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The woman of Canaan did really believe in Christ, yet met with sore trials under the first act of her faith ; yet this took her not off from the work of faith, but rather quickened her the more ; she was glad of a word from Christ, and she expected deeds. The words were discouraging : “It is not meet to take the children's bread, and to cast it to dogs ;"' yet this beats not off her faith : the dog belongs to the family, and crumbs to the dog. “O woman,” saith Christ, “great is thy faith.” Matt. 15:26, 27. If you resolve for Christ, you must not be discouraged; a resolute faith overcomes all difficulties. You pray, you believe, and yet have no comfort; well, the vision of peace is for an appointed time; at the end it will speak, and not lie. • DIRECTION 9. In your treating with Christ, beware of all secret reserves that will spoil the treaty between Christ and you. “If I regard iniquity in my heart, the Lord will not hear me.” Psa. 66 : 18. If there be but a reserve of one lust, that reserve will break off the treaty: be honest with Christ, and say not of any sin, “ the Lord be merciful to me in this ;” and be sure there is no secret purpose or reserve in thy heart for a retreat in time of danger; but embark thyself with Christ for storms and tempests, troubles and afflictions, as well as peace and prosperity. Christ bestows himself wholly upon you, and he expects the same from you : give up all, or you will receive nothing from him.
DIRECTION 10. Close up your treaty with Christ by a solemn covenant with him; engage yourselves to be the Lord's. “One shall say, I am the Lord's; and another shall call himself by the name of Jacob; and another shall subscribe with his hand unto the Lord, and surname himself by the name of Israel.” Isa. 44: 5. Here you have two things to do: 1. To give yourselves up to Christ, according to that expression, they “first gave their own selves to the Lord.” 2 Cor. 8:5. Make your soul and body, time and talents, henceforth, dedicated things to his
service. 2. Take Christ in both his natures and in all his offices to be yours; and to this covenant you are to stand to the last breath, whatever times or troubles shall come. This consent of thy heart to be Christ's, this choice of thy will in taking him for thine, is but the echo of Christ's choice of thee; and I would rather have such an evidence of my interest in him, than a voice from heaven to assure me that Christ is mine.
CHRIST REJECTS NONE WHO OPEN TO
“IF ANY MAN HEAR MY VOICE AND OPEN THE DOOR, I .
COME IN TO HIM.” Rev. 3: 20. This expression, “ If any man,” extends the gracious offer of Christ, and brings in hope to every hearer. It is a general proclamation : “If any man;" as if Christ should say, I will have this offer of my grace go round to every particular person; if thou, or thou, or thou, the greatest, the vilest of sinners, of what quality or condition soever, old or young, profane or hypocritical, wilt hear my voice, and open to me, I will come in to your soul. And hereby all objections are obviated : as for example, I am the greatest of sinners, says one; I have been a self-deceiving hypocrite, says another; I have resisted grace too long, and fear the time of mercy is past, says a third. The ground of all these, and a thousand more objections, is taken away by the gracious extent of Christ's offer in the text ; for who is he that can limit where Christ does not ? This gives us a seventh prof. itable and comfortable doctrine :
Jesus Christ will not refuse to come in to the soul of the vilest sinner, when once it is made willing to open to him.
“If any man hear my voice and open the door, I will come in to him.” It is not unworthiness, but unwillingness, that bars any man from Christ: thousands have missed of Christ by their unwillingness, but Christ never put off one soul on account of its unworthiness; Christ is not the sale but the gift of God; you come not to make a bargain, but to receive a free gift : faith is marriage with Christ, wherein nothing but our hearty consent is expected; so runs the strain of the whole Scriptures. “Ho, every one that thirsteth, come ye to the waters, and he that hath no
money,” that is, no merit, no worthiness of his own, “come ye.” Isa. 55:1. Behold the free-grace of Christ to the vilest and most unworthy of sinners. So Rev. 22: 17, “Let him that is athirst come; and whosoever will, let him take the water of life freely.” And in the very phrase of my text he speaks again. And yet again, in John 7:37, “If any man thirst, let him come unto me and drink.” It is very observable throughout the whole gospel, that Christ never made any objection against any soul that came to him, on account of its sinfulness and unworthiness; but all the complaints of Christ are on account of men's unwillingness. So in his complaint over Jerusalem, Luke 13: 34, “I would, but you would not ;" so again, John 5:40, “ Ye will not come to me, that ye might have life.” The complaint is still upon their unwillingness. In stating this point, I shall show what it is to be truly willing to receive Jesus Christ; and how it appears that they who are so, shall certainly be received and graciously accepted of him.
I. WHAT IT IS TO BE TRULY WILLING TO RECEIVE JESUS CHRIST; for this is meant by opening the heart to him. Now this implies many great and weighty things.
1. It implies and necessarily includes the right understanding of gospel terms. These must be known, pondered, and duly considered, before the will can savingly open, in an act of consent, to Christ's offer. I desire this may be especially observed, because multitudes are mistaken about this thing : he that does not consider, does not consent; you must exercise your understandings upon the terms and articles of Christianity, or else your consent is rash, blindfold, and unstable. This, in Luke 14:31, is called consulting; the consent of faith is the result of previous consultations and debates in the mind : the soul that comes to Christ must take up religion in his most sedate and serious thoughts; turn both sides of it, the dark as well as the bright side of religion, to the eye of his mind; balance all the conveniences and inconveniences, losses as well as gains. If I open to Christ, this I shall gain, but that I must lose ; I cannot separate Christ from sufferings : Christ will separate me from my sins; if I seek him, I must let them go; if I profess Christ, Providence will one time or other bring me to this dilemma, either Christ or earthly comforts must go. It is necessary, therefore, that I now propound to myself what Providence may, one time or other, propound to me. He hath set down his terms : “If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross and follow me.” Matt. 16 : 24. This self-denial deserves serious consideration; for Christ requires that I give up my life, my liberty, my estate, my relations, and also my own righteousness, which is as hard to be parted with as any of the former. I must take up my cross, that is, the sufferings and troubles which God shall appoint for me, and which I cannot avoid without sin ; and I must follow Christ whithersoever he goes. I know not what religion may cost me before I die; all this it has cost others; and there is no bringing down Christ's terms lower than he has laid them. I must come up to them, they will not come down to me: if I like them not as Christ has left them, the treaty between him and me is ended. “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. Where, by worthiness, we are not to understand the meritoriousness of these acts, but the necessary qualification of the will, and the due preparation of one coming to Christ; these previous consultations and debates in the mind prepare the will to make a serious and welladvised choice of Christ : and for want of this, there are such swarms of hypocrites and apostates in the world.