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souls that have hope; and their hope is indeed in Christ, and the grace of God manifested in him. But then they feel in their hearts an encouragement to apply to him, whereas I dare not do it. Christ and grace are things, in which, I fear, I have no part, and must expect none. There are exceeding rich and precious promises in the word of God; but they are to me as a sealed book, and are hid from me as to any personal use. I know, Christ is able to save: I know he is willing to save some. But that he should be willing to save me, such a polluted, such a provoking creature, as God knows, and as conscience knows, I have been and to this day am; this I know not how to believe: and the utmost that I can do towards believing it. is to acknowledge that it is not absolutely impossible, and that I do not yet lie down in complete despair; though alas, I seem upon the very borders of it; and expect every day and hour to fall into it."
§. 4. I should not perhaps have entered so fully into this ease, if I had not seen many in it; and I will add, reader, for your encouragement, if it be your case, several who are now iw the number of the most established, cheerful, and useful christians. And I hope divine grace will add you to the rest, if out of these depths, you be enabled to cry unto God*; and though, like Jonah, you may seem to be cast out from his presence, yet still, with Jonah, look towards his holy templef.
§. 5. Letitnotbe imagined, that it is from any neglect of that blessed Spirit, whose office it is to be the great comforter, that I now attempt to reason you out of this disconsolate frame; for it is as the great source of reason, that he deals with rational creatures; and it is in the use of rational means and considerations, that he may most justly be expected to operate. Give me leave, therefore, to address myself calmly to vou, and to ask you, what reason you have for all these passionate complaints and accusations against yourself? What reason have you to suggest, that your case is singular, when so many have told you, they have felt the same? What reason have you to conclude so hardly against vourself, when the gospel speaks in such favourable terms? Or what reason to imagine, that the gracious things it says are not intended for you? You know indeed more of the corruptions of your own heart, than vou know of the hearts of others; and vou make a thousand charitable excuses for their visible failings and infirmities, which vou make not for your own. And it may be, some of those, whom you admire as eminent saints when compared with you, are ori their part humbling themselves in the dust, as unworthy to be numbered amongst the least of God's people, and wishing themselves like you, in whom they think they see much more good, and much less of evil, than in themselves. § 6. But to suppose the worst, what if you were really the vilest sinner that ever lived upon the face of the earth? What if your iniquities had gone up unto the heavens every day, and your transgressions had reached unto the clouds*; reached thither with such horrid aggravations, that earth and heaven should have had reason to detest you, as a monster of impiety Admitting all this, is any thing too hard for the Lord+ 2 Are any sins of which a sinner can repent, of so deep a dye, that the blood of Christ cannot wash them away Nay, though it would be daring wickedness and monstrous folly, for any to sin that grace may aboundt, yet had you indeed raised your account beyond all that divine grace has ever yet pardoned, who should limit the Holy One of Israel] 2 or who should pretend to say, that it was impossible that God might for your very wretchedness chuse you out from others, to make "you a monument of mercy, and a trophy of hitherto unparelleled grace The apostle Paul strongly intimates this to have been the case, with regard to himself: and why might not you likewise, if indeed the chief of sinners, obtain mercy, that in you, as the chief, Jesus Christ might shew forth all long-suffering, Jor a pattern to them who shall hereafter believeš. §. 7. Gloomy as your apprehensions are, I would ask you plainly, do you in your conscience think, that Christ is notable to save you ? What! is he not able to save even to the uttermost, them that come unto God by him" 2 Yes, you will say, abundantly able to do it; but I dare not imagine that he will do it. And how do you know that he will not He has helped the very greatest sinners of all that have yet applied themselves to him; and he has made the offers of grace and salvation in the most engaging and encouraging terms. If any man thirst, let him come unto me and drink” : Let him that is athrist, come ; and whosoever will, let him take of the water of life freelytt : Come unto me all ye that labour, and are heavy taden, and I will give you rests f : and once more, him that
• Psal.cxxx. 1. f Jonsih ii. 4.
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* Rev. xviii. 5. + Gen. xviii. 14. t Rom. vi. 1. | Psal. lxxviii. 41. § 1 Tim. i. 15, 16. • Heb. vii. 25. ** John vii. 37. ++ Rev. xxii. 17. if Mat. xi. 28.
cometh unto me, I will in no wise cast out". True, you will say, none that are given him by the Father: could I know I were of that number, I could then apply cheerfully to him. But, dear reader, let me intreat you to look into the text itself, and see whether that limitation be expressly added there. Do you there read, none of them whom the Father hath given me, shall be cast out? The words are in a much more encouraging form ; and why should you frustrate his wisdom and goodness, by such an addition of your own Add not to his words, lest he reprove theet: take them as they stand, and drink in the consolation of them. Our Lord knew into what perplexity some serious minds might possibly be thrown by what he had before been saying, all that the Father hath given me shall come unto me; and therefore, as it were on purpose to balance it, he adds those gracious words, him that cometh unto me, I will in no wise, by no means, on no consideration whatsoever, cast out. §. 8. If therefore you are already discouraged and terrified at the greatness of your sins, do not add to their weight and number that one greater and worse than all the rest, a distrust of the faithfulness and grace of the blessed Redeemer. Do not, so far as in you lies, oppose all the purposes of his love to you. O distressed soul, whom dost thou dread To whom dost thou trenible to approach Is there any thing so terrible in a crucified Redeemer, in the Lamb that was slain * If thou carriest thy soul, almost sinking under the burden of its guilt, to lay it down at his feet, what dost thou offer him, but the spoil which he bled and died to recover and possess 2 And did he purchase it so dearly, that he might reject it with disdain : Go to him directly, and fall down in his presence, and plead that misery of thine, which thou hast now been pleading in a contrary view, as an engagement to your own soul to make the application, and as an argument with a compassionate Saviour to receive you. Go and be assured, that where sin hath abounded, there grace shall much more aboundt. Be assured, that if one sinner can promise himself a more certain welcome than another, it is not he that is least guilty and miserable, but he that is most deeply humbled before God, under a sense of that misery and guilt, and lies the lowest in the apprehension of it.
* John vi, 37. + Prov. xxx. 6. f Rom, v. 20.
Reflections on these Encouragements, ending in an humble and earnest Application to Christ for mercy.
“O MY soul, what sayest thou to these things Is there not at least a possibility of help from Christ? And is there a Possibility of help any other way Is any other name given under heaven, whereby we can be saved” I know, there is none, I must then say, like the lepers of Israel +, if I sit here, I perish; and if I make my application in vain, I can but die. But peradventure, he may save my soul alive. I will therefore arise, and go unto him; or rather, believing him here, by his spiritual presence, sinful and miserable as I am, I will this moment fall down on my face before him, and pour out my soul unto him
“Blessed Jesus, I present myself unto thee, as a wretched creature, driven indeed by necessity, to do it. For surely were not that necessity urgent and absolute, I should not dare for very shame to appear in thine holy and majestic presence. I am fully convinced, that my sins and my folly have been inexcusably great; more than I can express, more than I can conceive. I feel a source of sin, in my corrupt and degenerate nature, which pours out iniquity, as a fountain sends out its water, and makes me a burden and a terror to myself. Such aggravations have attended my transgressions, that it looks like presumption, so much as to ask pardon for them. And yet, would it not be greater presumption to say, that they exceed thy mercy, and the efficacy of thy blood ; to say, that thou hast power and grace enough to pardon and save only sinners of a lower order, while such as I lie out of thy reach Preserve me from that blasphemous imagination | Preserve me from that unreasonable suspicion' Lord, thou canst do all things, neither 7s there any thought of mine heart withholden from theef. Thou art indeed, as thy word declares, able to save unto the uttermost S. And therefore, breaking through all the oppositions of shame and fear, that would keep me from thee, I come and lie down as in the dust before thee. Thou knowest, O Lord, all my sins, and all my follies|. I cannot, and I hope, I may say, I would not, disguise them before thee, or set myself to find out plausible excuses. Accuse me, Lord, as thou pleasest: and I will ingenuously plead guilty to all thine accusations. I will own myself as great a sinner, as thou callest me : but I am still a sinner, that comes unto thee for pardon.
If I must die, it shall be submitting, and owning the justice of the fatal stroke. If I perish, it shall be laying hold, as it were, on the horns of the altar; laying myself down at thy footstool, though I have been such a rebel against thy throne. Many have received a full pardon there; have met with favour even beyond their hopes. And are all thy compassions, O blessed Jesus, exhausted And wilt thou now begin to reject an humble creature, who flies to thee for life, and pleads nothing but mercy and free grace Have mercy upon me, O most gracious Redeemer, have mercy upon me, and let my life be precious in thy sight*! Oh do not resolve to send me down to that state of final misery and despair, from which it was thy gracious purpose to deliver and save so many Spurn me not away, O Lord, from thy presence, nor be offended when I presume to lay hold on thy royal robe, and say that I cannot and will not let thee go, till my suit is granted f! Oh remember, that all my hopes of obtaining eternal happiness, and avoiding everlasting, helpless, hopeless destruction, are anchored upon thee; they hang upon thy smiles, or drop at thy frown. Oh have mercy upon me, for the sake of this immortal soul of mine ! Or if not for the sake of mine alone, for the sake of many others, who may, on the one hand, be encouraged by thy mercy to me, or on the other, may be greatly wounded and discouraged by my helpless despair I beseech thee, O Lord, for thine own sake, and for the display of thy Father's rich and sovereign grace I beseech thee, by the blood thou didst shed on the cross I beseech thee by the covenant of grace and peace, into which the Father did enter with thee for the salvation of believing and repenting sinners, save me ! save me, O Lord, who earnestly desire to repent and believe I am indeed a sinner, in whose final and everlasting destruction thy justice might be greatly glorified: But Oh! if thou wilt pardon me, it will be a monument raised to the honour of thy grace, and the efficacy of thy blood, in proportion to the degree in which the wretch, to whom thy mercy is extended, was mean and miserable without it. Speak, Lord, by thy blessed spirit, and banish my fears' Look unto me with love and grace in thy countenance, and say to me, as in the days of thy flesh thou didst to many an humble suppliant, thy sins are forgiven thee, go in peace"
* 2 Kings i. 14. + Gen. xxxii. 26.