« PreviousContinue »
though it has been never so vile and abominable ; the heart of Mary Magdalene, which had been a habitation of devils, and the soul of a Saul, a bloody, raging persecutor, will make as delightful habitations for Christ as the soul of the most exemplary person in the world, when once the will is thus opened.
EVIDENCE 2. The truth of this assertion further appears from the encouraging promises made by Christ to all who are thus made willing to come unto him. All the promises with one mouth assure the willing sinner of a welcome to Christ. Mark that glorious promise, from which so many thousand souls have drawn encouragement and help at their first coming to Christ : “All that the Father giveth me, shall come to me; and him that cometh to me I will in no wise cast out. For I came down from heaven, not to do mine own will, but the will of him that sent me." John 6:37, 38. Note here,
(1.) That this is not a promise made to those that are already in Christ, that they shall never be cast out by apostasy or final desertion; but a promise made to coming souls, to such as are moving towards Christ, under great discouragements, fears, and tremblings. When a sinner looks to Christ, and sees his fulness and suitableness, and his own pinching need and want of him, 0, says he, that I had an interest in him, though I should beg my bread in desolate places. But looking into his own heart, and seeing so much guilt and unworthiness there, then saith he, how can I think that Jesus Christ will come into such a heart as this? These are the persons upon whom this promise casts an encouraging aspect.
(2.) And because the fears of such persons are much more than the fears that others have, Christ has put a double negative into this promise, for the soul's encouragement; I will not, in any case or at any hand, cast out such a soul as this.
(3.) And to put all beyond doubt, he not only assures the soul that he will not, but condescends to give it the reason why he will not cast it out: “I came down from heaven, not to do mine own will, but the will of him that sent me." John 6:38. As if he had said, This was the very errand upon which I came down from heaven; it was my great business to receive all that were made willing to come to me; for this I had my Father's commission : "The Lord hath anointed me to preach good tidings unto the meek ; he hath sent me to bind up the broken-hearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison to them that are bound; to proclaim the acceptable year of the Lord, and the day of vengeance of our God; to comfort all that mourn." Isa. 61:1, 2. I cannot be faithful to the trust committed to me by my Father, should I shut the door upon such souls. How can Christ comfort the soul that mourns, but by opening his arms of mercy to receive it? If he should say to the convinced sinner, Hold thy peace, I will give thee riches, honors, and pleasures in the world; but as for me, thou canst not have union with me; this would never comfort the heart of a convinced sinner: it is Christ, and none but Christ, can quiet it. Like unto this, is that testimony and promise made on purpose for the encouragement of willing souls : “To him give all the prophets witness, that through his name whosoever believeth on him shall receive remission of sins.” Acts 10:43. This you see is a truth confirmed by the testimony of all the prophets, who foretold what his gracious readiness to receive poor broken-hearted sinners should be; and they neither did, nor could conspire to deceive the world. These gracious assurances and promises cut off all pleas against faith, from the greatness of sin ; and why should we except where God has not excepted ? Had Christ said, All sinners of such a degree may come unto me, but let all others stand back, the case had been otherwise ; but this promise
assures us, that all the sincerely willing, shall be truly welcome to Jesus Christ. Moreover, these universal promises take away all fear of presumption in coming to Christ. This is the case of many a soul. I am afraid I am running from despair into presumption; I fear I am an unbidden, and therefore shall be an unwelcome guest to Christ. All this is prevented by these sweet universal terms inserted on purpose in these promises for our encouragement.
EVIDENCE 3. The willingness of Christ to receive the willing soul, however great its sins and unworthiness, appears from the actual grants of pardon and mercy, even to the vilest sinners on earth, when they thus come to him. Here you see how the waters of free-grace rise higher and higher. An invitation is much; a promise of welcome is more; but the actual grant of mercy is most satisfying of all. Come on, trembling soul, be not discouraged, stretch out the weak arms of thy faith to that great and gracious Redeemer; open thy heart wide to receive him : he will not refuse to come in. He hath sealed thousands of pardons to as vile wretches as thyself; he never yet shut the door of mercy upon a willing, hungering soul. It is a great matter to have the way beaten before thee in thy way to Christ. If thou wert the first sinner that had cast his soul upon him, I confess I should want the encouragement I am now giving thee; but when so many have gone before thee, and all found a welcome beyond their expectation, what encouragement is breathed into thy trembling, discouraged heart to go on and venture thyself upon Christ as they did. What an example have we in Manasseh, 2 Chron. 33:3—12-an idolater, one that used enchantments, divinations, and familiar spirits, and shed innocent blood in the streets of Jerusalem. A man might rake the world, and hardly bring to sight a viler wretch, a greater monster in wickedness; yet his heart being broken and his will bowed, this man found mercy. How great a sinner was Mary, that came to Christ in the house of Simon the Pharisee, Luke 7:37–50; so notorious a sinner, that Simon took offence at Christ for suffering her to come into his presence. If this man were a prophet, said he, he would have known who and what manner of woman this is who touched him, for she is a sinner. Yet Mary's heart being broken for sin, and made willing to accept of a Saviour, received a gracious demonstration of welcome from Christ, and all other sinners are encouraged by her example. Once more, you have an eminent example in the abundant welcome of another sinner to Christ, who owned himself the greatest of sinners; a persecutor, a blasphemer, injurious; but, saith he, “I obtained mercy.” 1 Tim. 1:16. And the example of his gracious reception with Christ is recorded as an encouragement to all that should hereafter believe. How many thousands are now in hell that never were guilty of greater enormities than the Corinthians. Fornicators, idolaters, adulterers, thieves, covetous, drunkards, revilers, extortioners, such were some of them; yet they were sanctified, washed, justified, in the name of the Lord Jesus, and by the Spirit of our God. 1 Cor. 6:9–11. If ever Christ would have shut the door of mercy upon any_if ever he would have been reluctant to come into any souls, certainly these were the souls he would have disdained to come near. O what a demonstration is here of that comfortable point before us : that Christ will not refuse to come into the soul of the vilest sinner, when once it is made heartily willing to open to him.
EVIDENCE 4. A further evidence of this comfortable truth shall be taken from the scriptural emblems of the abundant grace of God, and riches of mercy in Christ, towards all broken-hearted and willing sinners. There are some chosen emblems which bring down the grace of God before the eyes of men; among which I will single out three glorious resemblances of free-grace, chosen by his wisdom on purpose for the encouragement of drooping sinners.
(1.) A resemblance from the heavens that cover and compass this earth.' What an inconsiderable spot is the whole terrestrial globe, to those high and all-surrounding heavens! And yet these heavens are not at so vast a distance above the earth, as the pardoning grace of God is above the guilt, yea, and the very thoughts of poor sinners. For, of the pardoning grace of God to penitent and willing souls, that precious scripture speaks, “Let the wicked forsake his way, and the unrighteous man his thoughts; and let him return unto the Lord, and he will have mercy upon him; and to our God, for he will abundantly pardon.” Isa. 55:7. O, saith the soul, I cannot think God will ever have mercy on such a wretch as I. Why? saith he; my thoughts are not your thoughts, and it is well they are not; for as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my thoughts higher than your thoughts. You cannot take the height nor sound the depth of my pardoning grace.
(2.) Another emblem is taken from the sun in the heavens. You know, that soon this part of the world will be the throne of darkness, the sable curtains of the night will spread over all its beauties, and perhaps in the morning a thick fog or mist will cover it; thick clouds may darken the heavens. But, behold the glorious creature the sun chasing before him the darkness of the night, breaking up the mists of the morning, scattering the dark and thick clouds of heaven ; they are all gone, and there is no appearance of them. Just so, saith God, shall it be with thy sins, and thy fears arising out of them. “I have blotted out as a thick cloud thy transgressions, and as a cloud thy sins.” Isa. 44:22. Thy soul is beclouded, thy fears have been like a mist, so that thou canst not see the grounds of thy encouragement; but my grace shall rise upon thee like the sun in the heavens, and scatter all these dismal clouds, both of guilt and fear, and make a clear heaven over thee, and a clear soul within thee. “Unto you that fear my name shall the Sun of