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it: for “ the foundation of God standeth sure, having this seal, The Lord knoweth them that are his,” 2 Tim. ii. 19; they are secured by God's eternal decree of election. No storms of wrath can fall upon them that are in it; for it hath a covering of the purple blood of Jesus Christ. "The midst thereof, the inner part"
. of it, “ is paved with love :" love lines the chariot; it is above them, it is on every hand of them; yea it is underneath them, so that if they do fall in it, they shall not get such a grievous fall, but they will be able to rise again. Happy they that are in it! But, alas ! sinners, ye are out of it. Yo are lying there where the first chariot laid you when it broke. (3.) Ye are out of God's favour, being out of Christ. Now, that is dreadful, for our God is a consuming fire. And there is no shelter from the wrath of God, but under the covert of the blood of the Mediator, Eph. ii. 13. The destroying angel is coming through, and there is no blood sprinkled on your door-posts. God is in Christ, reconciling the world to himself; if ye do not come in, and meet him there, what can ye expect but that he will meet you without, as a bear bereaved of her whelps, rend the caul of your heart, and devour you like a lion? Hos. xiii. 8. What do your duties avail, while ye are out of Christ ? can they procure you God's favour? Your tears will never come into his bottle, nor will your prayers reach his ears, John xiv. 6.
Secondly, Know ye, sinners, where ye are ? I will tell you where ye are. (1.) Ye are on the devil's pasture, the mountains of vanity, about the lions' dens, and the mountains of leopards, where Satan feeds his herd. Ye are out of God's house, wandering abroad for bread, begging at the world's door, saying, Where is it? Ye know not Christ, the bread of life ; and therefore the dung of worldly profits and pleasures is so valuable in your eyes. But tell me, sinner, are you ever satisfied ? You would “fain fill your belly with the husks" of the world; but do they fill you indeed ? is not the substance squeezed out of these things, so as ye find them but empty husks? In all your traversing of the mountains of vauity, came ye ever to the place of which you could say, (and stand by it), This is my rest, and here I will stay ? no nor never shall, till ye come to Christ, Is. lv. 2. (2.) Ye are in hell upon earth. To be in hell, is to be without, Rev. xxii. 15. and ye are not come in, ye are condemned already John iïi. 18. bound in the prison, Is. Ixi. 1. What is the difference betwixt you, and them that are in hell ? Yo are both prisoners; only ye are in the outer prison, they are in the inner prison. Yo are both away from Christ; only ye will depart from him, they must depart from him. The fire of God's wrath is set on in the consciences of both; only it is not as yet blown up and made to flame in you, by the breath
of the Lord, like a stream of brimstone to kindle it, as it is in them; but ye know not how soon it may be so. But there is yet another difference ; they are prisoners past hope, ye are prisoners of hope. Therefore we proceed to another point.
II. It is the great errand of the friends of the Bridegroom to bring them in that are out. Sirs, ye that are out, ye are where ye should not be, ye are on forbidden ground. We would have you in; we would have you come in to Christ, to unite with him, by believing in him, accepting of him in all his offices.
First, We declare unto you, that our Lord is invested with the sole authority and commission to be the great Prophet, the Preacher and Teacher of the way to Immanuel's land, Acts iii. 22. 23. He has set up his school amongst us, but he hath few disciples; and we are come to compel you to come in, that his house may be filled. Satan has many disciples ; carnal wisdom has many scholars. Alas for it! O leave them. Our Lord alone is he that is given of the Father to be the great Leader to the heavenly Canaan, Is. lv. 4. None ever caine, or shall come there, but his followers; come in then, giving up yourselves to him to be guided by him. Ye would all be happy, ye would all be at heaven at last : but ye are wandering in a wilderness, where there is no way; and ye will surely lose yourselves, if ye take not him for your leader. The way to glory is a difficult way, and ye are not acquainted with it; nay ye are blind travellers, ready every moment to fall over some precipice. 0! will ye take a guide ? Ye are now standing (as it were) in a place where two ways meet, uncertain which of them to take. Your own wisdom, which is folly, points out a fair broad way, saying, “Whoso is simple, let himn turn in hither,” Prov. ix. 16. but turn not in thither, for “the dead are there, and her guests are in the depths of hell,” ver. 18. The Wisdom of the Father, our Lord Christ, points out to you a narrow way, but it leadeth to life; and he is this day saying
“Whoso is simple, let him turn in hither,” ver. 4. Come in then, renounce your own wisdom, give up yourselves to him, to be led and guided by him. “Hear, and your souls shall live.”
Secondly, Sinners, do not ye know that ye are guilty, and that ye can have no access to an unatoned God? There was a breach made betwixt God and man by sin. Justice demands a sacrifice; an atonement inust be made. The sinner himself is unclean, he cannot be the priest ; and he is not able to provide a sacrifice, for the cattle on a thousand hills are not sufficient for a burnt-offering. Wherefore Jesus Christ became our Priest; his human nature was the sacrifice; his divine nature the altar that sanctified the gift; the wrath of God was the fire that burned the sacrifice : the blood was carried in to
the most holy place, when Christ ascended into heaven, and sat down at the Father's right hand, to intercede for sinners, upon the ground of his satisfaction. Now, here is the atonement; and we would have you to fall in with this device of salvation by a crucified Christ, renouncing your own righteousness, that you may mount to heaven by the ladder of Christ's mediation. In the earthly paradise, God set up a ladder by which all mankind might get up to the heavenly paradise. It was the covenant of works; a ladder able to bear the weight of all the world at once; but so contrived, that if but the least pin in it were loosed, all would break together. All mankind mounted it, even the first Adam, and all his children in his loins : but he having loosed one pin thereof, in a moment the ladder broke, and he and all his fell down into a gulph of misery, and an horrible pit, where they might see heaven afar off, but no way to get to it more. This dreadful break rejoiced the devils : it astonished the angels; they saw that they could not mend it, nor make another, and they were wiser than to attempt it. The Son of God saw there was none amongst all the creatures to help, and therefore his own arın brought salvation. Another ladder is made, Jesus Christ Godman, the Mediator betwixt God and men, the way to the Father, Gen. xxviii. 12. The foot thereof is set on the earth, for he is man; the ladder was set so low as sinners might reach it; it was set very low, even in “ the lower parts of the earth,” (Eph. iv. 9), the region of death. The top of it reached to heaven, for he is God; the ladder is so high, that it can set the sinner up to heaven. It can neither loose nor break with the utmost weight upon it; for it is knit together with blood of infinite value, shed to the utmost of what justice demanded, Heb. ix. 14. Come, sinners, lay all your weight on it, and fear not. The first ladder could bear nothing but men's persons; it could not bear one sinner with a burden of guilt on his back, but it would break under him: but this will bear yon, and your burden of guilt too, though it would be heavier than the sand of the sea. Ah! there are but few upon this ladder, we would compel you to come on. Have ye a mind to lie still in the gulph? have taken your last sight of heaven? have ye bid an eternal farewell to glory? or have ye not done it? then why will ye not be compelled to come on? O come before the ladder be drawn up. I know what ye are thinking in effect, ye that will not be compelled to come on; ye are thinking, like "a thief and a robber,” to “ climb up some other way." I know what ye are doing; ye are doing one of two: ye are either mending the old ladder, and making the best ye can of the broken pieces, by your morality and legal walk; or ye are making a new one of your own, a ladder of uncovenanted
Come in now,
mercy, trusting to the mercy of God, without uniting with the Mediator. But set ye the feet of them as low as ye will, God's justice will never suffer the tops of them to reach heaven. Lay your weight on them then, if ye will do no otherwise; venture your souls on them, venture eternity on them, and climb up: but know assuredly, though ye should get up so high by them as ye could knock at heaven's door, and say, " Lord, Lord, open to us,” there they shall fail you, there they shall break, and tumble you down into the lowest hell, John siv. 6.
Thirdly, Christ has got a kingdom from his Father, Psal. ii. 6, 7, 8; but he has few real subjects. He has set up his standard here this day, and we are come to compel you to come in, and submit to him as your Lord and King. Ye are under strange lords, and have long refused allegiance to your true Lord. O renounce all your idols now, and give yourselves away to him, to be from henceforth his only, his wholly, his for ever.
and “kiss the Son," Psal. ii. 12. Bow the knee to him; put the crown on his head, Cant. iii. 11. Open the everlasting doors of your hearts, that the King of glory may come in, Psal. xxiv. 7. If any poor soul be saying within itself, Alas! the armies of hell within my breast are not so easily dispossessed; it is true indeed; but yet I hope you are not so closely blocked up, but that intelligence may be got betwixt Christ and you; ye hear his offer to be your King, will ye give your consent to it? I will ask you but two questions to clear this matter. (1.) If you can do no more, yet will you give him your good-will of the kingdom? Are you willing to part with your lusts, though you be not able to put them away? Though you cannot shake the yoke of bondage off your own neck, will you give Christ your good-will, to take it off, and lay his own upon you? As a King "he will subdue our iniquities,” Micah vii. 19. (2.) Can your heart consent to the absoluteness of his government? He must be an absolute monarch, his will in all things must be thy law. And why should he not be so? for he can do no wrong, Psal. xlv. 6, 7. Will you consent that he model the kingdom in thy heart as he will ? Shall he set up and cast down there as he pleaseth? have you no secret reserves, no lust that is but “a little one," and must be spared; no prince of the blood of hell, that he must “deal gently with for your sake?” If it be so,
" Come in, thou blessed of the Lord, wherefore standest thou without ?” Thy consent to him as he offereth himself, is thy coming in.
III. Sinners may come in. Know then that ye have liberty from the Master of the house to come in. Were it not so, he would not send out his servants to compel you to come in. Nay, sirs, he
could keep his doors bolted against you, if it were not bis will yo should come in: and if ye would be so bold as to come and knock at the door, or offer violence to it, he could speak a word that would make you fall backward. Our Lord Jesus Christ gives fair liberty to all of you, even the worst of you, to come. Ye that are bearing the devil's mark in your foreheads; ye openly profane persons, that sit as it were in the devil's highways; ye that are bearing his mark in your right hand, which ye can hide when ye please, ye vilest hypocrites, who are hid about the devil's hedges; ye are all welcome for Christ's part, he will not cast the door on your face. Surely there can be no less imported in his charge to compel you to come in. And therefore I would have you step forward. Consider, (1.) Is it nothing to you that ye have leave
. to come in ? It was not so always. If before Christ was revealed, the sinner had offered to have come in, he would have met with the flaming sword of justice, that would have driven him back to his dungeon of misery and darkness. If Christ had not been ground betwixt the upper and nether millstones of the Father's wrath, he could not have been bread to sinners, though they had been hungering after him. (2.) The fallen angels have not leave to come in, and never had since they went out, Jude ver. 6. If it were possible they could believe in Christ, and be content to come in to him, they would get the door cast in their face; for they never got leave to come in. The door was barred on them, and the bar was never drawn, nor ever will, Heb. ii. 16. And God was no more debtor to us than to them. (3.) Be your case what it will, this is sufficient to determine you to come in. If ye remain without, ye are ruined, and all doors of hope are closed on you, except this, Acts iv. 12. The door is open, ye are not forbidden to come in, ye perish if ye come not in ; could we say no more, but it may be ye may get in, this might determine you to give it a fair trial, if ye would but act rationally. Lastly, This leave to come in will not last always
“ When once the Master of the house is risen hath shut the door," there will be no more leave to come in, Luke xiii. 25. They that are in hell this day, cannot get in though they would never so gladly; there is no passing of the gulph fixed betwixt Christ and them, Luke xvi. 26. The first Adam closed the door upon us, but there was a second Adam to open it; if the second Adam close the door on us, there is not a third to open it, 2 Cor. iv. 3. “But if our gospel be hid, it is hid to them that are lost." The apostle here has respect to what he had said of the vail on Moses' face, chap. iii. 13. the vail spread over the Old Testament, ver. 14; but the gospel removes this vail, vers. 16, 17, 18. “But,”