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THE ACCEPTABLE MANNER OF DRAWING NEAR TO GOD *.

SERMON XXXIV.

HEB. X. 22. Let us draw near with a true heart, in the full affurance of faith, having our hearts Sprinkled from an evil confcience, and our bodies washed with pure water.

I

HAVE been, in our laft difcourfes, urging and directing you to evidences for heaven; and we are shortly to celebrate that ordinance which is a fpecial evidence of the Lord's love to his people, and appointed to evidence it to them. That it may be fo in effect to us, let us hearken to the advice in the text; which is an improvement of the doctrine as to the great privileges of Chriftians. They have freedom of access to God through Christ. They have Chrift as an HighPrieft fet over the house of God; therefore, let us draw near, &c.-Here we have,

1. An exhortation and excitement to a duty correfponding to the privileges which are through Jefus Chrift: Let us draw near, that is, to God. "Though

Delivered May 1715.

Though he is great, and infinitely glorious, dwells in the higheft heavens; yet, feeing he is upon a throne of grace, let us not stand at a distance from him, but draw near to him in the whole of our converfation, and particularly in acts of worship waiting on him. Let us do it, the weak together with the ftrong; let us prefs in at the door of grace together.-We have,

2. The right way of managing this duty for God's honour and our own comfort. This is laid down in four particulars.

(1.) We fhould draw near to God with a true heart, that is, a fincere heart; with the heart, and not with the lips only; not with a falfe hypocritical heart, but a heart true to God, true to our own real intereft.--We are to draw near,

(2.) In full affurance of faith. Let us come believingly, come in faith, leaning upon his Son, trufting in his blood. Let us not come doubtingly, doubting whether we will be welcome or not, whether there be accefs for us or not; but with full affurance, like a fhip that is carried towards the port with full fail before the wind.We are to draw near,

(3.) Having our hearts Sprinkled from an evil confcience. An evil confcience is a guilty, accufing, and condemning confcience. This vexes, difquiets, and torments the heart. Guilt is the mother and nurse of fears. The fting of guilt in the confcience is like a thorn in a man's foot; when he is called to meet a friend, alas! he cannot go, he dare not fet a foot to the ground, or every step goes to his heart. The way to cure this is, by fprinkling with the blood of sprinkling, that is, by faith applying the blood of Chrift for remiffion of fin. This makes the foul meet to draw near to God, and that with full affurance, even as the unclean

clean under the law were cleansed by the sprinkling of blood. We are to draw near,

(4.) Having our bodies washed with pure water ; that is, our outward man also purged; that fo, having clean hands, and a pure heart, we may afcend to the hill of God, and stand in his holy place, Pfal. xxiv. A blameless outward converfation. Sin fo curbed and borne down within, that it do not feandaloufly break out into the life; and this must be done with the pure water of the Spirit of fanctification, not with the muddy water of Christless endeavours, as in painted hypocrites. -From this fubject, I would take the following

DOCTRINE, That Chriftians may, and ought to

draw near to God.

Let us draw near. This is the voice of the gofpel founding in the ears of the vifible church through our Lord Jefus Chrift; and it is founding in our ears more particularly this day, while he gives us the hope of his coming fo near us in the facrament of the supper next Lord's day.

In this difcourfe, I fhall attend fhortly to the following things.

I. SHEW what is implied in this, Let us draw

near.

II. Shew that we may draw near. III. Shew that we ought to draw near. IV. Add the practical improvement of the fubject. We are then,

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I. To fhew what is implied in this, Let us draw near. There are two things in it.

1. Sin has fet us at a distance from God: Ifa. lix. 2. "But your iniquities have feparated between you and your God, and your fins have hid

his

his face from you, that he will not hear." Sin indeed could not remove us out of the place where God is, for he is every where; but it has fet us out of his favour, out of his friendship, and that is a fad outcaft. In Adam, while he ftood, we lived in the land of light, the light of God's countenance; but he finned, and was banished from the prefence of the Lord, after he had run away from him with us in his loins; and fo we come into the world eftranged from God: Pfal. lviii. 3. "The wicked are eftranged from the womb; they go aftray as foon as they be born, fpeaking lies.""

2. Sinners ftand at a distance from God, till they be called, and that powerfully: John, vi. 44. "No man can come unto me, except the Father, who hath fent me, draw him." They keep their ground where their first father left them. The breach began on our fide, we left our father's house, and ran away from it without all just ground, but we never come back again till worthlefs we be fent for and fetched; like the Levite's concubine, Jude, xix. 2. 3.-And here lies the cafe :

Infenfible finners will not: John, v. 40. "And ye will not come unto me, that ye might have life." They are away, and they will not come back. They have no eye upon the privileges of them that are near; they can do well enough without it. They love the devil's common, where they can ramble up and down at their own liber, ty, better than God's inclofure, where they think a man cannot get elbow-room. Hence they are running away farther and farther from him, till, I believe, not a few are fo far from him, that they hardly ever hear from him; nor is there one left with them to disturb them in their wandering.

Senfible finners dare not: Luke, v. 8. " When Simon Peter faw it, he fell down at Jefus' feet,

saying,

faying, Depart from me, for I am a finful man, O Lord." They fee his glory and his feat, they admire the happiness of those that stand before him, as the queen of Sheba did the attendants of Solomon, 1 Kings, x. 8. But they dare not draw near, but stand afar off, under a deep fenfe of unworthinefs. Like the Publican, they cannot lift up their eyes to heaven, but fmite upon their breafts, faying, God be merciful to us finners, Luke, xviii. 13. They cannot conceive how fuch vile malefactors can face the Judge, how fuch prodigals can fet their foot again in their Father's house, how fuch filthy, loathfome, beggarly creatures, can prefume to come forward to the throne. If at any time they break forward, it is like offering violence to themfelves. They take their life in . their hand, and, like Efther, go in to the king, chap. iv. 16. And then the legs of their confidence tremble, the hands of faith shake, and they are ready to start back: But let us draw near.This brings us,

II. To fhew, that we may draw near to God. Glad news this to poor fenfible finners! Come in, ye bleffed of the Lord; why do you stand back? you may draw near to God.-For,

1. God is on a throne of grace in Jefus Christ: 2 Cor. v. 19. "To wit, that God was in Christ reconciling the world unto himself, not imputing their trefpaffes unto them, and hath committed unto us the word of reconciliation." God has in Chrift laid aside his red garments, being to purfue the war no longer against those that come to him through Chrift. He wears the white garment of peace, and breathes nothing from hence, but peace, love, and good-will. To look on an abfolute God out of Chrift, is enough to make a devil VOL. II. X tremble.

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