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way tu set the crown on the promise; this is the way to welcome the invitation and the inviter; and this is the way to thrust thyself under the shelter and protection of the word of grace. Never despair, so long as our text is alive; for that doth sound it out, that mercy by Christ is offered in the first place to the biggest sinner.
for the recep
Let none despair, let none presume: let none despair, that are sorry for their sins and would be saved by Jesus Christ; let none presume that abide in the liking of their sins, though they seem to know the exceeding grace of Christ; for though the doors stand wide open tion of the penitent, yet they are fast enough barred and bolted against the presumptuous sinner. Be not deceived, God is not mocked; whatsoever a man sows, that shall he also reap.
It cannot be that God should be wheedled out of his mercy, or prevailed upon by lips of dissimulation; he knows them that trust in him, and that sincerely come to him by Christ for mercy.
It is, then, not the abundance of sins committed, but the not coming heartily to God by Christ for mercy, that shuts men out of doors.
Is it so, that they that are coming to Jesus Christ, are ofttimes heartily afraid that he will not receive them ? Then this should teach old Christians to pity and pray
for young comers.
You know the heart of a stranger, for you yourselves were strangers in the land of Egypt. You know the fears and doubts and terrors that take hold of them, for they sometimes took hold of you. Wherefore, pity them, pray for them, encourage them; they need all this.
THE POWER OF THE GOSPEL. That Jesus Christ, by what he has done, has paid full price to God for sinners and obtained eternal redemption for them, is evident, if you consider how the preaching thereof has been from that time to this a mighty conqueror over all kinds of sinners. What nation, what people, what kind of sinners have not been subdued by the preaching of a crucified Christ? He upon the white horse with his bow and his crown has conquered, doth conquer, and goeth forth yet conquering and to conquer.
The doctrine of forgiveness of sin conquered his very murderers. They could not withstand the grace; those bloody ones that would kill him whatever it cost them, could stand no longer, but received his doctrine, fell into his bosom, and obtained the salvation which is in Christ Jesus. " They shall look upon him whom they have pierced, and mourn for him as one mourneth for his only son, and they shall be in bitterness for him as one is in bitterness for his first-born.” Now was the scripture eminently fulfilled, when the kindness of a crucified Christ broke to pieces the hearts of them that had before been his betrayers and murderers. Now was there a great mourning in Jerusalem ; now was there wailing and lamentation, mixed with joy and rejoicing.
Though Paul was mad, exceeding mad against Jesus Christ of Nazareth, seeking to put out his name from under heaven; yet the voice from heaven, “I am Jesus, I am the Saviour," how did it conquer him, make him throw down his arms, fall down at Christ's feet, and accept of the forgiveness of sins freely by grace, through redemption by faith in his blood.
How was the sturdy jailer overcome by a promise of forgiveness of sins by faith in Jesus Christ. It stopped his hand of self-murder, it eased him of the gnawings of a guilty conscience and fears of hell-fire, and filled his soul with rejoicing in God.
What shall I say? no man could as yet stand before, and not fall under, the revelation of the forgiveness of sins through a crucified Christ: as hanged, as dying, as accursed for sinners, he draws all men unto him, men of all sorts, of all degrees.
Shall I add, how have men broken through all difficulties to Jesus, when he hath been discovered to them! Neither lions, nor fires, nor sword, nor famine, nor nakedness, nor peril; “neither death nor life; nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers; nor things present, nor things to come ; nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.”
BUNYAN'S CONVERSION. I speak by experience: I was one of these verminous ones, one of these great sin-breeders; I infected all the youth of the town where I was born with all manner of youthful vanities. The neighbors counted me so; my practice proved me so : wherefore Christ Jesus took me first, and taking me first, the contagion was much allayed all the town over. When God made me sigh, they would hearken, and inquiringly say, "What is the matter with John ?” They also gave their various opinions of me; but, as I said, sin cooled, and failed as to his full career. When I went out to seek the bread of life, some of them would follow, and the rest be put into a muse at home.
When it pleased the Lord to begin to instruct my soul, he found me one of the black sinners of the world ; he found me making a sport of oaths, and also of lies; and many a soul-poisoning meal did I make out of divers lusts, as drinking, dancing, etc., with the wicked ones of the world. The Lord finding me in this condition, opened the glass of his law unto me, showing me so clearly my sins—both the greatness of them, and also how abominable they were in his sight—that I thought the very clouds were charged with the wrath of God, and ready to let fall the fire of his jealousy upon me; yet for all this I was so wedded to my sins, that I thought with myself, "I will have them, though I lose my soul,” wretch that I was. But God, the great, the rich, the infinitely merciful God, did not take this advantage of my soul to cast me away; but followed me still, and won my heart by giving me some understanding, not only of my miserable state which I was very sensible of, but also that there might be hopes of mercy; taking away my love to lust, and placing in the room thereof a holy love to religion. Thus the Lord won my heart to some desire to hear the word, to grow a stranger to my old companions, and to accompany the people of God, giving me many sweet encouragements from several promises in the scriptures. But after this, the Lord wonderfully set my sins upon my conscience; those sins especially that I had committed since the first convictions : temptations also followed me very hard ; especially such as tended to make me question the way of salvationwhether Jesus Christ was the Saviour or not, and whether I had best to venture my soul upon him for salvation, or take some other course—and I continued a year and upwards without any sound evidence as from God to my soul, touching salvation as it comes by Jesus Christ. But at the last, as I may say, when the set time was come, the Lord did set me down blessedly in the truth of the doctrine of Jesus Christ.
About this time the state and happiness of these poor people at Bedford was thus, in a kind of a vision, presented to me.
I saw as if they were on the sunny side of some high mountain, there refreshing themselves with the pleasant beams of the sun, whilst I was shivering and shrinking in the cold, afflicted with frost, snow, and dark clouds. Methought also, between me and them I saw a wall that did compass about this mountain. Now, through this mountain my soul did greatly desire to pass; concluding that if I could, I would even go into the very midst of them and there also comfort myself with the heat of their sun.
About this wall I bethought myself to go again and again, still prying as I went, to see if I could find some way or passage by which I might enter therein ; but none could I find for some time : at the last, I saw as it were a narrow gap, like a little door-way in the wall, through which I attempted to pass; now the passage being very strait and narrow, I made many offers to get in, but all in vain, even until I was well-nigh quite beat out by striving to get in; at last, with great striving, methought I at first did get in my head, and after that, by a sideling striving, my shoulders and my whole body; then was I exceeding glad, and went and sat down in the midst of them, and so was comforted with the light and heat of their sun.
Now, this mountain and wall, etc., was thus made out to me: the mountain signified the church of the living God; the sun that shone thereon, the comfortable shining of his merciful face on them that were therein; the wall I thought was that which did make separation betwixt the Christians and the world; and the gap which was in the wall, I thought was Jesus Christ, who is the God the Father. But forasmuch as the passage was wonderful narrow, even so narrow that I could not but with great difficulty enter in thereat, it showed me that none could enter into life but those that were in downright earnest, and unless also they left that wicked world behind them; for here was only room for body and soul, but not for body and soul and sin.
This resemblance abode upon my spirit many days; all which time I saw myself in a forlorn and sad condition, but yet was provoked to a vehement hunger and desire to be one of that number that did sit in the sunshine; now also would I pray wherever I was, whether at home or abroad, in house or field; and would also often, with lifting up of heart, sing that of the fifty-first Psalm, “O