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Christ's knocks and calls in the gospel. As you value your souls, beware of them.
Christ is now come near us in the gospel. Behold, he stands at the door and knocks : and I this day demand your answer—in his name I do solemnly demand it; what shall I return to him who sent me? What sayest thou, sinner? Wilt thou open' to Christ, or wilt thou shut him out, and with him thy own pardon, peace, and salvation ? Once more, let me try the force of a few more arguments upon your hearts, and refute your vain pleas to the contrary. Methinks no heart should be able to resist such MOTIVES and rational persuasions as these following will be found to be.
MOTIVE 1. You are in extreme need of Christ; you want him more than bread or breath. Many things are convenient for your bodies, but Christ is the "one thing needful” for your souls. Luke 10:42. Necessity is an engine that will open any thing that can be opened : necessity will make all fly before it. Now there is a plain, present, absolute necessity lying on every one of you to open your heart to Christ, and that without delay. Necessity goes before the face of Christ, to open the way for him into the heart. Thou must have him, or be lost for ever. Christ and faith are not the may-be, but the must-be, to the happiness of thy soul. A man may be poor, and happy; reproached, and blessed; but he cannot be Christless and safe, nor Christless and comfortable. You must have Christ, or you cannot have life, John 3:36; you must have Christ, or you can have no hope, Col. 1:27. Christ and life, Christ and hope, go together: no Christ, no life; no Christ, no hope. Sinner, thou must have Christ, or thou canst have no pardon; for Christ and pardon are undivided. Eph. 1:7. In a word, you must have Christ, or you can have no salvation. Acts 4:12. Well, then, if thou canst have no life nor hope, no pardon nor salvation, without Christ, then a plain necessity goes before Christ to open his way into thy heart: methinks thou shouldst now say, Then will I open to Christ, whatever the terms are. Come sufferings, losses, reproaches, yea, death itself, all is one ; Christ I must have, and Christ I will have : necessity is laid upon me, and my heart is opened to Christ by it. Woe to me for ever, if I miss of Christ.
MOTIVE 2. The Lord Jesus is this day come nigh to your souls. I may say to you as Christ did to the Jews, “ The kingdom of God is come nigh unto you.” Luke 10:9. The Lord grant he be not as nigh to some of you as ever he shall be ; for he must come nearer, or else you are lost for ever. It is not Christ among you in the means of grace, but Christ within you by the work of grace, which must be unto you “the hope of glory.” Col. 1:27. He is not only among you in external means, but he is come into your understandings and consciences; yea, some motions of his you feel upon your affections : there wants but a little more to make you eternally happy. O what would one effectual touch upon your wills be worth now! The head-work is done ; 0 that the heart-work were done too. You are almost saved ; but to be almost saved, is to be wholly and eternally lost, if it go no further. It is a sad thing for a man who hath one foot in heaven, to slide from thence into hell; it is sad to be shipwrecked at the harbor's mouth.
MOTIVE 3. Jesus Christ has an unquestionable right to enter into and possess every one of your souls. Satan is but an usurper : Christ is your lawful owner and proprietor; thy soul, sinner, hath not so full a title to thy body, as Christ hath to thy soul. Satan keeps Christ out of his right. Christ knocks at the door of his own house ; he built it, and therefore may well claim admission into it: it is his own creature. “By him were all things created that are in heaven and that are in earth, visible and invisible ;" bodies or souls.
Col. 1:16. The invisible part, thy soul, is his workmanship—a stately structure of his own raising. He has also a right by redemption ; Christ hath bought thy soul, and that at the invaluable price of his own blood. Who then can dispute the right of Christ to enter into his own house ? But, alas, he cometh to his own and his own receive him not. John 1:11.
MOTIVE 4. Open the door to Christ, for a train of blessings and mercies come in with him~a troop of privileges follow him. In the same day and hour that Christ comes into thine heart by a full and deliberate choice, a pardon comes with him of all the sins that ever thou hast committed, in thought, word, or action. Will such a pardon be welcome to thy soul ? Then let Christ be welcome, for where Christ comes, pardon comes. Eph. 1:7. If you open to Christ, you open to peace, and who would shut the door of his soul against peace? If peace be welcome, let Christ be welcome ; for peace follows faith in Christ. Rom. 5:1. Where Christ comes, liberty comes. “If the Son therefore shall make you free, ye shall be free indeed.” John 8:36. Are you in love with bonds and fetters ? Satan's laws are written in blood. Christ's yoke is easy, and his commands not grievous. If you love liberty, love Christ. In a word, where Christ comes, salvation comes; for he is “the author of eternal salvation to all them that obey him.” Heb. 5:9. If therefore you love pardon, peace, liberty, and salvation, shut not the door against Christ; for all these follow him wherever he goes.
MOTIVE 5. Christ this day solemnly demands entrance into thy soul ; he begs thee to open to him, 2 Cor. 5:20; he commands thee to open unto him, 1 John 3:23; he denounces eternal ruin to those who refuse him entrance. Now consider well—here is entrance demanded under pain of the eternal wrath of God: this demand is recorded in heaven; at your own peril be it, if you shut the door against
the door wanto thy soulais day that cif you
him. Only this will I say in my Redeemer's behalf; if you refuse, bear witness heaven and earth this day that Christ solemnly demanded entrance into thy soul, and was refused ; bear witness that the door was shut against the only Redeemer, who intreated, commanded, and threatened eternal damnation to the rejecters of him. Oh, methinks that scripture, Prov. 1:24–31, should strike terror into the very centre of the soul that refuses the offers of Christ!
MOTIVE 6. And so I have done my master's errand : if you now refuse the knock of Christ at your hearts, he may never knock more; and where are you then? There is a knock which will be the last knock, a call which will be his last call; and after that no more knocks or calls, but an eternal silence as to any overture of mercy.
OBJECTION 1. But if I do open to Christ, he will never come in to such a filthy, polluted, sinful soul as mine is.
ANSWER. Who saith so? Who dare affirm so impudent a falsehood in the very face of the text, “If any man open to me, I will come in to him ?”
OBJECTION 2. If I open to Christ, I must bid farewell to rest in this world ; reproaches, sufferings, and losses follow him.
ANSWER. If Christ, pardon, and salvation are, in thy estimation, not worth the enduring and suffering these small things, sure thou valuest Christ and thy soul at a low rate. O who can sufficiently bewail the ignorance and folly of unbelievers, who will sell their souls and hopes of heaven for such trifles! And if Christ and thy soul must part on these terms, then hear me, sinner, and let it sink into thine heart :
Thy damnation will be just ; for thou hadst thine own choice, and hast deliberately preferred the insignificant trifles of this world before Christ and salvation. It was plainly told thee what the issue of thy rejecting Christ would be; and yet, after sufficient warning, thou hast ventured upon it. Whatever other sinners will plead, I know not, but as for thee, thou must be speechless. Matt. 22:12. If thou die Christless, thou must appear at his bar speechless; and the day of judgment will be the day of the revelation of the righteous judgment of God. Rom. 2:5.
It will also be unavoidable, for there is no other way to salvation but this. Acts 4:12. No Christ, no heaven; no faith, no Christ. “How shall we escape, if we neglect so great salvation ?" Heb. 2:3. Mercy itself cannot save thee out of Christ, for all the saving mercy of God is dispensed to men through him. Jude 21. It is to no purpose to cry for mercy, when Christ, in whom all the mercies of God are dispensed to men, is rejected by thee.
This doctrine winds up in CONSOLATION to all such as, hearing the knocks of Christ, have opened or are now resolved to open their hearts to him; and that nothing, henceforth, may keep Christ and their souls asunder, to such I shall address the following grounds of comfort.
1. An opening heart to Christ is a work wholly and altogether supernatural ; a special work of the Spirit of God, never found upon any but an elect soul. There are common gifts of the Spirit, such as knowledge, vanishing convictions, etc., but the opening of the heart by faith is the special, saving, and peculiar work of the Spirit. “This is the work of God, that ye believe on him whom He hath sent.” John 6:29. Yea, the almighty power of God, the exceeding greatness of his power, is exerted in the work of faith. Eph. 1:19. It rises not out of nature, as common gifts do; but of this it is expressly said, “Not of yourselves, it is the gift of God.” Eph. 2:8. Where this work is effectually wrought, we may reason as solidly as comfortably from it, both backward to the electing love of God, and forward to our eternal glorification with him. Rom. 8:30.
2. The opening of thy heart to Christ by saving faith, gives thee an interest in Christ the very same hour. The