« AnteriorContinuar »
all; we know the worth of fouls, and how great a service it is, to save them from death, James V, 20. We also know the terrors of the Lord, which excite our utmost endeavours to perfuade med, 2 Cor. v. 11. We feel the compassions of Christ stirriog in our own bowels, which makes us long after their falvation, Phil. i. 8. We preach, we pray, yea, we travail agaia as it were in birth until Christ be formed in them, Gal. iv. 19. And when we have done all, we find their hearts as iron, and brass, Jer. vi. 28. We mourn ia secret when we cannot prevail, and oft times our hands hang down with discouragement, and we are ready to say with the prophet, Jer. xx. 9. We will speak no more in his name. But here is our relief, under all discouragements from abroad and at home; the work is Christ's, the power is his,' he is with us, and we are - workers together with him. There was a time when three
thousand fouls were born to Christ at one fermon, it may be DOW three thousand sermons may be preached and not a foul converted; yet let us not be discouraged, a time of eminept copversion is promised, and to be expected in these latter days, Ezek. xlvii. 9. when the living waters of the gospel fhall make every thiog to live whither they come, and when the fishers, i.e. the ministers Christ, shall pot fish with angels, as Dow they do, takiog now one, then another siagle convert, but shall spread forth their nets, and inclofe multitudes at a draught : “ when they shall Ay as a cloud, and as the doves to " their windows." God now opéps a door of opportunity bepond expectacion ; O that the hearts of ministers and people were suitably enlarged, and the people made willing in the day of his power.
Infer. 4. Hence we also infer the great dignity of the ministerial office, and the suitable respect and honour due to all Christ's fuithful ministers. The Lord Jesus himself is represented by them, they stand in his stead, 2 Cor. V. 20. his authority is clothed upon them; the honours and dishonour given them, re: dound to the person of Christ. The Galatians received Paul as an angel of God, eveo as Christ Jesus, Gal. iv. 14. i
Yet how have their persons and office been vilified and despised in this degenerate age! how many learncd, pious, laborious, peaceful ministers of Christ have, in this age, been hunted up and down in the world as wild beasts, been made the filth and off-scouring of all things unto this day ? i Cor. 1V. 13. The word signifies that dirt and filth which Scavengers rake together in the streets, to be carried to the dunghill, · VOL. IV.
No doubt but Satan drives a great de figa in this to invalitse their ministry, discourage their labours, and break their bearts: bot Jefus Christ will support us under all these aboles, wipe of the dirt thrown at as for bis oame fake, and reserve some of as for better days.
lofer. 5. Is Chrift present in his ordinances, what e ferong me gagement then lies upon you all to attend and wait uffiduously up on the ministry of the word, and to bring all yours, that are capable, there to wait upon Christ with you? We read in the days of Christ's flesh, when he performed his miraculous cures upon the lick, what throogiog there was after hira; how pareots brougbt their children, masters their servants, presfing in multitudes, untiling the house to let down their fick to him, Lake xii. I. Ab, shall men be so earneft for a cure for their bodies, and to indifferent for their souls ? 'Tis true, the spirit of Cbrift is got tied by any pecellity to act always with the word; he acts as an arbitrary agent, Joha jü, 8. The wind bloweth where it lifteth: but it is engagement enough to wait continually upon bis ordi. Dances, that he sometimes gracioufly, and effectually concurreth with them. 'Tis good to lie in the way of the Spirit; and there is a bleffing pronounced upon them that wait continually at his gates, Prov. viii. 34. Otherefore neglect no season with in your reach; for who knows but it may be the season of life to thy soul? · Iofer. 6. What an unspeakable lofs is the loss of the gospel, fee. ing the presence of Christ comes and goes with it? When the gospel departs, the fpirit of Christ de parts with it from among men; no more converfrons, in God's ordinary way, are the to be expected: well therefore might the Lord say, Hofea ix. 12. Woe to them when I depart from them. The fpirit may, in foine fease, depart, whilst the ordioances are left standing, for à time, among the people ; but then expect no such bleft fings or benefits from them. But when God takes away or. dinances and spirit too, woe indeed to that people; and are there not fins amongst us presaging such a judgment ? O Eng. land! reflect upon thy barrenness under it; where be the fruits answerable to such precious means ? The gospel is a golden lamp, the graces of the spirit communicated by it are golden oil; as in that stately vision, Zech. iv. Will God maintaia such a lamp, fed with such precious oil, for men to trifle and play by?.
And no less ominous and porten tous is that bitter enmity - to the gospel, and the serious professors of it, which (I cannot
speak without borror) is every where found among us; this
gospel. and their well in the day. This ms of publicans arth. xxi.
great hatred brings on the days of visitation, and the days of .. recompence, with a swift and dreadful motion upon any people, Hosea ix. 7.
lofer. 9. If Christ be prefent, by way of spirit and energy in his ordinances, then there is no reajon to despair of the converfion and salvation of the greatest finners that yet lie dead under the gospel. What though their hearts be hard, their vaderstanding dark, and their wills never fo perverse and obstinate all mult give way, and open in the day of Christ's power, when his spirit joins himself with the word. This makes it an irresistible word; 'ris glorious to observe the hearts of publicans and har. lots opening and yielding to the voice of Christ, Matth. xxi. 31. What were those three thousand persoas pricked at the heart by Peter's fermon, Acts ii. 36. but the very men that, with wicked hands, had crucified the Lord Jesus? And what were the converted Corinthians, but idolators, turned from dumb idols, whor emongers, adulterers, effeminate ? &c. 1 Cor. xii. 2. and vi, 11. God hath his elect among the vilest of men': the gospel will find them out, and draw them home to Christ, when the spirit animates and blefseth it. Well might the apostle therefore say, that the gospel preached with the holy Gholt, sent down from heaven, is an object worthy for angels to behold with admiration, 1 Pet. i. 12. What though Satan has strongly fortified their souls against Christ, with ignorance, prejudice and comity; yet the weapons of our wai tare are mighty, through God, to pull down these strong holds. Despair not therefore of your carnal and dead-hearted relations, bring them to the gospel upon the encouragement of these words of Christ, John v. 25. " The hour comcth, yea, and now is, that the dead “ Thall hear the voice of the Son of God, and they that hear it " Thall live.”
Infer. 8. Is Christ spiritually present in his ordinances ? O then what an endeared affection foould every gracious foul bear to the ordinances of God! They are the walks of Christ, and his Spirit, the appointed times and places for your meeting and communion with him; there your souls first met with Christ; there you began your acquaintance with him, there you have had mapy sweet converses with him fince that day; they were the teed of your regeneration,' 1 Pet. i. 23. the bread of life, by which your souls have been fustained ever since, and therefore to be more elteemed by you than your necessary food, Job xxiij. 12. Here you have found the richest cordials to revive aod recover your drooping spirits, when ready to sink away in a faint
fit under sin within you, and afflictions upon you. No wonder David's soul even fainted for the courts of God, Psal. cxix. 5o. and that Hezekiah desired a figa on his fick bed, that he should go up to the house of the Lord. Here are the choiceft comforts of the laints upon earth; all our fresh springs are io Zion, Pfal. Ixxxvii. 7. What a dungeon, what a barren wilderness were this world without them! Prize the ordinances, love the ordioances, wait affiduously upon the ordinances, and pray for the liberty and efficacy of the gospel, that it may set no more in your days, nor in the days of your posterity.
REVE L. iii. 20. Behold I (stand] at ibe doar and knock; &c.
HAVING finished Christ's folemn preface, and cleared the 1 mapper of his presence in his churches and ordinances ; I now come to a third observation which is necessarily implied in these words, “ Behold I stand at the door and 'koock;" and that sad truth therein implied is this,
Doct. That the hearts of men are naturally locked up, and . fast barred against Jesus Christ their only Saviour.
If it were not so, what deed were there of all that pains and patience, used and exercised by Christ, in waitiog patiently, and knocking importunately for eotrance into the hearts of meo?
To keep a clear method in this point, three things must be stated in the doctrinal part.
1. How it appears the hearts of men are thus shut up.
2. What are those locks and bars that shut them up. • 3. That no power of man can remove thefe bars.
First, That all hearts are paturally shut and made fast agaioft Christ, is a fad but certain truth; we read, John i, 11, 12, “He “ came upto his own, and his own received him not,” dc. He came upto his own people, from whose stock he sprung up; a people to whom he had been prefigured in all the sacrifices and types of the law, and in whom they might all clearly discera the accomplishment of them all. His doctrines and his miracles plainly told them who he was, and whence he came; yet few discerned or received him as the Son of God. Christ found the doors of mens hearts generally shut agaiost him, save only a few whose hearts were opened by the Almighty power of God, in the way of faith, ver. 12. These indeed received him, but all
the rest excluded and depied entrance to the Son of God. So again, Joho v. from ver. 33, to 40. Christ reasons with them, and gives undeniable demopstrations, that he was the Melliah come to save them ; proves it from the testimony of John, ver. 33. “ Ye fent unto Joha, and he bare witness unto the truth:" Tells them, the design of his coming among them was their falvation, ver. 34. shews them the great seal of heaven, his
uncontroulable miracles, ver. 36. “ The works that I do, bear .." witness of me, that the Father hath fent me:" And if that
were not enough, he reminds them of the immediate testimony given of him from heaven, ver. 37. “ The Father himself which
hath fent me, hath born witness of me.” He did fo at his baptism, Math. iii. 17. “ Aod lo a voice from heaven, saying, " this is my beloved Son in whom I am well pleased.” And so
again, at his transfiguration upon the holy mount, Matth. xvii. 15. “ While he yet spake, behold a bright cloud overshadowed
« them; and behold a voice out of the cloud, which said, this - " is my beloved Son in whom I am well pleased, hear ye him." · He bids them' search the scriptures, and critically examine his
perfect correspondence to them, Joho v. 39. Enough, one would think, to open the door of every man's understanding and heart, to receive him with fullest satisfaction ; and yet, after all, behold the unreasonable obstipacy and resistance of their hearts against him, ver. 40. “ Ye will not come unto me, that ye might « have life.”
Not a soul will open, with all the reasons aod demonftrations in the world, till the Almighty power of God be put forth to that end. If another come in his own Dame (faith he, ver. 43.) bim will ye receive ; any body rather than the Son of God: Every cheat can impofe upon you easily, 'tis to me only your
ting up of the heart against Jesus Christ.
1. Natural. 2. Judicial. 1. Natural. Every foul comes into this world shut up and falt cloted against the Lord Jesus. The very will of man, which is the freest and most arbitrary faculty, comes into the world barred and bolted agaiost Christ, Rom. viii. 7 “ The carnal mind " is enmity against God; for it is not subject unto the law of “ God, neither indeed can be.” Phil. ii. 13. “ 'Tis God that, " worketh in you both to will and to do of his own good plea“ fare.". This is a dismal effect of the fall. Who feels not Atrong aversations, violent rebellions, and obstinate resistances in his own heart, when moving towards Christ in the first weak and trembling acts of faith?