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MEDITATIONS AND DISCOURSES
THE GLORY OF CHRIST.
Application of the foregoing meditations concerning the glory of Christ,
First an exhortation unto such as are not yet partakers of him. That which remains, is to make some application of the glorious truth insisted on unto the souls of them that are concerned ; and what I have to offer unto that end, I shall distribute under two heads. The first shall be with respect unto them who are yet strangers from this holy and glorious one, who are not yet made partakers of him, nor have any especial interest in him. And the second shall be directed unto believers, as a guide and assistance unto their recovery from spiritual decays, and the revival of a spring of vigorous grace, holiness, and obedience in them.
For the first of these, although it seems not directly to lie in our way, yet is it suited unto the method of the gospel, that wherever there is a declaration of the excellencies of Christ, in his person, grace, or office, it should be accompanied with an invitation and exhortation unto sinners to come unto him. This method he himself first made use of, Matt. xi. 27–30. John vii, 37, 38. and consecrated it unto our use also. Besides, it is necessary from the nature of the things themselves, for who can dwell on the consideration of the glory of Christ, being called therewith to the declaration of it, but his own mind will engage him to invite lost sinners unto a participation of him. But I shall at present proceed no farther in this exhortation, but only unto the proposal of some of those considerations which may prepare, incline, and dispose their minds unto a closúre with him as he is tendered in the gospel As, 1. Let them consider well what is their present state with respect unto God and eternity. This Moses wisheth for the Israelites; Deut. xxxii. 29. Oh that they were wise, that they understood this, that they would consider their latter end.' It is the greatest folly in the world to leave the issues of these things unto an uncertain hazard; and that man who cannot prevail with himself strictly to examine what is his state and condition with respect unto eternity, doth never do any good, nor abstain from any evil in a due manner. Remember, therefore, that many are called, but few are chosen.' To be called, is to enjoy all the outward privileges of the gospel, which is all you unto whom I speak can pretend unto, yet this you may do and not be chosen; even among those unto whom the word is preached, they are but few that shall be saved. In the distribution made by our Lord Jesus Christ of the hearers of the word into four sorts of ground, it was but one of them that received real benefit thereby; and if our congregations are no better than were his hearers, there is not above a fourth part of them that will be saved; it may be a far less number: and is it not strange that every one of them is not jealous over himself and his own condition ? Many herein deceive themselves, until they fall under woful surprisals. And this is represented in the account of the final judgment; for the generality of those who have professed the gospel are introduced as complaining of their disappointments; Matt. xxv. 41–43. For what is there spoken, is only a declaration of what befell them here in the close of their lives, and their personal judgment thereon.
2. Take heed of being deluded by common presumptions. Most men have some thoughts in general about what their state is, and what it will be in the issue ; but they make no diligent search into this matter, because a number of common presumptions do immediately insinuate themselves into their minds for their relief; and they are such, as all whose force and efficacy unto this end lies in this, that they differ from others, and are better than they; as that they are Christians, that they are in the right way of religion, that they are partakers of the outward privileges of the gospel, hearing the word, and participation of the sacraments; that they have light and convictions, so as that they abstain from sin, and perform duties so as others do
not, and the like. All those with whom it is not so, who are behind them in these things, they judge to be in an ill state and condition, whence they entertain good hopes concerning themselves; and this is all that most trust unto. It is not my present business to discourse the vanity of presumptions; it hath been done by many. I give only this warning in general unto those who have the least design or purpose to come to Christ, and to be made partakers of him, that they put no trust in them, that they rely not on them ; for if they do so, they will eternally deceive their souls. This was a great part of the preparatory ministry of John the Baptist, Matt. iii. 9. • Think not to say within yourselves, we have Abraham to our Father. This was their great comprehensive privilege, containing all the outward church and covenant advantages. These they rested in, and trusted to, unto their ruin; herein he designed to undeceive them.
3. Consider aright what it is to live and die without an interest in Christ, without a participation of him. Where this is not stated in the mind, where thoughts of it are not continually prevalent, there can be no one step taken in the way towards him. Unless we are thoroughly convinced that without him we are in a state of apostacy from God, under the curse, obnoxious unto eternal wrath, as some of the worst of God's enemies, we shall never flee unto him for refuge in a due manner; 'The whole have no need of a physician, but the sick :' Christ'came not to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance ;' and the conviction intended, is the principal end of the ministry of the law. The miseries of this state have been the subject of innumerable sermons and discourses; but there is a general misery in the whole, that few take themselves to be concerned therein, or apply these things unto themselves. Let us tell men of it a thousand times, yet they either take no notice of it, or believe it not, nor look on it as that which belongs unto the way and course of preaching, wherein they are not concerned. These things it seems preachers must say, and they may believe them who have a mind thereunto. It is a rare thing that any one shall as much as say unto himself, is it so with me? And if we now, together with this caution, tell the same men again, that whilst they are uninterested in Christ, not ingrafted into him by faith, that they run in vain, that all their labour in religion is lost, that their duties are all rejected, that they are under the displeasure and curse of God, that their end is eternal destruction, which are all unquestionably certain, yet will they let all these things pass by without any farther consideration.
But here I must fix with them unto whom I speak at present, unless there be a full conviction in them of the woful deplorable condition of every soul, of whatever quality, profession, religion, outward state it be, who is not yet made partaker of Christ, all that I have farther to add will be of no signification. Remember then, that the due consideration hereof is unto you in your state, your chiefest concernment in this world : and be not afraid to take in a full and deep sense of it; for if you are really delivered from it, and have good evidence thereof, it is nothing unto you but matter of eternal praise and thanksgiving. And if you are not so, it is highly necessary that your minds should be possessed with due apprehension of it. The work of this conviction is the first effect of true religion, and the great abuse of religion in the world is, that a pretence of it deludes the minds of men to apprehend that it is not necessary; for to be of this or that religion; of this or that way in religion, is supposed sufficient to secure the eternal state of men, though they are never convinced of their lost estate by nature.
4. Hereon consider the infinite condescension and love of Christ, in his invitations and calls of you to come unto him for life, deliverance, mercy, grace, peace, and eternal salvation. Multitudes of these invitations and calls are recorded in the Scripture, and they are all of them filled up with those blessed encouragements, which divine wisdom knows to be suited unto lost, convinced sinners, in their present state and condition. It were a blessed contemplation to dwell on the consideration of the infinite condescension, grace, and love of Christ, in his invitations of sinners to come unto him, that they may be saved; of that mixture of wisdom and persuasive grace that is in them, of the force and efficacy of the pleading and argument that they are accompanied withal, as they are recorded in the Scripture ; but that belongs not to my present design. This I shall only