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be addressed to the generality amongst ourselves with the same propriety as to those who rejected the invitatations of our Lord in the days of old-We shall take occasion from these words to enquire
I. What are the benefits of coming unto Christ
To "come to Christ" is a frequent expression in the scriptures-It imports not an outward attendance on person, but an inward affiance on him for salvation -It imports a coming to him with humility as sinners, with faith as to the only Saviour, and with love as to our rightful Lord and Master"—The coming to him in this manner will secure to us the possession of Spiritual life
[Even the temporal comforts of life are enjoyed by none so much as by him who believes in Christ-Nor is there any other person who holds them by so sure a tenure-He cannot fail of possessing them as far as they will conduce to his spiritual welfare-But spiritual life is the richest of all blessingsAnd this is the believer's assured portion-His soul shall be endued with a new and vital principle of graces-Christ himself will live in him and be his life"As Lazarus when raised was enabled to perform the functions of animal life, of which he had been rendered, for a season, incapable, so shall the believer's soul, which was once dead in trespasses and sins, be quickened to the discharge of all the duties and offices of the spiritual life-It shall enjoy sweet communion with God in secret, and find its supreme delight in fulfilling his blessed will-How unspeakable is such a benefit!-How much happier must such a man be than one who lives without God in the world!-]
[The man who daily comes to Christ for righteousness and strength is incomparably the happiest man on earth-But
*This may perhaps be more clearly understood by expressing words and manner in which a sinner comes to Christ
the very "O my Lord and Saviour, behold I am vile, and justly deserve to ever spurned from thy footstool, &c. But thou hast died for sinners, even the chief, &c. I have no hope but in thee, &c. () receive a poor prodigal, &c. I look for redemption through thy blood; O let thy blood cleanse me from all sin, &c. And while I trust in thy name, enable me to depart from all iniquity, &c. Be thou my only Lord, and let every thought and desire of my heart be brought into captivity to thy holy will, &c."—
b1 Tim. iv. 8.
John x. 10. - d Gal. ii. 20. Col. iii. 4.
his happiness does not terminate with his present existenceHe goes to regions of everlasting blessedness-Believer, thou hast a never-fading crown of righteousness and glory awaiting thee at thy departure hence-What a recompence is this of all thy labour! What encouragement to come continually to Christ does such a prospect afford thee!-]
One would suppose that all should be pressing toward the Saviour with their whole hearts-Let us then proceed to enquire
II. Whence is it that any fall short of these blessings?
The reason assigned in the text is the most just and most humiliating of any-There is no unwillingness in Christ to save us, but we are unwilling to go to him for
1. We are indifferent about life
[We consider all pretensions to a new and spiritual life as enthusiasm-And therefore disdain to apply to Christ for it -As for eternal life, we do not wish to hear any thing about it-If the prospect of temporal advancement be held out to us, we can cheerfully and intensely bend our minds to the attainment of it-But if heaven and all its glory be offered us, we slight it utterly-We choose to talk of any subject rather than religion-And universally agree to banish that from our conversation-If at any time the thought of eternity be obtru ded upon us, we turn from it with disgust; and are uneasy till some other topic be brought forward-Even in the house of God we hear of heavenly things as if they were fabulous and unworthy of our attention-We love our own ways, though they will end in death; and will not endure to be told of heaven, because we cannot reconcile our minds to the way that leads thither-To this effect is that declaration of Christ, They that hate me, love death-]
2. We are averse to the way in which alone it is to be obtained
[We will not come to Christ for life-This appears to be too humiliating-If we could obtain life by any works of our own, we would gladly do them---But we cannot bear to be so entirely indebted to another-We do not choose to acknowledge ourselves lost and undone-We hope to establish some righteousness of our own-Hence we neither do, nor will, come to Christ for life and salvation-Besides, this way to life is too strict-As we do not like to come with humility, and
e Prov. viii. 34, 35.
faith, so neither do we feel that love, which will instigate us to devote ourselves unreservedly to his service-We think that less religion will suffice-And are determined to perish, rather than endure such drudgery-In every ungodly sinner are the words of our Saviour verified, "How often would I, but ye would not"-]
1. What ground for self-condemnation will there be in the day of judgment!
[Every condemned sinner, however full of excuses now, will then have his mouth shut-He will see that his condemnation was the effect of his own obstinacy-]
2. What astonishing grace and mercy are there in the Lord Jesus Christ!
[His reproof contains in it a most gracious invitationHe addresses all of us at this instant, Come unto me and I will give you life-Let none resist him any longer-Let us go to him and he will in no wise cast us out"]
f Matt. xxiii. 37.
g Matt. xi. 28.
b John vi. 37.
CCCLXII. THE NEARNESS OF ETERNITY.
Rev. x. 5, 6. The angel which I saw stand upon the sea, and upon the earth, lifted up his hand to heaven, and sware by him that liveth for ever and ever **** that there should be time no longer.
NEVER was there a more beautiful instance of descriptive imagery than that before us. In ver. 1. a mighty angel (probably the angel of the covenant, the Lord Jesus Christ) is represented as coming from heaven to make known to the beloved disciple the purposes and decrees of God. His vesture was a cloud, which intimated that, "clouds and darkness being round about him," neither
person nor his message could be fully known. His face shone as the brightness of the meridian sun, which denoted his transcendent excellency and glory; while a rainbow, intimating his faithfulness to all his covenantengagements, encircled his head as a royal diádem. His feet were as pillars of fire, marking at once his immove
able firmness, and irresistible power. Mis posture was such as became his august appearance, and the solemn embassy on which he was come: he set his feet, the one on the earth, and the other on the sea, expressing thereby his sovereign dominion over the whole universe. In this situation he cried with a loud voice, like the roaring of a lion: upon which seven thunders, like a responsive echo, uttered their voices. The attention of the whole creation being thus deeply fixed, this glorious Personage, in the manner of those who appeal to God, lifted up his hand, and sware by him who liveth for ever and ever, even by the Creator of heaven and earth: and that which he thus solemnly affirmed with an oath, was, that there should be time no longer.
Commentators understand this oath in different ways. Some think it relates to the introduction of the millennium; others, to the commencement of the eternal state. The whole period fixed for the reign of antichrist was 1260 years, or, in the language of prophecy, "a time, and times, and half a time:" and the oath declares, that the power of antichrist shall continue no longer than to that precise period; and that then the end of the world (as some think) or the happy state of the church (which is the more probable opinion) shall succeed. But without entering into this question, the words, in whichever way they be understood, will furnish us with this important observation, that,
OUR TIMES ARE IN GOD'S HANDS.
That God has fixed the duration of the world itself, and the limits of every man's existence in it, is a truth so evident, that it is needless to dwell long upon the proof of it." But to get it suitably impressed upon our minds, is a work of great difficulty, and worthy of our united attention. To promote this end, let the following considerations be laid to heart.
I. If God has fixed the period of our existence here, it is impossible for us to prolong it.
[No strength of constitution can withstand the stroke of deathb -No physician's skill can administer either anti
See Job xiv. 14. and vii. 1. and xiv. 5. b Job xxi. 18, 25-26°
dote or cure---No friends or relatives can procure one moment's respited. ---Nor shall any want of preparation in us avail for the lengthening out of our appointed time--If God has said, "This night shall thy soul be required of thee," even though we retired to our bed in perfect health, we should never behold the morning light.']
II. When the period fixed for our existence here shall arrive, there will be an end of all present things
[All our earthly connexions will be dissolved—All our plans and purposes will be broken---All our opportunities of spiritual improvement will for ever cease'---] III. When the appointed moment shall come, our eternal state will be irrevocably fixed
They are extremely useful as God's instruments to effect his will: but they cannot in any instance counteract it. The monarch as well as the beggar must obey the summons of his God.
They may cry till their throats are dry, their eyes are bloated, and their very hearts break with sorrow; but death, that relentless messenger, will be deaf to their intreaties; and inflict the stroke on the devoted victim.
We may be living securely and without thought; or be intending soon to reform our lives; or be professors of religion in a backslidden state, and hoping for a season of revival; but no regard will be paid to our unfitness for death: yea rather, that very circumstance may be God's reason for removing us without a moment's warning. Matt. xxiv. 48-51. 1 Thess. v. 2, 3. f Luke xii. 20.
We shall no more rejoice in the wife of our youth, or fondle in our arms our infant offspring, or enjoy the friend that is as our own soul: every social tie will be cut asunder, and every gratification of sense be taken from us.
If we were forming vast and comprehensive plans for our own personal benefit, or the good of the state, and had almost brought them to maturity; if we were just on the eve of renouncing our earthly and carnal lusts in order to turn more fully unto God; if we were in the very act of determining to read our bible, to attend or dinances, and to devote ourselves to God; all would be frustrated the very instant that our time was come. Ps. cxlvi. 4.
All things are ready for us now: the Holy Spirit is ready to teach us, Christ to cleanse us, and the Father to accept us: minisready to lead us, angels to welcome us, the oxen and fatlings to feast us, and all the promises to own us as their lawful heir. But, as soon as the last sand of our glass is fallen, all will be passed and gone. There will be no more ordinances to instruct; or promises to encourage, or pastors to guide, or drawings of God's Spirit to incline us: the fountain of Christ's blood will be fore ver closed; the bowels of divine mercy will yearn over us no more; nor will the angels any more tender us their friendly services. The day once ended, we can work no more for ever.