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ousness; can we fill up the measure of our iniquities in a manner more cutting to his loving heart, than by spurning his mercy, and finding fault with the terms on which he offers us salvation?
If a man has
6. It is the most desperate of all sins. cursed and sworn a hundred times in his life, I grant that he has a hundred times sold his soul to the devil for nought, and given himself a hundred deadly wounds; but yet his case is not hopeless. If he come to the Son of God for life, he will bring him back from the jaws of destruction, and cure all his wounds with the balm of Gilead, his most precious blood: But if he only neglect to come to Jesus Christ, he desperately rejects the only remedy: There remaineth no other sacrifice for sin,' says St. Paul; he cannot be renewed to repentance any other way, than that into which he refuses to come. In short, he cuts his own throat, and then madly refuses the surgeon's help, and dies as stubborn, presumptuous, and hardened as Lucifer himself. This is the lamentable end of all those who let Christ complain in vain, that they will not come to him that they might have life. And I cannot but incline to the opinion of many eminent divines, among whom is Bishop Latimer, who affirms, this wilful unbelief, this careless neglect of Christ and his blood, if persisted in to the end, is the only unpardonable sin, because it overturns the very means of forgiveness by rejecting the application of the blood of Christ.
7. It is a sin of so deep a dye, that all the devils in hell cannot commit the like. Our Saviour never prayed, wept, bled, and died for devils. He never said to them, 'Ye will not come unto me, that ye might have life.' They can never be so madly ungrateful as to slight a Saviour. Mercy never wooed their stubborn, proud hearts, as it does ours. They have abused grace, it is true, but they never trampled mercy under foot: This more than diabolical sin is reserved for thee, careless sinner, who goest on in vanity without calling on Christ for a broken and contrite heart, and supposest thyself safe, though the blood of Christ never washed thy filthy
soul, and melted thy stubborn heart. O what despair. ing reflections dost thou prepare for thyself, when Christ, in his turn, shall bid thee depart! Now thou hearest him compassionately say, in the text, Ye will not come unto me,' and thou remainest unmoved. Shut up in unfelt guilt and unbelief, thou wonderest perhaps what we mean, by speaking so much of coming to Christ for life: But the time cometh when thou shalt wonder at thy madness, for making light of the gracious offer. The time cometh, when Jesus, who meekly intreats, shall sternly curse : When he who in tender patience says, 'Ye will not come unto me for life,' shall thunder in righteous vengeance, Depart from me, ye cursed; depart unto the second death, the fire prepared for the devil and his angels.' In vain wilt thou plead then as thou dost now, 66 Lord, I am no adulterer, I am no extortioner, I used to eat at thy table, I was baptised in thy name, I was a true churchman, there are many who are worse than I am." In vain shalt thou thus say, Lord, Lord' This will not admit thee into the kingdom of Christ. His answer will be, I know you not : never came unto me for life.' This is the condemnation, says he, (John iii. 19,) this is the true cause of your condemnation- the light [Christ and his grace] is come into the world, and you love darkness rather than light:' You remain shut up in your natural darkness, and care not for the light of God's countenance, which shines again in Christ upon believing souls. Yea, some are so far from caring for it, that they explode it as the visionary dream of men whose brain is turned by religion, or whose tongue is actuated by hypocrisy. But wisdom shall be justified of her children. In the mean time our commission stands in full force. Preach the gospel to
every creature.' And what is that gospel? He that believeth, he that cometh to the Son that he might have life, shall be saved; he that believeth not, he that cometh not to the Son for spiritual life, for a new birth of the Spirit, shall be damned.' (Mark xvi. 16.) For he only that hath the Son hath life; and he that hath not the Son, were he as good a man as Nicodemus or Cornelius,
hath not life; (1 John v. 12;) yea, is condemned already: (John iii. 18:) He shall not see life; but the wrath of God abideth on him. (John iii. 36.)
Will you thus continue
Christ in the world?
And will you remain any longer in this state, my dear brethren? Estranged from Jesus Christ, the source of all life, grace, and glory? without God, and without Strangers to the hope of Israel, the forgiveness of sins through the blood of Jesus, and unacquainted with the love of God, which flows from the sense of that forgiveness? Can neither the broken law, which curses you? Nor the arm of Divine justice lifted up against you, till you are grafted into Christ? Nor hell, moved from beneath to meet you at your coming? Nor the consideration of your manifold aggravated sins, that cry for their wages, your eternal death? Can none of these things drive you to Jesus Christ, in prayers of distress and faith? Shall he still complain, that you will not come to him that you might have life? Shall he still weep over ungrateful Jerusalem, and say, "O how often would I have gathered you as a hen gathereth her chickens under her wings, but ye would not! Behold I am come from heaven to seek my lost sheep: I am the good Shepherd, that have laid down my life for the sheep: I call them by name: My every look, my every breath, says, Sinners, come unto me for life: But you know not my voice, you follow strangers. The world never sweat blood for you, and yet you leave me for the world: The flesh never opened to you the kingdom of heaven, and yet you forsake me to fulfil the desire of the flesh : The devil never expired upon a cross for you, and yet you renounce me to cleave to the devil and his works! O hard-hearted, ungrateful sinners, what can I do more for you? Can tears move you? Behold I have poured out my soul in tears and strong cries to God on your behalf. (Heb. v. 7.) Will you not be wrought upon but by tears of blood? Behold, all my pores, like so many weeping eyes, distil blood, great drops of blood falling to the ground, to wash away your sins, and yet you will not come to me that you might have life. Must
you see me pant, and bleed, and die for you in unknown agonies of body and soul? Behold me nailed to an accursed cross, a spectacle to angels and men! I stand your Surety between earth and heaven. I discharge your debt in blood. I make reconciliation: I bring in everJasting righteousness: I expire for your sins. Now the covenant is sealed: My heart, my loving heart is pierced for your transgressions: The fountain of purifying blood and living water is opened: You may come, wash, and be clean. And if you suppose that, because I died for your sins, I cannot give you life: See me rising triumphantly for your justification. Now, the eternal conqueror of death and hell, I sit upon my throne, offering life to all mankind, and to you; and yet 'ye will not come unto me that you might have life."" Thus complains the Lover of souls in the text. Ah! my dear fellow-sinners! let us yield to his gentle rebuke, and moving expostulation. Let us go to him, for He only has the words of eternal life. This moment let us cast our helpless, guilty, damned souls upon his atoning blood. Through faith let us draw life out of his death, and more abundantly life out of his resurrection. Behold, sinners! the ark is ready. The storm of God's judgments gathers amain. A flood of Divine vengeance is going to sweep away the wicked from the earth. The patience of God is well nigh exhausted; and the true Noah, Jesus Christ, says once more, • Come unto me, that ye may have life.' O come now! to-day! In the ark there is salvation. in Him alone, there is pardon and life. indeed receive me? Will he take in such a leprous, guilty soul as mine?" Yes, thou poor, afflicted, dejected sinner! He will, he does take thee in: For he came not to call the righteous but sinners to repentance. Only let thy heart close with his heart, thy soul with his soul, thy sins with his blood, and thou shalt find that thy life is bound up in his life; and that where he is, there shall his servant, his spouse, his member be. Thus shut up safe in the true ark, thou shalt outride all the storms of sin, temptation, death, and judgment, which will soon overwhelm a Christless world.
Enter the ark In Christ, and "But will he
O son of man, I have set thee a watchman unto the house of Israel; therefore thou shalt hear the word at my mouth, and warn them from me. When I say unto the wicked, O wicked man, thou shalt surely die; if thou dost not speak to warn the wicked from his way, that wicked man shall die in his iniquity; but his blood will I require at thy hand. Nevertheless, if thou warn the wicked of his way to turn from it; if he do not turn from his way, he shall die in his iniquity; but thou hast delivered thy soul.-EZEKIEL XXXiii. 7-9.
THE King, by his pious proclamation, the Church, throughout the service we have performed, and God himself, in the solemn words of the text, call upon all preachers to shake off the dust of indolence, and put on the armour of God, on this mournful day.+ At all times we are bound to be instant in preaching the word, both in season and out of season; but on such a day as this, we are especially commanded to cry aloud and spare not, to draw the sword of the Spirit, the keenest word of God, and sheath it in the very bowels of profaneness. We must attack, unmask, and overthrow vice, with a holy violence, and strike at the heart of sin with the boldness of John the Baptist, and in the spirit of Elijah. You see by the words of the text, that God has set us as watchmen unto the house of Israel; and bids us say to the wicked, Thou shalt surely die.' if we do not warn the wicked from his way, he shall die in his iniquity, but his blood shall be required at our hands; and after so express a commission, who can be offended, if, superior to the frowns or smiles of sinners, This Sermon was preached on a Fast-lay, in 1762.
He adds, that