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fuch comforts, fuch joys, fuch pleasures, as none in the world but believers are capable of.
And, to fet home all, these special benefits are propofed by Christ to all forts of finners, great and fmall, old and young; If any man hear my voice and open the door : That so no foul might be discouraged from believing, by the greatness or mul titude of his fins, but the vileft of finners may fee free grace triumphing over all their unworthiness, upon their confent to take Chrift according to the gracious offers of the gospel.
The words thus opened, afford many great and useful points of doctrine, comprehending in them the very fum and subftance of the gospel. The firft, which arifeth from the folemn and remarkable preface, Behold, will be this:
Doct. 1. That every offer of Christ to the fouls of finners is recorded, and witnessed, with respect to the day of account and reckoning.
Here we shall enquire into three things,
1. Who are God's witneffes to all gospel tenders.
3. Why God records every offer of Christ, and takes a
I. Who are God's witneffes to all the tenders and offers made
of Chrift by the gofpel, and they will be found to be more than a ftrict legal number; for,
1. His minifters, by whom he makes them, are all witnesses as well as officers of Chrift to the people. Acts xxvi. 16. "I "have appeared unto thee for this purpose, to make thee a minifter and a witnefs.' Here you fee minifters have a double office, to propofe and offer Christ, and then to bear witness for or against thofe to whom he is thus offered: they are expreísly called God's witneffes, Rev. xi. 6, 7. Their labours witnefs, their fufferings witness, their folemn appeals to God witnefs; yea, the very duft of their feet shaken off against the refufers of Chrift, turns to a teftimony against them, Mark vi. 11. Every groan and figh, every drop of fweat, much more of blood, are placed in God's book of marginal notes by all their fermons and prayers, and will be produced and read in the great day against all the refufers and defpifers of Chrift.
2. The gospel itself, which is preached to you, is a teftimony or witnefs for God, for, or against every one that hears it; John xii. 48. "He that rejecteth me, and receiveth not my "words, hath one that judgeth him; the word that I have spo"ken, the fame shall judge him in the laft day." And this is the fenfe of Chrift's word, Matth. xxiv. 14. "And this gospel
"of the kingdom fhall be preached in all the world, for a wit "nefs to all nations, and then shall the end come." Ah, Lord, what a folemn record is here! every fermon you hear, yea, every reproof, perfuafion and conviction, is a witness for God to caft and condemn every foul in judgment, that complies not obediently with the calls of the gofpel: so many sermons, so many witnesses.
3. Every man's conscience is a witness for God, that he hath a fair offer once made him: the very consciences of the Hea thens that never faw a Bible, that had no other preachers but the fun, moon, and ftars, and other works of nature; yet of them the apostle faith, Rom. ii. 15. "That they fhew the "work of the law written in their hearts, their confcience allo "bearing them witness, and their thoughts the mean while ❝ accufing or excufing one another." Certainly if fuch vigour and activity was put into the confciences of Heathens, who could only read the will of God by the dim moon-light of natural reafon; how much more vigorous and active will confcience be, in its accufing office, against all that live under the bright beams of gofpel-light? Their confciences will be fwift witneffes, and will ring fad peals in their ears another day, Ezek. ii. 5. "You fhall know that there hath been a prophet among "you." This fingle witness is inftead of a thousand witneffes for God.
4. The examples of all those that do believe and obey the gofpel, are fo many witneffes for God, against the despisers and neglecters of the great falvation. Every mourning trembling foul among you is a witness against all the dead-hearted, unbe lieving, difobedient ones, that fit with them under the fame or dinances. Hence it is faid, I Cor. vi. 2. "Know ye not that "the faints fhall judge the world?" They fhall be affeffors with Chrift in the great day, and condemn the world by their examples, as Noah did the old world. Thus John, Matth. xxi. 32. came unto you in the way of righteoufnefs, and ye believed him not, but the publicans and harlots believed him; and ye when ye had feen it, repented not afterwards that ye might believe him, q. d. What shift did you make to quiet your confciences, and stifle your convictions, when you faw publicans, the worst of men, and harlots, the worft of women, repenting, believing, and hungring after Chrift! their examples fhall be your judges, Thefe are God's witneffes.
II. Next let us confider what are the object matters unto which they give their teftimony, and that will be found twofold, according to the two-fold event the gofpel hath upon them
that hear it; of both which the apostle gives this account, 2 Cor. ii. 16. "Unto fome we are the favour of life unto life, "and unto others the favour of death unto death." Accordingly a double record is made.
1. Of the obedience and faith of fome, which record will be produced to their joy and comfort in the day of the Lord; when he fhall come to be glorified in his faints, and to be admired in all them that believe; because our teftimony among you was believed in that day. Minifters are inftruments of efpoufing fouls to Chrift, and witneffes to thofe efpoufals and contracts made betwixt him and them, 2 Cor. xi. 2. Both thefe offices are exceeding grateful and pleasant to every faithful minifter.
2. A record is made, and witnefs taken of all the refufals, difobedience and flightings of Chrift by others. Thus Mofes will be the accufer of the Jews, John v. 45. “Do not think I "will accuse you to the Father; there is one that accufeth ic you, even Mofes, in whom you truft." This is the faddeft part of a minifter's work; the fore-thoughts of it are more afflictive than all our labours and fufferings. There is threefold record made in this cafe: (1.) Of the time men have enjoyed under the means of falvation; how many years they have fat barren and dead-hearted under the labours of God's faithful minifters; Luke xiii. 7. "Behold these three years I "come feeking fruit on this fig-tree, and find none." Behold, the fame term of notification with that in the text, applied to the time of God's patience towards them. And again, Jer. xxv. 3. "From the thirteenth year of Jofiah, even unto this
day, (that is, the three and twentieth year) the word of the Lord hath come unto me, and I have spoken unto you rifing "early, and fpeaking, but ye have not hearkened." O confider, all the years and days you have spent under the gospel, are upon your doomfday book. (2.) Records are also made of all the inftruments that ever God employed for the converfion and falvation of your fouls. So many minifters, whether fixed or tranfient, as have spent their labours upon you, are upon the book of your account. Jer. xxv. 4. "The Lord hath fent unto
you all his fervants, the prophets, rifing early, and fending them; but ye have not hearkened, nor inclined your ear to hear." They have wafted their lungs, dropt their com paffionate tears, and burnt down one after another, as candles to direct you to Chrift and falvation, but all in vain. (3.) Every call, perfuafion and argument, ufed by them to cfpoufe you to Chrift, is likewife upon the book of account. Prov. i. 24, 25. "Because I have called and you refused, I have ftretch
"ed my hand, and no man regarded, but you have fet at "nought all my counfels, and would none of my reproofs." Thefe calls and counfels are of too great value with God (though of none with you) to be loft and left out of your ac
III. We fhall, in the laft place, inquire into the grounds and reafons of these judicial procedures of God, why he will have every man's obedience and disobedience registered, and witneffed for or against him, under gospel adminiftrations; and there are two weighty reasons thereof.
1. That wherever the end of the gospel is attained in the converfion of any foul, that soul, and all that were inftrumentally employed about the falvation of it, may have the proper reward and comfort in the great day, 2.Cor. i. 14. “As also 66 you have acknowledged us in part, that we are your rejoi"cing, even as ye also are ours in the day of the Lord Jefus." This will be matter of joy unfpeakable, both to you that shall receive, and to them that thall give fuch a comfortable teftimony for you. O the joyful congratulations that will be in that day between laborious faithful minifters, and their believing obedi ent hearers! Lord, this was the blessed inftrument of my happy illumination and converfion; though I might have ten thousand inftructers in Chrift, yet not many fathers; for by the bleffing of thy Spirit upon this man's miniftry, my foul was begotten to Chrift. And, on the other fide; Lord, thefe are the fouls for whom I travelled, as in birth, until Christ was formed in them. It is a glorious thing to fay, as the prophet, "Here am I, and the children God hath given me."
Nay, those that were but collaterally ufeful to help on the work of God begun by others, muft not lose their reward in that day. John iv. 36. "And he that reapeth receiveth wages, "and gathereth fruit unto eternal life, that both he that fow"eth and he that reapeth may rejoice together."
2. Records are now made, and witneffes taken, that thereby the judicial fentence of Jefus Chrift, in the last day may be made clear and perfpicuous to all the world; that every mouth may be stopped, and no plea, or apology left in the mouth of any condemned finner. For Chrift, in that day, cometh, Jude 15. to convince all that are ungodly; to convince by demonftration, that all that are Chriftless now, may be found fpeechlefs then, Matth. xxii. 12. Hence it is faid, Pfalm i. 5. That the wicked fhall not stand, or rife up in the judgment. And no wonder, when fo many full teftimonies, and unexceptionable witnesses shall come point blank against
them, the minifter that preached, the word they preached, their own confciences, and the examples of all believers will be produced against them.
1st Inference. The undoubted certainty of a day of judgment is hence evinced. To what purpose else are records made, and witneffes taken, but with refpect to an audit-day? This is a truth fealed upon the confcience of the very heathens, Rom. ii. 15. Their confciences bear witness. But in vain are all thefe records made, unless there be a day to produce and plead them; and of that day the prophet Daniel speaks, Dan. vii. 10. "The judgment was fet, and the books were opened." And again, Rev. xx. 12. "And I faw the dead, small and great, "ftand before God, and the books were opened, and another "book was opened which is the book of life; and the dead "were judged out of thofe things which were written in the "book, according to their works."
Believe it, friends, these are no devised fables, but most awful and infallible truths: according to the faving effects the gospel now hath, it will be a time of refreshing to our fouls, Acts iii. 19. to all others a day of terror, wrath and amazement, 2 Theff. i. 7, 8. "The day in which the Lord Jefus fhall "be revealed from heaven with his mighty angels in flaming "fire, taking vengeance on them that know not God, and that "obey not the gofpel of our Lord Jefus Chrift."
2d Inference. What a fpur is here to minifterial diligence and faithfulness? Tis an awful work that is under our hands; the effects of the gofpel which we preach, will be the favour of life or death to them that hear us. If the Lord profper it in our hands, we fhall be witneffes for you, it will be an addition to our glory in heaven; Dan. xii. 3. "They that turn many to ❝righteoufnefs, fhall shine as the brightness of the firmament, "and as the stars for ever and ever." But if we be ignorant, lazy, men-pleafers, our people will come in as fwift witnesses against us, and their blood will be required at our hands; it will be an intolerable aggravation to our misery in hell, to have any that fat under our ministry thus upbraiding us! O cruel man! thou faweft my foul in danger, and never dealt faithfully and plainly with me; the fame time and breath that was spent in idle and worldy difcourfe, might have been inftrumental to have faved me from this place of torment. Let minifters confider themselves as witneffes for God, and their people as witneffes for or against them; and under that confideration, fo study, preach and pray, that they may with Paul take God to record, G gg