William Guthrie

(Guthrie, The Christian's Great Interest. part 6)

'Being justified by faith, we have peace with God.' (Rom. 5: 1.)
It being sure and solid in the court of Scripture, it should hold sure in the court of a man's conscience, if it be rightly informed; for, in that case, it still speaks according to Scripture. But because often the conscience is misinformed and in the dark, therefore there is often peace as to a man's state according to Scripture, whilst his conscience threatens the contrary, and does still condemn, and refuseth to acquit the man, as being reconciled unto God through Christ. In this case, the conscience must be informed, and the man's gracious state made out by the marks of grace, as we showed before; and here the witness of my own spirit will do much to allay the cry of the conscience; and if the Spirit of the Lord join His witness and testimony, the conscience is perfectly satisfied, and proclaimeth peace to the man. The other peace, as to a man's present case or condition, namely, that it is approved of God in a gospel sense, may be awaiting, and justly wanting, although the peace concerning a man's state be sure. This peace as to a man's case and condition, is either such in the court of Scripture, and this is when a man is not regarding iniquity, and respecting the commands of God without exception: then the Scripture saith, he stands in an even place, and he need fear no stated quarrel between God and him in order to a temporary stroke: and when it is thus, his conscience should also acquit him that same way, and would do so if it were rightly informed. But because the conscience is often in the dark, therefore a man may be alarmed with evil in the court of conscience, as if he were justly to expect a stroke from God because of his sin, and some quarrel God has at him, although He intend salvation for him. This is enough to keep a man in disquiet, and to prohibit him from the rejoicing allowed him whilst he is walking in his integrity; therefore a man must here also inform his conscience, and receive no accusations nor condemnings from it, unless it make them clear by Scripture. At that by let every man stand, both as to his state, and his condition or case; and let him appeal from all other courts to that, and not receive any indictment, unless conformed to the truth of God, by which the conscience is to be regulated in all things. And if this were well looked unto, there would not be so many groundless suspicions amongst the Lord's people, either as to their state or their condition, upon every thought which entereth their mind.
12. There is the joy of the Holy Ghost; and this is when the Spirit breathes upon our rejoicing in God, which is a grace very little in exercise with many, and maketh it set out sensibly and vigorously; and when He excites and stirs the passion of joy and of delight in the soul, so that there is an unspeakable and glorious joy in the soul, in the apprehension of God's friendship and nearness unto him--'In whom though now ye see Him not, yet believing, ye rejoice with joy unspeakable and full of glory.' (1 Peter 1: 8.) This joy followeth upon peace, and peace followeth upon righteousness--'The kingdom of God--is righteousness and peace, and joy in the Holy Ghost.' (Rom. 14: 17.) This joy will in general not fail to be according to the measure of the assurance of faith, as 1 Peter 1: 8--'In whom believing ye rejoice.' So that the removal of mistakes about other things will allay doubts as to this. Now, because some of these excellent communications of the Spirit, after they are gone, are brought into question as delusions of Satan: for vindication of them, we say that the special operations of God's Spirit in any high degree, usually are communicated to people after much brokenness of spirit--'Make me to hear joy and gladness, that the bones which Thou hast broken may rejoice' (Psa. 51: 8),--after singular pains in religious duty--'And I set my face unto the Lord God to seek by prayer and supplication, with fasting, and sackcloth, and ashes: and whiles I was speaking and praying, and confessing my sin, the man Gabriel whom I had seen in the vision at the beginning, being caused to fly swiftly, touched me' (Dan. 9: 3, 21), - or in time of great suffering for righteousness 'Rejoice, inasmuch as ye are partakers of Christ's sufferings, that when His glory shall be revealed, ye may be glad also with exceeding joy. If ye be reproached for the name of Christ, happy are ye, for the Spirit of glory and of God resteth upon you' (1 Peter 4: 14);--or if they break in as the rain that waiteth not for man, then they do so humble and abase the person--'Woe is me, for I am undone, because I am a man of unclean lips; for mine eyes have seen the King, the Lord of hosts' (Isa. 6: 5),--and there are found so many evidences of grace in the man--'The Spirit itself beareth witness with our spirit, that we are the children of God' (Rom. 8: 16),--or these things do so provoke unto holiness, and to have every thing answerable and conformable to these manifestations of God--'Let every one that nameth the name of Christ, depart from iniquity.' (2 Tim. 2: 19.) The person under them loathes all things besides God's friendship and fellowship--'Peter said unto Jesus, Lord, it is good for us to be here.' (Matt. 17: 4.) And these things carry on them and with them so much authority and divine superscription, whilst they are in the soul, that afterwards they do appear sufficiently to be special communications of God, and singular gracious operations of His Spirit, and no delusion of 'Satan transforming himself into an angel of light' (2 Cor. 11: 14); nor such common flashes of the Spirit as may afterwards admit of irrecoverable apostasy from God-- 'For it is impossible for those who were once enlightened, and have tasted of the heavenly gift, and were made partakers of the Holy Ghost, and have tasted the good word of God, and the powers of the world to come, if they shall fall away, to renew them again unto repentance.' (Heb. 6: 4, 5, 6.)
Now, then, to conclude this part of the work that relates to the trial: I say to all those who complain of the want of the precious outpourings of the Spirit,--
1. Bless God if you want nothing essential for the making out of a saving interest in Christ. God has given unto you Christ Jesus, the greatest gift He had; and since your heart is laid out for Him, He will, with Him, give you all things that are good for you in their season.
2. I do believe, upon a strict search and trial, after you have understood the communications of the Spirit, you are not so great a stranger to many things as you suspected yourselves to be. But,
3. Remember, the promises of life and of peace with God, are nowhere in Scripture made unto those special things whereof you allege the want: the promises are made unto faith, followed with holiness; and it may be presumed, that many heirs of glory do not in this life partake of some of these things, but 'are in bondage all their days through fear of death' (Heb. 2: 15); so that there shall be no mistake about these things; we may seek after them, but God is free to give or withhold them.
4. Many do seek after such manifestations before they give credit by faith unto God's word. He has borne record that there is life enough for men in Christ Jesus; and if men would by believing, set to their seal that God is true, they should partake of more of these excellent things.
5. I may say many have not honorable apprehensions and thoughts of the Spirit of God, whose proper work it is to put forth the aforesaid noble operations. They do not adore Him as God, but vex, grieve, quench, and resist Him: and many people, complaining of the want of these things, are not at the pains to seek the Spirit in His outgoings, and few do set themselves apart for such precious receptions: therefore be at more pains in religion, give more credit to His word, and esteem more highly the grace of the Spirit of God, and so you may find more of these excellent things.

The Christian's Great Interest . PART II.

How to Attain a Saving Interest in Christ
Having, in the former part of this Treatise, put every man's state to the trial, it now remains that, in this following part, we give advice to those who neither can nor dare lay claim to the marks formerly mentioned.
Quest. II. What shall they do who want the marks of a true and saving interest in Christ, already spoken of, and neither can nor dare pretend unto them?
Ans. If men do not discover in themselves the marks of a saving interest in Christ, spoken of before, then it is their duty, and the duty of all that hear the gospel, personally and heartily to close with God's device of saving sinners by Christ Jesus, and thus to secure their state.
Chapter I.--Some Things Premised for the Information of the Ignorant
For the better understanding of this, we shall premise some things for the information of those who are more ignorant, and then speak more directly to the thing. As for the things to be premised:--
1. The Lord did, at the beginning, out of His bounty, make a covenant with man in Adam--'And the Lord God commanded the man, saying, Of every tree in the garden thou mayst freely eat; but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, thou shalt not eat of it; for in the day that thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die.' (Gen. 2: 16, 17.) And He gave the man ability to abide in that covenant--'God has made man upright' (Eccl. 7: 29); but man, by eating of that forbidden fruit, did break that covenant--'They, like Adam, have transgressed the covenant' (Hos. 6: 7); and made it void forever, and involved himself in misery thereby--'By the deeds of the law, there shall no flesh be justified in His sight' (Rom. 3: 20); 'As by one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin; and so death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned.' (Rom. 5: 12.)
2. The Lord did most freely, from everlasting, purpose and intend to save men another way, namely, by Christ Jesus, and the covenant of grace, in which He intended reconciliation with the elect through Christ Jesus, God and man, born of a woman, in due time to make this agreement effectual. And this device of satisfying His own justice, and saving of the elect by Christ, He did at first intimate to our parents in paradise, saying, 'That the seed of the woman shall bruise the serpent's head.' (Gen. 3: 15.) And the Lord has in all generations made this known to His church.
3. The Lord has in all ages covenanted to be the reconciled God of all those who, by their subjection to His ordinances, did profess their satisfaction with this device, and oblige themselves to acquiesce in the same, and to seek salvation by Christ Jesus, as God does offer Him in the gospel; so all the people of Israel are called the Lord's people, and are said to avouch Him to be their God, and He does avouch them to be His people 'Thou hast avouched the Lord this day to be thy God, and to walk in His ways, and to keep His statutes, and His commandments, and His judgments, and to hearken unto His voice; and the Lord has avouched thee this day to be His peculiar people, as He has promised thee, and that thou shouldst keep all His commandments.' (Deut. 26: 17, 18.) Yea, the Lord does also engage Himself to be the God of the seed and children of those who do so subject themselves to His ordinances. The covenant is said to be made between God and all the people, young and old, present and not present that day (Deut. 29: 10-15); and all are appointed to come under some seal of that covenant, as was enjoined to Abraham. (Gen. 22: 10.) Not only was it so in the Old Testament, but it is so in the New Testament also. The Lord makes offer of Himself to be our God in Christ Jesus; and the people professing their satisfaction in that offer, and in testimony thereof subjecting themselves unto the ordinances, they are reckoned a covenanted people, and are joined unto His church in thousands, receiving a seal of the covenant, without any further particular previous trial--'Then Peter said unto them, Repent, and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ, for the remission of sins. Then they that gladly received the word were baptized; and the same day there were added unto them about three thousand souls.' (Acts 2: 38, 41.)
4. Many deal treacherously with God in this covenant--'Nevertheless, they did flatter Him with their mouth, and they lied unto Him with their tongues; for their heart was not right with Him, neither were they steadfast in His covenant.' (Psa. 78: 36, 37.) And although they profess their estimation of Christ the Saviour, and their heart-satisfaction with that device of saving sinners by Him, and having the image of God restored by Him in them; yet their heart is not right with God, and they do content themselves with an empty title of being in a sealed covenant with God: 'Abraham is our Father,' say they. (John 8: 3.) For although the Lord obligeth every man, who professeth his satisfaction with Christ Jesus, the devised ransom, to be cordial and sincere herein; and only to those who are so does He make out the spiritual promises of the covenant, they only being privileged to be the sons of God who do really receive Christ (John 1: 12); yet the Lord does permit many to profess their closing with Him in Christ, both in the Old and New Testament, whilst their heart is not engaged; and He does admit them to be members of His church, granting unto them the use of ordinances, and many other external mercies and privileges denied unto the heathen, who are not in covenant with Him.
5. Although the greater part of people do foolishly fancy that they have closed with God in Christ Jesus sincerely and heartily; or, at least, they do, without any ground or warrant, promise a new heart to themselves before they depart this life; yet there be but very few who do really and cordially close with God in Christ Jesus as He is offered in the gospel: and so there be but very few saved, as is clear--'Strait is the gate and narrow is the way which leadeth unto life, and few there be who find it' (Matt. 7: 14); 'Many are called, but few are chosen.' (Matt. 20: 16.) If people would believe this, it might help to alarm them.
6. Although none at all do cordially close with God in Christ Jesus, and acquiesce in that ransom found out by God, except only such as are elected - 'But the election has obtained it, and the rest were blinded' (Rom. 11: 7)--and whose hearts the Lord does sovereignly determine to that blessed choice--'No man can come to Me, except the Father, which has sent Me, draw him' (John 6: 44); yet the Lord has left it as a duty upon people who hear this gospel, to close with His offer of salvation through Christ Jesus, as if it were in their power to do it; and the Lord, through these commands and exhortations, wherein He obligeth men to the thing, does convey life and strength to the elect, and does therein convey the new heart unto them, which pointeth kindly towards this new device of saving sinners, and towards Christ in His covenant relations; for it is the Lord's mind, in these commands and invitations, to put people on some duty, with which He uses to concur for accomplishing that business between Him and them: so then, it is a coming on our part, and yet a drawing on His part; 'No man can come to Me, except the Father, which has sent Me, draw him.' (John 6: 44.) It is a drawing on His heart, and a running on our part--'Draw me, we will run after Thee.' (Cant. 1: 4.) It is an approaching on our part, and yet a 'choosing and causing to approach' on His part. (Psa. 65: 4.) It is a believing or receiving on our part--'But as many as received Him, to them gave He power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on His name;' and yet 'it is given us to believe.' (John 1: 12; Phil. 1: 29.)
Chapter II.--The Duty of Closing with God's Plan of Saving Sinners by Christ Jesus
Having premised these things, I say, if men do not find in themselves the marks of a saving interest in Christ, spoken of in the former part of the treatise; then, for securing their state, they ought forthwith, with all diligence, personally and heartily to accept of and close with God's device of saving sinners by Christ Jesus, held out in the gospel. In handling of this we shall show--
1. What it is to accept of and close with that noble device.
2. That it is the necessary duty of those who would be in favour with God and secure their souls.
3. What is previously required of those who perform this duty.
4. What are the qualifications and properties of this duty, if rightly managed.
5. What are the native consequences of it, if it be performed aright.
I.--What it is to accept of, and close with, the gospel offer
1. As for the first, What it is to close with God's device of saving sinners by Christ Jesus, held out in the gospel. Here we must remember, as we showed before, that at first God willed man to abide in His favour, by holding fast his first integrity in which he was created; but man by his transgression lost God's favour, made void that covenant of works, and put himself in to an utter incapacity to regain the Lord's friendship, which he had lost by his sin, and to rescue himself from the curse and wrath now due to him for sin, or any way to procure his own salvation: but the Lord has freely manifested another way of repairing man's lost estate, namely, by sending His Son Christ Jesus in the flesh, to satisfy His justice for the sins of the elect, and to restore in them His image, now defaced, and to bring them unto glory; and He has made open proclamation in the church, that whosoever will lay aside all thoughts of saving themselves by the covenant of works, or inherent righteousness, and will agree heartily to be saved by Christ Jesus, they shall be restored to a better condition than formerly man was in, and shall be saved. So then, to close with God's device of saving sinners by Christ Jesus, is to quit and renounce all thoughts of help or salvation by our own righteousness, and to agree unto this way which God has found out: it is to value and highly esteem Christ Jesus as the treasure sufficient to enrich poor sinners; and with the heart to believe this record, that there is life enough in Him for men: it is to approve this plan and acquiesce in it, as the only way to true happiness: it is to point towards this mediator, as God holdeth Him out in the gospel, with a desire to lay the stress of our whole state on Him. This is that which is called faith or believing, the 'receiving of Christ,' or 'believing on His name.' (John 1: 12.) This is that 'believing on the Lord Jesus Christ,' commanded to the jailer for his safety. (Acts 16: 31.) This agreeth to all the descriptions of justifying faith in the Scripture. This answers to the type of looking to the 'brazen serpent lifted up in the wilderness' (John 3: 14, 15); and this is supposed in all those ordinary acting of faith to which promises are annexed in the Scripture; and will be found in all who have got the new heart from God, and it will be found in none else. II.--This the duty of those who would be saved
As to the second thing, namely,
That this is the necessary duty of all such as would be in favour with God and secure their souls; it appeareth thus:--
1. This closing with God's device or believing in Christ, is commanded everywhere in Scripture by the Lord as the condition of the new covenant, giving right and title unto all the spiritual blessings of the same; for it is, upon the matter, the receiving of Christ. This is commanded, when God bids 'men come and buy,' that is, appropriate all, by closing with that device. (Isa. 55: 1) 'Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.' (Matt. 11: 28.) The weary are commanded to come unto Him thus, for their rest--'This is His commandment, that we should believe on the name of His Son Jesus Christ.' (1 John 3: 23.) This is enough to prove it a duty incumbent. But further, it is such a duty as only gives right and title to a sonship; for only they who receive Him are privileged to be sons--'But as many as received Him, to them gave He power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on His name.' (John 1: l2.)
2. It appears to be the necessary duty of all, thus: No less than this does give an opportunity for God, offering Himself to be our God in Christ; and no less than this does answer our profession, as we are in covenant with Him, as members of His visible church. The Lord offereth to be our God in Christ; if we do not close with the offer, laying aside all thoughts of other ways by which we may attain to happiness, we give no opportunity to him. He saith--'This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased, hear ye Him. (Matt. 17: 5.) If we close not with the offer, we give no answer unto God. Moreover, we are all 'baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ, for the remission of sins.' (Acts 2: 38.) Now, unless we close with Christ, as aforesaid, we falsify that profession: therefore, since this is the thing which does answer God's offer in the gospel, and maketh good our profession, as members of His church, it is a necessary duty lying upon us.
3. Whatsoever a man has else, if he do not thus close with God's device concerning Christ Jesus, and do not receive Him, it does not avail, either as to the accepting of His person, or of His performances, or as to the saving of His soul. Men are accepted only in Christ the beloved--'To the praise of the glory of His grace, wherein He has made us accepted in the Beloved.' (Eph. 1: 6.) Abel and his offering are accepted by faith. 'Without faith; it is impossible to please God' (Heb. 11: 4, 6); and 'He that believeth not is condemned already, and shall not see life, but the wrath of God abideth on him.' (John 3: 18, 36.) For want of this, no external title does avail; the children of the kingdom are 'cast out,' if this be wanting. (Matt. 8: 10-12.) The people of Israel are like other heathens, in regard of a graceless state, lying open to the wrath of God- -'Behold, the days come, saith the Lord, that I will punish all them which are circumcised with the uncircumcised, Egypt and Judas, and Edom; for all these nations are uncircumcised, and all the house of Israel are uncircumcised in the heart.' (Jer. 9: 25, 26.) If men do not believe that He who was slain at Jerusalem, who was called Christ Jesus, and witnessed unto by the prophets, and declared to be the Son of God by many mighty works--I say, if men do not believe that He is the way, and close not with Him as the only way, they shall die in their sins--'I said therefore unto you, that ye shall die in your sins; for if ye believe not that I am He, ye shall die in your sins.' (John 8: 24.) We say, then, it is a most necessary duty thus to close with Christ Jesus, as the blessed relief appointed for sinners. Every one who is come to years of understanding, and hearth this gospel, is obliged to take to heart his own lost condition, and God's gracious offer of peace and salvation through Christ Jesus, and speedily to flee from the wrath to come, by accepting and closing with this offer, heartily acquiescing therein as a satisfying way for the salvation of perishing sinners. And, that all may be the more encouraged to set about this duty, when they hear Him praying them to be reconciled unto Him, let them remember that peace and salvation are offered in universal terms to all without exception: 'If any man will,' he shall be welcome. (Rev. 22: 17.) If any thirst, although after that which will never profit, yet they shall be welcome here, on the condition aforesaid--'Ho, every one that thirsteth, come ye to the waters, and he that has no money: come ye, buy and eat; yea, come, buy wine and milk, without money and without price. Wherefore do ye spend money for that which is not bread and your labour for that which satisfieth not? Hearken diligently unto me, and eat ye that which is good, and let your soul delight itself in fatness. Incline your ear, and come unto me: hear, and your soul shall live: and I will make an everlasting covenant with you, even the sure mercies of David.' (Isa. 55: 1-3.) All are 'commanded to believe.' This is His commandment, 'that we should believe on the name of His Son Jesus Christ.' (1 John 3: 23.) The promises are to all who are externally called by the gospel. God excludes none, if they do not exclude themselves--'The promise is unto you, and to your children, and to all that are afar off, even as many as the Lord our God shall call.' (Acts 2: 39.) So that if any desire salvation, they may come forward, 'He will in no wise cast them out' (John 6: 37), being 'able to save to the uttermost them that come unto God through Him.' (Heb. 7: 25.) And those who have long delayed to take this matter to heart, have now the more need to look to it, lest what belongs to their peace be hid from their eyes. But all these words will not take effect with people, until 'God pour out His Spirit from on high' (Isa. 32: 15); to cause them to approach unto God in Christ; yet we must still press men's duty upon them, and entreat and charge them, by the appearing of the Lord Jesus Christ, and their reckoning to Him in that day, that they give the Lord no rest until He send out that 'Spirit, which He will gee to them who ask it' (Luke 11: 13), and cause them to know what belongs unto their peace, and bring them to their duty.
III.--What is required of those who would believe on Christ Jesus and be saved
We come now to speak of the third thing which is previously required of those who are to perform this duty. Men must not rashly, inconsiderately, and ignorantly, rush in upon this matter, saying, they approve of the device of saving sinners by Christ, and will acquiesce and rest on Him for safety. Often men do deceive themselves here, and do imagine that they have done the thing. We shall, therefore, notice some things pre-required in a person who is to close with Christ Jesus; which, although we offer not as positive qualifications, fitting a man for Christ that way: 'Come--without money, and without price' (Isa. 55: 1); vet they are such things as without them a man cannot knowingly and cordially perform the duty of believing on Christ Jesus. Besides the common principles which are to be supposed in those who live under gospel-ordinances; as the knowledge that men have immortal souls; that soul and body will be united again at the last day; that there is a heaven and hell, one of which will be the everlasting portion of all men; that the Old and New Testaments are the true word of God and the rule of faith and manners; that every man is by nature void of the grace of God, and is an enemy unto God, and an heir of condemnation; that reconciliation is only by the Mediator Christ Jesus; that faith unites unto Him, and is the condition of the new covenant; that holiness is the fruit of true faith, and is to be followed as that without which no man shall see God: I say, besides these things, the knowledge of which is necessary, it is required of him who would believe on Christ Jesus--
First, That he take to heart his natural condition; and here he must know some things, and be very serious about them; I say, he must know some things; as
1. That as he was born a rebel and an outlaw unto God, so he has by many actual transgressions disobeyed God, and ratified the forfeiture of His favour: yea, a man should know many particular instances of his rebellion on all hands; as that he is a liar, Sabbathbreaker, blasphemer, or the like; as Paul speaketh very particularly of himself afterwards-- 'Who was before a blasphemer, and a persecutor, and injurious.' (1 Tim. 1: 13.)
2. The man must know that the wrath of God denounced in Scripture is standing in force against those very sins whereof he is guilty, and so, consequently, he is the party undoubtedly against whom God, who cannot lie, has denounced war. A man must know, that when the Scripture saith, 'Cursed is he that offereth a corrupt thing unto God' (Mal. 1: 14); it speaketh against him for his superficial service performed unto God with the outward man, when his heart was far off. When the word saith, 'The Lord will not hold him guiltless that taketh His name in vain' (Exod. 20: 7), the man must know it speaketh against himself, who has often carelessly profaned that dreadful name, before which all knees shall bow (Phil. 2: 10); and which His enemies do take in vain. (Psa. 139: 20.) When the word saith, 'Cursed is he that does the work of the Lord negligently' (Jer. 48: 10), the man must know that it speaks against himself, who has irreverently, with much wandering of heart, and drowsiness, heard the word preached; and without sense, faith, or understanding, has often prayed before him. When the word saith, 'Woe be unto him that giveth his neighbour drink, and putteth his bottle to him, to make him drunk also' (Hab. 2: 15,16), the man must know that it is spoken against himself, who has gloried in making his neighbour drunk, and that dreadful wrath is determined by the Lord against him according to that scripture. When the word saith, 'God will judge unclean persons' (Heb. 13: 4), and will exclude them from the 'New Jerusalem, and they shall have their part in the lake which burneth with fire and brimstone' (Rev. 21: 8); the man must know that the Scripture speaketh these very words against him, he being an unclean person; so that he is the person against whom the curses of the law do directly strike.
3. A man must know that he has nothing of his own to procure his peace, and to set him free from the hazard under which he lieth; because 'all his righteousness is as an unclean thing.' (Isa. 64: 6.) His prayers, his other services done to God, his alms-deeds, etc., are not acceptable unto God, since they came not from a right principle in his heart, and were not performed in a right way, nor upon a right account, nor for a right end; his 'sacrifices have been an abomination unto God.' (Prov. 21: 27.)
4. He must know, that as he is void of all the saving graces of the Spirit, as the true love of God, the true fear of his name, godly sorrow for sin, etc., so particularly, that he wants faith in Christ, who taketh away the sins of all them who believe on Him. Until a man know this, he will still leave all his debt and burden, without care or regard anywhere else, before he bring it to the Surety. Now, not only must a man know these things, as I said before, but he must also very seriously take them to heart; that is to say, he must be affected with these things, and must be in earnest about them, as he used to be in other cases in which he is most serious; yea, he should be more in earnest here than in other cases, because it is of greater concernment unto him. This seriousness produceth--
1. A taking of salvation to heart more than anything else. Shall men be obliged to 'seek first the kingdom of God?' (Matt. 6: 33); is there but 'one thing necessary?' (Luke 10: 42); shall Paul 'count all things loss and dung' for this matter (Phil. 3: 8); is a man a loser, if he gain 'the whole world and lose his own soul?' (Mark 8: 36); shall this be the only ground of joy, 'that men's names are written in the book of life?' (Luke 10: 26); and shall not men, who would be reckoned serious, take their soul and salvation more to heart than anything else? Surely it cannot fail. Let none deceive themselves. If the hazard of their soul, and the salvation thereof, and how to be in favour with God, have not gone nearer to their heart than anything in the world beside, it cannot be presumed, upon just grounds, that they have known sin, or God, or the eternity of His wrath, aright.
2. This seriousness breaks the man's heart, and causeth the stoutness of it to faint, and leadeth it out to sorrow as for a firstborn. (Zech. 12: 10.) I grant their sorrow will better suit that scripture afterwards, when they apprehend Christ pierced by their sins.
3. It leads the man to a self-loathing. A man taking up himself so, cannot but loathe himself for his abominations, whereby he has destroyed himself. There is somewhat of that spirit of revenge, which is mentioned as a fruit of true repentance 'This selfsame thing that ye sorrowed after a godly sort, what carefulness it wrought in you; yea, what revenge?' (2 Cor. 7: 11.)
4. This seriousness makes the man peremptory to find relief; since it is not in himself. He dare not put off and delay his business as before; and this is indeed required, that he finds himself so pursued and urged to it, that he flees for refuge somewhere. I grant some have a higher and some a lesser degree of this seriousness, as we showed in the former part of this treatise: but if we speak of the Lord's ordinary way of working with those who are come to age, we say, they must very seriously take their soul's estate to heart, despairing of help in themselves, since 'the whole need not a physician, but those who are sick.' (Matt. 9: 12.) As for the measure, we plead only that which probably supposes that a man will be induced thereby to treat cordially with Christ, on any terms he does offer himself to be closed with.
The second thing pre-required of him who would believe on Christ Jesus is, He must know and take to heart the way of escape from God's wrath; the Spirit must convince him of that righteousness. Here a man must understand somewhat distinctly, that God has devised a way to save poor lost man by Jesus Christ, whose perfect righteousness has satisfied offended justice, and procured pardon and everlasting favour to all those whom he persuadeth, by this gospel, to accept of God's offer--'Be it known unto you, therefore, that through this man is preached unto you the forgiveness of sins; and by Him all that believe are justified from all things.' (Acts 13: 38, 39.) 'As many as received Him, to them gave He power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on His name.' (John 1: 12.) So that no person is excluded, of whatsoever rank or condition, whatsoever has been his former way, unless he be guilty of the sin against the Holy Ghost, which is a malicious hatred and rejection of the remedy appointed for sinners, as we shall hear; for 'all manner of sins' are forgiven unto those who accept of the offer in God's way. (Matt. 12: 31.) 'He is able to save to the uttermost them that come unto God through Him.' (Heb. 7: 25.)
The third thing pre-required is, A man must know, that as God has not excluded him from the relief appointed, so He is willing to be reconciled unto men through Christ, and has obliged men to close with Him through Christ Jesus, and so to appropriate that salvation to themselves. He not only invites all to come--'Ho every one that thirsteth, come ye to the waters, and he that has no money: come ye, buy and eat; yea, come, buy wine and milk, without money and without price' (Isa. 55: 1, 2);
((Continued in part 7...)

Home | Links | Literature | Biography | Photos.