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The Incarnation, According to Prophecy

The Incarnation, According to Prophecy

The Incarnation, According to Prophecy

IN every particular, the birth of Christ was the fulfillment of ancient prophecies. Isaiah had foretold the miraculous conception: “Behold, a virgin shall conceive, and bear a Son.” This expression is unparalleled even in Sacred Writ; of no other woman could it be said beside the Virgin Mary, and of no other man could it be written that his mother was a virgin. The Greek word and the Hebrew are both very expressive of the true and real virginity of the mother, to show us that Jesus Christ was born of woman, and not of man. Just as the woman, by her venturous spirit, stepped first into transgression,—lest she should be despised and trampled on, God in His wisdom devised that the woman, and the woman alone, should be the author of the body of the God-man who should redeem mankind. Albeit that she herself first tasted the accursed fruit, and tempted her husband, (it may be that Adam out of love to her tasted that fruit,) lest she should be degraded, lest she should not stand on an equality with him, God hath ordained that His Son should be sent forth “born of a woman,” and the first promise was that the seed of the woman, not the seed of the man, should bruise the serpent’s head.

Moreover, there was a peculiar wisdom ordaining that Jesus Christ should be the Son of the woman, and not of the man, because, had He been born of the flesh, “that which is born of the flesh is flesh,” and merely flesh, and He would naturally, by carnal generation, have inherited all the frailties and the sins and the infirmities which man hath from his birth; He would have been conceived in sin, and shapen in iniquity, even as the rest of us. Therefore He was not born of man; but the Holy Ghost overshadowed the Virgin Mary, and Christ stands as the only man, save one other, who came forth pure from His Maker’s hands, who could ever say, “I am pure.” Ay, and He could say far more than that other Adam could say concerning his purity, for He maintained His integrity, and never let it go; and from His birth down to His death He knew no sin, neither was guile found in His mouth.

Oh, marvelous sight! Let us stand and look at it. A child of a virgin, what a mixture! There is the finite and the Infinite, there is the mortal and the Immortal, corruption and Incorruption, the manhood and the Godhead, time married to eternity, God linked with a creature, the infinity of the august Maker come to tabernacle on this speck of earth; the vast unbounded One, whom earth could not hold, and the heavens cannot contain, lying in His mother’s arms; He who fastened the pillars of the universe, and riveted the nails of creation, hanging on a mortal breast, depending on a creature for nourishment. Oh, miraculous conception! Oh, marvelous birth! Verily, angels may wish to look into a subject too mysterious for us to comprehend.

Isaiah did not say, “A princess shall conceive, and bear a Son,” but a virgin. Her virginity was her highest honor. True, she was of royal lineage; she could reckon David and Solomon amongst her ancestors. Nor was she, in point of intellect, an inferior woman. I take it that she had great strength of mind, otherwise she could not have composed so sweet a piece of poetry as that which is called the Virgin’s Song, beginning, “My soul doth magnify the Lord.” She is not a person to be despised by Protestants. Because Roman Catholics pay too much respect to the Virgin Mary, and offer prayers to her, we are apt to speak of her in a slighting manner. She ought not to be placed under the ban of contempt, for she could truly sing, “From henceforth all generations shall call me blessed.” I suppose Protestant generations are amongst the “all generations” who ought to call her blessed. Her name is Mary, and quaint George Herbert wrote an anagram upon it,—

      “How well her name an ARMY doth present,

      In whom the Lord of hosts did pitch His tent.”

Though she was not a princess, yet her name, Mary, by interpretation, signifies a princess; and though she is not the queen of Heaven, yet she has a right to be reckoned amongst the queens of earth; and though she is not the lady of our Lord, she does walk amongst the renowned and mighty women of Scripture.

Yet Jesus Christ’s birth was a humble one. The Lord of glory was not born in a palace, but in a stable. Princes, Christ owes you nothing; He is not your debtor. He was not wrapped in purple, ye had not prepared a golden cradle for Him to be rocked in. And ye mighty cities, which then were great and famous, your marble halls were not blessed with His little footsteps! He came out of a village, poor and despised, even Bethlehem; when there, He was not born in the governor’s house or in the mansion of the chief man, but in a manger. Tradition tells us that His manger was cut in the solid rock; there was He laid, and the oxen likely enough came to feed from the self-same manger, the hay and the fodder of which formed His only bed. Oh! wondrous condescension, that our blessed Jesus should be girded with humility, and stoop so low!

But let us take courage from this fact. If Jesus Christ was born in a manger in a rock, why should He not come and live in our rocky hearts? If He was born in a stable, why should not the stable of our souls be made into a habitation for Him? If He was born in poverty, may not the poor in spirit expect that He will be their Friend? If He thus endured degradation at the first, will He count it any dishonor to come to the very poorest and humblest of His creatures, and tabernacle in the souls of His children? Oh, no! we can gather a lesson of comfort from His humble parentage, and we can rejoice that not a queen, or an empress, but that a humble woman became the mother of the Lord of glory.

Our Lord was so poor that His mother, when she had to redeem Him, could not bring a lamb, which was the sacrifice for all who could afford it, but she presented the poorer offering, a pair of turtle doves or two young pigeons, and so she came as a poor woman, and He was presented to the Lord as a poor woman’s Child. Herein lies rich comfort for lowly hearts. When I think of the Prince of glory and the Lord of angels stooping so low as this, that a poor woman bears Him in her arms, and calls Him her Babe, surely there must be salvation for the lowest, the poorest, and the most sunken. When the all-glorious Lord, in order to be incarnate, is born of a poor woman, and publicly acknowledged as a poor woman’s Child, we feel sure that He will receive the poorest and most despised when they seek His face. Yes, Jesus, the Son of the carpenter, means salvation to carpenters and all others of lowly rank.

Spurgeon, C. H. (2009). Christ’s Incarnation: The foundation of Christianity (pp. 111–115). Bellingham, WA: Logos Bible Software. (Public Domain)

 

 

The Incarnation, Also a Source of Joy

The Incarnation, Also a Source of Joy

The Incarnation, Also a Source of Joy

THOUGH the coming of Christ was the cause of trouble to the ungodly, it is, to us who are His own people, a wellspring of pure, unmingled joy. We associate with His crucifixion much of sorrowful regret, but we derive from His birth at Bethlehem nothing but delight. The angelic song was a fit accompaniment to the joyful event, and the filling of the whole earth with peace and good will is the appropriate consequence of the gracious condescension which made it an accomplished fact. The stars of Bethlehem cast no baleful light. We may sing, with undivided joy, “Unto us a Child is born, unto us a Son is given.”

When the Eternal stooped from Heaven, and assumed the nature of His own creature who had rebelled against Him, the deed could mean no harm to man. God in our nature is not God against us, but God with us. We may take up the young Child in our arms, and feel, with old Simeon, that we have seen the Lord’s salvation.

Christ’s Incarnation cannot mean destruction to men. I do not wonder that the men of the world celebrate the supposed anniversary of the great birthday as a high festival with carols and banquets. Knowing nothing of the spiritual meaning of the mystery, they yet perceive that it means man’s good, and so, in their own rough way, they respond to it. We, who observe no days which are not appointed of the Lord, rejoice continually in the advent of the Prince of peace, and find in our Lord’s manhood a fountain of consolation.

To those of us who are truly the people of God, the Incarnation is the subject of a thoughtful joy, which ever increases with our knowledge of its meaning, even as rivers are enlarged by many trickling brooks. The birth of Jesus not only brings us hope, but the certainty of good things. We do not merely speak of Christ’s coming into relation with our nature, but of His entering into union with ourselves, for He has become one flesh with us for purposes as great as His love. He is one with all of us who have believed in His Name.

If you have believed in Him, you ought to feel a joyful satisfaction in the assurance that Christ became Incarnate in order that He might enable us to enjoy the fullness of the privilege of adoption into the family of His Father, who says to all believers, “I will receive you, and will be a Father unto you, and ye shall be My sons and daughters, saith the Lord Almighty.” Well may we rejoice if He has spoken thus to us.

Spurgeon, C. H. (2009). Christ’s Incarnation: The foundation of Christianity (pp. 109–110). Bellingham, WA: Logos Bible Software. (Public Domain)

 

 

The Incarnation, The Cause of Trouble

The Incarnation, The Cause of Trouble

The Incarnation, The Cause of Trouble

WHEN Christ was born, many were troubled because of Him. Matthew says that “Herod was troubled, and all Jerusalem with him.” It is an unusual thing to hear of a king being troubled by a babe. Proud Herod, the fire-eater, troubled by a babe in swaddling-bands, lying in a manger? Ah, me! how little is the real greatness of wickedness, and how small a power of goodness may bring it grief!

When some people hear the Gospel, and find that it has power in it, they are troubled. Herod was troubled, because he feared that he should lose his throne; he thought that the house of David, in the person of the new-born Child, would take possession of his throne; so he trembled, and was troubled. How many there are still who think that, if religion be true, they will lose by it! Business will suffer. There are some businesses that ought to suffer; and as true godliness spreads, they will suffer. I need not indicate them; but those who are engaged in them usually feel that they had better cry out, “Great is Diana of the Ephesians,” for they get their living by making and selling her shrines; and if their shrines are in danger, and their craft is in danger, then they are troubled. I have known men, who have been ringleaders in sin, and they have thought that they should lose some of their followers through Christ’s coming; so they have been troubled.

But “all Jerusalem” was troubled with Herod. Why was that? It was most probably because the people thought there would be contention. If there was a new King born, there would be a fight between Him and Herod, and there would be trouble for Jerusalem. So there are some men who say, “Do not bring that religion here; it makes such contention. One believes this, and one believes that, and another believes nothing at all. We shall have trouble in the family if we get religion into it.” Yes, you will; that is acknowledged in the Scriptures, for our Lord came to bring fire on the earth. He has come, with a sword in His hand, on purpose to fight against everything that is evil; and there must, therefore, be contention. Hence I do not wonder that the lovers of ease are troubled.

Yet it is very sad that the Gospel, which is meant to be good news to men, should trouble them; that the heavenly offer of free grace should trouble them; that to have Heaven’s gate widely opened before them should trouble them; that to be asked to wash themselves or to be washed in the blood of Christ should trouble them. Troubled by infinite mercy! Troubled by almighty love! Yet such is the depravity of human nature that, to many who hear the Gospel every day, it is still nothing but a trouble to them.

Herod tried to get out of the trouble by playing the part of a hypocrite. “Yes,” he says to the wise men, “there is One who is born King of the Jews. Will you kindly tell me all about it? You say that you saw a star; when did it appear? Be very precise in your account of it. Did you take note of its movements? What time in the evening was it first visible? What day of the month did it appear?”

Herod is very particular in getting all the information that he can about the star; and now he sends for the doctors of divinity, and the scribes, and the priests, and he says to them, “When ought this Messiah, that you talk about, to be born, and where ought He to be born? Tell me.” Herod, you see, is a wonderful disciple, is he not? He is sitting at the feet of the doctors; he is willing to be instructed by the magi; and then he finishes up by saying to the wise men, “You go and worship the new-born King; you are quite right to have come all this distance to worship this Child. Be particular, too, to take notes as to where you find Him, and then come and tell me about Him, that I also may go and worship Him.”

So we always find that, where Christ is, there is a Herod or a Judas somewhere near. If the Gospel comes to any place, there is a certain number of persons who say, “Oh, yes, yes, yes, we shall attend that place!” I know a certain town where there is one true preacher of the Gospel, who has won many to Christ; but there are a great many who go there who know nothing at all about Christ. A certain number of people would think that all was wrong with them if they did not hear sound doctrine; but all the while they have made up their minds that sound doctrine shall never change their lives, and shall never affect their inward character. They are hypocrites, just as this man Herod was. They will not have Christ to reign over them. They do not mind hearing about Him; they do not mind acknowledging to a certain extent His rights; but they will not yield allegiance to Him, they will not practically submit to His rule, and become believers in Him, and followers of Him.

Spurgeon, C. H. (2009). Christ’s Incarnation: The foundation of Christianity (pp. 105–108). Bellingham, WA: Logos Bible Software. (Public Domain)

 

 

The Wise Men, What They Teach Us

The Wise Men, What They Teach Us

The Wise Men, What They Teach Us

THERE is much to be learned from the action of these wise men; so let us, in thought, follow them. They have come to the house where the young Child is. What will they do? Will they stand still, and look at the star? No; they enter in. The star still shines, but they are not afraid of losing its radiance, for they have come where they can behold the Sun of righteousness. They lift the latch, and enter the lowly residence of the Babe. They see the star no longer, and they have no need to see it, for there is “He that is born King of the Jews.” Now the true Light has shone upon them from the face of the Child; they behold the incarnate God.

How wise you will be if, when you have been led to the place where Christ is, by any man, you do not rest in his leadership, but resolve to see Christ for yourselves! How much I long that you may enter into the fellowship of the mystery, pass through the door, and come and behold the young Child, and bow before Him! Our sorrow is that so many are so unwise as to be content with seeing us. We are only their guides, but they are apt to make us their end. We point the way, but they do not follow the road; they stand gazing upon us. It was not so with the wise men. The star had done its work, and passed away; but Jesus remained, and they came unto Him.

These men proved that they were wise because, when they saw the Child, they worshiped Him. Theirs was not curiosity gratified, but devotion exercised. We, too, must worship the Savior, or we shall never be saved by Him. He has not come to put away our sins, and yet to leave us ungodly and self-willed. Oh, you who have never worshiped the Christ of God, may you be led to do so! He is God; therefore, adore Him.

Was God ever seen in such a worshipful form before? Behold, He bows the heavens; He rides upon the wings of the wind; He scatters flames of fire; He speaks, and His dread artillery shakes the hills. Who would not adore the great and terrible Jehovah? But is it not much better to behold Him here, allied to your nature, wrapped like other babes in swaddling-clothes, tender, feeble, next of kin to your own self? Will you not worship God when He thus comes down to you, and becomes your Brother, born for your salvation?

You cannot properly worship a Christ whom you do not know; but when you think of Jesus Christ, whose goings forth were of old, from everlasting, the eternally-begotten Son of the Father, and then see Him coming here to be a man of the substance of His mother, and know and understand why He came, and what He did when He came, then you fall down, and worship Him.

         “Son of God, to Thee we bow,

         Thou art Lord, and only Thou;

         Thou the woman’s promised seed;

         Thou who didst for sinners bleed.”

We worship “Jesus of Nazareth, the King of the Jews.” Our faith sees Him go from the manger to the cross, and from the cross right up to the throne; and there, where Jehovah dwells, amidst the insufferable glory of the Divine presence, stands the very same Person who slept in the manger at Bethlehem; there He reigns as King of kings and Lord of lords. Our souls worship Him. Thou art our Prophet; every word Thou sayest, we believe, and desire to obey. Thou art our Priest; Thy sacrifice hath made us free from guilt, we are washed white in the fountain of Thy blood. Thou art our King; give Thy commands, and we will obey them; lead Thou on, and we will follow. Thou art God, and we worship Thee.

After worshiping Christ, the wise men presented their gifts to Him. One broke open his casket of gold, and laid it at the feet of the new-born King. Another presented frankincense,—one of the precious products of the country from which they came; and others laid myrrh at the Redeemer’s feet. All these they gave to Him to prove the sincerity of their worship; they gave substantial offerings with no selfish hand.

These wise men, when they worshiped Christ, did not permit it to be a mere empty-handed adoration; and truly wise men are still liberal men. Consecration is the best education. It is thought, by some, to be wise to be always receiving; but our Savior said, “It is more blessed to give than to receive.”

God judges our hearts by that which spontaneously comes from them; hence, the “sweet cane bought with money” is acceptable to Him when given freely. He doth not tax His saints for His offerings, nor weary them with His demands for incense; but He delights to see in them that true love which cannot express itself in mere words, but must use gold, and frankincense, and myrrh,—works of love and deeds of self-denial and generosity,—to be the emblems of its gratitude. We shall never get into the heart of happiness till we become unselfish and generous; we have but chewed the husks of religion, which are often bitter; we have never eaten of the sweet kernel until we have felt the love of God constraining us to make sacrifices for Him. There is nothing in the true believer’s power which he would not do for his Lord; nothing in our substance which we would not give to Him, nothing in ourselves which we would not devote to His service.

Spurgeon, C. H. (2009). Christ’s Incarnation: The foundation of Christianity (pp. 101–104). Bellingham, WA: Logos Bible Software. (Public Domain)

 

 

The Wise Men and the Incarnation

The Wise Men and the Incarnation

The Wise Men and the Incarnation

AS soon as the wise men came to Jerusalem, they inquired, “Where is He that is born King of the Jews?” They were fully convinced that He was the King of the Jews, and that He had been but recently born, so they asked, “Where is He?”

In the case of these wise men, we see ignorance admitted. Truly wise men are never above asking questions, because they are wise men. Persons who have taken the name and degree of wise men, and are so esteemed, sometimes think it beneath them to confess any degree of ignorance, but the really wise think not so; they are too well instructed to be ignorant of their own ignorance. Many men might have been wise if they had but been aware that they were fools. The knowledge of our ignorance is the doorstep of the temple of knowledge. Some think they know, and therefore never know. Had they known that they were blind, they would soon have been made to see; but because they say, “We see,” therefore their blindness remains upon them.

The wise men were not content with admitting their ignorance; but, in their case, there was information entreated. They thought it likeliest that Jesus would be known at the metropolitan city. Was He not the King of the Jews? Where, then, would He be so well known as at the capital? They probably asked the guards at the gate, “Where is He that is born King of the Jews?” But the guards laughed them to scorn, and replied, “We know no king but Herod.” Perhaps they met a loiterer in the streets, and to him they said, “Where is He that is born King of the Jews?” and he answered, “What care I for such crazy questions? I am looking for a companion who will drink with me.” Possibly, they asked a trader; but he sneered, and said, “Never mind kings, what will you buy, or what have you to sell?” “Where is He that is born King of the Jews?” said they to a Sadducee, and he replied, “Be not such fools as to talk in that fashion; or if you do, pray call on my religious friend, the Pharisee.” They passed a woman in the streets, and asked, “Where is He that is born King of the Jews?” but she said, “My child is sick at home, I have enough to do to think of my poor babe; I care not who is born, or who beside may die.” When they went to the very highest quarters, they obtained but little information; yet they were not content till they had learned all that could be known concerning the new-born King.

They were not satisfied with merely getting to Jerusalem. They might have said, “Ah! now we are in the land where the Child is born, we will be thankful, and sit down contentedly.” They heard that He was born at Bethlehem, so they journeyed thither; but we do not find that, when they reached that village, they said, “This is a favored spot, we will sit down here.” Not at all; they wanted to know where the house was in which they could find the King whom they had come so far to seek. They saw the star stand still above the village inn, and they knew by that sign that the new-born King was there, but that did not satisfy them. No; they rested not till they saw the Child Himself, and worshiped Him.

Spurgeon, C. H. (2009). Christ’s Incarnation: The foundation of Christianity (pp. 98–100). Bellingham, WA: Logos Bible Software. (Public Domain)

 

 

The Incarnation, Its Glory

The Incarnation, Its Glory

The Incarnation, Its Glory

THERE was great glory about our Lord Jesus Christ even in His state of humiliation. Go back in thought to that memorable period, and try to realize what then happened.

See, Jesus is born of lowly parents, laid in a manger, and wrapped in swaddling-bands; but, lo! the principalities and powers in the heavenly places are all in commotion concerning this unparalleled event. First, one angel descends to proclaim the advent of the newborn King, and suddenly there is with him a multitude of the heavenly host singing, “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men.”

Nor is the commotion confined to the spirits above; for in the heavens which overhang this earth there is a stir. A bright particular star is deputed to appear on behalf of all the stars, as if it were the envoy and plenipotentiary of all worlds to represent them before their King. This star is put in commission to wait upon the Lord, to be His herald to men afar off, His usher to conduct them to His presence, and His body-guard to sentinel His cradle.

I suppose you have each one his own imagination as to what this star was. It would seem to have been altogether supernatural, and not a star, or a comet of the ordinary kind. It was not a constellation, nor a singular conjunction of planets; there is nothing in the Scriptures to support such a conjecture. In all probability, it was not a star in the sense in which we now speak of stars; for we find that it moved before the wise men, then suddenly disappeared, and again shone forth to move before them. It could not have been a star in the upper spheres like others, for such movements would not have been possible. If the star was in its zenith over Bethlehem, it would have been in its zenith over Jerusalem, too; for the distance between them is so small that it would not have been possible to observe any difference in the position of the star in the two places. It must have been a star occupying quite another sphere from that in which the planets revolve.

We believe it to have been a luminous appearance in mid-air; probably akin to that which led the children of Israel through the wilderness, which was a pillar of cloud by day and a pillar of fire by night. Whether it was seen in the daylight or not, we cannot tell. Chrysostom and the early fathers are wonderfully positive about many things which Scripture leaves in doubt; but as these eminent divines drew upon their imagination for their facts, we are not under bonds to follow them. They aver that this star was so bright as to be visible all day long. If so, we can imagine the wise men travelling day and night; but if it could be seen only by night, the picture before us grows far more singular and weird-like as we see these Easterns quietly pursuing their star-lit way, resting perforce when the sun was up, but noiselessly hurrying at night through slumbering lands.

But, whatever it may have been, it was the means of guiding to the Savior, from far-off lands, the most studious minds of the age. Making a long and difficult journey, these representatives of the Gentiles at last arrive at the place where the young Child is. Lo! the kings of Seba and Sheba offer gifts,—“gold, and frankincense, and myrrh.” Wise men, the leaders of their peoples, bow down before Him, and pay homage to the Son of God. Wherever Christ is, He is honorable. “Unto you that believe He is an honor.” Even in the day of small things, when He is denied such entertainment as He deserves, and is hidden away with things which are despised, He is still most glorious. Christ, though a Child, is still King of kings; though among the oxen, He is still distinguished by His star.

It would not be possible to tell how far off the native country of these wise men lay; it may have been so distant that the journey occupied nearly the whole of the two years of which they spake concerning the appearance of the star. Travelling was slow in those days, surrounded with difficulties and dangers. They may have come from Persia, or India, or Tartary, or even from the mysterious land of Sinim, now known to us as China. If so, strange and uncouth must have been the speech of those who worshiped around the young Child at Bethlehem, yet needed He no interpreter to understand and accept their adoration.

Why was the birth of the King of the Jews made known to these foreigners, and not to those nearer home? Why did the Lord select those who were so many hundreds of miles away, while the children of the kingdom, in whose very midst the Savior was brought forth, were yet strangely ignorant of His presence? See here again another instance of the sovereignty of God. Both in shepherds and in Eastern magi gathering around the young Child, I see God dispensing His favors as He wills; and, as I see it, I exclaim, “Even so, Father; for so it seemed good in Thy sight.” As of old, there were many widows in Israel in the days of Elias the prophet, yet unto none of them was he sent, but unto the woman of Sarepta, a city of Sidon, so there were many among the Jews who were called wise men, but unto none of them did the star appear; but it shone on Gentile eyes, and led a chosen company from the ends of the earth to bow at Emmanuel’s feet.

Sovereignty, in these cases, clothed itself in the robes of mercy. It was great mercy that regarded the low estate of the shepherds, and it was far-reaching mercy which gathered from lands which lay in darkness a company of men made wise unto salvation. Mercy, wearing her resplendent jewels, was present with Divine sovereignty in the lowly abode of Bethlehem. Is it not a delightful thought that, around the cradle of the Savior, as well as around His throne in Heaven, these two attributes meet? He makes Himself known,—and herein is mercy; but it is to those whom He has chosen,—and herein He shows that He will have mercy on whom He will have mercy, and He will have compassion on whom He will have compassion.

Spurgeon, C. H. (2009). Christ’s Incarnation: The foundation of Christianity (pp. 93–97). Bellingham, WA: Logos Bible Software. (Public Domain)

 

 

Come and Welcome, to Jesus Christ, Part 20

Come and Welcome, to Jesus Christ, Part 20

Come and Welcome, to Jesus Christ, Part 20

Christ Would Have Comers Not Once Think That He Will Cast Them Out

OBSERVATION THIRD.—I come now to the next observation, and shall speak a little to that; to wit, That Jesus Christ would not have them, that in truth are coming to him, once think that he will cast them out.

The text is full of this: for he saith, “And him that cometh to me I will in no wise cast out.”  Now, if he saith, I will not, he would not have us think he will.  This is yet further manifest by these considerations.

First, Christ Jesus did forbid even them that as yet were not coming to him, once to think him such an one.  “Do not think,” said he, “that I will accuse you to the Father” (John 5:45).

These, as I said, were such, that as yet were not coming to him.  For he saith of them a little before, “And ye will not come to me;” for the respect they had to the honour of men kept them back.  Yet, I say, Jesus Christ gives them to understand, that though he might justly reject them, yet he would not, but bids them not once to think that he would accuse them to the Father.  Now, not to accuse, with Christ, is to plead for:  for Christ in these things stands not neuter between the Father and sinners.  So then, if Jesus Christ would not have them think, that yet will not come to him, that he will accuse them; then he would not that they should think so, that in truth are coming to him.  “And him that cometh to me I will in no wise cast out.”

Second, When the woman taken in adultery, even in the very act, was brought before Jesus Christ, he so carried it both by words and actions, that he evidently enough made it manifest, that condemning and casting out were such things, for the doing of which he came not into the world.  Wherefore, when they had set her before him, and had laid to her charge her heinous fact, he stooped down, and with his finger wrote upon the ground, as though he heard them not.  Now what did he do by this his carriage, but testify plainly that he was not for receiving accusations against poor sinners, whoever accused by?  And observe, though they continue asking, thinking at last to force him to condemn her; yet then he so answered, so that he drove all condemning persons from her.  And then he adds, for her encouragement to come to him; “Neither do I condemn thee; go, and sin no more” (John 8:1–11).

Not but that he indeed abhorred the fact, but he would not condemn the woman for the sin, because that was not his office.  He was not sent “into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved” (John 3:17).  Now if Christ, though urged to it, would not condemn the guilty woman, though she was far at present from coming to him, he would not that they should once think that he will cast them out, that in truth are coming to him.  “And him that cometh to me I will in no wise cast out.”

Third, Christ plainly bids the turning sinner come; and forbids him to entertain any such thought as that he will cast him out.  “Let the wicked forsake his way, and the unrighteous man his thoughts; and let him return unto the Lord, and he will have mercy upon him; and to our God, for he will abundantly pardon” (Isa 4:6).  The Lord, by bidding the unrighteous forsake his thoughts, doth in special forbid, as I have said, viz., those thoughts that hinder the coming man in his progress to Jesus Christ, his unbelieving thoughts.

Therefore he bids him not only forsake his ways, but his thoughts.  “Let the wicked forsake his way, and the unrighteous man his thoughts.”  It is not enough to forsake one if thou wilt come to Jesus Christ; because the other will keep thee from him.  Suppose a man forsakes his wicked ways, his debauched and filthy life; yet if these thoughts, that Jesus Christ will not receive him, be entertained and nourished in his heart; these thoughts will keep him from coming to Jesus Christ.

Sinner, coming sinner, art thou for coming to Jesus Christ?  Yes, says the sinner.  Forsake thy wicked ways then.  So I do, says the sinner.

Why comest thou then so slowly?  Because I am hindered.  What hinders?  Has God forbidden thee?  No.  Art thou not willing to come faster?  Yes, yet I cannot.  Well, prithee be plain with me, and tell me the reason and ground of thy discouragement.  Why, says the sinner, though God forbids me not, and though I am willing to come faster, yet there naturally ariseth this, and that, and the other thought in my heart, that hinders my speed to Jesus Christ.  Sometimes I think I am not chosen; sometimes I think I am not called; sometimes I think I am come too late; and sometimes I think I know not what it is to come.  Also one while I think I have no grace; and then again, that I cannot pray; and then again, I think that I am a very hypocrite.  And these things keep me from coming to Jesus Christ.

Look ye now, did not I tell you so?  There are thoughts yet remaining in the heart, even of those who have forsaken their wicked ways; and with those thoughts they are more plagued than with anything else; because they hinder their coming to Jesus Christ; for the sin of unbelief, which is the original of all these thoughts, is that which besets a coming sinner more easily, than doth his ways (Heb 12:1–4).  But now, since Jesus Christ commands thee to forsake these thoughts, forsake them, coming sinner; and if thou forsake them not, thou transgressest the commands of Christ, and abidest thine own tormentor, and keepest thyself from establishment in grace.  “If ye will not believe, surely ye shall not be established” (Isa 7:9).  Thus you see how Jesus Christ setteth himself against such thoughts, that any way discourage the coming sinner; and thereby truly vindicates the doctrine we have in hand; to wit, that Jesus Christ would not have them, that in truth are coming to him, once think that he will cast them out.  “And him that cometh to me I will in no wise cast out.”

Reasons of Observation Third

I come now to the reasons of the observation.

1.  If Jesus Christ should allow thee once to think that he will cast thee out, he must allow thee to think that he will falsify his word; for he hath said, “I will in no wise cast out.”  But Christ would not that thou shouldst count him as one that will falsify his word; for he saith of himself, “I am the truth;” therefore he would not that any that in truth are coming to him, should once think that he will cast them out.

2.  If Jesus Christ should allow the sinner that in truth is coming to him, once to think that he will cast him out, then he must allow, and so countenance the first appearance of unbelief; the which he counteth his greatest enemy, and against which he hast bent even his holy gospel.  Therefore Jesus Christ would not that they that in truth are coming to him, should once think that he will cast them out.  See Matthew 14:31; 21:21, Mark 11:23; Luke 24:25.

3.  If Jesus Christ should allow the coming sinner once to think that he will cast him out; then he must allow him to make a question,

Whether he is willing to receive his Father’s gift; for the coming sinner is his Father’s gift; as also says the text; but he testifieth, “All that the Father giveth me shall come to me; and him that cometh to me I will in no wise cast out.”  Therefore Jesus Christ would not have him, that in truth is coming to him, once to think that he will cast him out.

4.  If Jesus Christ should allow them once to think, that indeed are coming to him, that he will cast them out, he must allow them to think that he will despise and reject the drawing of his Father.  For no man can come to him but whom the Father draweth.  But it would be high blasphemy, and damnable wickedness once to imagine thus.  Therefore, Jesus Christ would not have him that cometh once think that he will cast him out.

5.  If Jesus Christ should allow those that indeed are coming to him, once to think that he will cast them out, he must allow them to think that he will be unfaithful to the trust and charge that his Father hath committed to him; which is to save, and not to lose anything of that which he hath given unto him to save (John 6:39).  But the Father hath given him a charge to save the coming sinner; therefore it cannot be, that he should allow, that such an one should once think that he will cast him out.

6.  If Jesus Christ should allow that they should once think that are coming to him, that he will cast them out, then he must allow them to think that he will be unfaithful to his office of priesthood; for, as by the first part of it, he paid price for, and ransomed souls, so by the second part thereof, he continually maketh intercession to God for them that come (Heb 7:25).  But he cannot allow us to question his faithful execution of his priesthood.  Therefore he cannot allow us once to think that the coming sinner shall be cast out.

7.  If Jesus Christ should allow us once to think that the coming sinner shall be cast out, then he must allow us to question his will, or power, or merit to save.  But he cannot allow us once to question any of these; therefore not once to think, that the coming sinner shall be cast out.  (1.) He cannot allow them to question his will; for he saith in the text, “I WILL in no wise cast out.”  (2.) He cannot allow us to question his power; for the Holy Ghost saith HE IS ABLE to save to the uttermost them that come.  (3.) He cannot allow them to question the efficacy of his merit; for the blood of Christ cleanseth the comer from all sin, (1 John 1:7), therefore he cannot allow that he that is coming to him should once think that he will cast them out.

8.  If Jesus Christ should allow the coming sinner once to think that he will cast him out, he must allow him to give the lie to the manifest testimony of the Father, Son, and Spirit; yea, to the whole gospel contained in Moses, the prophets, the book of Psalms, and that commonly called the New Testament.  But he cannot allow of this; therefore, not that the coming sinner should once think that he will cast him out.

9.  Lastly, If Jesus Christ should allow him that is coming to him, once to think that he will cast him out, he must allow him to question his Father’s oath, which he in truth and righteousness hath taken, that they might have a strong consolation, who have fled for refuge to Jesus Christ.  But he cannot allow this; therefore he cannot allow that the coming sinner should once think that he will cast him out (Heb 6).

USE AND APPLICATION

I come now to make some GENERAL USE AND APPLICATION OF THE WHOLE, and so to draw towards a conclusion.

USE FIRST.—the First Use—A USE OF INFORMATION; And,

First, It informeth us that men by nature are far off from Christ.  Let me a little improve this use, by speaking to these three questions.  1.  Where is he that is coming [but has not come], to Jesus Christ?  2.  What is he that is not coming to Jesus Christ?  3.  Whither is he to go that cometh not to Jesus Christ?

1.  Where is he?

[Answer.] (1.) He is far from God, he is without him, even alienate from him both in his understanding, will, affections, judgment, and conscience (Eph 2:12; 4:18).  (2.) He is far from Jesus Christ, who is the only deliverer of men from hell fire (Psa 73:27).  (3.) He is far from the work of the Holy Ghost, the work of regeneration, and a second creation, without which no man shall see the kingdom of heaven (John 3:3).  (4.) He is far more righteous, from that righteousness that should make him acceptable in God’s sight (Isa 46:12, 13).  (5.) He is under the power and dominion of sin; sin reigneth in and over him; it dwelleth in every faculty of his soul, and member of his body; so that from head to foot there is no place clean (Isa 1:6; Rom 3:9–18).  (6.) He is in the pest-house with Uzziah and excluded the camp of Israel with the lepers (2 Chron 26:21; Num 5:2; Job 36:14).  (7.) His “life is among the unclean.”  He is “in the gall of bitterness, and in the bond of iniquity” (Acts 8:28).  (8.) He is “in sin,” “in the flesh,” “in death,” “in the snare of the devil,” and is “taken captive by him at his will” (1 Cor 15:17; Rom 8:8; 1 John 3:14; 2 Tim 2:26).  (9.) He is under the curse of the law, and the devil dwells in him, and hath the mastery of him (Gal 3:13; Eph 2:2, 3; Acts 26:18).  (10.) He is in darkness, and walketh in darkness, and knows not whither he goes; for darkness has blinded his eyes.  (11.) He is in the broad way that leadeth to destruction; and holding on, he will assuredly go in at the broad gate, and so down the stairs to hell.

2.  What is he that cometh not to Jesus Christ?

[Answer.] (1.) He is counted one of God’s enemies (Luke 19:14; Rom 8:7).  (2.) He is a child of the devil, and of hell; for the devil begat him, as to his sinful nature, and hell must swallow him at last, because he cometh not to Jesus Christ (John 8:44; 1 John 3:8; Matt 23:15; Psa 9:17).  (3.) He is a child of wrath, an heir of it; it is his portion, and God will repay it him to his face (Eph 2:1–3; Job 21:29–31).  (4.) He is a self-murderer; he wrongeth his own soul, and is one that loveth death (Prov 1:18; 8:36).  (5.) He is a companion for devils and damned men (Prov 21:16; Matt 25:41).

3.  Whither is he like to go that cometh not to Jesus Christ?

[Answer.] (1.) He that cometh not to him, is like to go further from him; so every sin is a step further from Jesus Christ (Hosea 11).  (2.) As he is in darkness, so he is like to go on in it; for Christ is the light of the world, and he that comes not to him, walketh in darkness (John 8:12).  (3.) He is like to be removed at last as far from God, and Christ, and heaven, and all felicity, as an infinite God can remove him (Matt 12:41).  But,

Second, This doctrine of coming to Christ informeth us where poor destitute sinners may find life for their souls, and that is in Christ.  This life is in his Son; he that hath the Son, hath life.  And again, “Whoso findeth me findeth life, and shall obtain favour of the Lord” (Prov 8:35).  Now, for further enlargement, I will also here propound three more questions: 1.  What life is in Christ?  2.  Who may have it?  3.  Upon what terms?

1.  What life is in Jesus Christ?

[Answer.] (1.) There is justifying life in Christ.  Man by sin is dead in law; and Christ only can deliver him by his righteousness and blood from this death into a state of life.  “For God sent his Son into the world, that we might live through him” (1 John 4:9).  That is, through the righteousness which he should accomplish, and the death that he should die.  (2.) There is eternal life in Christ; life that is endless; life for ever and ever.  “He hath given us eternal life, and this life is in his Son” (1 John 5:11).  Now, justification and eternal salvation being both in Christ, and nowhere else to be had for men, who would not come to Jesus Christ?

2.  Who may have this life?

I answer, Poor, helpless, miserable sinners.  Particularly, (1.) Such as are willing to have it.  “Whosoever will, let him take the water of life” (Rev 22:17).  (2.) He that thirsteth for it.  “I will give unto him that is athirst of the fountain of the water of life” (Rev 21:6).  (3.) He that is weary of his sins.  “This is the rest wherewith ye may cause the weary to rest; and this is the refreshing” (Isa 28:12).  (4.) He that is poor and needy.  “He shall spare the poor and needy, and shall save the souls of the needy” (Psa 72:13).  (5.) He that followeth after him, crieth for life.  “He that followeth me shall not walk in darkness, but shall have the light of life” (John 8:12).

3.  Upon what terms may he have this life?

[Answer.] Freely.  Sinner, dost thou hear.  Thou mayest have it freely.  Let him take the water of life freely.  I will give him of the fountain of the water of life freely.  “And when they had nothing to pay, he frankly forgave them both” (Luke 7:42).  Freely, without money, or without price.  “Ho!  every one that thirsteth, come ye to the waters, and he that hath no money, come ye, buy and eat; yea, come, buy wine and milk without money and without price” (Isa 55:1).  Sinner, art thou thirsty?  art thou weary?  art thou willing?  Come, then, and regard not your stuff; for all the good that is in Christ is offered to the coming sinner, without money and without price.  He has life to give away to such as want it, and that hath not a penny to purchase it; and he will give it freely.  Oh what a blessed condition is the coming sinner in!  But,

Third, This doctrine of coming to Jesus Christ for life, informeth us, that it is to be had nowhere else.  Might it be had anywhere else, the text, and him that spoke it, would be but little set by; for what greater matter is there in “I will in no wise cast out,” if another stood by that could receive them?  But here appears the glory of Christ, that none but he can save.  And here appears his love, that though none can save but he, yet he is not coy in saving.  “But him that comes to me,” says he, “I will in no wise cast out.”

That none can save but Jesus Christ, is evident from Acts 4:12: “Neither is there salvation in any other;” and “he hath given to us eternal life, and this life is in his Son” (1 John 5:11).  If life could have been had anywhere else, it should have been in the law.  But it is not in the law; for by the deeds of the law, no man living shall be justified; and if not justified, then no life.  Therefore life is nowhere to be had but in Jesus Christ (Gal 3).

[Question.] But why would God so order it, that life should be had nowhere else but in Jesus Christ?

[Answer.] There is reason for it, and that both with respect to God and us.

1.  With respect to God.

(1.) That it might be in a way of justice as well as mercy.  And in a way of justice it could not have been, if it had not been by Christ; because he, and he only, was able to answer the demand of the law, and give for sin what the justice thereof required.  All angels had been crushed down to hell for ever, had that curse been laid upon them for our sins, which was laid upon Jesus Christ; but it was laid upon him, and he bare it; and answered the penalty, and redeemed his people from under it, with that satisfaction to Divine justice that God himself doth now proclaim, That he is faithful and just to forgive us, if by faith we shall venture to Jesus, and trust to what he has done for life (Rom 3:24–26; John 1:4).  (2.) Life must be by Jesus Christ, that God might be adored and magnified, for finding out this way.  This is the Lord’s doings, that in all things he might be glorified through Jesus Christ our Lord.  (3.) It must be by Jesus Christ, that life might be at God’s dispose, who hath great pity for the poor, the lowly, the meek, the broken in heart, and for them that others care not for (Psa 34:6; 138:6; 25; 51:17; 147:3).  (4.) Life must be in Christ, to cut off boasting from the lips of men.  This also is the apostle’s reason in Romans 3:19, 27 (Eph 2:8–10).

2.  Life must be in Jesus Christ with respect to us.

(1.) That we might have it upon the easiest terms, to wit, freely: as a gift, not as wages.  Was it in Moses’ hand, we should come hardly at it.  Was it in the pope’s hand, we should pay soundly for it.  But thanks be to God, it is in Christ, laid up in him, and by him to be communicated to sinners upon easy terms, even for receiving, accepting, and embracing with thanksgiving; as the Scriptures plainly declare (John 1:11, 12; 2 Cor 11:4; Heb 11:13; Col 3:13–15).  (2.) Life is in Christ FOR US, that it might not be upon so brittle a foundation, as indeed it would had it been anywhere else.  The law itself is weak because of us, as to this.  But Christ is a tried stone, a sure foundation, one that will not fail to bear thy burden, and to receive thy soul, coming sinner.  (3.) Life is in Christ, that it might be sure to all the seed.  Alas!  the best of us, was life left in our hand, to be sure we should forfeit it, over, and over, and over; or, was it in any other hand, we should, by our often backslidings, so offend him, that at last he would shut up his bowels in everlasting displeasure against us.  But now it is in Christ, it is with one that can pity, pray for, pardon, yea, multiply pardons; it is with one that can have compassion upon us, when we are out of the way; with one that hath an heart to fetch us again, when we are gone astray; with one that can pardon without upbraiding.  Blessed be God, that life is in Christ!  For now it is sure to all the seed.  But,

Fourth, This doctrine of coming to Jesus Christ for life informs us of the evil of unbelief; that wicked thing that is the only or chief hindrance to the coming sinner.  Doth the text say, “Come?” Doth it say, “and him that cometh to me I will in no wise cast out?” Then what an evil is that that keepeth sinners from coming to Jesus Christ!  And that evil is unbelief: for by faith we come; by unbelief we keep away.  Therefore it is said to be that by which a soul is said to depart from God; because it was that which at first caused the world to go off from him, and that also that keeps them from him to this day.  And it doth it the more easily, because it doth it with a wile.

[Of the Sin of Unbelief.]—This sin may be called the white devil, for it oftentimes, in its mischievous doings in the soul, shows as if it was an angel of light: yea, it acteth like a counselor of heaven.  Therefore a little to discourse of this evil disease.

1.  It is that sin, above all others, that hath some show of reason in its attempts.  For it keeps the soul from Christ by pretending its present unfitness and unpreparedness; as want of more sense of sin, want of more repentance, want of more humility, want of a more broken heart.

2.  It is the sin that most suiteth with the conscience: the conscience of the coming sinner tells him that he hath nothing good; that he stands inditeable for ten thousand talents; that he is a very ignorant, blind, and hard-hearted sinner, unworthy to be once taken notice of by Jesus Christ.  And will you, says Unbelief, in such a case as you now are, presume to come to Jesus Christ?

3.  It is the sin that most suiteth with our sense of feeling.  The coming sinner feels the workings of sin, of all manner of sin and wretchedness in his flesh; he also feels the wrath and judgment of God due to sin, and ofttimes staggers under it.  Now, says Unbelief, you may see you have no grace; for that which works in you is corruption.  You may also perceive that God doth not love you, because the sense of his wrath abides upon you.  Therefore, how can you bear the face to come to Jesus Christ?

4.  It is that sin, above all others, that most suiteth with the wisdom of our flesh.  The wisdom of our flesh thinks it prudent to question awhile, to stand back awhile, to hearken to both sides awhile; and not to be rash, sudden, or unadvised, in too bold a presuming upon Jesus Christ.  And this wisdom unbelief falls in with.

5.  It is that sin, above all other, that continually is whispering the soul in the ear with mistrusts of the faithfulness of God, in keeping promise to them that come to Jesus Christ for life.  It also suggests mistrust about Christ’s willingness to receive it, and save it.  And no sin can do this so artificially as unbelief.

6.  It is also that sin which is always at hand to enter an objection against this or that promise that by the Spirit of God is brought to our heart to comfort us; and if the poor coming sinner is not aware of it, it will, by some evasion, slight, trick, or cavil, quickly wrest from him the promise again, and he shall have but little benefit of it.

7.  It is that, above all other sins, that weakness our prayers, our faith, our love, our diligence, our hope, and expectations: it even taketh the heart away from God in duty.

8.  Lastly, This sin, as I have said even now, it appeareth in the soul with so many sweet pretences to safety and security, that it is, as it were, counsel sent from heaven; bidding the soul be wise, wary, considerate, well-advised, and to take heed of too rash a venture upon believing.  Be sure, first, that God loves you; take hold of no promise until you are forced by God unto it; neither be you sure of your salvation; doubt it still, though the testimony of the Lord has been often confirmed in you.  Live not by faith, but by sense; and when you can neither see nor feel, then fear and mistrust, then doubt and question all.  This is the devilish counsel of unbelief, which is so covered over with specious pretences, that the wisest Christian can hardly shake off these reasonings.

[Qualities of unbelief as opposed to faith.]—But to be brief.  Let me here give thee, Christian reader, a more particular description of the qualities of unbelief, by opposing faith unto it, in these twenty-five particulars:—

1.  Faith believeth the Word of God; but unbelief questioneth the certainty of the same (Psa 106:24).

2.  Faith believeth the Word, because it is true; but unbelief doubteth thereof, because it is true (1 Tim 4:3; John 8:45).

3.  Faith sees more in a promise of God to help, than in all other things to hinder; but unbelief, notwithstanding God’s promise, saith, How can these things be?  (Rom 4:19–21; 2 Kings 7:2; John 3:11, 12).

4.  Faith will make thee see love in the heart of Christ, when with his mouth he giveth reproofs; but unbelief will imagine wrath in his heart, when with his mouth and Word he saith he loves us (Matt 15:22, 28; Num 13; 2 Chron 14:3).

5.  Faith will help the soul to wait, though God defers to give; but unbelief will take huff and throw up all, if God makes any tarrying (Psa 25:5; Isa 8:17; 2 Kings 6:33; Psa 106:13, 14).

6.  Faith will give comfort in the midst of fears; but unbelief causeth fears in the midst of comfort (2 Chron 20:20, 21; Matt 8:26; Luke 24:26; 27).

7.  Faith will suck sweetness out of God’s rod; but unbelief can find no comfort in his greatest mercies (Psa 23:4; Num 21).

8.  Faith maketh great burdens light; but unbelief maketh light ones intolerably heavy (2 Cor 4:1; 14–18; Mal 1:12, 13).

9.  Faith helpeth us when we are down; but unbelief throws us down when we are up (Micah 7:8–10; Heb 4:11).

10.  Faith bringeth us near to God when we are far from him; but unbelief puts us far from God when we are near to him (Heb 10:22; 3:12, 13).

11.  Where faith reigns, it declareth men to be the friends of God; but where unbelief reigns, it declareth them to be his enemies (John 3:23; Heb 3:18; Rev 21:8).

12.  Faith putteth a man under grace; but unbelief holdeth him under wrath (Rom 3:24–26; 14:6; Eph 2:8; John 3:36; 1 John 5:10; Heb 3:17; Mark 16:16).

13.  Faith purifieth the heart; but unbelief keepeth it polluted and impure (Acts 15:9; Titus 1:15, 16).

14.  By faith, the righteousness of Christ is imputed to us; but by unbelief, we are shut up under the law to perish (Rom 4:23, 24; 11:32; Gal 3:23).

15.  Faith maketh our work acceptable to God through Christ; but whatsoever is of unbelief is sin.  For without faith it is impossible to please him (Heb 11:4; Rom 14:23; Heb 6:6).

16.  Faith giveth us peace and comfort in our souls; but unbelief worketh trouble and tossings, like the restless waves of the sea (Rom 5:1; James 1:6).

17.  Faith maketh us to see preciousness in Christ; but unbelief sees no form, beauty, or comeliness in him (1 Peter 2:7; Isa 53:2, 3).

18.  By faith we have our life in Christ’s fullness; but by unbelief we starve and pine away (Gal 2:20).

19.  Faith gives us the victory over the law, sin, death, the devil, and all evils; but unbelief layeth us obnoxious to them all (1 John 5:4, 5; Luke 12:46).

20.  Faith will show us more excellency in things not seen, than in them that are; but unbelief sees more in things that are seen, than in things that will be hereafter;.  (2 Cor 4:18; Heb 11:24–27; 1 Cor 15:32).

21.  Faith makes the ways of God pleasant and admirable; but unbelief makes them heavy and hard (Gal 5:6; 1 Cor 12:10, 11; John 6:60; Psa 2:3).

22.  By faith Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob possessed the land of promise; but because of unbelief, neither Aaron, nor Moses, nor Miriam could get thither (Heb 11:9; 3:19).

23.  By faith the children of Israel passed through the Red Sea; but by unbelief the generality of them perished in the wilderness (Heb 11:29; Jude 5).

24.  By faith Gideon did more with three hundred men, and a few empty pitchers, than all the twelve tribes could do, because they believed not God (Judg 7:16–22; Num 14:11, 14).

25.  By faith Peter walked on the water; but by unbelief he began to sink (Matt 14:28–30).

Thus might many more be added, which, for brevity’s sake, I omit; beseeching every one that thinketh he hath a soul to save, or be damned, to take heed of unbelief; lest, seeing there is a promise left us of entering into his rest, any of us by unbelief should indeed come short of it.

USE SECOND.  The Second Use—A USE OF EXAMINATION

We come now to a use of examination.  Sinner, thou hast heard of the necessity of coming to Christ; also of the willingness of Christ to receive the coming soul; together with the benefit that they by him shall have that indeed come to him.  Put thyself now upon this serious inquiry, Am I indeed come to Jesus Christ?

Motives plenty I might here urge, to prevail with thee to a conscientious performance of this duty.  As, 1.  Thou art in sin, in the flesh, in death, in the snare of the devil, and under the curse of the law, if you are not coming to Jesus Christ.  2.  There is no way to be delivered from these, but by coming to Jesus Christ.  3.  If thou comest, Jesus Christ will receive thee, and will in no wise cast thee out.  4.  Thou wilt not repent it in the day of judgment, if now thou comest to Jesus Christ.  5.  But thou wilt surely mourn at last, if now thou shalt refuse to come.  6.  And lastly, Now thou hast been invited to come; now will thy judgment be greater, and thy damnation more fearful, if thou shalt yet refuse, than if thou hadst never heard of coming to Christ.

Object.  But we hope we are come to Jesus Christ.

Answer.  It is well if it proves so.  But lest thou shouldst speak without ground, and so fall unawares into hell-fire, let us examine a little.

First, Art thou indeed come to Jesus Christ?  What hast thou left behind thee?  What didst thou come away from, in thy coming to Jesus Christ?

When Lot came out of Sodom, he left the Sodomites behind him (Gen 19).  When Abraham came out of Chaldea, he left his country and kindred behind him (Gen 12; Acts 7).  When Ruth came to put her trust under the wings of the Lord God of Israel, she left her father and mother, her gods, and the land of her nativity, behind her (Ruth 1:15–17; 2:11, 12).  When Peter came to Christ, he left his nets behind him (Matt 4:20).  When Zaccheus came to Christ, he left the receipt of custom behind him (Luke 19).  When Paul came to Christ, he left his own righteousness behind him (Phil 3:7, 8).  When those that used curious arts came to Jesus Christ, they took their curious books and burned them; though, in another man’s eye, they were counted worth fifty thousand pieces of silver (Acts 19:18–20).

What sayest thou, man?  Hast thou left thy darling sins, thy Sodomitish pleasures, thy acquaintance and vain companions, thy unlawful gain, thy idol-gods, thy righteousness, and thy unlawful curious arts, behind thee?  If any of these be with thee, and thou with them, in thy heart and life, thou art not yet come to Jesus Christ.

Second, Art thou come to Jesus Christ?  Prithee tell me what moved thee to come to Jesus Christ?

Men do not usually come or go to this or that place, before they have a moving cause, or rather a cause moving them thereto.  No more do they come to Jesus Christ—I do not say, before they have a cause, but—before that cause moveth them to come.  What sayest thou?  Hast thou a cause moving thee to come?  To be at present in a state of condemnation, is cause sufficient for men to come to Jesus Christ for life.  But that will not do, except the cause move them; the which it will never do, until their eyes be opened to see themselves in that condition.  For it is not a man’s being under wrath, but his seeing it, that moveth him to come to Jesus Christ.  Alas!  all men by sin are under wrath; yet but few of that all come to Jesus Christ.  And the reason is, because they do not see their condition.  “Who hath warned you to flee from the wrath to come?” (Matt 3:7).  Until men are warned, and also receive the warning, they will not come to Jesus Christ.

Take three or four instances for this.  Adam and Eve came not to Jesus Christ until they received the alarm, the conviction of their undone state by sin.  (Gen 3) The children of Israel cried not out for a mediator before they saw themselves in danger of death by the law (Exo 20:18, 19).  Before the publican came, he saw himself lost and undone (Luke 18:13).  The prodigal came not, until he saw death at the door, ready to devour him (Luke 15:17, 18).  The three thousand came not, until they knew not what to do to be saved (Acts 2:37–39).  Paul came not, until he saw himself lost and undone (Acts 9:3–8, 11).  Lastly, Before the jailer came, he saw himself undone (Acts 16:29–31).  And I tell thee, it is an easier thing to persuade a well man to go to the physician for cure, or a man without hurt to seek for a plaster to cure him, than it is to persuade a man that sees not his soul-disease, to come to Jesus Christ.  The whole have no need of the physician; then why should they go to him?  The full pitcher can hold no more; then why should it go to the fountain?  And if thou comest full, thou comest not aright; and be sure Christ will send thee empty away.  “But he healeth the broken in heart, and bindeth up their wounds” (Mark 2:17; Psa 147:3; Luke 1:53).

Third, Art thou coming to Jesus Christ?  Prithee tell me, What seest thou in him to allure thee to forsake all the world, to come to him?

I say, What hast thou seen in him?  Men must see something in Jesus Christ, else they will not come to him.  1.  What comeliness hast thou seen in his person?  thou comest not, if thou seest no form nor comeliness in him (Isa 53:1–3).  2.  Until those mentioned in the Song were convinced that there was more beauty, comeliness, and desirableness in Christ, than in ten thousand, they did not so much as ask where he was, nor incline to turn aside after him (Song 5, 6).

There be many things on this side heaven that can and do carry away the heart; and so will do, so long as thou livest, if thou shalt be kept blind, and not be admitted to see the beauty of the Lord Jesus.

Fourth, Art thou come to the Lord Jesus?  What hast thou found in him, since thou camest to him?

Peter found with him the word of eternal life (John 6:68).  They that Peter makes mention of, found him a living stone, even such a living stone as communicated life to them (1 Peter 2:4, 5).  He saith himself, they that come to him, &c., shall find rest unto their souls; hast thou found rest in him for thy soul?  (Matt 11:28).

Let Us Go Back to the Times of the Old Testament

1.  Abraham found THAT in him, that made him leave his country for him, and become for his sake a pilgrim and stranger in the earth (Gen 12; Heb 11).

2.  Moses found THAT in him, that made him forsake a crown, and a kingdom for him too.

3.  David found so much in him, that he counted to be in his house one day was better than a thousand; yea, to be a door-keeper therein was better, in his esteem, than to dwell in the tents of wickedness (Psa 84:10).

4.  What did Daniel and the three children find in him, to make them run the hazards of the fiery furnace, and the den of lions, for his sake?  (Dan 3, 6).

Let Us Come Down to Martyrs

1.  Stephen found that in him that made him joyful, and quietly yield up his life for his name (Acts 7).

2.  Ignatius found that in Christ that made him choose to go through the torments of the devil, and hell itself, rather than not to have him.—Fox’s Acts and Monuments, vol.  1, p.  52, Anno.  111.  Edit.  1632.

3.  What saw Romanus in Christ, when he said to the raging Emperor, who threatened him with fearful torments, Thy sentence, O Emperor, I joyfully embrace, and refuse not to be sacrificed by as cruel torments as thou canst invent?—Fox, vol.  1, p.  116.

4.  What saw Menas, the Egyptian, in Christ, when he said, under most cruel torments, There is nothing in my mind that can be compared to the kingdom of heaven; neither is all the world, if it was weighed in a balance, to be preferred with the price of one soul?  Who is able to separate us from the love of Jesus Christ our Lord?  And I have learned of my Lord and King not to fear them that kill the body, &c.  P.  117.

5.  What did Eulalia see in Christ, when she said, as they were pulling her one joint from another, Behold, O Lord, I will not forget thee.  What a pleasure it is for them, O Christ!  that remember thy triumphant victory?  P.  121.

6.  What think you did Agnes see in Christ, when rejoicingly she went to meet the soldier that was appointed to be her executioner.  I will willingly, said she, receive into my paps the length of this sword, and into my breast will draw the force thereof, even to the hilts; that thus I, being married to Christ my spouse, may surmount and escape all the darkness of this world?  P.  122.

7.  What do you think did Julitta see in Christ, when, at the Emperor’s telling of her, that except she would worship the gods, she should never have protection, laws, judgments, nor life, she replied, Farewell life, welcome death; farewell riches, welcome poverty: all that I have, if it were a thousand times more, would I rather lose, than to speak one wicked and blasphemous word against my Creator?  P.  123.

8.  What did Marcus Arethusius see in Christ, when after his enemies had cut his flesh, anointed it with honey, and hanged him up in a basket for flies and bees to feed on, he would not give, to uphold idolatry, one halfpenny to save his life?  P.  128.

9.  What did Constantine see in Christ, when he used to kiss the wounds of them that suffered for him?  P.  135.

10.  But what need I give thus particular instances of words and smaller actions, when by their lives, their blood, their enduring hunger, sword, fire, pulling asunder, and all torments that the devil and hell could devise, for the love they bare to Christ, after they were come to him?

What Hast THOU Found in Him, Sinner?

What!  come to Christ, and find nothing in him!—when all things that are worth looking after are in him!—or if anything, yet not enough to wean thee from thy sinful delights, and fleshly lusts!  Away, away, thou art not coming to Jesus Christ.

He that has come to Jesus Christ, hath found in him, that, as I said, that is not to be found anywhere else.  As,

1.  He that is come to Christ hath found God in him reconciling the world unto himself, not imputing their trespasses to them.  And so God is not to be found in heaven and earth besides (2 Cor 5:19, 20).

2.  He that is come to Jesus Christ hath found in him a fountain of grace, sufficient, not only to pardon sin, but to sanctify the soul, and to preserve it from falling, in this evil world.

3.  He that is come to Jesus Christ hath found virtue in him; THAT virtue, that if he does but touch thee with his Word, or thou him by faith, life is forthwith conveyed into thy soul.  It makes thee wake as one that is waked out of his sleep; it awakes all the powers of the soul (Psa 30:11, 12; Song 6:12).

4.  Art thou come to Jesus Christ?  Thou hast found glory in him, glory that surmounts and goes beyond.  “Thou art more glorious-than the mountains of prey” (Psa 76:4).

5.  What shall I say?  Thou hast found righteousness in him; thou hast found rest, peace, delight, heaven, glory, and eternal life.

Sinner, be advised; ask thy heart again, saying, Am I come to Jesus Christ?  For upon this one question, Am I come, or, am I not?  hangs heaven and hell as to thee.  If thou canst say, I am come, and God shall approve that saying, happy, happy, happy man art thou!  But if thou art not come, what can make thee happy?  yea, what can make that man happy that, for his not coming to Jesus Christ for life, must be damned in hell?

USE THIRD.—the Third Use—A USE OF ENCOURAGEMENT

Coming sinner, I have now a word for thee; be of good comfort, “He will in no wise cast out.”  Of all men, thou art the blessed of the Lord; the Father hath prepared his Son to be a sacrifice for thee, and Jesus Christ, thy Lord, is gone to prepare a place for thee (John 1:29; Heb 10).  What shall I say to thee?

[First,] Thou comest to a FULL Christ; thou canst not want anything for soul or body, for this world or that to come, but it is to be had in or by Jesus Christ.  As it is said of the land that the Danites went to possess, so, and with much more truth, it may be said of Christ; he is such an one with whom there is no want of any good thing that is in heaven or earth.  A full Christ is thy Christ.

1.  He is full of grace.  Grace is sometimes taken for love; never any loved like Jesus Christ.  Jonathan’s love went beyond the love of women; but the love of Christ passes knowledge.  It is beyond the love of all the earth, of all creatures, even of men and angels.  His love prevailed with him to lay aside his glory, to leave the heavenly place, to clothe himself with flesh, to be born in a stable, to be laid in a manger, to live a poor life in the world, to take upon him our sicknesses, infirmities, sins, curse, death, and the wrath that was due to man.  And all this he did for a base, undeserving, unthankful people; yea, for a people that was at enmity with him.  “For when we were yet without strength, in due time Christ died for the ungodly.  For scarcely for a righteous man will one die; yet peradventure for a good man some would even dare to die.  But God commendeth his love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.  Much more, then, being now justified by his blood, we shall be saved from wrath through him.  For if, when we were enemies, we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, being reconciled, we shall be saved by his life” (Rom 5:6–10).

2.  He is full of truth.  Full of grace and truth.  Truth, that is, faithfulness in keeping promise, even this of the text, with all other, “I will in no wise cast out” (John 14:6).  Hence it is said, that his words be true, and that he is the faithful God, that keepeth covenant.  And hence it is also that his promises are called truth: “Thou wilt fulfil thy truth unto Jacob, and thy mercy unto Abraham, which thou hast sworn unto our fathers from the days of old.”  Therefore it is said again, that both himself and words are truth: “I am the truth, the Scripture of truth” (Dan 10:21).  “Thy word is truth,” (John 17:17; 2 Sam 7:28); “thy law is truth,” (Psa 119:142); and “my mouth,” saith he, “shall speak truth,” (Prov 8:7); see also Ecclesiastes 12:10; Isaiah 25:1; Malachi 2:6; Acts 26:25, 2 Timothy 2:12, 13.  Now, I say, his word is truth, and he is full of truth to fulfil his truth, even to a thousand generations.  Coming sinner, he will not deceive thee; come boldly to Jesus Christ.

3.  He is full of wisdom.  He is made unto us of God wisdom; wisdom to manage the affairs of his church in general, and the affairs of every coming sinner in particular.  And upon this account he is said to be “head over all things,” (1 Cor 1; Eph 1), because he manages all things that are in the world by his wisdom, for the good of his church; all men’s actions, all Satan’s temptations, all God’s providences, all crosses, and disappointments; all things whatever are under the hand of Christ—who is the wisdom of God—and he ordereth them all for good to his church.  And can Christ help it—and be sure he can—nothing shall happen or fall out in the world, but it shall, in despite of all opposition, have a good tendency to his church and people.

4.  He is full of the Spirit, to communicate it to the coming sinner; he hath therefore received it without measure, that he may communicate it to every member of his body, according as every man’s measure thereof is allotted him by the Father.  Wherefore he saith, that he that comes to him, “Out of his belly shall flow rivers of living water” (John 3:34; Titus 3:5, 6; Acts 2; John 7:33–39).

5.  He is indeed a storehouse full of all the graces of the Spirit.  “Of his fullness have all we received, and grace for grace” (John 1:16).  Here is more faith, more love, more sincerity, more humility, more of every grace; and of this, even more of this, he giveth to every lowly, humble, penitent coming sinner.  Wherefore, coming soul, thou comest not to a barren wilderness when thou comest to Jesus Christ.

6.  He is full of bowels and compassion: and they shall feel and find it so that come to him for life.  He can bear with thy weaknesses, he can pity thy ignorance, he can be touched with the feeling of thy infirmities, he can affectionately forgive they transgressions, he can heal thy backslidings, and love thee freely.  His compassions fail not; “and he will not break a bruised reed, nor quench the smoking flax; he can pity them that no eye pities, and be afflicted in all thy afflictions” (Matt 26:41; Heb 5:2; 2:18; Matt 9:2; Hosea 14:4; Eze 16:5, 6; Isa 63:9; Psa 78:38; 86:15; 111:4; 112:4; Lam 3:22; Isa 42:3).

7.  Coming soul, the Jesus that thou art coming to, is full of might and terribleness for thy advantage; he can suppress all thine enemies; he is the Prince of the kings of the earth; he can bow all men’s designs for thy help; he can break all snares laid for thee in the way; he can lift thee out of all difficulties wherewith thou mayest be surrounded; he is wise in heart, and mighty in power.  Every life under heaven is in his hand; yea, the fallen angels tremble before him.  And he will save thy life, coming sinner (1 Cor 1:24; Rom 8:28; Matt 28:18; Rev 4; Psa 19:3; 27:5, 6; Job 9:4; John 17:2; Matt 8:29; Luke 8:28; James 2:19).

8.  Coming sinner, the Jesus to whom thou art coming is lowly in heart, he despiseth not any.  It is not thy outward meanness, nor thy inward weakness; it is not because thou art poor, or base, or deformed, or a fool, that he will despise thee: he hath chosen the foolish, the base, and despised things of this world, to confound the wise and mighty.  He will bow his ear to thy stammering prayers he will pick out the meaning of thy inexpressible groans; he will respect thy weakest offering, if there be in it but thy heart (Matt 11:20; Luke 14:21; Prov 9:4–6; Isa 38:14, 15; Song 5:15; John 4:27; Mark 12:33, 34; James 5:11).  Now, is not this a blessed Christ, coming sinner?  Art thou not like to fare well, when thou hast embraced him, coming sinner?  But,

Second.  Thou hast yet another advantage by Jesus Christ, thou art coming to him, for he is not only full, BUT FREE.  He is not sparing of what he has; he is open-hearted and open-handed.  Let me in a few particulars show thee this:

1.  This is evident, because he calls thee; he calls upon thee to come unto him; the which he would not do, was he not free to give; yea, he bids thee, when come, ask, seek, knock.  And for thy encouragement, adds to every command a promise, “Seek, and ye shall find; ask, and ye shall have; knock, and it shall be opened unto you.”  If the rich man should say thus to the poor, would not he be reckoned a free-hearted man?  I say, should he say to the poor, Come to my door, ask at my door, knock at my door, and you shall find and have; would he not be counted liberal?  Why, thus doth Jesus Christ.  Mind it, coming sinner (Isa 55:3; Psa 50:15; Matt 7:7–9).

2.  He doth not only bid thee come, but tells thee, he will heartily do thee good; yea, he will do it with rejoicing; “I will rejoice over them, to do them good-with my whole heart, and with my whole soul” (Jer 32:41).

3.  It appeareth that he is free, because he giveth without twitting.  “He giveth to all men liberally, and upbraideth not” (James 1, 5).  There are some that will not deny to do the poor a pleasure, but they will mix their mercies with so many twits, that the persons on whom they bestow their charity shall find but little sweetness in it.  But Christ doth not do so, coming sinner; he casteth all thine iniquities behind his back (Isa 38:17).  Thy sins and iniquities he will remember no more (Heb 8:12).

4.  That Christ is free, is manifest by the complaints that he makes against them that will not come to him for mercy.  I say, he complains, saying, “O Jerusalem, Jerusalem!  how often would I have gathered thy children together, even as a hen gathereth her chickens under her wings, and ye would not!” (Matt 23:37).  I say, he speaks it by way of complaint.  He saith also in another place, “But thou hast not called upon me, O Jacob” (Isa 43:22).  Coming sinner, see here the willingness of Christ to save; see here how free he is to communicate life, and all good things, to such as thou art.  He complains, if thou comest not; he is displeased, if thou callest not upon him.  Hark, coming sinner, once again; when Jerusalem would not come to him for safeguard, “he beheld the city, and wept over it, saying, If thou hadst known, even thou, at least in this thy day, the things which belong unto thy peace; but now they are hid from thine eyes” (Luke 19:41, 42).

5.  Lastly, He is open and free-hearted to do thee good, as is seen by the joy and rejoicing that he manifesteth at the coming home of poor prodigals.  He receives the lost sheep with rejoicing; the lost goat with rejoicing; yea, when the prodigal came home, what joy and mirth, what music and dancing, was in his father’s house!  (Luke 15).

Third.  Coming sinner, I will add another encouragement for thy help.

1.  God hath prepared a mercy-seat, a throne of grace to sit on; that thou mayest come thither to him, and that he may from thence hear thee, and receive thee.  “I will commune with thee,” saith he, “from above the mercy-seat” (Exo 25:22).  As who shall say, sinner, When thou comest to me, thou shalt find me upon the mercy-seat, where also I am always found of the undone coming sinner.  Thither I bring my pardons; there I hear and receive their petitions, and accept them to my favour.

2.  God hath also prepared a golden altar for thee to offer thy prayers and tears upon.  A golden altar!  It is called a “golden altar,” to show what worth it is of in God’s account: for this golden altar is Jesus Christ; this altar sanctifies thy gift, and makes thy sacrifice acceptable.  This altar, then, makes thy groans golden groans; thy tears golden tears; and thy prayers golden prayers, in the eye of that God thou comest to, coming sinner (Rev 8; Matt 23:19; Heb 10:10; 1 Peter 2:5).

3.  God hath strewed all the way, from the gate of hell, where thou wast, to the gate of heaven, whither thou art going, with flowers out of his own garden.  Behold how the promises, invitations, calls, and encouragements, like lilies, lie round about thee!  take heed that thou dost not tread them under foot, sinner.  With promises, did I say?  Yea, he hath mixed all those with his own name, his Son’s name; also, with the name of mercy, goodness, compassion, love, pity, grace, forgiveness, pardon, and what not, that may encourage the coming sinner.

4.  He hath also for thy encouragement laid up the names, and set forth the sins, of those that have been saved.  In this book they are fairly written, that thou, through patience and comfort of the Scriptures, mightest have hope.  (1.) In this book is recorded Noah’s maim and sin; and how God had mercy upon him.  (2.) In this record is fairly written the name of Lot, and the nature of his sin; and how the Lord had mercy upon him.  (3.) In this record thou hast also fairly written the names of Moses, Aaron, Gideon, Samson, David, Solomon, Peter, Paul, with the nature of their sins; and how God had mercy upon them; and all to encourage thee, coming sinner.

Fourth.  I will add yet another encouragement for the man that is coming to Jesus Christ.  Art thou coming?  Art thou coming, indeed?  Why,

1.  Then this thy coming is by virtue of God’s call.  Thou art called.  Calling goes before coming.  Coming is not of works, but of him that calleth.  “He goeth up into a mountain, and calleth unto him whom he would; and they came unto him” (Mark 3:13).

2.  Art thou coming?  This is also by virtue of illumination.  God has made thee see; and, therefore, thou art coming.  So long as thou wast darkness, thou lovedst darkness, and couldst not abide to come, because thy deeds were evil; but being now illuminated and made to see what and where thou art, and also what and where thy Saviour is, now thou art coming to Jesus Christ; “Blessed art thou, Simon Barjona: for flesh and blood hath not revealed it unto thee,” saith Christ, “but my Father which is in heaven” (Matt 16:17).

3.  Art thou coming?  This is because God hath inclined thine heart to come.  God hath called thee, illuminated thee, and inclined thy heart to come; and, therefore, thou comest to Jesus Christ.  It is God that worketh in thee to will, and to come to Jesus Christ.  Coming sinner, bless God for that he hath given thee a will to come to Jesus Christ.  It is a sign that thou belongest to Jesus Christ, because God has made thee willing to come to him (Psa 110:3).  Bless God for slaying the enmity of thy mind; had he not done it, thou wouldst as yet have hated thine own salvation.

4.  Art thou coming to Jesus Christ?  It is God that giveth thee power: power to pursue thy will in the matters of thy salvation, is the gift of God.  “It is God which worketh in you both to will and to do” (Phil 2:13).  Not that God worketh will to come, where he gives no power; but thou shouldest take notice, that power is an additional mercy.  The church saw that will and power were two things, when she cried, “Draw me, we will run after thee” (Song 1:4).  And so did David too, when he said, “I will run the way of thy commandments, when thou shalt enlarge my heart” (Psa 119:32).  Will to come, and power to pursue thy will, is double mercy, coming sinner.

5.  All thy strange, passionate, sudden rushings forward after Jesus Christ, coming sinners know what I mean, they also are thy helps from God.  Perhaps thou feelest at some times more than at others, strong stirrings up of heart to fly to Jesus Christ; now thou hast at this time a sweet and stiff gale of the Spirit of God, filling thy sails with the fresh gales of his good Spirit; and thou ridest at those times as upon the wings of the wind, being carried out beyond thyself, beyond the most of thy prayers, and also above all thy fear and temptations.

6.  Coming sinner, hast thou not now and then a kiss of the sweet lips of Jesus Christ, I mean some blessed word dropping like a honey-comb upon thy soul to revive thee, when thou art in the midst of thy dumps?

7.  Does not Jesus Christ sometimes give thee a glimpse of himself, though perhaps thou seest him not so long a time as while one may tell twenty.

8.  Hast thou not sometimes as it were the very warmth of his wings overshadowing the face of thy soul, that gives thee as it were a gload upon thy spirit, as the bright beams of the sun do upon thy body, when it suddenly breaks out of a cloud, though presently all is gone away?  Well, all these things are the good hand of thy God upon thee, and they are upon thee to constrain, to provoke, and to make thee willing and able to come, coming sinner, that thou mightest in the end be saved.

Bunyan, J. (2006).  Come and Welcome, to Jesus Christ (Vol. 1, pp. 271–273).  Bellingham, WA: Logos Bible Software.  (Public Domain)

 

The Incarnation, And Our Sonship

The Incarnation, And Our Sonship

The Incarnation, And Our Sonship

THE Lord Jesus Christ has come in human flesh that His people might “receive the adoption of sons.” What does this expression mean? Why, to feel, “Now I am under the mastery of love, as a dear child, who is both loved and loving. I go in and out of my Father’s house, not as a casual servant, called in to work, and paid by the day or the week, but as a child at home. I am not looking for hire as a servant, for I am ever with my Father, and all that He has is mine. My God is my Father, and the light of His countenance makes me glad. I am not afraid of Him, but I delight in Him; and nothing can separate me from Him. I feel towards Him that perfect love which casteth out fear, and I rejoice to be owned as His child.”

Try and enter into that blessed experience if you are indeed a believer in the Lord Jesus Christ, for this is why He has come in the flesh,—on purpose that you, His people, may be to the full the adopted children of the Lord, receiving and enjoying all the privileges which sonship secures to you.

Then, next, exercise your heirship. One who is a son, and who knows that he is the heir of all his father’s estates, does not pine in poverty, nor act like a beggar. He looks upon everything that his father possesses as being his own; he regards his father’s wealth as making him rich. He does not feel that he is stealing if he takes what his father has made to be his own, but he makes free with it.

I wish believers would make free with the promises and blessings of their God. Help yourselves to all that He has laid up in store for you, for no good thing will the Lord withhold from you if you walk uprightly. All things are yours: you only need to use the hand of faith, and so to take possession of them. If you appropriate a promise of your Father’s, it will not be pilfering; you may take it boldly, and say, “This is mine.” Your adoption into the family of God brings with it large rights; be not slow to claim them. Paul writes to the Romans, “The Spirit itself beareth witness with our spirit, that we are the children of God: and if children, then heirs; heirs of God, and joint-heirs with Christ.”

Among men, sons are only heirs in anticipation so long as their fathers are alive; they only become heirs in possession when their fathers are dead. But our Father in Heaven lives, yet we have the full privileges of heirship in Him even now. The Lord Jesus Christ was made of a woman on purpose that His dear people might at once enter into their heirship.

You ought to feel a sweet joy in the perpetual relationship which is now established between you and God, for Jesus is still your Brother. You have been adopted by God, and He has never cancelled that adoption yet. There is such a thing as regeneration, but there is not such a thing as the life then received dying out. If you are born unto God, you are born unto God. The stars may turn to coals, and the sun and moon may become clots of blood, but he that is born of God has a life within him which can never end; he is God’s child, and God’s child he shall be for ever. Therefore let him walk at large like a child, an heir, a prince of the blood royal of Heaven, who bears a relationship to the Lord which neither time nor eternity can ever destroy.

Spurgeon, C. H. (2009). Christ’s Incarnation: The foundation of Christianity (pp. 90–92). Bellingham, WA: Logos Bible Software. (Public Domain)

 

 

Come and Welcome, to Jesus Christ, Part 19

Come and Welcome, to Jesus Christ, Part 19

Come and Welcome, to Jesus Christ, Part 19

Comers Ofttimes Afraid That Christ Will Not Receive Them

OBSERVATION SECOND.—I come now to the second observation propounded to be spoken to, to wit, That they that are coming to Jesus Christ, are ofttimes heartily afraid that Jesus Christ will not receive them.

I told you that this observation is implied in the text; and I gather it,

First, From the largeness and openness of the promise: “I will in no wise cast out.”  For had there not been a proneness in us to “fear casting out,”  Christ needed not to have, as it were, waylaid our fear, as he doth by this great and strange expression, “In no wise;”  “And him that cometh to me I will in no wise cast out.”  There needed not, as I may say, such a promise to be invented by the wisdom of heaven, and worded at such a rate, as it were on purpose to dash in pieces at one blow all the objections of coming sinners, if they were not prone to admit of such objections, to the discouraging of their own souls.  For this word, “in no wise,” cutteth the throat of all objections; and it was dropped by the Lord Jesus for that very end; and to help the faith that is mixed with unbelief.  And it is, as it were, the sum of all promises; neither can any objection be made upon the unworthiness that thou findest in thee, that this promise will not assoil.

    But I am a great sinner, sayest thou.

    “I will in no wise cast out,”  says Christ.

    But I am an old sinner, sayest thou.

    “I will in no wise cast out,”  says Christ.

    But I am a hard-hearted sinner, sayest thou.

    “I will in no wise cast out,”  says Christ.

    But I am a backsliding sinner, sayest thou.

    “I will in no wise cast out,”  says Christ.

    But I have served Satan all my days, sayest thou.

    “I will in no wise cast out,”  says Christ.

    But I have sinned against light, sayest thou.

    “I will in no wise cast out,”  says Christ.

    But I have sinned against mercy, sayest thou.

    “I will in no wise cast out,”  says Christ.

    But I have no good thing to bring with me, sayest thou.

    “I will in no wise cast out,”  says Christ.

Thus I might go on to the end of things, and show you, that still this promise was provided to answer all objections, and doth answer them.  But I say, what need it be, if they that are coming to Jesus Christ are not sometimes, yea, oftentimes, heartily afraid, “that Jesus Christ will cast them out?”

Second, I will give you now two instances that seem to imply the truth of this observation.

In the ninth of Matthew, at the second verse, you read of a man that was sick of the palsy; and he was coming to Jesus Christ, being borne upon a bed by his friends: he also was coming himself, and that upon another account than any of his friends were aware of; even for the pardon of sins, and the salvation of his soul.  Now, so soon as ever he was come into the presence of Christ, Christ bids him “be of good cheer.”  It seems then, his heart was fainting; but what was the cause of his fainting?  Not his bodily infirmity, for the cure of which his friends did bring him to Christ; but the guilt and burden of his sins, for the pardon of which himself did come to him; therefore he proceeds, “Be of good cheer, thy sins be forgiven thee.”  I say, Christ saw him sinking in his mind, about how it would go with his most noble part; and therefore, first, he applies himself to him upon that account.  For though his friends had faith enough as to the cure of the body, yet he himself had little enough as to the cure of his soul: therefore Christ takes him up as a man falling down, saying, “Son, be of good cheer, thy sins be forgiven thee.”

That about the Prodigal seems pertinent also to this matter: “When he came to himself, he said, How many hired servants of my father’s have bread enough and to spare, and I perish with hunger!  I will arise and go to my father.”  Heartily spoken; but how did he perform his promise?  I think not so well as he promised to do; and my ground for my thoughts is, because his father, so soon as he was come to him, fell upon his neck and kissed him; implying, methinks, as if the prodigal by this time was dejected in his mind; and therefore his father gives him the most sudden and familiar token of reconciliation.  And kisses were of old time often used to remove doubts and fears.  Thus Laban and Esau kiss Jacob.  Thus Joseph kissed his brethren; and thus also David kissed Absalom (Gen 31:55; 33:1–4; 48:9, 10; 2 Sam 14:33).  It is true, as I said, at first setting out, he spake heartily, as sometimes sinners also do in their beginning to come to Jesus Christ; but might not he, yea, in all probability he had, between the first step he took, and the last, by which he accomplished that journey, many a thought, both this way and that; as whether his father would receive him or no?  As thus: I said, “I would go to my Father.”  But how, if when I come at him he should ask me, Where I have all this while been?  What must I say then?  Also, if he ask me, What is become of the portion of goods that he gave me?  What shall I say then?  If he asks me, Who have been my companions?  What shall I say then?  If he also shall ask me, What hath been my preferment in all the time of my absence from him?  What shall I say then?  Yea, and if he ask me, Why I came home no sooner?  What shall I say then?  Thus, I say, might he reason with himself, and being conscious to himself, that he could give but a bad answer to any of these interrogatories, no marvel if he stood in need first of all of a kiss from his father’s lips.  For had he answered the first in truth, he must say, I have been a haunter of taverns and ale-houses; and as for my portion, I spent it in riotous living; my companions were whores and drabs; as for my preferment, the highest was, that I became a hog-herd; and as for my not coming home till now, could I have made shift to have staid abroad any longer, I had not lain at thy feet for mercy now.

I say, these things considered, and considering, again, how prone poor man is to give way, when truly awakened, to despondings and heart misgivings, no marvel if he did sink in his mind, between the time of his first setting out, and that of his coming to his Father.

Third, But, thirdly, methinks I have for the confirmation of this truth the consent of all the saints that are under heaven, to wit, That they that are coming to Jesus Christ, are ofttimes heartily afraid that he will not receive them.

Question.  But what should be the reason?  I will answer to this question thus:

1.  It is not for want of the revealed will of God, that manifesteth grounds for the contrary, for of that there is a sufficiency; yea, the text itself hath laid a sufficient foundation for encouragement, for them that are coming to Jesus Christ.  “And him that cometh to me I will in no wise cast out.”

2.  It is not for want of any invitation to come, for that is full and plain.  “Come unto me, all ye that labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest”  (Matt 11:28).

3.  Neither is it for want of a manifestation of Christ’s willingness to receive, as those texts above named, with that which follows, declareth, “If any man thirst, let him come unto me, and drink”  (John 7:37).

4.  It is not for want of exceeding great and precious promises to receive them that come.  “Wherefore come out from among them, and be ye separate, saith the Lord, and touch not the unclean thing, and I will receive you, and will be a Father unto you, and ye shall be my sons and daughters, saith the Lord Almighty”  (2 Cor 6:17, 18).

5.  It is not for want of solemn oath and engagement to save them that come.  “For-because he could swear by no greater, he swear by himself-that by two immutable things, in which it was impossible for God to lie, we might have a strong consolation, who have fled for refuge to lay hold upon the hope set before us”  (Heb 6:13–18).

6.  Neither is it for want of great examples of God’s mercy, that have come to Jesus Christ, of which we read most plentifully in the Word.  Therefore, it must be concluded, it is for want of that which follows.

What it is that prevents the Coming to Christ

First, It is for want of the knowledge of Christ.  Thou knowest but little of the grace and kindness that is in the heart of Christ; thou knowest but little of the virtue and merit of his blood; thou knowest but little of the willingness that is in his heart to save thee; and this is the reason of the fear that ariseth in thy heart, and that causeth thee to doubt that Christ will not receive thee.  Unbelief is the daughter of Ignorance.  Therefore Christ saith, “O fools, and slow of heart to believe”  (Luke 24:25).

Slowness of heart to believe, flows from thy foolishness in the things of Christ; this is evident to all that are acquainted with themselves, and are seeking after Jesus Christ.  The more ignorance, the more unbelief.  The more knowledge of Christ, the more faith.  “They that know thy name will put their trust in thee”  (Psa 9:10).  He, therefore, that began to come to Christ but the other day, and hath yet but little knowledge of him, he fears that Christ will not receive him.  But he that hath been longer acquainted with him, he “is strong, and hath overcome the wicked one”  (1 John 2:13).  When Joseph’s brethren came into Egypt to buy corn, it is said, “Joseph knew his brethren, but his brethren knew not him.”  What follows?  Why, great mistrust of heart about their speeding well; especially, if Joseph did but answer them roughly, calling them spies, and questioning their truth and the like.  And observe it, so long as their ignorance about their brother remained with them, whatsoever Joseph did, still they put the worse sense upon it.  For instance, Joseph upon a time bids the steward of his house bring them home, to dine with him, to dine even in Joseph’s house.  And how is this resented by them?  Why, they are afraid.  “And the men were afraid, because they were brought unto”  their brother “Joseph’s house.”  And they said, He seeketh occasion against us, and will fall upon us, and take us for bondmen, and our asses (Gen 42, 43).  What!  afraid to go to Joseph’s house?  He was their brother; he intended to feast them; to feast them, and to feast with them.  Ah!  but they were ignorant that he was their brother.  And so long as their ignorance lasted, so long their fear terrified them.  Just thus it is with the sinner that but of late is coming to Jesus Christ.  He is ignorant of the love and pity that is in Christ to coming sinners.  Therefore he doubts, therefore he fears, therefore his heart misgives him.

Coming sinner, Christ inviteth thee to dine and sup with him.  He inviteth thee to a banquet of wine, yea, to come into his wine-cellar, and his banner over thee shall be love (Rev 3:20; Song 2:5).  But I doubt it, says the sinner: but, it is answered, he calls thee, invites thee to his banquet, flagons, apples; to his wine, and to the juice of his pomegranate.  “O, I fear, I doubt, I mistrust, I tremble in expectation of the contrary!”  Come out of the man, thou dastardly ignorance!  Be not afraid, sinner, only believe; “He that cometh to Christ he will in no wise cast out.”

Let the coming sinner, therefore, seek after more of the good knowledge of Jesus Christ.  Press after it, seek it as silver, and dig for it as for hid treasure.  This will embolden thee; this will make thee wax stronger and stronger.  “I know whom I have believed,”  I know him, said Paul; and what follows?  Why, “and I am persuaded that he is able to keep that which I have committed unto him, against that day”  (2 Tim 1:12).  What had Paul committed to Jesus Christ?  The answer is, He had committed to him his soul.  But why did he commit his soul to him?  Why, because he knew him.  He knew him to be faithful, to be kind.  He knew he would not fail him, nor forsake him; and therefore he laid his soul down at his feet, and committed it to him, to keep against that day.  But,

Second, Thy fears that Christ will not receive thee may be also a consequent of thy earnest and strong desires after thy salvation by him.  For this I observe, that strong desires to have, are attended with strong fears of missing.  What man most sets his heart upon, and what his desires are most after, he ofttimes most fears he shall not obtain.  So the man, the ruler of the synagogue, had a great desire that his daughter should live; and that desire was attended with fear, that she should not.  Wherefore, Christ saith unto him, “Be not afraid”  (Mark 5:36).

Suppose a young man should have his heart much set upon a virgin to have her to wife, if ever he fears he shall not obtain her, it is when he begins to love; now, thinks he, somebody will step in betwixt my love and the object of it; either they will find fault with my person, my estate, my conditions, or something!  Now thoughts begin to work; she doth not like me, or something.  And thus it is with the soul at first coming to Jesus Christ, thou lovest him, and thy love produceth jealousy, and that jealousy ofttimes begets fears.

Now thou fearest the sins of thy youth, the sins of thine old age, the sins of thy calling, the sins of thy Christian duties, the sins of thine heart, or something; thou thinkest something or other will alienate the heart and affections of Jesus Christ from thee; thou thinkest he sees something in thee, for the sake of which he will refuse thy soul.  But be content, a little more knowledge of him will make thee take better heart; thy earnest desires shall not be attended with such burning fears; thou shalt hereafter say, “This is my infirmity”  (Psa 77:10).

Thou art sick of love, a very sweet disease, and yet every disease has some weakness attending of it: yet I wish this distemper, if it be lawful to call it so, was more epidemical.  Die of this disease I would gladly do; it is better than life itself, though it be attended with fears.  But thou criest, I cannot obtain: well, be not too hasty in making conclusions.  If Jesus Christ had not put his finger in at the hole of the lock, thy bowels would not have been troubled for him (Song 5:4).  Mark how the prophet hath it, “They shall walk after the Lord; he shall roar like a lion; when he shall roar, then the children shall tremble from the west, they shall tremble as a bird out of Egypt, and as a dove out of the land of Assyria”  (Hosea 11:10, 11).  When God roars (as ofttimes the coming soul hears him roar), what man that is coming can do otherwise than tremble?  (Amos 3:8).  But trembling he comes: “He sprang in, and came trembling, and fell down before Paul and Silas”  (Acts 16:29).

Should you ask him that we mentioned but now, How long is it since you began to fear you should miss of this damsel you love so?  The answer will be, Ever since I began to love her.  But did you not fear it before?  No, nor should I fear it now, but that I vehemently love her.  Come, sinner, let us apply it: How long is it since thou began to fear that Jesus Christ will not receive thee?  Thy answer is, Ever since I began to desire that he would save my soul.  I began to fear, when I began to come; and the more my heart burns in desires after him, the more I feel my heart fear I shall not be saved by him.  See now, did not I tell thee that thy fears were but the consequence of strong desires?  Well, fear not, coming sinner, thousands of coming souls are in thy condition, and yet they will get safe into Christ’s bosom: “Say,”  says Christ, “to them that are of a fearful heart, Be strong, fear not; your God will come and save you”  (Isa 35:4; 63:1).

Third, Thy fear that Christ will not receive thee may arise from a sense of thine own unworthiness.  Thou seest what a poor, sorry, wretched, worthless creature thou art; and seeing this, thou fearest Christ will not receive thee.  Alas, sayest thou, I am the vilest of all men; a town-sinner, a ringleading sinner!  I am not only a sinner myself, but have made others twofold worse the children of hell also.  Besides, now I am under some awakenings and stirrings of mind after salvation, even now I find my heart rebellious, carnal, hard, treacherous, desperate, prone to unbelief, to despair: it forgetteth the Word; it wandereth; it runneth to the ends of the earth.  There is not, I am persuaded, one in all the world that hath such a desperate wicked heart as mine is; my soul is careless to do good, but none more earnest to do that which is evil.

Can such a one as I am, live in glory?  Can a holy, a just, and a righteous God, once think (with honour to his name) of saving such a vile creature as I am?  I fear it.  Will he show wonders to such a dead dog as I am?  I doubt it.  I am cast out to the loathing of my person, yea, I loath myself; I stink in mine own nostrils.  How can I then be accepted by a holy and sin-abhorring God?  (Psa 38:5–7; Eze 11; 20:42, 44).  Saved I would be; and who is there that would not, were they in my condition?  Indeed, I wonder at the madness and folly of others, when I see them leap and skip so carelessly about the mouth of hell!  Bold sinner, how darest thou tempt God, by laughing at the breach of his holy law?  But alas!  they are not so bad one way, but I am worse another: I wish myself were anybody but myself; and yet here again, I know not what to wish.  When I see such as I believe are coming to Jesus Christ, O I bless them!  But I am confounded in myself, to see how unlike, as I think, I am to every good man in the world.  They can read, hear, pray, remember, repent, be humble, do everything better than so vile a wretch as I.  I, vile wretch, am good for nothing but to burn in hell-fire, and when I think of that, I am confounded too!

Thus the sense of unworthiness creates and heightens fears in the hearts of them that are coming to Jesus Christ; but indeed it should not; for who needs the physician but the sick?  or who did Christ come into the world to save, but the chief of sinners?  (Mark 2:17; 1 Tim 1:15).  Wherefore, the more thou seest thy sins, the faster fly thou to Jesus Christ.  And let the sense of thine own unworthiness prevail with thee yet to go faster.  As it is with the man that carrieth his broken arm in a sling to the bone-setter, still as he thinks of his broken arm, and as he feels the pain and anguish, he hastens his pace to the man.  And if Satan meets thee, and asketh, Whither goest thou?  tell him thou art maimed, and art going to the Lord Jesus.  If he objects thine own unworthiness, tell him, That even as the sick seeketh the physician; as he that hath broken bones seeks him that can set them; so thou art going to Jesus Christ for cure and healing for thy sin sick soul.  But it ofttimes happeneth to him that flies for his life, he despairs of escaping, and therefore delivers himself up into the hand of the pursuer.  But up, up, sinner; be of good cheer, Christ came to save the unworthy ones: be not faithless, but believe.  Come away, man, the Lord Jesus calls thee, saying, “And him that cometh to me I will in no wise cast out.”

Fourth.  Thy fear that Christ will not receive thee, may arise from a sense of the exceeding mercy of being saved; sometimes salvation is in the eyes of him that desires so great, so huge, so wonderful a thing, that the very thoughts of the excellency of it, engenders unbelief about obtaining it, in the heart of those that unfeignedly desire it.  “Seemeth it to you,”  saith David, “a light thing to be a king’s son-in-law?”  (1 Sam 18:23).  So the thoughts of the greatness and glory of the thing propounded, as heaven, eternal life, eternal glory, to be with God, and Christ, and angels; these are great things, things too good, saith the soul that is little in his own eyes; things too rich, saith the soul that is truly poor in spirit, for me.

Besides, the Holy Ghost hath a way to greaten heavenly things to the understanding of the coming sinner; yea, and at the same time to greaten, too, the sin and unworthiness of that sinner.  Now the soul staggeringly wonders, saying, What!  to be made like angels, like Christ, to live in eternal bliss, joy, and felicity!  This is for angels, and for them that can walk like angels!  If a prince, a duke, an earl, should send (by the hand of his servant) for some poor, sorry, beggarly scrub, to take her for his master to wife, and the servant should come and say, My lord and master, such an one hath sent me to thee, to take thee to him to wife; he is rich, beautiful, and of excellent qualities; he is loving, meek, humble, well-spoken, &c.  What now would this poor, sorry, beggarly creature think?  What would she say?  or how would she frame an answer?  When king David sent to Abigail upon this account, and though she was a rich woman, yet she said, “Behold, let thine handmaid be a servant to wash the feet of the servants of my lord”  (1 Sam 25:40, 41).  She was confounded, she could not well tell what to say, the offer was so great, beyond what could in reason be expected.

But suppose this great person should second his suit, and send to this sorry creature again, what would she say now?  Would she not say, You mock me?  But what if he affirms that he is in good earnest, and that his lord must have her to wife; yea, suppose he should prevail upon her to credit his message, and to address herself for her journey; yet, behold every thought of her pedigree confounds her; also her sense of want of beauty makes her ashamed; and if she doth but think of being embraced, the unbelief that is mixed with that thought whirls her into tremblings; and now she calls herself fool, for believing the messenger, and thinks not to go; if she thinks of being bold, she blushes; and the least thought that she shall be rejected, when she comes at him, makes her look as if she would give up the ghost.

And is it a wonder, then, to see a soul that is drowned in the sense of glory and a sense of its own nothingness, to be confounded in itself, and to fear that the glory apprehended is too great, too good, and too rich, for such an one?  That thing, heaven and eternal glory, is so great, and I that would have it, so small, so sorry a creature, that the thoughts of obtaining it confounds me.

Thus, I say, doth the greatness of the things desired, quite dash and overthrow the mind of the desirer.  O, it is too big!  it is too big!  it is too great a mercy!  But, coming sinner, let me reason with thee.  Thou sayest, it is too big, too great.  Well, will things that are less satisfy thy soul?  Will a less thing than heaven, than glory and eternal life, answer thy desires?  No, nothing less; and yet I fear they are too big, and too good for me, ever to obtain.  Well, as big and as good as they are, God giveth them to such as thou; they are not too big for God to give; no, not too big to give freely.  Be content; let God give like himself; he is that eternal God, and giveth like himself.  When kings give, they do not use to give as poor men do.  Hence it is said, that Nabal made a feast in his house like the feast of a king; and again, “All these things did Araunah, as a king, give unto David”  (1 Sam 25:36; 2 Sam 24:23).  Now, God is a great king, let him give like a king; nay, let him give like himself, and do thou receive like thyself.  He hath all, and thou hast nothing.  God told his people of old, that he would save them in truth and in righteousness, and that they should return to, and enjoy the land, which before, for their sins, had spewed them out; and then adds, under a supposition of their counting the mercy too good, or too big, “If it be marvellous in the eyes of the remnant of this people in these days, should it also be marvellous in mine eyes?  saith the Lord of hosts”  (Zech 8:6).

As who should say, they are now in captivity, and little in their own eyes; therefore they think the mercy of returning to Canaan is a mercy too marvellously big for them to enjoy; but if it be so in their eyes, it is not so in mine; I will do for them like God, if they will but receive my bounty like sinners.  Coming sinner, God can give his heavenly Canaan, and the glory of it, unto thee; yea, none ever had them but as a gift, a free gift.  He hath given us his Son, “How shall he not with him also freely give us all things?”  (Rom 8:32).

It was not the worthiness of Abraham, or Moses, or David or Peter, or Paul, but the mercy of God, that made them inheritors of heaven.  If God thinks thee worthy, judge not thyself unworthy; but take it, and be thankful.  And it is a good sign he intends to give thee, if he hath drawn out thy heart to ask.  “Lord, thou hast heard the desire of the humble; thou wilt prepare their heart; thou wilt cause thine ear to hear”  (Psa 10:17).

When God is said to incline his ear, it implies an intention to bestow the mercy desired.  Take it therefore; thy wisdom will be to receive, not sticking at thy own unworthiness.  It is said, “He raiseth up the poor out of the dust, and lifteth up the beggar from the dunghill, to set them among princes, and to make them inherit the throne of glory.”  Again, “He raiseth up the poor out of the dust, and lifteth the needy out of the dunghill, that he may set him with princes, even with the princes of his people”  (1 Sam 2:8; Psa 113:7, 8).  You see also when God made a wedding for his Son, he called not the great, nor the rich, nor the mighty; but the poor, the maimed, the halt, and the blind (Matt 12; Luke 14).

Fifth.  Thy fears that Christ will not receive thee may arise from the hideous roaring of the devil, who pursues thee.  He that hears him roar, must be a mighty Christian, if he can at that time deliver himself from fear.  He is called a roaring lion; and then to allude to that in Isaiah, “If one look”  into them, they have “darkness and sorrow, and the light is darkened in the heavens thereof”  (1 Peter 5:8; Isa 5:3).

[Two of the devil’s objections.]—There are two things among many that Satan useth to roar out after them that are coming to Jesus Christ.  1.  That they are not elected.  Or, 2.  That they have sinned the sin against the Holy Ghost.  To both these I answer briefly—

1.  [Election.]—Touching election, out of which thou fearest thou art excluded.  Why, coming sinner, even the text itself affordeth thee help against this doubt, and that by a double argument.

(1.) That coming to Christ is by virtue of the gift, promise, and drawing of the Father; but thou art a-coming; therefore God hath given thee, promised thee, and is drawing thee to Jesus Christ.  Coming sinner, hold to this; and when Satan beginneth to roar again, answer, But I feel my heart moving after Jesus Christ; but that would not be, if it were not given by promise, and drawing to Christ by the power of the Father.

(2.) Jesus Christ hath promised, “That him that cometh to him he will in no wise cast out.”  And if he hath said it, will he not make it good, I mean even thy salvation?  For, as I have said already, not to cast out, is to receive and admit to the benefit of salvation.  If then the Father hath given thee, as is manifest by thy coming; and if Christ will receive thee, thou coming soul, as it is plain he will, because he hath said, “He will in no wise cast out;”  then be confident, and let those conclusions, that as naturally flow from the text as light from the sun, or water from the fountain, stay thee.

If Satan therefore objecteth, But thou art not elected; answer, But I am coming, Satan, I am coming; and that I could not be, but that the Father draws me; and I am coming to such a Lord Jesus, as will in no wise cast me out.  Further, Satan, were I not elect, the Father would not draw me, nor would the Son so graciously open his bosom to me.  I am persuaded, that not one of the nonelect shall ever be able to say, no, not in the day of judgment, I did sincerely come to Jesus Christ.  Come they may, feignedly, as Judas and Simon Magus did; but that is not our question.  Therefore, O thou honest-hearted coming sinner, be not afraid, but come.

2.  [Of the sin against the Holy Ghost.]—As to the second part of the objection, about sinning the sin against the Holy Ghost, the same argument overthrows that also.  But I will argue thus:

(1.) Coming to Christ is by virtue of a special gift of the Father; but the Father giveth no such gift to them that have sinned that sin; therefore thou that art coming hast not committed that sin.  That the Father giveth no such gift to them that have sinned that sin is evident—(a.) Because such have sinned themselves out of God’s favour; “They shall never have forgiveness”  (Matt 12:32).  But it is a special favour of God to give unto a man, to come to Jesus Christ; because thereby he obtaineth forgiveness.  Therefore he that cometh hath not sinned that sin.  (b.) They that have sinned the sin against the Holy Ghost, have sinned themselves out of an interest in the sacrifice of Christ’s body and blood; “There remaineth [for such] no more sacrifice for sins”  (Heb 10:26).  But God giveth not grace to any of them to come to Christ, that have no share in the sacrifice of his body and blood.  Therefore, thou that art coming to him, hast not sinned that sin.

(2.) Coming to Christ is by the special drawing of the Father; “No man can come to me except the Father which hath sent me draw him”  (John 6:44).  But the Father draweth not him to Christ, for whom he hath not allotted forgiveness by his blood; therefore they that are coming to Jesus Christ have not committed that sin, because he hath allotted them forgiveness by his blood.  That the Father cannot draw them to Jesus Christ, for whom he hath not allotted forgiveness of sins, is manifest to sense: for that would be a plain mockery, a flam, neither becoming his wisdom, justice, holiness, nor goodness.

(3.) Coming to Jesus Christ lays a man under the promise of forgiveness and salvation.  But it is impossible that he that hath sinned that sin should ever be put under a promise of these.  Therefore, he that hath sinned that sin can never have heart to come to Jesus Christ.

(4.) Coming to Jesus Christ lays a man under his intercession.  “For he ever liveth to make intercession for them that come”  (Heb 7:25).  Therefore, he that is coming to Jesus Christ cannot have sinned that sin.  Christ has forbidden his people to pray for them that have sinned that sin; and, therefore, will not pray for them himself, but he prays for them that come.

(5.) He that hath sinned that sin, Christ is to him of no more worth than is a man that is dead; “For he hath crucified to himself the Son of God;”  yea, and hath also counted his precious blood as the blood of an unholy thing.  (Heb 6; 10) Now, he that hath this low esteem of Christ will never come to him for life; but the coming man has an high esteem of his person, blood, and merits.  Therefore, he that is coming has not committed that sin.

(6.) If he that has sinned this sin might yet come to Jesus Christ, then must the truth of God be overthrown; which saith in one place, “He hath never forgiveness;”  and in another, “I will in no wise cast him out.”  Therefore, that he may never have forgiveness, he shall never have heart to come to Jesus Christ.  It is impossible that such an one should be renewed, either to or by repentance (Heb 6).  Wherefore, never trouble thy head nor heart about this matter; he that cometh to Jesus Christ cannot have sinned against the Holy Ghost.

Sixth, Thy fears that Christ will not receive thee may arise from thine own folly, in inventing, yea, in thy chalking out to God, a way to bring thee home to Jesus Christ.  Some souls that are coming to Jesus Christ are great tormentors of themselves upon this account; they conclude, that if their coming to Jesus Christ is right, they must needs be brought home thus and thus.

As to instance: 1.  Says one, If God be bringing of me to Jesus Christ, then will he load me with the guilt of sin till he makes me roar again.  2.  If God be indeed a-bringing me home to Jesus Christ, then must I be assaulted with dreadful temptations of the devil.  3.  If God be indeed a-bringing me to Jesus Christ, then, even when I come at him, I shall have wonderful revelations of him.

This is the way that some sinners appoint for God; but, perhaps, he will not walk therein; yet will he bring them to Jesus Christ.  But now, because they come not the way of their own chalking out, therefore they are at a loss.  They look for heavy load and burden; but, perhaps, God gives them a sight of their lost condition, and addeth not that heavy weight and burden.  They look for fearful temptations of Satan; but God sees that yet they are not fit for them, nor is the time come that he should be honoured by them in such a condition.  They look for great and glorious revelations of Christ, grace, and mercy; but, perhaps, God only takes the yoke from off their jaws, and lays meat before them.  And now again they are at a loss, yet a-coming to Jesus Christ; “I drew them,”  saith God, “with cords of a man, with bands of love—I took the yoke from off their jaws, and laid meat unto them”  (Hosea 11:4).

Now, I say, If God brings thee to Christ, and not by the way that thou hast appointed, then thou art at a loss; and for thy being at a loss, thou mayest thank thyself.  God hath more ways than thou knowest of to bring a sinner to Jesus Christ; but he will not give thee beforehand an account by which of them he will bring thee to Christ (Isa 40:13; Job 33:13).  Sometimes he hath his ways in the whirlwind; but sometimes the Lord is not there (Nahum 1:3; 1 Kings 19:11).  If God will deal more gently with thee than with others of his children, grudge not at it; refuse not the waters that go softly, lest he bring upon thee the waters of the rivers, strong and many, even these two smoking firebrand, the devil and guilt of sin (Isa 8:6, 7).  He saith to Peter, “Follow me.”  And what thunder did Zaccheus hear or see?  Zaccheus, “Come down,”  said Christ; “and he came down,”  says Luke, “and received him joyfully.”

But had Peter or Zaccheus made the objection that thou hast made, and directed the Spirit of the Lord as thou hast done, they might have looked long enough before they had found themselves coming to Jesus Christ.  Besides, I will tell thee, that the greatness of sense of sin, the hideous roaring of the devil, yea, and abundance of revelations, will not prove that God is bringing thy soul to Jesus Christ; as Balaam, Cain, Judas, and others, can witness.

Further, consider that what thou hast not of these things here, thou mayest have another time, and that to thy distraction.  Wherefore, instead of being discontent, because thou art not in the fire, because thou hearest not the sound of the trumpet and alarm of war, “Pray that thou enter not into temptation;”  yea, come boldly to the throne of grace, and obtain mercy, and find grace to help in that time of need (Psa 88:15; Matt 26:41; Heb 4:16).

Poor creature!  thou criest, if I were tempted, I could come faster and with more confidence to Christ.  Thou sayest thou knowest not what.  What says Job?  “Withdraw thine hand far from me: and let not thy dread make me afraid.  Then call thou, and I will answer: or let me speak, and answer thou me”  (Job 13:21, 22).  It is not the overheavy load of sin, but the discovery of mercy; not the roaring of the devil, but the drawing of the Father, that makes a man come to Jesus Christ; I myself know all these things.

True, sometimes, yea, most an end, they that come to Jesus Christ come the way that thou desirest; the loading, tempted way; but the Lord also leads some by the waters of comfort.  If I was to choose when to go a long journey, to wit, whether I would go it in the dead of winter or in the pleasant spring, though, if it was a very profitable journey, as that of coming to Christ is, I would choose to go it through fire and water before I would choose lose the benefit.  But, I say, if I might choose the time, I would choose to go it in the pleasant spring, because the way would be more delightsome, the days longer and warmer, the nights shorter and not so cold.  And it is observable, that that very argument that thou usest to weaken thy strength in the way, that very argument Christ Jesus useth to encourage his beloved to come to him: “Rise up,”  saith he, “my love, my fair one, and come away.”  Why?  “For lo, the winter is past, the rain is over and gone; the flowers appear on the earth, the time of the singing of birds is come, and the voice of the turtle is heard in our land; the fig-tree putteth forth her green figs, and the vines with the tender grape give a good smell.  Arise, my love, my fair one, and come away”  (Song 2:10–13).

Trouble not thyself, coming sinner.  If thou seest thy lost condition by original and actual sin; if thou seest thy need of the spotless righteousness of Jesus Christ; if thou art willing to be found in him, and to take up thy cross and follow him; then pray for a fair wind and good weather, and come away.  Stick no longer in a muse and doubt about things, but come away to Jesus Christ.  Do it, I say, lest thou tempt God to lay the sorrows of a travailing woman upon thee.  Thy folly in this thing may make him do it.  Mind what follows: “The sorrows of a travailing woman shall come upon him.”  Why?  “He is an unwise son; for he should not stay long in the place of the breaking forth of children”  (Hosea 13:13).

Seventh, Thy fears that Christ will not receive thee may arise from those decays that thou findest in thy soul, even while thou art coming to him.  Some, even as they are coming to Jesus Christ, do find themselves grow worse and worse; and this is indeed a sore trial to the poor coming sinner.

Fears that we do not run fast enough

To explain myself.  There is such an one a coming to Jesus Christ who, when at first he began to look out after him, was sensible, affectionate, and broken in spirit; but now is grown dark, senseless, hard-hearted, and inclining to neglect spiritual duties, &c.  Besides, he now finds in himself inclinations to unbelief, atheism, blasphemy, and the like; now he finds he cannot tremble at God’s Word, his judgment, nor at the apprehension of hell fire; neither can he, as he thinketh, be sorry for these things.  Now, this is a sad dispensation.  The man under the sixth head complaineth for want of temptations, but thou hast enough of them; art thou glad of them, tempted, coming sinner?  They that never were exercised with them may think it a fine thing to be within the range, but he that is there is ready to sweat blood for sorrow of heart, and to howl for vexation of spirit!  This man is in the wilderness among wild beasts.  Here he sees a bear, there a lion, yonder a leopard, a wolf, a dragon; devils of all sorts, doubts of all sorts, fears of all sorts, haunt and molest his soul.  Here he sees smoke, yea, feels fire and brimstone, scattered upon his secret places.  He hears the sound of an horrible tempest.  O!  my friends, even the Lord Jesus, that knew all things, even he saw no pleasure in temptations, nor did he desire to be with them; wherefore, one text saith, “he was led,”  and another, “he was driven,”  of the Spirit into the wilderness, to be tempted of the devil (Matt 4:1; Mark 1:12).

But to return.  Thus it happeneth sometimes to them that are coming to Jesus Christ.  A sad hap indeed!  One would think that he that is flying from wrath to come has little need of such clogs as these.  And yet so it is, and woeful experience proves it.  The church of old complained that her enemies overtook her between the straits; just between hope and fear, heaven and hell (Lam 1).

This man feeleth the infirmity of his flesh, he findeth a proneness in himself to be desperate.  Now, he chides with God, flings and tumbles like a wild bull in a net, and still the guilt of all returns upon himself, to the crushing of him to pieces.  Yet he feeleth his heart so hard, that he can find, as he thinks, no kind falling under any of his miscarriages.  Now, he is a lump of confusion in his own eyes, whose spirit and actions are without order.

Temptations serve the Christian as the shepherd’s dog serveth the silly sheep; that is, coming behind the flock, he runs upon it, pulls it down, worries it, wounds it, and grievously bedabbleth it with dirt and wet, in the lowest places of the furrows of the field, and not leaving it until it is half dead, nor then neither, except God rebuke.

Here is now room for fears of being cast away.  Now I see I am lost, says the sinner.  This is not coming to Jesus Christ, says the sinner; such a desperate, hard, and wretched heart as mine is, cannot be a gracious one, saith the sinner.  And bid such an one be better, he says, I cannot; no, I cannot.

Why temptations assail God’s people

Question.  But what will you say to a soul in this condition?

Answer.  I will say, That temptations have attended the best of God’s people.  I will say, That temptations come to do us good; and I will say also, That there is a difference betwixt growing worse and worse, and thy seeing more clearly how bad thou art.

There is a man of an ill-favored countenance, who hath too high a conceit of his beauty; and, wanting the benefit of a glass, he still stands in his own conceit; at last a limner is sent unto him, who draweth his ill-favored face to the life; now looking thereon, he begins to be convinced that he is not half so handsome as he thought he was.  Coming sinner, thy temptations are these painters; they have drawn out thy ill-favored heart to the life, and have set it before thine eyes, and now thou seest how ill-favoured thou art.  Hezekiah was a good man, yet when he lay sick, for aught I know, he had somewhat too good an opinion of his heart; and for aught I know also, the Lord might, upon his recovery, leave him to a temptation, that he might better know all that was in his heart.  Compare Isaiah 38:1–3, with 2 Chronicles 32:31.

Alas!  we are sinful out of measure, but see it not to be the full, until an hour of temptation comes.  But when it comes, it doth as the painter doth, draweth out our heart to the life: yet the sight of what we are should not keep us from coming to Jesus Christ.  There are two ways by which God lets a man into a sight of the naughtiness of his heart; one is, by the light of the Word and Spirit of God; and the other is, by the temptations of the devil.  But, by the first, we see our naughtiness one way; and, by the second, another.  By the light of the Word and Spirit of God, thou hast a sight of thy naughtiness; and by the light of the sun, thou hast a sight of the spots and defilements that are in thy house or raiment.  Which light gives thee to see a necessity of cleansing, but maketh not the blemishes to spread more abominably.  But when Satan comes, when he tempts, he puts life and rage into our sins, and turns them, as it were, into so many devils within us.  Now, like prisoners, they attempt to break through the prison of our body; they will attempt to get out at our eyes, mouth, ears, any ways, to the scandal of the gospel, and reproach of religion, to the darkening of our evidences, and damning of our souls.

But I shall say, as I said before, this hath ofttimes been the lot of God’s people.  And, “There hath no temptation overtaken you but such as is common to man; but God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able”  (1 Cor 10:13).  See the Book of Job, the Book of Psalms, and that of the Lamentations.  And remember further, that Christ himself was tempted to blaspheme, to worship the devil, and to murder himself, (Matt 4; Luke 4); temptations worse than which thou canst hardly be overtaken with.  But he was sinless, that is true.  And he is thy Saviour, and that is as true!  Yea, it is as true also, that by his being tempted, he became the conqueror of the tempter, and a succourer of those that are tempted (Col 2:14, 15; Heb 2:15; 4:15, 16).

Question.  But what should be the reason that some that are coming to Christ should be so lamentably cast down and buffeted with temptations?

Answer.  It may be for several causes.

1.  Some that are coming to Christ cannot be persuaded, until the temptation comes, that they are so vile as the Scripture saith they are.  True, they see so much of their wretchedness as to drive them to Christ.  But there is an over and above of wickedness which they see not.  Peter little thought that he had had cursing, and swearing, and lying, and an inclination in his heart to deny his Master, before the temptation came; but when that indeed came upon him, then he found it there to his sorrow (John 13:36–38; Mark 14:36–40; 68–72).

2.  Some that are coming to Jesus Christ are too much affected with their own graces, and too little taken with Christ’s person; wherefore God, to take them off from doting upon their own jewels, and that they might look more to the person, undertaking, and merits of his Son, plunges them into the ditch by temptations.  And this I take to be the meaning of Job, “If I wash myself,”  said he, “with snow-water, and make my hands never so clean, yet shalt thou plunge me in the ditch, and mine own clothes shall abhor me”  (Job 9:30).  Job had been a little too much tampering with his own graces, and setting his excellencies a little too high; as these texts make manifest: Job 33:8–13; 34:5–10, 35:2, 3, 38:1, 2; 40:10–15, 42:3–6.  But by that the temptations were ended, you find him better taught.

Yea, God doth ofttimes, even for this thing, as it were, take our graces from us, and so leave us almost quite to ourselves and to the tempter, that we may learn not to love the picture more than the person of his Son.  See how he dealt with them in the 16th of Ezekiel, and the second of Hosea.

3.  Perhaps thou hast been given too much to judge thy brother, to condemn thy brother, because a poor tempted man.  And God, to bring down the pride of thy heart, letteth the tempter loose upon thee, that thou also mayst feel thyself weak.  For “pride goeth before destruction, and an haughty spirit before a fall”  (Prov 16:18).

4.  It may be thou hast dealt a little too roughly with those that God hath this way wounded, not considering thyself, lest thou also be tempted.  And therefore God hath suffered it to come unto thee (Gal 6:1).

5.  It may be thou wast given to slumber and sleep, and therefore these temptations were sent to awake thee.  You know that Peter’s temptation came upon him after his sleeping; then, instead of watching and praying, then he denied, and denied, and denied his Master (Matt 26).

6.  It may be thou hast presumed too far, and stood too much in thine own strength, and therefore is a time of temptation come upon thee.  This was also one cause why it came upon Peter—Though all men forsake thee, yet will not I.  Ah!  that is the way to be tempted indeed (John 13:36–38).

7.  It may be God intends to make thee wise, to speak a word in season to others that are afflicted; and therefore he suffereth thee to be tempted.  Christ was tempted that he might be able to succour them that are tempted (Heb 2:18).

8.  It may be Satan hath dared God to suffer him to tempt thee; promising himself, that if he will but let him do it, thou wilt curse him to his face.  Thus he obtained leave against Job; wherefore take heed, tempted soul, lest thou provest the devil’s sayings true (Job 1:11).

9.  It may be thy graces must be tried in the fire, that that rust that cleaveth to them may be taken away, and themselves proved, both before angels and devils, to be far better than of gold that perisheth; it may be also, that thy graces are to receive special praises, and honour, and glory, at the coming of the Lord Jesus to judgment, for all the exploits that thou hast acted by them against hell, and its infernal crew, in the day of thy temptation (1 Peter 1:6, 7).

10.  It may be God would have others learn by thy sighs, groans, and complaints, under temptation, to beware of those sins for the sake of which thou art at present delivered to the tormentors.

But to conclude this, put the worst to the worst—and then things will be bad enough—suppose that thou art to this day without the grace of God, yet thou art but a miserable creature, a sinner, that hath need of a blessed Saviour; and the text presents thee with one as good and kind as heart can wish; who also for thy encouragement saith, “And him that cometh to me I will in no wise cast out.”

Application of Observation Second

To come, therefore, to a word of application.  Is it so, that they that are coming to Jesus Christ are ofttimes heartily afraid that Jesus Christ will not receive them?  Then this teacheth us these things—

1.  That faith and doubting may at the same time have their residence in the same soul.  “O thou of little faith, wherefore didst thou doubt?”  (Matt 14:31).  He saith not, O thou of no faith!  but, O thou of little faith!  because he had a little faith in the midst of his many doubts.  The same is true even of many that are coming to Jesus Christ.  They come, and fear they come not, and doubt they come not.  When they look upon the promise, or a word of encouragement by faith, then they come; but when they look upon themselves, or the difficulties that lie before them, then they doubt.  “Bid me come,”  said Peter; “Come,”  said Christ.  So he went down out of the ship to go to Jesus, but his hap was to go to him upon the water; there was the trial.  So it is with the poor desiring soul.  Bid me come, says the sinner; Come, says Christ, and I will in no wise cast thee out.  So he comes, but his hap is to come upon the water, upon drowning difficulties; if, therefore, the wind of temptations blow, the waves of doubts and fears will presently arise, and this coming sinner will begin to sink, if he has but little faith.  But you shall find here in Peter’s little faith, a twofold act; to wit, coming and crying.  Little faith cannot come all the way without crying.  So long as its holy boldness lasts, so long it can come with peace; but when it is so, it can come no further, it will go the rest of the way with crying.  Peter went as far as his little faith would carry him: he also cried as far as his little faith would help, “Lord, save me, I perish!”  And so with coming and crying he was kept from sinking, though he had but a little faith.  “Jesus stretched forth his hand, and caught him, and said unto him, O thou of little faith, wherefore didst thou doubt?”

2.  Is it so, that they that are coming to Jesus Christ are ofttimes heartily afraid that Jesus Christ will not receive them?  Then this shows us a reason of that dejection, and those castings down, that very often we perceive to be in them that are coming to Jesus Christ.  Why, it is because they are afraid that Jesus Christ will not receive them.  The poor world they mock us, because we are a dejected people; I mean, because we are sometimes so: but they do not know the cause of our dejection.  Could we be persuaded, even then, when we are dejected, that Jesus Christ would indeed receive us, it would make us fly over their heads, and would put more gladness into our hearts than in the time in which their corn, wine, and oil increases (Psa 4:6, 7).  But,

3.  It is so, That they that are coming to Jesus Christ are ofttimes heartily afraid that he will not receive them.  Then this shows that they that are coming to Jesus Christ are an awakened, sensible, considering people.  For fear cometh from sense, and consideration of things.  They are sensible of sin, sensible of the curse due thereto; they are also sensible of the glorious majesty of God, and of what a blessed, blessed thing it is to be received of Jesus Christ.  The glory of heaven, and the evil of sin, these things they consider, and are sensible of.  “When I remember, I am afraid.”  “When I consider, I am afraid”  (Job 21:6; 23:15).

These things dash their spirits, being awake and sensible.  Were they dead, like other men, they would not be afflicted with fear as they are.  For dead men fear not, feel not, care not, but the living and sensible man, he it is that is ofttimes heartily afraid that Jesus Christ will not receive him.  I say, the dead and senseless are not distressed.  They presume; they are groundlessly confident.  Who so bold as blind Bayard?  These indeed should fear and be afraid, because they are not coming to Jesus Christ.  O!  the hell, the fire, the pit, the wrath of God, and torment of hell, that are prepared for poor neglecting sinners!  “How shall we escape if we neglect so great salvation?”  (Heb 3:3).  But they want sense of things, and so cannot fear.

4.  Is it so, that they that are coming to Jesus Christ are ofttimes heartily afraid that he will not receive them?  Then this should teach old Christians to pity and pray for young comers.  You know the heart of a stranger; for you yourselves were strangers in the land of Egypt.  You know the fears, and doubts, and terrors, that take hold of them; for that they sometimes took hold of you.  Wherefore pity them, pray for them, encourage them; they need all this: guilt hath overtaken them, fears of the wrath of God hath overtaken them.  Perhaps they are within the sight of hell-fire; and the fear of going thither is burning hot within their hearts.  You may know, how strangely Satan is suggesting his devilish doubts unto them, if possible he may sink and drown them with the multitude and weight of them.  Old Christians, mend up the path for them, take the stumblingblocks out of the way; lest that which is feeble and weak be turned aside, but let it rather be healed (Heb 12).

Bunyan, J.   (2006).    Come and Welcome, to Jesus Christ (Vol.   1, pp.   271–273).    Bellingham, WA: Logos Bible Software.    (Public Domain)

 

The Incarnation, The Heart of the Gospel

The Incarnation, The Heart of the Gospel

The Incarnation, The Heart of the Gospel

GOD had made many visits to men before Christ’s Incarnation, but the most wonderful visit of all was when He came to tarry here, some three and thirty years, to work out our salvation. What but “tender mercy”, hearty mercy, intense mercy, could bring the great God to visit us so closely that He actually assumed our nature? Kings may, for various reasons, visit their subjects; but they do not think of taking upon themselves their poverty, their sickness, or their sorrow. They could not if they would, and they would not if they could; but our Divine Lord, when He came hither, took upon Him our flesh.

O children, the Lord so visited you as to become a Babe, and then a Child, who dwelt with His parents, and was subject unto them, and grew in stature, as you must do! O working-men, the Lord so visited you as to become the carpenter’s Son, and to know all about your toil, and your weariness, ay, even to hunger and faintness! O sons of men, Jesus Christ has so visited you that He has assumed your nature, and taken your sicknesses, and borne your infirmities, and your iniquities, too! This was a kind of visit such as none could have thought of making save our infinitely tender and merciful Savior. Christ Jesus, the God-man, is our next of kin, a Brother born for adversity. In all our affliction He is afflicted; He is tenderness itself toward us.

He did not come to earth just to pay us a passing visit, but He dwelt among us in this world of sin and sorrow. This great Prince entered our abode—what if I call it this hut and hovel?—wherein our poor humanity finds its home for a season. This little planet of ours was made to burn with a superior light among its sister stars while the Creator sojourned here in human form. He trod the acres of Samaria, and traversed the hills and vales of Judæa. “He went about doing good.”

He mingled among men with scarcely any reservation. Although, through His purity, He was separate from sinners as to His character, yet He was the visitor of all men. He was found eating bread with a Pharisee, which perhaps is a more wonderful thing than when He received sinners, and ate with them. A fallen woman was not too far gone in sin for Him to sit on the kerb of the well, and talk to her; nor were any of the poor and ignorant too mean for Him to care for them. His visit to us was of the most intimate kind. He disdained no man’s lowliness; He turned aside from no man, however sinful he might be.

But remember that He visited us, not merely to look upon us, and to talk with us, and to teach us, and set us a high and Divine example; but He so visited us that He took upon Himself our condemnation, that He might deliver us from it. He was made a curse for us, as it is written, “Cursed is every one that hangeth on a tree.” He took our debts upon Him that He might pay them, minting His own heart to create the coinage. He gave Himself for us, which is more than if I said, “He gave His blood and His life for us;” His own self He gave for us.

So graciously did He visit us that He took away with Him our ill, and left only good behind. He did not come into our nature, and yet keep Himself reserved from all the consequences of our sin; nor come into our world, and yet maintain a status superior to that of the usual denizens of it; but He came to be a man among men, and to bear all that train of woes which had fallen upon human nature through its departure from the ways of God.

Our Lord so visited us as to become our Surety, our Substitute, our Ransom. He hath borne our griefs, and carried our sorrows, and the Lord hath laid upon Him the iniquity of us all. This was wonderful tender mercy on His part; it excels all human conception and language. If, for the first time, you had heard of the visit of the incarnate God to this world, you would be struck with a wonder which would last throughout all eternity, that God Himself should really condescend to such a deed as this. This is the heart of the Gospel, the incomparable fact of the Incarnation of the Son of God, His dwelling upon the earth, and His presentation of Himself as a sacrifice unto God. Since God has visited us, not in the form of a judge executing vengeance, nor as an angel with a flaming sword, but in the gentle person of that lowliest of the lowly, who said, “Suffer the little children to come unto Me,” we are herein made to see the tender mercy of our God. Nothing could be more gracious than the Divine appearance upon earth of the Man of sorrows.

Spurgeon, C. H. (2009). Christ’s Incarnation: The foundation of Christianity (pp. 86–89). Bellingham, WA: Logos Bible Software.  (Public Domain)

 

 


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