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such comforts, such joys, such pleasures, as none in the world but believers are capable of.
And, to set home all, these special benefits are proposed by Christ to all sorts of sinners, great and small, old and young; If any man hear my voice and open the door: That so . no soul might be discouraged from believing, by the greatness or multitude of his sins,, but the vilest of sinners may fee free grace triumphing over all their unworthiness, upon their consent to take Christ according to the gracious offers of the gospel.
The words thus opened, afford many great and useful points of doctrine, comprehending in them the very sum and substance of the gospel. The first, which ariseth from the solemn and remarkable preface, Behdld, will be this:
Doct. 1. That every offer of Christ to the fouls of sinners is recorded, and witnesfed, with refpetl to the day of account and reckoning. , • .
Here we shall enquire into three things,
1. 'Who are God's witnesses to all gospel tenders.
2. What are the object-matters they witness to.
3. Why God records every offer of Christ, and takes % witness thereof. 1 •
, J. Who are God's witnesses to all the tenc'«rs and offers made of Christ by the gospel, and they will be found to be more than a strict legal number; fpr, .
1. His ministers, by whom he makes them, are all 'witnesses as well as officers of Christ to the people. Acts xxvi. 16. "I '* have appeared unto thee for this purpose, to make thee a M minister and a witness." Here you fee ministers have a double office, to propose and offer Christ, and then to bear witness for or against those to whom he is thus offered: they are expressly called God's witnesses, Rev. xi. 6, 7. Their labours witness, their sufferings witness, their Iplemn appeals to God witness; yea, the very dust of their feet shaken off against the refusers of Christ, turns to a testimony against them, Mark vi. 11. Every groan and sigh, every drop of sweat, much more of blood, are placed in God's book of marginal notes by all their sermons and prayers, and will be produced and read in the great day against all the refusers and despisers of Christ.
1. The gospel itself, which is preached to you, is a testimony or witness for God, for, or against every one that hears it; John xii. 48. "He that rejecteth me, and receiyeth not my *' words, hath one that judgeth him; the word that I have spo"ken, the fame shall judge him in the last day." And this is the fense of Christ's word, Matth. xxiv. 14. « And this gospel tbat hear It; of both which the apostle' gives this account, 2 Cor. ii. 16. "Unto some we are the favour of life unto life, *• and unto others the favour of death unto death." Accordingly a .double record is made.
1. Of the obedience and faith of some, which record will be produced to their joy and comfort in the day of the Lord; luhen heshall come to be glorified in his saints, and to be admired in all them that believe; because our testimony among you was believed in that day. Ministers are instruments of espousing souls to Christ, and witnesses to those espoufals and contracts made betwixt him and them, 2 Cor. xi. 2. Both these offices are exceeding grateful and pleafant to every faithful minister.
1. A record is made, and witness taken of all the refufals, disobedience and slightings of Christ by others. Thus Moses will be the accuser of the Jews, John v. 45. "Do not think I "will accuse you to the Father; there is one that accuscth "you, even Moses, in whom you trust/' This is the faddest part of a minister's work; the fore-thoughts of it are more asflictive than all our labours and sufferings. There is threefold record made in this case: (1.) Of the time men have enjoyed under the means of falvation; how many years they have fat barren and dead-hearted under the labours of God's faithful ministers; Luke xiii. 7. "Behold these three years I ** come seeking fruit on this sig-tree, and find none." Behold, the fame term of notification with that in the text, applied to the time of God's patience towards them. And again, Jer. x,xv. 3. "From the thirteenth year of Josiah, even unto this "day, (that is, the three and twentieth year) the word of the '" Lord hath come unto me, and I have spoken unto you rising "early, and speaking, but ye have not hearkened." O consider, all the years and days you have spent under the gospel, '.are upon your doomsday book. (2.) Records are also made of all the instruments that ever God employed for the conversion and falvation of your fouls. So many ministers, whether fixed or transient, as have spent their labours upon you, are upon the book of your account. Jer. xxv. 4. ** The Lord hath sent unto "you all his servants, the prophets, rising early, and sending "them; but ye have not hearkened, nor inclined your ear '" to hear." They have wasted their lungs, dropt their compassionate tears, and burnt down one after another, as candles to direst you to Christ and falvation, but all in vain. (3.) Every call, persuasion and argument, used by them to espouse you to Christ, is likewise upon the book of account. Prov. i. 24, 25. "Because I have called and you refused, I nave stretch*
hem, the minister that preached, the word they preached, their lwn consciences, and the examples of all believers will be proluced against them. .
ijl Inference. The undoubted certainty of a day of judgment s hence evinced. To what purpose else are records made, and .vitnefies taken, but with respect to an audit-day? This is a ruth sealed upon the conscience of the very heathens, Rom. Li. 15. Their consciences bear 'witness. But in vain are all these records made, unless there be a day to produce and plead them; and of that day the prophet Daniel speaks, Dan. vii. 10. "The judgment was set, and the books were opened." And again, Rev. xx. 12. "And I law the dead, small and great, "stand before God, and the books were opened, and another "book was opened which is the book of life; and the dead "were judged out of those things which were written in the "book, according to their works."
Believe it, friends, these are no devised fables, but most awful and infallible truths: according to the faving effects the gospel now hath, it will be a time of refreshing to our souls, Acts iii. 19. to all others a day of terror, wrath and amazement, 2 Thess. i. 7,8. '' The day in which the Lord Jesus shall "be revealed from heaven with his mighty angels in flaming "fire, taking vengeance on them that know not God, and that "obey not the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ."
id Inference. What a/pur is here to ministerial diligence and faithfulness? 'Tis an awful work that is under our hands; the effects of the gospel which we preach, will be the savour of life or death to them that hear us. If the Lord prosper it in our hands, we shall be witnesses for you, it will be an addition to cur glory in heaven; Dan. xii. 3. "They that turn many to "righteousness, shall shine as the brightness of the firmament, u and as the stars for ever and ever." But if we be ignorant, lazy, men-pleasers, our people will come in as swift witnesses against us, and their blood will be required at our hands; it •will be an intolerable aggravation to our misery in hell, to have any that sat under our ministry thus upbraiding us! 0 cruel Vfan! thou fa-wesl my soul in danger, and never dealt faithfully and plainly with me; the same time and breath that was spent in idle and worldy discourse, might have been instrumental'to have faved me from this place of torment. Let ministers consider themselves as witnesses for Gdd, and their people as witnesses far or against them; and under that consideration, so study, preach and pray, that they may with Paul take God to record, Vol. IV. • Ggg 1 ' ... );