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piness. These shall venture themselves both body and soul upon his worthiness.

All this Satan knows, and therefore his rage is kindled the more. Wherefore, according to his ability and allowance, he assaulteth, tempteth, abuseth, and, stirs up what he can to be hurtful to these poor people; that he may, while his time shall last, make it as hard and difficult for them to go to eternal glory as he can. Oftentimes, he abuses them with wrong apprehensions of God, and with wrong apprehensions of Christ. He also casts them into the mire, to the reproach of religion, the shame of their brethren, the derision of the world, and dishonor of God. He holds our hands, while the world buffets us; he puts bear-skins upon us, and then sets the dogs at us. He bedaubs us with his own foam, and then tempts us to believe, that that bedaubing comes from ourselves.

Oh, the rage and the roaring of this lion! and the hatred that he manifests against the Lord Jesus, and against them that are purchased with his blood ! But yet in the midst of all this, the Lord Jesus sends forth his heralds to proclaim in the nations his love to the world; and to invite them to come in to him for life; yea, his invitation is so large, that it offereth his mercy, in the first place, to the greatest sinners of every age, which augments the devil's rage

the more. Wherefore, as I said before, fret he, fume he, the Lord, Jesus will divide the spoil with this great one; yea, shall divide the spoil with the strong; because he hath poured out his soul unto death, and he was numbered with the transgressors, and he bare the sin of many, and made intercession for the transgressors." Isa. luii. 53.

Ninth, Would Jesus Christ have mercy offered, in the first place, to the greatest sinners? Let the tempted harp upon this string for their help and consolation. The tempted,

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wherever he dwells, always thinks himself the greatest sinner, one most unworthy of eternal life.

This is Satan's master argument. Thou art a horrible sinner, a hypocrite, one that has a profane heart and one that is an utter stranger to a work of grace.' I say, this is his maul, his club, his master-piece; he doth with this, as some do with their enchanted songs, sing them every where. I believe there are but few saints in the world that have not had this temptation sounding in their ears. But were they but aware, Satan by all this does but drive them to the gap out at which they should go, and so escape his roaring.

Saith he, “Thou art a great sinner, a horrible sinner, a profane-hearted wretch, one that cannot be matched for a vile one in the country.'

And all this while Christ says to his ministers, Offer mercy, in the first place, to the greatest sinners. So that this temptation drives thee directly into the arms of Jesus Christ.

Were therefore the tempted but aware, he might say, Ay, Satan, so I am. I am a sinner of the biggest size, and therefore have most need of Jesus Christ. Yea, because I am such a wretch, therefore Jesus Christ calls me; yea, he calls me first; the first proffer of the gospel is to be made to the Jerusalem sinner. I am he. Wherefore stand back, Satan! make a lane; my right is first to come to Jesus Christ.

This now will be like for like. This would foil the devil; this would make him say, 'I must not deal with this man thus; for then I put a sword into his hand to cut off

my head.'

And this is the meaning of Peter, when he saith, “Resist him, steadfast in the faith;" and of Paul, when he saith, “Take the shield of faith, wherewith ye shall be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked.

Wherefore is it said, “Begin at Jerusalem," if the Jeru

am the


salem sinner is not to have the benefit of it? And if I am to have the benefit of it, let me call it to mind when Satan haunts me with the continual remembrance of my sins, of my Jerusalem sins. Satan and

conscience say

I greatest sinner; Christ offereth mercy in the first place to the greatest sinners. Nor is the manner of the offer other but such as suiteth with my mind.

I am sorry


my yea, sorry at my heart, that ever sinful thought did enter, or find the least entertainment in my wicked mind: and might I obtain my wish, I would never more that


heart should be a place for aught but the grace, and Spirit, and faith of the Lord Jesus. I speak not this to lessen my wickedness, I would not for all the world, but be placed by mine own conscience in the very front of the greatest sinners, that I might be one of the first that are beckoned by the gracious hand of Jesus the Saviour to come to him for mercy.'

Well, sinner, thou now speakest like a Christian; but say thus in a strong spirit in the hour of temptation, and then thou wilt, to thy commendation and comfort, quit thyself well.

This use of Christ in dark hours, is the life, though the hardest part of our Christianity. We should neither stop at darkness, nor at the raging of our lusts, but go on in a way of venturing and casting the whole of our affairs for the next world at the foot of Jesus Christ. This is the way to make the darkness light, and also to allay the raging of our corruption. The first time the passover was eaten, was in the night; and when Israel took courage to go forward, though the sea stood in their way like a devouring gulf, and the host of the Egyptians followed them at the heels; yet the sea gives place, and their enemies were as still as a stone till they were gone over. Exod. xii. 8; xiv. 12, 14, 21, 22; xv. 16.

There is nothing like faith to help at a pinch; faith dis



solves doubts, as the sun drives away the mists. And that you may not be put out, know your time, as I said, of believing it always. There are times when some graces may be out of use, but there is no time wherein faith can be said to be so; wherefore faith must be always in exercise.

Faith is the eye, is the mouth, is the hand, and one of these is of use all day long. Faith is to see, to receive, to work, or to eat; and a Christian should be seeing or receiving, or working, or feeding all day long. Let it rain, let it blow, let it thunder, let it lighten, a Christian must still believe. " At what time I am afraid,” said the good man, "I will trust in thee.”

Nor can we have a better encouragement to do this, than is by the text set before us, even an open heart for a Jerusalem sinner. And if for a Jerusalem sinner to come, then for such a one when come. If for such a one to be saved, then for such a one that is saved. If for such a one to be pardoned his great transgressions, then for such a one who is pardoned these, to come daily to Jesus Christ too, to be cleansed and set free from his common infirmities, and from the iniquities of his holy things.

Therefore, let the poor sinner that would be saved, labor for skill to make the best use of the grace of Christ to help him against the temptations of the devil and his sins.

Tenthly, Would Jesus Christ have mercy offered, in the first place, to the greatest sinners ? Let those men consider this, that may in a day of trial have spoken or done what their profession or conscience told them they should not, and that have the guilt and burden thereof upon their consciences,

Whether a thing be wrong or right, guilt may pursue him that doeth some thing contrary to his conscience. But suppose a man should deny his God, or his Christ, or relinquish a good profession, and be under the real guilt thereof, shall be therefore conclude he is gone for ever? Let him come again with Peter's tears, and no doubt he shall obtain Peter's forgiveness; for the text includes the greatest sinners.

And it is observable, that before this clause was put into this commission, Peter was pardoned his horrible revolt from his Master. He that revolteth in the day of trial, if he is not shot quite dead upon the place, but is sensible of his wound, and calls out for a surgeon, shall find his Lord at hand to pour wine and oil into his wounds, that he may again be healed, and to encourage him to think that there may


for him. Besides what we find recorded of Peter, you read in the Acts, of some who were through the violence of their trials, “compelled to blaspheme," and yet are called "saints.' Acts xxvi. 9–11.

Hence you have a promise or two that speak concerning such kind of men, to encourage us to think, that at least some of them shall come back to the Lord their God. “Shall they fall,” saith he, “and not arise ? Shall they turn away, and not return ?” “ And in that day I will assemble her that halteth, and I will gather her that was driven out, and her that I have afflicted. And I will make her that halteth a remnant, and her that was cast off a strong nation: and the Lord shall reign over them in Mount Zion for ever.” Mic. iv. 6, 7; Zeph. iii. 19. What we are to understand by her that halteth, is best expressed by the prophet Elijah. 1 Kings xviii. 21.

I will conclude then, that for them that have halted, or may halt, the Lord has mercy in the bank, and is willing to accept them, if they return to him again. Perhaps they may never be, after that, of any great esteem in the house of God; but if the Lord will admit them to favor and forgiveness, O exceeding and undeserved mercy! See Ezek. xliv. 10–14.

Thou then that mayst be the man, remember this, that there is mercy also for thee. Return therefore to God, and

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