He Reconciles

And no sin offering, whereof any of the blood is brought into the tabernacle of the congregation to reconcile withal in the holy place, shall be eaten: it shall be burnt in the fire.
~ Leviticus 6:30

And the priests killed them, and they made reconciliation with their blood upon the altar, to make an atonement for all Israel: for the king commanded that the burnt offering and the sin offering should be made for all Israel.
~ 2 Chronicles 29:24

And so thou shalt do the seventh day of the month for every one that erreth, and for him that is simple: so shall ye reconcile the house.
~ Ezekiel 45:20

Seventy weeks are determined upon thy people and upon thy holy city, to finish the transgression, and to make an end of sins, and to make reconciliation for iniquity, and to bring in everlasting righteousness, and to seal up the vision and prophecy, and to anoint the most Holy.
~ Daniel 9:24

And that he might reconcile both unto God in one body by the cross, having slain the enmity thereby:
~ Ephesians 2:16

For if, when we were enemies, we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, being reconciled, we shall be saved by his life. And not only so, but we also joy in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom we have now received the atonement. He that spared not his own Son, but delivered him up for us all, how shall he not with him also freely give us all things?
~ Romans 5:10-11, Romans 8:32

Wherefore in all things it behoved him to be made like unto his brethren, that he might be a merciful and faithful high priest in things pertaining to God, to make reconciliation for the sins of the people.
~ Hebrews 2:17

For as the Father hath life in himself; so hath he given to the Son to have life in himself; And hath given him authority to execute judgment also, because he is the Son of man.
~ John 5:26-27

And I will pray the Father, and he shall give you another Comforter, that he may abide with you for ever;
~ John 14:16

The Work of the Holy Ghost in our Salvation, by Thomas Goodwin.

Book III

The necessity of regeneration demonstrated by this argument, that all that God and Christ have done towards their reconciliation to us will profit us nothing, unless we be reconciled to God.—And how conversion is set forth under the notion of reconciliation as on our part.

And all things are of God, who hath reconciled us to himself by Jesus Christ, and hath given unto us the ministry of reconciliation; to wit, that God was in Christ, reconciling the world unto himself, not imputing their trespasses unto them; and hath committed unto us the word of reconciliation. Now then we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God did beseech you by us: we pray you in Christ’s stead, be ye reconciled to God.—2 COR. 5:18–20.

Chapter III

That we may be reconciled to God, it is necessary for us to be convinced that we are enemies to God.—That our estate is dangerous.—That yet God is appeasable; that there is a mediator by whom the soul may come to God; that we must also seek God and his favour in Christ; and seek him with confession of, and mourning for, sin.

The particular passages which a true and sincere reconcilement doth require, are either such as prepare the heart to be willing to be reconciled, or such wherein the substance or nature of reconciliation itself, or wherein the frame of a heart reconciled, doth consist.

1. For the preparing us to be reconciled it is necessary that we be convinced that we are enemies to God, and that he accounts us such; and that so long as we remain in that estate, he is also an enemy to us, and can be no other. This what God in Christ hath done, gives demonstration of. He would not save us upon Christ’s bare entreaty, but he would have satisfaction, and have Christ feel what it was to stand in the room of sinners. Yea, one end why God saved us by way of satisfaction to his justice, was that sinners pardoned might, in what Christ suffered, see and thoroughly apprehend what sin had deserved. And is it not then requisite that they should at least lay to heart and be sensible of their own treasons and rebellions, and that God and they are at odds? Traitors must be convicted and condemned ere they are capable of a legal pardon; as sentence must be pronounced ere a legal appeal can be made. It is so in man’s courts, and it is so in God’s proceedings also. Neither indeed will men be brought to sue out for his favour and prize his love till then; for it was never heard any man did heartily sue to one for pardon and peace, with whom he did not first apprehend himself at variance.

2. It is necessary also that men apprehend the danger of going on in this estate; for though one should know another and himself to be enemies, if he thought his enemy were either careless or weak, he would slight reconciliation with him, and though sought unto would not seek it. He who is mentioned, Luke 14:31, 32, sat down and considered if he were able to go out and meet his enemy, else he would never have sought conditions of peace. So the soul, until it apprehends and considers (finding God and itself enemies) what a sore enemy he is, and what a fearful thing it is to fall into his hands (Heb. 10:30, 31), will not till then care to seek out to him.

3. If one apprehended God implacable, not inclinable to peace, or hard to be entreated, he would never come at him neither. Thus David, when Saul and he were at odds, suborned Jonathan secretly to observe what mind Saul bare towards him, 1 Sam. 20, and when, at the 33d verse, he found him bent to kill him, David came not at him. So the Jews came away from God, as a wild ass from its owner, Jer. 2, because ‘there was no hope.’

4. The soul comes to be persuaded better things of God, and things that accompany reconciliation, and conceives hopes that reconciliation is to be had, and had for it. And therefore in all whom God means to reconcile to himself, after he hath humbled them he fixeth a secret persuasion on their hearts that he is ready to be reconciled to them, if they will be reconciled to him. God gives them a secret hint of his intended good will to them. He reveals what a gracious God he is, and how freely he pardons. And because that all acquaintance begins with knowledge, and is the ground of it, therefore God, when he brings any into this covenant, the first thing he doth is, ‘He teacheth them to know him,’ Jer. 31:34, and ‘gives them a new spirit,’ that they may be able to know him after another manner than ever before. He teacheth them to know him, especially in his mercy, in those vast thoughts of mercy laid up in him, Jer. 9:24; to know him to be ‘a God that ever hath loving-kindness in the earth:’ though not in hell to devils, yet in earth to men, and that therein he delighteth. He enableth him also to see what happiness is to be had in communion with him, by reason of those glorious excellencies which are in him, and makes such representations of himself to the soul as allures the heart, Hosea 2:14; God draws the heart, John 6:44, for in the 45th verse it follows, ‘They shall all be taught of God,’ referring to these places of Isaiah and Jeremiah; for says Christ, ‘It is written in the prophets, they shall be taught of God.’ And the lesson is (as hath been said) to know God; and God doth this in a peculiar manner, working another kind of knowledge of himself than a man had before, or than other men have; for it is a knowledge that enamours their hearts with him, and allures them with his good will. And (says Christ) every man that hath thus heard and learnt cometh to God. Though all hear the same message of reconciliation, yet God whispers something to a man’s heart that he doth not to every man. The same God who from everlasting spake unto his Son, and wooed him for us, doth speak likewise secretly to a man’s heart, to allure and woo him to come into him.

5. And yet, fifthly, if the soul should look upon God alone, as he is in himself, a God just as well as merciful, he would thereby be discouraged to come alone into his presence, who is a consuming fire. The glory of God’s justice would dash him and confound him. And as Adam trembled, so would he, and could do no otherwise. It is the instinct of nature (witness the heathen sacrifices and lesser gods, as mediators to the great God) to seek out ‘a daysman,’ Job. 9:33. Yea, it is the way of man seeking friendship with another to use the mediation of some other that is great with him that is wronged. Therefore God teacheth such a one, to whom he means to be reconciled, to know his Son also, whom he hath sent as his beloved Son, in whom he is well pleased with others too. God holds and sets forth him as a propitiation, ‘that in his blood he may both be just, and the justifier of us,’ Rom. 3:25. And he causeth his glory to shine, and appear ‘in the face of Jesus Christ,’ and secretly points and directs the heart with an instinct to go to Christ: ‘Every man that hath heard and learnt of the Father, cometh to me,’ John 6:45, as the beasts were taught to go to the ark. And we thus coming to Christ by faith, and taking hold of him by the hand thereof, Christ then leads us by the hand to God, Eph. 3:18. We have προσχγωγήν, conduct, and entrance, and access to God, having such a person with us, and his interest in God to plead for us, and whose blood and satisfaction we may plead; we have free liberty of speech παῤῥησίαν, to plead his righteousness and satisfaction, and that with bare facedness and boldness, as the word signifies; not to stand as condemned prisoners with our faces covered, but as persons acquitted in Christ, pleading pardon and confidence. And this is necessary, for as God intended to shew us no favour without satisfaction, so no more can we apprehend that his favour, but in and through Christ’s alone satisfaction: Rom. 3:25, ‘God hath therefore set forth Christ a propitiation by faith in his blood, that he might be both just, and a justifier of him that believeth in Jesus.’ And how God should be just, and a justifier of a sinner, no man could ever apprehend till he bottoms his faith on Christ’s righteousness alone, which only can stand before justice, and break through it unto God.

6. And yet, sixthly, when all this is done, the man must be set a-work to seek, as a condemned man, God and his favour in Christ, and peace and reconciliation through him for life, Job. 33:24, ‘He shall pray to him, and he will be gracious, and say, Deliver him, I have found a ransom.’ God himself first sought to Christ, and sought him with all earnestness and vehemency to become a mediator to him for us, and therefore reason it is that he should stand upon it to be sought unto, ere we obtain peace with him. Yea, and though his own Son hath performed it, and he covenanted with him that he should see his seed, yet God expected that his Son should seek to him for the acceptation of his mediation, who yet hath merited it, and who undertook it at his request. And therefore you see what a long prayer he puts up, John 17; though he says at the 4th and 9th verses, he hath ‘finished the work he gave him to do,’ yet he prays for the persons redeemed, and the acceptation of the redemption wrought, throughout that chapter. God hath told him, Ps. 2:8, he must ‘ask the heathen for his inheritance;’ and though they were his inheritance, as he was his Son, and whom besides he had purchased and bought with his blood, yet he must ask them. Yea, that glory which was his own before the world was, he seeks to his Father for, ver. 5. And if it were thus between God and his Son in the business of reconciliation for us, and that in what he might challenge as his own, then surely much more it must be so between God and us, whom this reconciliation most concerns. He therefore pours upon a man a spirit of grace and supplication, Zech. 12:10, that is, a spirit to supplicate for grace.

And the same is evident from the nature of the thing itself. God is the party superior, and it is fit the inferior should seek to the superior. And also he is the person wronged; and though he be willing and desirous to be reconciled more than ever, yet he will have his favour prized. David longed to be reconciled to Absalom, yet he would be sought unto, for he would have his favour prized to the utmost, and not cast away.

Yea, and to be in favour with God being better than life, God will be sought to with more earnestness, contention, and constancy, than a condemned man seeks for life: Jer. 29:13, ‘They shall find me when they seek and search for me with their whole heart.’ And Mat. 11:12, ‘The violent take it by force.’ Though God be most willing to part with this great blessing, yet that it may be prized and sought, indeed he doth as it were hold it fast in his hand, and will have it wrung from him by force, as it were: Mat. 11:12, ‘And from the days of John the Baptist, until now, the kingdom of heaven suffereth violence, and the violent take it by force.’ And in Luke 13:24, ‘Strive’ (saith he), ‘for many seek.’ The word in the original signifies an eager violent contention and wrestling of mind. And there is reason, from what God did in Christ for us, for this also; for how earnestly did God seek to his Son for us! He expressed all the earnestness that might be, laying his command upon him, and he added an oath to it, &c. And doth he not expect earnestness at our hands? Yea, how did Christ also, in the days of his flesh, put up an atonement, seeking to his Father with strong cries and tears! And shall we think to be heard with dull and faint cries? Nay, look, as God himself was more earnest in this matter of reconciling us than ever in anything else, so he will have us seek to him with more earnestness and contention than ever we sought anything, even life itself. And surely, if God hath bidden us seek peace with men, yea, and to ensue it (as in Ps. 34:14, 1 Peter 3:11), that is, though it fly away, yet to follow it, much more are we then to seek peace with God himself; and though he seem to reject us, yet to follow him, and press upon him as it were from one room to another, that is, from one performance to another, and so to ‘follow hard after him,’ as David says, Ps. 63:1, 2, 3, to verse the 8th, ‘My soul followeth hard after thee: Thy right hand upholdeth me.’

7. He will be sought unto with confession of, and mourning for, offending him. For being in bitterness, Zech. 12:10, and mourning, is joined with supplication for grace.

And this is necessary to reconciliation, because an acknowledgment is to be made, Jer. 2:13. God would be sought humbly unto by us, as those that are traitors and rebels. And God will have men know when he pardons, that he knows what he pardons, and therefore will have them acknowledge what they deserve, ‘that every mouth might be stopped, and become guilty,’ and obnoxious in their own acknowledgment before him, Rom. 3:19. As if a man will become wise, he must become a fool; so a man that will become a friend to God, must turn enemy against himself, and judge himself worthy of destruction. And God will have the freeness and glory of his grace acknowledged in pardoning; and therefore will have us confess our evil ways and deservedness of destruction. In the 36th of Ezekiel, when at the 31st verse he says, that ‘when he pardoned them they should remember their evil ways, and acknowledge themselves worthy to be destroyed;’ the reason follows in the next verse: ‘Be it known to you, I pardon it not for your sakes;’ I do it freely: and that ye may know so much, remember your evil ways; be ashamed and confounded for your ways.

And there is good reason also that mourning should be joined to all this, from what God did in Christ when he reconciled us to himself.

1. For, first, was not Christ, who never know the pleasure of sin, put to grief? Yea, all the sorrow and smart was his: Isa. 53:4, ‘Surely he hath borne our griefs,’ was ‘a man of sorrow,’ &c. Which sorrows were put upon him by his Father also: ver. 10, ‘He put him to grief;’ and therein indeed put himself to grief. And if they both were thus put to grief and afflicted, for our reconciliation and peace, then surely the least that we, who have tasted of, and enjoyed the pleasures of sin, can do, is to grieve also, for that thing which made both Father and Son to grieve. God required of Christ to bear our sorrows. Now the sorrows of death, and of his wrath, God exacts not of thee; but the sorrow of a friend, the sorrow of kindness, which causeth not death as other sorrows do, but peace and joy in the very performance of it, ‘repentance never to be repented of.’ He requires thee only to mourn kindly for thy sins that pierced him; and such a mourning the nature of reconciliation requires. For,

2. Secondly, where mourning for offending God is wanting, there is no sign of any good will yet wrought in the heart to God, nor of love to him, without which God will never accept a man. For the least thing wherein goodwill towards a friend whom we have injured can be shewn, is to mourn and be sorry for it: as the least requital for a kindness is to be thankful. And this all that have affections in them do, when they can in noway else make amends.

3. Else there is no hope of amendment. God will not pardon till he sees hope of amendment. Now, until a man confess his sin, and that with bitterness, it is a sign he loves it, Job 20:12–14. Whilst he hides it, spares it, and forsakes it not, it is sweet in his mouth; and therefore till he confess it, and mourn for it, it is a sign it is not bitter to him, and so he will not forsake it. A man will never leave sin till he finds bitterness in it; and, if so, then he will be in bitterness for it, Zech. 12:10; and ‘godly sorrow works repentance,’ 2 Cor. 7:10.

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