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not, and the like. All those with whom it is not so, who are behind them in these things, they judge to be in an ill state and condition, whence they entertain good hopes concerning themselves; and this is all that most trust unto. It is not my present business to discourse the vanity of presumptions; it hath been done by many. I give only this warning in general unto those who have the least design. or purpose to come to Christ, and to be made partakers of him, that they put no trust in them, that they rely not on them; for if they do so, they will eternally deceive their souls. This was a great part of the preparatory ministry of John the Baptist, Matt. iii. 9. Think not to say within yourselves, we have Abraham to our Father.' This was their great comprehensive privilege, containing all the outward church and covenant advantages. These they rested in, and trusted to, unto their ruin; herein he designed to undeceive them.
3. Consider aright what it is to live and die without an interest in Christ, without a participation of him. Where this is not stated in the mind, where thoughts of it are not continually prevalent, there can be no one step taken in the way towards him. Unless we are thoroughly convinced that without him we are in a state of apostacy from God, under the curse, obnoxious unto eternal wrath, as some of the worst of God's enemies, we shall never flee unto him for refuge in a due manner; The whole have no need of a physician, but the sick:' Christ 'came not to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance;' and the conviction intended, is the principal end of the ministry of the law. The miseries of this state have been the subject of innumerable sermons and discourses; but there is a general misery in the whole, that few take themselves to be concerned therein, or apply these things unto themselves. Let us tell men of it a thousand times, yet they either take no notice of it, or believe it not, nor look on it as that which belongs unto the way and course of preaching, wherein they are not concerned. These things it seems preachers must say, and they may believe them who have a mind thereunto. It is a rare thing that any one shall as much as say unto himself, is it so with me? And if we now, together with this caution, tell the same men again, that whilst they are uninterested in Christ, not in
grafted into him by faith, that they run in vain, that all their labour in religion is lost, that their duties are all rejected, that they are under the displeasure and curse of God, that their end is eternal destruction, which are all unquestionably certain, yet will they let all these things pass by without any farther consideration.
But here I must fix with them unto whom I speak at present, unless there be a full conviction in them of the woful deplorable condition of every soul, of whatever quality, profession, religion, outward state it be, who is not yet made partaker of Christ, all that I have farther to add will be of no signification. Remember then, that the due consideration hereof is unto you in your state, your chiefest concernment in this world: and be not afraid to take in a full and deep sense of it; for if you are really delivered from it, and have good evidence thereof, it is nothing unto you but matter of eternal praise and thanksgiving. And if you are not so, it is highly necessary that your minds should be possessed with due apprehension of it. The work of this conviction is the first effect of true religion, and the great abuse of religion in the world is, that a pretence of it deludes the minds of men to apprehend that it is not necessary; for to be of this or that religion; of this or that way in religion, is supposed sufficient to secure the eternal state of men, though they are never convinced of their lost estate by nature.
4. Hereon consider the infinite condescension and love of Christ, in his invitations and calls of you to come unto him for life, deliverance, mercy, grace, peace, and eternal salvation. Multitudes of these invitations and calls are recorded in the Scripture, and they are all of them filled up with those blessed encouragements, which divine wisdom knows to be suited unto lost, convinced sinners, in their present state and condition. It were a blessed contemplation to dwell on the consideration of the infinite condescension, grace, and love of Christ, in his invitations of sinners to come unto him, that they may be saved; of that mixture of wisdom and persuasive grace that is in them, of the force and efficacy of the pleading and argument that they are accompanied withal, as they are recorded in the Scripture; but that belongs not to my present design. This I shall only
say, that in the declaration and preaching of them, Jesus Christ yet stands before sinners, calling, inviting, encouraging of them to come unto him.
This is somewhat of the word which he now speaks unto you. Why will ye die? why will ye perish? why will you not have compassion on your own souls? Can your hearts endure, or can your hands be strong in the day of wrath that is approaching? It is but a little while before all your hopes, your reliefs, and presumptions will forsake you, and leave you eternally miserable: look unto me, and be saved; come unto me, and I will ease you of all sins, sorrows, fears, burdens, and give rest unto your souls. Come, I entreat you; lay aside all procrastinations, all delays; put me off no more; eternity lies at the door. Cast out all cursed self-deceiving reserves; do not so hate me, as that you will rather perish than accept of deliverance by me.
These and the like things doth the Lord Christ continually declare, proclaim, plead, and urge on the souls of sinners; as it is fully declared, Prov. i. 20-34. He doth it in the preaching of the word, as if he were present with you, stood amongst you, and spake personally to every one of you. And because this would not suit his present state of glory, he hath appointed the ministers of the gospel to appear before you, and to deal with you in his stead, avowing, as his own, the invitations that are given you in his name; 2 Cor. v. 19, 20.
Consider therefore his infinite condescension, grace, and love herein. Why all this towards you? Doth he stand in need of you? Have you deserved it at his hands? Did you love him first? Cannot he be happy and blessed without you? Hath he any design upon you, that he is so earnest in calling you unto him? Alas! it is nothing but the overflowing of mercy, compassion, and grace, that moves and acts him herein. Here lies the entrance of innumerable souls into a death and condemnation far more severe than those contained in the curse of the law; 2 Cor. ii. 15, 16. In the contempt of this infinite condescension of Christ, in his holy invitation of sinners to himself, lies the sting and poison of unbelief, which unavoidably gives over the souls of men unto eternal ruin. And who shall once pity them to eternity who are guilty of it? Yea but,
5. Perhaps if you should on his invitation begin to look to him, and resolve to come to him, you are greatly afraid that when it comes to the trial he will not receive you; for no heart can conceive, no tongue can express, what wretched, vile, and provoking sinners you have been. That the Lord Christ will receive unto him such as we are, we have no hopes, or that ever we shall find acceptance with him. I say, it is not amiss when persons come so far, as to be sensible of what discouragements they have to conflict withal, what difficulties lie in their way, and what objections do arise against them, for the most do perish in a senseless stupidity; they will not consider how it is with them, what is required of them, nor how it will be in the latter end; they doubt not but that either they do believe already, or can do so when they please; but when any come so far as to charge the failure of their acceptance with Christ on their own unworthiness, and so are discouraged from coming unto him, there are arguments for their conviction and persuasion, which nothing but the devil and unbelief can defeat. Wherefore, that which is now proposed unto consideration in answer hereunto, is the readiness of Christ to receive every sinner, be he who or what he will, that shall come unto him. And hereof we have the highest evidences that divine wisdom and grace can give unto us. This is the language of the gospel, of all that the Lord Christ did or suffered, which is recorded therein. This is the divine testimony of the three that bear record in heaven, the Father, the Word, and the Holy Ghost;' and of the 'three that bear witness in earth, the spirit, the water, and the blood;' all give their joint testimony, that the Lord Christ is ready to receive all sinners that come to him; they who receive not this testimony, make God a liar, both Father, Son, and Spirit. Whatever the Lord Christ is in the constitution of his person, in the representation of the Father, in his office, in what he did on the earth, in what he doth in heaven, proclaims the same truth. Nothing but cursed obstinacy in sin and unbelief can suggest a thought unto our minds, that he is not willing to receive us when we come unto him. Herein we are to bear testimony against the unbelief of all unto whom the gospel is preached, that come not unto him. Unbelief acting itself herein, includes a contempt of the wisdom of God, a
denial of his truth or faithfulness, an impeachment of the sincerity of Christ in his invitations, making him a deceiver, and will issue in an express hatred of his person and office, and of the wisdom of God in him. Here then you are shut up, you cannot from hence take any countenance unto your unbelief.
6. Consider that he is as able to save us, as he is ready and willing to receive us. The testimonies which he hath given us unto his goodness and love are uncontrollable; and none dare directly to call in question, or deny his power. Generally this is taken for granted by all, that Christ is able to save us if he will; yea, who shall question his ability to save us, though we live in sin and unbelief? And many expect that he will do so, because they believe he can if he will: but indeed Christ hath no such power, no such ability; he cannot save unbelieving, impenitent sinners; for this cannot be done without denying himself, acting contrary to his word, and destroying his own glory. Let none please themselves with such vain imaginations. Christ is able to save all them, and only them, who come to God by him. Whilst you live in sin and unbelief, Christ himself cannot save you; but when it comes to the trial in particular, some are apt to think, that although they will not conclude that Christ cannot save them, yet they do, on various accounts, that they cannot be saved by him. This therefore we also give testimony unto, in our exhortation to come unto him; namely, that his power to save those that shall comply with his call is sovereign, uncontrollable, almighty,'that nothing can stand in the way of. All things in heaven and earth are committed unto him; all power is his; and he will use it unto this end, namely, the assured salvation of all that come unto him.
7. Consider greatly what hath been spoken of the representation of God, and all the holy properties of his nature in him. Nothing can possibly give us more encouragement to come unto him; for we have manifested, that God who is infinitely wise and glorious, hath designed to exert all the holy properties of his nature, his mercy, love, grace, goodness, righteousness, wisdom, and power in him, in and unto the salvation of them that do believe. Whoever therefore comes unto Christ by faith on this represen