« PreviousContinue »
in a little they rose up and thrust him out of the city, verfe 29. Again, when the voice of Chrift is dif cerned in the offer by the convinced finner; then the finner is ready to conclude, that it is to others, but not to him. Unbelief faith, but our bones are dried, and our hope is loft, we are cut off for our parts, Ezek. xxxvii. II. They cannot believe, that fo good news from heaven concerns them, or that fuch a good word is directed unto them. And thus men not believing God in' the record given of his Son, that he is with all his falvation offered to them, do make him a lyar, 1 John v. 10..
But where faving faith is a working, the word of the gospel offer is, by the holy Spirit, applied to the foul in particular with power, as the word of the Lord himself, and not of men; whereby the man is affured, that it is the voice of Chrift, and to him in particular: whereupon he applies it to himself by believing: Theff. i. 5. For our gospel came not unto you in word only, but also in power, and in the holy Ghoft, and in much affurance. Chap. ii. 13. The word of God, which ye heard of us, ye received it not as the word of men, but (as it is in truth) the word of God, which effectually worketh alfo in you that believe. This is altogether neceffary; infomuch that without it there can be no receiving of Chrift, forafinuch as otherways the foul can fee no folid ground and foundation of faith for itfelf: for it is evident, there can be no receiving aright, where the finner doth not believe the offer to be to him in particular. And here begins the application of faith, an application tending to union with Christ.
Wherefore, if you would unite with Chrift, and fo enter into the covenant of grace, fift yourfelves before the Lord as condemned finners, under the curfe of the law; and hear and believe the word of his golpel, as directed to you condemned and curfed finners in particular. So it will come unto you, as
the rifing fun to one fitting in darkness, and in the fhadow of death; or as the offer of a pardon, to one under fentence of death. And let not your heart mifgive you by unbelief; but firmly believe the offer to be made by Chrift himfelf unto you, as it is in very deed, Ifa. lv. 3. Hear, and your foul fhall live, and I will make an everlasting covenant with you.
But here it is neceffary to remove the following objections.
OBJECT. I. But Chrift is now in heaven, and I hear no voice from thence: how then can I believe that he himself is offering himself to me? ANS. Though Chrift is in heaven, yet he is fpeaking from heaven to us; howbeit not by a voice founding thro' the clouds, yet by a voice founding in the go. fpel: Heb. xii. 25. See that ye refufe not him that Speaketh-that fpeaketh from heaven. And not only is his voice in the word of the gofpel, but he himfelf by his fpirit is in it, as the Apostle teacheth. Rom. x. 6, 7, 8. Thence it is, that it is a quickening word to dead fouls: John vi. 63. The words that I Speak unto you, they are fpirit and they are life. It is the lively feed, whereof the new creature is formed, Pet. i. 23. Jefus Chrift did once by a voice founding thro' the clouds, fpeak a word of conviction, Acts ix. 4, 5. But even in that cafe the word of the offer of himfelf was remitted to the preaching of the gofpel by a meffenger thereto appointed, ver. 6. And the voice of Chrift founding in his written word, is more fure than a voice founding thro' the clouds, 2 Pet. i. 18, 19. This voice in the word is the ftated ground of faith, with which faith muft clofe for falvation; Rom. i. 16. The gospel of Chrift: it is the power of God unto falvation, to every one that believeth. Ver. 17. For therein is the righteoufness of God revealed from faith to faith. And there is no true faving faith, where it is not received as the very voice of the Lord himfelf, 1 Theff. ii. 13. Therefore
fore you must receive the word of the gospel, as the word of Chrift himself, as in very deed it is.
OBJECT. 2. But Chrift in the word of the gospel doth not name me: how then can I believe that he offereth himself, his righteoufnefs and falvation, to me in particular? ANs. Neither doth he name you in the word or the law, whether in the commands thereof,, or in the curfe thereof. How do you come to believe that you are a finner? Is it not, that, the commands of the law being directed to all men, you conclude and believe, that, you being of the number of mankind, they are therefore directed to you in particular, as well as to others? And how come you to believe that you in particular are under the curfe of the broken law? Is it not, that, fince the law denounceth its curfe against every one that, being under it, breaks it, Gal. iii. 10. Rom. iii. 19. you do conclude and believe, that it curfeth you, forafmuch as you are one of thefe breakers thereof? Now you have as fufficient ground to believe that the offer of the gofpel is to you in particular; forafmuch as it is made to all, without exception, unto whom the gospel comes, Rev. xxii. 17. Ifa. lv. 1, It is ordered to be made to every creature under heaven, Mark xvi. 15: and how finful foever you are, you are one of thefe creatures. Chrift's voice is unto men, fons of men: and be what you will, you are one of mankind finners: and therefore the offer is to you in particular, Prov. viii. 4. Accordingly, we are warranted to apply the general offer to every one in particular; and every one is warranted to apply it to himself: Acts xvi. 31. Believe on the Lord Jefus Chrift, and thou shalt be faved,
OBJECT. 3. But alas! I fear I want the qualifications determinative of thofe to whom the gofpeloffer is particularly directed. I dread that I have not as yet got a due fenfe of fin: and our Lord fays, exprefly, They that be whole need not a phyfician,
but they that are fick. I am not come to call the righteous, but finners to repentance, Matth. xi. 12, 13. The gospel offer runs in these terms, Ho, every one that thirfteth, come, Ifa. lv. 1. Come unto me, all ye that labour, and are heavy laden, Matth. xi. 28. Whosoever will, let him take the water of life freely, Rev. xxii. 17. But when I view my own condition, I very much fear I have not as yet reached that thirst after Christ, and that willingness to take him, which these texts fpeak of; and that I cannot be accounted one truly labouring and heavy laden: how then can I believe that Chrift offers himself to me in particular? ANS. It is moft certain truth, that, unless you have a due fenfe, of fin, unless you thirft after Chrift and his righteoufnefs, unless you be heavy laden with the felt burden of fin, and willing to take Christ upon any terms, you will never take him by a true faith. Nevertheless, whatever qualifications you have, or have not, yet if you are a finner of Adam's race, (and I hope you doubt not that), Chrift is offered to you, together with his righteousness, and all his falvation, Prov. viii. 4. John iii. 16. Mark xvi. 15. For howbeit there are indeed certain qualifications neceffary to move you to take Chrift; yet there are none at all to hamper the gospel offer: but Chrift is really offered to you, be in what cafe you will; fo really, that if you do not believe it, and thereupon receive an offered Saviour, you will be damned for not believ ing, Mark xvi. 16.
It is undeniable, the lefs that finners are fenfible of their fins, they are the farther from righteousness; they do the more need Christ, and are the more to be called to repentance. This is evident from the whole tenor of the holy fcripture, and from the very nature of the thing. And therefore it is finners in the general, and not fenfible finners only, who are meant, Matth. ix. 12, 13. Even as it is fick people
in general, comprehending even thofe of them who are fo delirious, as to think nothing ails them, that need a physician; and not thofe fick only, who are fenfible of their state and hazard. This is the plain literal fenfe of that paffage, from which there is no neceffity to depart: and the departing from it is attended with a manifeft inconvenience.
Neither is the thirst mentioned Ifa. Iv. 1. to be reftricted to a gracious thirst, a thirst after Chrift and his righteoufnefs. For fome at leaft of the thirfting ones, to whom the offer is there made, are spending money for that which is not bread, and their labour for that which fatisfieth not, verfe 1, 2. But it is evident, that finners duly fenfible, who are thirfting after Chrift and his righteousness, are not spending their money and labour at that rate; but, on the contrary, for that which alone is bread, and fatisfieth, namely, Jefus Chrift the true bread which came down from heaven. Wherefore the thirft there meant, muft needs comprehend, yea, and principally aim at, that thirft after happiness and fatisfaction, which being natural, is common to all mankind. Men pained with this thirft do naturally run, for. quenching thereof, to the empty creation, and their fulfome lufts: and so they spend money for that which is not bread, and their labour for that which fatisfeth not finding nothing there that can fatisfy that their appetite or thirft. Now, to men in this wretched cafe is the gospel offer of the waters of life made: Chrift is offered unto them, as bread, fatnefs, what is good, and will fatisfy that their painful thirst, which otherways will never be quenched, ibid.
And as little is the folemn gofpel offer, Matth. ix. 28. reftricted to a certain fet of men endued with fome laudable, qualifications, going under the name of labouring and being heavy ladea; the which do indeed denote the reftleffness natural to the finful foul of man, spending its labours for that which fatisfeth