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4. Herein the admirable grace of this heavenly suitor appears, that Jesus Christ passes by millions of creatures of more excellent gifts, and never makes them one offer of himself, never turns aside to give one knock at their door; but comes to thee, the vilest of creatures, and will not go from thy door without being heard. Knowest thou not, sinner, that among the unsanctified there are multitudes of men and women of more excellent parts, strong memories, and solid judgments—yea, of purer conversation, strict morality, adorned with excellent social virtues, capable, if called, to do him abundantly more service than thou canst ? yet these are passed by, and he becomes a suitor to such a poor worthless thing as thou art, yea, and rejoices in his choice. “I thank thee, O Father, Lord of heaven and earth, because thou hast hid these things from the wise and prudent, and hast revealed them unto babes.” Matt. 11:25. Here is the triumph of free-grace.
5. This increases the wonder, that Jesus Christ should desire and delight to dwell in such an unclean heart as thine, which, from the beginning, has been the seat and throne of Satan, full of all uncleanness and abominations. O that Christ should make an overture of love to such a polluted soul—that he should choose to erect his throne where Satan's seat was! Look into thine own heart, sinner, and think what can Christ see there to be desired? Thou knowest thy heart has been a sink of sin, thy conscience like a sewer, into which all the filth of thy life has been cast; yet Christ passes by thee, as thou liest in thy blood and filthiness, and casts his love upon thee and his desire towards thee. Ezek. 16: 6,8. All these things make it astonishing in our eyes that Jesus Christ, the Lord from heaven, should become an earnest suitor for union and communion with the souls of sinners.
INFERENCE 1. If Christ is such an earnest suitor for union and communion with the souls of sinners, it follows,
that sinners can justly charge their damnation upon none but themselves. Your blood must be upon your own heads; salvation by Christ is not only freely offered, but you are with great importunity persuaded to accept it. Christ offers you life, and you choose rather to die than accept it upon his terms; where now can your ruin be charged but upon your own wilful obstinacy?“O Israel, thou hast destroyed thyself.” Hosea 13:9. Thou art the author of thine own ruin ; I would have gathered thy children, said Christ to Jerusalem, but thou wouldest not; your ruin, therefore, lies upon yourselves, and upon none besides. Indeed, if the ministers of Christ are negligent in their duty, they may be accessories to your destruction; but that is poor relief to you. As for myself, I hope I may, with Paul, take God to record this day, that “I am pure from the blood of all men.” Acts 10:26. Now, consider what a dismal aggravation of your destruction will this be, that you perished by your own hands: this cuts off all plea and apology.
2. Hence it also follows, that distressed sinners have no reason to question Christ's willingness to receive them when their hearts are made willing to come unto him. It would be little less than a blasphemous imputation of insincerity to Christ himself, to question his willingness to receive broken-hearted sinners, after so many protestations as he has made in the gospel, of his earnestness for their salvation; that scripture, John 6:37, puts it out of doubt : “Him that cometh to me I will in no wise cast out." I know guilt breeds many fears and jealousies in the hearts of sinners; will Christ ever accept and receive such a one as I ? Try him, he has said he will: let him have but the deliberate consent of thy heart to his terms, and then, if thou art rejected, thou wilt be the first soul that ever met a repulse from him.
3. By Christ's earnest suit for the souls of sinners, you may see the inestimable worth of the soul of man. Were not the soul of man of great value, Jesus Christ would never be so deeply concerned about winning and saving it. Sinners have a low esteem of their own souls--they will sell them for naught; but Christ knows their true worth, and his solicitude to save them is answerable to his estimation of them; he counts when he has gained a soul, that he has gained a treasure. Therefore he pleads and waits so earnestly for the salvation of them. Two things speak the great value of the soul of man. .
(1.) That it is now capable of espousals to the Son of God; upon which account it is that Christ so earnestly seeks its love, and sues for its consent. This is a dignity beyond that of all other creatures in heaven or in earth; no angel in heaven, no other creature but the soul of man on earth, is capable of espousals to Christ. It is a dignity above that of angels, for Christ took not on him their nature, and the union of the divine and human natures is the foundation of the union between Christ and his people. Angels are members indeed of Christ's kingdom, and he is to them a head of dominion; but the honor was never conferred upon angels to be members of his body, flesh and bones, as the saints are. Eph. 5:30.
(2.) As the soul is capable of espousals to Christ on earth, so it is capable of glory with Christ in heaven throughout eternity. “Father, I will that they also whom thou hast given me, be with me where I am; that they may behold my glory which thou hast given me.” John 17: 24. The soul of man has a natural capacity of enjoying eternal blessedness which other creatures have not. And this will be the aggravation of hell-torments, that men capable of the highest happiness should, as it were, receive that capacity in vain ; but that which constitutes an actual right to the everlasting enjoyment of Christ in glory, is the soul's espousals to him here by his grace. Upon these two accounts it is that Christ puts such a price upon them, courts their love so affectionately, laments their loss so pathetically, and encourages his ministers to all diligence in persuading and wooing them for him with such abundant rewards. Dan. 12:3. Know then your own worth and dignity; neither pawn nor sell so precious a thing as thy soul for any thing Satan can set before thee by way of exchange for it. “What shall a man give in exchange for his soul!" Mark 8:37.
4. Is Christ such an earnest suitor for union with sinners? then certainly, they are the enemies of Christ and the souls of men, who any way endeavor to hinder or break off the union between Christ and them.
Some there are who labor to create jealousies and prejudices in the souls of men against Christ and his ways—men that bring up an evil report of Christ and religion, as that which will expose them to all the miseries of the world. Instigated by Satan, they whisper into the soul's ear, whom Christ is wooing for himself, that the severity of religion will certainly extinguish all their joys and pleasures; they shall never laugh more, never be merry any more; besides, it will expose all their comforts upon earth to hazard, their estates and lives must fall a prey to their enemies, and this suffering is the estate with which Christ will endow them if they consent to his terms. And that this is no groundless jealousy of their own, but that Christ himself has openly declared as much : “He that loveth father or mother more than me, is not worthy of me; and he that loveth son or daughter more than me, is not worthy of me. And he that taketh not his cross, and followeth after me, is not worthy of me.” Matt. 10:37, 38. This is what they must expect as the fruit of their consent to Christ's proposals. But 0, what will these men have to answer, and how will they stand before Christ another day, who are such professed enemies to his cross, and set themselves so directly in opposition to the great designs of Christ! Is it not enough that you will not enter yourselves, but you will hinder them that would ? Matt. 23:13. Thus ungodly
parents discourage their children, and one relative another, But, to help souls under this discouragement, I will leave only this one caution with them, that such seeming friends are real enemies, their words are poison to your souls. Satan has employed them to do his work, and hired their tongues for his service. But if the serious care of salvation, and fervent love of Christ be in thy heart, thou wilt resolve, as Jerome did, “ If my father and my mother should hang about my neck with tears and entreaties to keep me from Christ, I would fling off my father and my mother, to go to Christ.”
To this head also belong all those scandals and offences which loose and careless professors cast in the way to discourage others from coming unto Christ : “Woe unto the world because of offences.” Matt. 18:7. Woe to the world, this will be their ruin; for by this means such prejudices will be begotten in their souls against Christ and religion, as they will never be able to free themselves from. “Whoso shall offend one of these little ones which believe in me, it were better for him that a millstone were hanged about his neck, and that he were drowned in the depth of the sea.” Matt. 18:6. Christians, look carefully to your conversation; for besides the evil effects of sin upon yourselves, you see the mischievous effects of it upon others. And thus we may understand those words, “I charge you, O ye daughters of Jerusalem, by the roes and by the hinds of the field, that ye stir not up nor awake my love till he please.” Sol. Song 2:7. Roes and hinds are timid creatures, the least noise will startle and fright them away: such are those who are coming to Christ; young beginners in the ways of religion, how small a matter may discourage them. O friend, you have sins enough of your own; bring not the sin and ruin of other men upon you also.
5. How great is the blindness and ignorance of sinners, who need so much entreaty and importunity to be made happy! It is your ignorance, sinners, that makes all