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entrance. Or if the gates were always open, yet some crimes excluded men thence. Numb. xxxv. 24. It is not so here. Acts xiii. 38, 39.
This is the voice of God even the Father ;. Come,' saith he, ‘to the marriage, for all things are prepared,' no fear of want of entertainment, Matt. xxii. 4. Whence the preachers of the gospel are said in his stead to beseech men to be reconciled, 2 Cor. v. 18. And
It is the voice of the Son;Whosoever,' saith he, cometh to God by me, I will in no wise cast out;' John vi. 37. Whoever he be that comes shall assuredly find entertainment; the same is his call and invitation in other places, as Matt. xi. 28. John vii. 37. And
This is the voice of the Spirit, and of the church, and of all believers. Rev. xxii. 17. · The Spirit and the bride say, Come. And let him that heareth say, come. And let him that is athirst come. And whosoever will, let him take of the water of life freely. All centre in this, that sinners may come freely to the grace of the gospel. And
It is the known voice of the gospel itself, as Isa. lv. 13. Prov, ix. 1-5. And it is the voice of all the saints in heaven and earth, who have been made partakers of forgiveness; they all testify, that they received it freely.
Some indeed endeavour to abuse this concurrent testimony of God and man. What is spoken of the freedom of the
grace of God, they would wrest to the power of the will of man: but the riches and freedom of God's mercy do not in the least interfere with the efficacy of his grace. Though he proclaim pardon in the blood of Christ indefinitely, according to the fulness and excellency of it, yet he giveth out his quickening grace to enable men to receive it, as he pleaseth, for he hath mercy on whom he will have mercy: but this lies in the thing itself, the way is opened and prepared, and it is not because men cannot enter, but because they will not, that they do not enter. As our Saviour Christ tells the Pharisees, Ye therefore hear not God's word, because ye are not of God;' John viii. 47. vi. 44. So he doth, · Ye will not come unto me that ye might have life ;' John v. 40. In the neglect and inadvertency of the most excusable, there is a positive act of their will put forth in the refusing of Christ and grace by him. And this is done by men under
the preaching of the gospel every day. There is nothing that at the last day will tend more immediately to the advancement of the glory of God, in the inexcusableness of them who obey not the gospel, than this, that terms of peace in the blessed way of forgiveness were freely tendered unto them. Some that hear or read this word, may perhaps have lived long under the dispensation of the word of grace, and yet it may be have never once seriously pondered on this way of coming to God by forgiveness through the blood of Christ; but think, that going to heaven is a thing of course, that men need not much trouble themselves about; do they know what they have done ? hitherto all their days they have positively refused the salvation, that hath been freely tendered unto them in Jesus Christ. Not they, they will say, they never had such a thought, nor would for all this world. But be it known unto you, inasmuch as you have not effectually received him, you have refused him, and whether your day and season be past or no, the Lord only knows.
5. This way is safe. No soul ever miscarried in it. There is none in heaven but will say it is a safe way; there is none in hell can say otherwise. It is safe to all that venture on it, so as to enter into it. In the old way we were to preserve ourselves and the way. This preserves itself and us; this will be made evident by the ensuing considerations.
1. This is the way which in the wisdom, care, and love of God in Christ, was provided in the room of another, removed and taken out of the way for this cause and reason,
because it was not safe, nor could bring us unto God: Heb. viii. 7, 8. • For if the first covenant had been faultless, then should no place have been sought for the second. But finding fault with them, he saith.' And,
1. He tells us, that the first covenant was not faultless, for if it had, there would have been no need of a second. The commandment indeed, which was the matter of that covenant, the same apostle informs us to be ' holy, just, and good;' Rom. vii. 12. But this was faulty as to all ends of a covenant, considering our state and condition as sinners; it could not bring us unto God. So he acquaints us, Rom. viii. 3.
It was made weak through the flesh;' that is, by the entrance of sin, and so became unuseful as to the saving of souls. Be it so then; through our sin and default this good
and holy law, this covenant was made unprofitable unto us; but what was that unto God? was he bound to desert his own institution and appointment, because through our own default it ceased to be profitable unto us? Not at all; he might righteously have tied us all unto the terms of that covenant, to stand or fall by them unto eternity. But he would not do so. But
2. In his love and grace, he finds fault with it,' ver. 8. not in itself and absolutely, but only so far as that he would provide another way, which should supply all its defects and wants in reference to the end aimed at. What
that is, the apostle declares in the following verses to the end of that chapter. The sum is, ver. 12. • I will be merciful to their unrighteousness, and their sins and their iniquities will I remember no more.' It is the way of pardon and forgiveness. This is substituted in the room of that insufficient
that was removed.
Let us consider then, whether the infinitely wise and holy God, pursuing his purpose of bringing souls unto himself, laying aside one way of his own appointment as useless and infirm, because of the coming in of sin, against which there was no relief found in it, and substituting another way in the room of it; would not provide such a one, as should be absolutely free from the faults and inconveniencies which he charged upon that, which he did remove. That which alone rendered the former way faulty was sin; it could do any thing but save a sinner; this then was to be, and is, principally provided against in this way of forgiveness. And we see here, how clearly God hath severed, yea, and in this matter, opposed, these two things ; 1. Namely, the way of personal righteousness, and the way of forgiveness. He finds fault with the first; what then doth he do? what course doth he take? doth he mend it, take from it what seems to be redundant, mitigate its severity, and supply it where it was wanting, by forgiveness, and so set it up anew? This indeed is the way that many proceed in in their notions, and the most in their practice. But this is not the way of God. He takes the one utterly away, and establishes the other in its place. And men's endeavours to mix them will be found of little use to them at the last. I can have no great expectation from that which God pronounced faulty.
2. The unchangeable principles and foundations that this way is built upon, render it secure and safe for sinners; for,
1. It is founded on the purpose of God, Gal. iii. 8. “The Scripture foreseeing that God would justify the heathen through faith. God would do so, he had purposed and determined to proceed this way; and all the purposes of God are attended with immutability. And
2. His promise also is engaged in it, and that given out in the way of a covenant, as hath been already declared. And
3. This promise is confirmed by an oath; and it may be observed, that God doth not in any thing interpose with an oath, but what relates to this way of coming to himself by forgiveness. For the oath of God, wherever it is used, respecteth either Christ typically, or personally, or the covenant established in him. For,
4. This way is confirmed and ratified in his blood; from whence the apostle at large evinceth its absolute security and safety, Heb. ix. Whatever soul, on the invitation under consideration, shall give up himself to come to God, by the way proposed; he shall assuredly find absolute peace, and security in it. Neither our own weakness or folly from within, nor the opposition of any of all our enemies from without, shall be able to turn us out of this way. See Isa. XXXV. 4-10.
In the other way, every individual person stands upon his own bottom, and must do so, to the last, and utmost of his continuance in this world. You are desirous to go unto God, to obtain his favour, and come to an enjoyment of him. What will you do? what course will you
for the obtaining of these ends ? if you were so holy, so perfect, so righteous, so free from sin as you could desire, you should have some boldness in going unto God; why if this be
fix upon, take this along with you: you stand upon your own personal account all your days. And if you fail in the least you are gone for ever. •For whosoever shall keep the whole law, and yet offend in one point, he is guilty of all;' James ii. 10. And what peace can you possibly obtain, were you as holy as ever you aimed or desired to be, whilst this is your condition? But in this way of forgiveness we all shall stand upon the account of one common Media
the way you
tor in whom we are complete; Col.iii. 10. And a want of a due improvement of this truth, is a great principle of disconsolation to many souls. Suppose a man look upon himself as doosed from the covenant of works, wherein exact and perfect righteousness is rigidly required ; and to be called unto gospel, evangelical obedience to be performed in the room thereof, in sincerity and integrity; yet if he be not cleared in this also, that he stands not in this way purely on his own account, he will never be able to make his comforts hold out to the end of his journey. There will be found in the best of men so many particular failings, as will seem in difficult seasons to impeach their integrity; and so many questionings will after arise, through the darkness of their minds, and power of their temptations, as will give but little rest unto their souls. Here lies the great security of this way; we abide in it on the account of the faithfulness and ability of our common Mediator Jesus Christ.
And this is another consideration, strengthening our invitation to a closure with the way of coming unto God, under proposal. There is nothing wanting that is needful to give infallible security to any soul that shall venture himself into it and upon it. There are terms of peace proposed as you have heard. These terms are excellent and holy, and chosen of God, tending to the interest of his glory, free, safe and secure unto sinners. What hath any soul in the world to object against them? or wherein do men repose their trust and confidence in the neglect of this so great salvation? Is it in their lusts, and sins, that they will yield them as much satisfaction and contentment as they shall need to desire ? Alas! they will ruin them, and bring forth nothing but death. Is it in the world ? It will deceive them; the figure of it passeth away. Is it in their duties, and righteousne ? They will not relieve them; for did they follow the law of righteousness, they could not obtain the righteousness of the law. Is it in the continuance of their lives? Alas! it is but a shadow, 'a vapour that appeareth for a little while.' Is it in a future amendment and repentance? Hell is full of souls perishing under such resolutions. Only this way of pardon remains, and yet of all others is most despised. But yet I have one consideration more to add before I farther en. force the exhortation.