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First, To unbelievers, who from hence must be preffed, as ever they expect to fee the face of God in peace, to receive Jesus Chrift, as he is now offered to them in the gospel. This is the very scope of the gofpel, I fhall therefore prefs it by three great confiderations, viz.
First, What is in Chrift whom you are to receive.
First, Confider well what is in Chrift, whom I perfuade you this day to receive: Did you know what is in Christ, you would never neglect or reject him as you do: For,
First," God is in Chrift," 2 Cor. v. 19. the Deity hath chofen to dwell in his flesh; he is "God manifeft in flesh," 1 Tim iii. 16. a Godhead dwelling in flesh, is the world's wonder: so that in receiving Chrift, you receive God himself.
Secondly, The authority of God is in Chrift, Exod. xxiii. 21. My name is in him: Him hath God the Father fealed," John vi. 27. he hath the commiffion, the great feal of heaven to redeem and fave you: All power in heaven and earth is given to him, Matth. xxviii. 18. he comes in his Father's name to you, as well as in his own name.
Thirdly, The wifdom of God is in Chrift, 1 Cor. i. 24. "Chrift the wisdom of God:" yea, "in him are hid all the "treafures of wisdom and knowledge," Col. ii. 3. Never did the wifdom of God difplay itself before the eyes of angels and men, as it hath done in Christ. The "angels defire to look in"to it," 1 Pet. 1. 12. yet they are not fo much concerned in the project and defign of this wisdom in redemption, as you are.
Fourthly, The fulness of the Spirit is in Chrift; yea, it fills him fo as it never did, nor will fill any creature, John iii. 34. "God giveth not the Spirit by measure to him :" all others have their limits, ftints, and measures; fome more, fome lefs; but the Spirit is in Chrift without meafure. O how lovely and defirable are thofe men that have a large meafure of the Spirit in them! but he is anointed with the Spirit of holiness, above all his fellows, Pfal. xlv. 2, 7. Whatever grace is found in all the faints, which makes them defirable and lovely, wisdom in one, faith in another, patience in a third; they all centre in Christ as the rivers do in the fea, que faciunt divifa beatum, in hoc mixta fluunt.
Fifthly, The righteousness of God is in Chrift, by which only a poor guilty finner can be justified before God, 2 Cor. v. 21. we are "made the righteoufnefs of God in him :" he is 2p
"the Lord our righteousnefs," Jer. xxiii. 6. i. e. «* the author "of our righteouinefs," or the Lord who juftifies us; by that name he will be known, and called by his people, than which none can be fweeter.
Sixthly, The love of God is in Chrift; yea, the very yearning bowels of divine love are in him: What is Chrift, but the love of God wrapt up in flesh and blood? 1 John iv. 9, 10. "In this "was manifefted the love of God towards us ;" and herein is love, that God fent his Son: this is the highest flight that ever divine love made; and higher than this it cannot mount. O love, unparalleled and admirable!
Seventhly, The mercies and compaffions of God are all in Christ, Jude ver. 21. Mercy is the thing that poor finners want, it is that they cry for at the last gafp; it is the only thing that can do them good. O what would they give to find mercy in that great day? Why, if you receive Chrift, you fhall with him. receive mercy; but out of him, there is no mercy to be expected from the hands of God; for God will never exercise mercy to the prejudice of his juftice; and it is in Chrift that justice and mercy meet and embrace each other.
Eightly, To conclude, The falvations of God are in Chrift, Acts iv. 12. "Neither is there falvation in any other." Christ is the door of falvation, and faith is the key that opens that door to men. If you therefore believe not, i. e. if you fo receive not Jefus Chrift, as God hath offered him, you exclude yourselves from all hopes of falvation. The devils have as much ground to expect falvation as you: you fee what is in Chrift to induce you to receive him.
Next, I beseech you, confider what there is in the offer of Christ to finners, to induce you to receive him. Confider well to whom, and how Chrift is offered in the gospel.
First, To whom he is offered; not to the fallen angels, but to you; they lie in chains of darknefs, Jude 6. as he took not their nature, fo he defigns not their recovery; and therefore will have no treaty at all with them: but he is offered to you, creatures of an inferior rank and order by nature; nor is he of fered to the damned, the treaty of peace is ended with them: Chrift will never make them another tender of falvation; nor is he offered to millions of millions as good as you, now living in the world. The found of Chrift, and falvation is not come to their cars, but he is offered to you by the fpecial favour and
Autorem juftitia noftra. Calv. in loc.
bounty of heaven; and will you not receive him? O! then how will the devils, the damned, and the Heathens, upbraid your folly! and fay, had we had one fuch tender of mercy, of which you have had thoufands, we would never have been now in this place of torments.
Secondly, Confider how Chrift is offered to you, and you fhall find that he is offered,
1. Freely, as the gift of God, to your fouls; you are not to purchase him, but only to receive him. Ifa lv. 1. Ho, every one that thirfteth, come ye to the waters, and he that hath 66 no money, let him come," &c.
2. Chrift is offered importunately, by repeated intreaties. 2 Cor. v. 20. "As though God did befeech you, we pray you "in Chrift's ftead, be ye reconciled to God." O! what amazing condefcenfion is here in the God of mercy! God now befeeches you, will you not yield to the intreaties of your God? O then what wilt thou fay for thyfelf, when God will not bear thee, when thou shalt intreat and cry for mercy? Which brings
Motive 3. Confider the fin and danger that there is in refufing, or neglecting the prefent offers of Chrift in the gospel, and furely there is much fin in it; the very malignity of fin, and the fum of all mifery, lies here; for in refufing Christ,
1. You put the greatest contempt and flight upon all the attributes of God that it is poffible for a creature to do; God hath made his juftice, his mercy, his wifdom, and all his attributes, to shine in their brightest glory in Chrift. Never was there fuch a difplay of the glory of God made to the world in any other way.
O then, what is it to reject and defpife Jefus Christ, but to offer the greatest affront to the glory of God, that it is poffible for men to put upon it?
2. You hereby fruftrate and evacuate the very defign, and importance of the gofpel to yourselves; you "receive the grace "of God in vain," 2 Cor. vi. I. As good, yea, better had it been for you, that Chrift had never come into the world, or, if he had, that your lot had fallen in the dark places of the earth, where you had never heard his name; yea, good had it been for that man if he had never been born.
3. Hereby a man murthers his own foul. "I faid therefore fhall die in your fins; for if ye believe ye fhall die in your fins," John viii. 24.Unbelief is felf-murder; you are guilty of the blood of your
unto you, that you
not that I am he,
own fouls: life and falvation was offered you, and you rejected it. Yea,
4. The refufing of Chrift by unbelief, will aggravate your damnation, above all others that perish in ignorance of Christ. O'twill be more tolerable for Heathens, than for you; the greatest measures of wrath are referved to punish the worst of finners, and among finners, none will be found worse than unbelievers.
Secondly, To believers, this point is very ufeful to perfuade them to divers excellent duties; among which, I fhall fingle out two principal ones, viz.
1. To bring up their faith of acceptance, to the faith of af furance.
2. To bring up their converfations to the principles and rules of faith.
1. You that have received Jefus Chrift truly, give yourselves no rest till you are fully fatisfied that you have done fo; accep tance brings you to heaven hereafter, but affurance will bring heaven into your fouls now. O what a life of delight and pleafure doth the affured believer live! What pleafure is it to him to look back and confider where once he was, and where he now is? To look forward, and confider where he now is, and where fhortly he shall be! I was in my fins, I am now in Chrift: I am in Chrift now, I fhall be with Chrift, and that for ever, after a few days. I was upon the brink of hell, I am now upon the very borders of heaven; I fhall be, in a little while, among the innumerable company of angels and glorified faints, bearing part with them in the fong of Mofes, and of the Lamb, for evermore.
And why may not you, that have received Chrift, receive the comfort of your union with him? There be all the grounds and helps of affurance furnished to your hand; there is a real union betwixt Chrift and your fouls, which is the very ground-work of affurance. You have the fcriptures before you which contain the figns of faith, and the very things within you that anfwer thofe figns in the word. So you read, and fo, juft fo, you might feel it in your own hearts, would you attend to your own ex perience. The Spirit of God is ready to feal you, it is his of fice and his delight fo to do. O therefore give diligence to this work, attend the study of the scriptures, and of your own hearts more, and grieve not the holy Spirit of God, and you may ar rive to the very defire of your hearts.
† The power and conftancy of a firm hope reigns in us. Cypr. Serm. de patientia.
2. Bring up your converfations to the excellent principles and rules of faith; "As you have received Chrift Jefus the "Lord, fo walk in him," Col. ii. 6. Live as you believe; you received Chrift fincerely in your first close with him, O mainin the like seriousnefs and fincerity in all your ways, to the end of your lives: you received him intirely and undividedly at first, let there be no exceptions against any of his commands afterward. You received him exclufively to all others, see that you watch against all felf-righteoufnefs, and felf-conceitedness now, and mingle nothing of your own with his blood, whatever gifts or enlargements in duty God fhall give you afterwards.
You received him advifedly at first, weighing and confidering the felf-denying terms upon which he was offered to you; hew that it was real, and that you fee no cause to repent the bargain, whatever you shall meet with in the ways of Christ, and duty afterwards: convince the world of your conftancy and chearfulness in all your fufferings for Chrift, that you are still of the fame mind you were, and that Chrift, with his cross, Chrift, with a prifon, Chrift, with the greatest afflictions, is worthy of all acceptation: "As ye have received him, fo walk ye "in him." Let him be as fweet, as lovely, as precious to you now, as he was the first moment you received him; yea, let your love to him, delights in him, and felf-denial for him, increase with your acquaintance with him, day by day. Ufe of direction.
Ufe. Laftly, I will clofe all with a few words of directions to all that are made willing to receive the Lord Jefus Chrift; and fore it is but need that help were given to poor Christians; in this matter, it is a time of trouble, fear, and great temptation & millakes are easily made, and of dangerous confequence; attend heedfully, therefore, to a few directions.
Direction 1. Firft, In your receiving Chrift, beware you do not miftake the means, for the end. Many do fo, but fee you do not. Prayer, fermons, reformations, are means to bring you to Christ, but they are not Chrift; to close with thofe duties is one thing, and to clofe with Chrift is another thing. If I go into a boat, my defign is not to dwell there, but to be carried to the place Whereon I defire to be landed: fo it must be in this cafe, all your duties muft land you upon Chrift; they are means to bring you to Chrift.
Direct. 2. Secondly, See that you receive not Christ for a preJent help, but for your everlafting portion. Many do fo; they will enquire after Chrift, pray for Christ, caft themselves (in