In whom we have redemption through his blood, even the forgiveness of sins.—Col. 1:14.
The apostle, in the former verse, had spoken of our slavery and bondage to Satan, from which Christ came to deliver us; now, because sin is the cause of it, he cometh to speak of our redemption from sin: ‘In whom we have redemption through his blood, even the forgiveness of sins.’ Here is—
I. The author.
II. The benefit.
III. The price.
[This is a standard Manton introduction. There is a brief mention of the context for the text. He then provides a breakdown of the text. First, there is the overall break of the text based upon the grammatical structure: Author: “His” Benefit: “redemption” Price: “his blood”. Now he is going to consider the text as a matter of propostional doctrine]
The point is this:—
Doct. That one principal part of our redemption by Christ is remission of sins.
[The statement of a doctrine explicitly someplace in the sermon is common throughout the Puritans. But having made the statement of the doctrine, there is the necessity of breaking down that proposition. The questions here are similar to the sort questions suggested by Joseph Hall on the subject of meditation https://memoirandremains.com/2015/04/06/how-to-think-about-a-subject-according-to-melanchthon-joseph-hall/
This is the sort of analysis which one will not find in standard exegesis. This is an additional step which asks questions of the text such as “why is this here” “what I am supposed to do with this information”. Many limp sermons tell a proposition and then leave the listener with the question, “So what?” Manton does not just want you to know that Christ has redeemed you. He wants you to know what it means to be redeemed.]
Here I shall show you:—
1. What remission of sins is.
2. The nature of redemption.
3. That remission of sins is a part, and a principal part of it.
[Now begins a very methodical presentation of his information. I have formatted the material to make the outline clear. Manton did not use a Roman I, bold offset heading, for example. Also I have redacted portions of the sermon. The following is an outline with comment.]
I. First, What remission of sins is. Both terms must be explained—what sin is, and what is the forgiveness of sin.
[A. What is Sin?]
1. For the first, sin is a violation of the law of the eternal and living God:
a. [Proof] 1 John 3:4
b. [Explanation] God is the lawgiver, who hath given a righteous law to his subjects, under the dreadful penalty of a curse. In his law there are two things—the precept and the sanction.
i. The precept is the rule of our duty, which showeth what we must do, or not do.
ii. The sanction or penalty showeth what God will do, or might justly do, if he should deal with us according to the merit of our actions.
iii. Accordingly, in sin, there is the fault and the guilt.
I. The fault: that man, who is God’s subject, and so many ways obliged to him by his benefits, instead of keeping this law, should break it upon light terms.
A. [He brought to sin by] being carried away by his own ill-disposed will and base lusts. [Here a motivation for sin. It comes from within the human being. It is a surely refusal to obey and a desire for something which he was not granted. There is a theory of moral action embedded in this statement. First, human beings are subject to their own subjective determinations, whether thought or desire. Second, it is a desire to act. The bare event is not the sin but the “swerving” from God’s law.
B. [Therefore, we are culpable] It is a great and heinous offence, for which he becometh obnoxious to the judgment of God.
II. The guilt: which is a liableness to punishment, [That is, the punishment has been earned and is deserved.]Where there is sin, there will be guilt; and where there is guilt, there will be punishment, unless we be pardoned. [Manton here adds an interesting image: The sin has created guilt which binds us with chains to the punishment. The picture of Morley at the beginning of a Christmas Carol speaking of forging chains in life seems similar] and God looseneth the chains wherewith we be bound.
B. Secondly, Forgiveness of sin is a dissolving the obligation to punishment, or a freedom, in God’s way and method, from all the sad and woful consequences of sin. Understand it rightly.
1. It is not a disannulling the act. [God does not disappear the sin. The sinful event has a historical reality binding upon the actor. Manton holds it is “impossible” for the event to be undone. This raises an interesting question about the nature of sin and history. ] yet that must not be understood as if God would abolish the action, and make it as if it had never been, for that is impossible. [What is removed is not the act but the punishment due to the act.]
2. [God does not change the moral status of the event. If an event is a sin, it is always a sin, even if forgiven.] An accused person may be vindicated as innocent, but if he be pardoned, he is pardoned as an offender.
3. [We must not think that our forgiveness means that we do not deserve the punishment. In fact, we must be clear on this point, because it makes our status as recipients of grace clear to us. [We must still own ourselves deserving the wrath of God, which maketh for our constant humiliation and admiration of grace; so that he that is pardoned still deserveth punishment.’’]