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you must not apply yourselves immediately to God, as absolutely or in himself considered, in the neglect of a Mediator. It will neither be acceptable to him, nor safe for you, to rush into his presence, without any regard to his own Son, whom he hath appointed to introduce sinners to him. And if you come otherwise, you come as one who is not a sinner. The very manner of presenting the address will be interpreted as a denial of that guilt, with which he knows you are chargeable: and therefore he will not admit you, nor so much as look upon you. And accordingly, our Lord, knowing how much every man living was concerned in this, says in the most universal terms, no man cometh unto the Father but by me*.
§. 10. Apply therefore to this glorious Redeemer, amiable (as he will appear to every believing eye) in the blood which he shed upon the cross, and in the wounds which he received there. Go to him, O sinner, this day, this moment, with all thy sins about thee. Go just as thou art; for if thou wilt never apply to him, till thou art first righteous and holy, thou wilt never be righteous and holy at all; nor canst be so on this supposition, unless there were some way of being so without him; and then, there would be no occasion for applying to him for righteousness and holiness. It were indeed as if it should be said, that a sick man should defer his application to a physician, till his health is recovered. Let me therefore repeat it without offence, Go to him just as thou art, and say, (Oh that thou mayest this moment be enabled to say it from thy very soul!)" Blessed Jesus, I am surely one of the most sinful, and one of the most miserable creatures, that ever fell prostrate before thee: nevertheless I come, because I have heard that thou didst once say, Come unto me all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. I come, because I have heard, thou didst graciously say, Him that cometh unto me, I will in no wise cast out. O thou Prince of Peace, O thou King of Glory, I am a condemned miserable sinner, I have ruined my own soul, and am condemned for ever, if thou dost not help me and save me. I have broken thy Father's law, and thine, for thou art one with him. I have deserved condemnation and wrath; and I am, even at this very moment, under a sentence of everlasting destruction: a destruction, which will be aggravated by all the contempt which I have cast upon thee, O thou bleeding Lamb of God: for I cannot, and I will not dissemble it before thee, that I have wronged thee,
* John xiv. 6.
+ Mat. xi. 28.
+ John vi. 37.
John x. 30.
most basely and ungratefully wronged thee, under the character of a Saviour, as well as of a Lord. But now I am willing to submit to thee; and I have brought my poor trembling soul, to lodge it in thine hands, if thou wilt condescend to receive it; and if thou dost not, it must perish. O Lord, I lie at thy feet! stretch out thy golden sceptre that I may live! Yea, if it please the King, let the life of my soul be given me at my petition! I have no treasure, wherewith to purchase it; I have no equivalent to give thee for it: but if that compassionate heart of thine can find a pleasure in saving one of the most distressed creatures under heaven, that pleasure thou mayest here find. O Lord, I have foolishly attempted to be mine own saviour; but it will not do. I am sensible the attempt is vain; and therefore I give it over, and look unto thee. On thee blessed Jesus, who art sure and stedfast, do I desire to fix my anchor. On thee as the only sure foundation, would I build my eternal hopes. To thy teaching, O thou unerring Prophet of the Lord, would I submit: be thy doctrines ever so mysterious, it is enough for me that thou thyself hast said it. To thine atonement, obedience, and intercession, O thou holy and ever acceptable High-Priest, would I trust. And to thy government, O thou exalted Sovereign, would I yield a willing, delightful subjection: in token of reverence and love, I kiss the Sont; I kiss the ground before his feet. I admit thee, O my Saviour, and welcome thee with unutterable joy, to the throne in my heart. Ascend it, and reign there for ever! Subdue mine enemies, O Lord, for they are thine; and make me thy faithful, and zealous servant; faithful to death, and zealous to eternity."
§. 11. Such as this must be the language of your very heart before the Lord. But then remember, that in consequence thereof it must be the language of your life too. The unmeaning words of the lips would be a vain mockery. The most affectionate transport of the passions, should it be transient and ineffectual, would be but like a blaze of straw, presented instead of incense at his altar. With such humility, with such love, with such cordial self-dedication and submission of soul, must thou often prostrate thyself, in the presence of Christ; and then thou must go away, and keep him in thy view; must go away, and live unto God through him, denying ungodliness and worldly lust, and behaving thyself soberly, righteously, and godly in this
Psal. ii. 12.
Esth, iv. 11.
+ Esth. vii. 3.
vain insnaring world*. You must make it your care to shew your love by obedience; by forming yourself as much as possible, according to the temper and manner of Jesus, in whom you believe. You must make it the great point of your ambition, (and a nobler view you cannot entertain,) to be a living image of Christ; that so far as circumstances will allow, even those who have heard and read but little of him, may, by observing you, in some measure see and know what kind of a life that of the blessed Jesus was. And this must be your constant care, your prevailing character, as long as you live. You must follow him, whithersoever he leads you; must follow, with a cross on your shoulder, when he commands you to take it up+; and so must be faithful even unto death, expecting the crown of lifet.
§. 12. This, so far as I have been able to learn from the word of God, is the way to safety and glory; the surest, the only way you can take. 'Tis the way which every faithful minister of Christ has trod, and is treading; and the way, to which, as he tenders the salvation of his own soul, he must direct others. We cannot, we would not alter it, in favour of ourselves, or of our dearest friends. It is the way in which alone, so far as we can judge, it becomes the blessed God to save his apostate creatures. And therefore, reader, I beseech and intreat you, seriously to consider it; and let your own conscience answer, as in the presence of God, whether you are willing to acquiesce in it, or not. But know, that to reject it, is thine eternal death. For as there is no other name under heaven given among men whereby we can be saved, but this of Jesus of Nazareth, so there is no other method but this, in which Jesus himself will save us.
The Sinner deliberating on the Expediency of falling in with this Method of Salvatior.
CONSIDER, O my soul, what answer wilt thou return to such proposals as these? Surely if I were to speak the first dictate of this corrupt and degenerate heart, it would be, this is a hard saying and who can hear it¶? To be thus humbled thus mortified, thus subjected! To take such a yoke upon me, and to carry it as long as I live! To give up every darling lust, though dear to me as a right eye, and seemingly necessary as a right hand! To submit not only my life, but my heart, to the
Tit. ii. 12. † Matt. xvi. 24. Rev. ii. 10. | Acts iv. 12. ¶ John vi. 60.
command and discipline of another! To have a master there, and such a master, as will controul many of its favourite affections, and direct them quite into another channel! A master, who himself represents his commands, by taking up the cross and following him! To adhere to the strictest rules of godliness and sobriety, of righteousness and truth; not departing from them, in any allowed instance, great or small, upon any temptation, for any advantage, to escape any inconvenience and evil, no, not even for the preservation of life itself; but, upon a proper call of providence, to act as if I hated even my own life* ! Lord, it is hard to flesh and blood: and yet I perceive and feel, there is one demand yet harder than this.
With all these precautions, with all these mortifications, the pride of my nature would find some inward resource of pleasure, might I but secretly think that I had been my own saviour; that my own wisdom, and my own resolution, had broken the bands and chains of the enemy; and that I had drawn out of my own treasures, the price with which my redemption was purchased. But must I lie down before another, as guilty and condemned, as weak and helpless; and must the obligation be multiplied, and must a mediator have his share too? Must I go to the cross for my salvation, and seek my glory from the infamy of that? Must I be stripped of every pleasing pretence to righteousness, and stand in this respect upon a level with the vilest of men? stand at the bar amongst the greatest criminals, pleading guilty with them, and seeking deliverance by that very act of grace, whereby they have obtained it ?
"I dare not deliberately say, this method is unreasonable. My conscience testifies, that I have sinned and cannot be justified before God, as an innocent and obedient creature. My conscience tells me, that all these humbling circumstances are fit: that it is fit, a convicted criminal should be brought upon his knees that a captive rebel should give up the weapons of his rebellion, and bow before his sovereign, if he expect his life. Yea, my reason, as well as my conscience, tells me, that it is fit and necessary, that if I am saved at all, I should be saved from the power and love of sin, as well as from the condemnation of it; and that if sovereign mercy gives me a new life, after having deserved eternal death, it is most fit, I should yield myself to God, as alive from the deadt. But, O wretched man that I am, I feel a law in my members that wars against
*Luke xiv. 26.
† Rom, vi, 13.
the law of my mind, and opposes the conviction of my reason and conscience. Who shall deliver me from this bondage? Who shall make me willing to do that, which I know in my soul to be most expedient? O Lord, subdue my heart, and let it not be drawn so strongly one way, while the nobler powers of my mind would direct it another! Conquer every licentious principle within, that it may be my joy to be so wisely governed, and restrained! Especially, subdue my pride, that lordly corruption, which so ill suits an impoverished and a condemned creature; that thy way of salvation be made amiable to me, in proportion to the degree in which it is humbling! I feel a disposition to linger in Sodom, but O be merciful to me, and pull me out of itt, before the storms of thy flaming vengeance fall, and there be no more escaping!"
The Sinner seriously urged and intreated to accept of Salvation in this Way.
Since many who have been impressed with these Things suffer the Impres sion to wear off in vain, §. 1. Strongly as the Case speaks for itself, Sinners are to be intreated to accept this Salvation, §. 2. Accordingly the Reader is intreated, (1.) By the Majesty and Mercy of God: §. 3. (2.) By the dying Love of our Lord Jesus Christ: §. 4. (3.) By the Regard due to Fellow Creatures: §. 5. (4.) By the Worth of his own immortal Soul, §. 6. The Matter is solemnly left with the Reader as before God, §. 7. The Sinner yielding to these Intreaties, and declaring his Acceptance of Salvation by Christ.
§. 1. THUS far have I often known convictions and impres
sions to arise, (if I might judge by the strongest appearances) which after all have worn off again. Some unhappy circumstance of external temptation, ever joined by the inward reluctance of an unsanctified heart to this holy and humbling scheme of redemption, has been the ruin of multitudes. And through the deceitfulness of sin, they have been hardened‡, till they seem to have been utterly destroyed, and that without remedy. And therefore, O thou immortal creature, who art now reading these lines, I beseech thee, that while affairs are in this critical situation, while there are these balancings of mind, between accepting and rejecting that glorious gospel, which, in the integrity of my heart, I have now been laying
* Rom. vii. 23, 24.
Heb. iii. 13.
|| Prov. xxix, 1.
Gen. xix. 16.