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never the less, because the hand is not a worker, but an instrument in receiving the free gift. "If through the offence of one many be dead, much more the grace of God, and the gift by grace hath abounded unto many in Jesus Christ." And "If by one man's offence death reigned by one, much more they that receive abundance of grace shall reign in life by one Jesus Christ:" here is the point then, God is well pleased, and therefore sends to us. Wilt thou have my Son? with him thou shalt have abundance of grace, and everlasting life, and my love too. There is no creature in this place, but this shall be made good unto, if he can find in his heart to take Christ, thou shalt have a warrant to receive him. Now to receive Christ, is to believe in his name, and to draw near unto him. The word receiving, is a taking with the hand, with free entertainment; ast immediately before the text. It is not so properly receiving, as entertaining. He came to his own, and his own received him not; they were like the foolish Gadarenes, that preferred their pigs before Christ; they would rather have his room than his company: and so, when Christ comes, and thou hast rather be a freeman, as thou thinkest, and wilt not have him to reign over thee, then thy case is lamentable: then selfwill, self-have. The only point is, whether we come to Christ, or he come to us, there is a drawing near. If thou comest to Christ he will not put thee back; if Christ come to thee by any good motion, if thou shut not the door against him, thou shalt not miss him: "Behold", I stand at the door and knock; if any man hear my voice, and open the door, I will come in unto him, and sup with him, and he with me." The Lord by the knock of his mouth, by the sword that comes out of his mouth, would fain come in, and be familiar with thee. If thou wilt not let him in, is it not good reason that, as in the Canticles", he withdraw himself? If he see thy sins, and would fain come in, what an encouragement hast thou to open?
"He" that cometh unto me, I will in no wise cast out." Canst thou have a better word from thy prince than this? When he holdeth out his golden sceptre, if thou takest hold on it, thou art safe; otherwise thou art a dead man : thou canst not have a greater security; all the point is, faith is a drawing near unto Christ, and unbelief is a going from him: the Gospel is preached "to those that are afar off, and to those that are near." "Hea came to preach peace to you that are afar off, and to them that are nigh." Who were they that were afar off? they were those that had "uncircumcision in the flesh, without Christ, aliens to the commonwealth of Israel, alɛot, those that had no hope;" to these Christ came; these that were afar off, by faith drew near: that expression is a singular one, "Now the just shall live by faith;" what is that?" but if any man draw back," that is, if any man be an unbeliever, " my soul shall have no pleasure in him." Faith makes a man come, and draw near to Christ. It is a shamefaced bashfulness, that makes a man draw back; it is unbelief, if any draw back, and to believe is to go on with boldness; "We are not of them which draw back unto perdition, but of them that believe to the saving of the soul." What an excellent encouragement is this, "to come with boldness unto the throne of grace, that we may find help in time of need?" So that now let thy estate be what it will, if thou wilt not hold off, but dost entertain Christ," though thy sins be as red as scarlet," be not discouraged, they shall be made as white as wool." The very sinner against the Holy Ghost is invited; and why is that unpardonable? Can any sin be so great as to overtop the value of Christ's blood? There is not so much wretchedness in the heart of man, as there is grace, goodness and mercy in Christ: but then it is unpardonable; Why? Because it is the nature of the disease, that will not suffer the plaster to stick on. "Itd counts the blood of the covenant, where
John, chap. 6. ver. 37.
b Heb. chap. 10. ver. 38.
d Heb. chap. 10. ver. 29.
a Ephes. chap. 2. ver. 17.
Isaiah, chap. 1. ver. 18.
with we should be sanctified, an unholy thing." If this sinner would not pluck off the plaster, and tread it under foot, he should be saved: but this is it, when God is liberal, and Christ is free, we have not the heart to take him at his word and come. To open this word, this is the point of all, this is the free preaching of the Gospel indeed; when a man hath nothing desirable in him, but is stark naught, and stark dead, and is not worth the taking up, that yet he may challenge Christ, and be sure of all. Unless thou hast Christ thou hast nothing by promise, not so much as a bit of bread by promise; if thou hast it, it is by providence; "All the promises of God are in him," that is, Christ, "yea, and amen :" "ye1 are the children of the promise in Christ," but you have nothing till you be in Christ.
The question is, What must I do in this case? What encouragement shall I have in my rags, when I am abominable, worth nothing?
There are certain things that are preparations to a promise; such as are commands, precepts, entreaties, which encourage them to it; and then comes a proposition: I being a believer, shall have eternal life; if Christ be mine, I may challenge forgiveness of sins, the favour of God, and everlasting life but how is faith wrought? believe not that foolish conceit that is too common in the world; that faith is only a strong persuasion that God is my God, and my sins are forgiven; this is a foolish thing, a fancy, a dream, unless it be grounded on the word of God. It is but a dream, else that will lead thee unto a fool's paradise. Nothing can uphold faith, but the word of God: here is the point; I being as bad as can be, what ground have I out of the word of God, of an unbeliever to be made a believer? Now we must not take every text, but such only as may be appliable to a dead man, one that hath no goodness in him, that is yet out of Christ; we were all swimming at liberty till this word catched us in; we never
e 2 Cor. chap. 1. ver. 20.
Gal. chap. 3. ver. 29. and chap. 4. ver. 28.
Isaiah, chap. 55. ver. 1.
thought of the business before, till we were thus taken. Now there are certain degrees to get faith in us.
1. The first word is a general proclamation, whereby Christ gives any one leave to come and take him. Christ is not only a fountain sealed, as in the Canticles, but a "fountain open for sin and for uncleanness," as in Zachariah: so that now, when he keeps open house, he makes proclamation that none shall be shut out. He puts none back; sins, not the greatest that can be, can keep thee back this is the first thing; and to confirm it, we have our Saviour's own proclamation: "Ho! every one that thirsteth, come you to the waters; and he that hath no money, come, buy, and eat: yea, come, buy wine and milk without money, and without price." A strange contradiction, one would think; what! buy, and yet without money, and without price. The reason is, because there is a certain thing which fools esteem a price, which is none;"I counsel thee to buy of me gold which is tried in the fire" Why? How must this be done? Truly thus; whensoever a sinner comes to Christ to have his sins pardoned, and to be a subject of Christ's kingdom, thou must not then be as thou wast, but thou must be changed. Thou must not live as thou didst before, in the state of rebellion. Now to leave sin is not worth a rush, it is not a sufficient price; but yet we see a fool will esteem his own baubles: I must lay down my lusts, I must lay down my covetousness, intemperance, &c. and a man thinks it a great matter thus to do; and to leave the freedom that he had before, though it be a matter of nothing. When a rebel receives his pardon, is the king's pardon abridged, because he must live like a subject hereafter? Why should he also seek for the benefit of a subject? This is said in respect of the foolish conceit of man, who thinks it a great price to forsake his corruptions. Again, with the same loud voice, Christ cried when he offered himself a sacrifice for sin he cried at the time of the great feast, that
h Rev. chap. 3. ver. 18.
all should come. "In the last day, the great day of the feast, Jesus stood, and cried, saying, If any man thirst, let him come unto me and drink." In the last of the Revelations, there is a quicunque vult, that is it I pressed: it is a place worth gold. And these are the places which being applied, make you of strangers, to draw near: but now these are not appliable to a man before he hath grace; every one cannot apply them. Never forget that place while you live; it is the close of God's holy book, and the sealing up of his holy book. What is that? It is in Revelations, chap. XXII. ver. 17. “ And the Spirit and the Bride say, come, and let him that is a thirsty come, and drink of the water of life freely." Whosoever will, let him come what wouldst thou have more? Hast thou no will to Christ? No will to salvation? then it is pity thou shouldst be saved. No man can be saved against his will, nor blessed against his will: if thou wilt not have Christ, if thou wilt try conclusions with God, then go further, and fare worse; but whosoever will, let him come. Oh! but I have a will: why, then thou hast a warrant; take Christ.
OBJ. But, O sir, you are a great patron of free will: What? doth it all lie in a man's will? Will you make the matter of taking Christ lie there?
SOL. I say, if thou seest thou hast a will, then thou hast a warrant; I say not that this will comes from thyself. It is not a blind faith will do thee good; the word of God works faith in thee, thou hast not a will to it born in thee. It is not a flower that grows in thine own garden, but is planted by God; "Nok man can come unto me, except the Father which hath sent me, draw him." What? Will Christ offer violence to the will, and draw a man against his will? No, there is no such meaning. It is expounded in the sixty-fifth verse; "No man can come unto me, except it were given him of my Father." By this Christ sheweth what he meant. If thou hast a will to come, thank the Father for it; for of him, as in the Philippians,
John, chap. 7. ver. 37.
John, chap. 6. ver. 44.