« PreviousContinue »
ANSWER. True, reason saith so, and so doth the law itself, Rom. 10:5; but God we know is above them both, and he in the covenant of grace saith otherwise, to wit, “That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thy heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved.”
Let reason then hold its tongue; yea, let the law with all its wisdom subject itself to him that made it ; let it look for sin where God hath laid it; let it approve the righteousness which God approveth : yea, though it be not that of the law, but that by faith of Jesus Christ.
God hath made him our righteousness; God hath made himn our sin; God hath made him our curse; God hath made him our blessing : methinks this word, God hath made it so, should silence all the world.
I shall leave the obstinate where I found him, and shall say to him that is willing to be saved, “Sinner, thou hast the advantage of thy neighbor, not only because thou art willing to live, but because there are those that are willing thou shouldst, to wit, those unto whom the issues of death belong; and they are the Father and the Son, to whom be glory with the blessed Spirit of grace."
I have seen some, that have promised nothing at first setting out to be pilgrims, and that one would have thought could not have lived another day, that have yet proved very good pilgrims.
OBJECTION. I am afraid the day of grace is past, and if it should be, what shall I do then ?
ANSWER. With some men indeed, the day of grace is past before their lives are at an end : or thus, the day of grace
is past before the day of death is come; as Christ saith, “If thou hadst known, even thou, at least in this thy day, the things which belong unto thy peace,” the word of grace or reconciliation ; " but now they are hid from thine eyes.” Luke 19:42. But for thy better satisfaction, let me ask, Doth the Lord knock still at the door of thy heart, by his word and Spirit? If so, then the day of grace is not passed with thy soul; for where he doth so knock, there he doth also proffer and promise to come in and sup, that is, to communicate of his love unto them; which he would not do were the day of grace passed with the soul. Rev. 3:20.
OBJECTION. But how shall I know whether Christ doth so knock at my heart as to be desirous to come in, that I may know also whether the day of grace be passed with me or not?
ANSWER. Doth the Lord make thee sensible of thy miserable state without an interest in Jesus Christ; and that naturally thou hast no share in him, no faith in him, no communion with him, no delight in him, or the least love to him? If he hath, and is doing this, he is knocking at thy heart. Doth he, together with this, put into thy heart an earnest desire after communion with him, with holy resolutions not to be satisfied without it? Doth he sometimes give thee some secret persuasions, though scarcely discernible, that thou mayest attain an interest in him ? Doth he now and then glance in some of the promises into thy heart, causing them to leave some heavenly savor, though but for a short time, on thy spirit? Dost thou at times see some little excellency in Christ, and doth it stir up in thy soul some breathings after him? If so, then fear not. The day of grace is not passed with thy poor soul; for if the day of grace should be passed with such a soul as this, then that scripture must be broken, where Christ saith, “Him that cometh to me, I will in no wise," upon no terms whatsoever, " cast out.” John 6:37.
Get thy heart warmed with the sweet promise of Christ's acceptance of the coming sinner, and that will
make thee make more haste unto him. Discouraging thoughts are like unto cold weather; they benumb the senses and make us go ungainly about our business; but the sweet and warm gleeds* of promise are like the comfortable beams of the sun, which enliveneth and refresheth. You see how little the bee and the fly do play in the air in winter--why, the cold hinders them from doing it: but when the wind and sun are warm, who so busy as they ?
OBJECTION. But saith another, “I am so heartless, so slow, and, as I think, so indifferent in my coming, that to speak truth, I know not whether my kind of coming ought to be called a coming to Christ.”
ANSWER. I read of some that are to follow Christ in chains-I say, to come after him in chains. Isa. 45: 14. Surely they that come after Christ in chains, come to him in great difficulty.
And what chain so heavy as those that discourage thee? Thy chain, which is made up of guilt and filth, is heavy; it is a wretched band about thy neck, by which thy. strength doth fail. But come, though thou comest in chains; it is glory to Christ, that a sinner comes after him in chains. The chinking of thy chains, though troublesome to thee, is not, nor can be, destruction to thy salvation. It is Christ's work and glory to save thee from thy chains, to enlarge thy steps, and set thee at liberty. The blind man, though called, surely could not come apace to Jesus Christ; but Jesus Christ could stand still and stay for him.
To slight grace, to despise mercy, and to stop the ear when God speaks, when he speaks such great things so much to our profit, is a great provocation.
He offers, he calls, he woos, he invites, he prays, he beseeches us, in this day of his grace, to be reconciled to him; yea, and has provided for us the means of reconciliation himself. Now, to despise these must needs be a provoking; and it is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God.
* Glowing coals.
OBJECTION. But some man may say unto me, “ Fain ] would be saved, fain I would be saved by Christ; but I fear this day of grace is past, and that I shall perish, notwithstanding the exceeding riches of the grace of God."
ANSWER. To this doubt I would answer several things.
First, with respect to the day : 1. Art thou jogged and shaken and molested at the hearing of the word ? Is thy conscience awakened and convinced, then, that thou art at present in a perishing state, and that thou hast need to cry to God for mercy ? This is a hopeful sign that the day of grace is not past with thee.
2. Are there in thy more retired condition, arguings, strugglings, and strivings with thy spirit to persuade thee of the vanity of what vain things thou lovest, and to win thee in thy soul to a choice of Christ Jesus and his heavenly things ? Take heed and rebel not, for the day of God's grace and patience will not be past with thee till he saith his Spirit shall strive no more with thee; for then the woe comes, when he shall depart from them, and when he says to the means of grace, “Let thern alone.”'
3. Art thou visited in the night seasons with dreams about thy state, and that thou art in danger of being lost ? Hast thou heart-shaking apprehensions, when deep sleep is upon thee, of hell, death, and judgment to come ? These are signs that God has not wholly left thee, or cast thee behind his back for ever.
All this while God has not left the sinner, nor is come to the end of his patience towards him, but stands at least with the door of grace ajar in his hand, as being loath as yet to bolt it against him."
4. Art thou followed with affliction, and dost thou hear God's angry voice in thy affliction ? Doth he send with thy affliction an interpreter to show thee thy vileness, and why or wherefore the hand of God is upon thee and upon what thou hast, to wit, that it is for thy sinning against him, and that thou mightst be turned to him? If so, thy summer is not quite ended, thy harvest is not quite over and gone. Take heed; stand out no longer, lest he cause darkness, and lest thy feet stumble upon the dark mountains, and lest while you look for light, he turn it into the shadow of death, and make it
darkness. 5. Hast thou any enticing touches of the word of God upon thy mind? Doth as it were some holy word of God give a glance upon thee, cast a smile upon thee, let fall though it be but one drop of its savor upon thy spirit; yea, though it stays but one moment with thee? Oh, then, the day of grace is not past, the gate of heaven is not shut, nor God's heart withdrawn from thee as yet. Take heed therefore, and beware that thou make much of the heavenly gift and of that good word of God of which he has made thee taste.
Secondly, with respect to thy desires, what are they? Wouldst thou be saved ? Wouldst thou be saved with a thorough salvation ? Wouldst thou be saved from guilt and filth too ? Wouldst thou be the servant of thy Saviour ? Art thou indeed weary of the service of thy old masters, the devil, sin, and the world ? And have these desires put thy soul to the flight? Hast thou through desires betaken thyself to thy heels? Dost thou fly to him that is a Saviour from the wrath to come, for life?
If these be thy desires, and if they be unfeigned, fear not. Thou art one of those runaways which God has commanded our Lord to receive, and not to send thee back to the devil thy master again, but to give thee a place in his house, even the place which thou likest best.
“But,” you say, “I am afraid I am not elect or chosen to salvation."
At present, lay the thoughts of thy election by, and ask