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Head stone of the corner. Oh! that I were but as sure of an interest in thee, as I might be of finding my security and my happiness in it!"
3. It farther implies, "Cheerful confidence in the "Grace of Christ," as well as a persuasion of his saving power.
Without this, he would appear the object of terror, rather than of hope; or in the mildest view, but as a spring shut up, and a fountain sealed, to a traveller languishing, and dying with thirst: But faith teaches the christian firmly to rely on that kind and gracious invitation, If any man thirst, let him come unto me and drink*. "Yes," says the believer, "it is indeed so. The compassions of his heart are proportionable to the power of his hand; and I will cast my soul upon them. Blessed Jesus, I would throw myself at thy feet, though it were a supposeable case that I might perish there, and but an uncertain peradventure, that thou mightest pity and save me; for if thou shouldest not, I could but die; and I had rather die an humble penitent, than an obstinate rebel: But forgive that unworthy thought, that thou shouldest leave an humble penitent to die before thee! Neither thy grace, nor thy truth, will permit it. Him that cometh to thee, thou wilt in no wise cast out+: And though I am a poor, weak, worthless creature, thou camest Not to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance‡; and thou callest them in so compassionate a manner, as to engage that thou wilt Not break the bruised reed, nor quench even the smoaking flax§. Let Christ be true, whoever is a liar." Thus do his doubts gradually disperse; thus does he rise to a joy and peace in believing. But it is always to be remembered,
4. That coming to God by Christ includes, "a cordial approbation, and acceptance of the methods of his saving grace."
This is of the highest importance, if we would not deceive ourselves to our eternal ruin. Men may dress up an idol in their own minds, and call it by the name of Christ; and they may be as fond of it, as pagans are of the works of their own hands; But can this save them, if it be found that the true Christ, as exhibited in the gospel, has been overlooked and rejected by them? A true believer impartially enquires after the way in which salvation is proposed in the word of God; and when he has discovered it, he entirely approves it, as a faithful saying,
† John vi. 37.
Mat. ix. 13. § Mat. xii. 20,
John vii. 37.
worthy of God to appoint, and most fit for him to accept. More particularly he views it, and acquiesces in it, as the way of faith, and the way of holiness. Each of these views of it will deserve our farther attention.
The good man heartily desires to receive the gospel-salvation, in "the way of faith, or humble believing."
It is thus the word of God always exhibits it: The just shall live by faith; nor Shall any flesh glory in his presence+. And so entirely is every high thought reduced to the obedience of this blessed principle, in the heart of him that comes to God by Christ, that he is willing to do, what, to so corrupt a nature, as ours, seems most expensive, to Buy wine and milk without money and without price; willing to part with the very dearest of his idols, to renounce all dependance on himself, as to what is past, or what is yet to come; to trust no more in his own righteousness, or his own strength; and to say with the most joyful consent of soul, In the Lord have I both righteousness and strength§. "Blessed Jesus, it is hard to my proud heart "to say it; but it is therefore so much the more reasonable and necessary: For this cursed dependance on self has spoiled the best of my duties, and would betray me to guilt and ruin in many future instances, shouldest thou forsake me. How imperfect and sinful are my best days, and my holiest hours! How feeble and ineffectual my most vigorous and solemn resolutions, against so much inward corruption, and so many outward enemies and temptations! Lord, I am distressed, but I hope, thou hast undertaken for me. I hope, I may look on thee as my great surety and covenant-head, who didst, before the foundation of the world, engage to satisfy for my breaches of thy Father's law, to work out for me a perfect righteousness, and by thy always victorious power and grace, to conduct me to glory in the midst of all opposition. Eternal life is the gift of God, through Jesus Christ our Lord¶¶; from his hand would I most thankfully receive this crown, and at his feet would I humbly lay it !" On the other hand,
It is to be remembered, That as Christ saves his people, "in the way of holiness," the true believer most cordially falls in with this part of the scheme.
Indeed he could not otherwise be a believer in the gospel
Rom. i. 17.
† 1 Cor. i. 29.
Isa, Iv. 1.
§ Isa. xlv. 24.
sense of the word; for saving faith is a principle of holy obedience; and a Faith without works is expressly declared to be dead, as the body is dead when without the spirit*. The christian well knows, that it was the great design of his Lord's appearance and sufferings in the flesh, that he Might bring us to Godt, that he might Save his people from their sins‡, and purify them to himself, as a peculiar people, zealous of good works §. And how reasonable is this part of the scheme! "Could I," says he, "have desired, that it should have been otherwise! that the holy Jesus should have been the minister of sin? that he, whose great business it was to honour the law of God, should have dissolved our obligations to it, and have given a licence to his followers to continue the Servants of corruption, even while they call him their Lord? Or could I ask it, or even so much as wish it, that he should distinguish me from others, by a dispensation of that kind? Unreasonable and detestable thought! Lord, I desire not, I understand not a salvation, of which holiness shall not be an essential part. And though I well know, that many precepts of thy gospel are sublime, and difficult; and that they may be justly represented, by Cutting off a right hand, and plucking out a right eye¶; yet through thy grace I can say, I esteem all thy precepts concerning all things to be right, and I hate every false way**. Blessed Jesus, thou art more welcome to my soul, as Made of God unto me, sanctification, as well as Righteousness and redemption++. Give me thy spirit to lead me, and I will follow with pleasure; draw me, and I will run after thee in the way which thou thyself hast traced; for thou who knowest all things, knowest that it is the desire of my soul, to be conformed to thee in holiness now, as well as in glory hereafter." I shall only add,
5. Coming to God by Christ does farther express, "a continual care to maintain a proper regard to him, in the whole course of our walking with God."
He is not considered, only as a Mediator to introduce us at first into the divine presence, and so to settle a correspondence, to be carried on afterwards without any farther use of him; but as that blessed and important person, Through whom we have continually access by one spirit unto the Father. "Lord," does the christian often say, not merely as a language learned
* Jam. ii. 26.
§ Tit. ii. 14.
** Psal, exix. 128.
+1 Pet. iii. 18.
2 Pet. ii. 19. tt 1 Cor, i. 30.
+ Mat. i. 21.
¶ Mat. v. 29, 30.
++ Ephes. ii. 18.
from others, but as expressive of what he feels in his own soul, "thou art indeed my life. How should the branches grow, but by sap derived from the root? How should the members act, but by influences communicated from the head? Teach me by thy grace to say with thine holy apostle, I live, yet not I, but Christ liveth in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh, I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me*. And may I ever be found in the number of those, who, regarding thee, as the living stone, are by union with thee, As lively stones, builded up together for an habitation of God through the spirit +! Thus let me pass through The wilderness of life, leaning on thee as the beloved of my soul‡; and when I have finishe my pilgrimage, may I lay down my weary head, in thy gentle faithful bosom, dying as I have lived, in the exercise of faith, and commending My spirit into thine hands!" This is the character of those who come unto God by Christ; and in these respects may they say, with the beloved disciple, Truly our fellowship is with the Father, and with his Son Jesus Christs.
I shall not enter on a laboured argument to prove that these particulars are comprehended in the words which the text uses, to describe those who are interested in the gospel salvation. It is a formality, which may well be spared, to those who consider the natural import of the phrase, and the general tenor of the word of God; and the scriptures which I have introduced under each head, will easily furnish out matter of proof, to those who are capable of judging of a more abstruse kind of argument than I here think it proper to enter upon.
I should rather chuse to dilate on the practical improve→ ments, which might naturally arise from this branch of my discourse; and address myself to you in such exhortations as these: -Let us adore the divine goodness, that such a salvation is offered to us, in so reasonable, so easy, and so gracious a way:Let us examine by the hints which have now been proposed, whether we are in the number of those who are interested in it:Let those who are convinced that they are not, be persuaded seriously to reflect on their present circumstances:-Let those who are alarmed with a sense of their present danger, be persuaded, in the strength of divine grace, to come unto God through Christ:Let those who are sincerely desirous to do it, be encouraged to pursue so wise and necessary a purpose: And let those who have been enabled to comply with the ex
* Gal. ii. 20. + Pet. ii. 4, 6. Eph. ii. 22. ‡ Cant, viii. 5. § 1 Jolm, i. 5.
hortation, be excited to peculiar thankfulness, and established in a cheerful hope of that salvation, which they are taught to expect. But that I may not be under a necessity of dispatching these important heads in a few hasty words, or of swelling this discourse to an immoderate bulk, I chuse to refer them to another opportunity, when I shall conclude what I have to offer from the text; nor would it have employed us so long, had it not contained a variety of very weighty and instructive matter. In the mean time, may the hints I have now been giving you, be so recollected and considered, as to prepare your hearts for what is farther to be spoken!