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remain in a natural condition. This is the condemnation you lie under. This is the wrath of God that abides upon you. The wisdom of God knew it to be a very doleful thing for a person to be in a natural state, and therefore did so exercise itself to deliver miserable sinners out of it. But this is the state that many among us do yet remain in.
Secondly. Consider, that if you continue in the state you are in, you will be so far from being the better for this contrivance, that you will be as much more miserable for it. The justice and wisdom of the way of salvation will be your condemnation. This is the condemnation, that light is come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light. John in. 19. If you continue in that state you are now in, it would have been better for you, if Christ had never died for sinners ; if God had left all mankind to perish, as he did the fallen angels. Your punishment then would have been light in comparison of what it will be now. You will have greater sins by far to answer for ; and all your sins will be abundantly the more aggravated.
Since I have been upon this subject, I have observed, that the work of redemption is an occasion of the elect being brought to greater happiness than man could have had, if he had not fallen. And it is also true as to reprobates, that it will be an occasion of their having greater misery than they would have had, if there had been no redemption. 2 Cor. ii
. 15. For we are unto God a sweet savour of Christ, in them that are saved, and in them that perish. To the one we are the savour of death unto death ; and to the other we are the savour of life unto life. If you perish at last, you will be the more miserable for the benefits of the gospel being so glorious, and that because your crime in rejecting and despising them will be the more heinous. Heb. ii. 3. How shall we escape if we neglect so great salvation ?
Thirdly. Whilst you continue an unbeliever, the more you hear of this way of salvation, your condition will become the more miserable. The longer you sit under the preaching of the gospel, the more doleful does your case grow.
Your guilt continually increases. For your refusals of the gospel, and your rejections of this way of salvation, are so much the oftener repeated. Every time you hear the gospel preached, you are guilty of a renewed rejection of it, the guilt of which therefore you will have lying upon you. And the more you hear of the suitableness and glory of this way, the greater is your guilt who still continue to reject it. Every new illustration of the wisdom and grace of God in redemption, adds to your guilt. Matt. xxii. 37. O Jerusalem, Jerusalem-how often would I have gathered thy children together, even as a hen gathereth her chickens under her wings, but ye would not !- What adds to your mi. sery is, that as long as it continues, it is a growing evil.
Fourthly. Consider the danger there is, that you will never have any lot or portion in this matter ; seeing there are but few that have. Christ has told us, that straight is the gate and narrow is the way that leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it. There have been but few in all ages of the world. Many seek; and many hope that they shall obtain. There are but few that intend to be damned; while many hope that they shall, some way or other, find means to escape eternal misery. But, after all, there are but few saved; or obtain the benefits of redemption.
Exhortation to come to Christ.
I CONCLUDE with an use of exhortation to come to Christ, and accept of salvation in this way. You are invited to come to Christ, heartily to close with him, and trust in him for salvation; and, if you do so, you shall have the benefit of this glorious contrivance. You shall have the benefit of all; as much as if the whole had been contrived for you alone. God has already contrived every thing that is needful for your salvation ; and there is nothing wanting but your consent. Since God has taken this matter of the redemption of sinners into his own hand, he has made thorough work of it; he has not left it for you to finish. Satisfaction is already made, righteousness is already wrought out: death and hell are already conquered. The Redeemer has already taken possession of glory, and keeps it in his hands to bestow on them who come to him. There were many difficulties in the way, but they are all removed. The Saviour has already triumphed over all, and is at the right hand of God, to give eternal life to his people.
Salvation is ready brought to your door; and the Saviour stands, knocks, and calls, that you would open to him, that he might bring it in to you. There remains nothing but your consent. All the difficulty now remaining, is with your own heart. If you perish now, it must be wholly at your door. It must be because you would not come to Christ that you might have life; and because you virtually choose death rather than life. Prov. viii. 36. He that sinneth against me, wrongeth his own soul : all they that hate me, love death. All that is now required of you, is, that your heart should close with Christ as a Saviour. Here consider,
1. That the wisdom of God hath so contrived, that he hath forestalled all your objections. If you make objections against Christ, and the way of salvation, they must be all unreasonable. You cannot reasonably object that your sins are of such a na. ture, that God's honour will not allow of your pardon. It is true, God insists upon his own honour. He is a God that will be honoured, and his majesty shall be vindicated : and, when sinners cast contempt upon him, his honour requires vengeance. But God has so contrived this way, that his honour may be repaired by the punishment of sin, without the sinners suffering, how great soever the sin be. Herein the wisdom of this way appears, that there is a sufficiency for the greatest and most heinous transgressors.
You cannot object that God the father will not be willing to accept you, for the Mediator's sake; for he hath chosen his own Son to be a Mediator, to cut off any such objections. So you may be sure, that God will receive you, if you go to him through Christ. You cannot object, that God the father has not given sufficient assurance of salvation to believers; for the principal things, those which would have been most difficult to believe, are already fulfilled: God hath already given his Son to die for us. This, before it was accomplished, was much more strange, and difficult to believe, than that he should give eternal life to sinners, after Christ died for them. Rom. viii. 32. “ He that spared not his own Son, but delivered him up for us all, how shall he not with him freely give us all things ?"
There is no room to doubt, but that, if we accept of Christ, God will give eternal life; for he hath given it already into the hands of our Saviour for us. He hath intrusted him with the whole affair. He hath given all things into his hands, that he might give eternal life to as many as should come to him. The Father hath appointed him who died for believers, to be their judge, to have the whole determination of the matter, and the disposal of the reward, in his own hand. cannot doubt, but that Christ will be willing to bestow eternal life on them for whom he purchased it. For if he is not willing to bestow it, surely he never would have died to purchase it. Who can think, that Christ would be so desirous of sinners being saved, as to undergo so much for it; and not be willing to let them have it, when he had obtained it for them.Consider,
2. The wisdom of God hath contrived that there should be in the person of the Saviour all manner of attractives to draw us to him. He has in him, all possible excellency. He is possessed of all the beauty and glory of the Godhead.' So that there can be no manner of excellency, nor degree of excellency, that we can devise, but what is in the person of the Saviour. But yet so redundant has the wisdom of God been, in providing attractives in order that we should come to Christ, it hath so ordered, that there should also be all human excellencies in him. If there be any thing attractive in this consideration, that Christ is one in our own nature, one of us, this is true of
Christ. He is not only in the divine, but in the human nature. He is truly a man, and has all possible buman excellencies. He was of a most excellent spirit; wise and holy, condescending and meek, and of a lowly, benign, and benevolent disposition.
Again : The wisdom of God hath chosen a person of great love to sinners, and who should show that love in the most endearing manner possible. What more condescending love can there be, than the love of a divine person to such worms of the dust! What freer love can there be, than love to enemies ! What greater love can there be, than dying love! And what more endearing expression of love, than dying for the beloved ! And the wisdom of God hath so contrived, that Christ shall sus. tain that office which should most tend to endear him to us, and draw us to him: the office of a Redeemer, a redeemer from eternal misery, and the purchaser of all happiness.
And if all this be not enough to draw us, the wisdom of God hath ordered more ; it hath provided us a Saviour that should offer himself to us in the most endearing relation. He offers to receive us as friends ; to receive us to an union to himself, to become our spiritual husband and portion for ever.--And the wisdom of God hath provided us a Saviour that woos in a manner that has the greatest tendency to win our hearts. His word is most attractive. He stands at our door and knocks. He does not merely command us to receive him: but he condescends to apply himself to us in a more endearing manner. He intreats and beseeches us in his word and by his messengers.
3. The wisdom of God hath contrived that there should be all manner of attractives in the benefits that Christ offers you. There are not only the excellencies of the person of Christ to draw you to him, but the desirable benefits he offers. Here is what is most suitable to the cravings of the human nature. Men when distressed and burdened, long for ease and rest : here it is offered to us in Christ. Come unto me, says he, all ye
that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Men when in fear of danger, long for safety : here it is provided for us in Christ. God promises that he will become a shield and buckler, a strong rock and high tower to those that trust in him. -Those that mourn need comfort : Christ tells us that he came to comfort those that mourn, Isa. Ixi. 2.—The blind need to have their eyes opened. The light is sweet to men : Christ offers to anoint our eyes with eye-salve that we may see glorious light. He will be our sun, and the light of God's countenance.- What is more dear to men than life! Christ hath purchased for men, that they should live for ever. Psal. xxi. 4. He asked life of thee, and thou gavest it him, even length of days forever and ever.-How greatly is a crown prized and admired by the children of men? And Christ offers this ;-not VOL. VII.
a corruptible crown, but an incorruptible and far more glorious crown, than any worn by earthly kings : a crown of glory, the lustre of which never shall fade, nor decay; with an everlasting kingdom.--Do men love pleasures ? Here are pleasures for evermore.
What could there be more to draw our hearts to Jesus Christ, and to make us willing to accept of him for our Saviour, with all his unspeakable benefits !