William Guthrie

Guthrie, The Christian's Great Interest. part 7

And He welcometh all that come, as we find in the gospel, and commendeth those who come, as the centurion and the woman of Canaan (Matt. 8: 10; 15: 28); and chideth for not coming and closing with Him, 'Ye will not come to Me, that ye might have life' (John 5: 40); and condemneth for not closing so with Him: 'He that believeth not is condemned already' (John 3: 18);--but He also commandeth all to believe on Christ: 'This is His commandment, that we should believe on the name of His Son Jesus Christ.' (1 John 3: 23.) So that a man is not to question the Lord's willingness to receive men who go to Christ honestly, for God has abundantly cleared that in Scripture. Unless a man know so much, he will scarcely dare to lay his heart open for that noble device of saving sinners, or adventure the whole weight of his salvation upon Christ Jesus.
The fourth thing pre-required is, The man who would close with Christ Jesus, must resolve to break all covenants with hell and death--'Because ye have said, we have made a covenant with death, and with hell are we at agreement; when the overflowing scourge shall pass through, it shall not come unto us; for we have made lies our refuge, and under falsehood have we hid ourselves.' (Isa. 28: 15.) Whatsoever known evil men are engaged in, they must resolve to forego it; for there is no concord between Christ and Belial. (2 Cor. 6: 14-18.) The Lord requireth that they who would expect 'Him to be for them, should not be for another.' (Hos. 3: 3.) This is far from evangelical repentance, which I grant does not precede a man's closing with Christ by faith: there is little here beyond a disregard of those things into which a man was formerly devoted, and a slighting what he was mad upon, because he sees himself destroyed thereby, and relief now offered; upon which his heart beginneth to be more intent that formerly it was. After this when Christ is looked upon alone, His worth and beauty do appear, so as among all the gods there is none like unto Him, and He appeareth as a sufficient covering of the eyes to all who obtain Him: upon which the heart loves God's device in the new covenant, and desires to lay its weight upon Christ rather than any other way, bending towards Him; and so the man becomes a believer.
Now, I will not say that all these things, whereof we have spoken, are formally, orderly, and distinctly found in every person before he close with God in Christ; for the way of the heart with Christ may be added to 'the four wonderful things.' (Prov. 30: 18.) It is hard to trace the heart in its translation from darkness to light; yet we hold out the most ordinary and likely way to him who does ask the way; debarring thereby ignorant and senseless persons from meddling, and discharging them from pretending to any interest in Him whilst they remain such.
IV.--Some of the properties and native consequences of true believing
The fourth thing we proposed to speak to is, The properties of this duty, when rightly gone about. I shall only mention a few.
1. Believing on Christ must be personal; a man himself and in his own proper person must close with Christ Jesus--'The just shall live by his faith.' (Hab. 2: 4.) This saith, that it will not suffice for a man's safety and relief, that he is in covenant with God as a born member of the visible church, by virtue of the parent's subjection to God's ordinances: neither will it suffice that the person had the initiating seal of baptism added, and that he then virtually engaged to seek salvation by Christ's blood, as all infants do: neither does it suffice that men are come of believing parents; their faith will not instate their children into a right to the spiritual blessings of the covenant; neither will it suffice that parents did, in some respects, engage for their children, and give them away unto God: all these things do not avail. The children of the kingdom and of godly predecessors are cast out. Unless a man in his own person have faith in Christ Jesus, and with his own heart approve and acquiesce in that device of saving sinners, he cannot be saved. I grant, this faith is given unto him by Christ; but certain it is, that it must be personal.
2, This duty must be cordial and hearty--'With the heart man believeth unto righteousness.' (Rom. 10: 10.) A man must be sincere, and without guile, in closing with Christ, judging Him the only covering of the eyes, not hankering after another way. The matter must not swim only in the head or understanding, but it must be in the heart: the man must not only be persuaded that Christ is the way, but affectionately persuaded of it, loving and liking the thing, having complacency in it; so that 'it is all a man's desire,' as David speaketh of the covenant. (2 Sam. 23: 5.) If a man be cordial and affectionate in anything, surely he must be so here in this 'one thing that is necessary.' It must not be simply a fancy in the head, it must be a heart-business, a soul business; yea, not a business in the outer court of the affections, but in the flower of the affections, and in the innermost cabinet of the soul, where Christ is formed. Shall a man be cordial in anything, and not in this, which comprises all his chief interests and his everlasting state within it? Shall 'the Lord be said to rejoice over a man as a bridegroom rejoiceth over his bride?' (Isa. 62: 5); and 'to rest in His love with joy?' (Zeph. 3: 17); and shall not the heart of man go out and meet Him here? The heart or nothing; love or nothing; marriage-love, which goes from heart to heart; love of espousals, or nothing--'My son, give me thine heart.' (Prov. 23: 26.) 'Though I bestow all my goods to feed the poor and though I give my body to be burned, and have not charity, it profiteth me nothing.' (1 Cor. 13: 2.) I will not say that there is in all, as soon as they believe, a prevailing sensible love, which maketh sick; but there must be in believing, a rational and kindly love, so well grounded and deeply engaged, that 'many waters cannot quench it. It is strong as death, and jealousy in it burneth as fire. ' (Cant. 8: 6, 7.)
3. The third property or qualification of believing, as it goes out after Christ, is that it must be rational. By this I mean that the man should move towards God in Christ, in knowledge and understanding, taking up God's device of saving sinners by Christ as the Scripture holds it out; not fancying a Christ to himself otherwise than the gospel speaketh of Him, nor another way of relief by Him than the word of God holdeth out. Therefore we find knowledge joined to the covenant between God and man as a requisite--'And I will give them a heart to know Me, that I am the Lord; and they shall be my people, and I will be their God.' 'And they shall teach no more every man his neighbour, and every man his brother, saying, Know the Lord: for they shall all know Me, from the least of them unto the greatest of them, saith the Lord.' (Jer. 24: 7; 31: 34.) I mean also, that a man must be in calmness of spirit, and as it were in his cold blood, in closing with Christ Jesus; not in a simple fit of affection, which soon vanisheth--'He that received the seed into stony places, the same is he that heareth the word, and anon with joy receiveth it' (Matt. 13: 20); nor in a distemper through some outward distress, as the people were, 'when He slew them, then they sought Him; and proved not steadfast in the covenant' (Psa. 78: 34); nor under a temptation of some outward temporary interest, as Simon Magus was when he believed. A man must act here rationally, as being master of himself, in some measure able to judge of the good or evil of the thing as it stands before him.
4. The fourth is faith; as it goes out rationally, so it goes out resolutely. The poor distressed people in the gospel did most resolutely cast themselves upon Christ. This resoluteness of spirit is in respect to all difficulties that lie in the way; violence is altered to these. The man whose heart is a laying out for Christ Jesus, cannot say, 'There is a lion in the street.' (Prov. 26: 13.) If he cannot have access by the door, he will break through the roof of the house. (Luke 5: 19.) He often does not regard that which the world calls discretion or prudence, like Zaccheus, climbing up on a tree to see Christ, when faith was forming in his bosom. (Luke 19.) This resoluteness of spirit foresees what inconveniences may follow, and disregards all these; at least resolving over all these, like a wise builder who reckoneth the expense beforehand. (Luke 14: 28.) This resoluteness is also in regard to all a man's idols, and such weights as would easily beset him, if he did not follow after Christ over them all, like that blind man who did cast his garment from him when Christ called him. (Matt. 10: 50.) This resoluteness in the soul proceedeth from desperate self-necessity within the man, as it was with the jailer (Acts 16: 30); and from the sovereign command of God, obliging the man to move towards Christ--'This is His commandment, that we should believe on the name of His Son Jesus Christ' (1 John 3: 23); and from the good report gone abroad of God, that 'He putteth none away that come unto Him through Christ' (John 6: 37); but commends such as do adventure over the greatest difficulties, as the woman of Canaan. (Matt. 15: 28.) But, above all, this resoluteness does proceed from the arm of JEHOVAH, secretly and strongly drawing the sinner towards Christ--'No man can come to Me, except the Father, which has sent Me, draw him.' (John 6: 4.) I will not say that every one, closing with Christ in the offers of the gospel, has all the above thoughts formally in his mind; yet, upon search, it will be found, if he be put to it, or put in mind of these things, they are then uppermost in the soul. By what is said, it manifestly appears that many in the visible church had need to do somewhat further for securing of their soul, when they come to years of discretion, than is found to have been done by them before, in the covenant between God and the church, sealed to them in baptism. From what is said also, there is a competent guard upon the free grace of God in the gospel, held out through Christ Jesus; so that ignorant, senseless, profane men, cannot with any shadow of reason, pretend to an interest in it. It is true, believing in Christ, and closing with Him as a perfect Saviour, seemeth easy, and every godless man saith that he believes on Him: but they deceive themselves, since their soul has never cordially, rationally, and resolutely gone out after Christ Jesus, as we have said. It may be, some wicked men have been enlightened (Heb. 6: 4); and have found some reality in their fear--'Felix trembled' (Acts 24: 25);--or in their joy--'He that received the seed into stony places, the same is he that hearth the word, and anon with joy receiveth it' (Matt. 13: 20); and Herod heard John 'gladly' (Mark 6: 20);--but not having engaged their heart in approaching to God (Jer. 30: 21), have either sat down in that common work, as their sanctuary, until the trial came--'When tribulation or persecution ariseth because of the word, by and by he is offended' (Matt. 13: 21);--or, 'they return back with the dog to their vomit,' from which they had in some measure 'escaped by the knowledge of the Lord and Saviour' (2 Peter 2: 20-22); or they utterly fall away to the hatred and malicious despising and persecuting of Christ and His interests, from whence hardly can they be recovered--'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; seeing they crucify to themselves the Son of God afresh, and put Him to an open shame.' 'For if we sin wilfully after that we have received the knowledge of the truth, there remaineth no more sacrifice for sins.' 'Of how much sorer punishment, suppose ye, shall he be thought worthy, who has trodden under foot, the Son of God, and has counted the blood of the covenant, wherewith he was sanctified, an unholy thing, and has done despite unto the Spirit of grace?' (Heb. 6: 4-6; 10: 26-29.) Which things should provoke men to be serious in this great business.
V.--Some of the effects of saving faith
"We come now to speak to the fifth thing proposed, and that is, What are the native consequences of true believing? I shall reduce what I have to speak of them to these two, namely, Union with God, and communion.
First, then, I say, When a sinner closets with Christ Jesus, there is presently an admirable union, a strange oneness between God and the man. As the husband and wife, head and body, root and branches, are not to be reckoned two but one; so Christ, or God in Christ, and the sinner closing with Him by faith, are one--'We are members of His body, of His flesh, and of His bones.' (Ephes. 5: 30.) He that is so 'joined unto the Lord is one spirit' (1 Cor. 6: 17); as the Father is in the Son, and Christ in the Father, so believers are one in the Father and the Son; they are one, as the Father and Son are one. The Father in Christ, and Christ in believers, that they may be 'made perfect in one.' O what a strange interweaving and indissoluble union here! (John 7: 21-26.) Because of this union betwixt God and the believer,
1. They can never hate one another. Henceforth the Lord will never hate the believer--'As no man hateth his own flesh at any time, but cherisheth and nourisheth it,' so does Christ His people. (Eph. 5: 29.) He may be angry, so as to correct and chastise the man that is a believer; but all He does to him is for his good and advantage--'All the Lord's paths must be mercy and truth to him.' (Psa. 25: 10.) 'All things work together for good to him.' (Rom. 8: 28.) On the other side, the believer can never hate God maliciously; for--'He that is born of God sinneth not.' (1 John 3: 9.) For the Lord has resolved and ordained things so, that His hand shall undoubtedly so be upon all believers for good, that they shall never be permitted to hate Him, and so be plucked out of His hand.
2. Because of this union there is a strange sympathy and fellow-feeling between God and the believer: the Lord is afflicted with the man's affliction. (Isa. 63: 9.) He does tenderly, carefully, and seasonably resent it, as if He were afflicted with it. He who toucheth the believer, toucheth the apple of the Lord's eye (Zech. 2: 8)--'He is touched with the feeling of their infirmities' (Heb. 4: 15); and 'precious in His sight is their death.' (Psa. 116: 15.) In a word, what is done to them, is done unto Him; and what is not done unto them, is not done unto Him--'He that receiveth you, receiveth Me.' (Matt. 10: 40.) 'Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these My brethren, ye have done it unto Me: inasmuch as ye did it not to one of the least of these, ye did it not to Me.' (Matt. 25: 40, 45.) On the other part, the 'zeal of His house' occupieth the heart of the believer. (Psa. 69: 9.) 'The Lord's reproach' lighteth on the believer. If it go well with His affairs, that is the business of His people. So there is a strange sympathy between God and believers, all by virtue of the union between them; because of which, men should hate everything which would compete with Him in their love or affections, and should disdain to be slaves to the creatures, since these are the servants of their Lord and husband, and their servants through Him. What a hateful thing for a queen to disgrace herself with the servants of her prince and husband! It is also a shame for a believer to be 'afraid of evil tidings,' since the Lord, with whom he is one, alone ruleth all things, 'and does whatsoever pleaseth Him in heaven and earth.' 'All things are yours, and ye are Christ's, and Christ is God's.' 'Surely he shall not be moved for ever, he shall not be afraid of evil tidings; his heart is fixed, trusting in the Lord; his heart is established, he shall not be afraid.' 'Our God is in the heavens, He has done whatsoever He pleased.' (1 Cor. 3: 21, 23; Psa. 112: 6, 7; 115: 3.) The other great consequence of believing, is an admirable unparalleled communion, by virtue whereof,
1. The parties themselves do belong each to the other. The Lord is the God of His people; He Himself, Father, Son, and Holy Ghost, is their God, in all His glorious attributes; His justice as well as His mercy; His wisdom, power, holiness, etc., for He becomes the God of His people, as He often speaks in the covenant. On the other part, believers are His people. In their very persons they are His, as the covenant does speak; they shall be His people; their head, their heart, their hand, etc.; whatsoever they are, they are His.
2. By virtue of this communion they have a mutual interest in one another's whole goods and property, so far as can be useful. All the Lord's word belongs to the believer; threatening as well as promises are for his good; all His ways, all His works of all sorts, special communications, death, devils, even all things so far as can be useful-- 'All things are yours; whether Paul, or Apollos, or Cephas, or the world, or life, or death, or things present, or things to come; all are yours, and ye are Christ's, and Christ is God's.' (1 Cor. 3: 21-23.) On the other side, all that belongs to the believer is the Lord's; heritage, children, life, wife, credit, etc., all is at His disposing; if any of these can be useful to Him, the believer is to forego them, else he falsifies that communion, and declares himself in so far unworthy of Christ. 'If any man come to me, and hate not his father; yea, and his own life also, he cannot be my disciple.' (Luke 14: 26.)
3. By virtue of this communion, there should be much intimacy and familiarity between God and the believer. The Lord may interfere with any thing which belongs to the believer, and do unto him what seemeth good to Him; and the man is not to mistake, or say unto God, 'What does Thou' except in so far as concerns His duty: yea, He is still to say, in every case, 'Good is the word and will of the Lord.' (Isa. 38: 8; 2 Kings 4: 23, 26.) On the other part, the believer may, in a humble way, be homely and familiar with God in Christ; He may come with 'boldness to the throne of grace' (Heb. 4: 16); and present his addresses unto God. He is no more a stranger unto God, so that he needs not speak unto God as one who has acquaintances to make every hour, as many professors do; which makes a great inconsistency in their religion. The believer also may lay open all his heart unto God--'I have poured out my soul before the Lord' (1 Sam. 1: 15); and impart all his secrets unto Him, and all his temptations, without fear of a mistake. The believer also may inquire into what God does, in so far as may concern his own duty, or in so far as may ward off mistakes respecting the Lord's way, and reconcile it with His words: so Job says, 'Though He slay me, yet will I trust in Him; but I will maintain mine own ways before Him.' (Job 13: 15.) The believer is a friend in this respect, as 'knowing what the Master does;' see Gen. 18: 23; Jer. 12: 1; Isa. 63: 17. The believer also may draw near daily unto God with all his failings, and seek repentance, pardon, and peace, through the advocacy of Christ-- 'Him has God exalted with His right hand, to be a Prince and a Saviour, to give repentance to Israel and forgiveness of sins.' (Acts 5: 31.) 'If any man sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous.' (1 John 2: 1.) O how often in one day may the believer plead pardon, if he intend not to mock God, nor turn His grace into licentiousness! The Lord has commanded men to forgive seventy times seven in one day; and has intimated there, in a parable of a king who took account of his servants, how much more the Master will forgive. (Matt. 18: 22-28.)
The believer also may intrust God with all His outward concerns, for He cares for these things 'If God so clothe the grass of the field, shall He not much more clothe you, O ye of little faith? Therefore, take no thought, saying, what shall we eat, or what shall we drink, or wherewithal shall we be clothed? For your heavenly Father knoweth that ye have need of all these things.' (Matt. 6: 30-32.) 'Casting all your care upon Him, for He cares for you.' (1 Peter 5: 7.) Yea, the believer may humbly put God to it to make Him forthcoming to him in all such cases as beseemeth, and to help him to suitable fruit in every season, 'even grace in time of need.' (Heb. 4: 16.) Yea, how great things may believers seek from him in Christ Jesus, both for themselves and others! 'If we ask anything according to His will, He heareth us.' (1 John 5: 14, 15.) 'Whatsoever ye shall ask in my name, that will I do.' (John 14: 13.) 'Ask of me things to come concerning my sons: and concerning the work of my hands, command ye me.' (Isa. 45: 11.) It is the shame and great prejudice of His people that they do not improve that communion with God more than they do: Christ may justly upbraid them, 'that they ask nothing in His name.' (John 16: 24.) By what is said, it appears of how great consequence this duty of believing is, by which a man closes with Christ Jesus, whom the father has sealed and given for a covenant to the people. It is so honorable to God, answering His very design, and serving His interest in the whole contrivance and manifestation of the gospel; and it is so advantageous to men, that Satan and an evil heart of unbelief do mightily oppose it, by moving objections against it, of which I shall notice the most ordinary.
Chapter III.--Objections and Difficulties Answered and Explained
I.--The sinner's baseness rendering it presumption to come to Christ
Object. I am so base, worthless, and weak of myself that I think it were high presumption for me to meddle with Christ Jesus, or the salvation purchased at the price of His blood.
Ans. It is true, all the children of Adam are base and wicked before Him, 'who chargeth His angels with folly.' (Job 4: 18.) 'All nations are less than nothing and vanity before him.' (Isa. 40: 17.) There is such a disproportion between God and man, that unless He Himself had devised that covenant, and of His own free will had offered so to transact with men, it had been high treason for men or angels to have imagined that God should have humbled himself, and become a servant, and have taken on Him our nature, and have united it by a personal union to the blessed Godhead; and that He should have subjected Himself to the shameful death of the cross; and all this, that men, who were rebels, should be reconciled unto God, and be made eternally happy, by being in His holy company for ever. But I say, all this was His own device and free choice; yea, moreover, if God had not sovereignly commanded men so to close with Him in and through Christ, no man durst have made use of that device of His--'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. 40: 1-3.) 'And this is His commandment, that we should believe on the name of His son Jesus Christ.' (1 John 3: 23.) So then, although with Abigail I may say, 'Let me be but a servant, to wash the feet of the servants of my Lord' (1 Sam. 25: 41); yet, since He has in His holy wisdom devised that way, and knows how to be richly glorified in it--'The eyes of your understanding being enlightened, that ye may know, what is the riches of the glory of His inheritance in the saints' (Eph. 1: 18); 'All Mine are Thine, and Thine are Mine, and I am glorified in them' (John 17: 10); and has commanded me, as I shall be answerable at the great day, to close with Him in Christ, I dare not disobey, nor inquire into the reasons of His contrivance and commands, but must comply with the command, as I would not be found to 'frustrate the grace of God' (Gal. 2: 21); and in a manner disappoint the gospel, and falsify the record which God has borne of His Son, 'that there is life enough in Him for men' (1 John 5: 10,11), and so 'make God a liar,' and add that rebellion to all my former transgressions.
II.--The singularity of his sin barring the way
Object. I am a person singularly sinful, beyond any I know: therefore I dare not presume to go near to Christ Jesus, or look after that salvation which is through His righteousness.
Ans. Is your sin beyond the drunkenness and incest of Lot; adultery covered with murder in David; idolatry and horrid apostasy in Solomon; idolatry, murder, and witchcraft in Manasseh; anger against God and His way in Jonah; forswearing of Christ in Peter, after he was forewarned, and had vowed the contrary; bloody persecution in Paul, making the saints to blaspheme? etc. But woe to him who is emboldened to sin by these instances recorded in Scripture, and adduced here to the commendation of the free and rich grace of God, and to encourage poor penitent sinners to flee unto Christ; I say, are your sins beyond these? Yet all these obtained pardon through Christ, as the Scripture showeth. Know, therefore, that all sins are equal before the free grace of God, 'who loveth freely' (Hos. 14: 4); and looketh not to less or more sin. If the person have a heart to 'come unto Him through Christ, then He is able to save to the uttermost.' (Heb. 7: 25.) Yea, it is more provoking before God, not to close with Christ, when the offer comes to a man, than all the rest of his transgressions are; for 'he that believeth not has made God a liar,' in that record He has borne of life in the Son. (1 John 5: 10,11.) 'And he who does not believe, shall be condemned for not believing on the Son of God.' (John 3: 18.) That shall be the main thing in his indictment; so that much sin cannot excuse a man, if he reject Christ, and refuse His offer; since God has openly declared, that 'this is a faithful saying, and worthy of all acceptation, that Christ Jesus came to save sinners, whereof I am chief.' Even he who is chief of sinners in his own apprehension, is bound to believe and 'accept this saying.' (1 Tim. 1: 15.)
III.--Special aggravations a hindrance
. My sins have some aggravating circumstances beyond the same sins in other persons, which does much terrify me. Ans. What can the aggravations of thy sins be, which are not parallelled in the foregoing examples? Is thy sin against great light? So were many of those of whom we spoke before. Was it against singular mercies and deliverances? So was that of Lot's and Noah's drunkenness. Was thy sin done with much deliberation? So was David's, when he wrote the letter against Uriah. Was it against or after any singular manifestation of God? So was Solomon's. Was it by a small and despicable temptation? So was that of Jonah and of Peter, if we consider the heinousness of their transgressions. Hast thou reiterated the sin, and committed it over again? So did Lot, so did Peter, so did Jehoshaphat, in joining with Ahab and Jehoram. (1 Kings 22:; 2 Kings 3.) Are there many gross sins concurring together in thee? So were there in Manasseh. Hast thou stood long out in rebellion? That, as all the former, is thy shame; but so did the thief on the cross; he stood it out to the last gasp. (Luke 23: 42, 43.) If yet 'thou hast an ear to hear,' thou art commanded 'to hear.' (Matt. 13: 9.) Although thou hast long 'spent thy money for that which is not bread' (Isa. 55: 1, 3), thou hast the greater need now to make haste and to flee for refuge; and if thou do so, He shall welcome thee, and 'in no wise cast thee out' (John 6: 37); especially, since He has used no prescription of time in Scripture. So that all those aggravations of thy sin, will not excuse thy refusing the Lord's offer.
IV.--Sins not named a barrier
Object. In all those instances given, you have not named the particulars of which I am guilty; nor know I any who ever obtained mercy before God, being guilty of such things as are in me.
Ans. It is difficult to notice every particular transgression which may vex the conscience; yea, lesser sins than some of those I have mentioned may very much disquiet, if the Lord awaken the conscience. But, for thy satisfaction, I shall refer to some truths of Scripture, which do reach sins and cases more universally than any man can do particularly: Exod. 34: 7--'God pardoneth iniquity, transgression, and sin;' that is, all manner of sin. If a man turn from all his wickedness, it shall no more be remembered, or prove his ruin. (Ezek. 18: 21, 22, 30.) 'Him that comets He will in nowise cast out' (John 6: 37); that is, whatsoever be his sins, or the aggravations of them. 'Whosoever believeth shall have everlasting life' (John 3: 16); that is, without exception of any sin or any case. 'He is able to save to the uttermost those who come to God through Him' (Heb. 7: 25); no man can sufficiently declare what is God's uttermost. 'All manner of sin and blasphemy shall be forgiven unto men' (Matt. 12: 31); that is, there is no sort of sin, whereof one instance shall not be forgiven in one person or other, 'except the sin against the Holy Ghost.' These and the like scriptures carry all sorts of sin before them: so that let thy sins be what they will, or can be, they may be sunk in one of these truths; so that thy sin can be no excuse to thee for refusing the offers of peace and salvation through Christ, since 'any man who will,; is allowed to 'come and take.' We will not multiply words: the great God of heaven and earth has sovereignly commanded all who see their need of relief to retake themselves unto Christ Jesus, and to close cordially with God's device of saving sinners by Him, laying aside all objections and excuses, as they shall be answerable unto Him in the day when He shall judge the quick and the dead; and shall drive away from His presence all those who would dare to say, their sins and condition were such as that they durst not adventure upon Christ's perfect righteousness for their relief, notwithstanding of the Lord's own command often interposed, and, in a manner, His credit engaged.
V.--The sin against the Holy Ghost alleged
Object. I suspect I am guilty of the 'sin against the Holy Ghost,' and so am incapable of pardon; and therefore I need not think of believing on Christ Jesus for the saving of my soul.
Ans. Although none should charge this sin on themselves, or on others, unless they can prove and establish the charge according to Christ's example 'And whosoever speaketh a word against the Son of man, it shall be forgiven him: but whosoever speaketh against the Holy Ghost, it shall not be forgiven him, neither in this world, neither in the world to come' (Matt. 12: 5, 26, 32): yet for satisfying of the doubt, I shall,
1. Show what is not the sin against the Holy Ghost, properly so called, because there be some gross sins which people do unwarrantable judge to be this unpardonable sin.
2. I shall show what is the sin against the Holy Ghost.
3. I shall draw some conclusions in answer directly to the objection.
I.--What it is not As for the first, There be many gross sins, which although, as all other sins, they be sins against the Holy Ghost, who is God equal and one with the Father and the Son, and are done against some of His operations and motions; yet are they not that sin against the Holy Ghost which is the unpardonable sin. As,
1. Blaspheming of God under bodily tortures is not that sin; for some saints fell into this sin--'And I punished them oft in every synagogue, and compelled them to blaspheme' (Acts 26: 11); much less blaspheming of God in a fit of distraction or frenzy; for a man is not a free rational agent at that time; and 'He that spareth His people, as a father does the son that serveth him, and pitieth them that fear Him, as a father pitieth his children' (Mal. 3: 17; Psa. 103: 13); so does He spare and pity in these rovings; for so would our fathers according to the flesh do, if we blasphemed them in a fit of distraction. Much less are horrid blasphemies against God darted in upon the soul, and not allowed there, this unpardonable sin; for such things were offered to Christ, and are often cast in upon the saints. (Matt. 4: 1-11.)
2. The hating of good in others, whilst I am not convinced that it is good, but according to my light, judge it to be evil; yea, the speaking against it, yea, the persecuting of it in that case, is not the sin against the Holy Ghost; for all these will be found in Paul before he was converted; and he obtained mercy because he did these things ignorantly.
3. Heart-rising at the thriving of others the work and way of God, whilst I love it myself; yea, the rising of the heart against Providence, which often expresses itself against the creatures nearest our hand; yea, this rising of heart entertained and maintained (although they be horrid things leading towards that unpardonable sin, yet) are not that sin; for these may be in the saints proceeding from self-love, which cannot endure to be darkened by another, and proceeding from some cross in their idol under a fit of temptation: the most part of all this was in Jonah, chap. 4.
4. Not only are not decays in what once was in the man, and falling into gross sins against light after the receiving of the truth, this unpardonable sin; for then many of the saints in Scripture were undone; but further, apostasy from much of the truth is not that sin; for that was in Solomon, and in the church of Corinth and Galatia; yea, denying, yea, forswearing of the most fundamental truth, under a great temptation, is not this sin: for then Peter had been undone.
5. As resisting, quenching, grieving, and vexing of the Spirit of God by many sinful ways, are not this unpardonable sin; for they are charged with these who are called to repentance in Scripture, and not shut out as guilty of this sin: so neither reiterated sin against light is the sin against the Holy Ghost, although it leads towards it, for such was Peter's sin in denying Christ; so was Jehoshaphat's sin in joining with Ahab and Jehoram.
6. Purposes and attempts of self-murder, and even purposes of murdering godly men, the party being under a sad fit of temptation; yea, actual self-murder (although probably it is often joined in the issue with this unpardonable sin, which ought to make every soul look upon the very temptation to it with horror and abhorrence, yet) is not the sin against the Holy Ghost. The jailer intended to kill himself upon a worse account than many poor people do, in the sight and sense of God's wrath, and of their own sin and corruption; yet that jailer obtained pardon (Acts 16: 27, 34); and Paul, before his effectual calling, was accessory unto the murder of many saints, and intended to kill more, as himself granteth--'I verily thought with myself that I ought to do many things contrary to the name of Jesus of Nazareth. Which thing I also did in Jerusalem: and many of the saints did I shut up in prison, having received authority from the chief priests; and when they were put to death, I gave my voice against them. And I punished them oft in every synagogue, and compelled them to blaspheme: and, being exceedingly mad against them, I persecuted them even unto strange cities.' (Acts 26: 9-12.) .

(Continued in part 8)

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