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1. The first thing is, to speak a little of the flight of a sin. ner to Christ, the Saviour.
ift, Then, This flight supposes that some spiritual life and fentation is given to the finner; for there can be no flying without life. The finner is by nature dead in fin, legally dead, and spiritually dead; Eph. ii. 1. “ You hath he quickened, who were dead in trespasses and sins.” The Spirit of life that is in Christ Jesus enters into the dead soul, and quick. ens, and gives it at least a sensation of its cafe, otherwise there can be no flying to Christ.
2dly, This flight supposes or implies an apprehension and fear of danger from a pursuing enemy. The poor soul is made to see danger from the broken law, danger from the sword of justice, the avenger of blood, and thereupon he falls a-trembling, like the jailor, “ Sirs, what must I do to be saved," &c.
3dly, This flight of the soul to Christ implies a renunciation of relief from these lying refuges, in which it had for. merly been trusting. The man, in flying to Christ, renounces an empty profession, his common gifts, his common graces, his gospel advances, his law works, his own holiness and righteousness, his tears and prayers ; his righteousness cannot profit him, therefore he cries out, “ Alhur shall not save us ; we will not ride upon horses, neither will we say any more to the work of our hands, Ye are our gods; for in thee the fatherless findeth mercy,” Hof. xii. 3. “In vain is salvation hoped for from the hills, and from the multitude of moun. tains ; truly in the Lord our God is the salvation of his people.”
4thly, It implies a discovery and uptaking of Christ, and of his salvation, as he is held out in the gospel. A beam of divine light shines into the heart, “even the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face (or person) of Jesus Chriit," whereby the man fees him to be indeed what the gospel represents him to be, a nonsuch and incomparable Saviour; one that is the “Man of God's right hand,” Pfal. lxxx. 17.; "the Man who is God's fellow,” Zech. xiii. 7. and therefore mighty to save, &c.
Sthly, This flight of the soul to Christ implies the foul's hearty approbation of Christ, and of the way of salvation through Christ, as an ordinance of God calculate for his glory, as well as for his own safety and happiness. O, says the man, “ It is indeed a faithful saying, and worthy of all acceptation, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save fine ners." I see this method of salvation through the new and
living way to be every way worthy of the wisdom of God: and calculate for the manifestation of the glory of his holiness; justice, sovereignty, faithfulness, and every other attribute of God, that was lesed by the fin of man: Therefore the man approves of it with his foul, and blesses God that ever found out such a device, &c.
Othly, This flight has in it a strong and ardent desire to be at this Saviour, and to be found in him. “O that I knew where I might find him !" O to be washed with his blood, clothed with his righteousness, sanctified by his Spirit! “ Yea; doubtless (says Paul), I count all things but loss, that I may win Christ, and be found in him,” &c.
9thly, It implies a hope of winning him, and of being theltered and saved in him ; for, if there be no hope of safety, the man will never flee, and this hope is founded upon the design of the incarnation, &c. the design of the revelation of him in the word, &c. the gracious grant made of him in the word, &c. the free promise of life and pardon through him, &c. the calls, and offers, and commands of God to come to him, and the redemption that others have met with, &c. .
8thly, A resting and trusting in him, and in him alone, for righteousness, life, peace, pardon, and salvation, to himself in particular. The man does not simply believe that Christ is a Saviour, and that salvation is to be had in him for the elect, or for believers, but he believes in him and on him for his own salvation, Acts xv. 11. “ We believe (or we are persuaded), that, through the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, we Thall be saved even as they.”. We find faith or trust in scrip ture commonly expreffed in words of appropriation and apo plication. The man looks upon Christ as given and offered by God in the gospel; and he says, with Thomas, “ My Lord, and my God ;" or with Paul, “ He loved me, and gave him. self for me ; he is our Lord Jesus Christ.” He looks to the God and Father of Chritt, and says, “ He is my God, and my Father, and the Rock of my falvation,” &c. He looks to the covenant of grace and promise sealed with a Redeem. er's blood, and cries with David, “ This is all my salvation, that he has (in Christ, made or established) with nie an ever. lafting covenant, ordered in all things, and sure." I own indeed that this applying faith is not alike itrong in all believers, or yet alike strong in the self same believer at all times; for fad experience makes it evident, that the confidence of faith may be fadly thaken and staggered through unbelief, temptation, and defertion, as to cry out some times, “ Is his mercy clean gone? Hath God forgotten to be gracious; I am cast
- Olt of his light.” But then it would be remembered, that al= though these fits, fears, and staggerings, be in the believer,
they are not in his faith, yea, his faith is opposite unto these E doubts and fears, and is still fighting against them, “Why are E ye fearful, O ye of little faith: Fear not, only believe.” And in
as far as faith gets the mastery over these doubts and fears, so farwill he have of this confidence, as to his own particular claim.
Let faith get up its head, and it will speak its own particular Eleed *, " Abba, Father, doubtless thou art our Father, and our
Redeemer, and thy name is from everlasting.” Thus you see what this flight is.
II. The second thing in the method, is to speak a little to the manner of the soul's flight unto Chrift. And this is held out here in the text, under a twofold metaphor: ift, They fly as a cloud. 2dly, They fly as doves to their windows.
ist, They are here said to fly as a cloud: Take this in the particulars following.
1. This points to the multitude of these that should be converted to the faith of Christ, under the New Testament dispensation: For we find a cloud is sometimes expressive of a multitude, Heb. xii. 1. “ Seeing we are compaffed about with so great a cloud of witnesses,” i. e. such a great multitude of them, let us Jay aside every weight, &c. So here, Who are these that fly as a cloud ? It says, that as there are innumerable drops of rain, or particles of mist and vapours in a cloud ; so under the New Testament, there would be vast numbers and innumerable multitudes, that would take a flight by faith, unto Christ, Rev. vii. We shall find, according to the calculation there made, that under the Old Testament they could be summed op; and they are reckoned in whole, out of all the tribes of Israel, to be “ a hundred and forty-four thousand.” But when he comes to speak of the converts among other nations, they are called “ an innumerable company which no man can number," ver. 9. This was what the prophet Isaiah forefaw in the verse immediately preceding my text; and likewise, chap. liv. I. “ Sing, O barren, thou. that didst not bear, break forth into singing, and cry aloud thou that did ft not travail with child : for more are the children of the defolate, than the children of the married wife, faith the Lord.” () what a cloud of saints have gone away to heaven since the gospel came to be preached among the Gentiles? And what a cloud of them have gone to heaven out of Scotland, since about two hundred years after the death of Chrilt, when the gospel came first to be preached among us? It is a lad matter that there Vol. III. I 3 A
Jhould * Its specific languages or proper and native dialect,
should be so few in this generation, in comparison of whai was in former days, when the Spirit was poured out from on high! though, blessed be God, th.re is a pretty good number, though few, few, in respect of these that are posting to hell.
2. They fly as a cloud. It may lignify the unanimity of these converis; they take all one way, like a cloud flying along the heavens; they are all joined unto one Head Christ Jesus; they are all knit together in one bond of Christian love; they are all acted by the fame Spirit of God and of glory refting on them; they are all clothed with the same robes of imputed and inherent righteousness; they have all one character, thes are all heirs of the same inheritance, and they all travel in the same road, the “ strait and narrow way that leads unto everlasting life.”
3. The cloud flees upon the wings of the wind, and what airth soever the wind carries thém, thither do they go. So all believers are acted, moved, and carried on in their course, by the wind of the influences of the Spirit. When the wind blows, then the clouds accelerate their motion. Just so is it with the believer: If the Spirit be suspended, they lie like a ship wind-bound, they cannot move ; but whenever the gale of the heavenly wind blows, then they run the way of God's commandments ; hence is that prayer of the spouse, Cant. iv. laft, “ Awake, O north wind, and come, thou south; blow upon my garden, that the spices thereof may flow out." I was by a gust of this heavenly wind, that the church was made to cry, “ Ere ever I was awart, my soul made me as the chariots of Amminadib,” &c.
4. They fly as a cloud. It says, that there is much of the sovereignty of God, and of the irresistability of his grace, in the Night of a finner unto Christ. The.clouds are said to be God's chariots, and God's chariot cannot be stopped or hindered ia its motion, “ Who can hinder the motion of the cloud along the heavens ?" No, not all the powers of hell and earth can hinder it : So the work of divine grace in bringing a finne: out of a state of nature into grace; it is the fruit of adorable sovereignty, and he will go on with his work, let devils and men rage, and corruption within do their uttermoft to mar and hinder his procedure. “I will take away the stony heart, and I will give the heart of flesh. And who hath relifted his will ?" His own arm., that brought about salvation, in a way of purchale, until he could say, “ It is finished,” will allo carry it on in a way of powerful application ; “ Thy people shall be willing in the day of thy power: all that the Father giveth me, fhall come to me.” The work cannot be let which he
takes in hand, for the Lord " is a rock, and his work is perfect.''
5. Who are these that fs as a cloud? It implies, that God's work of grace is of a secret and mysterious nature. It is usual in fcripture to express dark and mysterious difpeniations by a cloud, “ clouds and darkness were round about him," i. e. his dispensations were mysterious. So here, Who are there that iy as a cloud ? i. e. it is wonderful and mysterious to see how the Lord brings the finner to take a fight into Chrilt by faith; God's way in this is a great deep that cannot be searched out: Hence is that of Christ to Nicodemus, John iii. 8. “ The wind bloweth where it listech, and thou hearest the sounil thereof, but canft not tell wheace it comcth, and whither it goeth,” &c.
6. The clouds are exhaled out of the earth by the heat of the ian, and raised up above the earth, and mount up towards heaven. Just so, by the warm influence of divine grace, (which are the beams of the Sun of righteousness) the finner that is lying in the horrible pit, and in a miry clay, and licking up the dust of the earth, is elevate and raised God-ward, and heaven. ward, and made to feek things that are above, li. Il. 31. “ They mount with wings as eagles :" Heb. xi. 14. * They seek a better country, that is an heavenly.”
7. The clouds, wher: raised up by the heat of the sun, they are kept up by the mighty power of God. So, believers being brought into a state of grace, they are kept in it “ by the power of God, through faith unto salvation.” It is he that preserves them in that state ; hence believers are called the preserved in Jesus Christ. And as the clouds are in the hand of the Lord, so are all his faints, Deut. xxxiii. 3. “ All his Saints are in thy hand;" John X. 28. “ No man shall pluck them out of my hand;" ver. 29.“ My Father, who gave them me, is greater than ail, and none is able to pluck them out of my Father's hand,” &c.
8. Although the clouds have a louring and dark aspect to the eye, yet they have a blefling in them; they lift down rain upon the earth, which contributes unto its feruility. So God's work of grace on the soul, although it have a dark aspect at the beginning; yet there is a bleiling in it in the event, a blessing to the soul when it is landed in Christ; and believers, however ill the world like them, yet they are a blessing unto the world, and contribute to its prefervation and fruiifulness.
The clouds, you know, pour down rain upon the earth : fo beį lievers wherever they come, they study to drop the knowledge : of Christ; for the lips of the righteous ferd many: hence is that of the propher, Micah v. 7. “ 'The remnant of Jacob Thall