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myself.” John 17:19. The life of Christ was wholly set apart for us; therefore it is said, “ Unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given." Isa. 9:6. What was the errand upon which Christ came into this world, but to “ seek and to save that which was lost ?” Luke 19:10.
All the miracles he wrought on earth were so many works of mercy. He could have wrought miracles to destroy and ruin such as received him not; but his almighty power was employed to heal and to save the bodies of men, that thereby he might win their souls unto himself. “God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Ghost and with power; who went about doing good, and healing all that were oppressed of the devil ; for God was with him.” Acts 10:38. When the apostles desired a commission from him to command fire from heaven to destroy the Samaritans, he rebuked them, saying, “ Ye know not what manner of spirit ye are of. For the Son of man is not come to destroy men's lives, but to save them.” Luke 9:55, 56. The whole life of Christ in this world was nothing else but a wooing, drawing motive to the hearts of sinners; he rejected not the vilest of sinners. Luke 7:39. He rejected none that came to him; he would not have even little children forbidden to be brought unto him. Mark 10:14. What his winning compassion should be, was long before predicted by the prophet: “A bruised reed shall he not break, and the smoking flax shall he not quench.” Isa. 42:3. Christ was in the world as a magnet drawing all men to him; his deportment was every way suitable to his commission, which was to preach good tidings unto the meek, to bind up the broken-hearted, to proclaim liberty to the captive, and the opening of the prison to them that are bound. Isa. 61:1.
. 3. As his life, so his doctrine was a most pathetic invitation unto sinners. “Never man spake like this man.” John 7:46. Whenever he opened his lips, heaven opened, the very heart of God was opened to sinners; the whole
stream and current of his doctrine was one continued powerful persuasive to draw sinners to him. This was his language : “Come unto me, all ye that labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.” Matt. 11:28. “In the last day, that great day of the feast, Jesus stood and cried, If any man thirst, let him come unto me and drink.” John 7:37. He compares his invitations to the call of a hen, to gather her chickens under her wings: “O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, how often would I have gathered thy children together, as a hen doth gather her brood under her wings !" Luke 13:34. Certainly the whole gospel is nothing but the charming voice of the heavenly bridegroom.
4. The joy he always expressed for the success of the gospel, shows him to be an earnest suitor for the hearts of sinners. It is very remarkable that all the evangelists who have recorded the life of Christ, never mention one laugh or smile from him, for he was “a man of sorrows." Yet once we read that he rejoiced in spirit; and you shall see the occasion of it in Luke 10:21: “In that hour Jesus rejoiced in spirit.” And what was it that gladdened his heart but the report brought him by the seventy, who returned with joy, saying, “ Lord, even the devils are subject to us through thy name!" - And he said unto them, “I beheld Satan as lightning fall from heaven.” Ver. 17, 18. Satan's kingdom was going down in the world, and the mysteries of salvation were revealed unto babes; this made his holy heart leap with joy, to behold the success of the gospel destroying Satan's kingdom, and the poorest, meanest among men enlightened and converted by it. This was a cordial to his very soul, and showed the earnestness of his desire after union and communion with sinners.
5. His sorrows and mourning upon account of the obstinacy and unbelief of sinners, speak the vehemence of his desire after union with them. It is said, Mark 3:5, “ When he had looked round about on them with anger,
being grieved for the hardness of their hearts." You see that a hard heart is a grief to Jesus Christ. O how tenderly did Christ mourn over Jerusalem, when it rejected him. It is said that when Jesus came nigh to the city, he wept over it. Luke 19:41. The Redeemer's tears wept over obstinate Jerusalem spoke the zeal and fervor of his concern for their salvation; how loath Christ is to give up sinners. What a mournful voice is that in John 5:40 : “Ye will not come to me, that ye might have life.” How ready would I be to give you life; but you would rather die than come to me for it. What can Christ do more to express his willingness ? All the sorrows that ever touched the heart of Christ from men, were on this account, that they would not yield to his calls and invitations. .
6. This appears to be the great design of Christ, by the labors he underwent day and night to accomplish it. Many weary journeys Christ took, many sermons and prayers he preached and poured out, and all with the design to open the hearts of sinners to him, and win the consent of their wills to become his. This was the work which he preferred to his necessary food : “My meat is to do the will of him that sent me, and to finish his work." John 4:34. As if he had said, My bringing home the elect of God and saving them from the wrath to come, is more to me than meat and drink. So vehement and intense were his desires after the winning of sinners, that he would lose no occasion to accomplish it. If he were never so weary with his travels and labors, and an occasion offered to save a lost soul, he would be sure to improve it. You have an instance of this in John 4: Then cometh he to a city of Samaria, called Sychar. Now Jacob's well was there. Jesus therefore being weary with his journey, sat thus on the well. Christ was weary with his journey, and sat on the well for a little rest and refreshment in the heat of the day. At the same time comes a woman of Samaria, to draw water; a great sinner she was : Christ compassionately beholding this miserable object, forgets his own weariness, and presently preaches repentance to this sinner and opens her heart; a greater refreshment to him than that well could afford by giving him a seat to sit on or water to drink.
7. The great encouragements Christ always gave to coming and willing souls, plainly show the earnest desire of his heart after union with them. Never were such encouragements given as Christ gave to draw the souls of men to him. It is remarkable in what general terms and forms of expression he delivered them, that none might be discouraged, but come in hope to him : "Come unto me, all ye that labor.” Matt. 11:28. “If any man thirst.” John 7:37. All the terms of invitation are exceeding large, which shows the desire of his heart to be so also ; and his practice was answerable to his invitation ; his mercies and compassions never failed when the vilest sinners came to him in repentance and faith. You read that when Christ sat at meat in the house of Simon the Pharisee, there came in a poor convinced sinner, who had guilt enough upon her to sink ten thousand souls to hell; this poor woman comes with great humility unto Christ, not presuming to come before his face, but falls down behind him, kisses his feet, washes them with tears, and wipes them with the hair of her head—all demonstrations of a broken heart. And how did the merciful Jesus welcome this poor sinner? He seals her pardon, commends the fervor of her affections, and sends her away a joyful soul, Luke 7:37–50; herein making good that gracious promise, “Him that cometh to me I will in no wise cast out." John 6:37.
8. The dreadful threatenings of Christ against all who refuse him and shut the doors of their hearts against him, show his vehement desire to prevent the loss and ruin of souls. The threatenings of Christ are not intended to discourage any from coming to him, to fright away souls from him; no, that is not their intention : but to bring them under a blessed necessity of compliance with his terms. O the dreadful threatenings which, like claps of thunder, come from the mouth of Christ against all who refuse or delay to come unto him : “If ye believe not that I am he, ye shall die in your sins." John 8:24. “He that believeth not the Son shall not see life.” John 3:36. What a terrible thunder-clap is that against all unbelievers. “He that believeth not, shall be damned.” Mark 16:16. All these and many more warnings are given from heaven to prevent the ruin of men; the very threatenings of the gospel carry a design of mercy in them : damnation is threatened, that it may be prevented.
9. And then, in the last place, herein appears the earnestness of Christ after union with sinners, that when he could be no longer a preacher to this world in his own person, he ordained a succession of ministers, in his bodily absence from us, to gather and build the church, and to continue to the end of the world to carry on the suit that Christ had begun, as long as there was one elect soul in the world lying in the state of sin and nature.
Christ could not always abide here ; he must die, or we could not live; he must rise again, or we could not be justified; our interests called him to another place and state. Now when Christ was to ascend to heaven, he chooses and calls men, men like ourselves, whose presence and appearance should not affright or discourage us—who should treat with us in a familiar way about the great concerns of our salvation in his name and stead. “We are ambassadors for Christ, as though God did beseech you by us : we pray you in Christ's stead, be ye reconciled to God.” 2 Cor. 5:20. He did not commission angels to be his legates, their presence would confound and terrify us; but men cast in the same mould with yourselves, who may say to you as Elihu said to Job, “Behold, I am according to thy wish in