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paths thou haft hitherto walked in? If this way lead to hell, as thou fearest it may, think then how many millions of men must perish as well as thyfelf; and is fuch a fuppofition confiftent with the gracious and merciful nature of God? Befides, think what fort of people those are, unto whom thou art about to join thyfelf in this new way? Are there not to be found among them many things to difcourage thee, and cool thy zeal? They are generally of the lower and bafer fort of men, poor and despicable : Seeft thou not, though their profeffion be holy, how earthly, carnal, proud, factious, and hypocritical, many of them are found to be! And doubtlefs, the reft are like them, though their hypocrify be not yet difcovered.
O what stands and demurs? what hesitations and doubts, is the foul clogged with in its way to Chrift! But yet none of thefe can withhold and detain the foul, when the Father draws; Greater, then, is he that is in us, than he that is in the world. And thus you fee the nature, manner, and efficacy of divine drawings, and how impoffible it is for any foul to come to Christ without them.
The inferences and improvements of the point follow.
Infer. 1. How deeply and thoroughly is the nature of man corrupted, and what an enemy is every man to his own happiness, that he must be drawn to it? John v. 40. "You will not come
unto me, that ye might have life."
Life is defireable in every man's eyes, and eternal is the most excellent life; yet, in this, the world is rather agreed to die and perish for ever, than come to Chrift for life. Had Chrift told us of fields and vineyards, sheep and oxen, gold and silver, honours and fenfual pleafures, who would not have come to him for thefe? But to tell of mortification, felf-denial, strictness of life, and fufferings for his fake, and all this for an happiness to be enjoyed in the world to come, nature will never like fuch a propofition as this.
You fee where it sticks, not in a fimple inability to believe, but in an inability complicated with enmity; they neither can come, nor will come to Chrift: It is true, all that do come to Christ, come willingly; but thanks be to the grace of God, that hath freed and perfuaded the will, elfe they had never been willing to come: Who ever found his own heart first stir and move towards Chrift? How long may we wait and expect, before we fhall feel our hearts naturally burn with defires after, and love to Jefus Chrift?
This averfion of the will and affections from God, is one of
the main roots of original fin. No argument can prevail to bring the foul to Chrift, till this be maltered and overpowered by the Father's drawing. In our motions to fin, we need refraining, but in all our motions to Chrift, we as much need drawing. He that comes to heaven may fay, Lord, if I had had my own way and will, I had never come here; if thou hadft not drawn me, I fhould never have come to thee. O the riches of the grace of God! Oh unparalleled mercy and goodness! not only to prepare fuch a glory as this for an unworthy foal, but to put forth the exceeding greatnefs of thy power, afterwards to draw an unwilling foul to the enjoyment of it.
Inter. 2. What enemies are they to God, and the fouls of men, that do all they can to difcourage and hinder the converfion of men to Chrift? God draws forward, and thefe do all that in them lies to draw backward, (i. e.) to prejudice and discourage them from coming to Jefus Chrift in the way of faith: this is a direct oppofition to God, and a plain confederacy with the devil.
O, how many have been thus difcouraged in their way to Chrift, by their carnal relations, I cannot fay friends! Their greatest enemies have been the men of their own house. Thefe have pleaded (as if the devil had hired and fee'd them) against the everlafting welfare of their own flesh. O cruel parents, brethren, and fifters, that jeer, frown, and threaten, where they fhould encourage, affist, and rejoice! Such parents are the devil's children. Satan chufes fuch inftruments as you are, above all others, for this work he knows what influence and autho'rity you have upon them, and over them; and what fear, love, and dependance, they have for you, and upon you; so that none in all the world are like to manage the defign of their damnation fo effectually, as you are like to do.
Will you neither come to Chrift yourselves, nor fuffer your dear relations that would? Had you rather find them in the alehoufe, than in the clofet? Did you inftrumentally give them their being, and will you be the inftruments of ruining for ever thofe beings they had from you? Did you fo carnestly defire children, fo tenderly nurfe and provide for them; take fuch delight in them; and, after all this, do what in you lies to damn and deftroy them; If thefe lines fhall fall into any fuch hands, O that God would fet home the conviction, and fenfe of this horrid evil upon their hearts.
And no lefs guilty of this fin are fcandalous and loose profeffors, who ferve to furnish the devil with the greatest arguments he hath to diffuade men from coming to Chrift: it is your loosenefs, and hypocrify, by which he hopes to fcare others
from Chrift. It is faid, Cant. ii. 7. "I charge you by the ros "and hinds of the field, that ye ftir not up, nor awake my be "loved till he please."
Roes and hinds, like young converts and comers towards Christ, are fhy and timerous creatures, that start at the least found, or yelp of a dog, and fly away. Take heed what you do in this cafe, left you go down to hell under the guilt of damning more fouls than your own.
Infer. 3. Learn bence, the true ground and reafon of those frange, amazing, and supernatural effects, that you behold, and fo admire in the world, as often as you fee finners forfaking their pleafant, profitable corruptions, and companions, and embracing the ways of Chrift, godliness, and mortification.
It is faid, 1 Pet. iv. 4. They think it ftrange, that you run not with them into the fame excefs of riot;" The word or, they stand at a gaze, as the hen that hath hatchpartridge eggs doth, when the fees them take the wing and fly away from her.
Beloved, it is the world's wonder to fee their companions in fin forfake them; thofe that were once as prophane, and vain as themselves, it may be more, to forfake their fociety, retire into their closets, mourn for fin, spend their time in meditation and prayer, embrace the feverest duties, and content to run the greatest hazard in the world for Chrift; but they fee not that almighty power that draws them, which is too frong for all the finful ties and engagements in the world to withhold and detain them.
A man would have wondered to fee Elisha leave the oxen, and run after Elijaha, faying, "Let me go, I pray thee, and kis 68 mv father and mother, and then I will follow thee;" when Elijah had faid nothing to perfuade him to follow him, only, as he paffed by him, he caft his mantle on him, 1 Kings x. 19, 20. Surely that foul whom God draws, muft needs leave all and follow Chrift, for the power of God refteth on it. All carnal ties and engagements to fin, break and give way, when the Father draws the foul to Chrift in the day of his power.
Infer. 4. Is this the firft fpring of fpiritual motion after Chrifl? Learn then from hence, how it comes to pass that fo many excel lent fermons, and powerful perfuafions are ineffectual, and cannot draw and win one foul to Chrift. Surely it is because minifters draw alone; and the fpccial faving power of God goes not forth, at all times alike, with their endeavours.
Paul was a chofen veffel, filled with a greater measure of gifts
and graces by the Spirit, than any that went before him, or followed after him; and, as his talents, fo his diligence in impro-ving them, was beyond any recorded example we read of amongst men; "He rather flew like a feraphim, than travelled upon his master's errand about the world*." Apollos was an eloquent preacher, and mighty in the fcriptures, yet Paul is nothing, and Apollos nothng; but God that gives the in"creafe," I Cor. iii. 7. We are too apt to admire men, yea, and the best are but too apt to go forth in the ftrength of their own parts and preparations; but God fecures his own glory, and magnifies his own power, frequently, in giving fuccefs to weaker endeavours, and men of lower abilities, when he withholds it from men of more raised, refined, and excellent gifts and abilities.
It is our great honour, who are the minifters of the gospel, that we are usypor, workers together with God, 1 Cor. iii. 9. in his ftrength we can prevail; "the weapons of our warfare are "mighty through God," 2 Cor. x. 4. But if his prefence, bleffing, and affistance, be not with us, we are nothing, we can do nothing.
If we prepare diligently, pray heartily, preach zealously, and our hearers go as they came, without any fpiritual effects and fruits of our labours, what fhall we fay, but as Martha faid to Christ, "Lord, if thou hadst been here, my brother had not "died:" Had the Spirit of God gone forth with his especial efficacy and bleffing, with this prayer, or that fermon, thefe fouls had not departed dead, and fenfelefs from under it.
Infer. 5. Doth all fuccefs and efficacy depend upon the Father's drawings? Let none then defpair of their unregenerate, and carnal relations, over whofe obftinacy they do, and have caufe to
What, if they have been as many years under the preaching of the gofpel, as the poor man lay at the pool of Bethesda, and hitherto to no purpose? A time may come at last, (as it did for him) when the Spirit of God may move upon the waters; I mean put a quickening and converting power into the means, and then the defire of your fouls for them fhall be fulfilled.
It may be, you have poured out many prayers, and tears to the Lord for them; you have cried for them as Abraham for his fon, "O that lihmael might live before thee !" O that this poor husband, wife, child, brother, or fifter, might live in thy fight; and still you fee them continue carnal, dead, and sense.
Ως πτηνος την οικεμενην, και ως ασώματος διέδραμε. Chryfoft.
lefs: Well, but yet give not up your hopes, nor ceafe your pious endeavours, the time may come when the Father may draw as well as you, and then you fhall fee them quit all, and come to Chrift; and nothing shall binder them. They are now drawn away of their own lufts; they are easily drawn away by their finful companions; but when God draws, none of these shall withdraw them from the Lord Jefus. What is their ignorance, obftinacy, and hardness of heart, before that mighty power that fubdues all things to itself? Go therefore to the Lord, by prayer, for them, and fay, Lord, I have laboured for my poor relations in vain, I have spent my exhortations to little purpofe; the work is too difficult for me, can I carry it no farther, but thou canft: O let thy power go forth; they fhall be willing day of thy power.
Infer 6. If none can come to Christ, except the Father draw them, then furely none can be drawn from Chrift except the Father leave them: That power which at first drew them to Christ, can fecure and establish them in Chrift to the end, John x. 20. 66 My Father which gave them me is greater than "all, and no man is able to pluck them out of my Father's "hand."
When the power of God at first draws us out of our natural ftate to Chrift, it finds us not only impotent, but obftinate, not only unable, but unwilling to come; and yet this power of God prevails against all oppofition: How much more is it able to preferve and fecure us, when his fear is put into our inward parts, so that we dare not depart, we have no will to depart from him? Well then, if the world fay, I will enfnare thee; if the devil fay, I will destroy thee; if the flesh say I will betray thee; yet thou art fecure and safe, as long as God hath said, “ I will never leave "thee nor forfake thee," Heb. xiii. 5.
Infer. 7. Let this engage you to a conftant, attendance upon the ordinances of God, in which this drawing power of God is fometimes put forth upon the hearts of men.
Beloved, there are certain feafons in which the Lord comes nigh to men in the ordinances and duties of his worship; and we know not at what time the Lord cometh forth by his Spirit upon this defign: he many times comes in an hour when we think not of him ; "I am found of them that fought me not," Ifa. Ixv. 1. It is good therefore, to be found in the way of the Spirit Had that poor man, that lay fo long at the pool of Bethesda, reasoned thus with himself, So long have I lain here in vain expecting a cure, it is to no purpose to wait longer, and fo had been abfent at that very time when the angel came down,