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ceslity of these, and cry to God, day aod night, for strength to carry you to Christ in the way of saith.
Secondly, As to those that have been longer under the hands of Christ, and yet are still in troubles, and cannot obtain peace, but their wounds bleed still, and all they hear in sermons, or do in the way of duty, will not bring them to test; to such I only add two or three words for a close.
First, Consider whether you ever rightly closed with Christ since your first awakening, and whether there be not some way of sin, in which you still live: if so, no wonder your wounds are kept open, and your fouls are strangers to peace.
Secondly, If you be conscious of no such flaw in the foundation, consider how much of this trouble may arise from your constitution and natural temper, which being melancholy, will be doubtful and suspicious ; you may sind it Ib in other cases of lei's moment, and be sure Satan will not be wanting to improve it.
Thirdly, Acquaint yourselves more with the nature of true justifying saith; a mistake in that hath prolonged the troubles of many: if you look for it in no other act but assurance, you may easily overlook it, as it lies, in the mean time, in your affiance or acceptance. A true and proper conception of saving saith would go sar in the cure of many troubled souls.'
Fourth/y, Be more thankful to shun sin, than to get yourselves clear of trouble: it is lad to walk in darkness, but worse to lie under guilt. Say, Lord, I would rather be grieved mjself, than be a grief to thy Spirit. O keep me from sin, how long soever thou keep me under sorrow. Wait on God in the way of saith, and in a tender spirit towards fin, and thy wounds shall be healed at last by thy great Physician.
Thanks be to God for Jesus Christ.
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Containing the Second Motive to enforce the general Exhortation, from a second Title of Christ.
Luke i. 72. To persorm the mercy promised to our fathers, and ,: remember his holy covenant.
THIS scripture is part of Zecharhh's prophecy, at the rising of that bright star John, the harbinger and foreK r %
mnner of Christ: They are some of the first words he spake after God had loosed his tongue, which, for a time, was struck dumb for his unbelief. His tongue is now unbound, and at liberty to proclaim to all the world, the unspeakable riches of mercy through Jesus Christ, in a song of praise. Wherein note,
The mercy celebrated, viz. redemption by Christ, ver. 68.
The description of Christ by place and property, ver. 69.
The saithfulness of God in our redemption this way, ver. 70.
The benefit of being so redeemed by Christ, ver, 71.
The exact accomplishment of all the promises made to the fathers in fending Christ, the mercy promised into the world, ver. 72. " To perform the mercy promised to our sathers," &c. In these words we sind two parts, viz.
1. A mercy freely promiled.
2. The promised mercy saithfully performed.
First, You have a mercy freely promiled, viz. by God the Father, from the beginning of the world, and often repeated and confirmed in several succeeding ages, to the sathers, in his covenant-transactions.
This mercy is Jesus Christ, of whom he speaks in this prophecy; the same which he stiles " An horn of salvation in the «* house of David," ver. 60.
The mercy of God in scripture, is put either for,
1, His free savour to the creature. Or,
2. The effects and fruits of that savour.
It is put for the free and undeserved savour of God to the creature, and this savour of God may respect the creature two ways, either as undeserving, or as ill-deserving.
It respected innocent man, as undeserving; for Adam could put no obligation upon his benesactor. It respecteth sallen man, as ill-deserving. Innocent man could not merit savour, and sallen man did merit wrath: the savour or mercy of God to both is every way free; and that is the first acceptation of the word mercy: but then it is also taken fop the effects and fruits of God's savour, and they are either
1. Principal and prjmary: or,
2. Subordinate and secondary.
Of secondary and subordinate mercies, there are multitudes, both temporal, respecting the body, and spiritual, respecting the foul; but the principal and primary mercy is but one, aod that is Christ, the firstibqrn of mercy; the capital mercy, thecomr prehensive rooNmercy, from whom are all other mercies; and, therefore called by a singular emphasis in my text, The mercyx ft ex the mercy of all mercies; without whom no drop of saving mercy can flow to any of the sons of men; and in whom are all the tender bowels of divine mercy yearning upon poor sinners. 7he mercy, and the mercy promised. The first promise of Christ .was made to Adam, Gen. iii. 15. and was frequently renewed afterwards, to Abraham, to David, and, as the text speaks, unto the fathers, in their respective generations.
Secondly, We sind here also, the promiled mercy saithfully performed: "To perform the mercy promiled." What mercy soever the love of God engaged him to promise, the saitbfulnels of God stands engaged for the performance thereof. Christ, the promiled mercy, is not only performed, truly, but he is also performed, according to the promise in all the circumstances thereof, exactly. So he was promised to the sathers, and just so performed to us their children: Hence the note is,
Doct. That Jesus Christ, the mercy of mercies, was graciously ^i^ypromised, and faithfully persormed by Cod to his people. , Three things are here to be opened:
First, Why Christ is stiled the mercy i *%'
Secondly, What kind of mercy Christ is to his people.
Thirdly, How this mercy was performed. , First, Christ is the mercy, emphatically so called; the peerless, invaluable, and matchless mercy: Because he is the prime fruit of the mercy of God to sinners. The mercies of God are insinite; mercy gave the world, and us, our being; all our protections, provisions, and comforts, in this world, are the fruits of mercy, the free gifts of divine savour: But Christ is the first and chief; all other mercies, compared with him, are but fruits from that root, and streams from that fountain of mercy; the very bowels of divine mercy are in Christ, as in ver. 78. according to the tender mercies, or, as the Greek, the yearning bowels of the mercy of God.
Secondly, Christ is the mercy, because all the mercy os God to sinners, is dispensed, and conveyed through Christ to them, John i. 16. Col. ii. 3. Eph. iv. 7. Christ is the medium of all divine communications, the channel of grace; through him are both the decursus et recursus gratiarum; the flows of mercy from God to us, and the returns of praise from us to God. Fond and vain, therefore, are all the expectations of mercy out of Christ; no drop of saving mercy runs beside this channel.
Thirdly, Christ is the mercy, because all inferior mercies derive both their nature, value, sweetness, and duration from Christ, the fountainTinercy of all other mercies.
First, They derive their nature from Christ; for out of him, those things which men call mercies, are rather traps, and' snares, than mercies to them, Prov. i. 32. The time will come, when the rich, that are christlets, will wiih, O that we had been poor 1 And nobles, that are not ennobled by the new birth, O that we had been among the low rank of men! All these things that pass for valuable mercies, like cyphers, signify much when such an important figure as Christ stands before them, else they signify nothing to any man's comfort or benefit.
Secondly, They derive their value, as well as nature, from Christ: For how little, 1 pray you, doth it signify to any man to be rich, honourable, politic, and successful in all his designs in the world, if, after all, he must lie down in hell 1
Thirdly, All other mercies derive their sweetness from Christ, and are but insipid things without him. There is a twofold sweetness in things; one natural, another spiritual: Those that are out of Christ can relish the first, believers only relish both: They have the natural sweetness that is in mercy itself, and a sweetness supernatural, from Christ and the covenant, the way in which they receive them. Hence it is, that some-men taste more spiritual sweetness in their daily bread, than others do in the Lord's Supper; and the same mercy, by this means, becomes a feast to foul and body at once.
Fourthly, All mercies have their duration, and perpetuity, from Christ; all christless persons hold their mercies upon the greatest contingencies, and terms of uncertainty; if they be continued during this life, that is all: There is not one drop of mercy after death. But the mercies of the saints are continued to eternity; the end of their mercies on earth, is the beginning of their better mercies in heaven. There is a twofold end of mer» cies, one persetlive, another destructive; the death of the saints perfects and completes their mercies, the death of the wicked destroys and cuts oft their mercies: For these reasons, Christ is called the mercy.
Secondly, In the next place, let us enquire what manner of mercy Christ is; and we shall find many lovely, and transcendent properties to commend him to our fouls.
First, He is a free, and undelerved mercy, called upon that account, The gift of God, Johniv. to. And to shew bow free ibis gift was, God gave him to us when we were enemies, Rom. v. 8. Meeds must that mercy be free, which is given, not only to rhe undeserving, but to the ill-deserving; the benevolence of God was the sole, impulsive cause of this gift, John iii. 16.
Secondly, Christ is a full mercy, replenished with all that answers to the wishes, or wants of sinners; in him, alone, is found whatever the justice of an angry God requires for satissaction, or tfi§ necessities of fouls require for their sapply. Christ is full of mercy, both extenfively, and intenfively: in him are all kinds, and forts of mercies; and in him are the highest and moll perfect: degrees of mercy; "For it pleased the Father, that in him Ihould "all fulness dwell," Col. i. 19.
Thirdly, Christ is the seasonable mercy, given by the Father to us in due time, Rom. v. 6. In the fulness of time, Gal. iv. 4. a seasonable mercy in his exhibition to the world la general, and a seasonable mercy in his application to the foul in particular ,the wisdom of God pitched upon the best time for his incirnation, and it takes the very properest for his application. When a poor soul is distressed, loll, at its wits end, and ready to periih; then comes Christ: All God's works are done in season, but none more seasonable than this great work of salvation by Christ.
Fourthly, Christ is the necessary mercy, there is an absolute necessity of Jesus Christ; hence in scripture he is called the "bread of life," John vi. 48. he is bread to the hungry; he is the" water of lite," John vii. 37. as cold water to the thirsty soul. He is a ransom for captives, Mat. xx. 28. a garment to the naked, Rom. xiii. ult. Bread is not so necessary to the hungry, nor water to the thirsty, nor a ransom to the captive, nor a garment to the naked; as Christ is to the soul of a sinner: The breath of our nostrils, the life of our souls, is in Jesus Christ.
Fifthly, Christ is a fountain-mercy, and all other mercies flow from him: A btlievrr may say with Christ, " All my "springs are in thee;" from his merit, and from his spirit, slow our.redemption, justification, sanctifkation, peace, joy in the Holy Ghost, and blessedness in the world to come: " In that day stiall there be a fountain opened, Zech. xiii. 1.
Sixthly, Christ is a satisfying mercy; he that is full of Christ, can feel the want of nothing. "I desire to know nothing, "but Jesus Christ, and,him crucified," 1 Cor. ii. 2. Christ bounds and terminates the vast desires of the soul: He is the very sabbath of the sou!. How hungry, empty, and straitned, on every side, is the foul of man, in the abundance and fulnels of all outward things, till it corns to Christ? the weary motions of a restless soul, like thole of a river, cannot be at rest till they pour themselves into Christ, the ocean of blessedness.
Seventhly, Christ is a peculiar mercy, intended for, and applied to a remnant among men; some would extend redemption as large as the world, but the gospel limits it to those, only, that believe i and those believers are, upon that account, called