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Oh how willing are they to accept a cure, a beuefit, a remedy, for any thing but their souls! You fee then that sinners cannot, (should they study all their days to do themselves a mischief), take a readier course to undo themselves, than by rejecting Christ in his gracious offers.
Surely the sin of Sodom and Gomorrah is less than this sin. Mercy itself is exasperated by it, and the damnation of such as reject Christ, (so prepared for them, with whatever they need, and so seriously and frequently offered to them upon the knee of gospel entreaty), is just, inevitable, and will be more intolerable than any in the world beside them. It is just, for the sin' ner hath but his own option, or choice: he is but come to the end which he was often told his way would bring him to. It is inevitable, for there is no other way to salvation, but that which is rejected. And it will be more intolerable than the damnation of others, because, neither Heathens nor devils, ever aggravated their sins by such an horrid circumstance, as the wilful refusing of such an apt, offered, and only remedy.
Infer. 4. What a tremendous symptom of -wrath, and sad charatler of death, appears upon that man's foul, to -which no effectual application of Christ can be made by the gofpel. <
Christ, with his benefits, is frequently tendered to them in the gospel; they have been beseeched once and again, upon the knee of importunity, to accept him, those entreaties and persuasions have been urged by the greatest arguments, the command of God, the love of Christ, the inconceivable happiness or misery which unavoidably follow the accepting or rejecting of those offers, and yet nothing will affect them: all their pleas for infidelity have been over and over confuted, their reason*- and consciences have stood convinced; they have been speechless, as well as Christless: not one sound argument is found with them to defend their infidelity: they confess in general, that such courses, as theirs are, lead to destruction. They will yield them to be happy souls that are in Christ; and yet, when it comes to the point, their own closing with him, nothing will do; all arguments, all entreaties, return to us without success. .
Lord! what is the reason of this unaccountable obstinacy? In other things it is not so: if they be sick, they are so sar from rejecting a physician that offers himself, that they will send, and pray, and pay him too. If they be arrested for debt, and any one will be a surety, and pay their debts for them, words can hardly express the sense they have of such a kindness: but though Christ would be both a physician sod surety, aud whatever else their needs require, they will rather perish to eternity, than accept him. What may we fear to be the reason of this, but because they are not of Christ's sheep, John x. 26. The Lord open the eyes of poor sinners, to apprehend not only how great a fin, but how dreadful a sign, this is.
Infer. 5. If Christ, with all his benefits, be made ours, by God's special application, what a day of mercies then is the day of conversion! what multitudes of choice blejsings vfit the converted /out in that day 4
"This day, (saith Christ to Zaccheus, Luke xix. 9), is sal"vation come to this house. In this day, Christ cometh into the foul, and he comes not empty, but brings with him all his treasures of wisdom, and righteousness, sanctification and redemption. Troops of mercies yea, of the best of mercies, come with him. It is a day of singular gladness and joy to the heart of Christ, when he is espoused to, and received by the believing soul; it is a coronation-day to a king. So you read, Cant. iii. 11. "Go forth, O ye daughters of Zion, and behold king Solo"mon with the crown wherewith his mother crowned him in "the day of his espousals, and in the day of the gladness of his "heart.'1
Where, under the type of Solomon in his greatest magnificence and glory, when the royal diadem was set upon his head, and the people shouted for joy, so that the earth did ring again, is shadowed out the joy of Christ's heart, when poor soujs, by their high estimation of him, and consent to his government, do, as it were, crown him with glory and honour, and make his heart glad.
Now, if the day of our espousals to Christ, be the day of the gladness of his heart, and he reckons himself thus honoured and glorified by us, what a day of joy and gladness should it be to our hearts, and how should we be transported with joy, to see a King from heaven, with all his treasures of grace and glery, bestowing himself freely, and everlastingly upon us, as our portion! No wonder Zaccheus came down joyfully, Luke xix. 6.; that the eunuch went home rejoicing, Acts viii. 39.; that the jaylor rejoiced, believing in God with all his houshold, Acts xvi. 34.; that they that were converted, did eat their meat with gladness, praising God, Acts ii. 41, 46.; that there was great joy ameng them of Samaria, when Christ came among them in the preaching of the gospel, Acts viii. 5, 8. I say, it is no wonder we read of such joy accompanying Christ into the soul, when we consider, that, in one day, so many blessings meet together In it, the least of which is not to be exchanged for all the kingdoms of this world, and the glory of them. Eternity itself will but suffice to bless God for the merciss of this one day.
Infer, 6. If Christ be made all this to every foul, unto whom he is effeElually applied, -what cause then have thofe souls, that arc Wider the preparatory work of the Spirit, and are come nigh to Christ, and all his benesits, to stretch out their hands, with vehement defire, to Christ, and give him the most importunate invitation into their souls!
The whole world is distinguishable into three classes, or forts of persons: such as are far from Christ s such as are not far from Christ; and such as are in Christ. They that are in Christ, have heartily received him. Such as are sar from Christ; will not open to him; their hearts are sast barred by ignorance, prejudice, and unbelief against him: But those that are come under the preparatory workings of the Spirit, nigh to Christi who fee their own indifpensible necessity of him, and his suitableness to their necessities, in whom also encouraging hopes begin to dawn, and their fouls are waiting at the foot of God for power to receive him, for an heart to close sincerely and universally with him; Oh what vehement desires! what strong pleas! what moving arguments should such persons urge, and plead to win Christ, and get possession of him! they are id iight of their only remedy; Christ and salvation are come to their very doors: there wants but a few things to make then) blessed for ever. This is the day in which their fouls are exercised between hopes and fears: Now they are much alone, and deep in thoughtfulness, they weep and make supplication for a heart to believe, and that against the great discouragements! with which they encounter.
Reader, if this be the cafe of thy foul, it will not be the leas| piece of service I can do for thee, to suggest such pleas as in this cafe are proper to be urged for the attainment of thy desires, and the closing of the match between Christ and thee. <
First, Plead the absolute necessity which now drives thee to Christ: Tell him thy hope is utterly perished in all other re^ fuges. Thou art come like a starving beggar to the last door of hope. Tell him thou now beginnest to fee the absolute ne? cessity of Christ. Thy body hath not so much need of bread, water, or air, as thy foul hath of Christ; and that wisdom and righteousness, sanctification and redemption, that are in him.
Secondly, Plead the Father's gracious design in furnishing and fending him into the world, and his own design in accepting the father's call. Lord Jesus, wast thou not " anointed to preach, "good tidings to the meek, to bind up the broken-hearted, and "to proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison '' to them that are bound?" Isa. lxi.1,3. Behold an object suitable to thine office: whilst I was ignorant of my condition, I had a proud rebellious heart, but conviction and self-acquaintance have now melted it: my heart was harder than the nether mill-stone, aud it was as easy to dissolve the obdure rocks, as to thaw and melt my heart for sin; but now God hath made my heart soft, I sensibly feel the misery of my condition. I once thought myself at perfect liberty, but now I see what I conceited to be perfect liberty, is perfect bondage; and never did a poor prisoner sigh for deliverance, more than I, Since then thou hast given me a foul thus qualified, though still unworthy, for the exercise of thine office, and execution of thy commission; Lord Jesus, be, according to thy name, a Jesus unto me.
Thirdly, Plead the unlimited and general invitation made to such souls as you are, to come to Christ freely. Lord, thou hast made open proclamation; "Ho, every one that thirsteth,
come ye to the waters." Isa. lv. 1.; and Rev. xxii. 17. " Him ". that is a-thirst come." In obedience to thy call, lo, I come; had I not been invited, my coming to thee, dear Lord Jesus, had been an act of presumption, but this makes it an act of duty and obedience.
Fourthly, Plead the unprofitableness of thy blood to God, Lord, these is no profit in my blood, it will turn to no more advantage to thee to destroy, than it will to save me; if thou fend pie to hell, (as the merit of my sin calls upon thy justice to do), Tshall be there dishonouring thee to all eternity, and the debt I owe thee never paid. But, if thou apply thy Christ to me for righteousness, satissaction for all tha"t I have done, will be laid down in one full, complete sum; indeed, if the honour of thy justice lay as a bar to my pardon, it would stop my mouth; but when thy justice, as well as thy mercy, shall both rejoice together, and be glorified and pleased in the same act, what hinders hut that Christ be applied to my soul, since, in so doing, God can be no loser by it?
Fifthly, and Lastly, Plead thy compliance with the terms of the gospel: tell him, Lord, my will complies fully and heartily to all thy gracious terms. I can now subscribe a blank: let God offer his Christ on what terms he will, my heart is ready to comply; I have no exception against any article of the gospel. And pow, Lord, I wholly refer myself to thy pleasure; do with me what seemeth good in thine eyes, only give me an interest in Jesus Christ; as to all other concerns I lie at thy feet, in full reCgnatiOQ of all to thy pleasure. Never yet did any perish in that posture and frame; and I hope I shall not be made the first instance and example.
Infer. 7. Lastly, Jf Christ, with all his benefits, be made ours, ty a special application; how contented, thankful, comfortable, and hopef ul, should believers be, in every condition which God casts them into, in this world!
After such a mercy as this, let them never open their mouths wy more to repine and grudge at the outward inconveniencies of their condition in this world. What are the things you want, compared with the things you enjoy? What is a little money, health, or liberty, to wisdom, righteousness, sanctification, and redemption? All the crowns and sceptres in the world, fold to their full valne, are no price for the least of these mercies. But I will not insist here, your duty lies much higher than content' menr.
Be thankful, as well as content, in every state. "Blessed be "God, (saith the apostle) the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, "who hath blessed us with all [spiritual blessings} in heavenly "places in Christ:" O think what are men to angels, that Christ should pass by them to become a Saviour to men! And what art thou among men, that thou shouldst be taken, and others left! And among all the mercies of God, what mercies are comparable to these conferred upon thee i O bless God in the lowest ebb of outward comforts, for such privileges as these.
And yet you will not come up to your duty in all this, except yon be joyful in the Lord, and rejoice evermore, after the receipt of such mercies as these, Phil. iv. 4. " Rejoice in the
Lord ye righteous, and again I say rejoice." For hath not the poor captive reason to rejoice, when he hath recovered his liberty? The debtor to rejoice when all scores are cleared, and he owes nothing? The weary traveller to rejoice, though he be not owner of a shilling, when he is come almost home, where all his wants shall be supplied 'Why this is our cafe, when Christ once becomes yonrs: you are the Lord's freemen, your debts to justice are all satisfied by Christ; and you are within a, litdeof compleat redemption, from all the troubles and inconveniences of your present state.
Thanks be to Cod for Jesus Christ,