« PreviousContinue »
wrought upon the heart of a sinner, to open it by repentance and faith, and put Christ in full possession of it." The power of all the angels in heaven, ministers on earth, duties, and ordinances cannot effect this; this is the peculiar work of God. “Of him are ye in Christ Jesus.” 1 Cor. 1:30. As it was the marvellous work of God to unite our nature unto Christ, so it is no less a marvellous work of God to unite our persons to Christ, to prepare the soul as a habitation for Christ, and give him the possession of it.
(2.) This coming of Christ into the soul is the very foundation of all our hopes for glory; until this be done, we are without hope. But in the same hour when Christ comes into the soul, a solid foundation of the hope of glory is laid in that soul, “ which is Christ in you, the hope of glory." Col. 1:27. I know the unregenerate world is full of hope, but their hopes are built upon the sand. Union with Christ is the firm foundation on which the hopes of heaven are laid.
(3.) “I will come in to him ;" that is, to dwell in his soul for ever, never to leave him more; therefore he is said to dwell in our hearts by faith, Eph. 3:17—not sojourn for a night, but abide there for ever. Nothing can separate Christ and that soul. Rom. 8:35. Thy soul shall never be a habitation for Satan again. When Christ comes in, he saith, as of the temple, " This is my rest for ever: here will I dwell.” Psalm 132 : 14.
(4.) This coming in of Christ entitles the soul to all spiritual privileges : “He that hath the Son, hath life,” 1 John, 5:12; and, “ All are yours, and ye are Christ's.” 1 Cor. 3 : 22, 23.
(5.) This is the highest honor that ever God put upon a creature, “ I will come in to him.” O how should the soul feel itself advanced by such an honor as this. What, to be the living temple of Jesus Christ, for him to dwell and
walk in thy soul! 2 Cor. 6:16. I tell you, this is an honor beyond and above the honor done to angels.
And how near art thou to all these blessed privileges in the day that thy heart is wounded for sin? Thy thoughts become solicitous about union with Christ, and thy will begins to yield after a serious examination of the terms of the gospel in thy most solemn thoughts. God forbid any thing should now hinder the completing of so great a work,
NONE RECEIVE CHRIST UNTIL HIS SPIRITUAL
QUICKENING VOICE IS HEARD.
“IF ANY MAN HEAR MY VOICE AND OPEN THE DOOR, I WILL
COME IN TO HIM.” Rev. 3:20. In the former chapters, Christ's general invitation to sinners has been considered : we are now to consider the principal instrument by which the heart of a sinner is opened to receive Christ; and that is not by the power of his own will, nor merely by the efficacy of the gospel preached, but by the voice of Jesus Christ, which opens the will, and makes the persuasions of the gospel effectual. “If any man hear my voice.”
Hearing is either external or internal; for the soul has its ear as well as the body. “He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches," Rev. 2:17; that is, he that hath a spiritual ear, by which to perceive and judge the voice of the Spirit. It is a sore judgment when God denies such an ear to the soul. “Go and tell this people, hear ye indeed, but understand not.” Isa. 6:9. Spiritual hearing is the work of the inner man. And though we have many auditors, yet, in this sense, we have no more hearers than believers. Words of sense in Scripture describe affections. This hearing of Christ's voice implies not only the receiving the sound of the gospel into the external organ, but the work of the understanding, which by the ear trieth words as the mouth tasteth meat, Job 12:11; and the work of the affections, which receive the truth in love. 2 Thess. 2:10. It also implies the obedience of the soul to what we hear. We cannot be said, in this sense, to hear what we obey not. Our minds may be delighted with the pleasant melody of the gospel, and yet it is as if we heard it not, when obedience does not follow hearing. "Thou art
unto them as a very lovely song of one that hath a pleasant voice, and can play well on an instrument; for they hear thy words, but they do them not.” Ezek. 33:32. But in this place it signifies the vital sound of Christ's efficacious voice, which is the principle of spiritual life to the souls of dead sinners ; according to his expression, “Verily, verily, I say unto you, the hour is coming, and now is, when the dead shall hear the voice of the Son of God : and they that hear shall live.” John 5: 25.
From hence the eighth doctrine will be,
No man's will savingly and effectually opens to receive Christ until the spiritual and quickening voice of Christ be heard by the soul.
Now, concerning this almighty spiritual voice of Christ, by which the hearts of sinners are effectually opened, six things must be explained in order : the divers sorts and kinds of Christ's voices; the general nature of this internal voice ; the innate characters and special properties of it; the objects to whom it is directed; the motives inducing Christ to speak to one, and not to another; and the special effects wrought and sealed by it upon every soul that hears it.
I. We will speak of THE DIVERS SORTS AND KINDS OF Christ's VOICES.
1. There is an external voice of Christ, which we may call his voice in the preaching of the gospel. The Scriptures are his word, and ministers his mouth. Jer. 15:19. He that heareth them, heareth Christ.
2. There is also an internal voice of Christ, consisting not in sound, but in power; and between these there are two remarkable differences. First, the external or ministerial voice of Christ is but the organ or instrument of conveying his internal and efficacious voice to the soul : in the former he speaks to the ear, and by that sound conveys his spiritual Christ Knocking.
voice to the heart. Second, the external voice is ineffectual when it is not animated by the internal spiritual voice. It was marvellous to see the walls of Jericho falling to the ground at the sound of ram’s horns, Josh. 6: 20; there was certainly more than the force of an external blast to produce such an effect : but more marvellous it is, to see at the sound of the gospel not only the weapons of iniquity falling out of sinners' hands, but the very enmity itself out of their hearts. Here you see is a voice in a voice, an internal efficacy in the external sound, without which the gospel makes no saving impression.
II. This spiritual voice of Christ must be considered IN ITS GENERAL NATURE, which implies,
1. Almighty efficacy, to quicken and open the heart with a word. O what manner of voice is this, which carries such a vital power with it! In all the mighty works of Christ, his power was put forth in some voice, as at the resurrection of Lazarus. “He cried with a loud voice, Lazarus, come forth. And he that was dead came forth.” John 11:43, 44. So in curing the deaf man, Mark 7:34, “He saith unto him, Ephphatha, that is, Be opened ; and straightway his ears were opened.”. Thus, in exerting his almighty power in quickening a soul spiritually dead, and opening the heart locked up by ignorance and unbelief, an internal almighty efficacy passes from Christ, along with the voice of the gospel, to effect this glorious work upon the soul; an emblem of which we have in Ezek. 37:9, 10: “Then said he unto me, Prophesy unto the wind, prophesy, son of man, and say to the wind, Thus saith the Lord God; Come from the four winds, O breath, and breathe upon these slain, that they may live. So I prophesied as he commanded me, and the breath came into them, and they lived, and stood up upon their feet, an exceeding great army.” The animating vital breath which quickened the dead came with the four winds of heaven, as this almighty