« AnteriorContinuar »
erable: why? Because their stony ground is not ploughed up; they have not a conviction of the law: they are stony ground hearers: “ they hear the word with joy, and in a time of temptation, (which will soon come after a seeming or real conversion, they fall away." They serve Christ as the young man served the Jews that laid hold of him, who, when he found he was like to become a prisoner for following Christ, left his garments: and so some people leave their profession. That makes me so cautious now, which I was not thirty years ago, of pronouncing people converts so soon. I love now to wait a little, and see if people bring forth fruit; for there are so many blossoms which March winds you know blow away, that I cannot believe they are converts till I see fruit brought forth. It will do converts no harm to keep them a little back : it will never do a sincere soul any harm.
We are to preach the gospel : to whom? To every creature: here is the commission, every creature. I suppose the apostles were not to see every creature; they did not go into all nations : they had particular districts : but wherever they did go they preached. Did you ever hear that Paul, or any of the apostles sent away a congregation without a sermon ? No, no; when turned out of the temple they preached in the highways, hedges, streets, and lanes of the city; they went to the water side; there Lydia was catched. My brethren, we have a commission here from Christ; and not only a commission, but we have a command to preach to every creature : all that are willing to hear. “He that hath an ear to hear, let him hear;"> and if some shall say, they will not come if we do preach, would to God we tried them, “where the carcass is there will the eagles be gathered together.” We are to preach glad tidings of salvation ; to tell a poor benighted world lying in the wicked one the devil, their state and condition ; we are to tell them, “God is love;" to tell them, that God loves them better than they do themselves. We must preach the law, but not leave the people there. We must tell them how Moses brings them to the borders of Canaan, and then tell them of a glorious Joshua that will carry them over Jordan; first to show them their wants; and then point out to them a Jesus that can supply, and more than supply all their wants. This we are to tell every creature: and it is for this that people stone gospel preachers. I do not think the prisoners would be angry with us if we were to tell them, the king commissions us to declare to them that they might come out of their prison, that their chains
be knocked off. If you was to go to one of them and say, Here you have your chains; and he was to say, I have no chains on at all, you would think that man's brain
was turned : and so is every man's who does not see himself to be in the chains of sin and deceit. We are to preach liberty to the captives, to proclaim the acceptable year of the Lord; sound the jubilee trumpet, and tell them the year of release is come :" that Jesus can make them happy.
But, pray, if we are to preach, what are the creatures to do that see the need of this salvation ? I will tell you; they are to believe. He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved, but he that believeth not shall be damned. The grand topics Christ's ministers are to preach, are "repentance towards God, and faith in our Lord Jesus Christ." The men of the world fancy they have believed already, and some of them lift up their heads and say, Thank God, we have believed ever since we were born; and in one sense many people believe, but in what sense? Just as the devil believes; they believe, and still continue devils in their carnal state ; that is, they assent to the gospel, they assent to it as a thing that is credible. This is our school definition of faith ; and I believe there are thousands that call themselves christians, that do not believe a thousandth part of what the devil does. The devil believes more than an Arian, for he does not believe Christ to be God; the devil says, “ I know whom thou art, the Holy One of God.” The devil will rise up in judgment against him. He believes more than a Socinian, who believes Jesus Christ to be no more than an extraordinary man; and he believes more of Jesus Christ than thousands of professors do, who are neither Arians or Socinians. There are a thousand things in this book (the Bible,) that many people, if you come to close quarters with them, will say they do not believe, though they are ashamed to own it. The furthest that they go, is to assent to the creed, to the Lord's prayer, and Ten Commandments; and if they can say these in their mother tongue and have been baptized by the priest, and confirmed by the bishop, and go to church once a week, and now and then on holidays, they think they are not only believers but strong believers.' i am not against going to church, nor against the creed, the Lord's prayer and the commandments; I love and honor them, and I pray God we may always have them; and I would not have our liturgy or articles departed from, for ten thousand worlds. Many would have them altered, because there are some faults in them ; but if our modern people were to alter them, they would make them worse than they are. But believing is something more ; it is coming to Jesus Christ, receiving Jesus; rolling ourselves on Jesus ; it is a trusting in the Lord Jesus. I do not know any one single thing more variously expressed in the scriptures than believing. Why?
Because it is the marrow of the gospel. Without faith we cannot be justified, either in our persons or performances ; and therefore the Holy Ghost has variously expressed it, to let us see the importance of the point. It is expressed by a coming, trusting, receiving, and relying, (all which amounts to the same thing) under a felt conviction that we are lost, undone, condemned without him ; for, as a good old puritan observes, Christ is beholden to none of us for our hearts; we never should come to Jesus Christ, the sinner's last shift, till we feel we cannot do without him.
We are like the woman with the bloody issue; she spent a great deal of money upon physicians; if she had the sum of one half guinea more, till that was gone, she never would have come to Christ; but having spent all, and then hearing that Jesus was to come that way, a sense of her need, a feeling sense of her impotence, and insufficiency of all other applications, made her come to Christ; saying in heart, “If I could but touch the hem of his garment, I should be whole; Jesus, the son of David, would have mercy on me ;" or words to that purpose. She did not go about and say, pray lend me a common prayer book; it was not in print then. Where must she borrow one; her heart touched by God, was the best common prayer; and a few words uttered from a sense of her weakness and misery, was more rhetoric, was more music in the ears of God, than an extempore prayer by a gifted man, admiring himself for an hour and a half. As a person told me but yesterday, of a poor outlandish papist that was condemned to die, held out for a long while ; he would not speak to a protestant minister, but a night or two before he suffered, comes out to him, and says, Me now see the necessity of a greater absolution than a priest can give me ; and then, in his broken language, cries out, Dear Lord Jesus, show thy charity to thy poor sinner! There is language! there is rhetoric for you! and we ourselves like such language. You do not like fawning people that come into your room, and by their very manner of coming, prove they are not sincere ; but a poor creature that comes to pour out two or three words, you see is honest, you will not say to such a one, why do you come to me, and not speak blank verse? Why do you come to me and not speak fine language ? No; sincerity is the thing; sincerity is all in all. When we are once convinced of our need and helplessness, and of Jesus being a Redeemer, that is mighty and willing to save, a poor soul then throws himself upon this Jesus, receives this Jesus, ventures upon this Jesus, believes the word, and by thus venturing on the promise, receives from Jesus the thing promised. "Faith
comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.” But then, where there is true faith, that will, my dear hearers, be attended with what? Why, with salvation. He that believeth, and is baptized, saith our Lord, shall be saved : saved from what? Why, from every thing that he wants to be saved from, and receives every thing God can give to complete his whole salvation. What is it a poor sinner wants to be saved from? O, sin, sin, the guilt of sin. The first conviction brings the creature to God by force : there are very few that are drawn by love entirely : and I seldom find any of those that have been drawn by love, but have had dreadful conflicts afterwards : for either before or after conversion, our hearts must be ploughed up, or we shall never be prepared for the kingdom of heaven.
Ye shall be saved from the painful guilt of sin : what is that? Why, the common prayer book will tell you, in the communion office; “ the remembrance of our sins is grievous unto us, and the burden of them is intolerable." I'here is Methodistical language. Cranmer, Latimer, or Hooper, were, my brethren, what? Why, they were Methodist preachers; and they used to preach in Paul's-Cross, a pulpit said to be made in the shape of a cross, near St. Paul's church; and a salary given for the very purpose, I believe to this day. No matter where we preach, so that sinners feel Christ's power in delivering them from this, which certainly implies a consciousness of pardon. I do not think the poor creature that was respited the other day, would have believed it, had he not seen the king's warrant just before the others were carried out. Why, say they, here is his majesty's pardon ; he takes and receives it with joy, and is now freed from the gallows. And if persons can give this credence to an earthly king, why cannot à believer have a sense of the pardon of his sins from God ? If a person's reading this to me, telling me the king has pardoned me, has such an effect, why may not God's word, backed by his Spirit, be brought home with such power on my heart, that I may be assured God has pardoned me, as well as a criminal that his king has saved ? If this is gospel, away with it, say some, who think we are not to be justified till we come to judgment. O blessed creatures ! this is modern divinity ! our reformers knew nothing about it. We are to be declared, if you please, justified, in the day of Jesus Christ, who will pronounce it before all mankind. But, my brethren, we are to be married to Jesus Christ in this world, and the marriage is to be declared in another : and I will insist upon it, though I will not pretend to say that all that have not full assurance are not christians, yet I will say that assurance is necessary for the well being of
a christian ; the comfortable being, though not for his very existence : and I will venture to say, that a soul was never brought to Christ, but what had some ground of assurance of pardon; though, for want of knowing better, he put it by, and did not know the gift of God when it came. But my brethren, we shall be saved from all our sins.' Here is glad tidings of great joy now conie. Satan may hear that; and any of you hear that are coming into the Chapel as you pass along. I am glad to see poor creatures come, that I may tell then, God is love. Believers, you shall be saved from all your sins, every one of them; they shall all be blotted out. Generally, when persons are convinced, the devil preaches despair; some great sin lies upon them; and says the poor sinner, I shall be saved from all but that; had I not been guilty of such a crime, I might have hope, but I am guilty of such a sin, which is so awful, with such dreadful aggravations, I am afraid I shall never be pardoned. But, my dear souls, Christ is love; and when he loves to forgive, he forgives like a God; “I will blot out your iniquities, transgressions, and sins.” “Come now," saith the Lord, "let us reason together: though your sins are as scarlet, yet shall they be as white as snow.” I am so far from being unwilling to save or pardon, that the angels, every time the gospel is preached, are ready to tune their harps, and long to sing an anthem to some poor sinner's conversion.
They shall be saved from the power of sin. Do you not remember that when Joshua was going on with his conquests, there were some kings in a cave ; and when he returned, he ordered them to bring the kings out for God's people to tread upon them. When I read that passage, I used to think these kings were like our corruptions hid in the cave of our hearts, and the stone of unbelief rolled to keep them in : but when we receive Christ by faith, and have pardon in him, our great Joshua takes away the stone, and says, bring out these kings, these corruptions, that have reigned over my people, and by faith let them tread on the necks of them. Our great Master, when he gave the command in the text, says, “these signs shall follow them that believe in my name, they shall cast out devils, they shall speak with new tongues, they shall take up serpents, and if they drink any deadly thing, it shall not hurt them.” These were things peculiar, in one sense, to the apostles; but in the power of faith, and as brought home to every believer, he casts out devilish lusts; and if they had drank any deadly thing, as God knows we have, they may do by them as Paul did by the viper, through the power of faith cast them off, and by this means prove that Christ is God.
This is, my dear hearers, a present salvation. The wicked