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other. Far from looking upon it as a disagreeable condition, with which my expectations from thee are clogged, I count the opportunities of such converse, and my inclinations towards it, in the number of my greatest obligations to thy goodness.” Should God say to the christian, “I will for the future dispense with thine attendance; thou shalt retain thine interest in me, though thou shouldest call upon me no more ; and shall meet me as thy friend at death, though thou forgettest me in life;" the good man would not be able to bear such a dismission. He would rather say,
“ Lord, if I were to live only on these terms, it were much better for me to die. I should with Moses, in another case, Pray thee to kill me out of hand*, rather than leave me here under such a burden as life would seem, if it might not be sweetened by communion with thee, in the closet, in the family, and in public ordinances.”
These, my brethren, are important parts of the christian's character, yet they are far from being the whole of it. With this temper he comes to God; but how should he be encouraged to such an approach, if the great Redeemer were forgot? We add therefore,
II. That all, to whom salvation is promised in the gospel, “make their approach to God through Christ,” or, as the text expresses it, they come unto God by him.
You will no doubt be willing, that I should open this important article pretty largely ; and I shall do it under the following particulars. Coming to God by Christ implies,-a deep sense of our need of a Mediator, in order to our comfortable intercourse with God ;-a persuasion of the power of Christ,and a confidence in his grace ;-a cordial approbation of the method in which he bestows salvation and a constant care to maintain proper regards to Christ, in the whole course of our walking with God. This is that evangelical faith, to which the promises of gospel salvation are appropriated, by the text before us, and the whole tenour of scripture. 1. Coming to God by Christ implies, “ a deep sense of our
need of a Mediator, in order to a comfortable intercourse with God.”
Christianity is the religion of sinners; and it will never be really welcome to a soul, that is not sensible of the evil, and
* Numb. xi. 15.
malignity of sin. The natural pride of our hearts would first lead us to forget God, and not to seek after him at all : But if conscience be in any measure awakened to sce, what it is strange every rational creature should not always see, our dependance on him, and our need of an interest in his favour, pride finds a second refuge, in a fond conceit of bringing something of our own to recommend us to it. And if at length men are sensible, they have nothing of this kind, which they can call their own, they are ready to think of casting themselves immediately on the mercies of an offended God, rather than of multiplying their obligations, and their dependance, by coming to him through a Mediator. If we must own ourselves sinners, we are prone to extenuate our guilt ; and if we cannot look upon it as indifferent, would at least represent it, as an excusable thing, which is worthy of compassion, rather than of indignation. How difficult is it to view it in a true light! To see what insolence and baseness it carries in it, and what danger and ruin it exposes us to ! But divine grace makes way for the gospel into dur hearts, by displaying the justice and the holiness of God, as
ually essential to his nature, with his wisdom and goodness : And then, when we consider ourselves as appearing in his presence, convicted of ten thousand aggravated offences, we cry out from a deep and inward sense, “ Who is able to stand before this holy Lord God* ! Wherewith shall I come before the Lord, and bow myself before the high Godt ? Surely I need some perfectly righteous Mediator, high in his favour, to introduce me to him, and to render my access safe and comfortable, by appearing as a Days-man betwixt us, to lay his hand upon us boths.” 2. Coming to God by Christ farther implies, “a full persuasion
of his saving power.”
We have been endeavouring to prove it at large ; and the conviction of it enters deep into the believing soul. He assents to this most concerning truth with full satisfaction, though there be something in the foundation of it which feeble reason cannot fully comprehend. Important as he sees his everlasting concerns to be, he can courageously venture them here ; he can cry out, Lord, I believe, though a mixture of unbelief may cost him many a tears. “Lord,” does he often say, “I am sure, that If thou wilt, thou canst make me cleanll. Though jew and gentile may reject thee, I humbly own thee, as the
* 1 Sam. vi. 20. † Micah vi. 6. Job ix. 33. $ Mark ix. 24.
| Matt, viii. 2.
Head stone of the corner.
Oh! that I were but as sure of an interest in thee, as I might be of finding my security and my happiness in it !" 3. It farther implies, “ Cheerful confidence in the “Grace of
Christ,” as well as a persuasion of his saving power.
Without this, he would appear the object of terror, rather than of hope; or in the mildest view, but as a spring shut up, and a fountain sealed, to a traveller languishing, and dying with thirst : But faith teaches the christian firmly to rely on that kind and gracious invitation, if any man thirst, let him come unto me and drink*. “Yes,” says the believer, “ it is indeed so.
The compassions of his heart are proportionable to the power of his hand; and I will cast my soul upon them. Blessed Jesus, I would throw myself at thy feet, though it were a supposeable case that I might perish there, and but an uncertain peradventure, that thou mightest pity and save me; for if thou shouldest not, I could but die; and I had rather die an humble penitent, than an obstinate rebel : But forgive that unworthy thought,—that thou shouldest leave an humble penitent to die before thee! Neither thy grace, nor thy truth, will permit it. Him that cometh to thee, thou wilt in no wise cast oult : And though I am a poor, weak, worthless creature, thou camest Not to call the righteous, but sinners to repentances; and thou callest them in so compassionate a manner, as to en. gage that thou wilt Not break the bruised reed, nor quench even the smoaking flars. Let Christ be true, whoever is a liar.” Thus do his doubts gradually disperse ; thus does he rise to a joy and peace in believing. But it is always to be remembered, 4. That coming to God by Christ includes, “a cordial appro
bation, and acceptance of the methods of his saving grace.'
This is of the highest importance, if we would not deceive ourselves to our eternal ruin. Men may dress up an idol in their own minds, and call it by the name of Christ ; and they may be as fond of it, as pagans are of the works of their own hands : But can this save them, if it be found that the true Christ, as exhibited in the gospel, has been overlooked and rejected by them? A true believer impartially enquires after the way in which salvation is proposed in the word of God; and when he has discovered it, he entirely approves it, as a faithful saying,
* Jolin vii. 37.
+ John vi. 37.
Mat, ix. 13.
$ Mat. xii. 20.
worthy of God to appoint, and most fit for him to accept. More particularly he views it, and acquiesces in it, as the
way of faith, and the way of holiness. Each of these views of it will deserve our farther attention.
The good man heartily desires to receive the gospel-salvation,
in “ the way of faith, or humble believing.”
It is thus the word of God always exhibits it : The just shall five by faith* ; nor Shall any flesh glory in his presencet. And so entirely is every high thought reduced to the obedience of this blessed principle, in the heart of him that comes to God by Christ, that he is willing to do, what, to so corrupt a nature, as ours, seems most expensive, to Buy wine and milk without money and without pricet; willing to part with the very dearest of his idols, to renounce all dependance on himself, as to what is past, or what is yet to come ; to trust no more in his own righteousness, or his own strength; and to say with the most joyful consent of soul, In the Lord have I both righteousness and strengthş. “Blessed Jesus, it is hard to my proud heart “ to say it; but it is therefore so much the more reasonable and necessary : For this cursed dependance on self has spoiled the best of my duties, and would betray me to guilt and ruin in many future instances, shouldest thou forsake me.
How imperfect and sinful are my best days, and my holiest hours ! How feeble and ineffectual my most vigorous and solemn resolutions, against so much inward corruption, and so many outward enemies and temptations! Lord, I am distressed, but I hope, thou hast undertaken for mell. I hope, I may look on thee as my great surety and covenant-head, who didst, before the foundation of the world, engage to satisfy for my breaches of thy Father's law, to work out for me a perfect righteousness, and by thy always victorious power and grace, to con. duct me to glory in the midst of all opposition. Eternal life is the gift of God, through Jesus Christ our Lord ; from bis band would I most thankfully receive this crown, and at his feet would I humbly lay it !" On the other hand, It is to be remembered, That as Christ saves his people, “in
the way of holiness,” the true believer most cordially
Isa, lv. 1.
* Rom. i. 17.
+ 1 Cor. i. 29.
Rom. vi. 23.
& Isa. xlv, 24.
sense of the word; for saving faith is a principle of holy obedience; and a Faith without works is expressly declared to be dead, as the body is dead when without the spirit*. The christian well knows, that it was the great design of his Lord's appearance and sufferings in the flesh, that he Might bring us to Godt, that he might Save his people from their sinsi, and purify them to himself, as a peculiar people, zealous of good worksą. And how reasonable is this part of the scheme! “Could I,” says he, “have desired, that it should have been otherwise! that the holy Jesus should have been the minister of sin? that he, whose great business it was to honour the law of God, should have dissolved our obligations to it, and have given a licence to his followers to continue the Servants of corruption ||, even while they call him their Lord? Or could I ask it, or even so much as wish it, that he should distinguish me from others, by a dispensation of that kind? Unreasonable and detestable thought! Lord, I desire not, I understand not a salvation, of which holiness shall not be an essential part. And though I well know, that many precepts of thy gospel are sublime, and difficult; and that they may be justly represented, by Cutting off a right hand, and plucking out a right eyes; yet through thy grace I can say, I esteem all thy precepts concerning all things to be right, and I hate every false way** Blessed Jesus, thou art more welcome to my soul, as Made of God unto me, sanctification, as well as Righteousness and redemptiontt. Give me thy spirit to lead me, and I will follow with pleasure; draw me, and I will run after thee in the way which thou thyself hast traced; for thou who knou est all things, knowest that it is the desire of my soul, to be conformed to thee in holiness now, as well as in glory hereafter." I shall only add, 5. Coming to God by Christ does farther express, “a continual
care to maintain a proper regard to him, in the whole course of our walking with God.”
He is not considered, only as a Mediator to introduce us at first into the divine presence, and so to settle a correspondence, to be carried on afterwards without any further use of him; but as that blessed and important person, Through whom we have continually access by one spirit unto the Father11. “Lord,” does the christian often say, not merely as a language learned
* Jam. . 26.
+1 Pet. iii. 18.
Mat. i. 21. 9 Mat. v. 29,30. #1 Ephes. ii. 19.