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POWER AND GRACE OF CHRIST.
An Exhortation to Sinners to come unto God by Christ.
Heb. vij.25.—Wherefore he is able also to save them to the uttermost, that come
unto God by him, seeing he ever liveth to make Intercession for them.
T which I intend from these words. Our meditations upon them had been drawn to a close much sooner, had not many
funeral discourses interrupted them; and you know, there were also others of that kind, which did not interrupt them, being preached on weck-days. But it is surely most fit, that those awful providences, which for a while diverted our thoughts from this sub. ject, should now awaken our more diligent and lively attention to it. It is not for mortal creatures to trifle with these important truths of christianity, on which the life of their souls does so evidently depend: No, nor to rest in speculative views of them, while heart-application is neglected. The dying, and the dead, look upon these things in another manner; and we shall shortly be numbered amongst them: The Lord awaken us now so to hear the conclusion of the whole matter, as we shall then wish we had heard it! I have already endeavoured,
1. To shew you, what we are to understand by Christ's beang able to save to the uttermost.
II. To prove that he is so.
III. To open the doctrine of his intercession, and to consi, der what an argument it is of his saving power. And then,
IV. I have considered the character of those, who shall be interested in this salvation, as described in the text by their coming to God by him.
Under each of the three former heads I have given you several reflections; and I am now to conclude with others which more immediately arise from the fourth, especially when taken
in connection with the foregoing. May each of yon know your own concern in them; and may the blessed Spirit of God apply them to your souls with divine efficacy and success! suffer, 7 beseech you, this word of exhortation to address you in these six particulars. 2. “ Let us adore the divine goodness that such a salvation is
offered us, in so reasonable, so easy, and so gracious a way.”
Such a salvation in any method might have been joyfully Welcome to us; and how much more in this ! Let us call in our roving thoughts, and settle them for a while in this one point. Let us stand still and see this salvation of God. Sure when we consider our natural condition, in the view in which tlie gospel represents it; when we hear the law of God thundering out its curses against us; when we see his justice lifting up its sword to smite us, hell gaping to devour us, and its malicious fiends eying us as their surer prey, and impatient to begin our torment; in such a view it must have appeared a great favour, had God heard the cry of our anguish and despair, so far as to permit the rocks to fall upon us, and the mountains to cover us, though they had crushed us into atoms, and he had, at the same time, extinguished the thinking part of our nature and reduced it to its original nothing : () how gladly would millions, that were once the rich, the great, the learned, the victorious of the earth, meet such a fate as this; ard perhaps be more thanksul for the destruction of their beings, than they ever were for any of its enjoyments ? But we hear of being saved.-of being saved to the uttermost ;-bear of it, not merely as a favour conferred on others, but as an offer proposed to us; as a scheme, not merely deliberated upon, or intended, but in a great measure already effected ; and our eyes are directed to the regions of complete and eternal glory, as an abode purchased and prepared for such worthless and guilty creatures as we. “ Blessed God! did our appointed way to it lic, not only through a wil. derness of thorns, but through a sea of fire, how gladly might we accept the proposals? If the scheme had been to raise us to this heavenly paradise, after the severest course of penance on earth; or even after we had tasted of the
сир of thy wrath in hell, and suffered all but the despair of those doleful regions, for a long succession of years, or of ages : Surely we must then have received the news of such a distant deliverance on our knees, and have mingled thy praises with those groans and tears, which such intermediate discipline had extorted from us. And dost thou now offer us a complete pardon, in so easy a way, as only to say to us, wash and be clean, as only to call us to come unto thee by Christ ?"-Surely, christians, instead of complaining of this as a hardship, we have reason to own it as a great additional favour. -Whither indeed should we go, but unto God? And where should we dwell safe and happy, but under the shadow of his wings? And how could we have presumed, or indeed how could we have borne, to have come to him, otherwise than by Christ-It is true indeed, that if we would enter into a treaty with this Prince of Peace, we must give up our sins : But what are these, but the tyrants of the mind, whose reign is our servitude, whose death is our deliverance ! - And what though we must give up our own righteousness too, as to any dependance upon it for our justification before God; is there a soul among us, that would dare to stand, or fall according to the perfection of that? And is there an experienced christian, that does not know that there is a secret unutterable pleasure in submitting to the righteousness of God*; and a wise and rational transport of soul, in receiving the rich grace given us in Christ, to make us complete in himt; far beyond the vain joy of that distempered dream which represented us to our own imagination, as rich and honourable, righteous and happy, in the midst of poverty and shame, guilt and misery? Surely If we should hold our peace, when such a salvation is proposed to us in such a method as this, it might almost be expected that the very stones would cry out, to upbraid our ingratitudef. 2. Let us seriously examine, whether we have " Come to God
by Christ, and so are interested in this great salvation.”
To each of you, my friends, that hear me this day, is the word of this salvation sents; and that you have received the offers of it, will, on the whole, be matter of everlasting joy, or of everlasting sorrow. The word of God assures us, that there are comparatively few, that receive saving benefit by it, Many are called, but few are chosenl. And does it not alarm you ? Methinks, if there were only a few out of a considerable number, that missed it, each should be ready to tremble for bimself: If we knew but one soul in all this assembly should finally lose it, we might each of us cry out with great solicitude of spirit, if in any degree unassured with regard to ourselves,
* Rom. x. 3.
+ Col. ij. 10.
Luke xix. 40.
What if God should send an ambassador to them, and give him authority to address them to some such purpose as this ? “ Desparing creatures, I am now come amongst you, not as a messenger of vengeance, but of peace. God has at length looked on your miseries with a compassionate eye ; and there is a ray of mercy, darting through this gloom from the throne of grace, and from the Sun of Righteousness. The proposals you so long heard with indifference, and which you have so much longer remembered in the bitterness of your souls, are once more renewed. If you Cry unto him, even out of these depths, he will hear you ;
you will submit your souls to his government and his grace, he will save you, and I am commissioned in his name to assure you, that not only shall these gates of hell be thrown open for your release, but those of heaven shall be opened too for your admittance.'
Sinners, let your own consciences say, how you imagine at least, that such a proposal would be received by condemned spirits. Do you not think, that, as one forcibly expresses it, they would even leap in their chains ? Do you not think, the marks of long horror and despair would immediately vanish from their faces; that their eyes would sparkle with hope and joy; and that they would begin the work of praise even with their faming tongues? But are not you yourselves in the same condemnation, though the sentence be not yet executed? Why then do you now despise those rivers of mercy, the smallest drop of which you will hereafter desire in vain? Alas! what we have here described, is merely an imaginary
Millions of ages shall roll away in sad succession, and no such proposals be made to the inhabitants of hell ; nor to you sinners, if you come into that place of torment.
But they are now made good in earnest ; and therefore, To-day, if ye will hear his voice, harden not your hearts*. Oh force us not another day, for the deliverance of our own souls, to bear a dreadful testimony to the condemnation of yours; but hearken to these embassies of peace, and let us intreat and persuade you to be reconciledt. This is still the message, the invitation, the charge, even the same that you heard from the beginning : Come unto God by Christ. Behold a gracious God, stretching out his arms to receive you : Behold a compassionate Redeemer, yet waiting to introduce you to his favourable presence : And all the faithful subjects of his kingdom, here and above, are longing to see it erected in your souls. The thought even of
* Heb. üü15.
+ 2 Cor. V. 20.
our own salvation, would be still sweeter to us, if we had a probable hope of sharing it with you. And shall earth and heaven expect and desire it in vain ? and will you, as it were, grieve both; that hell may rejoice in your ruin, and that devils may insult over you, and upbraid you, as having with your own hands thrust away that salvation, of which all their malice and their rage might in vain have attempted to deprive you? You will then, alas, Find no place for repentance, though, like Esau, you seek it carefully with tears*.
Alas, my friends, what more shall I say? Could I find out any more weighty arguments, any more plain, serious, and ailecting, forms of address, I would go on, though the discourse should swell beyond its due bounds, though my own strength were impaired by the earnestness of it, and though a vain, wretched, unbelieving world should deride at that earnestness as enthusiasm and madness. Nay, who that knows the importance of immortal souls, would not go on to plead in such a cause, though minutes and hours were to be struck off from his life for word that he utters in it, could even such an expensive service be sure of success ? But that depends upon God, and to him we would look for it. In the mean time, I dismiss you with this one word: Whether you will hear, or whether you will forbear, he in whose name I spcak, is witness, that the embassy is delivered ; and such words as these remain recorded in the book of his remembrance, and will sooner or later be brought to yours. 5. “ Let such as are desirous of coming to God by Christ, take
encouragement from the declaration of the text.”
We are not altogether Ignorant of satan's devicest : We know, by frequent observation and experience, how soon he can turn the syren's song, into the roaring of a lion ; what efforts he makes, to drive the awakened soul into the agonies of despair, and to persuade him that he has thrown himself beyond the reach of mercy. But, if he be practising such cruel artifices on any soul in this assembly, I do, in the name of our Lord and Master, charge the lie on the father of falsehoods. You have perhaps a great many things to plead against yourselves; such as, the number, the enormity, and aggravation of your sins: You will say, they have been committed against the clearest light, against the tenderest love, against admonitions, more serious resolutions, most solemn covenant engagements : But all these pleas, and a
. Heb. xii, 1%
4 2 Cor. ii. 11,