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"God is with yon." No people like the people of God now; as one said, when he heard of two saithful friends, Utinam tertins ejsem! O that I might make the third! Whatever vile or low thoughts they had of the people of God before, to be sure now they are the excellent of the earth, in whom is all their, delight: the holiness of the saints might have some interest in. their consciences before, but they never had such an interest in. their estimations and affections, till this lesson was taught them by the Father.
Lesson 11. Eleventhly, All that come to Christ are taught of Cod, that -whatever difficulties they apprehend in religion, yet they must not, upon pain of damnation, be discouraged thereby, or return again to fin, Luke ix. 62. "No man having put his "hand to the plough, and looking back, is fit for the kingdom "of God." Ploughing-work is hard work; a strong and steady hand is required for it: he that ploughs, must keep on, and make no balks of the hardest and toughest ground he meets with. Religion also is the running of a race, 1 Cor. ix. 24.; there is no standing still, much less turning back, if ever we hope to win the prize.
The devil, indeed, labours every way to discourage and daunt the foul, by representing the insuperable difficulties of religion to it; and young beginners are tyit too apt to be discouraged, and sall under despondency; but the teachings of the Father are encouraging teachings; they are carried on from strength to strength against all the oppositions they meerwith from without them, and the many discouragements they sind within them. To this conclusion they are brought by the teaching of God, We must have Christ, we must get a pardon, -we must strive for salvation, let the difficulties, troubles, atid sufferings in the way be never so great or many. As he said, Necejse est ut earn, noil ut vivam; it is necessary that I go on, it is not necessary that 1 live: So saith the soul that is taught of God; it is easier for me to dispense with ease, honour, relations, yea, with life itself, than to part with Christ, and the hopes of eternal life.
Lesson 12. Twelfthly, They that come to Christ, are taught of God, that -whatever guilt and un-worthiness they discover in themselves, and -whatever fears and doubts are upon their hearts, as to pardon and acceptance; yet,'as the case stands, it is their 'wisdom and great interest, to venture themselves in the -way of faith, upon Jesus Christ, -whatever the issue thereof be.
Three great difcouragments are usually found upon the hearts of those that come to Christ in the way of saith.
I i i 2
First, The sensible greatness of guilt and sin. How can I go to Christ that am in such a case, that have been so vile a wretch i And here measuring the grace and mercy of Christ, by what it finds in itself, or in other creatures, i Sam. xxiv. 19. the soul is ready to sink under the weight of its own discouraging, and misgiving thoughts.
Secondly-, The sense they have of their own weakness, and inability to do what God requires, and must of necessity-be done, if ever they be saved. My heart is harder than an adai mant, how can I break it? My will is stubborn, and exceeding obstinate, I am no way able to bow it; the frame and temper of my spirit is altogether tarnal, and earthly; and it is notia the power of my hand to alter and change it; alas! I cannot subdue any one corruption, nor perform one spiritual duty, not bear one of those sufferings and burdens, which religion latf upon all that follow Christ: this also proves a great discouragement in the way of saith.'''
Thirdly, And, which is more than all, the soul that is coming to Jesus Christ, hath no assurance of acceptance with him, if it should adventure itself upon him: it is a great hazard, a great adventure; it is much more probable, if I look to myself, that Christ will shut the door of mercy Against me.
But under all these discouragements the soul learns this let , son from God, That, as ungodly as it is, nevertheless it is every way its great duty and concernment to go on in the way of faith, and make that great adventure of itself upon Jesus Christ: and of this the Lord convinceth the soul by two things, viz.
1. From the absolute necessity of coming.
2. From the encouraging probabilities of speeding.
First, The soul seeth an absolute necessity of coming: necessity is laid upon it, there is no other way, Acts iv. 12. God hath shut it up by a blessed necessity to this only door of escape, Gal. iii. 23. Damnation lies in the neglect of Christ, Heb. ii. 3- The foul hath no choice in this case; angels, ministers, duties, repentance, reformation cannot save me; Christ, and none but Christ can deliver me from present guilt, and the wrath to come. Why do I dispute, demur, delay, when certain ruin must inevitably follow the neglect or refusal of gospel-offers?
Secondly, The Lord sheweth those that are under his teaching, the probabilities of mercy, for their encouragement in the way of believing. And these probabilities the soul is enabled to gather from the general and free invitations of the gospel, I'alv. 1, 7. Rev. xxii. 17. from the conditional promises 'of 'be gospel, John vi. 37. Matbrxi. 28. Isa. i. 18. from the vast«tent of grace, beyond all the thoughts and hopes of the creatures, Iso. lv. 8, 9. Heb. vii. 25. from the encouraging examples of other sinners, who have found mercy in as bad a condition as they, 1 Tim. i. 13. 2 Chron. xxxiii. 3. 2 Cor. V'i. 10,11. from the command of God, which warrants the action, and answers all the objections of unworthiness and presumption in them that come to Christ, 1 John iii. 23. and lastly, from the sensible changes already made upon the temper and frame of the heart. Time was, when I had no fense of sin, nor sorrow for fin; no desire after Christ, nor heart to duties. But it is not so with me now; I now fee the evil of sin; so as I never saw it before; my heart is now broken in the fense of that evil; my desires begin to be enflamed after Jesus Christ; I am not at rest, nor where I would be, till I am in secret mourning after the Lord Jesus; surely these are the dawnings of the day of mercy; let me go on in this way. It saith, as the lepers at the fiege of Samaria, 2 Kings vii. 3, 4. "If I stay here, I perish:" If 1 go to Christ, I can but perish. Hence believers bear up against all objected discouragements, certum epcitium commutemus incerto; it is the dictate of wisdom, the vote of reason, to exchange a certain for an uncertain ruin. And thus you have here what those excellent lessons are, which all that come to Christ are taught by the Father.
John vi. 45. It it written in the Prophett, And they Jhall he all taught of God. Every man theresore that hath heard, and bath learned of the Father, cometh unto me.
IN the former sermon, you have been taught this great truth;
Doct. That the teachings of God are absolutely necejsary to every foul that cometh unto Christ, in the -way of faith.
What the teachings of God import, hath been formerly opened; and what those special lessons are, which all believers hear and learn of the Father, was the last thing discoursed: that which remains to be further cleared about this subject, before I come to the application of the whole, will be to shew you,
1. What are the properties of divine teachings.
2. What influence they have in bringing souls to Christ.
3. Why it is impossible for any man to come to Christ without these teachings of the Father.
First, What are the properties of divine teachings? Concerning the teachings of God, we affirm in general, that, though they exclude not, yet they vastly differ from all human teachings: as the power of God in effecting transcends all human power, so the wisdom of God in teaching, transcends all human wisdom. For,
1. God teacheth powerfully; he speaketh to the soul with a strong hand; when the word cometh accompanied with the Spirit, it is " mighty through God, to cast down all imaginations," 2 Cor. x. 4. Now the gospel "comes not in word only, (as "it was wont to do), but in power," 1 Thef. L, 4, 5. a power that makes the foul sall down before it, and acknowledge that God is in that word, 1 Cor. xiv. 25.
2. The teachings of God are sweet teachings. Men never relish the sweetness of a truth, till they learn it from God, Cant, i. 3. "His name is as ointment poured forth." Cant. v. 16. "His mouth is most sweet." O how powerfully and how sweetly doth the voice of God Aide into the hearts of poor melting sinners! how jejune, dry, and tasteless are the discourses of men, compared with the teachings of the Father!
3. God teacheth plainly and clearly: He not only opens truths to the understanding, but he openeth the understanding also to perceive them, 2 Cor. iii. 16. In that day the vail is taken away from the heart; a light fhineth into the soul; a clear beam from heaven is darted into the mind, Luke xxiv. 45. Divine teachings are fully satisfying; the soul doubts no more, staggers and hesitates no more, but acquiesces in that which God teaches; it is so satisfied, that it can venture all upon the truth of what i hath learned from God; as that martyr said, I cannot dispute, but 1 can diefor Christ. See Prov. viii. 8, 9.
Fourthly, The teachings of God are infallible teachings. The wisest and holiest of men may mistake, and lead others into the same mistakes with themselves; but it is not so in the teachings of God. If we can be sure that God teacheth us, we may be as sure of the truth of wlm he teacheth; for his Spirit guideth us into all truth, John xvi. 13. and into nothing but truth.
Fifthly, The teachings of God are abiding teachings; they make everlasting impressions upon the soul, Psal. cxix. 98. they are ever with it: The words of men vanish from us; but the words of God abide by us: what God teacheth, he writeth upon the heart, Jer. xxxi. 33. and that will abide; literascripta manet. 'Tis usual with souls, whose understandings have been opened by the Lord, many years afterward to say, I shall never forget such a scripture that once convinced, such a promise that once encouraged me.
Sixthly, The teachings of God are saving teachings; they make the soul wife unto salvation, 2 Tim. iii. 15. There is a great deal of other knowledge that goes to hell with men: The pavement of hell (as one speaks) is pitched with the skulls of many great scholars, but eternal life is in the teachings of God, John xvii. 3, "This is eternal life, to know thee the only true '' God, and Jesus Christ, whom thou hast sent." This is deservedly stiled the light of this life, John viii. 12. "In this light "we shall fee light," Psal. xxxvi. 9.
Seventhly, The teachings of God make their own way into the dullest, and weakest capacities, Isa. xxxii. 4. " The heart al"so of the rasti shall understand knowledge, and the tongue of "the stammerers shall be ready to speak plainly:" Upon this account Christ said, Mat. xi. 25. "I thank thee, O Father, Lord "of heaven and earth, because thou hast hid these things from "the wise and prudent, and hast revealed them unto babes:" 'Ti6 admirable to fee what clear illuminations some poor illitera.te Christians have in the mysteries of Christ and salvation, which others, of great abilities, deep and searching heads, can never discover with all their learning and study.
Eightfy^ To conclude, The teachings of God me transforming teachings, 2 Ger. iii. 18. they change the foul into the same image: God casts them, whom he teacheth, into the very mould of those truths which they learn from him, Rom. vi. 17. These are the teachings of God, and thus he instructeth those that come to Christ.
Secondly, Next let us fee what influence divine teachings have upon sbills, in bringing them to Christ; and we shall sind a three-fold influence in them.
1. They have an influence upon the external means, by which they come to Christ.
2. They have an influence upon the mind, to remove what hundred it from Christ.
3. They have an influence upon the will, to allure and diaw it to Christ.
First, They have «n influence upon the means, by which we come to Christ: the best ordinances are but a dead letter except the Spirit, the teaching and quickening Spirit of God, work in fellowship with them, 2 Cor. iii. 6. The best ministers, like the disciples, cast forth the net, but take nothing, win not one soul to God, till God teach as well as they. Paul is nothing, and A'