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stand at the door and knock: If any man will hear my voice, and open the door, I will come in to him, and sup with him, and he with me." And in the concluding chapter of the Revelation, it is written, “ The Spirit and the bride say, Come: and let him that is a-thirst, come: and whosoever will, let him come, and let him take the water of life freely.” So that you see my text is not a singular instance of condescension; the Scriptures are replenished with invitations of the same kind; and they are all expressed in the most extensive and absolute terms, on purpose, as it were, to obviate every possible objection, and to remove all jealousy from the most desponding sinners, who might otherwise have suspected that the call did not reach so far as them.
But lest the offer of a Saviour, when viewed as a privilege, might still appear in the eyes of some a privilege too high for them to aspire to, therefore it hath pleased the Father to interpose his authority, and to make it our duty to embrace the offer: as we learn from that remarkable passage, (1 John iii. 23.) “ This is the command of God, that we should believe on the name of his Son Jesus Christ." So that faith in Christ becomes an act of obedience; the law of the Supreme Governor is the sinner's warrant to come to the Saviour; and therefore it can be no presumption in any, however guilty they have been, to flee to this city of refuge, seeing he who hath appointed it, not only permits, but perempto, rily commands them to repair to it.
And to crown all, our Lord himself hath declared in the most solemn manner, that none shall be rejected who come to him for salvation. These are bis words, (John vi. 37.) “ Him that cometh to me I will in nowise cast. out." I will receive him with outstretched arms; I will tenderly embrace and cherish bim, and so unite him to
myself, that the combined force of earth and hell shall never be able to dissolve the union, or to separate my soul from his unchangeable love.
Lift up thy head, then, 0 labouring and heavy laden sinner! ponder, with due attention, those grounds of encouragement I have briefly suggested. Doth the Father command you to believe on his son? doth the Lord Jesus invite, nay intreat, you to come to him, and at the same time assure you that “ he will in nowise cast you out ?" and shall not this multiplied security remove all your doubts, and bring you to him with a humble, but steadfast, hope of obtaining that rest which he offers unto you? Say not henceforth, My burden is so heavy, and my guilt so great, that I dare not go to him; but rather say, My burden is so heavy, that I must go to him; for no other arm can remove it but his own. He offers you his help, because you are miserable; he invites you to come to him, not because you deserve, but because you need his aid. Arise, then, 0 sinners! and obey his call: cast your burden upon him who is mighty to save; yield yourselves, without reserve, to this faithful Redeemer, to be justified by his blood, and sanctified by bis Spirit; “ take his yoke upon you, and learn of him," and then you shall find rest to your
souls. But what shall I say to those who have never as yet felt the burden of sin? who, amidst the deepest poverty and wretchedness, imagine themselves to be “ rich, and increased with goods, and to stand in need of nothing?" Alas! my friends, what can we do for such ?—shall I denounce the curses of a broken covenant to alarm their fears?--shall I publish the terrors of the Lord, and by these persuade them to flee from the wrath to come ? Indeed, considerations of this kind seem proper and necessary to rouse them from that deadly sleep into which
they are cast. And believe it, 0 sinners ! that no repre. sentations of this sort, however awful they might appear,
could exceed, or even equal, the dreadful reality; " for · who knoweth the power of God's anger?"
But as my text breathes nothing but love and clemency, I shall rather, upon this occasion, “beseech you by the meekness and gentleness of Christ," and fetch my arguments from the endearing condescensions of his mercy and grace.
Know then, 0 sinners! that, after all the contempt you have thrown upon him, he is still willing to become your Saviour. Ungrateful as you have been, he once more opens bis arms, and invites you to come unto him. He sends us forth this day to call after you in bis name, and to intreat you in his stead to be reconciled to God. Behold, in the gospel-offer, he lays, as it were, his cracified body in your way, to stop you in your self-destroying course! And will you still press onward, " and trample under foot the Son of God!" Behold his blood, like a mighty river, flows between you and the place of torment! And will you force your passage to the everlasting burnings through this immense ocean of redeeming love! O sinners, think of this! all who perish under the gospel, must carry this dreadful aggravation along with them, That mercy was in their offer, and they would not accept it; nay, that they insulted and abused the mercy that would have saved them. And “ can your hearts endure, or can your hands be strong, in the day that God shall deal with you” for this contempt? For the Lord's sake open your eyes in time; look upon him whom you have pierced by your sins, and mourn. I address you as the angels did Lot, when they brought him forth from Sodom; “ Escape for thy
life; look not bebind thee, neither stay thou in all the plain :" “ Flee to the Saviour, lest thou be consumed."
As for you who have already got within the walls of the city of refuge, I have one request to make to you, with which I shall conclude.-Come now and receive the new Testament in Christ's blood : For confirming your faith, and increasing your joy, he hath instituted this visible pledge of his love, this external seal of his gracious covenant; that, by the elements of bread and wine, the appointed symbols, of his broken body and shed blood, he might invest his people with a full and unalterable right to all the blessed fruits of his sufferings and death. And, therefore, as you have come to Christ himself, you may lawfully consider the invitation in my text as your warrant and call to come to his holy table; and may hope to find, in this holy sacrament, something of that rest, or spiritual relief, which he is always ready to dispense to those who feel their need of it, and who know its worth. Amen.
ZECHARIAH ix. 12.
Turn ye to the strong hold, ye prisoner of hope; even to-day do I declare that I will render double unto thee.
In the 9th verse of this chapter proclamation is made that the Messiah is at hand; and the church is called upon to go forth and to meet him with joy. “Rejoice
greatly, 0 daughter of Zion; shout, O daughter of Je. rusalem; behold, thy King cometh unto thee.” And that the awe of his majesty might be no bar to their joy, they are told, for their encouragement, that he comes in such a form of condescension and grace, as serves rather to invite than forbid their approach to him: For “ He is just, and having salvation ; lowly, and riding upon an ass, and upon a colt, the foal of an ass.” They are further assured, in the 10th verse, that as the ensigas of his royalty differ so widely from those which earthly monarchs use, so he shall govern his subjects, and subdue his enemies, not by external force, but by inward persuasion; not by “the chariot, the horse, and the bat. tle-bow,” for all these shall be "cut off;" but by the preaching of the gospel, accompanied with the powerful operation of his Spirit, which is emphatically called “speaking peace unto the heathen;" in consequence whereof, “ his dominion sball extend from sea to sea, and from the river even to the ends of the earth.” And to finish the description of this King of Zion, it is added, in the 11th verse, that the gracious aim of his government is to set men at liberty from the vilest slavery, and to release them from the most ignominious confinement, by opening their prison doors, and 6 sending them forth out of the pit wherein is no water." This too he is to perform in a way peculiarly endearing: he is to purchase their freedom with the price of his own blood; which, with great propriety, is styled “the blood of the covenant," as it ratifies and confirms that covenant of grace, whereby sinners are reinstated in the favour of God, and rescued from the power of all their spiritual enemies.
The like representation is given of the Messiah, (Isaiah xlii. 6, 7.) “I the Lord have called thee in righteous