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POWER AND GRACE OF CHRIST.
An Exhortation to Sinners to come unto God by Christ.
Heb. vii. 25.-Wherefore he is able also to save them to the uttermost, that come unto God by him, seeing he ever liveth to make Intercession for them.
AT length, my friends, I am entering on the last discourse,
which I intend from these words. Our meditations upon them had been drawn to a close much sooner, had not many funeral discourses interrupted them; and you know, there were also others of that kind, which did not interrupt them, being preached on week-days. But it is surely most fit, that those awful providences, which for a while diverted our thoughts from this subject, should now awaken our more diligent and lively attention to it. It is not for mortal creatures to trifle with these important truths of christianity, on which the life of their souls does so evidently depend: No, nor to rest in speculative views of them, while heart-application is neglected. The dying, and the dead, look upon these things in another manner; and we shall shortly be numbered amongst them: The Lord awaken us now so to hear the conclusion of the whole matter, as we shall then wish we had heard it! I have already endeavoured,
I. To shew you, what we are to understand by Christ's be ing able to save to the uttermost.
II. To prove that he is so.
III. To open the doctrine of his intercession, and to consi, der what an argument it is of his saving power. And then,
IV. I have considered the character of those, who shall be interested in this salvation, as described in the text by their coming to God by him.
Under each of the three former heads I have given you several reflections; and I am now to conclude with others which
în connection with the foregoing. May each of you know your own concern in them; and may the blessed Spirit of God apply them to your souls with divine efficacy and success! suffer,t beseech you, this word of exhortation to address you in these six particulars.
1. "Let us adore the divine goodness that such a salvation is offered us, in so reasonable, so easy, and so gracious a way."
Such a salvation in any method might have been joyfully welcome to us; and how much more in this! Let us call in our roving thoughts, and settle them for a while in this one point. Let us stand still and see this salvation of God. Sure when we consider our natural condition, in the view in which the gospel represents it; when we hear the law of God thundering out its curses against us; when we see his justice lifting up its sword to smite us, hell gaping to devour us, and its malicious fiends eying us as their surer prey, and impatient to begin our torment; in such a view it must have appeared a great favour, had God heard the cry of our anguish and despair, so far as to permit the rocks to fall upon us, and the mountains to cover us, though they had crushed us into atoms, and he had, at the same time, extinguished the thinking part of our nature and reduced it to its original nothing: O how gladly would millions, that were once the rich, the great, the learned, the victorious of the earth, meet such a fate as this; ard perhaps be more thankful for the destruction of their beings, than they ever were for any of its enjoyments? But we hear of being saved.—of being saved to the uttermost ;-hear of it, not merely as a favour conferred on others, but as an offer proposed to us; as a scheme, not merely deliberated upon, or intended, but in a great measure already effected; and our eyes are directed to the regions of complete and eternal glory, as an abode purchased and prepared for such worthless and guilty creatures as we. "Blessed God! did our appointed way to it lic, not only through a wilderness of thorns, but through a sea of fire, how gladly might we accept the proposals? If the scheme had been to raise us to this heavenly paradise, after the severest course of penance on earth; or even after we had tasted of the cup of thy wrath in hell, and suffered all but the despair of those doleful regions, for a long succession of years, or of ages: Surely we must then have received the news of such a distant deliverance on our knees, and have mingled thy praises with those groans and tears,
which such intermediate discipline had extorted from us. And dost thou now offer us a complete pardon, in so easy a way, as only to say to us, wash and be clean, as only to call us to come unto thee by Christ?"- -Surely, christians, instead of complaining of this as a hardship, we have reason to own it as a great additional favour.- -Whither indeed should we go, but unto God? And where should we dwell safe and happy, but under the shadow of his wings? And how could we have presumed, or indeed how could we have borne, to have come to him, otherwise than by Christ?It is true indeed, that if we would enter into a treaty with this Prince of Peace, we must give up our sins: But what are these, but the tyrants of the mind, whose reign is our servitude, whose death is our deliverance !And what though we must give up our own righteousness too, as to any dependance upon it for our justification before God; is there a soul among us, that would dare to stand, or fall according to the perfection of that? And is there an experienced christian, that does not know that there is a secret unutterable pleasure in submitting to the righteousness of God; and a wise and rational transport of soul, in receiving the rich grace given us in Christ, to make us complete in him+; far beyond the vain joy of that distempered dream which represented us to our own imagination, as rich and honourable, righteous and happy, in the midst of poverty and shame, guilt and misery? Surely If we should hold our peace, when such a salvation is proposed to us in such a method as this, it might almost be expected that the very stones would cry out, to upbraid our ingratitude. 2. Let us seriously examine, whether we have "come to God by Christ, and so are interested in this great salvation."
To each of you, my friends, that hear me this day, is the word of this salvation sent§; and that you have received the offers of it, will, on the whole, be matter of everlasting joy, or of everlasting sorrow. The word of God assures us, that there are comparatively few, that receive saving benefit by it, Many are called, but few are chosen. And does it not alarm you? Methinks, if there were only a few out of a considerable number, that missed it, each should be ready to tremble for himself: If we knew but one soul in all this assembly should finally lose it, we might each of us cry out with great solicitude of spirit, if in any degree unassured with regard to ourselves,
*Rom. x. 3.
+ Col. ii. 10.
Luke xix. 40.
Lord is it I? And how much more now?
Are there any of
you that must say, "I do not certainly know, whether this sal vation will be mine or not?" How can you bear the uncertainty? Let me charge it on your consciences that you enter into the enquiry. Have you come unto God by Christ?—I ask not so much, Whether you believe the existence of God, and the truth of christianity? This is a faith, which you may carry down with you to the habitation of Devils, who themselves also believe and tremblet?I ask not so much, whether you have ever felt some desires after an interest in God through Christ? In this respect, as well as in others, there is a Desire of the slothful that kills him‡, while it serves only to increase his present disquietude and his after punishment.But I ask, what is on the whole your choice? What are your cares, your hopes, and your joys? Do they centre in God? Do they arise from communion with him through Christ? Do you experimentally know, what it is to come to his throne, to submit your revolted souls to his government with delight? To wait the signal of his will, as the rule of your actions; to enjoy, or at least earnestly desire, the visits of his grace, the effusions of his love on your hearts? Is prayer your pleasure, or is it your burden? Do you regard the word of God as an invaluable treasury, or is it to you as a sealed book? You have a thousand traces of the sublimest devotion and piety there: Can you relish them? Can you find any considerable resemblance between yourselves, and those holy souls, whose characters are there recorded and approved? You call yourselves christians: But do you know Christ, and do you love him, and do you cordially approve of the methods of his saving grace? Do you know what it is, to come and lay down your guilty souls, as under the effusions of his blood; to strip yourselves of all the pride of nature, that your nakedness may be clothed with his glorious righteousness? To bow to his sceptre as his obedient subjects, and rejoice that you have such a Governor? And do you feel the necessity of a daily application to him, as your great covenant-head, on whose influence you live, and by whose spirit you must perpetually be actuated, to the purposes of a divine life?These, these are the decisive questions; and let me intreat you to hear what conscience has to reply to them.
And permit me once more to ask you, if you are yet uncertain, as to this important article, how it is that this uncer+ Prov. xxi. 25.
Mat. xxvi. 22.
† James ii. 19.
tainty sits on your minds? Are you easy under it? Do you carelessly defer the enquiry from one day to another; or purposely decline it, because you are afraid of some consequences which may disturb you? Or do you renew your examinations. again and again, searching for those scriptures, and waiting for those parts of our public discourses, which may pierce deepest, and try your souls to the utmost; still above all begging, that God would search them; and renewing your humble entreaties, that you may know the very worst of your state, and be at length brought unto him through Christ, though it were by the most painful way, that any of his servants have ever trod ?
As to some of you, perhaps, the case may require diseussion: But I believe there are others, to whom it would be no long labour. I fear, even while I am yet speaking, conscience must witness against some of you, that you are utter strangers to such a temper, and that you never came unto God by Christ. And therefore,
3. "Let those who are conscious to themselves, that they have never come unto God by Christ, be engaged seriously to reflect on the danger of their present condition."
I know, the corruption of our hearts strongly inclines us, to think as favourably as possible of ourselves, and eagerly to grasp the feeblest reed, which may give some present, though most precarious, support to our hope: And I know, Satan would favour the delusion to the utmost, because he is aware, there is but a short time in which he need labour to do it; so that if he can amuse you a few days, you are his prey for ever. It is our business, as ministers of the gospel, to counter-work these deceivers. O that God would teach us to do it effectually! "Sinner, thou art convinced in thy conscience, that thou art a stranger to the temper and character described; that Thou art the man who hast sat, perhaps many years, under the sound of the gospel, and to this very day hast never come unto God by Christ. And dost thou hope for salvation by him, while this is the case? It is a most arrogant and pernicious hope. I solemnly declare unto thee this day, Thou hast neither part nor lot in this matter*. Dost thou hope? On what foundation is it? Shew me one promise in the whole book of God, that speaks pardon and peace to an impenitent unbelieving sinner. Wilt thou say, Christ is able to save to the uttermost? He is indeed so; and yet it is no contradiction to declare, that as things now