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before you, you would once more give me an attentive audience, while I plead in God's behalf, (shall I say?) or rather in your own while as an ambassador for Christ, and as though God did beseech you by me, I pray you in Christ's stead, that you would be reconciled to God; and would not after these awakenings and these enquiries, by a madness which it will surely be the doleful business of a miserable eternity to lament, reject this compassionate council of God towards you.
§. 2. One would indeed imagine, there should be no need of importunity here. One would conclude, that as soon as perishing sinners are told, that an offended God is ready to be reconciled; that he offers them a full pardon for all their aggravated sins; yea, that he is willing to adopt them into his family now, that he may at length admit them to his heavenly presence; all should with the utmost readiness and pleasure embrace so kind a message, and fall at his feet in speechless transports of astonishment, gratitude, and joy. But alas, we find it much otherwise. We see multitudes quite unmoved, and the impressions which are made on many more are feeble and transient. Lest it should be thus with you, O reader, let me urge the message with which I have the honour to be charged: let me intreat you to be reconciled to God, and to accept of pardon and salvation in the way in which it is so freely offered to you.
§. 3. I intreat you, by the majesty of that God, in whose name I come; whose voice fills all heaven with reverence and obedience. He speaks not in vain, to legions of angels; but if there could be any contention among those blessed spirits, it would be who should be first to execute his commands. O let him not speak in vain to a wretched mortal! I intreat you, by the terrors of his wrath, who could speak to you in thunder; who could by one single act of his will, cut off this precarious life of yours, and send you down to hell. I beseech you, by his mercies, by his tender mercies; by the bowels of his compassion, which still yearn over you, as those of a parent over a dear son, over a tender child, whom notwithstanding his former ungrateful rebellion, he earnestly remembers still.+ I beseech and intreat you, by all this paternal goodness, that you do not (as it were) compel him to lose the character of the gentle parent, in that of the righteous Judge; so that (as he threatens with regard to those whom he had just called his sons and his daughters ;) a fire shall be kindled in his anger, which shall burn unto the lowest hell.‡
* 2 Cor. v. 20.
+ Jer. xxxi. 20.
Deut. xxxii. 19, 22.
§. 4. I beseech you farther, "by the name and love of our dying Saviour." I beseech you, by all the condescension of his incarnation; by that poverty to which he voluntarily submitted, that you might be enriched with eternal treasures; by all the gracious invitations which he gave, which still sound in his word, and still coming (as it were) warm from his heart, are sweeter than honey or the honey-comb.† I beseech you, by all his glorious works of power and of wonder, which were also works of love. I beseech you by the memory of the most benevolent person, and the most generous friend. I beseech you, by the memory of what he suffered, as well as of what he said and did; by the agony which he endured in the garden, when his body was covered with a dew of blood. I beseech you by all that tender distress which he felt, when his dearest friends forsook him and fled§, and his blood-thirsty enemies dragged him away, like the meanest of slaves, and like the vilest of criminals. I beseech you by the blows and bruises, by the stripes and lashes, which this injured sovereign endured while in their rebellious hands; by the shame of spitting, from which he hid not that kind and venerable countenance. || I beseech you, by the purple robe, the sceptre of reed, and the crown of thorns, which this king of glory wore, that he might set us among the princes of heaven. I beseech you, by the heavy burden of the cross, under which he panted, and toiled, and fainted, in the painful way to Golgotha,** that he might free us from the burden of our sins. I beseech you, by the remembrance of those rude nails, that tore the veins and arteries, the nerves and tendons of those sacred hands and feet; and by that invincible, that triumphant goodness, which, while the iron pierced his flesh, engaged him to cry out, Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.++ I beseech you, by that unutterable anguish which he bore, when lifted up upon the cross, and extended there as on a rack, for six painful hours, that you open your heart to those attractive influences which have drawn to him thousands and ten thousands.‡‡ I beseech you by all that insult and derision, which the Lord of glory §§ bore there; by that parching thirst which could hardly obtain the relief of vinegar; by that doleful cry, so astonishing in the mouth of the only begotten of the Father, My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?¶¶ I beseech you, by that grace that subdued
*2 Cor. viii. 9.
+ Psal. xix. 10.
Luke xxii. 44. § Matt. xxvi. 56. ** John xix. 17. ++ Luke xxiii. 34. §§ Mat. xxvii. 39–44. |||| John xix.28,29. ¶¶ Mat. xxvii. 46.
and pardoned a dying malefactor; by that compassion for sinners, by that compassion for you, which wrought in his heart, long as its vital motion continued, and which ended not when he bowed his head, saying, It is finished, and gave up the ghost+. I beseech you, by the triumphs of that resurrection by which he was declared to be the Son of God with power, by the Spirit of holiness which wrought to accomplish it; by that gracious tenderness which attempered all those triumphs, when he said to her out of whom he had cast seven devils, concerning his disciples, who had treated him so basely, go, tell my brethren, I ascend unto my Father and your Father, unto my God and your God; § I beseech you by that condescension, with which he said to Thomas when his unbelief had made such an unreasonable demand, reach hither thy finger and behold my hands, and reach hither thine hand and thrust it into my side and be not faithless but believing. I beseech you, by that generous and faithful care of his people, which he carried up with him to the regions of glory, and which engaged him to send down his spirit, in that rich profusion of miraculous gifts, to spread the progress of his saving word. I beseech you by that voice of sympathy and power, with which he said to Saul, while injuring his church, Saul, Saul, why perfecutest thou me ?** by that generous goodness, which spared that prostrate enemy, when he lay trembling at his feet, and raised him to so high a dignity, as to be not inferior to the very chiefest apostles.++ I beseech you by the memory of all that Christ hath already done, by the expectation of all he will farther do for his people. I beseech you, at once, by the sceptre of his grace, and by the sword of his justice, with which all his incorrigible enemies shall be slain before him,‡‡ that you do not trifle away these precious moments, while his Spirit is thus breathing upon you; that you do not lose an opportunity which may never return, and on the improvement of which your eternity depends.
§. 5. I beseech you, "by all the bowels of compassion which you owe to the faithful ministers of Christ;" who are studying and labouring, preaching and praying, wearing out their time, exhausting their strength, and very probably, shortening their lives, for the salvation of your soul, and of souls like
*Luke xxiii. 42, 43.
+ John xix. 30.
+ Rom. i. 4. **Acts ix. 4.
§ John xx. 17. ++ 2 Cor. xii. 11.
yours. I beseech you, by the affection, with which all that love our Lord Jesus Christ in sincerity, long to see you brought back to him. I beseech you by the friendship of the living, and by the memory of the dead; by the ruin of those who have trifled away their days, and are perished in their sins, and by the happiness of those who have embraced the gospel, and are saved by it. I beseech you, by the great expectation of that important day when the Lord Jesus shall be revealed from heaven; by the terrors of a dissolving world; +t by the sound of the arch-angel's trumpet; ‡ and of that infinitely more awful sentence, Come, ye blessed, and depart, ye cursed, || with which that awful solemnity shall close.
§. 6. I beseech you, finally, " by your own precious and immortal soul;" by the sure prospect of a dying bed, or of a sudden surprise into the invisible state: and as you would feel one spark of comfort in your departing spirit, when your flesh and your heart are failing. I beseech you by your own personal appearance before the tribunal of Christ, (for a personal appearance it must be, even to them who now sit on thrones of their own ;) by all the transports of the blessed, and by all the agonies of the damned, the one or the other of which must be your everlasting portion. I affectionately intreat and beseech. you, in the strength of all these united considerations, as you will answer it to me, who may in that day be summoned to testify against you; and, which is unspeakably more, as you will answer it to your own conscience, as you will answer it to the eternal Judge, that you dismiss not these thoughts, these meditations, and these cares, till you have brought matters to a happy issue; till you have made a resolute choice of Christ, and his appointed way of salvation, and till you have solemnly devoted yourself to God in the bonds of an everlasting covenant. §. 7. And thus I leave the matter before you, and before the Lord. I have told you my errand; I have discharged my embassy. Stronger arguments I cannot use; more endearing and more awful considerations I cannot suggest. Chuse therefore, whether you will go out (as it were) clothed in sackcloth, to cast yourself at the feet of him who now sends you these equitable and gracious terms of peace and pardon; or whether you will hold it out, till he appears sword in hand, to reckon with you for your treasons and your crimes, and for this neglected embassy among the rest of them. Fain would I hope the best; nor can I believe, that this labour of love shall be so entirely
* 2 Thess. i. +2 Pet. iii. 10.
1 Thess. iv. 16,
Mat. xxvi. 34, 41.
unsuccessful, that not one soul shall be brought to the foot of Christ in cordial submission and humble faith. Take with you therefore words, and turn unto the Lord; and oh that those which follow might, in effect, at least, be the genuine language of every one that reads them!
The Sinner yielding to those Intreaties, and declaring his Acceptance of Salvation by Christ.
"BLESSED Lord, it is enough! It is too much! Surely there needs not this variety of argument, this importunity of persuasion, to court me to be happy, to prevail upon me to accept of pardon, of life, of eternal glory. Compassionate Saviour, my soul is subdued; so that I trust, the language of thy grief is become that of my penitence, and I may say, my heart is melted like wax in the midst of my bowels.+
"O gracious Redeemer ! I have already neglected thee too long. I have too often injured thee; have crucified thee afresh by my guilt and impenitence, as if I had taken pleasure in putting thee to an open shame. But my heart now bows itself before thee, in humble unfeigned submission. I desire to make no terms with thee but these,-that I may be entirely thine. I cheerfully present thee with a blank, intreating thee, that thou wilt do me the honour to signify upon it, what is thy pleasure. Teach me, O Lord, what thou wouldst have me to do! For I desire to learn the lesson, and to learn it that I may practise it. If it be more than my feeble powers can answer, thou wilt, I hope, give me more strength; and in that strength I will serve thee. O receive a soul, which thou hast made willing to be thine.
"No more, O blessed Jesus, no more is it necessary to beseech and intreat me. Permit me rather to address myself to thee, with all the impottunity of a perishing sinner, that, at length, sees and knows, there is salvation in no other§. Permit me now, Lord, to come and throw myself at thy feet, like a helpless outcast, that has no shelter but in thy generous compassion! like one pursued by the avenger of blood, and seeking earnestly an admittance into the city of refuge.||
"I wait for the Lord; my soul doth wait; and in thy word do I hope, that thou wilt receive me graciously.** My soul confides in thy goodness, and adores it. I adore the pa
§Acts iv. 12.
* Hos xiv. 2.
† Psal. xxii. 14.
Heb. vi. 6.
** Hos. xiv. 2.