« PreviousContinue »
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 interestļin 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 difficult than ever it was; and the living in that uncertainty at best, which you do, of what will become of you unto eternity, is the most miserable kind of life in the world. Those who put far from them the evil day, and live in the pursuit of lusts and pleasures, have somewhat that gives them present satisfaction, and they say not, there is no hope, because they find the life of the hand : but you have nothing that gives you any prevalent refreshment, neither will your latter end be better than theirs, if you die without an interest in Christ Jesus. Come therefore at length unto a determinate resolution what you will do in this matter. Christ hath waited long for you, and who knows how soon he may withdraw, never to look after you any more.
Upon occasion of the preceding discourse concerning the glory of Christ, I thougit it necessary to add unto it this brief exhortation unto faith in him, aiming to suit it unto the capacity of the meanest sinner that is capable of any self-consideration as unto his eternal welfare. But yet a little farther, to give efficacy, unto this exhortation, it will be necessary to remove some of those common and obvious tergiversations that convinced sinners do usually betake themselves unto, to put off a present compliance with the calls of Christ to come unto him; for although it is unbelief alone acting in the darkness of men's minds and the obstinacy of their wills, that effectually keeps off sinners from coming unto Christ upon his call, yet it shrouds itself under various pretences, that it may not appear in its own ugly form; for no sin, whereof men can be guilty of in this world, is of so horrible a nature, and so dreadful an aspect as is this unbelief, where a clear view of it is obtained in evangelical light: wherefore, by the aid of Satan, it suggests other pleas and pretences unto the minds of sinners, under which they may countenance themselves in a refusal to come to Christ. See 2 Cor. iv. 4. Any thing else it shall be, but not unbelief, that they all disavow. I shall therefore speak unto a few of those tergiversations in this case which are obvious, and which are exemplified in the gospel itself.
First, Some do say on such exhortations, What is it that you would have us to do? We hear the word preached, we believe it as well as we can, we do many things willingly, and abstain from many evils diligently; what is more re
quired of us? This is the language of the hearts of the most with whom in this case we have to do. And I say,
1. It is usual with them who do something in the ways of God, but not all they should, and so nothing in a due manner, to expostulate about requiring of them more than they do. So the people dispute with God himself, Mal. i. 6. iii. 8. 13. So they in the gospel, who esteemed themselves to have done their duty, being pressed unto faith by Christ Jesus, ask him, with some indignation, What shall we do, that we might work the work of God?' John vi. 28. If what we do be not enough, what is it that you require more of us? So was it with the young man, Matt. xix. 20. “What do I lack yet ? Be advised therefore not to be too confident of your state, lest you should yet lack that one thing, the want whereof might prove your eternal ruin.
2. The things mentioned, with all of the like nature, which may be multiplied, may be where there is no one spark of saving faith. Simon Magus heard the word, and believed as well as he could; Herod heard it, and did many things gladly; and all sorts of hypocrites do upon their convictions perform many duties, and abstain from many sins, so as that, notwithstanding this plea, you may perish
3. Where these things are sincere, they belong unto the exercise of faith; they may be after a sort without faith, but faith cannot be without them. But there is a fundamental act of faith, whereby we close with Christ, whereby we receive him that is, in order of nature, antecedent unto its actings in all other duties and occasions; it is laying the foundation ; other things belong to the building. This is that you are called on to secure, and you may know it by these two properties :
1. It is singular. So our Saviour tells the Jews, John vi. 29. “This is the work of God, that ye believe on him whom he hath sent. The act, work, or duty of faith in the receiving of Christ, is a peculiar singular work, wherein the soul yields especial obedience unto God; it is not to be reckoned unto such common duties as those mentioned, but the soul must find out wherein it hath in a singular manner closed with Christ upon the command of God.
2. It is accompanied with a universal spiritual change
- in the whole soul. 2 Cor. v. 17. ' If any man be in Christ, he
is a new creature; old things are passed away, behold all things, are become new:' wherefore, if you would not choose rather to deceive and ruin your own souls, come to the trial whether indeed you have received Christ in such a singular transforming act of faith : do not on such pretences want a compliance with the word of exhortation proposed unto you. But,
Secondly, Some will say, they know not how to proceed in this work. They can make nothing of it; they have tried to come to this believing, but do still fail in what they design; they go on and off, but can make no progress, can come to no satisfaction ; therefore they think it best to let things go in general as they are, without putting themselves to farther trouble, as unto any especial act of faith in the receiving of Christ. This is the language of men's hearts, though not of their mouths, another shelter of unbelief, and they act accordingly; they have a secret despondency, which keeps them safe from attempting a real closure with Christ on the tender of the gospel : something may be offered unto this distempered frame of mind.
1. Remember the disciples that were fishing, and had toiled all night, but caught nothing, Luke v. 3, 4, upon the coming of Christ unto them, he requires that they should cast out their nets once more; Peter makes some excuse from the labour which they had taken in vain all night ; however he would venture once more on the command of Christ, and had an astonishing draught of fishes, ver. 5—9. Have you been wearied with disappointments in your attempts and resolutions ? yet cast in your net this once more upon the command of Christ, venture this once more to come unto him on his call and invitation, you know not what success he may give unto you.
2. Consider that it is not failing in this or that attempt of coming to Christ, but a giving over your endeavours that will be your ruin. The woman of Canaan, in her great outcry to Christ for mercy, Matt. xv. 22. had many a repulse: first, it is said, he answered her not a word ; then his disciples desired that he would send her away, that she might not trouble him any more; whereon he gives a reason why he would not regard her, or why he could justly pass her by;