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yourselves before him, while the hope of mercy
yet afforded ; and pray for the Spirit we have been speaking of, that you may be recovered out of the snare of the devil, and made partakers of the knowledge and image of God. 3. Believers. This subject is the food of your
souls. You remember when
you had dark, hard, and uncomfortable thoughts of God; but you have seen his glory in the person of Christ, you have received not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit of God*, that
you may know the things that are freely given you of God. You were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lordt. Walk then as children of the light; remember your calling, your privileges, your obligations, your engagements. Let these all animate
to press forward, to endure the cross, to despise the shame. Let it not grieve you to suffer with Christ here, for hereafter
you shall reign with him. The hour is swiftly approaching, when you shall be out of the reach of changes and sorrow for ever. Then “ thy sun shall
no more go down; neither shall thy moon with“ draw itself: for the Lord shall be thine everlast
ing light, and the days of thy mourning shall be
as ended 1.”
* 1 Cor. ii. 12.
† Ephes. V. 8.
1 Isa. lx, 20.
LABOURING AND HEAVY LADEN SINNERS
MATTH. xi. 28.
Come unto me, all ye that labour, and are heavy laden, and I
will give you rest.
We read that, when David was withdrawn into the wilderness from the rage of Saul, every one that was in distress, or in debt, or discontented, gathered themselves unto him, and he became their captain*. This was a small honour in the judgement of Saul and his court, to be the head of a company of fugitives, Those who judge by outward appearances, and are governed by the maxims of worldly wisdom, cannot have much more honourable thoughts of the present state of Christ's mystical kingdom and subjects upon earth. The case of David was looked upon as desperate by those who, like Nabal t, lived at their ease. They did not know, or would not believe, the promise of God, that he should be king over Israel ; and therefore they preferred the favour of Saul, whom God had rejected. In like manner, though our Lord Jesus Christ was a divine person, invested with all authority, grace, and blessing, and declared the purpose of God concerning himself, and all who should obey his voice, that he would be their king, and they should be his
1 Sam. xxii. 2.
t i Sam, xxv. 10.
happy people; yet the most that heard him saw ng excellence in him, or need of him, their portion and hearts were in this world, therefore they rejected him, and treated him as a blasphemer and a madman. A few, however, there were who felt their misery, and desired to venture upon his word. To these he
gave the freest invitation. Those who accepted it, found his promise made good, and rejoiced in his light. Thus it is still; he is no longer upon earth to call us ; but he has left these gracious words for an encouragement to all who need a Saviour. The greatest part of mankind, even in Chirstian countries, are too happy or too busy to regard him. They think they deserve some commendation, if they do not openly mock his messengers, disdain his message, and offer abuse to all who would press them to-day, while it is called today, to hear his voice. Even this treatment his servants must expect from many. But there are a few, like David's men, distressed in conscience, deeply in debt to the law of God, and discontented with the bondage of sin, who see and believe that He, and He only, is able to save them. To these labouring and heavy laden souls, he still says,
" Come unto me, and I will give you rest.” May his gracious Spirit put life and power into his own words, and into what he shall enable me to speak from them, that they may at this time receive a blessing and peace from his hands.
The text readily points out three inquiries.
1. The persons are those who labour (the Greek VOL. II.
expresses toil with weariness*) and are heavy laden. This must, however, be limited to spiritual concerns, otherwise it will take in all mankind, even the most hardened and obstinate opposers of Christ and the Gospel. For let your consciences speak, you that''account the yoke of Christ a heavy burden, and judge his people to be miserable and melancholy, are not you wearied and burdened in your own way? Surely you are often tired of your drudgery. Though you are so wedded and sold to your hard master, that you cannot break loose; though you are so mad as to be fond of your chains; yet you know, and I know (for I remember the gall and wormwood of that state), that you do not find all that pleasure in your wickedness which you pretend to. So much as you affect to despise hypocrisy, you are great hypocrites yourselves. You often laugh when you are not pleased, you roar out your boisterous mirthi sometimes, when you are almost ready to roar with anguish and disquiet of spirit. You court the friendship of those whom in your hearts you despise; and though you would be thought to pay no regard at all to the word of God, there are seasons when (like him you serve) you believe and tremble. And, farther, what visible burdens do you bring upon yourselves? “ The way of transgressors is hard *." Your follies multiply your troubles every day. Confusion and uneasiness in your families, waste of substance, loss of health and reputation, discord, strife, sorrow, and shame; these are the bitter fruits of your
* Compare Luke, v. 5. John, iv. 6, where the original word is the same.
# Prov. xiii. 15.
prey on your present hours, and make your future prospects darker every day. Surely you are weary and heavy laden beyond expression.
But this is not the case with others. You avoid gross vices, you have perhaps a form of godliness. The worst, you think, that can be said of you is that you employ all your thoughts, and every means that will not bring you under the lash of the law, to heap up money, to join house to house, and field to field; or you spend your days in a thoughtless indolence, walk in the way of your own hearts, and look no farther': and here
will say you find pleasure, and insist on it, that you are neither weary nor heavy laden. I might enlarge on your many disappointments, the vain fears which are inseparable from those who live without God in the world, and the trouble
find from disorderly, restless, and unsatisfied passions. But, to wave these things, I say briefly, that if you are not labouring and heavy laden, then it is plain, that you are not the persons whom Christ here invites to partake of his rest. And though you can rest without him now, think, o think! what rest you will find without him hereafter ! If you now. say, Depart, he will then say, Depart. And who will smile upon you when he frowns ? To whom will
you then flee for help? or where will you leave your glory? O that it would please him to touch your hearts, that, as weary and heavy laden sinners, you might fall humbly at his feet, before his wrath burn like fire, and there be none to quench it!
But to proceed: let us,
1. Explain the terms, what it is to labour and be heavy laden.
2. Show who are the persons that answer this de-scription,