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say, that in the declaration and preaching of them, Jesus Christ yet stands before sinners, calling, inviting, encouraging of them to come unto him.
This is somewhat of the word which he now speaks unto you. Why will ye die ? why will ye perish? why will you not have compassion on your own souls? Can your hearts endure, or can your hands be strong in the day of wrath that is approaching? It is but a little while before all your hopes, your reliefs, and presumptions will forsake you, and leave you eternally miserable : look unto me, and be saved; come unto me, and I will ease you of all sins, sorrows, fears, burdens, and give rest unto your souls. Come, I entreat you; lay aside all procrastinations, all delays; put me off no more; eternity lies at the door. Cast out all cursed self-deceiving reserves ; do not so hate me, as that you will rather perish than accept of deliverance by me.
These and the like things doth the Lord Christ continually declare, proclaim, plead, and urge on the souls of sinners; as it is fully declared, Prov.i. 20—34. He doth it in the preaching of the word, as if he were present with you, stood amongst you, and spake personally to every one of you. And because this would not suit his present state of glory, he hath appointed the ministers of the gospel to appear before you, and to deal with you in his stead, avowing, as his own, the invitations that are given you in his name; 2 Cor. v. 19, 20.
Consider therefore his infinite condescension, grace, and love herein. Why all this towards you? Doth he stand in need of you? Have you deserved it at his hands? Did you love him first? Cannot he be happy and blessed without you? Hath he any design upon you, that he is so earnest in calling you unto him? Alas! it is nothing but the overflowing of mercy, compassion, and grace, that moves and acts him herein. Here lies the entrance of innumerable souls into a death and condemnation far more severe than those contained in the curse of the law; 2 Cor. ii. 15, 16. In the contempt of this infinite condescension of Christ, in his holy invitation of sinners to himself, lies the sting and poison of unbelief, which unavoidably gives over the souls of men unto eternal ruin. And who shall once pity them to eternity who are guilty of it? Yea but,
5. Perhaps if you should on his invitation begin to look to him, and resolve to come to him, you are greatly afraid that when it comes to the trial he will not receive you; for no heart can conceive, no tongue can express, what wretched, vile, and provoking sinners you have been. That the Lord Christ will receive unto him such as we are, we have no hopes, or that ever we shall find acceptance with him. I say, it is not amiss when persons come so far, as to be sensible of what discouragements they have to conflict withal, what difficulties lie in their way, and what objections do arise against them, for the most do perish in a senseless stupidity; they will not consider how it is with them, what is required of them, nor how it will be in the latter end ; they doubt not but that either they do believe already, or can do so when they please; but when any come so far as to charge the failure of their acceptance with Christ on their own unworthiness, and so are discouraged from coming unto him, there are arguments for their conviction and persuasion, which nothing but the devil and unbelief can defeat. Wherefore, that which is now proposed unto consideration in answer hereunto, is the readiness of Christ to receive every sinner, be he who or what he will, that shall come unto him. And hereof we have the highest evidences that divine wisdom and grace can give unto us. This is the language of the gospel, of all that the Lord Christ did or suffered, which is recorded therein. This is the divine testimony of the three that bear record in heaven, the Father, the Word, and the Holy Ghost;' and of the three that bear witness in earth, the spirit, the water, and the blood;' all give their joint testimony, that the Lord Christ is ready to receive all sinners that come to him; they who receive not this testimony, make God a liar, both Father, Son, and Spirit. Whatever the Lord Christ is in the constitution of his person, in the representation of the Father, in his office, in what he did on the earth, in what he doth in heaven, proclaims the same truth. Nothing but cursed obstinacy in sin and unbelief can suggest a thought unto our minds, that he is not willing to receive us when we come unto him. Herein we are to bear testimony against the unbelief of all unto whom the gospel is preached, that come not unto him. Unbelief acting itself herein, includes a contempt of the wisdom of God, a
denial of his truth or faithfulness, an impeachment of the sincerity of Christ in his invitations, making him a deceiver, and will issue in an express hatred of his person and office, and of the wisdom of God in him. Here then you are shut up, you cannot from hence take any countenance unto your unbelief.
6. Consider that he is as able to save us, as he is ready and willing to receive us. The testimonies which he hath given us unto his goodness and love are uncontrollable; and none dare directly to call in question, or deny his power. Generally this is taken for granted by all, that Christ is able to save us if he will; yea, who shall question his ability to save us, though we live in sin and unbelief ? And many expect that he will do so, because they believe he can if he will: but indeed Christ hath no such power, no such ability; he cannot save unbelieving, impenitent sinners; for this cannot be done without denying himself, acting contrary to his word, and destroying his own glory. Let none please themselves with such vain imaginations. Christ is able to save all them, and only them, who come to God by him. Whilst you live in sin and unbelief, Christ himself cannot save you; but when it comes to the trial in particular, some are apt to think, that although they will not conclude that Christ cannot save them, yet they do, on various accounts, that they cannot be saved by him. This therefore we also give testimony unto, in our exhortation to come unto him ; namely, that his power to save those that shall comply with his call is sovereign, uncontrollable, almighty,'that nothing can stand in the way of. All things in heaven and earth are committed unto him; all power is his; and he will use it unto this end, namely, the assured salvation of all that come unto him.
7. Consider greatly what hath been spoken of the representation of God, and all the holy properties of his nature in him. Nothing can possibly give us more encouragement to come unto him; for we have manifested, that God who is infinitely wise and glorious, hath designed to exert all the holy properties of his nature, his mercy, love, grace, goodness, righteousness, wisdom, and power in him, in and unto the salvation of them that do believe. Whoever therefore comes unto Christ by faith on this represen
tation of the glory of God in him, he ascribes and gives unto God all that glory and honour which he aimeth at from his creatures, and we can do nothing wherewith he is pleased equal unto it. Every poor soul that comes by faith unto Christ, gives unto God all that glory which it is his design to manifest and be exalted in, and what can we do more? There is more glory given unto God by coming unto Christ in believing, than in keeping the whole law; inasmuch as he hath more eminently manifested the holy properties of his nature in the way of salvation by Christ, than in giving of the law. There is therefore no man who under gospel invitations refuseth to come unto, and close with, Christ by believing, but secretly, through the power of darkness, blindness, and unbelief, he hates God, dislikes all his ways, would not have his glory exalted, nor manifested, choosing rather to die in enmity against him, than to give glory to him. Do not deceive yourselves, it is not an indifferent thing, whether you will come in unto Christ upon his invitations or no; a thing that you may put off from one season unto another : your present refusal of it is as high an act of enmity against God, as your nature is capable of.
8. Consider that by coming unto Christ, you shall have an interest in all that glory which we have proposed unto you; for Christ will become yours more intimately than your wives and children are yours, and so all his glory is yours also. All are apt to be affected with the good things of their relation, their grace, their riches, their beauty, their power; for they judge themselves to have an interest in them, by reason of their relation unto them. Christ is nearer to believers than any natural relations are to us whatever; they have therefore an interest in all his glory. And is this a small thing in your eyes, that Christ shall be yours, and all his glory shall be yours, and you shall have the advantage of it unto your eternal blessedness? Is it nothing unto you to continue strangers from, and uninterested in, all this glory ? To be left to take your portion in this world in lusts and sins, and pleasures, and a few perishing trifles, with eternal ruin in the close, whilst such durable substance, such riches of glory are tendered unto you?
Lastly, Consider the horrible ingratitude there is in a neglect or refusal to come in to Christ upon his invitation,
with the doleful eternal ruin that will ensue thereon. "How shall we escape, if we neglect so great salvation ? Impenitent unbelievers under the preaching of the gospel, are the vilest and most ungrateful of all God's creation. The devils themselves, as wicked as they are, are not guilty of this sin, for Christ is never tendered unto them; they never had an offer of salvation on faith and repentance. This is their peculiar sin, and will be the peculiar aggravation of their misery unto eternity. “Hear, ye despisers, wonder and perish.' The sin of the devil is in malice and opposition unto knowledge, above what the nature of man is in this world. Men therefore must sin in some instance above the devil, or God would not give them their eternal portion with the devil and his angels: this is unbelief.
Some it may be will say, What then shall we do? What shall we apply ourselves unto? What is it that is required of us?
1. Take the advice of the apostle, Heb. iii. 7, 8. 13. • To-day if ye will hear his voice, harden not your hearts, as in the provocation in the day of temptation in the wilderness. But exhort one another daily, while it is called today; lest any of you be hardened through the deceitfulness of sin.' This day, even this, is unto you in the tender of grace the acceptable time; this is the day of salvation. Others have had this day as well as you, and have missed their opportunity ; take heed lest it should be so with you also. How if any one should write it down, or peculiarly commit it to remembrance, this day there was a tender of Christ and salvation in him made unto my soul; from this time I will resolve to give up myself unto him. And if you find your resolutions, charge your consciences with what you have engaged, and make yourselves to know, that if you go back from it, it is a token that you are going to ruin.
2. Consider that it is high time for you to make somewhat of religion. Do not hang always in suspense ; let it not be a question with yourselves, whether you have a mind to be saved or no. This is as good a time and season for a resolution as ever you are like to have whilst in this world. Some things, nay, many things may fall in between this and the next opportunity, that shall put you backward, and make your entrance into the kingdom of heaven far more