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dungeon, to the presence of God as his Father, to a liberty of
* John iv. 14. † Heb. iii. 3. Numb. xvi. 47, 48. § Is. Ixii. 3. || Heb. xi. 16.
against the Lord; and they were chastened there, and oppressed by one enemy after another; till, at length, the whole nation of them was dispossessed of it, and fell by the sword, or were carried into captivity. But it is the glory of Jesus, our great deliverer, to perfect his work; conducting his people to a world of everlasting security, from which they can never be expelled, and in which they shall never be molested.-Let then the rod of Moses, and the censer of Aaron, and the sword of Joshua, and the sceptre of David, bow to the superior glories of the cross of Christ, and be laid down in humble reverence at the footstool of his throne. And let our souls adore Jesus the almighty Saviour, and be daily more solicitous to secure an interest in that salvation, which he has introduced. Which leads me to add,
2. How important is it, that we all seriously enquire after this mighty Saviour!
You have all frequently heard of him. Let conscience say, whether you have diligently enquired into the credentials he brings, into the offer he makes, into your own concern in such proposals as these? I fear, many of you are conscious to yourselves, that you have neglected this great salvation. Unhappy creatures, how will you escape, if you persist in such a neglect! Yet still, my friends, after all that is past, there will, if God continue our lives a few sabbaths longer, be another opportunity of reviewing these things at large. I am more fully to lay before you the proof that Christ Is able to save to the uttermost. the efficacy of his intercession for this blessed purpose, and the character of those who may expect this salvation from him. Let me bespeak the serious attention of all, and particularly of the younger part of my auditors. Let passion, and business, and every worldly vanity be silent; and let every one That hath an ear, hear what the Spirit is still saying to the churches*, what it is the very life of sinners to know, the duty of every faithful minister often to repeat, and the wisdom of the most established saints often to recollect.
Rev. iii. 22.
POWER AND GRACE OF CHRIST.
Proofs of his Ability to Save.
Heb. vii. 25.-Wherefore he is able also to save them to the uttermost, that come unto God by him, seeing he ever liveth to make Intercession for them.
HOUGH the nature of man be sadly degenerated, and we are Alienated from the life of God through the ignorance that is in us*; yet there are some remainders of human and social affection, which seem so wrought into the constitution of our soul, as to be as inseparable from us as our being. From hence the mind feels itself delighted with the survey of benevolent actions, no less necessarily, than the eye with the prospect, or the ear with the most harmonious music. Nor can it be merely a regard to our own interest, which adds a relish to such ac. counts; for we delight to hear them, though the scene be laid in the most distant age or country. Nay, fictions of this kind have a secret charm, which it is not easy to resist, and the pleasure is real, where we know the occasion of it to be only imaginary. But sure it may be said with the utmost propriety, that as Eye hath not seen, nor ear, by credible report, heard, so neither hath it entered into the heart of man to conceive+ any other display of benevolence and goodness, even comparable to that which the gospel presents. All the celebrated exploits of real, or fictitious heroes, are not worth the mention, when compared with those of the great Captain of our Salvation. Were we to contemplate it merely in idea, and to set aside all the evidences of it, and all the remembrance of our own concern in it; yet even then how delightful would the contemplation be! Behold the Son of God, a person to whom the mightiest potentate on earth, the most exalted angel in heaven is but as a worm, divesting himself of celestial glory, putting on him the form of a wretched mortal, and submitting to death in the most horrible shape! For what? to free some single nation from civil bondage? To
humble some proud tyrant of the earth? to restore an oppressed people to liberty and peace? or to form uncultivated savages to discipline, arts, and social life? These are great things for a man to do; these may render the name of a prince immortal; but the Lord of glory descends for nobler purposes; to conquer and destroy the tyrant of hell, to rescue from his cruel servitude an innumerable Multitude of all nations, and people, and kindreds, and tongues*; to form their groveling and degenerate minds to the most useful knowledge, to the noblest sentiments, and the most exalted pleasures; to bring them to the glorious liberty, and inestimable privileges of the children of God; and, finally, to fix them for ever in a state of honour and happiness, from whence they might look down with superior contempt on whatever earth can afford, most grateful to our senses, most amusing to our imaginations, most transporting to our passions.
I have already told you, that all this, and much more than this, is comprehended in the phrase of Christ's being able to save to the uttermost. But is all this only a pleasing dream, an agreeable amusement of thought? Is it only what our fancy may paint, and our hearts might wish? Is it a conjecture built on dark probabilities, or precarious reports? No; through the divine goodness we can say, that the proofs of this salvation are as convincing, as its design is amiable, and its blessings important. We proceed therefore,
Secondly, To prove the truth we have explained; or to shew you how evident it is, that the Lord Jesus Christ is able thus to save to the uttermost, and to complete the salvation of every believer, in every succeeding age of the church and world.
This is an evangelical mystery, which the deepest reach of human reason would not have been able to discover; and which when discovered, in this corrupt state, it is too unwilling to receive. Should I take the proof in its utmost extent, it would be necessary to divide it into two grand branches ;-first, to shew that the gospel revelation is true; and then,—that admitting its truth, the almighty power of Christ to save follows, by a most easy and necessary consequence.
The former of these is so extensive a subject, that I shall chuse to handle it apart+:-And to insist at present, on the latter, I hope it will not be thought an unreasonable thing, when addressing an auditory of professed christians, now to
• Rev. vii. 9.
+ Sermon viii, ix, x.
take it for granted, that the gospel is divine. Allowing it to be so, it will indeed be an easy thing to prove the ability of Christ to save. And did I aim at nothing but abstract argument, the proof might be unanswerably dispatched in a very few words; for as the whole tenor of the gospel supposes it; so a multitude of scriptures directly assert it, and indeed the very words of the text may alone serve most firmly to establish it. But, my brethren, I cannot be contented with your cold and lifeless assent, to so vital, and so important a doctrine. I would prove it, not merely to your understandings, but your consciences. To affect these, various topics of argument are suggested in the word of truth. I will now endeavour to trace them. O that they might be attended with such demonstration of the Spirit, that every trembling awakened sinner may be encouraged to venture his soul on this almighty Saviour; and that every christian may be quickened to a more delightful acquiescence in him and being strong in faith, may give more abundant glory to God through Christ!
I would argue then, that our Lord Jesus Christ will evidently appear thus able to save, if we consider,--that he was commissioned by the Father for this great work ;—that he appears, in his person and character, eminently fitted for it ;— that he has done and borne all that we can imagine necessary to effect it ;-that he has been approved by the Father, as having completely answered this glorious design;-that, in consequence of all, he has made such overtures and promises, as imply a full power of accomplishing it; and that, as a convincing specimen of this power, he has already begun, and carried on the salvation of a multitude of souls, whose experience confirms this comfortable truth.
If these particulars be duly considered in their connection with each other, I am persuaded nothing more will be necessary to prove, that Christ is able to save to the uttermost; nor could we so much as wish for clearer evidence of it, though it be the great basis of our eternal hopes: Yet, because it is so, I hope you will pardon my indulging, what might otherwise seem a redundancy of proof.
1. The Lord Jesus Christ was "appointed by God to the work of a Saviour," and therefore is able to perform it to the uttermost.
We are sure, that the witness of God is according to truth*; and this is his testimony, That he hath given to us eternal life,