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his spouse, and all the angels of heaven ministring spirits trots' such. That is the seventh consolation.
VIIL Consolation. And then, itbly, The opening of thy heart to Christ brings thee not only into uuion with his person, but into a state of sweet, soul-enriching communion with him. So he speaketh in the text, "If any man open the door, I wrl! • sup with him, and he with me." Poor soul, thou hast lived many years in the world, and never hadst any communion with God till this day. Christ and thy soul have been strangers till (tow. It is true, thou hast had communion with ordinances and communion with saints, but for communion with Christ thou eouldest know nothing of it, till thou received st him into thy soul by faith. Now thou mayst fay, "Truly my fellow"ship is with the Father, and with his Son Jesus Christ," i John i. 3,
And thenceforth thy communion with men is pleafant and desirable.
IX. Consutation.- The opening of a man's soul to Christ by faith is a special and peculiar mercy, which falls to the share but of a very few. God hath done that for thee which he hath denied to millions \ "Who hath believed our report? tod to *' whom is the arm of the Lord revealed i " i. e. to how small a remnant in the world, Isa. Hit. 1. And the apostle puts the work of faith among the great mysteries of godliness, among the wonders of religion, 1 Tim. til. 16. " Preached unto the ** Gentiles, believed on in the worlds
The sound of the gospel is gone forth intothe world; "Many "are called, but few are chosen. There were many widowt ** in Israel, in the days of Elias, but to none of them was Eliai ** sent, save unto Sarepta, a city of Sidon, unto a woman that "was a widow," Luke iv. 25, 26. To allude to this, there were many hundreds that fat under the fame sermon which opened thy heart to Christ, bur it may be unto none of them was the Spirit of God sent that day, to open their hearts by faith, but unto thee; thou wilt freely acknowledge thyself a* unlikely and unworthy as the vilest sinner there. O astonishing mercy!
X. Consolation. And then lastly, In the same day thy heart opens by faith to Christ, all the treasures of Christ are unlocked and opened to thee. In the fame hour God turns the key of • -regeneration to open thy soul; the key of free grace is also turned to open unto thee the unsearchable riches of Christ v then the righteousness of Christ becomes thine to justify thee, the wUdom. of Christ to guide thee, the holiness of Christ to sanctify thee', in a word, he is that day made of God to thee* *' Wisdom, righteousness, sanctification, and redemption," 1 Cor, i. 30. "AU is yours, for ye are Christ's, and Christ is God's," 1 Cor. iii. «//. And thus I have shewed you some of those great things God doth for those souls that will but do this one ,thing for him, viz. open their hearts to receive Christ upon the tenders and terms of the gospel.
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SERMON IV. Rev. iii. 20. Behold 1 \Jland] at the door and knock, &c
HP H E verb tern* here rendered /stand, is of the prefer tense, **. and would strictly be rendered / have stood; but being joined with a verb of the present tense, is here rendered / do stand, a frequent Hebraism in scripture: And it notes the continued patience and long-suffering of Christ; I have stood and still do stand, exercising wonderful patience towards obstinate sinners. Which gives us this fourth observation.
Doct. 4. That great and admirable is the patience of Christ, in waiting upon trifling and obstinate sinners.
Thus wisdom, i. e. Christ expresses himself, Prov. u 24. " I ** have called and ye refused; I have stretched out my hand, "and no man regarded." Here you have not only Christ's earnest calls, but suitable gestures also, to gain attention. The stretching out of the hand was a signal given to procure attention, Acts xxi. 40. Yet none regards; and this the Lord ,doth not once or twice, but all the day long, Isa. lxv. 2. shewing forth all long-suffering, as the apostle speaks, 1 Tim. i. 16. in the opening of this point I will shew you,
1. What divine patience is.
2. Wherein it is evidenced.
3. Why it is exercised towards sinners.
First, Of the nature of divine patience; it is an ability in God not only to delay the execution of his wrath for a time towards some, but to delay it in order to the eternal salvation of others. Let me speak to the parts of this description of divine patience.
1. It is an ability of power ih God, not the effect of impotence, or want of opportunity: All sinners are continually within the reach of the arm of his justice, and he can strike * - Mmm 2
when, and where he will. Esau had a revengeful mind against Jacob, but wanted opportunity, and theresore was forced to delay the execution of his conceived wrath, until the days for mourning for his father were come; and then faith he, " I will "flay my brother Jacob," Gen. xxvii. 41. But in God it is a glorious effect of power, Nah. i. 3. " The Lord is flow to an"ger, and great in power."
The greatness of his patience flows from the greatness of his power: So the apostle speaks, Rom. ix. 22. "What, if "God willing to shew his wrath, and to make his power known, "endured with much long-suffering the vessels of wrath, fitted, "or made up to destruction?" And therefore when Moses prays for the exercise of divine patience towards the provoking Israelites, he doth it in this form, Numb. xiv. 77, 18. " And
now I beseech thee, let the power of my Lord be great, ac"cording as thou hast spoken, saying, the Lord is long-suffer"ing," &rc. He could exercise this Almighty power upon thee, and crush thee by it as a moth is crushed; hut behold he exercises it upon himself, in stopping the propensions of his own justice, which daily sollicit him to cut thee off; it is the power of God over his wrath, bridling and restraining it from day to day.
2. This patience is exercised toward such as perish, in a temporary delay of their damnation; and though this be but a mere suspension of his wrath for a time, yet it is a glorious act of patience in him; as that forecited text, Rom. ix. 22. shews.' Is it nothing for a sinner condemned as soon as born, to be reprieved so many years out of hell? Thou hast been provoking him daily, and hourly, to cut thee off, and fend thee to thy own place; and yet to be on this side the everlasting burnings, this is wholly owing to the riches of his forbearance. Ah, how is God to be admired in this his glorious power over his own wrath! when we look abroad into the world, and fee everywhere sinners ripe for destruction, daring the God of heaven to his face, yet forborn, how admirable is this power of God!
3. God doth not only exercise this power in a temporary suspension of his wrath against some, who, alas, must feel it at last; but he delays the execution of his wrath in a design of mercy towards others, that they may never feel it, Isa. xlviii. 8, 9. Thus he bears with his own elect, all the years of their lives wherein they lay in the state of nature, and went on in a course of rebellion against God; and this longsuffering of God towards them proves their falvation, as you slave it la 2 Pet. Hi. 15. " And account that the long-suffering *' of our Lord is falvation." What is the meaning of that? Ah, Christian, thou mayest easily know the meaning of it, without turning over many Commentaries; thou art now in Christ, fafely escaped out of the danger of wrath to come; but thou owest this thy falvation to the patience and long-suffering of God towards thee- For what if he had cut thee off in the days of thy ignorance and rebellion against him (and thou knowest thou didst give him millions of provocations so to do) where hadst thou now been? Thou hadst never seen Christ, nor the least dawning hope of falvation by him. Remember how oft you lay in those days upon beds of sickness upon the brink of the grave; what was it that faved thee from eternal wrath, but this admirable patience of Christ? Well, therefore, may the apostle fay, " Account the long-suffering of God to be falvation." This patience of God seems to be a branch springing out of his mercy and goodness; only it differs from mercy in this, that man as miserable is the object of mercy, but man as criminal is the object of patience. Thus briefly of the nature of divine patience, a power of God over his own wrath, not only to suspend it for a time towards them (hat perish, but to delay the execution' of it in a design of falvation towards others. tongue uttered? And yet for them, Christ siith, "Men slid "give an account in the day of judgment," Mat. xii. 36. And what have the sins of thy thoughts been ?" The thoughts of "foolishness is sin," (faith Solomon,) Prov. xxiv. 9. O, who can understand his errors? Yet the patience of God hath not failed under such innumerable evils. O glorious patience! well may it be usherad in the text with a term of admiration, Behold, I/land!
Secondly, Next we come to shew the various evidences of this divine patience, or wherein it appears in its glorious manifestations towards provoking sinners; and there are seven full evidences and discoveries of it, which should make the hearts of sinners melt within them, whilst they are sounding in their ears. Ah, methinks, such things as these should melt down your hard hearts before the Lord!
1. And the first evidence of the riches of his patience shall be taken from the multitude of sins that men and women are guilty of before him, the least of which is a burden too heavy for any creature to bear; the Psalmist faith, Pfal. xl. 12. " Inenumerable evils have compassed me about." It was true, as applied to the person of David; and though it be there applied to the person of Christ, yet not one of them were his own sins, but ours; called his, by God's reckoning or imputing them to him. Men can number vast sums, millions of millions, but no man can number his own sins, they pass all account. There is not a member of the body, though never so small, but hath been the instrument of innumerable evils. For instance, the tongue, the apostle tells us, is a world of iniquity, Jam. iii. 6. And if there be a -world of sin in one member, what then aie the fins of all? How many idle, frothy, vaio words, hath thy
2. The second evidence of the divine patience shall be taken from the heinous nature of some sins above others, whereby sinners fly, as it were, in the very face of God; and yet he bears with tang-fostering, lets not loose his hands to cut them off. AU sins are not of one size; some have a slighter tincture, and some are deeper; called upon that account scarlet and crimson sins, Isa. i. 18. double dyed abominations, sins in grain; such are sins against knowledge, sins committed after convictions, and covenants, and rebukes of providence. I do not only speak of outward gross acts of sin; for as the school-men well determine, though outward fins are sins of greater infamy, yet inward sins ciay be sins of greater guilt: even those sins that never took air to defame thee in the world: but whatever they be (reader) whether outward, or inward, thy conscience is privy to them, and thy soul may stand amazed at the patience of God, in forbearing thee all this while, under such provocations, and horrid rebellions against him; especially, considering how many there be this day in hell that never provoked God by sinning with such an high hand as thou hast done.
3. It is yet a greater evidence of the patience of God, in bearing with, and forbearing us under the guilt of that special sin, viz. The flighting and neglecting of Jesus Christ: here is a sin that goes to the very heart of Jesus Christ; he can bear any other sin rather than that; and yet this hath Christ bora
'from every foul of you. You are the men and women that have spurned at the yearning bowels of his mercies, flighted his grace, trampled his precious blood under foot, and yet he hath forborn you unto this day; read Mat. xxii. 5. and let thy conscience answer, whether thou art not equally deep in the guilt of making light of Christ with those wretches upon whom it is there charged. Christ hath suffered the wrath of God in thy room, brought home falvation, in gospel-offers, to thy door: and then to be slighted! no patience but his own could bear it. Every sermon and prayer you have sat under with a dead heart; every motion of his Spirit which you have quenched, what is this but the making light of Christ, and the great salvations