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Whether or not, after Christ has stooped so low as to be willing to do that, the vile unworthy creature will give him the affront of stooping in vain? What say ye to that question ? Ye have affronted the law of God; will ye affront the Son of God too, refusing his offer? If vileness and unworthiness could have kept sinners out from Christ, never one of Adam's sons had come in. Did not Christ find all the fair ones that are now in glory, lying in their blood ? are there any now walking in white, but those who were washed in the blood of the Lamb ? turn over the Bible, look into the history of ages that are past, see if ye can find any one that died at his door, who could not be admitted because he was so vile, wretched, and unworthy.
OBJECTION. But there was never a case like mine. ANSWER. There have been very bad cases in Christ's hand, which he has cured; and never did the cure of any case put in his hand misgive. What think ye of Mary Magdalene's case, out of whom he cast seven devils? Mark xvi. 9. Was not Paul's case, who was a blasphemer and a persecutor, and yet found mercy, a case that may be compared with your's ? 1 Tim. i. 13. Sure I am, the workings of sovereign grace upon him were designed to encourage the worst of sinners to come in, ver. 16. Manasseh, though he had the benefit of a religious education by his godly father, was an horrid idolater, a consulter with the devil, 2 Chron. xxxiii. 6. a bloody murderer, 2 Kings xxi. 16; yet he came in, and was received graciously, 2 Chron. xxxiii. 12. 13. And what do ye think of the case of Adam, who at once murdered all his children, ruined the souls of all mankind, and sinned against greater light than ever ye could do ? But let us yield it to you this once, that never one's case was like yours; and let us add to it, and never shall one be like it hereafter, it is so very bad : then I think ye have, as the penitent thief on the cross had, an occasion of glorifying our great Redeemer peculiar to yourself, wherein none of the vessels of glory have shared, or shall share with you. Come in then, thou whose case is a marrowless case, whose case has no parallel ; you have the advantage of an occasion to honour Christ with the cure of a case so desperate, that the like of it was never in his hands before. “Remember not the former things, neither consider the things of old,” Is. xliii. 18; come in to Christ with your new case, “and, behold,” says our Lord,“ I will do a new thing,” ver. 19. His blood has not yet gone so far as it can go. Grudge him not a new jewel in his crown of grace, that will shine brighter than any yet put into it. Come in then, and take the place appointed for the chief of sinners, deepest in the debt of free grace, if it be yet empty. I assure you, they that have come in already think it is not, but
that they themselves have filled it up. If it be indeed as thou sayest, then they are mistaken; come you in, and you shall get it.
OBJECTION. But, alas! I cannot believe, I cannot come in to Christ. ANSWER. To clear your way in this matter; see that ye set yourselves to come in to Christ in a promise. Christ is held forth to siuners in the promises of the gospel, Is. lv. 1. John vi. 37. Rev. iji. 20. and chap. xxii. 17. If ye would come to his seat, come to the promises, he is in the still small voice; ye will find the babe wrapped up in these swaddling-clothes. They that overlook the promise, and try to believe and come in to Christ, go the wrong way to work: that is like a woman's consenting to marry a man, of whose consent to take her she has no declaration. But the gospelpromise is the contract sent down from heaven, signed already with the Bridegroom's hand; do yo take and read it over, sign it, by your hearts consenting thereto; and then Christ is yours, and ye are his. But close with Christ in the promise as a free promise, as indeed it is, Is. lv. 1. Rev. xxii. 17. Many bar the doors of the gospel-promise with bars of their own making, and then they cry out and complain that they cannot enter in by them. some, if I had so much love, repentance, and brokenness of heart, then I could believe. But I advise you to believe, that ye may get these things, Zech. xii. 10; Acts v. 31. Now, though the promise be written in the Bible only, it is as surely Christ's consent to be yours as if
ye had a voice from heaven for it, yea and more surely. But you will say, I dare not meddle with the promise. Answer. Then meddle not with Christ, but perish; for there is no meddling with him, but in the gospel-promise. But why is a drowning man so fearful, that he dare not catch hold of a cord, even a silver cord, thrown in to hale him to land ? Nay, beloved, be not so foolish : though the promise be, in your eyes, like Moses' rod, turned into a serpent; yet take it by the tail, and it will become a rod in your hand. Hos. xi. 10. “The children shall tremble from the west;" as the Israelites trembled after Saul, that is, followed him tremblivg, 1 Sam. xiii. 7. So then Christ's bride may sign the contract with a trembling hand, love her Lord with a trembling heart and follow him with trembling legs. And 0 that all of you would say, though it were with a trembling voice, “ Behold, we come unto thee; for thou art the Lord our God.” If so, ye would not be in vain compelled to come in.
CHRIST THE SAVIOUR OF THE WORLD.
A Sermon preached immediately before the celebration of the Lord's Supper, at
Ettrick, June 7, 1724.
1 Jolin iv. 14.
And we have seen, and do testify, that the Father sent the Son to be
the Saviour of the world.
John, the beloved disciple, in his epistles, is still breathing love; love is the string he delights peculiarly to harp upon : so he is either magnifying God's love to us, or pressing our love to God and to one another. And his darling subject, love, is no narrow one, but most comprehensive : it comprehends both the gospel and the law, both faith and works. The love of God to man, is the great doctrine of the gospel, the object of faith; men's love to God and to one another, is the great doctrine of the law of the ten commandments, and the object of holy practice. And there is a near relation between the two: God's love is the fountain, our love the stream; the former the original holy fire, the latter the flame kindled by it. Accordingly, in the text, there is a display of the love of God, for moving us to love one another; the which display of divine love is the substance of the gospel.
Here then we have the gospel, which all the apostles were in one voice to preach unto the world: “ We have seen and do testify, that the Father sent the Son to be the Saviour of the world.” And therein we may consider,
1. The gospel or glad tidings itself, viz. that the Father sent the Son to be the Saviour of the world. Here is glad news to the world, Christ's mission. The promise of this mission was made to fallen Adam in paradise: believers under the Old Testament lived and died in the faith of it. But the apostles testified it as a thing performed; the Father sent, or hath sent the Son. The party sent is the Son of God, our Lord Jesus Christ; no other was fit for this mission. The party sending, from whom he had his commission, was the Father, the first person of the glorious Trinity. None of a lower dignity could send one of his dignity. The character in which he was sent, is, " the Son Saviour of the world.” So the words are without any supplement; of which there is no need here. So Christ is said to have come a teacher from God, John iii. 2, i. e. in the character of a divine teacher. As one is sent ambassador to such a
court, that is, constituted by his prince ambassador to that court, and accordingly sent away in that character; so Christ was constituted, nominated, and appointed by his Father, “ Saviour of the world," and so sent away into the world in that character. The world is the world of mankind indefinitely, ruined by Adam's sin, John iii. 16, “God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him, should not perish, but have everlasting life.” Therein God's love toward man appeared, Tit. iii. 4,
2. The certainty of this gospel or glad tidings. All the apostles witDessed with one mouth this great truth: and they witnessed the same as eye-witnesses, having seen the Saviour, and conversed with him, and read his commission for that effect, and beheld heaven's seal again and again set to it in his miracles. And this matter of their witnessing from their eye-sight, was so much stood upon, that the apostle Paul, who was not called to be an apostle till after Christ's ascension, was allowed first to see with his eyes, before he should bear witness, Acts xxvi. 16, “ I have appeared unto thee for this purpose, to make thee a minister and a witness both of those things which thou hast seen, and of those things in the which I will appear unto thee."
DOCTRINE. It is the great truth and testimony of the gospel, that the Father hath sent his Son Jesus Christ in the character of Saviour of the world.
In prosecuting this doctrine, I shall,
II. Open this character, “Saviour of the world,” in which Christ was sent.
I. I shall take notice of some things imported in this testimony.
1. The world needed a Saviour; otherwise one had not been provided for them by him who does nothing in vain. It was a sick world, cast into a desperate illness by eating of the forbidden fruit; and needed a physician to cure the distemper, Matth. ix. 12, " Jesus said unto them, They that be whole need not a physician, but they that are sick.” It was a cursed world, staked down under wrath by the sentence of the broken law; and needed a Saviour to remove the curse, and bring in the blessing, Acts iii. 26, “God having raised up his Son Jesus, sent him to bless you,” &c. It was a lost world, lost to God, lost to themselves, lost to all good, lost and perishing under the wrath of God; and it needed one to seek and save them, Luke xix. 10, “ For the Son of man is come to seek and to save that which was lost."
2. None of inferior dignity to the Son of God could be the Saviour of the world. No man, nor angel, was able to sustain the character of Saviour of a lost world: the work which lay to that office was above the reach of the whole creation, Rev. v. 3, “ And no man in heaven, nor in earth, neither under the earth, was able to open the book, neither to look thereon." Here was a trial of the divine love to man; his case was hopeless and helpless from all the creatures : and it issued in that, “ God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son," John jii. 16.
3. Christ was sent Saviour of the world from heaven's proper motion. The plot to save man, was concerted entirely without him, The world did not meet, and send one to the court of heaven, with a petition for a Saviour, that a Saviour was granted to their earnest entreaties and supplications : but the Father, of preventing free love, sent his Son Saviour of the world. The world's need spoke loud, but they themselves were quite silent; and yet their needs spoke no louder than those of the fallen angels: and sovereign free grace heard the voice of man's need, while it stopt its ears to the voice of the needs of fallen angels, Tit. iii. 4, " But the kindness and love of God our Saviour toward man appeared.”
4. Christ is fully furnished for the saving of a lost world. His being sent in that character, speaks his ability to answer it, Heb. vii. 25, “ Wherefore he is able also to save them to the uttermost, that come unto God by him, seeing he ever liveth to make intercession for them." There is no case to be found in the world, but what there is a remedy to be found in Christ for. Whosoever in the world shall die, they shall not die because there was no help for their case in the Saviour, but because they did not employ him, or put their case in his hand. The Saviour of the world is certainly able to save the world ; since he was sent of God in that character.
5. Lastly, The salvation of lost sinners of the world of mankind is very acceptable to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus, as well as to himself, otherwise he had not sent his Son Saviour of the world, 1 Tim. ii. 3, 4. "For this is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Saviour; who will have all men to be saved." Hence it is called “the pleasure of the Lord,” Is. liii. 10. “ The pleasure of the Lord shall prosper in his hand.” So he is said to make the marriage for his Son, and to send forth to bid to that marriage, Matth. xxii. Whence it is evident, that there is no impediment to the salvation of sinners by Jesus Christ, on Heaven's part; it is pleasing to the Father, to his Son, and to his Spirit.