« AnteriorContinuar »
them, (Rom. x. 3.) “ Being ignorant of God's righteousness, they went about to establish their own righteousness, and did not submit themselves unto the righte. ousness of God.” And still this method of justifying sinners is opposed and rejected by every “natural man." He feels not his disease, and therefore treats the physician with contempt and scorn : whereas the soul that is enlightened by the Spirit of God, and awakened to a sense of its guilt and pollution, lies prostrate before the mercy-seat, crying out with Paul when struck to the ground, “ Lord, what wilt thou have me do?” It was therefore with peculiar significancy, that our Lord intro. duced his sermon upon the mount, by adjudging the kingdom of heaven to the poor in spirit,” placing bumility in the front of all the other graces, as being the entrance into a religious temper, the beginning of the divine life, the first step of the soul in its return to God.
2dly. The labouring and heavy laden are particularly distinguished; because otherwise, persons in that situation, hopeless of relief, might be in danger of excluding themselves from the offer of mercy. If there was only a general call to come to the Saviour, the humble conviu. ced soul, pressed down with a sense of its guilt and depravity, might be ready to object, Surely it cannot be such a worthless and wicked creature as I am, to whom the Lord directs his invitation. And therefore, he “ who will not break the bruised reed, nor quench the smoking flax," doth kindly encourage them, by this special address, that the very thing which to themselves would appear the greatest obstacle in the way of mercy, might become the means of assuring them, that they are the very persons for whom mercy is prepared.
Let this then encourage every weary, self-condemn. ing sinner: The greater your guilt appears in your own
eye, the greater ground you have to expect relief if you apply for it. Mercy looks for nothing but an affecting sense of the need of mercy. Say not, If my burden were of a lesser weight, I might hope to be delivered from it; for no burden is too heavy for Omnipotence: he who is “ mighty to save," can easily remove the most opprese sive load; “his blood cleanseth from all sin," and " by him all who believe are justified from all things.” This great physician did not come to heal some slight distempers, but to cure those inveterate plagues, which none besides himself was able to cure. Whatever your disease be, it shall neither reproach his skill nor his power; and all that he requires on your part, is a submis: sive temper to use the means he prescribes, with a firm reliance upon their virtue and efficacy. If you are truly convinced that your guilt is so great, and your corruptions so strong, that none in heaven or on earth can save you
from them but Christ alone; if you are groaning under the burden of sin, and can find no rest till pardoning mercy and sanctifying grace bring you relief; then are you in the very posture which my text describes; and I may warrantably say unto you what Martha said to Mary, “ Arise quickly, the Master is come, and call. eth for thee." And this is his call, Come unto me. Which is the
Second thing I proposed to explain. Now, for understanding this, it will be necessary to remind you of the different characters which our Lord sustains; or, in other words, the important offices wbich he executes as our Redeemer. These, you know, are three, to wit, the offices of a Prophet, of a Priest, and of a King; in each of which the Lord Jesus must be distinctly regarded by every soul that comes to him. Accordingly, you may observe, that in this gracious invitation, he exhibits himself
to our view in all these characters; for to the condescending offer of removing our guilt, he immediately annexes the command, “ Take my yoke upon you, and learn of
Such is our misery by the fall, that we are not only become the objects of God's righteous displeasure, and liable to that awful punishment which was the penalty of the first covenant, but our nature is wholly diseased and corrupted; so that in us, in our flesh, dwelleth no good thing." Our understanding is darkened, filled with prejudices against the truth, and incapable of discerning spiritual objects: “ For the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God, they are foolishness to him; neither can he know them, because they are spir. itually discerned.” Our will is stubborn and rebellious, like 6 an iron sinew," which no force can bend; so inflexible in its opposition to the divine law, that it is called in Scripture “ enmity against God:” and all our affections are wild and ungovernable, deaf to the voice of reason and conscience, in perpetual discord among themselves, and wholly alienated from God, in whom alone they should unite and centre. Such a Saviour, therefore, was necessary for our relief, as could effectually remedy all those evils, and not only redeem us from wrath, but likewise prepare us for happiness, by restoring our nature to that original perfection from which it had fallen.
For this end, our Lord Jesus Christ, that he might be in all respects furnished for his great undertaking, was solemuly invested by bis heavenly Father with each of the important offices I have named; that our understand. ing being enlightened by his divine teaching, and our will subdued by his regal power, we might be capable of enjoying the fruits of that pardon, which, as our great High Priest, he bath purchased with his blood.-Noiv,
in all these characters, the Scriptures propose him to our faith; and we do not comply with the invitation in my text, unless we come to him for the proper work of each office, and embrace him in the full extent of his commission; that “of God be may be made unto us, wisdom, and righteousness, and sanctification, and redemption."
It is true, indeed, that the soul, in its first approach to Christ, doth principally regard him as a priest or a sacrifice; and therefore faith, as it is employed for jastification, or pardon, is emphatically styled Faith in his blood. To this God looks when he justifies a sinner; he views him as sprinkled with the blood of atonement; and therefore, to the same blood the sinner must necessarily look upon his first application to Christ. When the criminal under the law fled to the horns of the altar, he considered the temple rather as a place of protection than of worship.--The authority of a teacher, and the majesty of a king, are objects of terror to a self-condemning sinner, and by no means suit his present necessity. Christ, as-suffering, and “bearing our sins in his own body on the tree,” is the only object that can yield him relief and comfort; for where shall he find the rest of his soul, but where God found the satisfaction of his justice?
Nevertheless, though Christ upon the cross be the first and most immediate object of faith, yet the believer doth not stop there; but having discovered a sufficient atonement for his guilt, he proceeds to contemplate the other characters of his Redeemer, and heartily approves of them all as perfectly adapted to all bis necessities. He hearkens to his instruction, and cheerfully submits to his yoke, and covets nothing so much as to be taught and governed by him. The ingenuity of faith speaketh after this manner: Seeing Christ is my Priest to expi
ate my guilt, it is but just and reasonable that he should be my Prophet to teach me, and my King to rule over me; that as I live by his merits, I should also walk by his law.
O blessed Jesus! said the soul that comes to him, thou true and living way to the Father! I adore thy condescending grace, in becoming a sacrifice and sin-offering for me: and now, encouraged by thy kind invi. tation, I flee to thee as my only city of refuge; I come to thee " wretched, and miserable, and poor,
and blind, and naked :" I have no price to offer thee, no goodness at all to reeommend me to thy favour: labouring and heavy laden, I cast myself at thy feet, and look to thy free mercy alone for the removal of this burden, which, without thy interposition, must sink me down to the lowest hell. Abhorring myself in every view I can take, I embrace thee for my righteousness ; sprinkled with thine atoning blood, I shall not fear the destroying angel : Justice hath already had its triumph on thy cross; and therefore I take thy cross for my sanctuary. This is my rest; and here will I stay, for I like it well.
Nor is this my only errand to thee, O thou complete Saviour! I bring to thee a dark benighted mind to be illuminated with saving knowledge. “ Thou hast the words of eternal life;" “ in thee are hid all the treasures of wisdom :" I therefore resign my understanding to thy teaching; for “no man knoweth the father but the Son, and those to whom the Son shall reveal him."
I likewise choose thee for 'my Lord and my King; for thou “ art altogether lovely,” and in every character necessary to my soul. Here are enemies whom none can vanquish but thyself; here are corruptions, which nothing less than all-conquering grace can subdue: I therefore implore thine almighty aid. Do thou possess