« PreviousContinue »
When God's elect are thus brought in and built up in Christ, you shall see this glorious frame of ordinances taken down ; there will be no more preaching nor hearing, the end of all these things being accomplished: “Then cometh the end, when he shall have delivered up the kingdom to God, even the Father.” 1 Cor. 15:24. The consideration of the accomplishment of the great and principal design of the gospel thus far upon thy heart, is matter of transporting joy. Ministers may and must die, ordinances may be removed, but this blessed effect of them upon thy soul shall never die : God will perfect what he hath begun.
CONSOLATION 5. That day wherein thy heart is savingly opened to receive Christ, that very day is salvation come to thy soul. When the heart of Zaccheus was opened to Christ, he tells him, “This day is salvation come to thy house.” Luke 19:9. Salvation was come into the world before thou wast born; yea, salvation was come to thy door in the tenders of the gospel before ; but it never came into thy soul till the day wherein thy heart opened to Christ by faith. And is not this matter of singular consolation? If salvation be not, what is ? No wonder that the eunuch went home rejoicing, when he had received Christ by faith, Acts 8:39; that the jailer rejoiced with all his house. Acts 16:34. Neither blame nor wonder at such men for rejoicing, for it is the day of their salvation. It is true their salvation was not finished that day, there were many things yet to be done and suffered by them before the completion of it; but it was begun that day, the foundation was laid in the soul that day, and the top-stone shall be set up with shouting in due time, crying, Grace, grace unto it.
CONSOLATION 6. The opening of a sinner's heart to Christ makes joy in heaven, a triumph in the city of our God above. “I say unto you, that likewise joy shall be in heaven over one sinner that repenteth, more than over ninety and nine just persons which need no repentance.”
Luke 15: 7. As when a young prince is born, all the kingdom rejoices, and there is a demonstration of joy and thankfulness in every city and town; it is inuch more so in heaven, when a soul is born to Christ under the gospel. It is a satisfaction to the heart of the Lord Jesus, who now beholds more of the travail of his soul; and to all the angels and saints, that another soul is espoused to him.
When the gospel is effectually brought home by the Spirit to the heart of a sinner, and wounds him for sin, and sends him home, crying, 0 sick, sick of sin, and sick for Christ! the news thereof is presently in heaven, and sets the whole city of God rejoicing. Christ never rejoiced over thee before; thou hast wounded him and grieved him a thousand times, but he never rejoiced in thee till now; and that which gives joy to Chrisť may well be matter of joy to thee.
CONSOLATION 7. The day thy heart is unlocked, unbarred, and savingly opened by faith, that very day an intimate, spiritual, and everlasting union is made between Christ and thy soul; from that day Christ is thine, and thou art his. Christ is a great and glorious person; but how great and glorious soever he be, the feeble arms of thy faith may surround and embrace him, and thou mayest say with the church, “My beloved is mine, and I am his.” Sol. Song, 2:16. For mark what he says in the text, “If any man open to me, I will come in to him.” That soul shall be my habitation, there will I dwell for ever. Thus will Christ dwell in your heart by faith. What soul feels not itself advanced by this union with the Son of God ? Hereby the believer becomes a member of his body, of his flesh and of his bones : this is an honor bestowed upon thy soul, above all that ever God bestowed upon any angel in heaven; to them Christ is a head by way of dominion, but to thee by way of vital influence. Angels are as the nobles of his kingdom, but the believer his bride, and all the angels of heaven are ministering spirits unto such.
CONSOLATION 8. The opening of thy heart to Christ brings thee not only into union with his person, but into the state of sweet, soul-enriching communion with him. So he speaks in the text, “If any man open the door, I will come in to him, and will sup with him, and he with me.” Thou hast lived many years in the world, and never hadst any communion with God till this day. Christ and thy soul have been strangers till now. Thou mayest have had communion with ordinances, and even external communion with saints, but for communion with Christ thou couldst know nothing of it, till thou receivedst him into thy soul by faith. Now thou mayest say, “ Truly my fellowship is with the Father, and with his Son Jesus Christ.” 1 John, 1:3. And thenceforth thy communion with men is pleasant and desirable.
CONSOLATION 9. The opening of a man's soul to Christ by faith, is a special and peculiar mercy. God has done that for thee which he has not done to millions : “Who hath believed our report; and to whom is the arm of the Lord revealed ?” that is, to how small a remnant in the world. Isa. 53 :1. And the apostle puts the work of faith among the great mysteries of godliness, the wonders of religion : “Preached unto the Gentiles, believed on in the world.” 1 Tim. 3:16. The sound of the gospel is gone forth into the world : “Many are called, but few are chosen.” Matt. 22:14. There were many widows in Israel in the days of Elias, but to none of them was Elias sent, save unto Sarepta, a city of Sidon, unto a woman that was a widow. Luke 4:25, 26. There may have been hundreds who sat under the same sermon which opened thy heart to Christ, but it may be to none of them was the Spirit of God sent that day, to open their hearts by faith, but to thee; thou wilt freely acknowledge thyself as unlikely and unworthy as the vilest sinner there. O astonishing mercy!
CONSOLATION 10. And lastly, in the same day thy heart opens by faith to Christ, all the treasures of Christ are unlocked and opened to thee. In the same hour in which God turns the key of regeneration to open thy soul, the key of free-grace is also turned to open to thee the unsearchable riches of Christ; then the righteousness of Christ becomes thine to justify thee, the wisdom of Christ to guide thee, the holiness of Christ to sanctify thee; in a word, he is that day made of God to thee, “wisdom, and righteousness, and sanctification, and redemption.” 1 Cor. 1:30. “All are yours; and ye are Christ's, and Christ is God's.” 1 Cor. 3:22, 23. Thus I have showed you some of the great things God does for those souls who open their hearts to receive Christ on the terms of the gospel.
CHRIST'S PATIENCE IN WAITING UPON OBSTI
“BEHOLD, I STAND AT THE DOOR AND KNOCK.” Rev. 3:20.
The verb here rendered “I stand,” would strictly be rendered "I have stood,” but being joined with a verb of the present tense, is here translated “ I do stand,” a frequent Hebraism in Scripture. It intimates the continued patience and long-suffering of Christ; I have stood and still do stand, exercising wonderful patience towards obstinate sinners. Which gives us this fourth doctrine :
Great and admirable is the patience of Christ, in waiting on trifling and obstinate sinners.
Thus Wisdom, that is, Christ, expresses himself: “I have called, and ye refused; I have stretched out my hand, and no man regarded." Prov. 1:24. Here you have not only Christ's earnest calls, but suitable gestures also, to gain attention. The stretching forth of the hand was a signal given to procure attention. Acts 21 :40. Yet none regards; and this the Lord does not once or twice only, but all the day long, Isa. 65: 2, showing forth all long-suffering, as the apostle speaks, 1 Tim. 1:16. In opening this point, I will show what divine patience is; wherein it is evidenced ; and why it is exercised towards sinners.
I. WHAT DIVINE PATIENCE IS. It is an ability in God not only to delay the execution of his wrath for a time towards some, but to delay it in order to the eternal salvation of others.
1. It is an effect of power in God, not the effect of inability or want of opportunity. All sinners are continually within the reach of the arm of his justice, and he can strike when and where he will. Esau had a revengeful rnind