Written by Abraham Booth (1734–1806)
Consider, O disconsolate soul! how many millions now inhabit the regions of immortal purity and exult in bliss, that were once loathsome with sin…
…and laden with guilt; pressed with fears, and ready to sink in despair; in a word, altogether as abominable and wretched as you can possibly be. Reflect a moment, and see whether you can find, among those spirits of the just made perfect, such as were by nature the same, and before mercy was showed, no better by practice than yourself. There you will find that adept in every kind of wickedness, the idolatrous and bloody Manasseh. 2 Kings 21 and 2 Chron. 33. There you may see the perfidious Peter; the man who, contrary to the dictates of his conscience, to the warnings of his Master, and to his own most solemn protestations, denied, with oaths and curses, his Lord and Savior. Mark xiv. 71. There you may behold many of the profligate Corinthians—persons that were once a reproach to their country, and a scandal to human nature. Now, near to the Son of God, and seated on thrones of bliss, you cannot but behold many of those Jerusalem sinners, who immersed their hands in the blood of our divine Lord. These make a distinguished figure among the shining hosts; the very thought of which must revive the heart of a drooping sinner. In a word, there you will see sinners of every sort and of every size. So that, be your sins like a debt of millions of talents; be they more in number than the stars in the firmament, and heavier than the sand of the sea; yet this full forgiveness superabounds. Let this be your rest and this your joy, that grace results in the pardon of all sin.
The next requisite in a complete pardon is, that it be free; or, in other words, NOT vouchsafed on any conditions to be performed by the sinner.
In regard to Christ our surety, the pardon of any, even the least offence, was suspended on the performance of the most dreadful conditions and the hardest terms. The conditions were, his incarnation, his most perfect obedience to the divine law, and subjection to the most infamous death of the cross. As to Christ our substitute, blood was the rigorous condition; blood was the’ dreadful demand; even the pouring out of his own blood was the righteous requisition of divine justice. For without shedding of bloody even the blood of the Prince of life and Lord of glory, there is no remission of any offences. The atonement of our glorious High Priest is that which satisfies the claims of justice, which procures the pardon of sin, and pacifies the consciences of men, when pained with a sense of guilt.
This forgiveness is, notwithstanding, absolutely free to the pardoned sinner.
It is dispensed according to the riches of divine mercy, and is received in a way of grace. As it is written, “We have redemption through his blood, even the forgiveness of sins according to the riches of his grace.
‘The death of Christ is the meritorious cause, and the glory of God is the ultimate end, that Jehovah has in view when he bestows the blessing. God for Christ’s sake hath forgiven you, —I, even I, am he that blotteth out thy transgressions for my own sake. The last passage is so remarkably apposite, that I cannot forbear transcribing it more at large. But thou hast not called upon me, 0 Jacob; but thou hast been weary of me, 0 Israel. Them hast not brought me the small cattle of thy burnt-offerings, neither hast thou honored me with thy sacrifices. I have not caused thee to serve with an offering, nor wearied thee with the incense. Thou, hast brought me no sweet cane with money, neither hast thou satisfied me with the fat of thy sacrifices, but thou hast made me to serve with thy sins, thou hast wearied me with thy iniquities. After such a heavy charge; rather; after such a complication of charges exhibited against them, who could expect but the next word would flash vengeance, and denounce utter destruction? But lo rejoice, O ye heavens! And shout for joy, O ye children of men! Every syllable is balm, every word teems with consolation. JEHOVAH speaks—let the worst of sinners attend and hear him, whom thou hast so notoriously offended, even I am he that blotteth out thy transgressions; not because thou art humble, or anyway qualified for mercy, but for mine own sake; to demonstrate the riches of my grace and to display the glory of all my perfections.
And so fully and effectually shall this be done, that I will not remember thy sins any more.
Here we have the apostle’s declaration finely exemplified, “Where sin abounded, grace did much more abound.” In the instance before us, we behold a people, highly favored of the Lord, neglecting his positive appointments, though easy to be performed; we behold them restraining prayer before God, and quite weary of his worship. Yea, we hear their Sovereign complain that they have caused him to serve with their sins, and wearied him with their multiplied crimes; and yet these impious wretches are pardoned. Amazing mercy! Sin abounds like a flood, but grace abounds like an ocean.
But Jehovah’s methods of reclaiming offenders, and of softening the hearts of his hardened enemies, are not like ours
…they are in a peculiar manner his own, and highly becoming himself. He adds—amazingly gracious indeed! —he adds, and will heal him of these his inveterate maladies. I will pardon all his offences, and lead him also in the ways of obedience. And, having shown him the infinite evil of his former conduct, and possessed his heart of godly sorrow, I will restore comforts unto him, and to all his mourners.
A gloriously free pardon indeed! Here grace takes the rebels in hand: and what is the consequence? Why, their spiritual diseases are healed, and their sins are pardoned,—the sons of Belial are reduced to obedience, and made partakers of heavenly joy.
Meet the author and part of your Christian heritage: Abraham Booth (1734–1806) was an English dissenting minister and author, known as a Baptist apologetical writer. Booth was baptized in 1755 by immersion, and began to preach in the Midland counties. In 1760, when the Baptists first gathered into churches, Booth became superintendent of the Kirkby Woodhouse congregation, but not their pastor. He changed views, from General Baptist to Particular Baptist, and seceded. Soon after, he began to preach on Sundays at Sutton-in-Ashfield, Chesterfield, and elsewhere in the Midland towns and villages, still keeping his school.
The Particular Baptist church of Little Prescot Street, Goodman’s Fields, in east London, invited Booth to be their pastor. He accepted the call, and was ordained on 16 February 1769. He entered a controversy with Andrew Fuller, over the 1785 book The Gospel Worthy of All Acceptation. In the 1790s Booth preached in the abolitionist cause, and joined the Pennsylvania Abolition Society. The Baptist Education Society was founded around 1804 by Booth and others. It led, in 1810 after his death, to the setting up of Stepney Academy in East London.
Booth died on 27 January 1806, aged 71, having been a minister 50 years. A marble tablet was erected to his memory in the Prescot Street chapel, where he had been pastor 35 years. William Jones‘s Essay on Abraham Booth was published at Liverpool, 1808.