HHaving heretofore declared unto you the wofull estate and conditi∣on wherein we stand by nature, I proceeded to the Remedy, that God of his infinite Mercy hath provided for the recovery of mi∣serable sinners from the wrath to come. And therein I proposed two things, that our Saviour that was to advance us, and raise us out of this condition, when we had lost our selves in Adam; We having eaten sowre grapes, he was to have his teeth set on edge; we accounted him smitten of God, and buffeted; but we had sinned, and he was beaten. That when the Lord in his wrath was rea∣dy to smite us, he underwent the dint of Gods sword, and stood betwixt the blow and us; the blow light∣ed Page 394 on him that was equal with God, and deserved not to be beaten. Awake O sword against my shepherd, and against the man that is my fellow. The sword was un∣willing to strike him; and thus being smitten he be∣came a propitiation for our sins: The chastisement of our peace was on him. He offered himself a sacri∣fice: Here are two things considerable;
- 1. How Christ was offered for us.
- 2. How he is offered to us.
First, For us, and so he offered up himself a Sacri∣fice, a sweet smelling Sacrifice unto God. Mark the point is, he is not only the Sacrifice, but the Sacrificer. He offered up himself, saith the Apostle; He was the Priest, and it was a part of Priest-hood to offer up himself. The Sacrifices in the old Law that typified him, were only sufferers. The poor beasts were on∣ly passive: but our Saviour he must be an Actor in the business. He was active in all that he suffered: He did it in obedience to his Fathers Will, yet he was an Agent in all his Passion. John 11.33. He groaned in Spirit, and was troubled; the Greek is 〈 in non-Latin alphabet 〉, or (as it is in the Margent) He troubled himself. With us in our Passions it is otherwise: we are meer suffe∣rers. Our Saviour was a Conqueror over all his pas∣sions, and therefore unless he would trouble himself, none else could trouble him: unless he vvould lay down his life, none could take it from him; unless he vvould give his cheek to be smitten, the Jews had no power to smite it. Isa. 50.6. I gave my back to the Smiters, and my cheek to them that pluckt off the hair, and hid not my face from shame and spitting. In all these we should con∣sider our Saviour, not as a Sacrifice only, but a sacri∣ficer Page 395 also; an Actor in all this business: their wicked hands were not more ready to smite, then he was to give his face to be smitten, and all to shevv that it was a voluntary Sacrifice. He did all himself; He hum∣bled himself unto the death. And now by all this we see what we have gotten: vve have gotten a Remedy and satisfaction for our sins. That precious blood of that immaculate Lamb takes avvay the sins of the world, because it is the Lamb of God, under which else the World vvould have eternally groaned.
Object. But doth this Lamb of God take away all the sins of the world?
Sol. It doth not actually take avvay all the sins of the vvorld, but virtually, It hath povver to do it, if it be rightly applyed, the Sacrifice hath such vertue in it, that if all the World vvovld take it, and apply it, it vvould satisfie for the sins of the vvhole World: but it is here, as with medicines, they do not help, be∣ing prepared, but being applyed; Rhubarb purgeth choller, yet not unless applyed, &c. Exod. 39.38. there is mention made of a Golden Altar. Christ is this Golden Altar, to shew that his blood is most precious: We are not redeemed with silver and gold, but with the precious blood of Jesus Christ. He is that gol∣den Altar mentioned in the Revelation, vvhich stands before the Throne. He was likevvise to be a brazen Al∣tar; for so much vvas to be put upon him, that unless he vvere of brass, and had infinite strength, he vvould have sunk under the burthen. Its Jobs Metaphor: Job in his passion saith, Is my strength the strength of stones? or is my flesh brass? Job 6.12. If Christs flesh had not been brass: if he had not been this brazen Page 396 Altar, he could never have gone through these: now he is prepared for us a sacrifice for sin. Rom. 8.3. For what the Law could not do, in that it was weak through the flesh, God sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, and for sin, (for sin) make a stop there, condemned sin in the flesh. This same (for sin) hath not refe∣rence to (condemned) To condemn sin for sin is not good sence; but the words depend on this (God sent his Son) that is, God sent his Son to be a Sacrifice for sin, 〈 in non-Latin alphabet 〉, as the word is translated. Heb. 10.6. a sacrifice for sin. It was impossible the Law should save us: not because of any transgression, or failing in the Law, but because our weakness is such, as that we could not perform the conditions: therefore God was not tyed to Promises; by reason then of the weakness of our flesh, rather then we should perish, God sent his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, & in that flesh of his, condemned all our sins; we need not look that sin should be condemned in us, when he bare our sins on the tree, then were our sins condemned; therefore its said, Isa. 53. When he had made his soul an offering for sin: that is in the Original (when he had made his soul, sin) then he saw his seed, Isa. 57.
We come now to the second thing, if Christ be offer∣ed for us, yet unless he offer himself to us: unless any man may have interest in him, its nothing worth. Here then stands the Mystery of the Gospel, Christ when he comes to offer himself to us, he finds not a whit in us that is to be respected; nothing. And that is the ground of all disturbance to ignorant consciences; for there is naturally in men pride and ignorance, they think they may not meddle with Christ, with Gods Page 397 Mercy; unless they bring something, unless they have something of their own to lay down. This is to buy Christ, to barter betwixt Christ and the soul: but salvation is a free gift of God. As the Apostle speaks, Christ is freely given unto thee, when thou hadst nothing of worth in thee. Faith when it comes, empties thee of all that is in thee: To whom be the Gospel preached? to the dead. Now before Christ quicken thee, thou art stark dead, rotting in thy sins. Here's the point then, when there is no manner of goodness in thee in the world. In me, saith St. Paul, that is, in my flesh there is no good thing. When I have been the most outragious sinner, I may lay hold on Christ. Christ comes and offers himself to thee.
Now when Christ offers, the other part of the re∣lation holds, we may take. We have an interest to accept what he proffers. Consider it by an example: If one give me a million, and I receive it not, I am never the richer: and so if God offer me his Son, and with him all things, I am nothing the better, if I re∣ceive him not. That he is born and given, what's that to us? unless we can say, To us a child is born, to us a Son is given, Isa. 9.6. Faith comes with a naked hand to receive that which is given; we must empty our selves of what is in us. Consider thy estate, the Lord sets down how it is with us, when he comes to look upon us. Ezek. 16.6. And when I passed by thee, and saw thee polluted in thy blood, I said unto thee, when thou wert in thy blood, live. Why is this set down? Its to shew how God finds nothing in us when he comes to shew Mercy. He finds nothing in us that is lovely; when he comes to bestow his Son upon us. Page 398 For its said, Rev. 1.5, That Christ loved us, and wash∣ed us from our sins in his own blood. He doth first cast his love upon us when we are unwasht, as I may say unwasht and unblest: When no eye pittied thee, and thou wast cast out in the open field; when thou wast in thy blood, I said unto thee, live; when he comes to m•king up of the match, verse 9. Then I washed thee with water, yea, I throughly washed away thy blood from thee, and I anointed thee with oyl: I clothed thee also with em∣broydered work, and shod thee with badgers skins, &c. that is, when Christ comes to cast his affections on us, and to wed us unto himself, he finds us polluted, not with a rag on us. Full of filth, just nothing have we, he takes us with nothing; nay, vve are vvorse then no∣thing: so that here is the point, what ground is there vvhereby a man that is dead, and hath no goodness in him, (make him as ill as can be imagined,) what ground hath he to receive Christ? Yes, To as many as received him, to them he gave the power to become the sons of God. First, The receiving of Christ, and then comes Believing. It is the receiving of this gift, that is the means vvhereby Christ is offered to us. The Apostle joyning the first and second Adam together, makes the benefit vve have by the second to lie in the point of receiving. Rom. 5.
Object. If it be a free gift why is faith required?
Sol. Because faith takes away nothing from the gift. If a man give a begger an Alms, and he reach out his hand to receive it, his reaching out the hand makes the gift never the lesse, because the hand is not a worker, but an instrument in receiving the free gift. Rom. 5.15. If through the offence of one many be Page 399 dead, much more the grace of God, and the gift by grace hath abounded unto many in Jesus Christ. And verse 17. If by one mans offence death raigned by one, much more they that receive abundance of grace shall raign in life by one Jesus Christ: here's the point then, God is well-pleased, and therefore sends to us. Wilt thou have my Son? with him thou shalt have abundance of Grace, and everlasting life, and my love too. There's no Creature in this place, but this shall be made good unto, if he can find in his heart to take Christ; thou shalt have a warrant to receive him. Now to re∣ceive Christ, is to believe in his name, and to draw near unto him (The word Recei•ing) is a t•king vvith the hand with free entertainment; as verse 11. immediately before the Text. Its not so properly Receiving as Entertaining. He came to his own, and his ovvn received him not; they vvere like the foolish Gaderens, that prefer'd their pigs before Christ; they would rather have his room then his company: and so when Christ comes, and thou hadst rather be a free-man, as thou thinkest, and wilt not have him to raign over thee, then thy case is lamen∣table: Then self-will, self-have. The only point is, whether we come to Christ, or he come to us, there is a drawing near. If thou comest to Christ he will not put thee back; if Christ come to thee by any good motion, if thou shut not the door against him, thou shalt not miss him. Rev. 3.20. Behold I stand at the door and knock, If any man here my voice, and open the door, I will come in unto him, and sup with him, and he with me. The Lord by the knock of his mouth, by the sword that comes out of his mouth, would fain Page 400 come in, and be familiar with thee, and be friends with thee. If thou wilt not let him in, is it not good reason that (as in the Canticles) he with-draw him∣self? If he see thy sins, and would fain come in, what an encouragement hast thou to open? John 6.37. He that cometh unto me, I will in no wise cast out. Canst thou have a better word from thy Prince then this? When he holdeth out his golden Scepter, if thou takest hold on it, thou art safe, otherwise thou art a dead man: thou canst not have a greater security, all the point is, Faith is a drawing near unto Christ, and Unbelief is a going from him. The Gospel is preached to those that are a far off, and to those that are near. Eph. 2.17. He came and preached peace to you that are a far off, and to them that are nigh. Who were they that were a far off? they were those that had uncircumci∣sion in the flesh, without Christ, Aliens to the Common∣wealth of Israel, 〈 in non-Latin alphabet 〉, those that had no hope; to these Christ came, these that were a far off, by faith drew near: that expression is a singular one. Heb. 10.38. Now the just shall live by faith; What is that? but if any man draw back, that is, if any man be an Unbeliever, my soul shall have no pleasure in him. Faith makes a man come, & draw near to Christ. Its a shamefast bashfulness that makes a man draw back; its unbelief, if any draw back, and to believe is to go on with boldness; We are not of them which draw back unto perdition, but of them, &c. What an excellent encouragement is this, to come with boldness unto the Throne of Grace▪ that we may find help in time of need? So that now let thy estate be what it will: if thou wilt not hold off, but dost en∣tertain Christ, though thy sins be as red as scarlet, be not Page 401 discouraged, they shall be made as white as wool. The very sinner against the Holy Ghost is invited; and why is that unpardonable? Can any sin be so great as to over-top the value of Christs blood? there is not so much wretchedness in the heart of man, as there is Grace, Goodness and Merit in Christ; but then it is unpardonable, Why? because its the nature of the disease that will not suffer the plaster to stick on. It counts the blood of the Covenant, wherewith we should be sanctified, an unholy thing: if this sinner would not pluck off the plaster, and tread it under foot, he should be saved; but this is it when God is liberal, and Christ is free, we have not the heart to take him at his word, and come, to open this Word, this is the point of all, this is the free preaching of the Gospel indeed, when a man hath nothing desirable in him, but is stark naught, and stark dead, and is not worth the taking up; that yet he may challenge Christ, and be sure of all. Unless thou hast Christ thou hast no∣thing by Promise, not so much as a bit of bread by Promise; if thou hast it, it is by Providence. All the Promises of God are in him, that is, Christ, yea, and Amen: Ye are the Children of the Promise in Christ, but you have nothing till you be in Christ.
The Question is, What must I do in this case, what incouragement shall I have in my rags? when I am abominable, worth nothing.
There are certain things that are preparations to a Promise, such as are Commands, Precepts, Intreaties, which incourage them to it, and then comes a propo∣sition: I being a Believer shall have eternal life; If Christ be mine, I may challenge forgiveness of sins, Page 402 the favour of God, and everlasting life: But how is Faith wrought? believe not that foolish conceipt that is too common in the world, that faith is only, a strong perswasion that God is my God, and my sins are forgiven: this is a foolish thing, a fancy; a dream, unless it be grounded on the Word of God. Its but a dream, else that will lead thee unto a fools Paradise: Nothing can uphold faith but the Word of God: here's the point, I being as bad as bad can be, what ground have I out of the word of God, of an Unbe∣liever to be made a Believer? Now we must not take every Text, but such only as may be appliable to a dead man, one that hath no goodness in him, that is yet out of Christ: we were all swimming at liberty till this word catched us in: we never thought of the business before, till we were thus taken. Now there are certain degrees to get faith in us.
1. The first word is a general proclamation; whereby Christ gives any one leave to come and take him. Christ is not only a Fountain sealed, as in the Canticles, but a Fountain open for sin and for uncleanness, as in Zachary: so that now when he keeps open house, he makes pro∣clamation, that none shall be shut out. He puts none back; sins, not the greatest that can be, can keep thee back: this is the first thing, and to confirm it, we have our Saviours own proclamation. Isa. 55.1. Ho! eve∣ry one that thirsteth, come you to the waters, and he that hath no money, come, buy, and eat: yea, come, buy wine and milk without money, and without a price. A strange con∣tradiction, one would think; What! buy, and yet without money, and without price. The reason is, because there is a certain thing which fools esteem, Page 403 a price which is none. Rev. 3.18. I counsel thee to buy of me gold tryed in the fire: Why? How must this be done? Truly thus; whensoever a sinner comes to Christ to have his sins pardoned, and to be a subject of Christs Kingdom, thou must not then be as thou wast, but thou must be changed. Thou must not live as thou didst before in the state of rebellion. Now to leave sin is not worth a rush, its not a sufficient price; but yet wee see a fool will esteem his own bables: I must lay down my lusts, I must lay down my covetous∣ness, intemperance, &c. and a man thinks it a great matter thus to do: and to leave the freedom he had before, though it be a matter of nothing. When a rebel receives his pardon, is the Kings pardon abridged, because he must live like a subject hereafter? Why should he else seek for the benefit of a subject? This is said in respect of the foolish conceit of man, who thinks it a great price to forsake his corruptions. Again, John 7.37. with the same loud voice, Christ cryed when he offered himself a Sacrifice for sin: he cryed at the time of the great feast, that all should come. In the last day, the great day of the feast, Jesus stood, and cryed, saying, if any man thirst, let him come unto me and drink. In ult. Rev. there is a quicunque vult, that is it I pressed: Its a place worth gold. And these are the places which being applyed, make you of strangers draw near: but now these are not appliable to a man before he hath grace: every one cannot apply them. Ne∣ver forget that place while you live: its the close of Gods H. Book, and the sealing up of his Holy Book: What's that? Its in Rev. 22.17. And the Spirit and the Bride, say, come, and let him that is a thirsty come, Page 404 and drink of the water of life freely. Whosoever will let him come, what wouldst thou have more? Hast thou no Will to Christ? No Will to salvation? then its pity thou shouldst be saved. No man can be sa∣ved against his Will, nor blessed against his Will: If thou wilt not have Christ, if thou wilt try conclu∣sions with God, then go further, and fare worse: but whosoever will, let him come. Oh! But I have a Will: Why, then thou hast a warrant, take Christ:
Object. But O Sir, you are a great Patron of free∣will: What? doth it all lie in a mans Will: Will you make the matter of taking Christ lie there?
Sol. I say, if thou seest thou hast a Will, then thou hast a warrant: I say, not that this Will comes from thy self. Its not a blind faith will do thee good; the Word of God works faith in thee; thou hast not a Will to it born in thee. It is not a flower that grows in thine own Garden; but is planted by God: John 6.44. No man can come unto me, except the Father which hath sent me, draw him. What? Will Christ offer violence to the Will, and draw a man against his Will? No, there's no such meaning. Its ex∣pounded in the 65. verse, No man can come unto me, ex∣cept it were given him of my Father. By this Christ sheweth what he meant. If thou hast a Will to come, thank the Father for it; for of Him, as in the Philippians, we have both the Will and the deed. Take for example that general proclamation in the book of Ezra, VVhatever Jew would might be free, Ezra 1.3. So said the King that had power to make them free, Who is there among you of all his peo∣ple, his God be with him, and let him go up to Jerusalem Page 405 which is in Judah, and build the house of the God of Israel. Then we read, verse 5. Then rose up the chief of the Fathers of Judah and Benjamin, and the Priest, and the Levites, and all them whom the Spirit of God had raised up to go up. Observe here, though the proclamation were general, yet the raising up of the Will was from the Spirit of the Lord. We must not by any means take our will for a ground; the Will cometh from God: but if thou hast a Will, thou hast a warrant. Who ever will let him take the water of life freely without covenanting: say if thou had but a measure of faith, and such a measure of humiliation; for that were to compound with Christ: away with that, Whosoever will, let him come. Christ keeps open house, Whosoever will, let him come: whosoever comes to him, he will not shut out. John 6. If thou hast a heart to come to him, he hath a willing heart to receive thee; as it was with the Prodigal son, the Father stayes not till he comes to him, but runs to meet him: he is swift to shew Mercy, and to meet us, though we come slowly on towards him. But this is not all, there is a second gracious Word that is preacht to a man, not yet in the state of Grace. A man that keeps open house, he seldom invites any particularly, but if he come, he shall be welcome. Christ he keeps open house, but some are so fearfull, and so modest, that unless they have a special invitation, they are ashamed to come to Christ; they reason thus, if my case were an ordi∣nary mans, I should come, but I am so vile and wretched, that I am ashamed to come; my sins have been so many, and so heavy, that I am not able to bear so great a weight, they are more in number Page 406 then the hairs of my head; and yet alas they are crying ones too: But hearken here a second word; Dost thou think thy case more heavy because thou art out of measure sinfull. Lo, it pleaseth God to send thee a special invitation, who findest thy self dis∣couraged with the great bulk and burthen of thy sins. It pleaseth God, I say, to send thee a special invitation. See Mat. 11.28. Though all apply it not to this use, Come unto me all you that labour, and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. You of all others, are they that Christ looks for. Those that can walk bolt upright in their sins, that desire to live and die in them: they will not look upon me, and I will not look upon them; they scorn me, and I scorn them: but you that are heavy laden, and feel the burthen of your sins, are invited by Christ. Let not Satan then couzen you of the comfort of this word; that which Christ makes the latch to open the door to let himself in, we do usually by our foolishness make the bolt to shut him out. Let thy wound be never so great, thou hast a warrant to come, and be cured: be of good com∣fort then, as it was said to blind Bartemeus, so is it to thee, Loe, he calleth thee. When Christ bids thee come, and gives thee his Word that he will heal thee, Come, let not the Devil or thy corruptions hinder thee, or make thee stay back: hast thee to this City of Refuge: he hath engag'd his Word for thee, and he will ease thee: But now after all this there is a
Third Word, that though Christ keeps open house, so that who will, may freely come, and though he sends special invitations to them that are Page 407 most bashfull, because their case is extraordinary: What do you think now, that Christ will come with his souldiers, and destroy those that do not come in? He might do it when he is so free, and invites thee, and thou turnest it back again into his hand: but yet here's another Word of comfort, Christ doth not only send a Messenger to invite thee, who hast no goodness in thee, but he falls to beseeching and intreating thee, and that's a third word whereby faith is wrought in an Unbeliever. 2 Cor. 5.10. Now then we are Em∣bassadors for Christ, as though God did beseech you by us; observe the place, We pray you in Christs stead be recon∣ciled unto God. This is the most admirable word that ever could be spoken unto a sinner: Alas! thou mayst say, I am afraid that God will not be friends with me; why? he would have thee to be friends with him; do not then with the Papists make such an au∣stere God, as though he might not be spoken unto, as though thou mightst not presume thy self, but must make friends unto him. We have not an high Priest that is not touched with our infirmities. Will the Papists tell me, I am bold if I go to God, or lay hands on Chrst? I am not more bold then welcome. Let us go with boldness to the Throne of grace. We are commanded to do it: do not think but that he had bowels to weep over Jerusalam, and he carried the same with him in∣to heaven, when thou liest groaning before him, he will not spurn thee. We pray you, and beseech you to be friends; therefore in this case make no doubt, its Gods good pleasure to entreat thee, and therefore thou hast warrant enough. Christ wept over Jerusalem, and he is as ready to embrace thee. You have now three Page 408 words to make a man of an Unbeliever, a Believer: Is there, or can there be more then these? Open house-keeping, special invitations, Entreaties and Be∣seechings? yet there is more then all this; which if thou hast not a heart of stone, it will make thee be∣lieve, or make thee rue it. And that is,
4. When God seeth all these things will not work with us, but we are slow of heart to believe, then he quickens us; and there comes a word of Command. God chargeth, and commands thee to come; and then if thou breakest his Command, be it to thy peril. It is the greatest sin that can be committed. Thou wilt not draw near to God because thou art a sinner: thou now committest a greater sin then before: thou re∣turnest back, Christ unto God: thou bidst him take his commodity into his hand again: thou wilt not be∣lieve: and this is an hainous crime. John 16.8, 9. And when the Spirit shall come, it shall reprove the world of sin, of righteousness, and of judgement: of sin, be∣cause they believe not in me: this is that great sin he shall convince the world of, because they believe not in him. Of all sins, this was the most notorious: this makes us keep all other sins in possession: It is not only one particular sin, but it fastens all other sins upon us, be they never so many. When faith comes, it will out them, but till then they remain in thee; where there is no Commandment there is no sin. How could it be a sin in not believing, if I were not com∣manded so to do: but you shall here more then so. When the Apostle speaks of excluding Rejoycing under the Law; Rom. 3.37. Where is boasting, then saith he, it is excluded: By what Law? by the Law of Page 409 works? No, but by the Law of faith: there is a Law of works, and a Law of faith. God doth not only give thee leave to come, and take him, and draw near unto him: but he commands thee, there's a Law: by the breach of that Law of faith thou art made guilty of a high sin. There's a full testimony of this. 1 John 3.23. And this is the Commandment, that we should believe in the name of his Son Jesus Christ. If a man should ask, may I love my Neighbour? would you not think him a fool? because he must do it, he is commanded. So should a poor soul come, and say to me, may I believe? thou fool, thou must be∣lieve. God hath laid a Command upon thee, it is not left to thy choice: The same Commandment that bids thee love thy brother, bids thee to believe on Christ. To entreaty is added Gods Command, and therefore if thou shalt argue, what warrant have I to believe? Why, God injoyns it thee, and com∣mands it. As the impotent man said, so mayst thou; He that healed me, said unto me, take up thy bed, and walk: This is the very Key of the Gospel, and this is the way to turn it right. When being thus clean n•ked, we have as it were a Cable put into our hands to draw our selves out of this flesh and blood.
5. The last thing is, if keeping open house, special Invitations, Entreaties and Commands will not serve the turn, then Christ waxeth angry: What, to be scorn'd, when he profer'd Mercy, and as it were in∣vite all sorts, and compel them to come in by his Preachers, and by a peremptory Command? Then he falls a threatning, We are not of those which draw back unto perdition; if thou wilt not come upon Page 410 this Command, thou shalt be damned. Mar. 16.16. He that believed not, shall be damned. Christ com∣mands them to go into the world, and preach the Gospel to every Creature, unto every soul this Gospel which I speak: If you will not hear, and believe, if you will not take God at his Word, you shall be damned. John 3. He that believeth not, shall not see life, but the wrath of God abideth on him. Here's an Iron scourge to drive thee, thou that art so flow of heart to believe. In Psalm 78. where is set down Gods Mercy un∣to the Is•aelites: afterwards comes one plague up∣on another; verse 22. it is said, They hardened their hearts as in the day of provocation. This is ap∣plyed in Heb. 3.12. to Unbelievers. The Lord heard this, and was wrath, a fire was kindled against Jacob, and against Israel. Why was this? because they believed not in him, because they trusted not in his salvation. Nothing will more provoke God to anger, then when he is liberal and gracious, and we are straitned in our selves, hearden our hearts, and not trust him: never forget this Sermon while you live, this is the net which Christ hath to draw you out of the world. I shal hereafter tell you what faith is, which is to receive Christ, and to believe in his name; but that will re∣quire a more particular explication: and on that I shall enter the next time.