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riage. You all know how this matter is carried on. The transaction with God in Christ Jesus for our eternal salvation, is frequently expressed by this similitude: I will betroth thee unto me for ever; yea, I will betroth thee unto me in righteousness, and in judgment, and in loving-kindness, and in mercies,—and thou shalt know the Lord, Hosea ii. 19, 20. I have espoused you, says the apostle, to one husband, that I may present you as a chaste virgin to Christ, 2 Cor. xi. 2. The expressions are manifold up and down the word, both in the Old and New Testament, about this similitude. Now, to bring it to my purpose, you know when a marriage is made up, especially of them that are vastly unequal, as it is here, the man declares his love, courts the party, affirms, that if she will give her consent to be his, he is heartily willing to be hers. The promise upon the man's side makes no marriage; but the promise duly declared by the man, and duly accepted by the woman, makes one. The promise of the gospel comes this way to you, sinners; it is the faithful promise of God in Christ Jesus; that if you will accept of him through Christ for your God and portion, he will be yours; give but your consent and the match is made. But if the party that is courted say or think, (1.) That either the bargain is not good; or, (2.) That the man that promises is not true; or, (3.) If her affections are set on another; or, (4.) If she be married to another, Rom. vii. 6.; or, (5.) If she hate him, Prov. viii. 36.: in these cases she will with-hold her consent. In like manner assure yourselves, that all gospel-hearers who do not give their hearty consent to be the Lord's, will be chargeable with some of these ; for either they think, that the bargain is not good, or that he that promises is not true, or their affections are set on other objects, or they hate the ways of the Lord.
2dly, There is a transaction spoken of in the word under the notion of adoption. It is now out of use in the world, but it was customary of old, when a man did adopt another's child, and brought in that child to possess the inheritance, to bear his name, and to be his heir. There were usual formalities, as good reason there should be, where such matters are; the consent of the child was required; Are you willing
to be such a man's ? to be under his conduct? to be his heir? to be possessed of his estate? The very declaring of the consent is that which makes the relation.
The third instance shall be that of the King's pardon given to a company of rebels. So the gospel is God's act of grace unto a company of sinners : it is proclaimed as publicly as may be ; and the more sinners that hear it, the better, if they would believe. Now, suppose there be such a thing as proclamation of free pardon to a company of rebels, it is unavoidable, that their not accepting of it must be, either, 1. Because they think their cause is just, and themselves not to be rebels; or, 2. That they have strength enough to fight it out; and if they come in, they shall be hanged; if so, they will rather die in their arms, they will stand upon their sword, as the word of the prophet is, rather than accept of it. But if they have any hopes of pardon upon their submission, and believe the person who promises pardon on such terms, will stand to his word; they will accept of it, and embrace it. The case is just so here : Proclamation of God's free grace and pardon through Christ Jesus, is tendered to the children of men ; it is necessarily required to the accepting it, that you have a trust in the good-will of the proclaimer, as well as confidence, that the mercy is great that is tendered.
We shall consider this contract, 4thly, as in the case of surety and debtor, for it is so represented to us in the word. Our Lord Jesus Christ is the great Surety; we are great debtors, not able to pay ; Christ offers to pay our debts; there is no more required, when the law and justice condemn us to hell prison, but, Lord, take bail of thy own Son for me. But if men will pay part of the debt, and work out the rest, they despise the gospel; as too many do.
There is a fifth similitude common amongst us, and that is of buyer and seller, all managed by faith. In buying and selling, you know how frequently this is used amongst men. (1.) We will suppose we know this, that the man that sells, is willing to part with his goods at the price named, otherwise he is a deceitful man that offers things to sell, and will not part with them. (2.) We all know this, that if I come up to the price demanded, and pay it down, the goods are mine.
Bring this matter to our purpose : The great goods are Christ and salvation, the price is nothing, the poor sinner is the buyer; now, this little price ; this no price, this no money, is so great a matter, that proud poor man is very unwilling to lay it down. Ho, every one that thirsteth, come ye to the waters, and he that hath no money, come ye, buy and eat, buy wine and milk without money, and without price, Isa. lv. I. I counsel thee to buy of me, &c. Rev. iii. 18. Then if they be buyers, they had something to buy with; no, they had nothing ; for our Lord tells them in the verse just before, that they were wretched, and miserable, and poor, and blind, and naked. Now, what can such folks have to buy with ? Gospel-buying is nothing else but honest begging. But notwithstanding the gospel be so freely offered, many sày to God, as Abraham said to the king of Sodom, I will not take any thing that is thine, lest thou shouldst say, I have made Abraham rich, Gen. xiv. 23.
Begging is a sixth similitude by which this matter is expressed; begging and receiving. God offers, we beg; God gives, we take ; and all begging of God is in faith. We have. some kind of faith, that God hath these good things to give, and is willing to give, else wherefore do we ask them? When he gives them, we receive them. Have you received Christ Jesus the Lord ? As ye have received him, so walk ye in him, says the apostle, Col. ii. 6. From all these now you see, that the transactions amongst men, in all sorts of affairs almost, do discover the relation that is entered into, and that covenants are made amongst men by mutual trust; that we trust him that promises, and accept the bargain because we do so : So must there be here. Only there are two great differences in this great bargain of the gospel, which are beyond all that we can gather out of any similitude. (1.) That the consenting trust of the receiver, is the work of the offerer ; this trust, this faith, this receiving that we have spoken of, is God's work. He that proposes a good bargain to another, hath no power over him to persuade him, infallibly to give his consent; but she Lord hath this power. (2.) The nature nf God's profier, and his promise, are the means by which he works the principle of acceptance. When the sinner is re
bellious, (as all men by nature are, till grace tame them), the Lord can deliver the promise of salvation by Christ Jesus in that beauty and glory, and with that power and strength, that no man can resist it: Thy people shall be willing in the day of thy power, Psal. cx. 3. If the Lord put forth this power, this willingness, this trust, that I am calling for, will infailibly be produced.
So much now for the explaining of these things, what the promise of salvation by Christ in the gospel is, that we should glorify God's faithfulness in, and what that faith is that we should meet this promise with.
APPLICATION. 1. Hence you may see the marvellous way of saving us by Christ Jesus. What wonderful grace and wisdom shines here ! All this salvation was prepared in God's counsel before the foundation of the world was laid, we had nothing to do with it; all this salvation was wrought out in God's time, by the life, and death, and sufferings of our Lord Jesus; that which he had no hand in, and in which all our salvation stands; for all that, all this grace and mercy, and salvation comes streaming unto us in a bare promise of God; the Lord proclaims it; this is the call of the gospel, He that dares trust Christ with his soul, upon the warrant of the gos• pel, shall be saved for ever.
The Lord cries people this way. We have no more to do but take pen in hand, and say, Amen, O Lord; it is a good bargain, and a true word, and I will trust my soul on it. This is believing
2. See, Sirs, what you have been doing under the gospel all your days. I know that this assembly, as inost weekly assemblies are, is made up of a sort of people that spend a great part of their time in hearing. For God's sake tell me, what you have been doing all this while. Have you put the main matter of your salvation out of the devil's reach? Have you made conscience of this, of giving glory to God's faithfulness in the grand promise of salvation by Christ? Have you learned to know Christ? Have you learned to talk of him ? Have you learned to understand the gospel ? to talk, to reason, to discourse of it? But is this all ? Have you never been exercised about this, about putting your own seal to the gospel ?
He that hath received his testimony, hath set to his stal, that God is true.
God will be true, whether we set our seal to it or no; but God's truth will not be to our interest and advantage, unless we set to our seal. Take heed, there are few folks, whose conscience falls under conviction of duty in this matter; that they are bound before God to believe on Christ Jesus for eternal life. People will not believe, that they should believe ; and can there be any hope that ever they will believe, who are of this mind ? How hard is it to persuade people that they should believe ; that upon the preaching of the word, and the proclamation of God's salvation by Christ Jesus, they must venture upon it ! Say some, “ I know not " whether the promise be to me.” Is it not to you as much as ever, it was to any ? Is it not to you as much as ever it Inath been to any sinner, the hour before he was converted ? The promise will never be more to you, till it be believed, than it is now
Ripent, says the apostle to the murtherers of Christ, for the prorrise is unto you, Acts ii. 38, 39. Ye killed the promiser just now, yet for all that you shall be saved, if you repent; one of the strangest repentance that ever was required in this world! The very exacting repentance from them was expressly exacting of faith ; for it was impossible for any man to repent of killing Christ, but he that believed he was the Son of God; therefore, says the apostle, the promise is unto you,
« Natural men " are without the promise, and strangers from the covenants " of promise,” Eph. ii. 12. And what then? If they be, what will you infer from that? I am a poor natural creature, a stranger from that covenant of promise. But I pray, , how shall this strangeness be removed ? Just as if a poor man, standing without like to starve with hunger and cold, should say, Alas! I shall die in this place, without the house. Why, the door is open, in God's name enter. We enter by "ith; he pron:ise is God's door cast open, that poor men may enter in. Pray now consider that place, which I will speak a little to, as well as from the precedving and folli ing kerds: Heb. iv. 1. Let us therefore fear, lest a promise being left us of entering into his rest, any of you should seem to come short of it. The thing that the apostle