Some Extrinsecall demonstrations of Gods and Christs willingnesse to pardon sinners.
ANd unto all these secret engagements both of God and Christ mutually to each other, and to us, we may adde all the professed publications of their minds herein unto us, which have been made upon all occasions and by all means possible. As,
First, This newes hath been published by all three persons, first God the Father he began to preach it to Adam in Paradise, and hath renued it again and again, as with his own immediate voice from Heaven when Christ was baptized, This is my wel∣beloved Son in whom I am well pleased, heare him: which the Apostle Peter records and confirmes, as spoken a second time upon the Mount, as a matter of highest moment to be known by us, which voyce he heard (sayes he) and is no fable, 2 Pet. 1. 16, 17.
Secondly, Christ who is the faithfull and true witnes, Rev. 1. 5. he came from the bosome of his Father, and preached peace, Ephes. 2. 17. Yea and it was one of his first texts he preached up∣on, Luke 4. 18. The spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he hath anoynted me to preach the Gospel, to preach deliverance to the captives.
Thirdly, The Holy Ghost he also herewith bearing witnesse, that God hath exalted Christ to be a Prince and Saviour, to give re∣pentance and forgivenesse of sinnes. Acts 5. 31, 32. And so Heb. 2. 45. And these are these three witnesses in heaven, 1 John 5. 7. whose record as it followes is this, that there is life to be had in his Son Jesus Christ, v. 11.Page 31
Secondly, God hath published this newes both by all creatures reasonable, and to all creatures reasonable.
First, the Angels they came and preached it, singing, Peace on earth, good will towards men Luke 2. 13, 14.
Secondly, By men, and to that end he hath given gifts to men, powerfull and full of glory, Ephes. 4. 8. &c. And a commission with those gifts, a most large and gratious one, And he hath committed to us the ministery of reconciliation, to wit, that God was in Christ, reconciling the world to himself. 2 Cor. 5. 20.
Yea and thirdly, he hath maintained this ministry in all ages, even to our times, all times have rung of the newes hereof, and the world is still full of his Embassadors to treat with men about this peace, and they are to proclaime that he is fully willing; and upon that ground to beseech men to be reconciled, and so long as Leiger Embassadors reside uncalled home, or not sent for away, so long the treaty of peace holds.
Fourthly, He hath proclaimed this by these this Embassadors in all places; he bad them go and preach it to all the world, to every creature, Mark 16. 15. And his Disciples did accordingly. Now he would not have had it spoken so openly and generally, if he were not most serious in it.
Fiftly, Adde to this, that he hath declared it by all wayes and meanes that do argue faithfulnesse and seriousnesse.
First, Not by bare word of mouth, but we have it under his hand, he hath left his mind in writing. This book which is dropt from heaven, the title of it is, The word of reconciliation. 2 Cor. 5. 19. the main argument of it being reconciliation. In this book we find, proclamation sent forth after proclamation, book after book, line after line, all written to this end, that we sinners might have hope and strong consolation, as the Apostle witnesseth.
Secondly, He hath added to this writing those seales of the Sacraments, and further an oath to both, and that made advi∣sedly with the greatest earnestnesse and deliberation that might be, Heb. 6. 17. God willing (the text sayes) more abundantly to manifest this his intent, the immutability of his counsell, he con∣firmed that promise with an oath, that by two immutable things, his word and oath, we might have strong consolation.
Thirdly, If this be not sufficient, he hath pawned heaven and Page 32 earth, the Covenant of day and night in Mortgage to forgive ini∣quity and pardon sinners. Thus Jer. 31. 34, 35, 36. This is my Covenant (sayes God there) that I will forgive their iniquities, and remember their sinnes no more, so ver. 34. and then it follows ver. 35. Thus saith the Lord, who giveth the sun for a light by day, and the ordinances of the moon and stars for a light by night: If those ordinances depart from before me, then the seed of Israel, &c. The like you have, Chap. 33. 25, 26. Day and night we see stand still, and therefore this Covenant holds good still; but we have a greater pawn then this, the death of his Son.
And lastly, Let his actions and courses, which he hath taken from the beginning of the world speak for all the rest, as satan hath been a murtherer from the beginning, so God hath been a Saviour from the beginning, and Christ is the Lamb slain from the beginning of the world. God began with the first of man∣kind, even with Adam and Eve, the ringleaders, the heads of this rebellion, who drew all the rest of the world into that enmity, these were yet reconciled. Kings usually hang up the heads and chiefe in treasons, for examples of their justice, though they par∣don others; yet these did God save and pardon as examples of his mercy, to all that should come of them; and it is observe∣able that the first thing he did, after the world was fallen, was this act of mercy, both in preaching this Gospel, and in pardon∣ing them, he began to do that soon, which he meant to be al∣wayes a doing to the end of the world, it argues he delights in it, yea and according to Christ last promise on earth, (that he would be with us to the end of the world,) God is to this day reconciling the world of men to himself. Some that walk in your streets by you, live among you. And he will have thousands when you are gone, and what are these but as flags, and patternes of mercy, hung forth by God to toll and bring others in, as Ephes. 2. 7.
WHat should the consideration of these things work in our hearts, but what the scope of the text it self puts men upon, even that they would come in unto Christ, and beleeve on him, and give up their souls unto him? He that beleeves shall in no wise be cast out. As Christ therefore is willing: so should we, Page 33 be a willing people. That which keepes men off, is, that they know not Christs minde and heart, think it not to be an indifferent thing to him whether you beleeve, or no; as if he came into the world to do this duty of dying for sinners, singly in obedience to his Fa∣ther, so that men might be rendred savable if they will: and that however, if they will not, he yet hath enough to satisfie and quiet himself with, even this that he shall be glorified in what he hath done, though few or none of the sons of men be saved. It is a pre∣judiciall doctrine this, to the salvation of men, and derogatory to Christs free love. What, do we think that Jesus Christ is gone to heaven, there to complaine unto Angels of the unkindnesse and hardnes of mens hearts, that will not turne to him notwithstand∣ing he hath done so much, and to tell what he had done for them, and what they would not be perswaded to do for themselves; and that so he can sufficiently please himself with such just complaints? no surely; our effectuall salvation concernes him more then so: and his heart is more fully bent upon it then thus to leave it, of what he hath bought he will lose nothing. The truth is, he is more glad of us then we can be of him. The Father of the Prodigall was the forwarder of the two to that joyfull meeting. Hast thou a minde? he that came down from Heaven (as himself saith, in the text) to dye for thee, will meet thee more then half way (as the prodigals father is said to do) by his spirit; he will send him from Heaven to thee, and at the latter day himself will come again to fetch thee and receive thee to himself. If among the Angels in Heaven there be joy at the conversion of a sinner, how much more joy is there in Christs heart? If there be joy in the bed chamber men (as Iohn speakes) what joy is there in the bridgrooms hearts? or if among the standers by, when a man∣child is borne into the world, how much more doth the mother that was in travaile for it (as Christs soul was,) how much more doth she rejoyce? O therefore come in unto him. If you knew his heart you would. As they that crucified him knew him not, so neither do those who beleeve not in him. If you had been on earth with him, or if he were now here, and had this day preacht these things unto you, and uttered these his own desires, and long∣ings after you; how would you in troopes go all thronging after him when the Sermon were done, and each of you come about him 〈◊…〉 that had diseases did) and beseech him to pardon and save Page 34 you; and not leave him till you have obtained some word of com∣fort and favour from him! Let me tell you, he had preacht this day, but that he had other busines to do for you in Heaven, where he is now praying and intereceding for you, even when you are sin∣ning; (as on earth we see he did for the Jews when they were a crucifying him.) Now because he could not for this other busines come himself, he therefore sends us his Ambassadours, and we in Christ stead do beseech you; and it is as if Christ by us did be∣seech you: and we preach but such things as were first spoken by the Lord himselfe, (as it in Heb. 2.) And he sends his spirit, and con∣tinues to give gifts unto men to this very day: and in all these respects, when ever the Gospel is preacht, he is said to spe•k from heaven, Refuse not him that speaks from heaven, Heb. 12. 23. And though you have not his bodily presence as they had who heard himselfe preach here on earth; yet you may by faith have as free an accesse unto him, and know as surely that he heares you, as if he were in the same roome with you. Retire there∣fore into your closet, and treat with him in private, and there presse these things on him; say them all over again unto himself, and ask him if they be not true: get the match struck up between thy soule & him; which if once made, will never be undone again. Say unto him, Lord, why may it not be made up now? Only let me adde this; see you come not to him without a wedding-garment, and wedding-affections. Take up a resolution to love him. For if thou comest to him, what dost thou come for? pardon of sins? and what is it in him that must procure that? his having dyed for thee; that was it. And what was it that moved him to die? an infinite love; such a love, as were the thing yet to be done, he would certain∣ly do it, and die to satisfie God for thee. Now then, seeing he hath already done it out of such a love with what face canst thou ask pardon of him, as the effect of such a love, and not love him again, and obey him in all things? But to make short work with you, know this; that if thou wilt not come in to him, thou wilt be dam∣ned. So saith Christ, He that beleeves shall be saved; but he that be∣leeves not shall be damned. And I could tell you another, and as large a story of Christs wrath against those that refuse him, as I have told you of his love: The Lamb can be angry; for he is a Li∣on also, O consider this therefore, lest he teare you in pieces, and th••… be none to deliver you.