoke, and delivered them out of the hand of those that served themselves of them. And they shall no more be a prey to the heathen, neither shall the beast of the land devour them;
but they shall dwell safely, and none shall make them afraid. And I will raise up for them a Plant of renown, and they shall be no more consumed with hunger in the land, neither bear the shame of the heathen any more." (Ez. xxxiv. 23-29.) “ And say unto them, Thus saith the Lord God; Behold, I will take the children of Israel from among the heathen, whither they be gone, and will gather them on every side, and bring them into their own land: And I will make them one nation in the land upon the mountains of Israel ; and one King shall be king to them all: and they shall be no more two nations, neither shall they be divided into two kingdoms any more at all: Neither shall they defile themselves any more with their idols, nor with their detestable things, nor with any of their transgressions : but I will save them out of all their dwelling-places, wherein they have sinned, and will cleanse thein: so shall they be my people, and I will be their God. And David my servant shall be King over them: and they all shall have one Shepherd : they shall also walk in my judgements, and observe my statutes, and do them. And they shall dwell in the land that I have given unto Jacob my servant, wherein your fathers have dwelt; and they shall dwell therein, even they anı their children, and their children's children for ever: and my Servant David shall be their Prince for ever. More.
over I will make a covenant of peace with them; it shall be an everlasting covenant with them : and I will place them, and multiply them, and will set my sanctuary in the midst of them for evermore, My tabernacle also shall be with them : yea, I will be their God, and they shall be my people. And the heathen shall know that I the LORD do sanctify Israel, when my sanctuary shall be in the midst of them for evermore.” (Ez. xxxvii. 21–28.) And (to quote but one passage more) observe, that thé Messiah is expressly called the Messenger (or Angel) of the Covenant, and is represented as employed in a work of purification, in exact accordance with that which, we have seen, is promised under this New Covenant of which we speak. “ The Lord, whom ye seek, shall suddenly come to his temple, even the MESSENGER OF The Covenant, whom ye delight in : behold, he shall come, saith the Lord of hosts. But who may abide the day of his coming ? and who shall stand when he appeareth? for He is LIKE A REFINER'S FIRE, AND LIKE FULLER'S SOAP : And he shall sit as a refiner and purifier of silver : and he shall purify the sons of Levi, and purge them as gold and silver, that they may offer unto the LORD an offering in righteousness. Then shall the offering of Judah and Jerusalem be pleasant unto the LORD, as in the days of old, and as in former years." (Mal. iii. 1-4.)
It may be needful to mention (though we cannot in this place discuss the subject at large) that this inward change, which is so expressly promised as the blessing of the New Covenant, is, more especially, the work of the Spirit of the Lord. We are told that the Spirit of the Lord is “the Spirit of wisdom and understanding, the Spirit of counsel and might, the Spirit of knowledge, and of the fear of the LORD; And shall make him” (that is, the subject of his influences) of quick understanding in the fear of the Lord.” (Is. xi. 2, 3.) And, in another place, the effect of his influences is described in terms, which indicate the same renewal of the heart to love and obedience, of which we have spoken : we are told, that the desolations of Israel and of Jerusalem shall continue, “ until the Spirit be poured upon us from on high, and the wilderness be a fruitful field, and the fruitful field be counted for a forest. Then JUDGEMENT SHALL DWELL IN