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we find them to be very fit and reasonable; and cannot imagine that any thing more is requisite, completely to accomplish the work of a Saviour. But blessed be God, we have a still surer foundation for our confidence here; for if any should urge, what is indeed true, that we are not competent judges of the rights of God the supreme governor, we may with great pleasure answer, 4. "That the father hath declared his full approbation of what Christ has done, under the character of a Saviour," and thereby given us the most glorious proof, that he is indeed able to save to the uttermost.
His power to save, as a mediator, is evidently founded on the efficacy of that atonement, which he presented to the Father for the sins of his people. We wonder not, if his disciples were under some alarm, while he hung on the cross, and appeared to an eye of sense incapable of delivering himself; while they heard his insulting enemies cry out, He saved others, himself he cannot save. We wonder not, that while his sacred body slept in the dust of death, the faith of his servants was weak, and their fears strong; so that they said with a trembling uncertainty, We trusted, this had been he that should have redeemed Israel+. But God raised Christ from the dead; and with him he raised our hope, and our confidence. Thus he Declared him to be the Son of God with power; and shewed that the demands of his justice were satisfied, since otherwise his prisoner could not have been released. Nay, in order to declare it in the most convincing manner, God appointed that his Son's resurrection should be attended with circumstances of peculiar honour; An angel descending from heaven to roll away the stone from the door of the sepulchre §; and t:vo angels being employed to wait there, to give his dejected followers the first welcome notices of this great event].
Nor must I by any means omit the mention of that very illustrious and important circumstance, his ascension into heaven, in the presence of his apostles; A cloud, as a triumphant chariot, receiving him out of their sight; and angels at the same time descending to assure them, that he who was then rising to mansions of glory, should another day appear conspicuous to every eye, when he should return under the character of the universal Judge ¶.
His being admitted to Sit down at the right hand of the
Mat. xxvii. 42.
+ Luke xxiv. 21.
Rom. i. 4.
Luke xxiv. 4, & seq.
Acts i. 9-11,
Majesty on high*, and sending down, upon his intercession there, the miraculous endowments of the Spirit, on the apostles, at the day of Pentecost, are incontestible and everlasting evidences of the divine acceptance, and therefore of his saving power. And surely we cannot entertain a doubt of it, when we consider, that He is gone into heaven, angels, and authorities, and powers, being made subject to him; and is there constituted by the designation of the Father, Head over all things to the churcht.
5. I might further argue the ability of Christ to save," from the gracious promises of salvation which he has made, either in his own person, or by those who had a commission from him."
You know those important and encouraging passages so well, that it will not be needful for me largely to insist upon them. You know, how plainly they express an extent of grace, reaching even to the most enormous sinners; and therefore, how clearly they imply a correspondent extent of power. He invited All that labour and are heavy laden to come to him; and promised on their application to him, that he would give them rests. He proclaimed, in a numerous assembly, on a day of public festivity, that every thirsty soul should be most cordially welcome to come unto him and drink||; and assures his hearers elsewhere, that He will by no means cast out any who should come. The apostle Peter declares, that By him all that believe are justified from all things, from which they could not be justified by the law of Moses**, and consequently not by the law of innocence, which left no room for repentance. And St. Paul had his authority to assure us, not only that Christ came into the world to save sinners, of whom himself was chief; but he adds, that it was For this very cause that he obtained mercy, that in him first, or rather in him as the chief, Christ might shew forth all long-suffering, for a pattern to such as should hereafter believe++.Now, let me intreat you to consider what I have already said, of the dignity of his person, the glory of his kingdom, and the sanctity of his character; and then say, whether infidelity itself can suggest so unworthy a thought as this, that Jesus, the Son of God, the Lord of glory, the faithful and true witness, should ever mock and delude wretched mor
* Heb. i. 3. +1 Pet. iii. 22. John vii. 37. ¶ John vi. 37. VOL. II.
Eph. i. 22. § Mat. xi. 23.
** Acts xiii. 39. †† 1 Tim. i. 15. 16. ev suoi topułw.
tals, by the offers of a salvation, which nevertheless he knows he is not able to bestow? That be far from thee, O gracious Lord! and be that base and absurd suspicion as far from us! But to add no more on this head,
6. "We may very surely and comfortably argue, from the instances, in which the saving power of Christ hath already been displayed," that He is able to save to the uttermost.
There is nothing, that strikes the mind of a wise man, like fact. Experiments do sometimes strengthen our assent to those propositions, which have been demonstrated to us, even in methods of mathematical proof; at least they impress the mind with a peculiar kind of conviction, which nothing else is capable of giving. Now, blessed be God, there is a cloud of witnesses to attest this sacred truth, that Christ has begun, and carried on the salvation of a multitude of souls.
Let us look back to the history of former ages, and see how many, who were once sunk into the lowest degeneracy, have been renewed to a divine life by the gospel of Christ. What multitudes, who were once even the reproach of our nature, have been Washed and sanctified, and justified, in the name of the Lord Jesus, and by the spirit communicated from him*. Reflect on the former, and the latter conquests of divine grace; and you will see, that even the chief of sinners have not been beyond its reach.
And I persuade myself, the subject will appear to be farther confirmed by the experience of some who hear me this day. Are there not many of you, my friends, who find a most happy alteration in yourselves, when compared with what you once were? Are there not many, whose eyes, once spiritually blind, have been opened, and their deaf ears unstopped? May I not say to you, my brethren, as Paul to the Ephesians, You have been quickened who were dead in trespasses and sinst. For that it was indeed his work, that it was wrought by his gospel, and by his Spirit, you are as sure, as that it has been wrought at all.
Nay, to advance yet farther in this argument, let faith unveil the eye of the soul, and help it to look forward to a world invisible to sense. View it in the light thrown upon it by scripture, of whose divine authority you are so abundantly assured; and what a delightful spectacle will open itself there! What shining forms of holiness, and of joy! What an innumerable triumphant Multitude of all nations, and kindreds, and people,
and tongues! How loud do their praises sound! With what unutterable rapture do their souls overflow, too big to be expressed, even by the language of heaven! Now, if it be asked, as it once was, Who are these, that are clothed in white robes? And from whence came they? The answer may be given as there, They are come out of great tribulation: They were once the inhabitants of earth, heirs to the infirmities and sorrows of this mortal state; and the most excellent of them, even they who sacrifice their lives in the defence of the truth, and sealed it with their own blood, even they Have washed their robes, and made them white in the blood of the Lamb+. They owe it to his atonement and righteousness, that they are now holy and glorious creatures; and each of them will be an everlasting monument of his power, as well as of his grace. And surely when we view them in the joys and glories of the intermediate state, we may well assure ourselves, that he who has saved them thus far, Is able to save to the uttermost! And we can no more doubt, whether he can raise their bodies from the tomb, than we could have doubted, whether he could untie the linen bands in which Lazarus was held, when we had seen him Loosing the bands of death, and animating his corpse after it had begun to putrify‡.
Nothing more can be requisite to prove the truth. I persuade myself, you are convinced, that Christ is able to save to the uttermost; and I hope, you feel your hearts impressed, as well as your judgments satisfied. But I cannot dismiss the subject, till I have added a few reflections upon it.
Now I shall omit some, which might naturally arise from what I have already said, because they will occur afterwards with greater advantage; and shall content myself with suggest. ing these two, which I recommend to your farther consideration. How great is the danger of those, that reject and affront this Almighty Saviour!—And how groundless are the fears of those, that have ventured their souls upon him!
1. How great is the danger and misery of those, that reject and affront such an Almighty Saviour!
If he is able to save, he is also able to destroy; to Break his enemies with a rod of iron, and to dash them in pieces like a potter's vessel §. Alas, sinners, though your ingratitude be so foul, though your treatment of Christ be so odious, as to
* Rev. vii. 9. + Rev. vii, 13, 14.
John xi. 43, 44.
Psal. ii. 9.
move the astonishment, as well as the indignation, of all that view him and you, in a just, that is, in a scripture light; yet my heart is both grieved and terrified for you, when I think, what the end of your opposition to him will be. Unhappy creatures! What will you do, when he rises up? And when he judges, what will you answer him*? When he proceeds to execute his sentence, how will you escape, or resist, or endure it? Were it merely the indignation of a man like yourselves, you might either oppose it, or bear it. But, alas, how insupportable will be the vengeance of an almighty arm! If it could alone bring salvation, it will alone be able to bring calamity and ruin. Yet were auxiliary force necessary, all the legions of heaven would appear armed against you, under the command of Jesus their Lord. If you do indeed believe your bibles, I wonder that you do not tremble, when you read, or hear, of that dreadful day, in which you are to be so intimately concerned; when it is expressly said, that the most insolent of his enemies shall flee before him in wild and helpless consternation; when The kings of the earth, and the great men, and the rich men, and the chief captains, and the mighty men, as well as others of meaner rank, shall hide themselves in the dens, and in the rocks of the mountains, and shall say to the mountains and rocks, fall on us, and hide us from the face of him that sitteth on the throne, and from the wrath of the Lamb: For the great day of his wrath is come; and who shall be able to stand+? What a dreadful emphasis is there in these words! How plainly do they intimate, that they would prefer the crush of a mountain to the more insupportable weight of his wrath; and that they will have more hope of moving rocks by their intreaties, than of prevailing on their then inflexible judge? And will your Hearts endure, or your hands be strong, when the Heavens shall depart as a scroll, and mountains and islands shall be removed? Were the least of the servants of Christ this day addressing himself to an assembly of the greatest princes and potentates on earth, he might be bold to say in the name of this king of glory, Be wise now therefore, O ye kings; be instructed, ye judges of the earth: Serve the Lord with humble fear, and rejoice in your own dignity, or in the offers of his grace, with trembling: Kiss the Son of God, in token of your ready submission to his government: lest he be angry, and you perish from the way in a noment, when his wrath is kindled against you. And this faithful and necessary warning would I now