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ENCOURAGEMENT TO BACKSLIDERS.
all doubting, but that Christ was ready to forgive him this act of blacksliding. Eph. iv. 28.
Now all these are examples, particular instances of Christ's readiness to receive the backsliders to mercy. And, observe it, examples and proofs that he hath done so, are to our unbelieving hearts, stronger encouragements than bare promises, that so he will do.
But again, the Lord Jesus hath added to these, for the encouragement of returning backsliders, to come to him.
1. A call to come, and he will receive them. Rev. ii. 15, 14–16, 20–22; iii. 1-3, 15–22. Wherefore, New Testament backsliders have encouragement to come. 2. A declaration of readiness to receive them that come, as here in the text, and in many other places is plain. Therefore, “Set thee up way-marks, make thee high heaps" (of the golden grace of the gospel)," set thine heart toward the highway, even the way that thou wentest” (before thou didst backslide); "turn again, O virgin of Israel, turn again to these thy cities.” Jer. xxxi. 21.
But one or two things more in the words of the text must be here marked.
“And him that cometh.” He saith not, and him that talketh, that professeth, that maketh a show, a noise, or the like; but, him that “cometh.” Christ will take leave to judge,
many that make a noise, who they be that indeed are coming to him. It is not him that saith he comes, nor him of whom others affirm that he comes; but him that Christ himself shall say doth come, that is concerned in this text. When the woman that had the bloody issue came to him for cure, there were others as well as she, that made a great bustle about him, that touched, yea, thronged him. Ah, but Christ could distinguish this woman from them all. “And he looked round about upon them all, to see her that bad done this thing.” Mark v. 25–32. He was not concerned with the thronging, or touching of the rest; for theirs
every one that
were but accidental, or at best void of that which made her touch acceptable.
Wherefore Christ must be judge who they be that in truth are coming to him. “Every man's ways are right in his own eyes, but the Lord weigheth the spirits.” It standeth therefore every one in hand to be certain of his coming to Jesus Christ; for as thy coming is, so shall thy salvation be. If thou comest indeed, thy salvation shall be indeed; but if thou comest but in outward appearance, so shall thy salvation be. But of coming, see before as also afterwards, in the use and application.
“ And him that cometh to me.”—These words, “to me,” are also to be well heeded. For by them, as he secureth those that come to him, so also he shows himself unconcerned with those that in their coming rest short, to turn aside to others. For you must know, that comes, comes not to Jesus Christ. Some that come, come to Moses, and to his law, and there take up for life; with these Christ is not concerned; with these his promise has not to do. « Christ is become of none effect unto you, whosoever of you are justified by the law; ye are fallen from grace.” Gal. v. 4. Again, some that come, come no farther than the gospel-ordinances, and there stay; they come not through them to Christ; with these neither is he concerned; nor will their “Lord, Lord,” avail them any thing in the great and dismal day. A man may come to, and also go from the place and ordinances of worship, and yet not be remembered by Christ. “So I saw the wicked buried,” said Solomon, "who had come and gone from the place of the holy, and they were forgotten in the city, where they had so done: this is also vanity.” Eccles. viii. 10.
“To me.”—These words, therefore, are by Jesus Christ very warily put in, and serve for caution and encouragement; for caution, lest we take up in our coming any thing short of Christ; and for encouragement to those that shall
COME ONLY TO JESUS CHRIST.
in their coming, come past all, till they come to Jesus Christ. « And him that cometh to me I will in no wise cast out.”
Reader, if thou lovest thy soul, take this caution kindly at the hands of Jesus Christ. Thou seest thy sickness, thy wound, thy necessity of salvation. Well, ‘go not to King Jareb, for he cannot heal thee nor cure thee of thy wound.' Hos. v. 13. Take the caution, I say, lest Christ, instead of being a Saviour unto thee, become a lion, a young lion, to tear thee, and go away.
There is a coming, but not to the Most High; there is a coming, but not with the whole heart, but as it were feignedly. Jer. xxx. 10; Hos. vii. 16. Therefore take the caution kindly.
“ And him that cometh to me.” Christ, as a Saviour, will stand alone, because his own arm alone hath brought salvation unto him. He will not be joined with Moses, nor suffer John the Baptist to be tabernacled by him; I say they must vanish, for Christ will stand alone; Luke ix. 28, 36; yea, God the Father will have it so; therefore they must be parted from him, and a voice from heaven must come to bid the disciples hear only the beloved Son. Christ will not suffer any law, ordinance, statute, or judgment to be partners with him in the salvation of the sinner. Nay, he saith not, And him that cometh to my word: but, “ And him that cometh to me.” The words of Christ, even his most blessed and free promises, such as this in the text, are not the Saviour of the world; for that is Christ himself, Christ himself only. The promises, therefore, are but to encourage coming sinners to come to Jesus Christ; and not to rest in them short of salvation in him. “And him that cometh to me.”—The man therefore that comes aright, casts all things behind his back, and looketh at (nor hath his expectations from aught but) the Son of God alone. As David said, “My soul, wait thou only upon God; for my expectation is from him. He only is my rock, and my salvation : he is my defence; I shall not be moved." Psalm lxii. 5. So his eye is to Christ, his heart is to Christ, and his expectation is from him, from him only.
Therefore the man that comes to Christ, is one that hath had deep considerations of his own sins, slighting thoughts of his own righteousness, and high thoughts of the blood and righteousness of Jesus Christ. Yea, he sees, as I have said, more virtue in the blood of Christ to save him, than there is in all his sins to damn him. He therefore setteth Christ before his eyes; there is nothing in heaven or earth, he knows, that can save his soul and secure him from the wrath of God, but Christ; that is, nothing but his personal righteousness and atoning blood.
GROUNDS OF HOPE AND FEAR CONSIDERED.
" And him that cometh to me I will in no wise cast out." -"In no wise:" by these words there is something expressed, and something implied.
I. That which is expressed is Jesus Christ's unchangeable resolution to save the coming sinner. "I will in no wise reject him, or deny him the benefit of my death and righteousness. This word, therefore, is like that which he speaks of the everlasting damnation of the sinner in hell-fire; “Thou shalt by no means come out thence;" that is, never, never come out again, no not to all eternity. Matt. v. 26; xxv. 26. So that as he that is condemned into hell-fire hath no ground of hope for his deliverance thence; so he that cometh to Christ hath no ground to fear he shall ever be cast in thither.
“Thus saith the Lord, If heaven above can be measured, and the foundations of the earth searched out beneath, I will also cast off all the seed of Israel, for all that they have done, saith the Lord.”Jer. xxxi. 37. “Thus saith the Lord, If my covenant be not with day and night, and if I have not appointed the ordinances of heaven and earth, then will I cast away the seed of Jacob.” Jer. xxxiii. 25, 26; 1. 4, 5. But heaven cannot be measured, nor the foundations of the earth searched out beneath; his covenant is also with day and night, and he hath appointed the ordinances of heaven; therefore he will not cast away the seed of Jacob, who are the coming ones, but will certainly save them from the dreadful wrath to come. By this therefore it is manifest, that it is not the great